The desolation of the neglected blog…

Tumbleweeds-6So, unless I’ve been prompted by my friends, well, by Juli, anyway, I haven’t added to my Pen Whore repertoire in quite some time. I still do write, I swear. Yes, there is a sequel to Old Dogs coming out.

When?

Soon….ish. Okay, whenever I get back to writing more regularly! Sheesh!

The fact of the matter is my behind is dragging when I get home from work every day. Working with animal is tiring, working with cats exclusively can really tax your energy. Sure, they’re smaller than (most) dogs, but they’re totally different. And there’s other stuff that makes me tired. Money (or the lack thereof), trying to keep up with the house (and failing miserably, I might  add), day to day worry and stress seems to be sapping my writing skills and desire down to doodley.

And yet the ideas still poke at me from time to time. I still drive past the Gainesville airport and think of Valerie and Daniel’s trip to Savannah. I wonder which hangar his plane is in. Every. Single. Time.

I need a vacation but the need to pay bills is much more pressing and so it continues. Anyway, by the time I finally got all sorted out and ready to write it’d be over and I’d be off to do whatever it is I had neglected.

Maybe the picture above needs to be of a glass of w(h)ine. Maybe with some cheese.

I’ll get back to writing. I promise. Now, has anybody seen my muse? About 7 inches tall, leathery wings, smells faintly of sulfur?

Liebster what?

So my very good friend and writing buddy Juli Page Morgan was nominated for  a Liebster Award and by virtue of my reading her blog, I’m nominated too! It’s a way to get some exposure for your blog and since I’m really bad about updating mine, I need all the help I can get.

The Liebster Award works like this:

1.  Anyone with less than 200 followers can be nominated.

2.  Each nominee should post eleven facts about herself or himself.

3.  Each nominee should answer the eleven questions that are asked by the person doing the nominating.

Here are the questions (and my answers:)

1.  Would you ever want to be as famous as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson or even Justin Beiber? Absolutely not. I despise being the center of attention so much, that when The Spousal Unit and I made it official, there were exactly 5 guests at our wedding. My parents, his parents and his sister. And it couldn’t get over with soon enough.

2.  Do you have a bucket list and if so what is #1 on the list?  No bucket list. I do, however, have a mental list of things that I Will Never, Ever Do. Skydiving is one of those.

3. If you could pick a particular time in history to live when would it be?  So many to choose from and so many I’d like to see, except for that whole Women As Chattel thing. I would not have done well in that sort of environment. If I lived in the mid-nineteenth century and was a character from Gone With The Wind, I would not have been Scarlett, or Melanie, or Pittypat. I would have been Belle Watling. I’d have driven my own horses and owned a whorehouse. Okay, maybe I wouldn’t have owned a whorehouse. Then, maybe I would have…;-)

4.  If you had to choose between beauty or brains which would it be?  If I had to make a choice, I’d choose brains. After all, how ugly are we talking here?

5.  Have you ever had a paranormal experience?  Not that I am aware of. I am fascinated by such occurrences but honestly don’t know how I would react to actually being confronted by a spirit. My fervent wish is that if it ever happens, it is a benevolent and kind spirit. Otherwise I’m finding a cave and not coming out.

6.  Is writing a passion, a hobby, or how you make a living?  It’s a need, an itch, and so frustrating when I’m tired or otherwise worn out and the words won’t come. I have made enough to buy a decent meal. Once.

7.  Were you ever the Homecoming King/Queen?  *snerk* I was one of the newspaper geeks and my uniform was jeans and t-shirts. Still is, actually.

8.  Who is your favorite author?  Well, there are so many. Diana Gabaldon, Harper Lee, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, J. V. Jones, Alexander McCall Smith, Juli Page Morgan, Thomas Harris (up until Hannibal, anyway)

9.  Oprah or Ellen?  Ellen makes me laugh, I keep hoping Oprah will give me a car.

10. What kind of car do you drive and what color is it?  The Spousal Unit and I have a 1995 black Ford F-150 pickup with loud pipes I affectionately call the BATmobile (Big Ass Truck) and a little blue Scion xD. I  love them both.

11. Where do you live and would you change it if you could?  I live in central Florida, the usual setting for my stories (write what you know!) but given a chance (and funds) I would live in Savannah, Georgia in a heartbeat. It’s already hot and humid in the summer where I live now and nowhere near as amazing as Savannah. Bugtussle is amazing only in its range of indigenous rednecks. And if I were really going for broke, I’d want to live in Scotland. The whole country is gorgeous, so I’d have a dilemma narrowing it down from there.

And to close it out, here are 11 random facts about me:

1. I watch the Antiques Roadshow every week. Every. Week. I would love to find a treasure like those.

2. I will always carry a grudge about my former employer. However it’s hard to be a hater in a college town and I’d have a job with them again so I could finish my education. Otherwise, it’s never going to happen.

3. I could be a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Daughters of the Confederacy several times over.

4. I am attracted to cemeteries and graveyards and could spend loads of time just wandering, taking pictures and reading the epitaphs. They’re oddly soothing to  me.

