Tuesday, September 27

Tuesday Randomness

Kids, I’ve got nothin’ today. I hate to say that because it seems to indicate that my creative well has dried up and I sure hope that’s not true. But the fact is, if I start talking about writing, I’m going to whine and I’m so over the sound (or the visual) of my own whining . . . there are no words. Plus, it's my birthday week and I feel like sharing some cool things with you because . . . well, they’re cool.

If I've told you this before, please forgive me, but here’s a fascinating article about the French and how they eat–I think there’s something to be learned here. Two big things that Husband and I try to practice are portion control and eating simply. Because his dietary restrictions keep him from eating processed foods, we pretty much keep to all-natural foods with lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains and fish and chicken. Since he retired, our mealtimes are also no longer rushed affairs. We linger over coffee and conversation and devotions in the morning and generally take at least an hour to eat supper at night, two if it includes wine. I think there are probably people in this world who might think we drink too much wine, but hey, look at the French. They (and we) are doing just fine. (In the interest of full disclosure, I’m eating a piece of chocolate-iced angel food cake while I write this . . .)

Are any of you old enough to remember The Dick Cavett show? I just ordered his book Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks because I adore Dick Cavett and always have, I got a great Amazon gift card for my birthday, and I need to read something besides fiction right now. I loved watching his show with my mom when I was in high school and I remember feeling so intelligent because I could actually follow his conversations and I got his very dry wit. Sometimes he could be so snarky and because sarcasm was practically a second language in our house, he was very appealing. Husband and I continued to watch him after we got married, and funny, I kinda think that’s why we enjoy Garrison Keillor so much, although he’s more a storyteller than a pundit, but he’s a dry wit, too, and very entertaining. Anyway, Dick Cavett is still around and doing interviews for HuffPost and others. Go to his website for some fun.

I recently bought Scrivener—a writing program that’s supposed to make you be a better, more organized writer by helping you "write, structure, and revise." My goal for this winter is to learn how to use it by writing my new novel with this program. My buddy, the brilliant podcaster Alastair Stephens told me once that it’s fabulous, so when Literature and Latte had it on sale for $40 for the program, I figured why not? For what it’s worth to you, it’s on sale again for $40—use the link here and give it a try. Now and again, I’ll keep you posted on my progress with it.

If you’re a Gilmore Girls fan (and if you aren’t, why aren’t you!?), then you probably already know that Netflix is reviving the show--four 90-minute specials with nearly all the original cast reprising their roles. I’m so jacked up about this and you guys know, I don’t watch TV, so for me to be excited about a television show is rare. Well, okay, I don’t watch much TV, but you know, honestly, Netflix has changed the face of television for me. I can be choosy, I can binge-watch shows that I missed because, again, I don’t watch TV the way most people do. I’m currently deep into Season 2 of The West Wing—a show that so many people have told me is fantastic and wow, it is. I’ve watched both seasons of Grace and Frankie and can’t wait for season 3 because it’s hilarious and, duh, Sam Eliot. Confession? I may not watch TV when everyone else does, but I’m a Netflix junky.

I also got a giant kick out of Netflix’s presentation of The Little Prince—a book I read in college, in the original French. (Aren’t you impressed?!) Le Petit Prince was delightful and why not? I mean Jeff Bridges stars and he’s great even as an animated little old man. One of my favorite quotes in the world comes from that story, “It is only with heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” Man, isn’t that the truth?

Okay, enough randomness for one day, don’t you think? Do you love these little excursions inside the minds of the Word Wranglers? It’s what happens when we think we're at a loss for words, but, truth be told, we’re never really at a loss for words . . . Enjoy your Tuesday!

Monday, September 26

It's about the learning

One of the greatest things about being a writer is that as long as you're doing it, you never stop learning. You have some basics already, things you've read and osmosed before you even started your journey into the madness that is the writing life. Like these:

  • Write what you know.
  • Writers are born, not taught.
  • One POV to a scene. 
  • Write every day.
  • Love to write.
  • All genre fiction is formulaic.
  • Write what you know.

Got all those? Or, should I say, had all those? Because they're mostly wrong, aren't they? As you go along,  your list of what you know becomes longer and less neatly drawn. Those imaginary lines around that list? You can't color inside them. You shouldn't even try. Because:

  • Must of us don't know enough to keep writing what we know. I'm 66 and I'd have been done by the time I was 29. And that's giving myself a break on what I think I know.
  • I think I was born to write. I do. But I don't think all writers are. I think some of them just learn that well. I am bitterly envious of those who can.
  • I DO write with one POV to a scene, but only because I've been badgered into it and the truth is I'm pretty naturally compliant (not one of my favorite traits about myself.) When I read, I'm perfectly happy with more than one POV. Go figure.
  • Most of the time, I write every day. But when I don't, I don't. The sky doesn't fall, the manuscript doesn't curl up and die. My family still loves me. My reason for writing every day is that as long as I do, I can slip easily back into the place I left. If I have some off days in there, it takes longer to get comfortable on page 73.
  • I love to write more than any other one thing in my life--no, not more than the people there--but more than any other activity. I just read A Wilder Rose, about Rose Wilder Lane, and was surprised to learn that she didn't love writing at all but was very good at it. For her, it was a living. I guess for me it's life.
  • I think genre fiction is formulaic in large part. So? I've never understood the problem with that. You read what you like, right?
  • If you write what you don't know, you learn about it. Back we go to one of the "greatest things."

