Monday, December 31, 2012

Hello Everybody!




We've welcomed a new kitten in our home recently and she's curled up next to me right now, purring. There's something therapeutic in that, and having always been a dog person, I've been happily converted to include cat person with that. I'm convinced it's possible to be both. My oldest daughter was trying to pressure me into choosing which pet I like best, but I couldn't do it. They're each unique and lovable in their own way. Speaking of which, did anyone see the cat friend vs. dog friend you tube video that went viral? It's hysterical and soo true! (It's a PG-13 rating, be warned, but worth the laugh)

I don't know about all of you, but my writing has been on hold. I've been busy with the kids being on break, and had a lapse of sanity when I had a sleepover with 9 girls for two nights. My house still has not recovered! For those who think girls are all Barbies and painting nails, you haven't seen mine :) They had a blast sliding down the stairs on a sleeping bag and the noise level was mind boggling. I found my husband popping Advil for a headache!

As for Sense and Sensibility, I'm currently on page 164, so I'm not too far off of my goal. I'm sorry I missed last week's post on it, but I figured everybody was busy like me anyway. The first chapter opened with what could be considered an info dump, but for some reason, it didn't feel like it. Is it the language of the day? I'm not sure. . .what do you think?

Chapter two was a brilliant use of dialogue, painting the portrait of Mr. and Mrs. John Dashwood and their self-interest topped with unflattering greed.

Next, what would you consider the point of view to be? I'm still learning all the in's and out's of POV, but it seems to start out omniscient, but where I am now it's focusing more on Elinor's POV.

I have a lot to learn about how she shows the emotion of her characters, such as Marianne's anxiety on hearing from Willoughby while in London. It almost makes you feel anxious yourself!

For example: "this could not be borne many seconds, she opened the door, advanced a few steps towards the stairs, and after listening half a minute, returned into the room in all the agitation which a conviction of having heard him would naturally produce; the extasy of her feelings at that instant she could not help exclaiming, "Oh! Elinor, it is Willoughby, indeed it is!' and seemed almost ready to throw herself into his arms, when Colonel Brandon appeared."

For those of you joining me, or who have read the book already, what's on your mind?

For all the rest, how's the writing going?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sense and Sensibility



I have to say I'm happy I picked this book to read next. I seriously needed a light, happy ending type of book right now. Partly because I've been reading a lot of heavy, non-fiction material and the other reason is that I have a six year old. Unless you live under a rock, you know what I'm talking about.

Our collective hearts are breaking, and I have cried many times over the weekend, as I know the world has, thinking of those babies. I couldn't sleep for two nights, thinking of those parents and what they must be going through, my heart goes out to them. I'm trying not to dwell on it, and to move on as we all must in the wake of this horrific tragedy. Just one other quick note, those teachers are true heroes. I've always admired them and the work they do, but the love and instinct they showed in their actions makes it all the more evident how wonderful they really are.

Back to the book, Sense and Sensibility, my goal is to read about 100 pages a week, and to get through it in about a month. (Hopefully before my surgery date) To those who are reading with me, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the book too!

How are you all doing today? Stop by and share your comments- I love hearing from you.

Monday, December 10, 2012

For the Love of Books

Books.
There is something about that word that evokes deep feelings for me, and any avid reader, for that matter. I read so much as a child that that is what I would get taken away if I was grounded. Sometimes my mom would put the books on the top of the refrigerator and make me go outside and play. If I was really into one, I could read the entire thing in one sitting, even if it was all day long.

I read a lot of the classics in high school, and one of my favorite authors was Charlotte Bronte. I think I've read pretty much everything she wrote, and then I moved on to her sister's work. I also loved Jane Austen's books, but I only read Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma. One of the things about Jane Austen's writing that is timeless are her characters, and there is no better way to improve than to study the masters.

I mentioned trying to start a book club, but I know everyone has a lot on their plate to commit to something like that, so I'm just going to pick a book to read by myself and work on seeing it through a writer's eyes. If anyone wants to join me, please feel free to, or if you've already read the book, just go ahead and share your thoughts. I'm not going to keep a schedule because, well, there is no need to.

My pick this time around is Sense and Sensibility.


I never read the book, but I did see the movie and I loved it. Plus it's been years since I've read any of Jane Austen's books, but the ones I have read were certainly memorable.

I'd love your company with this but if you can't join me this time, just leave a thought anyway and let me know what you're up to or what you're reading!


Next up is the Alex Cavanaugh blogfest!

“Cheers, Cavanaugh BlogFest.”
AKA: Alexfest

Hosted by these awesome folks: Mark Koopmans, Morgan Shamy,David Powers King and Stephen Tremp.

*****

In +/- 20 words, what does Alex look like? Oh shoot! I don't know, but seeing as he's a musician too, I guess I would picture someone like Adam Levine!

In +/- 20 words, who could play Alex in a documentary? (Living or dead) I'm just gonna have to go with the above, Adam Levine.
I'm sorry! I know that's not very creative, but it's a Monday morning.

In +/- 20 words, who does Alex remind you of? I'll be honest here and say no one really. He's an original.

In +/- 100 words, (excluding the title) write flash fiction using all these prompts: Cavanaugh, Ninja, IWSG, Cosbolt, Guitar

FLASH FICTION- NO TITLE

Julie walked into her brother's bedroom and tossed a book on his bed.

"Hey, I think you'll like this one Jude," she said.

"What's it about?" he asked, glancing at it before strumming a few chords on his guitar.

"This guy Cavanaugh wrote it, and it's right up your alley. All sci-fi and Cosbolt pilots stuff. It's cool," Julie said, flopping down on his bed.

"Hey watch out, you'll wreck my ninja gear," he said frowning.

"Chill!" she said, irritated. "Well, if you're going to be like that, I'm off. I have to go to my IWSG club anyway."

For Bonus Points: In +/- 40 words, leave a comment for Mrs. Cavanaugh - thanking her for sharing Alex

Thanks, Mrs. Cavanaugh. Any married writer knows how much their spouses' support means- without it we would probably have given up!


Have a great week :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group Post


It's the first Wednesday and time to post for the IWSG again. I had to make sure I got this one in because I missed last month's in a flaky moment (which I have a lot of).

I've recently finished Stephen King's On Writing book and have just started the book, Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Mass. Someone from my writing group lent me both of the books and had actually attended a seminar by the author of the Breakout Novel. I'm about a third of the way into it and it explains how to take your writing to another level.

That leads me to where I am right now, and what I'm feeling insecure about. Writing is essentially an art, like painting, making jewelry, acting, dance. Practice is not only a good idea, but necessary to improve, and it takes time and commitment to be worthy of notice. You are not going to paint a Picasso on your first try and become an overnight success and highly sought after artist. It just doesn't happen that way. The same is true for writing.

But I'm not a patient person, and I don't like to fail.

Stephen King started writing as a child, and had his failures as a teenager, while I am 40 already. By the time I'll be any good I'll be in my grave. I regret waiting to start getting serious about writing, and think of the opportunities I wasted. Plus, even though I have been reassured that I don't need a BA in creative writing to succeed, it certainly seems to help a blank resume to at least have that.

After these reflections, I am still here trying anyway. I've learned a LOT along the way these last two years and am eternally grateful for my husband, whose faith in me is the only reason I feel justified in trying. And for my sister, who cheers me on with her positive and creative input. And of course, for my blogging buddies who faithfully check in on me and give me a boost when I need it.

That's my post- and I'll be seeing you on my rounds!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Writing and Reading


I did finish Stephen King's On Writing book, and one of several things I took away is that in order to continue to grow, I need to keep writing and reading. Since I began writing in earnest, I've noticed that how I read has changed as well. I still read for pleasure, but I also make mental notes to myself about writing techniques, what works and what doesn't.