5. I am a total music slut and love to sing along with the player/radio/alone in the car. Almost any genre of music is fair game. I’ve collected music from ABBA to ZZ Top, with a scattering of Celtic, blues and bluegrass, soul and country, R&B and all points between.

6. If I could have my ideal weather year round, I’d have it around 70 F in the daytime and 50 or so at night. And I like rain. Not until the Ark floats, mind you, but soft weather is nice.

7. While I’m wishing for ideal circumstances, my ultimate goal of residence would be to live on a number of wooded acres, a source of water in some form (river, creek, lake) nearby, with a couple of horses, some chickens maybe. I want to be able to hear the quiet, not shrieking neighbors and/or trains at all hours.

8. Despite my enjoyment of gardening, orchids have always eluded me, until recently. As an anniversary/Valentine’s gift (our anniversary is 1 week after V Day) this year, The Spousal Unit took me to a two hour workshop devoted to growing orchids and we got to take home the plants we repotted. And they’re still alive! And they’re going to bloom!!!

9. I love art glass, Waterford crystal, Tiffany and stained glass windows. I also own four cats. I do NOT own any art glass, Waterford crystal, Tiffany or stained glass windows.

10. I love animals, but I’m not a nutcase about it. What does make me crazy is those people that claim to be helping animals, may even think they are helping them, but have too many or refuse to let them go when their time has come. Quality of life is foremost, any suffering is intolerable, especially to satisfy an owner’s selfish inability let them go in peace. Okay, rant over.

11. In my next life, I want to come back as one of our clients spoiled cats. I could totally go for sleeping 20 out of 24 hours, having someone bring me my food, and watch birds through the window in my few waking hours.

Tag, you’re it! Answer the questions above (because I’m too lazy to make up a bunch more) and let me know so I can find out what your responses are!

The Next Big Thing

old dogs cover 2So, my dear friend and writing buddy Juli Page Morgan tagged me in a blog hop, called the Next Big Thing. The idea is that each person tagged tags five of their friends and we all get to follow the links and discover all these cool writers out there. The procedure is simple, don’t be afraid. Just answer the following questions as I have done and tag five of your writer friends. So, here we go!

What is the title of your book?

Old Dogs

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Honestly, I have always written in the fantasy genre. I tend to visualize actors or other familiar faces in the roles of my characters. When I hit a snag in my never0ending Big Fat Fantasy Novel (that will likely never see the light of day) one of the male characters I visualized being portrayed my favorite celebrity crush, Clive Owen. Writing Old Dogs was an excuse to keep writing a character with this handsome gentleman in mind.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s (ulp, I never thought I’d admit to writing one) a contemporary romance. But really, it’s about people. Regular people you probably know. There are no death-defying shootouts, no derring-do, just the kind of stuff, good and bad, that happens to all of us.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Well, I’ve already mentioned the male lead I would prefer, and I don’t have anyone in particular in mind for the female lead. The only other actor that would have to participate is Alan Tudyk, since one of my characters is named for him and has his physical description.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A jaded divorcee goes home to the family fold and realizes that all men aren’t evil and that sometimes a new friend is just what the doctor ordered.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

It took at least three years, with lots of starting and stopping and long periods of inactivity in between. And other stories with different characters interrupting me and demanding I write about them too.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I really was motivated by nothing more than the desire to keep my writing in practice and the opportunity to daydream about a gorgeous British man. I’m easy, I admit it.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I’m pretty sure that readers will recognize members of their own families and friends among the characters of Old Dogs. In a good way, of course!

Old Dogs is available in Kindle and trade paperback formats at Amazon.com and for the Nook at Barnes and Noble.

So, Maria-Feliz Salazar Duran, Susan B. James, Jon Gibbs, and not a novel writer (that I know of, anyway!) but an amazing photographer Vicki Farmer, consider yourselves duly tagged.

I did it!!

My book!!!!

After getting positive comments from a few agents but no one willing to take me on (“…we like it but it’s not something that we’re looking for right now…”, “Our readers liked it, but it doesn’t fit our formula for a romance”…) I decided to self-publish through Amazon. It’s already available in a Kindle edition and should be available in print form soon (Print-on-demand through CreateSpace).

While I would have rather gone the traditional route to publication, I’m impatient and I’ve been told by enough people that they enjoyed it and I was unwilling to do a HUGE rewrite to fit the formula set out by a romance publisher. I cringe to think of it as a romance novel, because there’s so much more to it than just the central relationship between Valerie and Daniel. But, I’ll leave you to discover that for yourself, if you care to do so.

Mama needs a new pair of shoes.

The Doldrums

I was so excited a week or so ago. I was writing like there was no tomorrow, rattling out a few connected scenes for the next installment in Valerie and Daniel’s story. There’s lots more to be written, but it’s not easy like it was. Let me tell you, I was on fire, I was getting great feedback and ideas from my writing buddies on the forum and it was clicking like my knees when I get up in the morning.

Alas, it is no more. I’ve been busy with work and meetings and watching my bank account dwindle between paychecks and my scaly, sulfurous muse has abandoned me for greener pastures, or maybe cooler climes. (It is hotter than Hellfire right now and I hate it.)

