Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Personal thoughts’

I just stood out on my porch and watched the rain fall in heavy sheets. It was wholly refreshing and relaxing. It was perhaps the second time all year I have had such a pleasant experience. When I bought my home in 2014, the porch was one of the big selling points. Then, I could already see myself nestled under a throw, cradling a cuppa tea while either scribbling away at my latest literary work, journaling, or simply–like today–watching the rain drop.

The first couple of years I did just that in regular batches. This year, sadly, I have not had the time. Why? Because I have been caught up in a whirlwind.

A whirlwind is described as a vortex (vertically rotating column) of wind forms due to instabilities and turbulence made by heating (air temperature) and flow (current gradients). Okay, what that technical mouthful means to me is a whirlwind is what occurs when air and things heat up, creating instability and turbulence, which in turn forms a strong rotating column of wind that whirls around, creating havoc and damage.

Yup, that about sums it up. It is bearing down on me, growling like a mad bear, claws at the ready. And I just stand there, too busy, tired, fed up, etc… to do much of anything. Certainly not smart enough to take solace on a wicker sofa with a cup of coffee (and probably something chocolate) on a rainy day.

Sound familiar?  We get busy with this and that and more and still more, and before we know it, the simple pleasures of life have slipped by and we wonder why haven’t we done this more recently. Just look how fast the pages of the calendar turn. I know each calendar’s days are numbered, but come on now. I am still waiting for April to get here so I can tear up the brick in the courtyard and fix a sagging patch. April? Next week I’ll be facing July in the eyes.

We can probably all lament about what our own personal whirlwind is. Mine is responsibility. I have come to see that as a character flaw. I have a full-time job, usually cracking around 44-45 hours a week. I pet sit and dog walk around that, usually around 15-18 hours a week. And my time around those two are devoted to writing tasks.

My second release of the year just came out this week and I am in the middle of a virtual blogging tour. There is a giveaway I am posting about for my romantic suspense novel that just turned one-year-old. There are two more novels coming out in November so there is covers, blurbs, hooks, and tags to work on before edits begin. I am in the middle of first round edits for my first-ever self published non-fiction book, based on the journey with my PTSD dog. Let me just say the world between self-publishing and traditional house publishing is vast indeed. Vast. And should I tire of any of those endless tasks I can always update blog, website, media pages, newsletters,  ads, etc… And should I run out of ideas there, I can always work on my latest work-in-progress. Right now I am about 20,000 words into a time travel romance novel. Roughly a quarter of the way done with the first rough draft.

And any time beyond all of that above is spent doing what zillions of others do. Clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills, go shopping, brush the dog, fill the bird feeders, visit friends, call family, plus cooking and somewhere in there, sleeping.  Admittedly, everyone’s list of whirlwind activities will look a little different, but we all have them. The point is, we get so caught up in where we have to be, doing what we have to do, seeing who we have to see, that we feel the whirlwind of life swirl around us, and pick us up, and whisk us away from the pleasurable things that we need to keep us grounded, stable, and sane.  Like sitting on the porch and watching the rain fall. Or sitting by the river watching the river bubble past. Or whatever restores your sanity and breath.

This past week, I was doing a drop in visit at a client’s house and was petting a cat on the chin. Kitty loved it so I lingered, chatting and scratching while kitty purred in bliss. A thought struck me and I said it to kitty: “I always thought I was slowly going insane. Now I realize I am on the express freight train instead.”

Kitty didn’t care. Kitty was in his own personal moment of comfortable bliss.

Read Full Post »

Lately I’ve been thinking about perspective, and how I often need adjustments to mine. I get caught up in dwelling all about me, and my wishes and needs, and sometimes forget about others. Then something happens and I get a eye-opener. So, I’ve listed a few situations that have another side that offers a whole new perspective.

 

When one is having a bad day– running late, and nothing going right, and you see a car while doing your morning errands…then seeing that same car again later in the day on the back of a tow truck, this time with crumpled damage.