I've found myself taking note of moments that get an emotional rise out of me, or other things such as where the plot may falter or lose believability. Descriptions, dialogue, point of view, it's all on my mind in a totally new way.

One thing that popped into my mind recently was an idea to start a writer's book club. At the beginning of the month, a book will be chosen, and at the end of the month, we can post our thoughts on it. I don't want to do other blogger's books because I don't want anything to turn negative, but maybe the classic's or current best-sellers. I'll have to mull over what book to read first, and I'll start out by myself, but if you're interested just leave a comment.

I'll just let everyone know in advance too that next month, in January, I will be having major surgery on the 9th to hopefully improve some ongoing health problems. That may change the timeline for me a bit but I'm still stoked on the idea.

Hope you all have a great week and feel free to comment on what you're working on!

Monday, November 26, 2012

On Writing


I've been reading, and am almost finished with, the highly recommended book by Stephen King, On Writing. I've taken away a lot from it already, but am maybe more insecure about my writing then ever before. This post is appropriate for the Insecure Writers Support Group, but don't worry, I'll have plenty more to add in a few days when the first Wednesday rolls around again. One of the things he writes is, and I quote, "it is impossible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer. . .it is possible, with lots of hard work, dedication, and timely help, to make a good writer out of a merely competent one."

Now here's the dilemma, which one am I? If I truly suck at writing, and it's hopeless, would anyone ever tell me the truth? And do I want them to, for that matter? How do you feel about this?

I am going to give myself a full year of dedicating myself to writing. Finishing my WIP, which is about half done with a full makeover that's left it unrecognizable. Joining the local chapter of writers and attending a convention regardless of the cost. (Gulp!) And working on other pieces, maybe even starting another novel to work on my overall skills. Then I will decide, with unbiased input from others at the convention, if this is worth my time.

I think I will always write, for myself anyway. But I don't want to waste time at it either if my time, and money!, is better spent elsewhere.


In the meantime, I'm going to do a little of this before I curl up in bed. Feel free to share your thoughts :)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Trying Something New


I can't recall ever reading science fiction. . ever. That doesn't mean I hate it, I just don't read it. I actually loved Star Wars, and even got into Star Trek for awhile because everyone I hung out with was into it. Then why don't I read it? Quite honestly, a lot of times I just don't GET it. Kind of when my husband starts explaining something he's doing at work (he's a programmer), and my eyes glaze over.

That's all changed. I had read a review of Alex Cavanaugh's science fiction series and it made me really eager to read it! The reviewer raved about the characters and how well written it was, even for non-sci-fi fans. I am a little premature in gushing about how much I love his book Cassastar, because I still have 60 e-pages to go, but I actually had to force myself to put it down to do my Monday post. Needless-to-say, I am in awe. I hope someday to write as well as he does. Not only was I able to follow the out-of-this-world setting, but the characters are amazing! I was moved to tears as I gripped my e-reader, racing through the pages to find out what happens next.

I'd call it a cross between Top Gun and Star Trek, and I mean that by way of the highest compliment. As a woman it appealed to me because I imagine a hot young pilot, and I want to know what happens to him! Come on, why else would I watch Top Gun or Star Wars!

Right now, I gotta run- those last pages are calling.

Friday, November 16, 2012

It's a blogfest! Oh How I Miss You. . .


Hosted by Andrew Leon, Matthew Rush, and Alex J. Cavanaugh

The bloggers we really miss…
and the ones we would really miss!

Do you have a couple blogger buddies who aren’t posting as often? Those who’ve pulled back and seem absent from the blogging world? Do you have blogger buddies you are grateful they are still around and would miss if they vanished? Now is your chance to show your appreciation and spotlight them!
List one to three bloggers you really miss and one to three bloggers you would miss if they stopped blogging. Then go leave a comment on those blogs.
Our blogger friends are special – time to let them know!

The Bloggers I would miss if they stopped- There's more than one, even more than three, and I have to mention Alex Cavanaugh even though I know he'll be on everyone's list.

First, there's Sara at S. P. Bowers
I would miss her posts, which resonate with me because we have a lot in common, trying to juggle family with writing. We are at about the same place in writing, which is at yet unpublished, and coming to terms with the brutal industry for beginning writers. Most of all, I would miss her faithful and encouraging comments, and for seeking me out when I'm too lazy to look up anyone else.

Next, there's Elise Fallson
Again I have a lot in common with her, but I love her sense of humor and fun posts. Plus she lives in France and one of the first posts I ever read was a hysterical account of driving in Paris. (Worth looking up if you check her out!) Thanks for your kind and consistent comments!

I don't know what's going on with linking things. Apparently I screwed something up but I can't figure it out. Well that's it- I'm rather brain dead right now because I worked third shift last night. So before I start babbling nonsense, I'll sign out!

Take care all!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Move over .007!

I've just finished reading another book for research, and this one was amazing!


It's nonfiction and the research done on this was massive. It's everything you would want to know about recent Colombian events, politics, and U.S. involvement in the fight against the drug trade.

I titled the blog referring to the new James Bond movie because in this book they reveal a Colombian intelligence operation that released fifteen hostages from the jungle after years in captivity. It was a brilliant move that is worthy of being made into a movie. Those fifteen included 3 American hostages who had been held for 5 1/2 years.

This account requires setting aside the rose colored glasses with regard to our U.S. government. Don't get me wrong, having lived abroad I am deeply grateful for the birth right of being an American citizen. I have religious freedom, clean water, reliable electricity, and opportunity to better myself and find work.

That being said, how the U.S. handled the captivity of these three men is a cautionary tale of how you can fall through the cracks. The men were working as subcontractors for the U.S. gathering intelligence, but because they were not military, no U.S. troops would be allowed to rescue them when their plane crashed in guerrilla territory. The U.S. refused to negotiate their release because of Bush's policy to not negotiate with terrorists, and any attempts by the Colombians to rescue them would have probably ended in their being killed. It finally came down to an ingenious plan of the Colombian intelligence to deceive the guerrilla group into handing them over with no arms involved!

The book gives an in depth account of the behind the scenes attempts to work out the release of the hostages, including many Colombians who were being held captive as well. I definitely recommend this book!

Any good books you'd recommend?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Health Care- here and beyond!


I've mentioned before that I'm a nurse, and my main character from my WIP is one also. I love nurse humor because being able to laugh makes the hard times easier to deal with at work.

Today, times and health care are changing. I feel it on both sides of the equation, as a patient and as a health care worker. Our family insurance has gone from bad to worse- as in, if your healthy, GREAT! you're covered. Got issues? Not so much. As a nurse, I see working conditions deteriorating as companies try to cut corners.

I don't have the solution, and I think as long as people get sick and die, no one is going to be happy with the outcome. In Ecuador, people pay for doctor's visits out of pocket but the hospital is government run. The care is not the same quality as in the U.S., but I had a few minor health issues and came out okay. A doctor visit at the time cost me about $10 (That was a while ago though- I'm sure it's gone up), and medicine was dirt cheap.

I have my fair share of horror stories however, as a friend of mine lost her baby twins in a botched up delivery. The emergency response system was rather pathetic too. The only ambulance in the city was driven by a drunk! I was an emergency medical technician (EMT) when I went to Ecuador, not a nurse, but I would love to see how the hospitals compare, now that I am one. Maybe I'll get a chance to check it out someday.

This is relevant to what I write about, but how about you? Do any of your life experiences play into your writing?

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Next Big Thing

.Thank you Joylene for your tag in the Next Big Thing bloghop. Read her post here.

