Saturday, April 28, 2012

More on Ecuador

One of my fellow bloggers, one of my first followers, commented on my Ecuador post how much she enjoyed it and encouraged me to share more.  On building a reading platform, it only makes sense that I should write about my experiences there, considering a lot of my novel is based on them.  So this is a thank you to Celine, my blogger friend in France, who gave me the idea!

One of the story lines in my novel is that the main character discovers the crop the farmers are growing in the rainforest is the coca (cocaine) plant.  When I lived in the rainforest, we got a radio station frequency that advertised messages from the government encouraging people to grow chocolate instead of cocaine.  It was just really strange to hear that.  Ecuador borders Colombia, and deep in the rainforest (much further in then where I lived in real life) the guerilleros (drug cartel) were getting the farmers to grow coca.

The government in Ecuador was, and still is, in a constant military battle to keep them out.  In fact, one of my husband's classmates joined the military and was sent in to fight there. When he came back he was never the same apparently. Probably post traumatic stress from the things he saw.

I wish I could share pictures.  But my camera back then was still the rolls of film, and we don't have a scanner.

By the way, I did cross the border into Colombia once with some local friends, just to say I had been there.  The city I was living in at the time was a five hour bus ride away.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

How I ended up in Ecuador

One of the questions that usually follows people finding out I live in Ecuador, is how I ended up there, and what I did.  So. . .just a brief bio on all that.

I had always wanted to live abroad, initially I wanted to go to Africa, but the airfare was very expensive, so I choose Ecuador instead after reading about it.

I was twenty, working as an Emergency Medical Tech in Milwaukee, and I was on a waiting list at a community college for nursing school.  So I decided to go to Ecuador for 10 months, and then return for school.  At the end of my 10 months, a friend who as an engineer encouraged me to stay for a big building project so I could work in first aid.  He had recruited a lot of my local friends, and well, I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Funny thing is, the only one I helped was myself.  I broke my finger the first week.

But I ended up staying for three years, and getting married.  (Still married to the guy!)  We have two daughters now, ages 11 and 5, and if they ever wanted to do that, the answer would be NO!  If they insisted, I'd pack up and go with them.  I'm sure my husband would follow. 

In retrospect, it's really amazing nothing REALLY bad happened to me, 'cuz bad stuff did happen.  It just could have been worse. 

Part of the adventurer spirit came from wanting to have something interesting to write about someday, so I think a lot of you writers out there get that.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shout out to fellow bloggers

This post is a HUGE thank you to Linda Jackson and Morgan Shamy for giving me some writerly advice and pushing me in the right direction with my novel.  I've been troubled with the first chapter for a long time and I just couldn't figure out what to do with it, and now I know.  So I'm back to the drawing board, but I'm totally okay with that.  I grew as a writer while the novel went from my head to the keyboard, and therefore what I wrote in the beginning no longer matched what I was writing at the end.  Does that make sense?  I'm so green with this whole industry that it's overwhelming, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Thanks again to you two!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Novel synopsis

Set in the jungles of the Amazon, Kate Wilson begins work as a volunteer nurse in a small clinic only to discover that the town is an agricultural source of the coca plant.  Fresh out of high school, Kate struggles to find her place in the world until a trip to South America leads to a chance encounter with a stranger, followed by her witnessing a tragedy.  Pulled into the tragic events that unfolded before her, and left with the idea planted by the stranger, she discovers her calling in life, to be a nurse working as a volunteer.  Her life in the rainforest takes an unexpected turn when the government steps in to wipe out the drugs being grown and the cartel seeks retribution.  Things become more complicated when the doctor she works with and has fallen for, risks his life to protect her.  Will he get her out in time?

My bio is that I lived in South America for three years, including one in the rainforest.  I am currently working part time as a Register Nurse.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I finished my novel!

I'm so excited!

I have wanted to write since I was in grade school thirty years ago, and now my dream is a reality.  Now I'm on my way to seek publication, but I've done some research and have come to the realization that saying I'm going to have a bestseller is about as delusional as saying I'm going to be the next great thing in Hollywood.  So, not to be a negative Nellie, but I am going into the next phase with realistic expectations.

My current effort is researching the next step, and I'm going to take fellow blogger, Linda Jackson's advice and sit on the manuscript for a week before I reread it.

Okay- I've just popped back in to write down a hook sentence for a query letter.  (This letter may take as long as my novel!)  Tell me what you think!  Please be honest.

Set in the jungles of the Amazon, Kate Wilson begins work as a volunteer nurse in a small clinic only to discover that the town is an agricultural source of the coca plant.

Suggestions for the web site  It had a great format!