When one has to take a detour— how much of an inconvenience will this be?… and then hearing about someone who had to have their keys taken away and can’t drive any more.

When the drive-thru messes up one’s order… and then they pass a homeless, hungry person or the line at a soup kitchen or a church with a reminder of a food drive.

When one has a bad hair day– it’s frizzy, unruly, or won’t cooperate… and then crosses paths with a cancer fighter who is bald from chemotherapy.

When one doesn’t like anything — can’t find any decent clothes in the closet or the dishes are mismatched or furniture is old and ratty….and then the neighbor’s house burns and they lose everything they have.

When one has a fight with their spouse, parent or child and is justifiably angry… and then pass by a funeral.

When the newspaper is wet, damaged or not delivered at all…. and then encounters one who doesn’t know how to read.

When it hurts– one twists their knee/ankle or somehow hurts themselves….and then encounters someone missing a limb (or some other obvious limitation)

When the friend/ relative/ date stands one up…then learns of a lonely or bullied person who commits suicide ( or tries to) because they felt they were alone or un-loveable.

These scenarios are not meant to be depressing or upsetting. They were intending to remind myself, and anyone else who needs a gentle reminder, that no matter how bad things may seem right now…there is always someone else who is experiencing it worse. It’s all in our perspective.

It seems on the days when I am feeling sorry for myself over some grievance is when I am graciously handed such a reminder that it’s not all about me. The car occurrence really did happen this weekend. While out running errands, I spotted a car that for some reason stuck out to me. A couple of hours later, I spotted it again while I was going to meet a friend, this time loaded on the back of a tow truck.  Suddenly my rushed schedule paled in comparison and I scribbled most of these situations on my way to my appointment.

 

 

Read Full Post »

images-31Lately I’ve been thinking about making it through things. It could be an event, a period in our life, an illness, a test, a divorce, a wedding, a meeting, a drive, or just whatever “it” currently is. And the interesting thing is the “it” tends to change as time progresses, but there always seems to be some form of “it” that we are always just trying to make it through. Or at least it seems like that for me.

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been battling a cold-turned-acute bronchitis. Simply put: I have physically felt miserable just about non-stop for many endless days. And during this time I’ve had overlapping pet care dates scheduled and multiple doctor appointments while still maintaining my full time job and attempting to catch up on writing chores and household responsibilities whenever I could in between. You could safely say I’ve felt stretched like the cookie dough under a rolling pin.

So I’ve had a whole bunch of “it’s” to make it through. Some were fairly short, like the drive to and fro the various places I needed to be, or the doctor appointments, and those brief moments where I could knock a few to-do items off my list. Other things are longer, like waiting for the bronchitis to run its course and the gut-retching cough to go away and waiting for test results to come back.

About a month ago I started reading a book, called “You’ll Get Through This” by Max Lucado. I like his writing style, and to be frank, the title appealed to me. It is a study of the life of Joseph from the book of Genesis, and how his life was a series of making it through some unfortunate experiences. He had misfortune, one after another, and always ended up triumphant in the end. I’m not looking for triumphant. I would be satisfied with a short break in between things I need to make it through. A period of calm in which nothing is expected of me except to just breathe.

I’d love just a temporary respite to soak in the afterglow of nothingness. A time to drift, not needing to do, to be, go, have, say, or get. Anything.  My very own “Calgon, take me away!” moment.

images-2

However, this raised a bigger question in my mind. Why do we feel we have to make it through “this”? Or climb the mountain? Or clear the hurdle? Or whatever metaphor you happen to personally like. Maybe we’re watching the  clock slowly creeping toward five o’ clock (or our own individual quittin’ time), counting down days until some big event or turning the pages of the calendar wondering where it all went or any other method of getting through. It seems life has become one big never-ending series of the next big-something. Something to dread or something to enjoy, something to endure or something to revel in. It’s always the wait for it to get here, the actual time spent, and the period immediately after to breathe deep or wipe the sweat away.