She tagged me in part because of our similar genre of suspense, but I can only hope to be where she is someday! I'm revising my book so extensively that I feel like I'm back to square one- the first draft stage. I've finally made peace with the revision process because I've learned so much along the way, and it will only make my novel better in the end.

THE NEXT BIG THING (Answer 10 questions about your work, either a novel or WIP)

TEN QUESTIONS:

1. What is the working title of your book?  Crossing the Culture, but I'm probably going to change that because my WIP has changed so much it's not as applicable. (And my husband didn't like it!)

2. Where did the idea come from from the book?  I wanted to write something based on my experiences of living in South America, and once I had a main character, she took on a life of her own.

3. What genre does your book fall under? Suspense/ thriller, or medical thriller. The main character is a nurse volunteering in a clinic in the rainforest.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I know more or less what the female protagonist would look like, but I can't think of a specific actress for her. The male protagonist, who is the doctor running the clinic, I would chose Stuart Townsend.

  He's pretty much exactly the picture I had in my mind while I wrote the story.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

 Kate Wilson is thrilled to begin her work as a nurse in the rainforest, discovering too late that the town of Bella Vista is hiding a sinister secret that will change her life forever.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I'm going to try traditional first, but anything is possible.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? This has been a slow process for me, but overall I've worked on this manuscript for over a year already, and I'm not sure how much more I will need.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? The only one that comes to mind is Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger. Just take away the spy part and add medical instead, if that makes any sense. (If anyone knows of a better fit let me know!)

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book? The beautiful little town I lived in while in the rainforest, and my husband (with his Colombian heritage).

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? I like learning about places and cultures and I try to share this with the reader. It is a beautiful region with intense poverty and tormented by violence and drugs. I've had to do a lot of research into the history of the drug cartels and Colombia, and the amount of violence is mind-boggling. It puts our problems in the States into perspective.

Thanks again Joylene for the opportunity to talk about what I'm working on!

I'm going to tag some of my favorite blogger friends, because I would love to learn about what you're working on, but no obligations.

1. Barbara Ann Watson

2

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mixing it up Monday

I've got a few things to blog about today- all different topics.

First, I wanted to introduce one of my first followers, Elisa Ann Lindstrom, before I discovered the writing community. She is an artist with nature based themes and her blogsite is here.

Her latest post is something we can definitely relate to.

Next, I thought I would share a story from Ecuador that I've taken out of my book. I threw it in to try to show the culture, but it's a side story that has nothing to do with the plot, so it got cut. This is a true experience that I had on a visit there with my husband and then four year old daughter.

We were driving from Quito, the capitol city to Otavalo, where my husband's family lives, when we saw a llama tied up in front of a house. Eager to show him to my little girl, we stopped the car and got out. An old woman was standing near the llama, and we asked if we could take pictures. We took several shots and then I noticed a scrawny little puppy nearby. I grabbed a snack pack of crackers that I had for my four year old and spilled them out on the ground for the puppy to eat, when a little toddler I had barely noticed came running up and starting eating the crackers too. Right off the dirt road! It broke my heart.

I ran back to the car, got another bag of crackers, and handed the new pack to the child, who grabbed it and ran to hide behind the old woman. We take everything for granted in the States, like having enough to eat, that it hadn't occurred to me the child might be hungry too. Isn't that sad!

Last of all, I finished the book Deadly Additive, a Christian suspense novel. I wasn't sure what that genre meant, but it's my writing partner's genre and she had recommended it to me. In turn, I recommend to anyone who likes suspense. It is very well written- the dialogue is excellent, and the religious part is subtle, not preachy, and it doesn't take away from the page turning plot.

You can find it at B&N or Amazon. I stayed up until almost 1 a.m. finishing it!

I also purchased the Emotion Thesaurus as recommended. This is exactly what I needed to help me with fresh ideas. Over and over I've been told that I needed to add more feeling. I'm getting better but this is the boost I was looking for. Thanks for the tip!

By the way, I just thought I should mention that I work during the second half of the week. That's 12 hour shifts at night, so when I'm not working I'm sleeping, and I don't always get a chance to respond to comments as quickly. I will get to them though! Thanks for understanding :) and have a great week!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Just lounging around

Today wasn't my most productive day, although I did do my share of taxi-ing the kids around, paying bills, washing dishes and cooking dinner. I even read a little! (While waiting at ballet for my 5 year old) But what I really wanted to do was what these guys are doing!

I will next happily announce that my writing muse did come back. I plowed through a huge chunk of the revision I'm working on and have worked out more of the story in my head. All in all, I'm glad to be in the groove again. Thanks again to everyone for their inspiration during my slumpy period.

Right now I'm reading three books, one unpublished from my writing partner, one published from a friend of hers, and another that I got through a B& N deal.

They are all very good and very different. I think that's why I read a number of books at the same time- it's a little like flipping through the channels on TV, depending on what mood I'm in determines which book I'll pick up and read. I have the published ones listed on my Goodreads account, and when I'm finished I'll post a review.

What are you up to this week? Glad you stopped by :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Rules of writing- Aargh!

One thing we discussed at our writing group was the craft of writing, and how important it is to follow the rules, especially as a first time novelist. I've learned most from other writers, such as avoiding adverbs, POV (that one I'm finding hard!), MC can't look in a mirror reflectively, don't start out in a car or plane (Oops), etc., etc.

I know a lot of people attend seminars, read books on the craft, and have mentors who help them through the process. What I want to know is what has helped you the most? Any books you recommend? I've looked at the shelves of books at B&N and get overwhelmed. I'm going to try a writing schedule too, but that one is hard because my life is crazy.

Okay, then I'm going to shamelessly plug my kids' school fundraiser because they're hoping for some cheesy prizes. This is one of the items, plush snowballs for an indoor fight. How cute is that? The deadline is this Wed., Oct 10th.

All you have to do is shop online at www.charlestonwrap.com and enter 532634 at the checkout so they get credit. The items will ship directly to you. Don't feel obligated, believe me I know money's tight these days, but if you can you'll make their day!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

IWSG post

It's that time again- my how time flies. This post is really a continuation on my last post, where I confessed to procrastinating with working on my novel. Now I'll explain why.

I have a new writing partner who I found by reaching out to the local writer's chapter in my area. She's amazing. A well-educated, talented writer, already working on her second novel, but still unpublished. Her first novel landed her an agent, but in the submission process it turned out the market was no longer favorable to it. It was DOA- dead on arrival. She's letting me read it, and I have to say, the beginning is very good. I'm not finished, but it's the kind of writing that makes you forget your reading. So why does that discourage me?

She spent over 5 years on it. Revising it over and over again. But it did make her an amazing writer. I guess I'm doubting I have that kind of dedication to writing. I've wanted to write my whole life, but the time was never right, thinking that when I did sit down finally it would all be so easy. I had no idea how much of a craft it really is- how much work goes into every book I read, and how competitive the market is.

I'm feeling overwhelmed, which grinds me to a halt.

Tomorrow I will write. I need to. It is a desire burning within. I'm overwhelmed, but I'll trudge onward, working, improving, rewriting. Thank you all for the encouraging words from the trenches. I'm in good company.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Procrastinating

My cute little foster kittens are gone :( I was starting to get attached to them but my cat Willow has staked out our house as his, and his alone. We have a good balance of happy pets right now (1 cat, 2 dogs) and I'm just not ready to upset it.

Now about my title- procrastinating. I've been doing a lot of it lately. I've been reading like crazy but not doing much writing. I couldn't even think of anything special to write about today. I feel like I'm losing steam with writing, which I'm hoping is only temporary, but it's hard to stay dedicated to something that takes so much time and gives little in return.

