Monday, April 30, 2018

Before the Beginning

Before I start writing a new story, I do a small amount of plotting. Nothing major, just two or three sentence paragraphs for each chapter in the book to help me get from the first page to the last without too many side trips. That doesn't mean I don't get sidetracked with a subplot I hadn't originally intended because it still happens more often than not.

I wish I could plot or write an outline in more detail, but when I do, I have a hard time writing the story. It's almost as though I feel like it's already written. I tried not doing any plotting at all and ended up with a story line that didn't have any real focus and characters running around all over the place trying to figure out what their goals, motivations, and conflicts were.

I'm about 3 weeks away from finally, finally finishing the edits/revisions for Honor Bound. I'll be sending it out to a few beta readers for final thoughts on it. While it's out with them, I'll be working on the second story in the series. When I start plotting it, I'm going to try writing the paragraphs for each chapter on index cards to see if that helps me form a more linear plot line. A fellow writer plots in this way and says it's easier for her to lay out the plot because she can see it visually and if necessary move the index cards around to change the order of things without retyping anything. Another friend uses the same technique, but writes hers down on post-it notes and tacks them to a cork board or just sticks them to a wall in her office. I like that idea as well, but I'm afraid they'll fall off the wall and I won't remember what order I had them in.

Either way, it'll be interesting to see if it makes the plotting process easier.

Friday, April 27, 2018

This I know for sure...

I'm quick to decide if a book is "readable" or not. If I've gotten to page 50 or so and I'm struggling to get into the story or find myself looking for a non-fiction book or magazines to read instead of reading the fiction book I've started that's a good sign, for me, that it's not readable.

My sister is always telling me I'm too quick to give up on reading a book. That may be true, but I have so many books I want to read that I don't want to spend time on a book I'm struggling to get through when I can pick up another one. As of this writing, I have 392 books on my Goodreads Want to Read list and I have a 140 page notebook full of books I want to read that aren't on my Goodreads list.

Do you set aside a book you're struggling to read or do you power through and finish it?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): I was able to get 60 pages of edits/revisions done on Honor Bound last week. My goal is to get at least that much done this week.

Quote of the Week: “Getting things done leads to confidence. Confidence leads to decisiveness. Decisiveness leads to action. Action leads to momentum. Momentum leads to success so start getting things done.” ~ Unknown

What I'm Reading: I started reading In Search of Scandal by Susanne Lord last night. This is a historical romance and the first book in the London Explorers series and is the first book I've picked up by Ms. Lord.

Random Thoughts: It's amazing how a bright, sunny day with a temperature above 65 degrees makes everyone seem happier.

Random Photo of the Week: 

         These are the muffins I made from the Friendship Bread starter I was given.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Down The Rabbit Hole

In most cases writing a novel will require some sort of research. When I started writing my first Regency set romance, I had some notes for historical accuracy but would find I needed more detail or clarification or something would come up I hadn't thought of when I did my bare bones plotting. I would hop onto the internet, google what I was looking for and end up clicking from one website to another to another only to realize my designated writing time had come and gone and I was now reading information that had nothing to do with what I had originally set out to look up.

It's easy to get distracted by all the interesting information linked from one place to another regardless of what you're researching. I'm working on a contemporary set romance and decided I needed more information regarding orbital fractures. Three hours later, I probably have more information that I'll ever use or need and saw some pretty gruesome pictures depicting the injury.

Since I seem to be easily led from one source of information to another, I've learned to do research separately from my writing time. Now if I decide I need more information on something, I put a note right in my manuscript stating something like "research the Washington National Cathedral services" and highlight it in yellow so it stands out and continue on writing. I also jot what I need to look up in a notebook. On the weekend, I'll pull out my notebook and research all the things I've listed that week. Sometimes I'll go back and add the information into my manuscript when I sit down to write during the following week and sometimes I don't add in the information until I'm working on edits or revisions.

This is the process that works best for me otherwise I'm like Dug from the Disney movie UP, easily distracted from the plan at hand and yelling squirrel every few minutes. 😁

Friday, April 20, 2018

This I know for sure...

