What I’ve Been Doing

I have just over 4700 words on my third and final attempt to write the sequel of To Touch A Unicorn. Three times a charm, I hope.  I ended up going back to Holly Lisle’s techniques in How To Think Sideways and they, of course, helped me figure out what I needed to know to write the story. I think I have several more scenes to write and it is done. There might be one or so more but I’ll know more after I get the crucial scenes written.

After I write something I like to let it sit for a week or so because it gives me fresh eyes. My favorite part of writing is rewriting.  Yep, you heard me right. I love going in and tweaking, adding or deleting. It’s like a puzzle, fitting and moving things around to fit together. It’s hard to cut words you’ve labored over and pushed out onto the page. My work around is actually not to delete. The secret is to have a ‘notes’ page. I just put the deleted stuff there in case I can use it later. When I do that I don’t feel like I’ve wasted a lot of time and energy therefore making me want to hang on to something that doesn’t work.

As a matter of fact I used the technique quite a bit this time around. On my third attempt to write the story, with a tweak here and there, I was able to salvage a scene or two. Of course I could still end up deleting some more scenes but it’s ok. I’ve got my ‘notes’ page.

First Snowfall, the second short story I wrote and sent out, was not accepted for publication. There could be a number of reasons why it wasn’t accepted, I really didn’t get one. Of course I can speculate all day long. One reason could be because of the ending which is left open. A couple of people did read it for me after it was rejected and they gave me their thoughts and suggestions. It might be I’ll just put it up on Smashwords free and let it go at that. I may or may not try to submit elsewhere. Technically the story was done as a writing exercise never meant to see the light of day beyond my notebook. But I got enough of an enthusiastic response I decided to try. For now I’m tucking it in the back of mind to think about until I complete Whispers Of The Unicorn.

Other than that I’ve done some beta reading for writer friends and family. I’ve come to enjoy beta reading quite a bit. I learn a lot from the process to help in my writing. It’s also teaching me how to articulate why I don’t like something or why I do. I tend to be very blunt but I’m learning to recognize and include the positive along with negative. Sometimes that’s not always easy to do, especially when time is short. 

One of the songs I listen to when I’m writing is called Violin Strange Sun Natseon Hae:

 

Peace.

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About Writing on Wednesdays: Updates on To Touch A Unicorn and First Snowfall

Well, I’m here in Maryland and have been for nearly two weeks. I was supposed to go home last Friday but the car broke down in Virginia. Fortunately it was late in the afternoon so the heat wasn’t too bad for humans or dogs. Thank goodness because Rex has a hard time in very hot weather. Still, it was hot enough that he whined a bit.  As a matter of fact I whined, too. Belle Amie and Paul did pretty good. Hot, thirsty, and in Paul’s case very dirty from working on the car, we all survived.

The editor from Buzzy Mag contacted me last week while I was here in Maryland about To Touch A Unicorn. I have to admit I was a little intimidated and put off reading her comments until this week. But honestly? When I finally read them it wasn’t bad. Everything she pointed out was dead on and I have no problem with making the changes. My feelings are not hurt and it is a lot like working with Beta Readers. I love working on the story to make it a great read.

Diane and Terry both beta read First Snowfall for me and loved the story. They tell me it’s creepy. Yay! I finished the edits they suggested in the middle of the night this week. There was no else around except me, Rex and Belle Amie. My own story creeped me out. Belle Amie kept barking and shaking at nothing. I’m pretty sure I just made this story up in my head. Didn’t I? o_o

After the story marinates a few days I’ll read over it, during the day, and send it off to see if anyone wants to publish it. I’m crossing my fingers. Many thanks and much appreciation to Diane and Terry for their time, critiques and encouragement.

The sequel to To Touch A Unicorn is in the works. I had to trash most of it although I hope to salvage some scenes. The fact I was having such a hard time moving forward in the story should have been a big clue I was writing in the wrong direction. I like the new start better and hope to have the story finished soon. It may end up being a novella. I’ll find out once I sit down to plot a few scenes. I should have done that to begin with anyway. I do know better.