Sometimes for me that’s the time to grab chocolate and coffee. Celebrate. I’m big into celebrating even minor, small happenstances. Competing projects, surviving rough patches of time, and accomplishing challenging tasks will all garner the reward of chocolate and coffee and a few moments of treasured nothingness– to soak in the glow of satisfaction.

But still, I wonder, if there is some way to live a life that isn’t constantly filled with the sense of “I will make it through this” or worse yet, “I have to make it through this.” Can we just reach a point were life is lived, hourly or daily or by the minute, without the constant looking beyond the “right now”? Where escapism isn’t required or used as a reward for surviving? Because, in all honesty, I suspect my chocolate and coffee treat is sometimes a means to escape as much as a celebration for success.

 

Read Full Post »

Last year, about this time, I posted on the evolution of my blog. It had turned five years old and had taken a few radical turns over those years. My ponderings were on those twists.

This year–as my blog turns an incomprehensible six years old–I find those original thoughts to still hold true, with a year’s worth of experience to add to. However, first, a review of last year’s post:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jan 1, 2016: In a few months my blog will turn five. I can hardly believe it. Just like I can hardly believe it’s already 2016. As I was taking the calendars down last night, I considered the fact it didn’t seem that long ago I put them up. And now I’ve turned their pages twelve times. I’m sure a few of you can relate.

And that got me to thinking about this blog. It hardly seems possible I started it, albeit very reluctantly, back in May of 2011. I had very little knowledge of what a blog really was, let alone the purpose of creating one. Yet I had been told if I wanted to be a serious writer, I needed one. So voila, Summersrye was created. Had I known then what I know now, I’d have skipped the nickname thing and just used my proper name. But I like Rye, and not knowing any better, it seemed acceptable. Honestly, I don’t recall how I ended up at WordPress. It might have just been the first blog site that popped up when I plugged in a Google search.

keyboard and notebook

I went through recently to see what kind of posts I’ve written and the transformation this blog has undergone. The results sort of surprised me. My first post was May 11, 2011, called “Starting out”. That was pretty much it for 2011. In 2012 there were a whole 17 posts. The content changed directions twice. First I was going to take a non-fiction manuscript and blog it piece by piece. Feedback was nil. I even sent out a post asking “Am I doing this right?” of which I got one response back. Okay, at least someone out there in cyber world was aware I was blogging.

directions sign

Then I got the contract for my first book, “Whispers in her Heart”, the book that would forever change my life. I was going to be a published author. Time to get really serious about this blogging thing. Right? My posts changed from the random and non-fiction snippets to lots of “Whispers” stuff.Whispers cover from amazon

2013 I posted about 48 times, (give or take one) I was learning book promotion and it showed. I started putting in progress on edits and cover creation as well as teasers for “Whispers”, and a few pictures of my first book signings. I included poetry and shared life happenings. I opened up just a little, trying to remember if anyone was reading this, they were a real person on the other end of the computer screen. I shared photos of my pets, who are part of my life. I shared personal reflections and works in progress.

chasing ideas

2014 I continued sharing anecdotes and photos of my pets. I was now reading other people’s books and trying my hand at posting my reviews. I was following other blogs and re posting things I found interesting. Now I had a few books out and was regularly sharing status and updates on “Whispers”, “Shimmers of Stardust”, and “When Clouds Gather”. I posted more times than ever before.

Recipe for writing success

2015 was much the same. Book reviews. Pet anecdotes. Personal situations. Personal reflections. I was getting pretty personal this year. My family of books was growing. Now we added “Chasing the Painted Skies” and “Sizzle in the Snow” Anthology plus more works in progress and two more slated for 2016. I had people contact me asking if I would please read and review their books. I added the new feature somewhere along the way of hosting authors, interviewing them and talking about their books. In exchange, I was usually hosted on their blogs. Giveaways were another new feature in 2015.