My nephew gave me a cup of the starter for Friendship Bread a little over a week ago. It's a ten day process where you take care of the batter, add in flour, milk, and sugar half way through and then bake it on the tenth day, after adding in additional ingredients of course. Prior to baking it, you take out four 1 cup servings to give to four friends which is why it's called Friendship Bread.

When I was teenager and into my early twenties, my mom and aunts were always passing a cup of the starter back and forth often for months at a time. Back then, we called it Herman. I'm not sure why or how it came to be called that. There were also a few different things in how it was cared for during the ten day period, but for the most part they seem to be the same thing.

Tomorrow is the tenth day so I'll be baking mine and handing out cups of the batter to four friends. Instead of making bread, I'm going to make muffins, add in some walnuts, butterscotch pudding mix, and buttershots liqueur to give it an even more butterscotch taste. My mom made it this way the very last time we had Herman years ago. It'll be a nice way to reminisce with her about days gone by

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress):  I didn't get any editing done last week. I had a relative unexpectedly drop in to stay for the week. She left Monday so I'm hoping to get a good 60 pages of revisions done this week.

Quote of the Week: “Real life doesn’t travel in a perfect straight line, it doesn’t necessarily have that ‘all lived happily ever after’ bit. You have to work on where you’re going.” ~ Chris Kyle

What I'm Reading: I started The Trouble With Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones. This is the twelfth book in the Charlie Davidson series. 

Random Thoughts: March seemed to take forever to get through. Here we are already in the third week of April. This month is flying by despite the winter like weather we're still getting in my area.

Random Photo of the Week:

                                              Mrs. Green helping me do arts & crafts.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Heaven on a Dessert Plate

This past weekend I was going through old recipes I haven't made in a long time. I'm a recipe hoarder and every now and then weed out ones I've only made once, haven't ever made, or probably won't make again. While I was thinning the herd so to speak, I can across a recipe for Oreo Pudding Cake.

We used to make this all the time for almost any occasion - birthdays, bring a dish or dessert occasions, holidays, or just because. It's so good, I don't know why we stopped making it. I'm not sure where we originally got the recipe from, but I thought I'd share it here.

Oreo Pudding Cake
1 package Oreo cookies
1/2 cup margarine, melted (You can also use butter if you prefer.)
2 packages Jello Chocolate instant pudding
3 1/4 cups milk
2 8 ounce containers of Cool Whip
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar

Break the Oreos into chunks. The best way is to put the cookies in a gallon size zip lock bag, seal the bag shut, and use a rolling pin to break up the cookies. (You want small chunks, but not crumbs like you would get if you put it in a food processor.) Set aside about 1 cup to use later.

Place the rest of the cookie chunks into a bowl and add the melted butter and mix well. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9 x 13 pan to form the crust. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix both packages of pudding and milk with a whisk until combined. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes or so until the pudding is set.

In a medium sized bowl (I wash out the first bowl from above and re-use it), blend the cream cheese with a hand mixer until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in the confectioners sugar, blending well. Fold in one container of Cool Whip.

Spread cream cheese mixture over the Oreo cookie crust. Add the chocolate pudding over the cream cheese layer. Top with the remaining container of Cool Whip. Sprinkle the 1 cup of Oreo cookie pieces you set aside on top of the Cool Whip. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, April 13, 2018

This I know for sure...

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I'm going to start burning a candle when I write. I didn't have any regular candles, just tapers for special dinners and a box of plain white emergency candles in case we lose electricity for any length of time. I bought a few candles from a couple of different stores with surprising results.

The 17oz jar candles I bought from a craft store were on sale 3 candles for $10.00. The 3 wick 14.5oz candle I bought from a national chain store was on sale for $10.00. The last candle I bought was a 12oz mason jar type candle from Walmart for $2.50.

In this case, I'd say the saying, "You get what you pay for" doesn't apply. The chain store candle which was the most expensive had the most amazing scent when you smelled the candle. (The scent is glazed donut.) When lit and burning, it doesn't have any odor at all.

