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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

These days I have dozens of magazine articles and several books under my belt. I have signed contracts for more books to come. I am considered to be a serious writer by my friends and family. So when I say I can’t go somewhere or take part in some event, because I have deadlines or edits, they accept it peacefully.

But that hasn’t always been the case.

Back before I ever had an article or story published, I was mostly a closet writer. Few people other than my immediate household knew I wrote. Many knew I loved to read, but no one put a connection between the two. Writing remained a secret endeavor of mine.

adult frowned male writer working on typewriter at home

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When I was working on something great and was asked to attend something, it would be awkward to find excuses not to so I could stay home and write. Sometimes I really didn’t want to attend the function. I wanted–needed–to stay home and write but the explanation would go over as well as saying I couldn’t go out because I was washing my hair. Without published clips, I lacked the credibility to say I had to stay in and write.

But the fact is, writing those early “learner” stories, short shorts, poems, articles are all just as important as our tenth or twentieth published, or “real” book or article or poem. They all need to be drafted, written, revised, polished, etc…. Whether they make it fully through the road to publication is immaterial to their value–even in the eyes of our family and friends.

crop woman with coffee writing in notebook on bed

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The ones that end up in the bottom of the drawer are just the necessary stepping stone to publication. But are they valid “writing”? Enough to be used as an acceptable excuse to avoid temporary socialization? Can we say we need to research now or have edits due back to the publisher Monday or submission deadline and be viewed as legitimate? Or just using a lame excuse?

woman in gray sweater sitting on wooden floor typing on portable computer

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When do we become the “writer” or “poet” or “artist” who can use our craft as acceptable validity to remain in and work just as any other real work worker? The lawyer preparing for trial, the student studying for finals, the medical professional, the self-employed person who has after hours admin. All of them are excused because they have “work to do”. When does the literary artist cross that line and join their ranks?

 

 

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via Friday Features September’s Song by Ryan Jo Summers

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I’ve been writing a story for a little while now, and happened to a scene where one character needed to put on a Christmas-y smelling perfume. I’ve already written a few lines here and there about pine tree scent and cranberries and such hackneyed things, but I wondered, okay, what does a Christmas-y perfume smell like?

christmas cookies on tray

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Disclaimer here, I have anosmia, which means no sense of smell. Zero. Never have and doubtlessly never will smell a single thing; good or bad. It’s just one of those quirky things that makes us all different.

Actually, since I’ve never smelled anything, I don’t have a clue what I am missing out on, which is okay in my book. On the flip side, I did nearly burn the house down once and did try cooking a bagel in the microwave for five minutes once. Both ended kind of badly since I had my back turned away and did not notice the black smoke directly behind me. So lessons learned. It could have been worse on both counts.

photo of woman smelling red flowers

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Yet, on the other hand, I also don’t know how to describe everyday things. Fresh cut grass for example. I’ve heard it smells good, but it’s very hard to research what it really does smell like. I’ve heard flowers and fresh baked goods are pleasant. Again, hard to pinpoint exactly what makes them good. The list is endless.

Same for bad. What makes a fart bad? How come some are bad and some are not even noticed? How long does the scent linger in the air from bad odors? Why do people say a dog smells like a dog? What is it supposed to smell like? If the air outside is smoky and smelly, and you open the windows to air something out, wouldn’t that same smoky and smelly stink get inside? And if so, how do you get it out?

I have so many questions regarding smells, it would literally take days for researching them all or someone to explain this stuff to me. But back to my Christmas-y perfume quandary for the story. I found this place on line that makes oils, candles, and all sorts of things for every scent possible. Literally every scent one could want.

I was in awe. They have Christmas scents, childhood scents, pet scents, (ya know I had to check that one out) masculine scents, Easter scents, spa scents, and on and on and on. Oh my stars! It was like Narnia or something. I kept clicking away, trying to figure out what made these things smell good.  Again, not much to work with in the understanding department, but I was trying.