What to do?

Well, I’ve fallen back to my old standby, re-reading old stuff. Hell, I’ve got most of what I’ve written pretty much memorized. But, it’s part of the process and it led to a nice online conversation with an old online buddy. His character plays a large role in my fantasy story and I asked him  some questions and gave him examples of what I’ve written to make sure I was doing his character justice.

I think I’m doing okay. Our ‘talk’ got me thinking about the Behemoth Disjointed Fantasy Epic that I’ve been writing for years, and you know what? I got excited about it again.

Which leads me back to my meandering path. When you’re stuck, when the wind has fled your sails and the ocean around you looks like a mirror, do what you have to to get that ship sailing again. Getting away from it for a short while is okay, like I did by setting up a blog for our work-related learning, but don’t take too long getting back to your fiction. Read other stuff, talk about it with like-minded people, harrass your writing buddies, but make youself stay involved. Don’t let the latest wildly-popular-piece-of-shit novel get you down. Get angry, get determined, get writing!

(This has been a public service message from the Off Your Ass and On Your Feet Method of Writing. Send small bills, unmarked, in large quantities. Thank you.)

The Loom of Dreams
I broider the world upon a loom,
I broider with dreams my tapestry;
Here in a little lonely room I am master of earth and sea,
And the planets come to me.
I broider my life into the frame,
I broider my love, thread upon thread;
The world goes by with its glory and shame,
 Crowns are bartered and blood is shed;
I sit and broider my dreams instead.
And the only world is the world of my dreams,
And my weaving the only happiness;
For what is the world but what it seems?
And who knows but that God, beyond our guess,
Sits weaving worlds out of loneliness?
- Arthur Symons
Why all the mystical dream references?
That’s where I get some of my best ideas for stories or scenes for my writing.
I have a theory about my writing. I am an only child. I had myself for companionship growing up and I role-plyed while catching minnows in the ditch. I put sawhorses together and they became real horses. The yard and surrounding dirt road were anything from African savannah to South American jungle. I swung from the trees like Tarzan (and dang near hanged myself), I ran through the pastures and woods and I was never alone, not really. I had friends in the characters from TV shows that I loved and insinuated myself into the plots lines as I played. Only one imaginary friend? I had/still have hordes, of every race and species.
The time between going to bed and going to sleep are prime creative time for me. I run dialogue through my head, think about whatever scenes that are harassing me at the time and doze off hoping to have that dream. You know what I’m talking about, the dream that’s like watching a movie, that takes an idea you’ve had, turns it over and hands it back to you, giving you a different perspective. Or, better still, a dream that conjures a whole new idea to run with.
The danger in those kinds of dreams for me is my inherent laziness. Once I’m in bed I am not inclined to get up unless, say, the house is on fire. My side of the bed is against the wall, so I have no bedside table to place a pen and paper on. So when a dream really gets my attention, I tend to lie awake and try to commit it to memory, when, it would be much more efficient if I would just get my lazy ass up and write it down. I hate waking up all the way and losing that tenuous grasp on the dream itself. It’s just not the same once you’re fully awake, no matter how much it captures your imagination. But, if you do write it down, maybe you can conjure a little of the sense that you got while in the dream. With luck it can be the spark that leads to a whole universe of ideas.
No wonder I don’t sleep half the time.

Shipbuilding (a.k.a. Writing and editing)

So, in lieu of writing something in my multiple works-in-progress, I am instead updating my long-neglected writing blog with another one of Jill Ciment’s brilliant analogies about writing, before it slips my mind forever.

Not dissimilar to the Jane Goodall approach to writing that I shared awhile back, it goes something like this.

When we write, we’re trying to convey ideas, a story, something, to someone else. Think of yourself on one side of a wide river, with the people you want to communicate with on the other side. Your information, your story, has to cross that expanse of water so that those people can marvel at it, and perhaps even come on board. You start by building a raft. That’s yout first draft. You work on it and think to yourself, “That’s pretty good, I can make it across.” You set sail and that booger is leaking. (With any luck you have a crew of readers and writing buddies to help you find and plug those leaks.) So you turn around and limp back to shore and you take the materials and you build a bigger vessel, sturdier and more watertight. That’s the second draft. You try again and get about halfway before turning back because it sails crooked or tries to capsize because of something you’ve added or left out. Lather, rinse, repeat, only this time, when you get about halfway across, it’s just as much trouble to turn back as it is to keep going. Now you’re getting to the finish line. There’s your potential audience, waiting on the shore, admiring your ship as she sails into port. This is when you start to market your writing, and polish up the things you discovered need attention during your maiden voyage. The book probably isn’t done, but you have a vessel worthy of attention at this point.

My point is, to keep going, keep writing, keep improving on that raft until she’s the Queen Mary. You may have a Titanic now and again, but every writer does. The point is to keep bailing and keep plugging the leaks. Get help, the biggest issues with our stories is we’re often too close to them to see the glaring errors/plot hole that is making our story take on water like she’s rammed into an iceberg.

Just keep writing.

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