All in all, not bad for a kid who few thought would ever make a writer. I recall hiding in my closet, pounding away on an old manual typewriter I bought at a garage sale. I baby sat so I had money for paper, notepads, and pens. Finally my mother gave me an electric typewriter for either my birthday or Christmas when I was around twelve. To have access to the electric outlet, I had to move out of the closet and into first my bedroom and then a corner of the long harvest table situated in the living room. I guess she wanted to see her daughter once in a while.

old typewriter

So while looking back, I also want to look forward. What do I want this blog to accomplish in our brand new 2016? Well, I want it to be a communication point. First, I want to be able to share news with readers about new books, giveaways and anything else share-worthy. I want to continue having others from other houses on my blog, sharing news about their exciting new releases. Bonus if they offer giveaways too. I want to grow the book reviews. In fact, I just finished a sassy little story last night and will be posting a review this weekend. And I have that author scheduled to be hosted on the blog in a few weeks.

Writing is a gift

Of course I want to share stories and pictures of my zany pets. They are the world to me, as many pet owners will testify. I’d be tickled if readers shared their wonderful pet pictures. I will also continue to share personal reflections and observations. Sometimes life gets rough or crazy and it’s nice to talk about it on a blog. It may not fix it, but it makes handling it a little easier. I follow a few blogs of people who do that very well. I’ll probably go back to posting some of the poetry from time to time and maybe some short flash fiction or sample chapters. That has been in the back of my mind for a while too.

Happily ever after

The end result, I want 2016 to be a year of growth and connection both for this blog and my writing career.

 

 

 

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Well, now it’s time to turn the calendars to 2017. I have added a pet sitting service to my life this year, which does had the unfortunate side effect of eating into my writing life. The bonus is I have met some interesting people and wonderful dogs and cats this year. I have settled comfortably into the house I bought in late 2014, but still have two rooms to paint (still!) and a few odd chores here and there I tackle when I need a break from writing.

What I would like to do with this blog in the coming months is much what I’ve done the last two years–share book reviews, host authors and their works, and continue the ‘Been Thinking About’ posts. Naturally I want to keep sharing misadventures of my pets, though my rescue collie, Ty, has his own blog I struggle to keep up with here on WordPress. Since I have two more books coming out in 2017, I want to share the steps from edits to covers to final release. I have a special giveaway planned for the first one, a Food & Love anthology coming up around May (ish).

Since I have two works in progress, and one more I hope to start soon, I want to share sample chapters. The opening chapters to one is already on my website at http://www.ryanjosummers.com. And I would like to encourage everyone to leave a comment with what they would like to see included in this blog, or more or less of any feature.

Lastly, I wish everyone a happy and healthy and wonderful new 2017.

Read Full Post »

Lately I have had rejections on my mind. There is no particular reason for it, no painful angst or sting of a recent rejection fueling it. Just a random thought that popped into, and lodged, in my quirky mind. Perhaps it’s because my mind has been especially creative of late, and this is simply one more creative seed to sprout.

walk-disney

I happened to unearth some rather famous writers who also suffered the rejection dejection syndrome before they became famous to the rest of us. Actually, it was in the latest Writer’s Digest magazine and I found it an interesting read.

Stephen King, the King of Horror writing, tossed his early draft for Carrie into the trash. From 1971 to 1973, he wrote he was “vulnerable, the the vivid dreams and ambitions of childhood seem to pale in the harsh sunlight of what we call the real world.”. His wife pulled Carrie from the trash and the novel went on to be rejected by 30 publishers. Eventually he was offered an advance of $2,500 by Doubleday. The paperback rights went to Signet Books for $400,000.

stephen-king

Steve Berry. He’s a number 1 international best selling author of 16 thrillers. He said “From the day I wrote my first word to the day I sold my first word was a span of 12 years.” In that time he completed eight manuscripts. He submitted five of them, and was rejected 85 times. It was the 86th attempt that “things happened for me.”

