Island Inspiration

goose-islandAs we travel, we are exploring many new places and learning much about the history of the U.S. But on occasions, we revisit places. This week we have revisited Goose Island State Park. This state park is outside of Rockport, Texas. We have camped here many times; it’s a favorite place. The park is has two camping areas – the wooded and very shady mainland and the island. We prefer to camp on the island because of the openness and the smell of the water is what I enjoy so much. Also, on the island the wind blows a lot and keeps the mosquitoes away.

The island is surrounded by oyster beds, which draws birds to the area. Great place to start your birdwatching skills. While the oyster beds make for good fishing, it is not a place for swimming or walking in the surf. The oyster shells will cut your skin without any mercy.

In my first book, Canyon Riddle, I write a little bit about this place of wonder. While the story is fiction, what I write about Goose Island State Park is true. It is a great place to spend some time. Watching the ships pass by, or holding a fishing pole waiting for the next strike, it is a place to relax, soak up some sun, and get in touch with yourself. Or in my case, provide inspiration for story.

 

Not a Winner, What Happens Now?

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This is the first year in five years I have not completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. Lots of reasons for it, but the biggest reason is I am traveling and couldn’t coordinate everything to find the time to complete the challenge.

On December 1, the sun came up and things continued on. I’m not crying or feeling sad for failing to complete my goal. I am glad for the experience and what I learned about myself.

The NaNoWriMo group sent me a very encouraging email at the end of the competition. This encouragement is typical of the NaNoWriMo community.

What is next? I will continue working on the story with the reality check that traveling takes a lot of my time and energy.

Book 3 via NaNoWriMo

winnerAfter the announcement that Coyote Vengeance, my second book with Texas Ranger Scott Durham, was available for Kindle, I got a question, “Is there going to be a third?” That sounds like a simple question, and the simple answer is yes. However, the book is in my head.

Over the past few months this third book has been forming in my head. The characters talk to me sometimes when I’m sleeping and at other times, like when I’m cooking – not good if there is fire or a sharp knife being used at the time. The characters are very demanding of my time. They have outlined a story for me but haven’t given me the complete storyline. One of the characters had the audacity to tell me to get to work before I forget all the good stuff they have been whispering.

The getting to work will start next week. This is the story that I will write during the NaNoWriMo.

I have participated in four other NaNoWriMo challenges, and have been a winner each time. Winners write at least 50,000 words in thirty days, the month of November. This crazy time fits my writing style, which is take a semblance of a story idea and run with it. For thirty days, I let the characters talk all they want, typing as quickly as I can to keep up with the story. When there are pauses, I push the characters to do something mundane to see what happens. The story writes itself – not ready for publication – but the story is done.

This free-flow of ideas to form a story is not always the best way to write. You can end up with some very awkward situations, i.e. a fight scene where your hero punches himself, or two or more descriptions of a character. But like I said, the story completed for NaNoWriMo is not ready for publication. All those silly inconsistencies are part of the editing and rewrite that takes a raw story and makes it ready for the public.

To become an author, you first must a have a story. NaNoWriMo is a good vehicle to help encourage you to write the story. So, my challenge to you is sign up for NaNoWriMo, lay in the snacks and caffeinated drinks, and write. Write 50,000 words and you are Winner, even if you never look at the story again.

Got to go buy a large quantity of tea (sorry I don’t drink coffee) and an even larger supply of chocolate. Good luck to all of you who will be joining me for the NaNoWriMo Challenge.

Successful Attitude Change with One Word

yellow flowers-shutterstock_121361704“I’ve got to go to work.”

“I’ve got to go to school.”

“I’ve got to go to the doctor.”

“I’ve got to….” Just fill in the blank.

Every day we say we got to do something and it is usually something we would rather not do. But by changing one word you can change your entire attitude towards doing whatever it is you got to do. Not magic, not over hype Pollyanna happiness, but serious attitude change.

That change is go from “got” to “get.” Now think how these same got to dos sound when you get to do them.

“I get to go to work.” I’m not unemployed. Might not be my dream job but I have work, which will make it easier to get a better job.

“I get to go to school.” This provides you the opportunity to learn more, meet more people, and have more (get a better job.)

“I get to go to the doctor.” Unlike much of the world, there is a doctor available for me. To make me feel better.

