Friday, May 29, 2015

This I know for sure...

Buying a rose bush to replace the one that's been slowly dying over the last two years sounded better in theory than in practice.

Actually let me rephrase that -- the buying wasn't an issue at all. Planting said rose bush was another story. We hadn't had any rain for a couple of weeks so I figured the ground would be too hard for me to dig up the old bush so I waited until it rained thinking the ground would be softer.

The day after it rained, I had the day off so figured it would be the perfect day to tackle the project. I was wrong. The rain the night before didn't make the slightest bit of difference. I could barely get the garden spade a few inches into the hard packed dirt even after trying to use my foot with my weight on it to get the spade to go deeper.

After 45 minutes of fighting with the ground and getting only a shallow hole dug, I gave up and took the wimpy option of getting the new rose bush planted. I called my nephew and asked him when he had time if he could stop by and put in the rose bush for me.

Thirty minutes after he arrived, the new rose bush was planted in its new home with the old one still nestled nearby. (Nephew convinced me to leave the old one in. He cut it back so we'll see if it survives.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Didn't get much writing done this week, but I did get a lot of old emails cleaned out of my multiple in boxes that I'd been saving to read later. I've learned the whole, "I'll read it later" thing doesn't work for me. They just keep piling up.

Quote of the week: "With self-discipline most anything is possible." ~ Theodore Roosevelt

What I'm reading: I finally found some time to sit down and finish It's Always Been You. I haven't started a new book yet. I'm going to the library in a couple of days so I'm spending my free time reading magazines that my sister gave me.

Random things:  Went to the local garden center with my mom yesterday to buy her a new rose bush. Neither of us had ever been to the garden center before. I was amazed at the wide variety of annuals and perennials as well as a the selection of bushes and fruit trees they had for sale. Normally I buy flowers to plant in the garden from the farmers' market. 

Random Photo of the Week:

 We had a visitor in the garden the other day.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Please take a moment to remember the members of our military, past and present, 
as you celebrate the Memorial Day holiday.

Friday, May 22, 2015

This I know for sure...

My work hours will be changing almost back to what I was working before. I'm thrilled to have my old writing time back - 3:30pm to 5:00 or 5:15pm. I'm not sure how long these hours will be in effect. The company I work for is moving in the next month or so to new space in the same area and they're using the move to reorganize in terms of job flexibility as an added benefit so that it'll be available to almost all of the employees except for management.

My permanent new hours will depend on who I get teamed up with and what we can work out with each other of when we want to come in and leave each day. Regardless of whether I get out at 3:00 or start later in the morning, I'll get that hour and a half or more writing time in one block instead of trying to grab 15 minutes here, 30 minutes there like I've been doing for the last few months.

I'm looking forward to being productive again instead of just inching along at a pace of a few pages a week.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): I was right. I didn't do any writing to speak of. I managed to jot down a few ideas but that's about it.

Quote of the week: "Believe you can and you're halfway there." ~ Theodore Roosevelt  I've printed this out and it hangs where I can see it every day.

What I'm reading: I'm still reading It's Always Been You by Jessica Scott. I didn't have much time to read last week either, but I did have a great visit with family that I don't see that often.

Random things:  I received news that my work schedule may be changing again. I'm really hoping it happens because I'll go back to almost the same hours I had before. I should know for sure within the week. Keeping my fingers crossed. :o)

Random Photo of the Week:

A picture of my cat recovering from his trip to the "dentist." They shaved part of the fur off his front leg for the IV.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What's In A Title?

If you ask any writer what's the hardest part about writing and submitting a manuscript to an agent and/or editor for consideration for publication, I would say the majority of us would say it's writing the synopsis.

A synopsis is a brief summary of the entire book highlighting the theme, the characters, their conflict, and their relationships. In my opinion, the synopsis is the most important part of what a writer submits to an agent or editor. It's what convinces the agent/editor to offer a contract or representation. I think the reason most writers refer to it as "the dreaded synopsis" is it's so difficult to take a 400 page novel and distill it down to a 4 or 5 page summary and still be sure that it includes all the pertinent information and still hooks the reader and isn't just a flat recitation of the main points of the story.

While I struggle when writing a synopsis, coming up with a title for a work in progress is almost as difficult. I usually refer to the book when I'm writing it by either the hero or heroine's name i.e. Jason's book. It's only after I've revised it a few times and have gotten feedback from my critique partner and beta readers that I start to play around with possible titles.