And some of these scents just made no sense. (Yes, pun intended)

Doodlebug. Boogeyman. Bite me. (Vampire) Black tie.  Best friends. Bermuda triangle. Elf sweat. Aliens. How in the devil does one know what those things smell like? How can one make a candle, or whatever that smells like that? Yeah, hey, come on over and sniff my new boogeyman candle. What do ya think? Just like the real boogeyman, right?

aroma aromatherapy aromatic blur

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But aside from the improbable scents to nail down, they had an impressive array of things that sent me scrambling for a notepad and pen. Coffee scents is a big one that that stumps me. It smelled like coffee. Not good enough. The chocolate page is great, but it made me want to run to the kitchen for some chocolate. Men’s cologne is another one that stumps me. Now I have some names in my arsenal.  Not sure what they all are, but I can work with what I now have.

beverage breakfast caffeine chocolate

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And the impressive thing is there are other holiday scents I can tap into and even events if need be. And this is just one site I discovered. What if there are other pages like this one, dedicated to describing the scents that go into making sense of the smells? Really?

I am just in awe.

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With a title like that, several things could come to mind. Hair extensions, contract extensions, or maybe extending a warranty. Except I was thinking of a house porch. My porch measures only 12 feet by 7 feet, and probably like a lot of people, wish it was larger. Or at least wish it stretched a little longer along the house.

white wicker padded bench

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Whatever it’s size, I really like my porch. It is a continual on-going source of work. When I bought the house, the porch was painted completely white, including the steel door, and the porch boards were a nice blue/gray. Over the years I painted the door two shades of complimenting green with a gold highlight. I also painted the top and bottom porch rails a pretty mint green and alternated the vertical pickets the same mint green and white. Finally I touched up the blue/ gray flooring and added white lattice all the way around the foundation.

And since doing that, I have had to re-sand and re-do parts of this as I work on finishing the end result. Because my  house hints at Victorian design, I am aiding it along by making the porch as Victorian as possible, despite it’s small size. When I get it finished, there will also be horizontal boards along the top of the porch header, with matching green, white and gold spindles to frame the porch. Lots of work, but well worth it when it’s done.

However, today it occurred to me the porch is more of an extension than just a project constantly in the works. I see the porch as an extension of the house. An open-air room that needs cleaning up but not necessarily dusted. It’s the first thing guests see upon reaching the driveway and it’s a spare room to sit and visit. Yes, I even have a porch swing and wicker sofa/ coffee table on my porch. It is where I display my green thumb in the warm months and some of my ceramic critters. It’s another room despite it not being counted in the official square footage. It is an extension of the inside living space. When I can, I love to sit out there and watch the rain fall or write while listening to the windchimes and birds calling.

And it occurred to me today the local wildlife see my porch as an extension of the outside living space. Birdfeeders hang from the porch and bird baths, bird houses, and other feeders are spaced around the yard. The birds, squirrels, and chipmunks routinely visit the porch in search of seeds and other goodies. To them, it’s just one more place food might be found.

selective focus photography of house finch perched on bird feeder

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

So that got me to thinking, how many other things in our lives serve a dual purpose, sometimes without us even being aware of it. A vehicle can be a mode of transportation to get us from A to B to C and back again, or it can also be a status symbol. Or an oddity if it’s a collector’s vehicle. A phone is a devise to call someone. Call mom, call the boss, call home. (Remember E.T.?) Yet our phones do so much more. Mine doubles as a map, camera, texting devise and sometimes a timer.

You can probably see where I am going with this. Just as a doorway is a way in to or out from, many things in our lives pull double duty as we just travel through our days. As they say: perception is everything, and how something works or is viewed by us is based on our perception of it at that moment.

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As I write this, everyone everywhere is caught in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic. People are sick, dying, going bonkers in quarantine and missing out on valuable family memories. Some are getting creative in how they cope and some just struggle through the madness one moment at a time.

assorted silver colored pocket watch lot selective focus photo

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For me, the quarantine isn’t so bad. I’m a homebody who finally gets to stay  home. I’ve yearned for some time alone at home for years now. I’m sorry it has come at such a huge cost to the world, and the nation, but overall, I am handling the stay-home order well. I have supplies, food, and pets. I’m good.

What does upset me is the zillions of people posting on social media sites of how incredibly bored they are. Bored?? I wish! My problem is quite the opposite. For starters, like millions of others, my small business has all but dried up. No one needs dog walkers or pet sitters at the moment, so all my business income is gone. I am hoping this will be a temporary set back, and not a year-long problem. My larger dilemma at the moment is my health.