The chores are the same, but the idea is different when you get to do something. Get implies opportunity, something special just for you, and has an element that this might be fun.

When I’m looking a pile of dirty clothes that need to be washed, I remind myself I get to do the laundry because I have more than one outfit and washer and dryer, and the chore isn’t so bad.

Give “get” a try. You’ll be surprised what a difference that one word can make in your attitude.

 

Evidence of Nothing to Say

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact. George EliotTrash

In this day of public exposure to other people’s ideas and thoughts, this quote should be our constant reminder to watch our words. Social media, blogging, television, etc. gives almost everyone a chance to say their piece. Whether it is to sound off about your latest interaction with poor or great service, a wonderful meal, children’s accomplishments, crazy pet stunts, anger about a current event, or swooning over the love of your life – we all can tell or show the world. But is it wise to do this?

Considering most of the comments make no difference in anyone’s life or will be remembered even a year later, do we post because we need to hear ourselves talk?

I am as guilty as anyone for posting thoughts that are trifles. I try not to do this, as I want to be considered relevant. If I were to post my every thought this would cause others to view me and my comments as meaningless. No one wants to be meaningless.

Does this mean I never post a silly photo or express my anger over a situation? No. I just try to think about what I want to post and decide if it has any value to anyone. Just before I click publish, I stop and ask, “Will this make someone smile, or think about a problem they may not have considered before? Or is it just babbling?” As you might expect, there are more posts in the trash than you will find here.

The Day Everything Changed in My Life

imageFlag Day. June 14 – a significant day in my life. It’s the day my first son was born – I became a mother. This event has changed and shaped everything in my life since that moment.

You are never really prepared to be a mother, even if you have read the best books, had an excellent role model, and babysat until you know everything about children. But then you have your own, and everything goes out the window.

I’m sure someone told me that every child has a unique personality, but I didn’t listen. After all, I was the eldest of four children and had practically raised my siblings. Sheesh! I was such an idiot to think I knew how to be a mother.

The learning started a few minutes before the nurse handed me my precious child to feed for the first time. The nurse took a few seconds to explain what to do and told me to relax. Like that’s going to happen! It’s my first child. A multitude of questions popped into my head at that moment as I gazed on that small bundle lying so still. What if I do something wrong, will he be scarred for life?

The nurse laid the child in my arms, and immediately he began to cry. I looked up in a panic, but the nurse was totally unaware he was crying. She was helping me get ready to nurse my baby. I watched as the bundle began to twist and turn. Soon an arm and foot were out of the blanket and flapping around. The nurse smiles and encourages me to try feeding him.

Feed him? He was practically turned over in my arms. Tears formed in my eyes as I tried to smile thinking, “I’m a failure as a mother!” The nurse patted my shoulder and made a couple of magical waves of her hands, and my baby was snuggled back into his blanket.

So life as a mother began. Being a mother isn’t for weak people. Also, it is best to have a partner to make the job easier. Having a partner gives you someone to turn to when your perfect child becomes an absolute monster turning your dryer into a hiding place for the cat. Which by the way, cats don’t mind being put in the dryer as long as it’s not turned on. Turn the dryer on and between the bumping and howling you fear it has become demon possessed.

Single moms (and dads) have their work cut out for them. If you should ever wonder why they are always tired, the answer is found when you look at their child and see he is growing, healthy, and happy.

A child can drain you of energy, test your emotional well-being, and cause you to question your sanity almost every day. But when the child is sleeping on your shoulder or runs across a room as fast as their little legs can carry them to give you a jelly covered kiss, you realize this is about as good as it gets.

To my first born son, happy birthday and thanks for giving me so much.

Say Something Nice Day

SocksJune 1, “Say Something Nice Day.”  When my sons were young there were times when they would get on each others’ nerves, bickering, fighting, and, in general, just being ugly to each other. At those times, I would make them sit at the kitchen table and say something nice about each other. It has to be a real comment about what they liked about that person and could not be repeated from one brother to the next – it had to be an original thought about something nice in the other person.

On a particularly trying day, I had the three boys sitting at the table. They were so upset with each other they could hardly stand being so close together. They knew the drill and would not be allowed to leave the kitchen table until everyone had said something nice about the others. We began the process. It was slow, but the first brother got through it, and things lightened up ever so slightly.

