Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Getting a Do Over

With my birthday coming up next week, I’ve been pensive, thinking about my life and what I’ve accomplished so far. I was never one of those chicks that said I want to be a doctor and then followed through… I wanted to be everything. Fashion buyer, wife, mother of twelve, lawyer, judge, social worker…

And my life has kind of followed that path. Randomly choosing jobs, not careers. Until ten years ago.

I took a class in the MFA program. I can’t remember the official title… something about learning to work in a publishing environment, but in very big words. The class really was a way to get graduate students to be journal assistants for the university’s literary journal. Main job? Read the slush pile.

I. Loved. It.

Each week we took a pile of stories and rated them for inclusion in the journal. Some, okay, most were bad. Really bad. But some stories had a glimmer that took you away from every day life. Then we discussed what worked and what we were doing on our marketing project. I learned a lot about mailing lists that semester.

I left class each week energized and feeling attached to the world. Something I’d learned to muffle during my marriage. To be happy with something besides my husband was a sin. Yet, here I was, divorced and so happy I bounced walking to my car.

Stephen King says that when you’re doing the think you’re supposed to do you act like a Geiger counter on radioactive crack. (Or something like that…paraphrasing here.)

Writing is my radioactive crack. Now why didn’t I find out that piece of information when I was in high school?

Today's picture is my new granddaugher Lily. It's her first day at school.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Conflict is not picking a fight with your husband...

So today conflict is on my mind.

Yesterday my RWA Chapter hosted the funniest speaker I'd ever heard on romance, Jade Lee. I almost didn't come to this meeting. I didn't know what I'd learn from a historical romance writer whose focus is in Chinese history.

And it's a long drive.

But I packed my meeting notebook into my purse and headed out. And boy, was I glad I did.

My notes are kind of scattered, but here's a few things I learned.

1- Hot sex does not equal happy ever after. (Even though it helps - Jade did demonstrate this point with a teddy bear and a stuffed monkey. The video will be on U-tube soon...)

2- Characters have to change. AND the hero/heroine has to be the reason they change. The one has to make the other better. Think Jerry McGuire and "You complete me."

3- Characters have to have a fatal flaw. This is probably the hardest thing for me to write. I want my people to be oh so nice... but they where's the story. Where's the angst? Why would anyone read more than the opening line?

4-Save the Cat. Your main characters need to do something heroic the first time the reader meets them. Show their good side, even if it's hidden, for most of the book.


5-Build an imagery set around your characters. Jade talked about using colors, or animals, or elements. This one I'm going to have to work on some more. But it makes sense as a writer. If I know my heroine is a fire character, she's going to wear red, she's going to react before she thinks, she's going to be hotheaded and maybe stubborn. So even if I don't know what's going to happen in the scene, I know how she'll react.

So thank you Jade for explaining writer terms in a way I could infuse them immediately into my own writing. Now, I have to excuse myself... I have some characters to torture.

The picture is outside the Seattle Aquarium looking at the docks. My son assures me this is not the ocean, but it's the closest I've gotten in ten years....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Time after time

Today I want to talk about time management. Or my lack of time management. I know the drill. Make a list. Prioritize the list. After reading a truck load of books and taking the coveted Franklin workshop, I know how to get things done.

So why do I always feel like I'm overwhelmed? The answer is simple. I think I can do more than I can. I can pay more bills than I have money. I can write a manuscript, edit a first draft, and develop new story ideas all at once. I can clean the house in a single day including giving the dogs a bath.

And somewhere in there, I can fit in a workout so I'll lose some weight and increase my health factor.

I am superwoman.

But I'm not.

I blame my need for perfection on growing up in the 70's. I wanted the career and the family. I knew I could do everything. And sometimes, I can. But sometimes, I wonder if I've taken on more than I can handle.

Those are the nights when kittens roam through my dreams and I'm unable to keep them all safe.

Standing in the middle of the street, I throw my hat into the air. Is Mary Tyler Moore right? We might just make it after all?
The picture today is of the hot springs where Roosevelt visited. The waters are suppose to have a healing property. And of course, there's a ghost. The original hotsprings can be found in. Okawville, Illinois.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

New Voices Contest

Stop on by the New Voices contest and take a peek at my new story.

Vote early, vote often... (grin)

Here's the link:

Hope to see you there.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Living on the other side

Today we explored our little town of Alton, Illinois. We found the confederate cemetary and the civil war cemetary. The civil war cemetary also has the Lovejoy Monument. Elijah Lovejoy was the newspaper/minister who lost three presses due to his anti-slavery editorials. Then the mob took his life to quiet him.

Our little town is also the site of the Lincoln Douglas debate. We have a monument to the Gentle Giant, the tallest man on record.

The picture on this post is all that's left of the Alton confederate prison site. The prison was a death camp for confederate soldiers, losing eight to ten inmates a day to unsanitary conditions. It's on the hill overlooking the river. The prison was closed July 7, 1865 and the prisoners transferred to Jolliet. Over the next twenty years, the prison was torn down and the stones used to build many of the houses and churches from that time. Many are thought to be haunted.

Could it be the ghosts of confederate soldiers trapped in the quarry stones?

I took lots of pictures so we'll see if a fuzzy spot shows up in any of the shots.

Friday, September 03, 2010

I'm blogging over at New Kids on the Block

The subject? Revisions, the never ending story. Or what I've learned through writing three books.

Stop on by.