Beginning a few weeks before coronavirus was a well-known word, I began having discomfort in my left hip, leg and foot. It worsened so that by the time everyone cancelled on me, I was actually thankful for the break due to the excruciating agony of trying to drive, walk, etc… required of me.

So now I had spare time at home–lots of spare time–and I hurt too bad to enjoy it. I look at the dusty house, disorganized garage, plants that never got planted in the gardens last fall, and the mounds of writing I have to get done (since some of it is already past due). Unfortunately I still cannot sit for long, bend, kneel, or do much of anything. The pain killers I take to manage through the day only make me too groggy to write. This gift of time at home each day is sadly being wasted. And I’m upset at the thief who is stealing it.

person near apple keyboard and cup with coffee beans

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I have a surgery date scheduled and if the hospital does not cancel elective surgeries, I will soon be okay, and pretty much able-bodied. Perhaps then I can sit long enough to write, plus clean and organize or maybe plant some things in the yard. In the meantime when I read people complaining on social media about  how bored they are, I want to scream. Then I want to invite them over and greet them at the door with either a broom, dust mop, brush, rake, or shovel. I can fix ‘bored’. What I cannot fix is time stealing all my free stay-home days that are systematically being wasted.

shallow focus photography of hourglass

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

 

 

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Gamechanger has been a word used in my life a fair bit lately. When I reflect back over the previous twelve months, I can see several gamechanger events that blended together and made 2019 resemble a fruit smoothie.

Some have been good events, a few planned out and brought to fruition and others just a happy happenstance. A few were tragic, negative or just plain bad. Either way, they each added to the mixture.

A few happy examples include the installation of a secondary fenced yard that eliminates the need to leash walk dogs now.  Not only does that make walking multiple dogs easier, that became critically important in December.  A surgery in December proved to be helpful in long-standing health concerns. A new book release with a new publishing house last fall has opened more literary doors.

Most recently a chance occurrence with my old house lead to a partial bathroom remodel, that includes the happy addition of  a 1925 Kohler claw-foot tub, which happens to be a long-term dream of mine to have. I have a wonderful old soaking tub now, which is a positive gamechanger.

In the spring, I impulsively bought some day-old chicks, and then some more chicks. It was crazy when they outgrew their brooder and started wandering all over the house because everywhere I put them, they quickly outgrew it. It was several months before I finally got their outside coop finished and they moved out of my house. That was a gamechanger in itself, but it also taught me I could transform my little courtyard to a backyard chicken coop.

Negatively, February 2019 brought a tragic shock that took me about six weeks to even begin to recover from. Big gamechanger. In September my middle-aged computer crashed and I lost everything on it. Merrily I’d been storing files and pictures to a cloud-based storage, confident I had a good backup should I ever need it. Was I ever surprised to learn for three years everything that showed as uploaded on my end never actually reached the cloud. It was simply lost somewhere in the ozone.

Three years of everything was simply gone. Big gamechanger. One of those ‘gone’ things was the novel I’d been pounding away on for three years. It was to go to the publisher that coming weekend, I had the contract signed, a rough release date, and cover work was starting. Now it was Gone. Not a scrap was salvaged. That series of September losses took me two months to begin to get over.

As I run 2019 back through my memory, with the exception of those two massive setbacks, it hasn’t been too bad. I adopted a senior dog and enjoy her company immensely. I have stayed busy in my “day job” business and it feels good to know I am appreciated and needed.

I have learned to master new technology tricks, especially with my smart-alec phone, and they’ve certainly been gamechangers. I can now verbally dictate notes into the phone, send it to my email and retrieve it later on or text verbally on the go to clients, saving time I used to just sit and text. Gamechanger. Using the zoom and key photo options, I can capture great action shots of my clients, which makes them happy. Gamechanger. I have Lucille, the GPS map program that gives  me shortcuts to places I need to go, saving me untold hours each month in lost travel time. Huge gamechanger. All that stuff is just sitting in the palm of my hand.

Thinking of all these gamechanger advances and revelations, I can only hope to use them positively in 2020. My hope is to remain more diligent with blogging. Time escaped me in 2019, and maybe I can reclaim some of it going forward. I might even get to reading a few of the countless books I’ve purchased in the last couple of years and start leaving reviews here again. I do read, but I am not at liberty to post those reviews.