The 3 craft store candles all have good scents when you smell them. (The scents are berry clementine, blueberry muffin, and roasted chestnuts. I'm guessing this last one was a leftover from Christmas.) The roasted chestnut one has a barely discernible odor when it's burning. The berry clementine scent is a little stronger, and the blueberry muffin has the strongest odor of the three when burning, but you really can't smell the last two if you leave the room they're in.

The Walmart candle was the cheapest and has the lightest scent of all of the candles when you smell it. (The scent is citrus burst.) This candle has the strongest odor when it's burning. It has a really nice orange type scent and you can smell it throughout the first floor.

I think I'll be checking out more of the Walmart candles this weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress):  I didn't get a whole lot done last week. The good news is that my mom's surgery went really well and her eyesight is better than the surgeon expected it would be. She's still recovering and will have to put in eye drops a couple of times a day for the next 3 weeks, but overall she's doing great. I have an appointment today after the day job, but other than that, I'm hoping to make serious inroads in the editing of Honor Bound.

Quote of the Week:  "I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn." ~ Anne Frank 

What I'm Reading: I'm currently reading Somebody Like You by Donna Alward. It's the first book in the Darling Vermont series.

Random Thoughts: I have a figurine of Elsa from Frozen. She sits on the credenza next to the TV. Every once in while she gets knocked over. The strange thing is every time she does get knocked over, it snows the next day. She was knocked over early last week and it snowed 4 days in a row afterward. Coincidence? 

Random Photo of the Week:

                                       Somebody snuggling with his friends.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Old Habits

When I wrote my first two books, I would come home from the day job and write for about an hour before doing dinner. Each day, I would turn on the lamp on the desk crammed into a corner in the bedroom, turn on the computer, and open the manuscript I was working on at the time.

I would then light a scented candle and put on classical music, only then would I sit down at the computer. I don't know if it was the music, the candle, or a combination of both, but after a few minutes, the words flowed like water from my fingertips to the keyboard and onto the screen.

I no longer have the desk or the computer. I use a laptop and now either write at the dining room table or in the living room with the laptop on my lap. While it's not an excuse, I suffered the loss of a young family member a little under four years ago. It took me a very long time (almost three years) before I even tried to write again. I haven't listened to music or lit a candle while trying to write since then. 

Most days, I struggle to get any real work on my current manuscript accomplished even though I working on editing and revisions which is supposed to be easier than writing the first draft. At this point, I'm not so sure I agree with that.

This week I'm going to light a candle and listen to music and see if it helps me get more done than I do without it.

Friday, April 6, 2018

This I know for sure...

Despite liking my job, the picture below is how I feel most Wednesdays.

I have this week off from the day job to help my mom recover from surgery. I can't believe how fast this week has gone by. Instead of jumping for joy that the weekend was only two days away, I found myself saying, "Holy cow, it's Wednesday already. Where is my week off going?"

Despite working from a To Do list of things I wanted to accomplish this week, I haven't gotten nearly as much done as I had hoped. I'm thinking I may have been overconfident of how much I could get done in a day.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My Current WIP (Work In Progress): I didn't get any work done on Honor Bound last week. My mom is having cataract surgery this week so I'll be helping her out as she recovers. I'm hoping to get enough editing/revising done so that I'll only be about a week behind where I should be.

Quote of the Week: "Character consists of what you do on the third and forth tries." ~ James A. Michener 

What I'm Reading: I just started The Hangman by Mary Burton yesterday. It's the 3rd book in The Forgotten Files series.

Random Thoughts: I have this week off from the day job so I can be there for my mom as she recovers from her surgery. I'm hoping to use some of the time to week through emails and bookmarked links that I've saved and haven't looked at or referenced in a while.

Random Photo of the Week:

               Mrs. Green has discovered the joy of a warm quilt fresh out of the dryer.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter / Passover Wishes

I want to take a minute to say I hope those of you who celebrate Easter had a wonderful holiday yesterday. And to those of you who celebrate Passover, I hope you are enjoying and having a wonderful Passover.