Plus, here's a quote for the day:

"There are three rules for writing the novel.  Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."  W. Somerset Maugham.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Great places to retire

For the second time in the past couple of months Ecuador has been featured on Yahoo as a great place to retire.  It's inexpensive, relatively safe and stable, and beautiful (might I add).  I'm soo excited about the good publicity it's been receiving, and I'm looking forward to going back for a visit next year.

We are actually saving money to buy property there in the mountains, near Otavalo.  My dream would be to build a complex with two cottages to start a bed and breakfast.

Inflation has changed things, (I lived there over fifteen years ago), but can you believe I lived off of 1000 dollars in a year!  There is crime, as there is anywhere, but most of it is pickpocket, stealing type of crimes, and in the three years I lived there, I never had a problem.  In fact, I had accidentally left my wallet with money and a credit card in a taxi in Quito, which has taxis like N.Y. city, and I got it back!  The driver found my information and called the contact number, returning everything to me!  (I gave him the money as a reward!)

It is an amazing country, and my enthusiasm for it has been renewed.  Go Ecuador!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

That's it! I give up!

No more A to Z blogging for me.  It just wasn't the right time for me and it was getting overwhelming, which meant rather than do the A to Z thing I stopped blogging- period.  So I'll just stop kidding myself and get back to my normal blogging.

Part of what was going on was the momentum I had with my WIP.  I'm actually almost finished!  I'm getting excited to start the process of getting my work out there, which leads me to wonder, where do I start? 

I've heard of beta readers- but where do you find them?  Maybe someone out there with experience could share their wisdom.  When you finished your novel, what did you do next?  Start sending queries?  Do the beta reader route?  Pay for a professional critique? 

Friday, April 13, 2012

G is for Good News! followed by H for Hopelessly behind the A to Z challenge

G is for Good News!  I do NOT have a brain tumor!  I can't express the relief I felt yesterday to learn my MRI was normal, and that little gray cloud hanging over my head has moved on.  Now I can get on with my life, and life is good. 

H is for hopelessly behind!  My kids were on spring break this week and we've been working like crazy on our yard, so I've fallen behind on my blogging, but I'm still here.

I is for, well, ice cream.  Just because I love it, go weak in the knees for it, and cannot say no to it.  In Wisconsin it was custard, which maybe some of you know what I mean.  It's a creamier, decadent version of ice cream.  So sad I can't get it anymore!

My mind is drawing a blank on the J, so I'll wait something comes to me to continue!  

Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for Fear

F is for Fear.  If you read my last post, you'll know what I'm currently afraid of.  My husband and I had a long talk last night about things, and what really bothers me is my young children.  I want to be around a LONG time for them, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.  Next I fear what health complications will do to our finances.  My husband carries the insurance, and he works for one of the biggest financial institutions in the world, but our insurance coverage changed this year.  Basically, if you're healthy, you are covered 100%, if you're not, plan on paying thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses in deductibles and copays.
I'm not blaming Obama at all for this, as most people do, because as a nurse I KNOW it is a lot more complex than that.  Our healthcare system is out of control, and there are no quick, easy fixes.
I actually fear this more than my actual health problems, because who wants to be sick and ruin the family financially at the same time.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

C is for (ahem!) Catching up!, D is for Dogs, and E is for Ecuador

C is for Catching up.  Again I'm breaking the rules, but I think I'll be excused for this one.  I've spent the last three days in the doctor's office, and I'll be going in for a MRI to make sure I don't have a brain tumor (more exactly, a tumor on my pituitary).  I choose to look at this in the glass half full manner.  It doesn't mean I have one, they're just checking to make sure I don't!

D is for Dogs.  I can't help it, it has to be about dogs.  I have a sign in my house that says:  Agenda for the day:  let dog in- let dog out- let dog in- let dog out.
Need I say more!

E is for Ecuador.  I lived there for three years.  My husband is from there, and maybe someday, we will retire there!

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Books

I'm going to cheat a little in the A to Z challenge since I missed yesterday.  My last post mentioned azalea's, sooo. . ., I'm going to count that as my A post!

Today I'm posting on books- the search for good books that is.  I have been struggling to find a good book minus the gratuitous or disturbing sex scenes.  What happened to the great books that were page turners without them?  Jane Austen anyone?  I don't have to be all girly either, but I enjoy books with culture, that are informative, or humorous, and of course the classics.  The problem with books is you just don't know what you're getting into until you've already read it, and there have been a few scenes that I really wish I hadn't read.  They were sick and sadistic, by the way, NOT romantic.

I do love books- always have, always will.  Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Little Women, and so many others.  I thoroughly enjoyed Marley and Me, and I have learned a lot from journalist written books regarding world affairs.  So my search continues-  any recommendations?