Judy Blume–who hasn’t read her children’s stories either as a child or to our children? She writes: “For two years, I received nothing but rejections. One magazine, Highlights for Children, sent a form letter with a list of possible rejections. ‘Does not win in competition with others’ was always checked off on mine. I still can’t look at a copy of Highlights without wincing. I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be.”

virginia-woolf

Saul Bellow (admittedly I’d never heard of him. Turns out he won the Pulitzer Prize. the Nobel Prize, and the National Medal of Arts. I’m impressed.) He writes, “I discovered that rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgement and to say in his heart of hearts, “To hell with you.'”

Brad Meltzer, bestselling writer and children’s book author. On his website, he had a Q & A. The question was: How do you handle rejections from publishers? His answer was: “I gave their email addresses to my mother. You don’t  know pain until you’ve met Teri Meltzer. Fear it.”

writing-is-hope

Kathryn Stockett, she’s the lady who wrote that incredible bestseller, The Help. She states: “After rejection No. 40, I started lying to my friends about what I did on the weekends. They were amazed by how many times a person could repaint her apartment. The truth was, I was embarrassed for my friends and family to know I was still working on the same story, the one nobody apparently wanted to read.”

Wow, there are some heavy weight writers, talking plainly about their pain, embarrassment, and trials before the big one was discovered. Before their careers took off. And before they were known. So what can I say of my own trail of rejection?

Like most every other writer out there, I can wallpaper a house with my collected rejection slips. In the early days, they were well deserved. I was submitting before I was ready, a lesson I had to learn. Once they became less form letter, and started having encouraging little notes added to the margins, I knew I was on the right track. That still took years upon years. I lost count of exactly how many– twenty something. I finally started placing articles with magazines and devotionals. It gave me credibility with publishers, by-lines to add weight to my bio, and validity to my soul. Ah, sweet validity!

Finally I landed a contract for my first novel, a contemporary romance with paranormal and mystery elements. I learned so much with that book and that publisher. I followed it up with five more novels, two anthology inclusions, a novella, and numerous articles over a whirlwind four years. And two more publishing houses.

whispers-cover-from-amazon

And I still get rejections. Despite all that, I still feel the sting of being turned down. I have a couple finished manuscripts, that don’t fit the genre of either publisher, so I am looking around for an agent that does handle them. I am going to have to add on a room to my house so I have somewhere to hang all the new rejection slips I am accumulating. Yet like the famed authors who shared their heartache, I will dream of when these literary babies find a home and become shared with the rest of the world. To me, that is what we write for…to share our stories with the world.

murder

Read Full Post »

Call me different, but I tend to think about words. Not only their obvious meaning but also how they feel. I have words I really like–favorites if you will, and some words I don’t particularly care for. My parrot and I play a game called ‘Word of the Day’. It goes like this: I discover some random word and repeat several times to Taz, along with that tagline. Sometimes he picks it up, but not always. And they are usually words like ‘monstrosity’, ‘fortuitous’, ‘incorrigible’, and ‘advantageous’. Taz has quite vocabulary when he so wants to. ‘Poopmiester’ is another word we use a lot. If you know birds, you understand.

Now, some of my favorite words are ‘endeavor’, ‘happenstance’, ‘rhapsody’, and ‘serendipity’.  Those are great words. I also like ‘challenge’ a lot. ‘Silly’ is a fun little word, as is ‘awesome’. They sound like ice cream on the tongue. Taz’s favorite words appear to be “no’, why’, ‘what’, ‘where’s nuts’ and the names of departed dogs and cats.

Some people might be drawn to more sweet or harmonious words like ‘joyful’, and its cousin ‘enjoy’ or twins ‘honey’ and ‘sweet’. ‘Bliss’, ‘melody’, and ‘pleasant’ are idyllic words too.