You would think that coming up with a title would be easy, but for me it's one of the hardest parts of the entire process. I try to find something that either relates to the theme of the story or the hero or heroine in some way. I then send out an email to those beta readers and my critique partner and ask which of the possible titles they like best. I also usually include a desperate plea for suggestions as well.

The title, along with the cover art, and the back cover copy are the first things a reader will use to make the decision to purchase the book or not. That makes the title one of the most important tools a writer has in their arsenal which is probably why I struggle with it so much.

And I have a feeling I'm not the only writer who does.

Friday, May 15, 2015

This I know for sure...

My nephew's fiancee, who earned a degree in forensic science, accepted a job offer in her field after toiling away for 2 years in a low paying retail job. It's great news and we're all very happy for her. She's a great person. We all love her and can't wait to officially make her part of the family. Their move is a little bittersweet because she and my nephew will be moving two hours away.

My nephew and I are close. He's lived across the street from me almost his entire life (his college years notwithstanding) and now I won't see nearly as often as I have in the past or that I would like. So I went out to dinner last night with my sister, mom, and nephew as sort of a goodbye dinner for him. (We invited his fiancee, but she had to work and told us to go ahead without her as they are moving this weekend.) Thank goodness there's Skype and Face Time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): Had a good week with revisions. I feel like I got a lot accomplished this week and have solved one of the sub-plot issues I was having. Most likely, I won't be doing any writing next week. We're having family come for a visit so we'll be spending time catching up and showing them the local sights.

Quote of the week: "In any project the important factor is your belief. Without belief, there can be no successful outcome." ~ William James

What I'm reading: I've just started It's Always Been You by Jessica Scott. I'm still in the first chapter, but I've enjoyed the other books in the Coming Home series.

Random things: It was ninety degrees yesterday after being in the 60's for the last few days. It's hard to believe we had snow two weeks ago. Our trees have burst into leafy bloom almost overnight.

Random Photo of the Week:

Found this cool twisty carrot in a bag of organic carrots from the grocery store.

Monday, May 11, 2015

It Takes Place Where?

The setting for any story is as important as the characters themselves. Without details of where the story or scene takes place, it can make the reader feel as though they aren't grounded in the story. It makes it difficult for them to picture in their mind's eye where the action is taking place.

At the same time, you don't want to go overboard and put in so many details that the reader starts skimming over those details to get to something more interesting. I admit doing this with the novel Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. It was a great story, but there were pages and pages of description of places, characters, etc.

Someone told me to paint the setting with the broad strokes of a brush. Instead of describing a room or person or item with every possible detail, to only include those details that have significance to the story or the scene. You want to include just enough details to help the reader picture the image you want to convey.

One way to describe the setting is to do it through dialogue rather than through a paragraph of description. You can also have your characters describe the setting through their point of view. Doing this helps ground your characters in the setting as well. It can also give a deeper insight into the point of view character because it allows the reader to see the setting through that character's eyes and thoughts.

You can also use setting related details to feed your reader back story without doing a flashback scene or paragraphs of back story (which editors frown on and call a back story dump).

There are a lot of ways to work setting and description into a story. The best way to do it is to find a way to give the reader those necessary details in such a way that the reader doesn't even notice that's what's happening.

Friday, May 8, 2015

This I know for sure...

"Reading was like a drug. The novels created moods in which I lived for days." ~ Richard Wright.

The above quote is a perfect way to describe a great book. Of course, we all have our own opinions of what books rate the label of "a great read or a great book." Any reader would be able to understand what I mean - one of those novels that's so good you don't want to put it down and find yourself sneaking snippets of reading time when you should be doing other things. It's that book that keeps drawing you back to it no matter what else you have planned. It's the type of book where the characters stay with you long after the story ends. And it's what any writer, myself included, hopes to achieve with their own books.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): It was a very hectic week after getting home from the day job. I accomplished so little, it's barely worth mentioning.

Quote of the week: "She stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails" ~ Elizabeth Edwards    I feel like this is something I'm going to be doing in the next few weeks.

What I'm reading: I'm still reading Rescue Me by Catherine Mann, the second book in the Second Chance Ranch series. Because last week was so hectic with after work events, I had very little time to read.

Random things: I think spring has finally come to my corner of the world. I'm a little afraid to put away my winter coat and boots though. It snowed for 2 days the last week of April. I'm feeling a bit superstitious I guess you could say - I'm wondering if I do put away the coat and boots, then will Mother Nature make it snow again just to make me drag them back out again. It has snowed in the middle of May before.

Random Photo of the Week:

 Not a photo but something I need to remember on those days when I'm feeling melancholy and remembering how things were instead of how they are.