Any thoughts on how to light a fire under me? Because I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way once in awhile!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Book reviews



 I finished the book News of a Kidnapping by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez this last week. I read it to get a perspective on the kidnapping in Colombia that was, and still is, a problem in that country. It is a non-fiction book detailing the experience of several kidnapped people and their families' efforts to free them in the days of Pablo Escobar. It was very informative but sometimes hard to follow if you have no prior knowledge of the political system in Colombia. The author is Colombian, by the way.

There were a few interesting points made, I'll quote the first directly. . . . ."a human tragedy for which the consuming nations bore primary responsibility." It seems that the slant here in the States is to blame the southern countries for the drug problem when demand for drugs begins here. A point contradicted, understandably, by the author. For there to be a product, there has to be a demand for it, although I would have to weigh in that the blame should be shared.

The next mind-boggling fact was the amount of violence in Colombia. In contrast to Chicago, which has been making headlines for the murder count, the city of Medellin in the first two months of 1991 had 1200 murders! These were the days of Pablo Escobar, who paid adolescents from the slums to kill police.

One thing that I found interesting was that although the conditions were difficult, the women held hostage were not harmed physically. Here in the States I can't think of one kidnapping case that was not sexually motivated, while in South America these kidnappings are used as political leverage or for money.

I'm currently reading a book that I got as a free download titled All Roads Lead to Austen and I can't put it down! It has so many elements that I can relate to. The author, Amy Smith, is an expert on Jane Austen, with a PhD and a professor position in a university. She travels to Central and South America discussing Austen's books with groups of people in six countries for their take on the novels. I love Jane Austen, and I've been enjoying how she integrates the cultures of the local people into her experience.

Any books you'd like to share? I'd recommend both of these.


Monday, September 17, 2012

More Tales from South America

Why would you go to South America?

When I had decided, at the ripe old age of 21, to move to Ecuador, S. America, a lot of people in my tranquil suburb of Wisconsin could not understand my desire to move away, especially to a developing country. What can I say? What DID I say? The more people responded negatively to my idea to go, the more I stubbornly dug my heels in and made it happen. Which says a lot about how I live my life, I guess.

I don't regret it, even the bad experiences I had, because the good far outweighed those times. It is a spectacularly beautiful country with three distinct regions, the mountains (as in the Andes), the coast, and the rainforest. There is a large indigenous population that speak the Quechua language, but Spanish is the principal one spoken. It is a relatively safe country to visit, although the biggest concern is pickpocketing, but if you use common sense you will not have a problem. I actually saw tourists wandering around with money hanging out of their pockets- HELLO!

Poverty is prevalent, but the land is very productive, and a diet of rice and beans keep the people well nourished. The country exports bananas and roses, amongst other things, and you can find all kinds of fruits and vegetables in the open air markets. When I visited last, seven years ago, the average monthly salary was $120! But food, utilities, and gas were cheap. Plus with public transportation everywhere you don't need a car.

Along with the good, comes the bad. When I lived there 19 years ago, a man, Colombian born, had been captured after allegedly raping and killing 300 women, beginning in Colombia and then in Ecuador. The longest prison sentence in Ecuador is 18 years, no matter what you do, but justice has a way of working it's way around, and the man was murdered by relatives' of the victims. This news was ironic to me because I moved to Ecuador from the Milwaukee area around the time of Jeffrey Dahmer, and everyone in Ecuador knew of him. But did we ever hear of their serial killer, who killed approx. 300? vs. 17 from Dahmer?

Okay, I'm going to lighten up this post with a funny story. On Mondays I work out at the local gym in a core strengthening class and was behind a cute little blond with a perfect body. I consoled myself with the fact that she had a little gut hanging out until the instructor announced at the end of the class that she was pregnant. I should be depressed but I'm too busy laughing about it!

Last but not least, I'm fostering the world's CUTEST kittens for the shelter. There are four of them, but here are pictures of two.
See! You made it through that post to get this reward- wasn't it worth it!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Insecure Writers Group





Today's the day for our writer's support group, and my insecurities this time around have come full circle. I went from feeling like I'll never be good enough- to I have a great story, it needs more work, but it's still worthwhile.

While it's never pleasant to hear you still aren't finished and what might be wrong with it, it's also equally wonderful to find a cheering section.
I've learned this month how important finding readers are in the process of writing, because after a while, it's hard to see the mistakes. I had looked at those words I had written too many times to know if I was conveying what I had meant to.

One of my writing group partners is a nurse too, and she's far more advanced in her writing than I am. She pointed out that my writing tends to read like a nurses' note. Dry and factual. I'm working at writing in the "fluff", as she put it. Each point has helped me take a baby step in the right direction. Do I think I can be a good writer? Yes. Am I one now? No, but I'm getting there. Thanks to all who have helped, encouraged, critiqued, and supported me along the way!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Twisted Tales from South America

Sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction.

In all my years as an American citizen, I don't recall ever meeting, or even seeing a politician. Not that I sought them out, mind you, but down in S. America in the rainforest, I came face to face with a presidential candidate. He was campaigning and enthusiastically approached us in the street. After he walked past, my husband told me his history.

Turns out he used to be a military general, and headed a coup when my husband was a child, kidnapping the then Ecuadorean President, Leon Febres Cordero. He negotiated never being prosecuted and eventually released the president unharmed, but not before publicly humiliating him by broadcasting the president crying like a baby. Can you imagine a U.S. president being kidnapped and the kidnapper later running for president?

All normal in the Southern Hemisphere.

I just started reading a book which I'm using as research for my own novel. It's titled, News of a Kidnapping by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Nobel prize winning Colombian journalist. (Also author of Love in the Time of Cholera) I haven't gotten far but it's clear he's a talented writer. Bonus when my research is enjoyable! It documents the real-life accounts of 10 kidnapped people in Colombia in the days of Pablo Escobar. I'm hoping to get a feel of what the ordeal was like, since fortunately I've never been kidnapped myself.

Additional note- I am now the proud owner of an E-reader! Never thought I'd be in this place, buying geeky tech things and becoming proficient at using them. The journey wasn't easy- there was some kicking and screaming, but here I am. I guess it took putting my favorite things (books) on it and I was lured in.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Reviews

This week I'm reviewing Linda Jackson's book, The Lie that Binds. She had a brief mention on one of her posts saying that it was now available as an e-book for .99 cents on Amazon.

She's a middle grade book author with a knack for amazing character portrayals and this book didn't disappoint. Although it's for the younger crowd, it is a good read for adults too. Being raised in a middle class, white suburban neighborhood (boring), I love having my horizons broadened by perspectives on other situations, and this book did just that, showing what living in a poor area might be like and why children make the choices they do.

Link here to check it out.

The second book I just finished was One for the Money. I loved the movie and since this is my genre, I decided to read the book afterwards. Usually that ruins the book, but I loved it anyway. The three things that kept me turning the pages were the likeable MC, the thriller/mystery plot, and the sexual tension with Morelli. Entertaining read!

On the subject of book reviews, for all writers out there, this article is a must read. Link here to read it for yourself. Quick summary- it exposes the "review" business where good reviews can be bought. For the record, I read EVERY LAST WORD of the books I review, and I am never, ever paid. I have a day job as a nurse already.

If I don't like a book, I'm not going to finish it. (I did write a few bad reviews on my Goodreads account, which is a risky business as a writer). Who's to say that they won't look me up and get nasty in revenge?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Revision hell

Okay- there is slush pile hell, submission hell, and so on, but I've been stuck in revision hell, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

I feel like I've been running with this porcelain figurine (my WIP), and every time someone critiques it, they drop it, and it smashes into a million pieces. I pick up the pieces and put it back together, but in a different shape according to their suggestions. The problem is, not all the pieces flow together smoothly anymore and while I like the improvements, I'm not sure what it is anymore.