Then the next brother said to youngest brother, “I like your socks.”

Reply, “They’re yours.”

“I know, that’s why I like them.”

Sometimes finding something nice to say comes down to the socks, but there is always something nice to be said. Celebrate today.

The Not Fun Part of Writing

Blank Page with Pen 572x600The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  Mark Twain

Writing is so much more than putting down the story, which for me is the easy part. The story just flows and it is fun to write. My mind fills with characters and plots as my fingers fly across the keyboard. Once completed, I feel exhilarated. Now comes the hard part – editing.

I have been editing my second book for publication at a snail’s pace. The marked up draft sits there mocking me as I say, “I’ll work on you tomorrow” and laughing at me as I walk by too busy to work on it.

Two other stories are sitting nearby gathering dust and waiting for my attention. At this point, they have remained silent, but I expect any day to hear their murmuring complaints.

Slowing my editing progress is the new stories that keep trying to come out. The new story’s characters march across my mind developing their personalities and whispering things they would like to do. Then out of nowhere comes a plot line that needs to be jotted down for future use, which leads to doing a quick bit of research to confirm that the plot line is even doable.

“Stop the editing!” The new story demands, “Write, now!” Sigh. Editing continues to wait.

When I die, there will be stacks of stories that have never seen the light day because they lack editing.  I tell myself that at least the stories will have been written, and maybe someone will pick up the story and do the editing. But will it still be my story if I’m not there to direct the editing? Sigh. Another story plot just popped into my head.

I would welcome hearing from other writers about how you get and stay motivated to edit.

Were You Born in a Barn?

barn with sunflowerWhat is the craziest thing your mother or dad ever said to you? As you read the sentence above a memory came into your mind. It may have been something your parent said all the time or a once-in-a-lifetime event. For me, it was when my mother looked at me and asked, “Were you born in a barn?”

I was about ten, going on twenty, and acting like a three-year-old. I had been sent to pick green beans in the garden, but I wanted to play with the neighborhood kids. Pleading my case that I would pick the beans when I got back was of no use. My mom wanted to can the beans now. She worked outside the home, and this was one of her few days off.

So I picked up my bucket, tromped out to the garden, furious that I had to do this right now. It was a large backyard garden with about a ten rows of green beans. On that day, the rows looked like there were a mile long each. The reality was they were about thirty feet long. Typically the job would take less than an hour, but today, I felt sure it would take all morning and my friends would be having fun while I slaved away.

Pouting I began picking, and with each bean, I got more upset. I glared at the back door and finally sat down in the middle of the row on the soft, moist soil. I sat there picking at the dirt and throwing dirt clots at the bees that were working the garden.

Slowly I finished the chore and carried my bucket into the house. My mother took one look at me covered in dirt and mud with the back door hanging open and asked, “Were you born in a barn? You’re a mess. The door is open. Where are your shoes?”

I stood there with my bucket and thought, “You don’t know where I was born? Weren’t you there?”

She took the bucket, sent me to the bathroom with a promise that I would be cleaning up the floor where I tracked in mud. Looking into the full bucket, she smiled and said, “You did a great job picking the beans.”

Through all of these garden chore episodes (or maybe because of them), I have a love of gardening and the ability to laugh at myself. And, no I wasn’t born in a barn.

Dot-to-Dot

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Storytelling is ultimately a creative act of pattern recognition. Through characters, plot, and setting, a writer creates places where previously invisible truths become visible. Or the storyteller posits a series of dots that the reader can connect. Douglas Coupland

I was raised in a family of storytellers and never thought of a story as a dot-to-dot, but there seems to be some truth to this quote by Douglas Coupland, novelist, designer, and artist.

When I write a story I follow a formula of if this happens what is the logical thing to happen next – one thought leading to the next. Imagining a conversation between characters with their quirks and writing it can be a challenge. But by taking one sentence (sometimes one word) and then thinking about what is the logical response, I develop a conversation.

To write an action scene, it the same thing. If this happens what happens next. Even in the world of fantasy, there are rules by which the imaginary world works. Using these rules to formulate what happens next, keeps the story moving and holds the scene together.

So are authors really dot-to-dot creators?