Moonfire is calling to me. You know? My writing has grown and I might just be ready to get back to that story and get her done. One thing I’ve realized is that I was trying to write to an agenda. There are certain elements in the story that make it easy to cross a line and sermonize instead of telling a great story. I have enough maturity as a writer now to recognize that fact and hopefully fix it.

 

 

Peace.

 

References:

The clip art used is from ClipartPal.

 

Fat Tuesday: A Successful Failure

This past week was a failure due to eating ice cream last Tuesday and baked homemade peanut butter cookies on Friday and Saturday. The ice cream cheered me because I got depressed.

 

 

Tracey and her coworkers are to blame for my fall from grace with the cookies. They sent Tracey home to beg nicely for a batch.  I did get a thank you card but a photo of cute little Meerkats from the Natural Science Center aren’t going to cancel out those calories although I appreciate the thought.

Last week was a success only because I didn’t gain weight.  And while I did eat a whole box of  York  peppermint patty ice cream I kept it to that day only. The same with the cookies. I made them very early Friday morning and managed to keep the gluttony to a minimum. Yay, me. Kinda.

July the fourth I did excellent. No cravings or anything. Maybe it was a bad strategy to ignore all those cravings and that’s why I caved. At any rate except for those days I did pretty good. What do you think?

Dessert free since Saturday. Three days and counting.

Goals: Gotta work on keeping those carbs down, they’ve sneaked up on me.

 

Some music to cheer us up:

 

I love peppermint patty candy and ice cream, what’s your favorite candy?  Do you have a strategy for eating better?

 

 

Peace.

 

About Writing On Wednesday: A Patriotic Concert and Writing Biz

The Concert:

Please enjoy some music while you read the post although if you’re interested in seeing the groovy moves of the 70’s you might want to watch the first video, :-).

 

Music and dance popular around 1776:

 

 

Fife and drums:

 

 

From the movie The Patriot:

 

 

Jimi Hendrix and Whitney Houston have performed unforgettable versions of The Star Spangled Banner. Even Slash performs a decent variant. Now here comes Madison Rising with their excellent rendition:

 

Happy Fourth of July!

 

Writing Biz:

There are several things I want to share.

First is news about To Touch A Unicorn. I did get an email advising I have been assigned a new editor who should contact me in the next couple of weeks. I both dread and look forward to it. What I look forward to is learning from a professional on how to make my story a better one. I just hope I’m up to the task. My fingers are crossed.

Dread is because at some point, once the revisions are complete, the story gets published. I know, I know. That is the point. But what if no one likes it? I’m afraid I’ll run the first time someone (readers) hollers, “Boo!” Not everyone will like what I write, I know that in my head, but will I be strong enough to keep going in my heart?

Second, I want to point to the excellent blog about self publishing versus traditional publishing my friend Diane wrote. She does a good job of explaining why it’s all about being professional. While you’re there check out the new fantastic covers for her Broken series.

Third, Tracey and I finished our writing prompts from last week. We both ended up with over a thousand words. She has stated she doesn’t want to share hers although I think she should since it is a good read. I feel squeamish about putting up my story, too. What I will do is put up the revised beginning:

The back door was open. Scarlett Miller paused in her kitchen to stare. Oh, God. This is bad. She called Ginger, her German Shepherd mix, to her side before approaching the door cautiously. An old trunk full of books sat sideways in front it; moving the trunk to the side, she opened the door the rest of the way. She and Ginger looked outside.

It was the first snowfall of the year, the pristine beauty marred by tracks leading up the steps. They did not belong to Scarlett or her companion. Ginger growled. When Scarlett looked down she could see the hair standing on the dog’s back.

A chill worked its way down her back raising goose bumps on arms. The lid on the dark well in her mind blew off. Memory’s dark tendrils began to ghost out. Almost paralyzed in fear, she slapped the well’s lid back down. If she lost it now, she was doomed.