Next Monday I meet for the second time with my writing group, and we've been emailing each other every week with our progress. One of them volunteered to read my manuscript and has given me some much needed encouragement. Thanks to the editing of Barbara Watson, I saw my grammar was not too far off base, which was my concern as well, since I'm one of those that just goes by what sounds right vs. being able to actually explain the grammar. That's how I learned Spanish, so I guess it's served me well.

This post is going to be short and sweet, because I've had a long day driving the kids around to school, ballet, orientations, etc. Just an update on my writing life- Where are you at lately? And how did you survive the revisions? Or the critique process? Please don't say you wrote it perfectly the first time because I just may have to hate you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fairytale Blogfest


Here is my 300 word flash fiction entry. I've chosen plot twist.



      Cinderella stood for moment contemplating in the garden. Her fairy godmother hovered before her ready to grant her wishes, but faced with the opportunity, Cinderella saw a bigger picture emerging.
     “Wait a minute, fairy godmother,” she said with resolution. “I know I wanted to go to the ball, but what I truly want, more than anything, is to have back what was rightfully mine.”
      The fairy godmother held her wand in mid-air, ready to transform Cinderella's rags into a sparkling ballgown, but her smile faded into a look of confusion. “But the prince, my dear, don't you want to meet him?”
      “Here's the thing,” Cinderella went on to explain, “I don't really believe in love at first sight, and my stepmother and sisters are ruining my father's legacy. Because of their greed, they have run his estate into the ground. The peasants who used to live comfortably under my father are now starving. I want my land back.”
      The fairy godmother looked at Cinderella with a look of admiration. “Wish granted,” she said, and with a wave of her wand, she disappeared in a cloud of glitter.
      The following day Cinderella went about her daily work, wondering how her wish would be fulfilled, when a knock at the door grabbed her attention. She wiped her cracked, calloused hands on her apron and opened the heavy wooden door.
      A government official stood at the door with a paper. “I am looking for Ella Dubois, the mistress of this manor.”
      “Mistress? How so?” Cinderella asked.
      “Yes, it appears that the marriage of deceased Monsieur Dubois and a certain Mademoiselle Marie Leroy was fraudulent, and has been officially annulled. That leaves Ella, the only child, as the rightful heir to the estate.”
     Cinderella straightened her shoulders and stood tall. "I am Ella Dubois."


That's it! 300 words exactly. Thanks to Morgan Shamy and friends for their awesome idea. Link here for more information.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Reading from the Library

As I've posted previously, when I can't figure out what to read, I go to the beginning shelves of my library and grab a book.

For my bad reviews, I don't post the title, out of respect for other writers' efforts. I know all too well how much effort goes into them, but I still can have an opinion, and that I will post.

I grabbed a 500 page book by a male author, and had gotten about 100 pages into it when I stopped. The writing was actually pretty good, and if it weren't for the overall topic, I might have kept reading. Those 100 pages were 75% mindless rants of a drunken, incoherent character with the other 25% being flashbacks into the most depressing environment imaginable. I felt as if continuing to read would leave me in either a depression or madness, neither of which is a convenient state of mind to be in when I have to function as a productive person in society. I can take dark, I just can't take dark and rambling.

Next, I skipped to an author I had heard about, Mary Higgins Clark, and checked out her book, All Around the Town. Since my novel is heading into the suspense/thriller category, I figured I better start reading my genre. The results?
I couldn't put her book down. It was, as they say, such good writing that I didn't even feel like I was reading. One thing I noticed with this particular book is that she jumped around a lot with POV, but I didn't mind at all. It was the plot that kept you moving forward, but the characters were mostly believable and interesting. Mostly- because I had a little trouble with the multiple personality disorder portrayal.

I'm still chipping away at another revision on my WIP (AArgh- will I never finish?) but I also popped out part of a short story, so I'm still a little bit productive.

By the way, I'm on goodreads under the name Rose Munevar. I don't know if anyone else is on that as well so we can connect. I do list mostly all the titles I read there, plus I'd love to see what you're reading!

Monday, August 6, 2012

On Being a Nurse






Part of the basis of my WIP, which is heading into another round of revisions, comes from my experience as a registered nurse. One of the bits of advice I picked up from the book, How to be a Writer in the E-Age. . (see previous blog for link) was to work around building an audience in your genre by writing about subjects related to it. That, and fellow blogger Barbara Watson (click on her name for more info.), did a content consult for me and made a note with regard to the educational requirements of being a registered nurse.

My personal story was that at the age of 19, I went to school for 6 months to become an EMT (emergency medical technician) and simultaneously a ski patrol. An EMT is a lower level than a paramedic, but also works on an ambulance. I worked doing that for the next two years until I moved to Ecuador. My plan was to do volunteer work for 10 months and then go to nursing school, and I was on a waiting list for a community college. I ended up staying in Ecuador 3 years, but I never lost sight of my goal, and when I moved back I went to a tech school to be a LPN. (Licensed Practical Nurse) That is a diploma course that lasts 2 1/2 semesters and then you can take a state board exam for your license. Most LPN's work in long-term care, i.e. nursing homes, but it varies state by state.

After that, I moved around some, had two kids, and continued to work on my associate degree in nursing, which I finally finished a while back. You can be a registered nurse with an associate or a bachelor degree; both have to pass the same state board exam for the R.N. license. In the work field, there is little acknowledgement of the difference as far as pay or title goes, which makes the time and money involved for the four year degree less appealing.

This whole subject leads me to a book from my "reading through the library project" that I got turned off by. Again, for my negative reviews I won't post the title, but the problem I had was that it referenced a nurse giving a patient a bed bath and having only one patient (unless you're in ICU, you have more than one). The issue I had is that obviously the writer didn't research this, because nurses do not routinely give bed baths now, CNA's (certified nursing assistants) do. It's not because it's beneath us, it's just the reality is that we are so bogged down with documentation and paperwork that bedside care has been delegated. 

That's today's nurse. (Sigh)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Insecure Writers Support Group



It's that time again, and since I missed last month I wanted to make sure I posted today. I'm still insecure with my writing, and here's how this month.

I had sent an email to a regional writers group trying to get into contact with other writers in my area. The result was that four of us met in person at a local bookstore and compared notes for an hour and a half. I was worried that I'd be meeting hopelessly awful "writers" that I would feel obligated to teach how to write English. Instead, I met highly educated people, one of whom has representation but is yet unpublished, a published poet working on her master's in creative writing, and a journalist from a local paper. Oh, and did I mention the writer with an agent is also a registered nurse, like myself, except she's the head of the RN to BSN program at a college. And then there was little 'ol me.

To make it worse, my social phobia was in full form, and 75% of me wanted to hide somewhere in a corner.

Despite all that, the end result was that I left thrilled with the prospect of having critique partners to push and inspire me, and I hope I can help them in some way in return.

With that, today was a horrible day for me. I had to put down my dog Cookie. The first time I saw her was about two years ago- an old, lame, deaf dog with ear infections and covered in sores at the animal shelter where I volunteer. I couldn't stand to see her in the cold, dirty kennel during the winter, so I brought her home as a foster. Then, I fell in love with her. The sweetest dog ever, she wagged her tail constantly unless she was sleeping. She was 11 years old, and after years of neglect, she finally found what it was to be loved, and she loved me back.
Rest in peace, sweet Cookie.