How about some not so nice words? ‘Bad’, ‘evil’, ‘demonic’, ‘ruthless’, ‘dark’, ‘sinister’, and ‘ill-boding’ are all enough to send chills down some spines. Or pique the interest of those who like thrillers and horror stories. There is also the other negative spectrum of ‘hopeless’, ‘gloomy’, ‘bleak’ and ‘despondent’ to color your world grim.

I love the word ‘rain’, and the action of rain falling, which I am reveling in now as I pen this from the comfort of my wicker chair on the porch. Our sizzling summer temperatures have finally, blessedly, dipped a few degrees to give a measure of relief. A few yellowed leaves tumble to the grassy ground. Birds chirp and twitter as they hop about among the shrubs. What a tranquil scene. If only I could linger in this snapshot of time longer.

One last thought. In 1984, as a child of fourteen, and already an amateur wordsmith, I purchased a thesaurus. It was the perfect investment of my baby sitting funds for my budding writer career/ dream/ passion. I still have that book proudly gracing my reference shelves. It’s held together with layers of yellowed tape, thumb worn and ink marked, but it has been an undeniable help to me over the years. Nowadays, my computer has this  built-in thesaurus feature and it’s okay. Mediocre. Yet I still prefer the old paperback held together with tape.

Read Full Post »

While cruising down the road recently, I passed an older gentleman selling baskets of peaches from the back of his pick up truck. A car was driving away, doubtlessly with a basket of peaches or two on the floorboards. The old farmer was pocketing the proceeds from his sale in his shirt. And that split moment snapshot made me mentally pause and think. Such is the fodder for our stories: these observations frozen in time.

While I could not immediately think of a place for this scene in any of my current works in progress or upcoming ones. Instead I tucked it away mentally for down the line and considered the POV. If I were ever to write something based on this short scene, what POV would I use? Whose story would this belong to?

We have the farmer who just sold the basket of peaches. He would surely have a story to tell. What went into growing his crops and harvesting them? What about the customers now driving away? Imagine the plans they have for the peaches. Peach Pie? Peach cobbler? Fuzzy navels at the block party this weekend? Peach Ice Cream? Or did they fight over stopping to buy them because one wanted them and the other one didn’t? And now they were going to be late to their destination.

Or what if there is another character? A kid walking along sees the same thing and rushes forward, robbing the old farmer, taking his cash and kicking the remaining baskets around. Peaches roll into the road and grassy shoulder. Punk brat needs to learn a lesson but what is his story?

And we can always have another car come along, the driver witnesses the car driving away and the attack against the farmer. Perhaps this individual has been wanting to do something positive, something to make a difference. Wow…this is the perfect chance. he can jump out and help the old farmer. Yeah!

Except he–or she– is either A) terribly afraid of any confrontation/ danger; B) running late right now and can’t risk being tardy to his/ her destination’ or C) whatever sounds really creative here. No phone booth to change clothing? Gas pedal sticks and he/she can’t stop the car? Big truck behind him/ her and he/she can’t risk stopping now or risk getting run over by an eighteen wheeler blowing its airhorn?

That individual could provide enough interesting stuff to make their own story. Either way, whoever gets to tell this story, it would make a good writing prompt to shake off any writer’s block or stimulate sluggish brain cells. It would be a chance to be funny and write crazy stuff or sentimental or serious. Or maybe one of the characters would have enough to say after all to take over and the snapshot scene would lend support to an entire book.

Prompts and snapshots are all around us when we just open our eyes and imagination to them. Personally, I think it goes something like this…

The farm knows judo and kicks the daylights out of that punk. The passing car is actually the kid’s probation officer who pulls over to the side of the road, lets the trucker go on by and then crosses over the road, grabs the kid and hauls him back to detention where he is reformed eventually. The farmer gets his money back and is reimbursed for the spoiled peaches. The couple who bought the last baskets made it to their destination on time, and used the peaches to make peach and buttercream cake for their son’s birthday, once he got out of detention. Yeah, same kid. He got his just dessert, or fruits of his labor.

How would you write this story?

 

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »