It’s in the 40’s, dark and rainy, but there’s a nice breeze going on outside. I had to step outside. So here I was, standing on our front porch in my bare feet and loving nature greeting me. It was only my human rationality which finally encouraged me to pull the doorknob to reenter the house, even though it was irrational to my soul. What would the neighbors think?
I thought that if I had my dream writer’s shack (a tiny camper), I’d have as many windows as possible, and all of them opened wide as I wrote away to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the patter of rain, the occasional bird and scampering squirrels. Of course, if it were nighttime, there would be deer and racoon and opossum wandering near.
All of my stories are set in the out of doors. For that very reason, sometimes it is difficult to write…inside. It would not be wise to leave windows opened inside the house when the outside temp is below fifty. Inside, there is the constant hum of the computer in the closed-in den. Leaving the room, there is the refrigerator hum, the lights humming, the kitchen clock tick-tocking away, and the furnace or furnace fan clicking on and off. (In the summertime it is air conditioning.) Of course, other neighborhood human reminders include loud lawncare machines, or airplanes or boats or racing cars or motorcycles. It makes it very distracting to ride a unicorn through a mountain meadow, seeing the tiny high-altitude flowers immediately below, the azure-blue sky above with falcon cry, the rocks and ranges extending to the horizon.
Rizzz. Rahhh. Zoom. Hum.
Oh, fiddlesticks. I’m going back on the porch for a while. At least there, in the dark, in the rain, standing in my bare feet, natural noises give competition to the human-created sounds.
(This book is loaded with ghost stories.)
When I was a kid, a favorite activity was to take my siblings, or cousins, or any willing friend into my closet (during daylight hours) and tell spooky stories. I’d block the light coming in at the base of the door with a towel to make it pitch black. I knew I’d told one scary enough when the kid(s) would scream and jump up to get out into the light.
Mine were never about blood and gore. There was the set up to the story, and then either a quiet-realization ending (“…then the boyfriend came around to open the girl’s car door and found a bloody hook on the handle.”) or it ended with rapid speech or creepy sound with a loud reveal (“…but it couldn’t have been her dog licking her; her dog had died the year before”, or simply a shouted: “Boo!”).
To create a spooky story, it’s as easy as 1-2-3. First, you need the set up, then the buildup (with foreshadowing of what’s to come), concluding with the final, quick ending.
Go try your own hand at doing this!
I am guessing you have heard the story of the Texas football team which went Italy and the Texas fans started flashing the team’s bull horns. The Italian response was quite a surprise and very negative, for apparently this sign is a huge insult in Italy.
As we must be aware of not only on culture but those around us.
When my husband and I ride our bicycles around the neighborhood we use hand signals to indicate turns. I’m thinking we may be the only people in this area who still use hand signals while bicycles. For when drivers pass by us, they will enevitably wave to us. Don’t get me wrong. We wave while riding all the time. But a right hand turn is not a wave. Still, it’s nice to live in a friendly neighborhood.
Updating files lately, I came across something I’d kept from when I taught 2nd grade. They were all great, but I thought I’d share a few. It was Valentine’s Day, 2002. The journal topic was “Love is when…”.
(f) True love is when you give someone a ring and marry each other.
(m) Love is when you know someone and you want to talk with them all you can.
(f) Love is when you share your toys. Love is when you like someone inside or outside. Love is when you share your feelings.
(m) Love is when my mom broke her toe and she could hardly move. My dad took care of her and helped her.
(f) Love is when a boy takes a girl’s breath away. Love is when a girl takes away a boy’s breath!!!!!
(m) My mom loves me. She scratches my back.
(f) I know my dad loves me because he stopped smoking when I was born.
(m) Love is when a person loves another person, like when my mom feeds me.
(f) Love is when the moon never stops spinning around the earth. That’s because they were made for each other. Love is when a person’s name is in your heart. That is love.
(m) Love is romantic….or yuck. Love. Yuck. Gross. I think I’m going to throw up.
I like to write. However, I do not like technology. My husband tells me I was born in the wrong century. But for dentistry and doctors, the thought of living in a past century makes me grin. I prefer bartering over exchange of money. I prefer walking over any type of transportation. I prefer telling stories to people face-to-face instead of over distance or shot out into the electronic ether. I do like personal first class, snail mail, postal letters, both sending and receiving, even though that’s another distance thing, but it’s a personal distance thing. Then there’s the medical side of previous centuries (for the negative), but the technology (for the positive).