And as the Lorax from Dr. Seuss says,

UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better,
It's not.

I console myself with the fact that I cared a whole awful lot. She was worth it.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Need some great writing/publishing advice?

I'm not being compensated in any way, shape, or form, I just simply liked this book so much that I'm dedicating this entire post to it.

Why it would be worth your time? It's written by two successful authors, one a social media guru/author and the author of the bestselling novel Pay it Forward, which was made into a movie starring Helen Hunt. Okay, now who doesn't want advice from them?

Click on the title to go to Amazon to check it out for yourself

How to be a Writer in the E-Age and Keep your E-Sanity

Since reading this book I now have a strategy for my writing career, and clear steps that I plan to take to get there.

The book covers everything you could possibly want to know about writing and publishing. I learned about writing, great starts, blogging and social media strategies, how to view rejections, self publishing, movie rights, and so much more! It is available for a limited time for $2.99, which I promise you will be the best $3 you'll spend if you're a writer. It helped clear so much confusion that I had about the changing world of books.

It also had a shout out to blogger/author Alex J Cavanaugh and used his blog as an example of how to build a platform in your genre. Congrats Alex! Click on his name to link to his amazing sci-fi blog.

Happy reading!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Using a Pen Name

You may have noticed that I've changed the name on my blog to Rose Munevar from Honey. Don't laugh, but Honey was actually my dog's name.
Yeah, that one!

Why did I use a fake name! A lot of reasons, some silly ones I refuse to confess to. Now that I'm getting deeper into the writing world, I feel the need to be taken a little more seriously, and the new name is close to my real one. I still don't want to be found completely, because the truth is, I live a double life. My secret is that I am a writer. There, I said it. I am a writer.

Only five people in my real life know. My husband, two kids, and my sister.

Why I feel the need to hide it has to do with the naysayers in my life. Writing is a hard enough industry without people in my ear saying "You can't do that". I have myself in my ear already saying that.

There are many reasons writers use pen names. Check out this link.

I was surprised to learn Mark Twain was a pen name! Probably everybody knew that, but me of course.

What about you? Pen name or real?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Writing book on Amazon

I found this link for a book on writing from another blog. It was on promotion for free and I've found a lot of great advice in it. Click on the title to link to Amazon. It's not free anymore but I think the price is only $3 anyway. Great deal for a very encouraging book on the writing industry.

How to be a writer in the E-age, and keep your E-sanity

And who doesn't need a morale boost in this industry?

On my last post I mentioned I've had a preference for male authors, but I do read all kinds of books by all kinds of authors. Maybe it was more a romance aversion, but some books I've read lately by women have been REALLY good. Probably my favorite recent one was Chosen by a Horse, a memoir by author Susan Richards. I would say it fell in between a James Herriot and Marley and Me type book. I laughed and I cried, and it takes a lot for me to feel that deeply about what I'm reading.

I'm reading four different books right now, one of which is from my "reading through the library" project. Why do I do this to myself, I don't know. What are you reading now?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sexist Reader?

First off, I must apologize to my commenters. I usually respond to people right away and I missed a Monday blog, but all with good reason. We went to Mammoth Cave Kentucky for a week of vacation, meeting up with old friends. It was awesome! Definitely recommend it. We did two walking tours of the cave and canoed down the Green River. I didn't do any writing, the internet was practically non-existent, but I did read a little, especially on the ten hour car ride.

That brings me to my blog title. When I was younger I read almost exclusively female authors, my favorites being Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. I think I read all their books, even the lesser known ones. The books written by men were ones I thought I should read, like Moby Dick, and I couldn't stand them. Too much detail, or violence, and not enough romance. As I've matured, without meaning to, I have switched my preference to male authors, even better if they have a journalist background or style of writing.

I've lost interest in romance. It's become too cliche for me now. The hard to get beautiful girl, playing standoffish to the handsome, tough guy. Blah blah blah. Heard it all before. I guess I'm not romantic anymore. Maybe washing my husband's socks for the past seventeen years killed it, but it's just not the same. Don't get me wrong- I love him. In fact, I am one of the fortunate who married the love of their life, but my interests have morphed into realistic, teach me something I don't know. The last library book I finished was quite the lesson in economics, but I was okay with that.

Hence, my blog title. I am currently forcing myself to read a famous female author's book in the romance genre just to broaden my horizons. The whole story is sooo tried and true, but it is pretty good writing and I feel I can still learn a lot from her.

How about you? Any preferences on writing styles from men or women?


Monday, June 25, 2012

Where the writing leads. . .

I've learned so much in the world of writing, and I am eternally grateful to the blogging world for that. I have to confess that I had a most illogical, preconceived notion that I overcame, thanks to other bloggers. The idea was that I shouldn't have to read a book on how to write. If it didn't come naturally, I shouldn't be doing it. Little did I know that it was a skill that needs refining, just like a surgeon must be taught how to operate, and there's nothing wrong with learning to write from a book. In fact, it's a very good way to learn. The books out there are written by proven authors with success stories. I'm getting the words straight from people who I would love to meet and talk to, but probably never will.

One book I had heard of several times was Bird by Bird. I starting reading it, and have had more than one epiphany along the way. First of all, that getting published, while a worthy goal, is not the ultimate guarantee of writer happiness that I believed it to be. It almost felt like a weight being lifted off of me to hear someone say that. I write because I feel I must. It shouldn't matter if it achieves the ultimate success or not. Next, I'm not the only one who writes crappy first drafts. Not everyone is a Hemingway with the first penned words except me. It's okay to start out bad and get better.

One thing I regret is not starting sooner. For so many years I put it off because I was having babies, working, and finishing my degree at the same time. I wouldn't allow myself to do it until I had my degree finished. It's been two and half years now, and my youngest will be in school full time this fall, so I'm finally satisfying my lifelong desire to write.

Whatever comes of it, I won't regret the journey.



Monday, June 18, 2012

Money

Gratuitous cute kitty pics! (This is my foster kitten from my previous post. Nice, fat, and healthy. He'll be getting his shots next week and going up for adoption.)

I found this quote on a bumper sticker at a dollar store, and it made me laugh.

"Money talks, it's just mine always says goodbye."

Funny but true. That's for sure what my money has been saying, and I'm one of the fortunate. My husband makes good money, and I work part-time as a nurse, also making good money, but we still can't seem to save anything. We are not big spenders. My walk-in closet is moderately filled with our combined clothes, and I rarely spend more than $20 for a pair of shoes. I hunt out my heels at TJ Maxx or check the sales racks.

I think our biggest money goes to vacations. We have a small camper and we go a couple of weeks a year on vacations with it. Even so, camping is not an expensive way to vacation.

I just returned to buying my animals generic food, which makes me feel guilty that I'm not getting them the best, but it's all in perspective. When I was in Ecuador I got my first dog a week after I was married. We traveled maybe once a month to buy groceries and visit my husband's family, and I would buy dog food for her. Dogfood for your dog is a luxury down there. Most dogs are fed scraps left over from people, if there are any.

Anyway, the whole point of the story is that I will be working more come fall when both my girls will be in school full time. I will still write. Now that I've started I'm addicted, but I'll have to find a balance for it. That being said, I'm ending my pitiful attempt at a Writers Workshop. It crashed and burned anyway, so before I completely fall off of the blogger radar, it was time to pull the plug. Thank you to the people who supported the idea.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Peer Review Writing Workshop- Building Believable Characters Part 2

So it's Thursday again, and I've renamed the workshop, but it's the same idea. I've stayed on the same subject because having good characters is essential to having a good book.

Last week we did a character sketch. It's an exercise in getting to know the characters in order to portray the personality in a realistic way.