Calming, she knew two things stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books and her dog. Patting Ginger on the head she said, “Good girl. You get a steak tonight.” Still a little shaky, Scarlett called the police before getting her camera.

 *****

Tracey tells me she didn’t like the part about the well and I just realized I mention the trunk twice.  I’m not going to correct it for now. I’ll set the story aside and maybe come back to it later.

What’s your favorite patriotic music? How do you feel about publishing? Do you have plans on the fourth of July? What have you written lately? Have you ever played a fife or banged on a drum? Are you in the mood for a revolution?

Peace.

About Writing on Wednesdays: Writing Prompts and Memories

Writing prompts are fun and they get those creative juices flowing that sometimes lead to a great story. To Touch a Unicorn was created from a writing prompt Chuck Wendig gave on his blog. He has writing challenges every Friday I enjoy reading even if I don’t always participate.

This week Tracey and I decided we wanted to begin using writing prompts. We each picked a sentence from Daily Writing Tips last Monday. The goal is a minimum of 500 words and we have from Monday to Sunday to complete. On Sunday we’ll share our stories with each other for review. It should be fun.

Tracey chose ‘They came back every year to lay flowers at the spot’ for this week.  This is an interesting sentence because it can be creepy or sad. I can’t wait to see what she does with it. Maybe Tracey will let me put up what she writes. She should because she is a talented writer.

The story prompt I chose for this week is ‘It was the first snowfall of the year.’  This sentence is haunting but the why of it didn’t strike me at first. It was when I was going over my beginning sentences that I realized I was using childhood memories. Here are my first several sentences:

It was the first snowfall of the year but the shivers racking Scarlett Miller wasn’t from the cold, it was the tracks in the snow leading up the stairs to her back door. The same back door that was partly open when she got up that morning. She knew two things had stopped the intruder from coming in: an old trunk full of books sitting in front of the door and Ginger.

A good start I think. I was eleven when the incident I’m drawing from occurred. Yes there was snow and yes there were tracks leading up stairs to our back door. Instead of a trunk of books there was an empty trunk with a large wooden cage on it that had two gerbils inside. I truly believe Ginger saved us that night. Her and her alone. It was just my mom, me and my brother because my dad drove a truck over the road and they knew it.  Ginger was a hero and deserves to be remembered for her love and loyalty. Ginger is why I always feel safer with dogs in the house to at least alert me they hear something.

Children are so naive and trusting. I was no exception. Looking back I realize I must have worked my guardian angel a lot during those years. Sometimes I want to cry for that girl because no child should see or hear some of the things I did but then I remember I am blessed because many of those things could have turned out so much worse.

One day as I walked home from school one of the new neighbors, an older woman, from across the street called to me from her front door, I walked over, she invited me to come in and I did. Inside there was another woman and two men. They were so friendly and when they asked questions about me and my family I answered them.

They said they wanted me to do chores for them to earn a little money, ironing and such. Excited I ran home to ask my mother if I could work for our nice neighbors. To their credit they did tell my mom about themselves, turns out the guys were just out of prison for rape and murder. Her answer was a resounding ‘no’ to me with a stay away from them added for good measure.

Not too long after that the incident with the back door occurred. Not too long after that the murderer killed the rapist. Yes, I saw that. Not the actual killing but the aftermath. I could see the police car and ambulance from the top of the hill where the school bus dropped me off. The paramedics rolled the rapist out of the house and just as I walked by they got to the ambulance on the road. The bullet hole between his eyes could be clearly seen. The murderer went back to jail and the wives moved away. So did we.

Do we know for certain who it was trying to break in our back door? No. But I’d say the odds were pretty good it was one or both from across the street, don’t you? I think I’ve mentioned how beautiful my mother was as a young woman. I think I’ve also mentioned how men stared and occasionally followed her around. My mother did not encourage them that I can recall nor did she dress inappropriately but something made men stop and look and then look again. Whatever ‘it’ was it also made a few of them act inappropriately.