I’d like to bring back the “I’ve been thinking…” feature. I do think–a lot–usually as I am running up and down the roads like the cartoon Roadrunner. Now that I’ve mastered the “Suri, send me an email” gamechanger, perhaps I can dictate the bones of my “thinking” and get it moved over to the blog relatively easily. Maybe.

With a houseful of critters, and those who live outside, I’d like to post pictures, anecdotes, and more. Heaven knows they keep me in stitches any given day.

Are there any special posts you’d like to see in this blog? If so, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts. This blog exists for others to read it. If I can put something meaningful here, that is all I can ask for.

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Heavy rain and thunderstorms are hitting my area right now. My poor collie, Ty, hated to go outside this morning and now is hiding in the corner of the kitchen as he tries to escape the big booms outside.

Me, personally, I love the thunderstorms. I delight in the rain falling in sheets and the crack of thunder and streaks of lightning. It’s a symphony I never seem to tire of. As I stood at the window, enjoying the show, it brought back a long-buried memory. And it got me thinking of when more is too much.

writing

When I was young, we often grew a yearly garden to have vegetable reserves for the coming year. One spring, when I was about ten or eleven, we had a terrific thunderstorm. It was flooding our garden. I was instructed to go outside, take boards, and try to barricade the garden.

It was pouring rain. I was soaked.  I recall using the board to push the dirt back as inches-deep muddy water rushed past my ankles, washing away our seedlings. I recall my bare feet sinking into the cold mud and my hair plastered to my scalp as I tried to beat the watery surge. It seemed equivalent to holding back the tide of the great lakes.

We had hoped for steady, soft rains to water our crops. Instead we got too much: a deluge of relentless rain that destroyed a portion of our garden. And sometimes we do that in other areas of our life.

Like when we tell a little white lie, that starts innocently enough and soon turns into a flood of endless falsehoods. Or spices added to a meal that should have enhanced it and instead drown out the food’s intended flavor.

Or when we are writing a scene and once we reach the wrap-up, we keep going  and going like the Energizer Bunny. The scene is complete, the loose ends tied up, and the conclusion is satisfying. We should close and move on. Instead, we belabor points, add dialogue or narrative that isn’t needed, and in general we linger in the scene far longer than necessary.

We have all read books like that, and some of us have written books like that. Yes, me too. I call it a learning curve and a rite of passage as we grow and mature as writers.

daydreaming kitty

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I can so relate with Snoopy right now. I plowed into 2018 with three new releases under my belt and a firm resolve to take a few months to recoup from those, and then spend the spring writing two more time-travel novels for late 2018 submission. However, a new opportunity presented itself last month so I  decided to temporarily pause the novels to work on a short story, of which I am now 3,000 words into.

While I do have more than one sheet of paper, I have limited time and reserves to write when I need to be doing everything else. I’ve heard it said writing is hard work. Personally, I don’t find the real writing so hard, I find many other aspects of being a writer the hard work.

I wish ol’ Snoopy all the luck with The Cabin and his one sheet of paper. In the meantime,  please wish me luck on the literary endeavors I am writing my way through.

Snoopy one sheet of paper

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Today I was thinking about starting a writing project. Whether it be a journal, memoir, book of fiction, or a poem, we all have to start somewhere. But where?

My dad has kept a journal for upwards of forty or fifty years. My own journal keeping started around 2004. My first book was written in 1979. My first poem was written shortly thereafter. Articles came later, as did novels. My great-aunt wrote poetry, though I’ve no idea when she started scribbling her thoughts.

Countless times I hear people say they’d like to write a book or a memoir, but they can’t. I’ve also heard countless reasons why. No time…no skill…no ideas…no notion of where to start. All I can say is you start where you begin.

Sit down with blank paper and a pen, or computer and open document. Write or type that first word. Then a second word. Etc… Change them and maybe change them back again. It doesn’t matter. The key here is to stick with it until you have something completely down. If it’s a journal, it’s your honest thoughts for that moment. If it’s prose, it’s a first draft, with time to go back and make it better. Ditto for song lyrics if that’s your passion. We all have to start somewhere.

When I began with my journal back around fourteen years ago, I had no grand plan of keeping lengthy journals. I was frustrated, scared, and desperately clinging to optimism at the time, and the writer in me begged–nay, demanded–that I write it down. So I sat and wrote, capturing all the pieces of my tumultuous life at that moment.