 What about you? Tell us what you thought you knew then and what you think you know now.

Have a great week!


Saturday, September 24

Vacation is Over!

I was supposed to begin blogging here at Word Wranglers at the beginning of September, but I was away on vacation so the date got pushed back. My husband and I drove to Ontario to visit relatives in Toronto and Ottawa, a round trip distance of about 3,000 miles (4,828 kilometers). It was a lot of driving, but we had fun.

On the way there and back we played some golf and did a little shopping. We stayed with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law who have a lovely place on a lake. (I took this picture when we were last there in 2013, but the lake looks just as lovely.) My brother-in-law is having a milestone birthstone soon and we were all together to celebrate.

But now we’re home, and the vacation is officially over. It’s back to work, on all fronts.

At the day job where I work part-time, we’re gearing up for the busiest time of our year. I’m an accounting person and the audit is coming up pronto, followed quickly by sending out annual invoices for dues. Our conference is set for the beginning of February, and it’s a huge production to plan and execute.

And then there’s my writing. I’m trying to finish a three book series that I call ‘Love in the North Woods’ which I talked about last week. Though each book is a complete romance (three sisters, three romances), the over-arching mystery means the books should be read in order. So before I pitch/submit the first book in the series, I’d like at least a solid first draft of the other two. I also need to write blurbs for each of the books. Which means I’m writing my face off and scrambling to finish.

Speaking of pitching, in October I’m attending the Surrey International Writers Conference in Surrey, British Columbia, a suburb of Vancouver. Another reason to finish my WIPs. More about the conference in future posts.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, several weeks ago I signed up for a self-editing class called Before You Hit Send with Angela James, Editorial Director with Carina Press. This is a good class with TONS of information, but really, what was I thinking? I knew I was going to have a busy fall.

And of course there’s always the never ending time-sink of marketing and promotion.

Color me overwhelmed.

I’m worried about dropping one or more of these balls that I’m juggling. So my question to my fellow Word Wranglers and readers of this blog is, what do you do when you’re feeling overwhelmed with work and other life commitments? Do you put down your head and keep plowing through, or do you find a way to lighten the load?

If you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work!

Friday, September 23

Forcing the Muse

These past few weeks, my day job has commanded all my creative juices. As Margie can attest, the Holidays are beginning to hit the stores already. Holiday-related products. Holiday-related displays. Pumpkin spice everything. In order for all this holiday to make it to your store, someone has to sell it in first.
That’s where I come in. Today is the statewide holiday sales meeting for my wine & spirits employer. Today, my company showcases our holiday products and displays so that our sales force can go forth and conquer…er, I mean sell. I don’t sell; I do sales meetings. And with the fate of our holiday selling business on the line, I was given the marching orders to do this meeting up really big. Oh, and get creative.

Siiiiigh. I like to think of myself as a creative person, but the muse is temperamental and doesn’t like being on anyone’s timeframe but her own. So, to have to be creative is a bit daunting. And, hey, it’s only my job on the line, which doesn’t add any stress to the situation, right? Add to that, the minutia of putting together an event—the little bitty details no one thinks about or even knows about, but if they don’t get executed the big picture falls apart like a house without nails.

It’s like writing my masterpiece while at the same time heartlessly editing it. Like giving the creative muse free reign but then questioning everything. And it’s exhausting.

Okay, enough of my self-pity-party. By the time you read this, the meeting will be in full swing. As of this writing, everything is in order and as ready as it can be. All the company grand-poobahs are appropriately impressed with my preparations. And all I have to do is keep from tripping over my Greek Goddess costume. Plus, because the industry I work is has its benefits: there will be alcohol served.
As long a lunch shows up on time, I’m golden.

So the stress and pressure (and lack of writing) which has consumed me these last few weeks are over and I can get back to some semblance of normal. But it makes me wonder who else has to re-direct their muse, either occasionally or all the time? And how do you do it without going crazy?

Thursday, September 22

Thoughts in Autumn

I woke up in fall this morning. There was a nip in the air and I had to put on slippers. Kinda digging it. 

Won't last long as it's supposed to be close to 90 on Monday. But, today it feels like fall.

Okay, that's all I got this morning. Might have to venture into stream-of-conscious post.

Butterflies make me happy. I don't know if they always did, but ever since I started writing Ana's story, they inspire me.

I think I'm going to bake some Pumpkin Cheesecake Snickerdoodles today. 

I've decided that Hallmark movies are my guilty pleasure. Really looking forward to the October batch that are coming. And I've also been enjoying Chesapeake Shores on Sundays. 

I watched the premiere of This Is Us and didn't see the end coming. I'm eager to see where this show goes in the coming weeks. 

I love the idea of a owning a little free library. But, the cost to buy one is out of my budget and I'm not much of a carpenter--I think I'll need more than the hammer and nails I have at my disposal. 

When all else fails, I braid my hair. Apparently, a lot's been failing, because I seem to be braiding my hair more lately. Hmmm 

I still want to paint some rocks. Jordan and I bought some a couple of weeks ago and they are still on a card table out on my patio. Talk about procrastination. 

Vancouver "Rocks" is up to almost 25K members and they seem to be planting rocks in the community in force the last couple of days. I wonder if people feel more inclined to share goodness when there's more badness on the airwaves???

And this is where I leave you.  Enjoy the first day of Autumn and may the good trounce the bad.