I've rewritten my character sketch from last week after looking at Hemingway's example again.

Kate Wilson viewed her good looks as a source of annoyance rather than an asset. It was far more important to her to be the smartest in the room, or the most talented, and she pushed herself to be seen in other ways than just the prettiest. When she decided to go to South America, it was her compulsion to do something different that inspired her to not only go, but to return again to live. While there, she discovered that she had been missing real meaning in life and began to fill the void by opening herself to the local people. She loved and let herself be loved.

So that's my second attempt!

This week I've copied part of the link I had in my last blog. The full article's website is found below the quote.

"Place the Fully-Developed Character into a Setting

Once the writer has fully developed one or more characters using the above techniques, it is time to place the character or characters into a setting. Rather than going for something dramatic like a car accident or 1920s murder scene, it is often best to place the character in a common setting the reader knows well like a coffee shop or a classroom. Because the writer knows the characters so well by this point, the writing is a matter of observing and recording what the characters do based on their experiences and the biographical details the writer has already “learned about” the character.

Look to Authors of Character-Driven Fiction Like Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver

While it is not important to have anything “happen” in the scene, some writers may become uneasy with how little appears to be going on. It may be helpful here to read some Ernest Hemmingway or Raymond Carver stories to see how much can happen when nothing appears to be happening. Furthermore, the scene being written probably won’t ever see another reader, so the writer needn’t worry if the prose is not “exciting enough.”"

The example they give of Hemingway, and how little is "going on" but a lot being said made me think of his book For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think it spans about a week's time period and that's it.

This week's exercise is to take your character and put them in a setting. Mine will be from the suggestion of a coffee shop.

Kate took her laptop to the local coffeeshop with free internet to check out the latest news from Ecuador. On her income as a waitress, she couldn't afford internet at home, so once a week she would go and buy herself a latte and spend an hour or two surfing the web. Her dream of returning to the rainforest was a long way off, but she hung onto it with tenacity, determined to not lose sight of it.

She sat engrossed in the headlines when she became aware of a young man hovering near her.

"Mind if I join you?" he asked, smiling.

Kate cringed inwardly but looked up with a welcoming smile. "Not at all."


That's it for today! Be sure and leave a comment indicating you would like to participate and everyone can stop by your blog to see your post.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Reading through the library

When I was a kid, I was obsessed with books. I could sit in my room and read for hours. My mom would ground me by taking my books away, or sometimes she would take them to make me go play outside. My middle school was next to the city's public library, so on certain days I would go there for a couple of hours and she would pick me up from there.
When I looked at the rows of books it had been my goal to read all of them. Didn't happen of course, but one day when I was struggling to find a good book to read, I remembered that goal and went to the first shelf, first book, and started reading.
The first book I'm guessing to be in the "cozy" category, a subcategory of mystery. It was awful. I won't post the book titles for my negative reviews, but I honestly don't know how this got published. The writing was mediocre at best, and the plot had holes in it. I stopped reading when someone was murdered in broad daylight on the street in front of a shop holding its grand opening, and no one saw a thing. Worse yet, the main suspect was an old, fragile lady and the victim a big, strapping man, killed by stabbing.
When I read it, it gave me hope. If something this awful can get published, so can mine, however difficult it might be to go traditional these days. It was published recently too.

The second book I started came out in 1989. It's kind of a flashback for me because that's the year I graduated from high school. I'm about halfway through the 400 pages and the title is Agent of Influence. It's REALLY good. Talk about character sketches- the characters are very appealing. What I keep thinking is how a good book can fall into obscurity. After you've made it to publication, there is no guarantee of success.

That's it for today- I'm off to the zoo with the kids!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Writers Workshop- building believable characters

I'm launching my first workshop for anyone interested in participating. Since it's rather small, I'll just have you leave a comment that you want to join in and others can follow over to your blog to comment on your post.

On a previous post, I had linked over to site that I had found from a literary agent on twitter. The full link is on my restoration of self post, and it is from the story writer at Pixar, Emma Coats. The first point she made for writing a great story is this:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

The point is that if your reader/audience doesn't care about your characters, they won't keep reading the book. We've all heard the advice- you don't want flat characters, they need to be believable. So how do you do that?

Follow the masters. I read my first Hemingway book about two years ago, and I found myself actually attracted to the main character, Robert. I developed such strong feelings about him that I continued to think of him when I wasn't even reading the book. As a writer, that's exactly what you want your reader to do.

Take this excerpt from the short story by Hemingway, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.

"Francis Macomber was very tall, very well built if you did not mind that length of bone, dark, his hair cropped like an oarsman, rather thin-lipped, and was considered handsome. He was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new, he was thirty-five years old, kept himself very fit, was good at court games, had a number of big-game fishing records, and had just shown himself, very publicly, to be a coward."

With each word, a clearer picture of this character forms, and that last part just adds a further opinion. Brilliant.

Exercise: Do a character sketch. I found this website, click on the word here, with some great suggestions for building characters.

Here's mine: (She's my main character from my WIP- and as always, feedback welcome)

Kate Wilson is a pretty American with curly blond hair and a thrill-seeking lifestyle. She loves to downhill ski and travel. She follows her friend and coworker from the restaurant they work at to South America and finds her calling in life, to become a nurse and return as a volunteer. Kate has a big heart and opens it to the local people in the rainforest where she has been assigned to work. She is a little naive to the dangers of her environment however, as the drug cartel is active in the area.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Insecure Writers

Just not good enough.

That's my insecurity as a writer. I have no special training as a writer other than being a voracious reader all my life. I know what's good reading, but I'm not there yet. I wish I had all kinds of money to take college courses or webinars that Writer's Digest offers, but I don't. I could work more to have extra money, but then when would I write?

I finished my novel at 62,000 words after chipping away at it for a year. When I looked at it again, it started out as a YA and ended up in suspense. So I edited it, completely changing the beginning. It got better, but still not good enough. I sent off my first query and got rejected in half an hour by a form letter. Ouch!

Now I'm on my third revision. I've changed the beginning yet again, changed the POV, and am focusing on suspense. I know this will not be the last revision either.

I'm thinking of starting a workshop of sorts on my Thursday post to work on writing, open to all. That way we could all build our skills and get group feedback. It's just an experiment- but I've truly been helped by the feedback I've gotten from others in the past.

Anyway- back to writing I go.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Restoration of self

This past weekend we went camping at the beach with a group of friends. I was half dreading it because it could have been disastrous. Two families were going for the first time camping, two other families it was only their second time, so I was expecting whining, grumpy people. But I was wrong. It was amazing! We had so much fun! No drama, great weather except for rain one night, great food, and to top it off, dolphins. After a dinner of steaks, rice, and salad we went for a walk on the beach. The moon was full, the sky pinkish blue as the sun set behind us, and the surf was crashing on the sandy shore. As if that wasn't enough, a pod of dolphins swam by close to shore. My soul has been fully restored, and we all pledged to go again together. Nothing like time in nature to recharge!

I wanted to share this fantastic link I found from a literary agent on twitter. It's a link on how to write a great story. Check it out here.

Hope you all had a great weekend too!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Short Stories

As I was writing my novel, I wrote a few short stories and entered them in contests. I haven't heard back yet because it's too early, but I was curious if anyone else has tried this route to get established as a writer. I see it as a way to get feedback while improving my writing, plus it's much less of a time commitment than writing another novel. It took me a year to do that, and I'm still not finished.

One of the short stories I wrote was about two young girls, written in parallel accounts of their experience with a doll. One girl lives in the States and the other is a poor girl in South America. I think it might work as a children's book if I modified it slightly.