Since then, they’ve evolved into ‘chapters’, complete with titles to reflect the period of my life. As each stage of my life changes, one part closes and something new begins, I end that ‘chapter’ and begin a new one. November 24, 2017 I began chapter 11, titled ‘Standing on Faith & Stepping into the Unknown’. Chapter 10 was called ‘Strong in the Storm’. I’ve no idea when or how this eleventh chapter will end, but I don’t worry about it. I just write when inspired, and let the days and pages unfold. They average about a year and a half to two years, though many years ago I had an entire chapter covered in three months. That was an intense three months!

So whether you’re wanting to write that first word or tackle that fiftieth project–just begin it. And that is your point of beginning. You can only go forward from there. Good or bad, it can always be redone, but it can’t be undone. It might be lost or trashed, but it was done. Celebrate yourself, you have started. Congratulations.

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If you’ve been following my Facebook author page during the last few months, you probably noticed several short posts referring to “crazy woman” and either how far along I was with it or how crazy it was making me–along with two novels to edit for December releases and a non-fiction article deadline all looming simultaneously. The good news is everything is finished now, except the final wait.

Several months ago I noticed a call for submissions from Limitless Publishing, wanting stories that dealt somehow with the theme of ‘country’. I pondered a few days before sending them a proposal, which they replied with “Write it and send it to us. Deadline for edit ready scripts is…” Gulp! I got to making tracks…all over my keyboard. And I submitted it on time. But it drove me crazy.

Limitless Publishing is a multi-genre publishing house. They recently had two of their books recently picked up for  major motion pictures; “Ghost Files” & “Ghost Files 2”. They also have a number of Craving anthologies out on such themes as Christmas, soldiers, security, and bad (bad boys and wicked girls). My contribution is part of their 12-author Country theme. Right now they are seeking stories to include in their mafia collection.

The concept of the Craving: Country anthology is simple: There is something about a country boy that makes us hot for denim jeans and country hats.

They are mysterious, intriguing, confident and demand our attention in everything they do. Then there’s the fierce loyalty you see in their eyes that makes you think of tangled sheets and sinful deeds.

There’s definitely something sexy about a cowboy…

So pull on those jeans, roll up your sleeves, and grab your boots.  Things are about to get dirty in Craving Country.

My story is “Crazy Woman Creek”:

Legend of Crazy Woman Creek(1)

Craving;Country is set to release January 18, 2018, with the entire twelve story anthology. I am very excited to be a part of this. I’ve been included in a Christmas anthology with Soul Mate Publishing and Food & Love anthology with Melange Books and enjoyed both experiences tremendously. This is my third anthology and it makes me want to find a fourth!

“Crazy Woman Creek”

Rancher Dawson Lonigan is hunting for cattle and finds a lost woman. Though well dressed, she is scratched up, scuffed up, and suffering amnesia. He takes her back to his ranch, tends her wounds, and temporarily calls her Faith.  He shares with her the legend of Crazy Woman Creek and the Native American maiden who lost her beloved warrior and her spirit still haunts the area, and how she refuses to allow any couples to remain happy together.
Time passes. Faith stays on with Dawson, and tries to adjust to life on a ranch. It is not easy. The clothing seems foreign, the food tastes strange, and the people are different. She has no memories, only strong emotions and gut feelings.
To complicate her situation, she knows she has something important to do, but can’t remember what it could be. As Dawson spends more time with her, to help ease her frustrations, he goes from being a comforting presence to a smoldering attraction. Yet how can she fall for him when she doesn’t know who could be out there, looking for her? And what about the pale circle on her left ring finger?
It’s mutual for Dawson. Each hour he spends with Faith, he only grows to enjoy her more. She has a passion and a grit he admires, and he starts to hope she never discovers who she is, because he is liking who she is now a whole lot. He is encouraged how well Faith and his little girl strike up a relationship too. All he can do is hope there is no husband or lover out there looking for her.
Attraction grows. Passion grow. Life settles into a routine. Then a visitor to the ranch mentions about city folk on their land. Well-heeled men. Faith goes in search of them, knowing they are somehow a part of her past. She finds them, only to learn too late why she left.
Dawson tracks Faith back to Crazy Woman Creek and finds her and who she was running from in her past.

 

 

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