There were at least five incidents that were truly creepy and scary that I remember. One in Maryland involving one of our neighbors stalking her (I don’t remember much except my mother talking with a friend about contacting the police, I  remember being afraid), an incident in California where my mother got money from a company because the man who worked for them actually caused her physical harm, two in Georgia (including the incident I’ve talked about) and one in North Carolina.  There’s more, I’m sure, but they didn’t go that high on the creepy/scary scale so I don’t remember them.

What I find interesting is that I didn’t consciously pick that sentence because of those memories. It kept going round and round in my head; I started putting together sentences before I remembered, “Oh, yeah. That actually happened.” It’s not like every time it snows I freak out or anything but it has always been in the back of my mind like a bug crawling around the kitchen floor. You try to stomp it but the thing is too fast and gets in a crack between the wall and floor before you can kill it. Well now the memory has some use as I draw on it to write an awesome story, I hope.

Peace.

About Writing on Wednesdays: I’m Confused, Where’s That Comma Go Again?

Grammar, I understand, is an important tool in a writer’s arsenal. I haven’t seen anyone ‘taste’ grammar as I have seen them do with a word, but still I’m sure it’s at least as important as the words used to write a story. It is up to the writer to set the mood, rhythm and voice of their work with the grammar they use.

During the course of my self-education I have learned commas are important, and complicated. According to Margaret Shertzer, author of The Elements of Grammar, there are thirty-one different ways to use a comma.  Strunk and White devotes six and a half pages to them in their book, The Elements of Style. *Shudder* No need to cringe, I have no intention of going over them. If you’re in to self-torture go ahead.

I ran across this definition of commas from World English Dictionary:

the punctuation mark(,) indicating a slight pause in the spoken sentence and used where there is a listing of items or to separate a nonrestrictive clause or phrase from a main clause

I like that description. Short, sweet and to the point. Me, being me, can’t leave it alone. No, I need more description. Back I go to Shertzer, Strunk and White; my eyes cross and I get a bit of a buzz in my head while I work out all the intricacies of what you can and can’t do with commas. Commas, I’m pretty sure, are the invention of some little minor demon in hell to give even the devil a headache.

Commas are misused, according to an article I read about them not too long ago. I’m pretty sure that’s true. I know I abuse them in a gleeful manner on a regular basis, and no wonder. Who wouldn’t want to abuse such prudish, uptight punctuation? Besides it’s so easy to do. Evidently.

According to another article I read the use of a comma is up to the writer.  What?! I’ve stressed over my commas, colons and semi-colons for nothing? But wait, according to this same writer they’re misused. I’m scratching my head.

My conclusion is there are basic rules for commas as indicated in the dictionary’s definition. The how of using a comma seems to depend on who you talk to or read, what you’re writing, who you’re writing for (as in your publisher, etc.), your audience and if you’re willing to say kiss my asterisk, I’m putting that dang comma here, so there.

Do you use commas correctly? Or do you enjoy to abusing those suckers? Do you stress over commas? Are you a comma-phobe, like me? Did you know you can italicize a comma? You sure can, here it is:

English: A normal and an italicized comma in T...

 

The articles I’ve referenced:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/fanfare-for-the-comma-man/

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/21/the-most-comma-mistakes/?src=tp

Peace.

About Writing on Wednesdays: News and Buzzy Mag

Happy Writing Everyone!

Long Pause while I think how to start.

Ok. Let me start with the baby shower stuff. I made the diaper cake for this Saturday. I think it came out ok for a first try, there’s a couple of things I would do different but overall I’m pleased. Tracey said it was cute and that’s high praise indeed coming from her. Pictures were taken and I will share if not this Friday then the next depending on how I’m feeling.  I may just wait until after the shower because I’ll be taking even more pictures so I might as well do it all together. Right?

What else? Oh, y’all remember me talking last year about how much I admired Allen Wold?  Well, I got up the courage to friend him on Facebook. Oh yes, I did. I wanted to thank him for the help he gave me during the workshop last year. I really tried to make the workshop this year but I was running late, there was a car accident (I was not involved with that) and well, it just didn’t seem meant to be. Next year, maybe.

Remember how gracious I said he was? He still is. I’m such a fan. Anyway, he friended me back. Ahhhhh! Just a little scream. Lol. He sent me a very nice message saying he was glad to help. **Sigh** So nice. I think I read in the Stellarcon paperwork that he’s working on some stuff and may have some new work coming out. Yay! Can’t wait.

The other piece of writing news I’d like to share is Buzzy Mag made its debut on Monday.  Double yay! Please go take a look around. There are all kind of interviews, the short stories (under the heading for Fiction) and other things to enjoy. I still don’t know when To Touch A Unicorn will be out but you can be sure I will let y’all know.

I’m a bit behind on everything including my email. I’ve well over 2,000 emails right now in my box. If you’ve emailed me or if I’m on your blog and haven’t been in a while it’s probably going to get worse. **Wincing** Sorry about that. I will answer or get there eventually. I have a lot to do between now and when Faith’s born so I hope you’ll forgive me. I’ll catch up as soon as I can.

Oh, let me also update you on Merlin. He is eating like a toothless ole pig and has gained some weight back. Lol. His fur looks really good, he still has a bit of a snotty nose but otherwise he is doing a-okay.

Next on the agenda is Hero, the little stray cat that has been running around here for a little over a year. I am not sorry to report his bachelor ways are soon to be ended. He has an appointment with the vet for a makeover next week. Shhh! Don’t tell him.

Rex will also be with me by the end of the week when Holly and John come in. He’ll be with me for about ten days before Paul and I take him back to Maryland. We’ll help Holly with a few things, come home for about a week or so then I’ll be heading back up there, somehow, to wait out Faith’s arrival. Can’t wait.

That’ s all the writing and otherwise news for today.

Here’s some music cause, dang, I just realized I need to relax.

 

 

 

I’m a little more relaxed how about you? Are you waiting in anticipation for something to happen? Do you keep secrets from your animals or kids? When have you gotten the courage to do something new or different? What was it?

Peace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Writing On Wednesdays: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Sorry about that but I’m here now.  In the time I’ve been gone a lot has been happening, some of it good. Really good.

I had a great visit with Rex in January/February here in my home.  Rex is the only dog I know who can tell time. He knows exactly when it’s ten minutes to five. Wherever you are or whatever you’re doing he finds you, staring expectantly, waiting. He surely does love his kibbles and expects them five o’clock on the dot. If not, he doesn’t mind giving a gentle whine or two as a reminder. Lol. He’s a wonderful dog.

Paul and I went to Maryland in February. Holly and I took a tour of the birthing unit in the hospital where Faith will be born. They have labor rooms with beds in them that do the Transformer movies justice. The postpartum rooms are big enough for just one occupant, her husband and baby. Overall a very nice maternity wing. We briefly saw a tiny baby being cleaned up after just being born with his dad hovering over, filming the event.  There was lots of hair on that kid; he reminded of Ernie from Sesame Street.

The beginning of March I did go to Stellarcon36. I made it through Friday and most of Saturday. I met fantasy artist Mark Poole who also tells  funny stories including one about a woman and a dragon on a car.  Sorry, that’s all I can tell you but use your imagination.  He signed the print I bought of  a falcon flying above a pink castle on a misty morning.  It’s for Faith’s room if Holly wants it.

One more thing. If you like fantasy art but the big bosomed (is that a word?), naked women offend you then Mark Poole is the artist for you. His artwork is PG (at least the stuff I saw) and awesome. Really, go look and buy what you can afford. We need more artists like him in the fantasy world.

Michael Stackpole was also there.  I’ve never read his books but I do read his blogs. I found a used book of his in the vendor’s area for an outrageous price, bought it and got him to sign it.  Yay. He was fun to listen to and I definitely will read that book I bought.

The owners of Buzzymag.com were there. I got to see their wonderful new site, very exciting. We started discussing our health and swimming and I promptly burst into tears.  They were kind and I enjoyed meeting them but you know when you start crying all over people you’ve just met there’s a problem.

Once I realized I was tired and in more pain than I realized I called it a day and went home early on Saturday. Not the impression I wanted to make but they’re nice people and told me we’ll get together again soon.  I’m to go swimming with them if I can get up the courage.

This brings me to why you’ve probably been wondering about those phantom screams you’ve been hearing. In fact, my friend Damian told me I was hurting his ear drums plum over in Canada.  Sorry Damian. The screams are mostly in my head now but…

I sold my short story, To Touch A Unicorn, to the Buzzy folks. Ahhhhhhhhhhh! Ah, ahhhhhhhhhh! I had to get a few more screams in there, lol. I still can’t believe it’s true. It will be awhile, six to eight months is what I’ve been told. I’ll let everyone know as soon as I can when it goes up.

I have to thank Paul because he has always believed in me. Enough to help pay for a writing course there was never any guarantee he would see any return on (there still isn’t but this is a start) even when we really couldn’t afford it. Thanks to my girls, Tracey and Holly, who listen to my ideas. They give me feedback and in Tracey’s case: yells at me to write.

Thanks to Diane and Josh who are my writing buddies and read through the many rewrites of this story, you all rock. Next thanks goes to Theresa Bane who said I’ll beta read it for you but then you have to promise to send it in to Buzzy or someone. I did then she did and then I did, now here we are.

It sounds like I won an award, doesn’t it? Well in a way I did. There is nothing more rewarding to a writer than to know you’ve told a story good enough to be retold.  I hope I have few more in me that are worthy of the retelling.  I have started a sequel per Diane’s request. I’m also working on a short story involving a toothfairy and a little girl named Colleen.

So what have you wanted to scream about here lately?

Peace.

 

 

 

About Writing on Wednesdays: Will Be Friday

On another blog.

Sue Santore asked me to visit and write a guest post on her blog. She told me the post will be up this Friday on October 14, 2011. Yay! I’m thrilled and hope she’ll return the favor to me in the near future.

We met through How to Think Sideways and started to follow each other on Twitter. She posts on two blogs, her own and another called Independent Bookworm with some other writers. Sue plays a mountain dulcimer and she quilts. Oh, man that’s awesome. Maybe she’ll talk about one or both of these subjects for us.

You know this is my first guest post. Yikes. Talk about nervous. My first thought after saying yes was, are you crazy? What are you going to write about? Then I read the Daily Literary Quote I subscribe to.

I’m beginning to wonder about them. They seem to have a good deal of foresight where my writing and life is concerned or vice versa. Either way they seem to come up with something good for me every time I need it. A quote by Ursula K. Le Guin inspired the post I did for Sue.

Hope to see y’all on Friday.

Oh, and since I’m in the mood here’s a music video inspired by the Steampunk genre in a Halloween sort of way.

Enjoy.

 

Peace.

About Writing on Wednesdays: What’s Up?

Well, I’ve been writing of course.

You might be surprised to know I have blogs written but not posted. Most are 3/4 written or just need to be polished up but I’ve yet to do this. I may never post them and just start over.

The problem is allergies are killing me this year. Not literally of course but there’s been a couple of days all I could do was just boil some water with sage in it and ride out the runny nose, coughing, sneezing in the bed with a box of tissues.  The worst part is when my eyes swell, itch and water making it difficult to see let alone type.

I bought one of those sinus cleaners and I came to the conclusion all that controversy about water boarding may be exaggerated. Cause hel-lo, Americans pay good money to waterboard themselves when they purchase one of these products. I thought I was going to drown myself the first time I tried it last night.

Huh? Oh, yeah. Right. Writing.

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