I think part of my problem is I don't know which genre fits me best. The novel I wrote started out sounding like a YA but ended up a suspense with a little romance thrown in for good measure. I'm rewriting another version where I'm focusing on just suspense. We'll see.

What's your opinion? As always, I love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The News

While I lived in Ecuador, I was exposed to the news Hispanic style. That would be a mix of the nightly news and the tabloid Enquirer being given equal weight. At the time, the feature story was about the "chupa cabra", literally translated means sucks goats. Hey, I didn't name it!
Anyway, the story went that this unknown and elusive animal (eyewitnesses described it as a alien looking creature) was sucking the life out of farm animals, and even, (gasp of horror) a human. I was married at the time and we sat around with my in-laws watching this story.
My reaction: "Yeah right. This is news?"
Their reaction: "How dreadful! I wonder what it is?"

Needless to say, my husband and I got on the subject of the news and I argued that in the States we would never broadcast such fodder.
Years later, we were watching the news in the States, and they featured a story of a mama duck and ducklings being trapped on a highway. Don't worry, the police went out, stopped traffic, and there was a happy ending. My husband, however, was outraged that this made national news.

To be honest, he had a point in some respects. Having lived here and in S. America, the news does seem to be catered to the American public. There are a LOT of world events that we don't know about that maybe we should. It's mostly U.S. events or world events as they affect the U.S.

I, personally, would like a little more meat on the bone the media sends us. Give it to me straight and don't sugar coat it. Although I don't mind the cute duck stories once in awhile either.

What do you think?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Awards and such!

I will begin blogging with a vengeance as soon as I finish revising my novel. (Almost there!) Until then-

First I would like to thank Elise Fallson for the Kreativ Blogger Award. She has a great blog, click on her name to link to it.


Here are the rules:


1) Thank and link back to the awarding blog.
2) Answer the following 7 questions.
3) Provide 10 random factoids about yourself.
4)  Pass this on to 7 deserving others.

1. What's your favorite song?  Free Falling by Tom Petty

2.What's your favorite dessert? Ice cream of course!

3. What do you do when you're upset? Talk it out with my husband until I no longer care about it! He calms me down by just listening.

4. What's your favorite pet? I've had all kinds and I love them all, but at heart I will always be a dog person. The way they blindly adore you no matter what- who can beat that?

5. Which do you prefer, black or white? Black.

6. What is your biggest fear? This goes without saying for mothers everywhere, but I fear losing my children the most. Maybe it's because I'm a nurse and see death more often than others, but I used to obsess about it. I've calmed down a little but it would be the thing I don't know if I could survive.

7. What is your attitude mostly? Hands down anxious. I'm the chicken little in the room.

10 random facts

1. I'm currently fostering a nursing cat and kitten from the humane society.
(Pause for the oohs and ahhhs!)

2. I'm thinking of going back to work at the hospital. I had worked in different hospitals for 8 years but have spent the last two at a nursing home. Less pay but less stress.

3. I'm turning 40! How'd that happen?

4. I have misophonia. I can't stand certain noises like sniffling, gum chewing, heavy breathing- I can go on a long time on this one.

5. My dream vacation would be to ski in Colorado. I have to hurry before I'm too old.

6. I've ridden horseback in the Andes Mountains.

7. I love to bake and I've learned to love to cook.

8. If I had money, I wouldn't change how I lived, but I'd sprinkle money around to help people. (Rich people I've found are far stingier than poor)

9. If I had a secret talent, I'd be a ballerina. (Shout out to Morgan Shamy here!)

10. Every room I walk into, I'm followed by an entourage consisting of 3 dogs and a cat. It can be pretty crowded, especially when they want to come in the bathroom with me.

I'll pass award on to my blogger friends below

Linda Jackson
S.P. Bowers
Lola Sharp

This is sad because I've neglected the blogging world so much lately that I can't think of who else, especially since I've already passed this one out before. So just 3 for me this time. :)





Tuesday, May 15, 2012

New query letter

So, previously, I had a tah-dah moment as in- I did it! Here's my final draft query letter! But my highly appreciated blogger friends have kindly sent me back to my "desk" in a, it's good but. . . (I'm not being sarcastic- I really do appreciate the feedback) This time, the synopsis is the entire overall story, and I doubt it will be my final draft. Feedback welcome, as always!

The title is Crossing the Culture


Deep in the jungles of the Amazon, Kate Wilson's thrill seeking lifestyle has brought her to work in a medical clinic as a volunteer nurse. She's living her dream, working as a ski patroller in winter and spending her summers down in South America. The beautiful town of Bella Vista is an idyllic setting where she bonds with the simple people, including two young sisters, Anita and Luisa. At the clinic, she works side by side with a brilliant young doctor treating the tropical ailments of the townspeople.

Reluctant to leave the place Kate is learning to call home, she returns back to the States for the ski season. Feeling alone and vulnerable, she meets a lawyer, Paul, who is smitten with her. The problem is that he represents everything about her culture that she had chosen to give up. The other problem is that she can't get Doctor Felipe out of her mind.

The powerful draw of the rainforest brings her back to the town of Bella Vista and Doctor Felipe, but she discovers that something sinister has settled upon the area. Kate had known that the farmers were growing coca plants, but in her absence the government had moved in and destroyed the crop. The drug cartel would not let this slide without retribution, and the town braces for an armed conflict. As they wait, people begin to fall ill, and they learn the guerilleros have contaminated the drinking water with cholera. Tested to their limits, Doctor Felipe and Kate fight to save innocent lives, until word leaks of an American in Bella Vista. In danger of being kidnapped, Kate must get out at once. The doctor intervenes, risking his own life to save her. Will he get her out in time?

Based loosely on my own experiences from living in Ecuador, South America for three years, and drawing on my medical background as a registered nurse, this novel depicts life in the Hispanic culture and the toll of the drug trade in the place where it all begins.

That's it! Feel free to let me know what you think of the overall story as well.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Query letter

I'm still revising my novel, but I've finally put together a query letter I think I'm happy with. I lost count of how many rewrites I did of it, but tell me what you think.

The story of Kate Wilson is of a young woman who journeys across worlds and learns that the most meaningful life is one of self-sacrifice. She takes a trip to South America where a chance encounter with a stranger and a tragic event set her course in life. Kate begins work as a volunteer nurse in the rainforest of South America until her life takes some unexpected turns.

After discovering the town of Bella Vista is an agricultural source of the coca plant, things complicate further when she begins to fall for the handsome doctor who runs the clinic. Torn between the world she is leaving behind and the culture she is coming to accept, Kate struggles to find her place. Hoping that things will change for her, she continues her work in the clinic until guerilla forces with the drug cartel put her life in danger. Doctor Felipe intervenes and puts his life in danger. Will he get her out in time?

Based loosely on my own experiences from living for three years in Ecuador, S. America, and drawing from my medical background as a registered nurse, this novel depicts life in the Hispanic culture and what it is to be a nurse.


Let me know what you think. Feedback welcome.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MIA

I've been MIA with my blog lately, but all with good reason. I've had four people read my WIP and after their feedback, I'm completely reworking it. I think now that they have helped me "see" some problems with it, I have been able to move myself forward as a writer. I feel like I'm taking it to the next level. Whether that will be enough, I shall see. Regardless, I'm feeling very good about the direction I'm headed in with it.

A lot of writers have their first novel shelved, but as for myself, I don't know that I'm willing to commit more time to writing another if this is unsuccessful. It's a good story, unique, as is my background, but I just have to get my writing up to where it needs to be. In the meantime, I will keep going. I'm eager to start the query process but I need to have this as good as I can get it first.