I may not like technology, but can accept it is great, as long as it is clear how it works, does what you expect it to do, and doesn’t change. All three of those examples are what give me this tentative and shaky relationship with technology. Social media is necessary in today’s author’s world, but if technology changes (which is its nature), you must constantly be updating and changing yourself as well. And to market and promote, again, technology is essential.
With the changes and all the technical parts of technology, at times I falter if my little old brain can handle it all by being my own IT person. Other days it all seems so simple. Lately I haven’t been able to post because (near as I can make out), my browser cashe was full, but then I woke this morning to be my own IT guy and fix it, and — surprise! — I can post. Miracles, I can handle. Changes or errors in technology, not so much.
So if you want to be your own IT, you can. You’re smart. You adapt well to changes. You happily spend hours searching to find out how to find the answer to fix things.
TMM — Too Much Musing
Hi. My name is Sandy Carlson. I write historical fiction for kids.
Hi. My name is S. L. Carlson. I write YA fantasy.
On Saturday, I’m doing a book signing at the Maritime Museum in South Haven, MI. Even though my next unicorn book is coming out this fall and I must work on promotions for that, the story doesn’t take place on the sea. On Saturday I’ll be signing my ghost stories historical fiction, Tales of the Lost Schooner. Yes, that’s a sea tale; hence, the Maritime Museum.
As I wrote in my last post, I need to focus. So I will only work on one project at a time. But after the manuscript is “done” and sitting with one of the editors, I tend to become antsy during the wait. I feel the need to remain focused on that one project and keep my mind clear for it. So instead of writing, I’ll engage in other creative activities during the wait.
I know other writers advise to work on your next writing project. Used to. Not recently. I may do some marketing, but I not only want my mind free during this waiting period, I also need to be creatively thinking and doing. This summer I’ve been crafting miniatures.
While my husband was sick, I spent a lot of time sitting with him. I kept my mind writing-free, but my hands busy making miniatures: 1:60 scale Dungeons and Dragons tiles, furniture, etc (for Arizona son); 1:87 scale HO railroad tunnels, buildings, and scenery (for husband); and a miniature house and furnishing (for my other son and grandkids). For myself, I’ve been toying with ideas of crafting miniatures of scenes from my books.
Let the creative juices flow.
I admire those writers who can write through it all. Not me. I need to focus. So I’ve been focusing on my sick husband who seems to be doing his best to baffle the many doctors he’s seen. It’s more difficult since we both have been rather healthy and active all our lives. Yes, we’ve been sick for a week with flu or colds, but being ill for over six weeks has been different, and rather distracting. Last month was horribly long
Now there may be some light at the end of this tunnel. I’m thinking of not just doing the bit-promoting of my published books, but starting the writing of the next. This is huge to this writer.
I can’t write through it all, but I can return to my passion without feeling like I’d left it more than a few days.
Keep on writing.
Checklist for tomorrow’s cruise to Alaska: passports copied, cash, gift bags for pilots and crew, travel-sized stuff bought along with new underwear, start packing suitcase… all checked off and more.
Then…yesterday we had to cancel the trip because of medical issues. Rethink the week. Husband, heal. Me, giveaway stuff.
Checklist for next week’s Cruise Cancellation Giveaway! Start a new fantasy blog for my BWL published stories. Check. (Work in progress).
So go to: https://authorslcarlson.wordpress.com and like and follow for a chance to win books or school or library visits, and even a critique. Double your chances by sharing (and sending me the link).
Anchors away for a July giveaway!
Kent District Library puts on writers conferences in Grand Rapids. I attended once before, spoke on marketing another time, and decided to go again this spring. Realizing the conference is mostly for newbie writers, and having nine books published, I wasn’t sure what I would get out of it. Then came the emails of the waiting list, and to let them know if we were unable to attend. I thought to give up my spot, but something compelled me to go, not for what I could get out of it, but what I could give to others.
The physical conference set-up was different from my other times. Attendees sat around tables, six per table. I sat with six strangers. Previously, we were packed in rows, where I only socialized with the persons on my right or left, and everyone was on their own for lunch. This time, all morning and during the provided lunch we six were able to get to know each other. One had never heard of critique groups. Connections and invites were made. Towards the end of lunch I finally confessed that I was published, but…and then I rambled a bit about the confusion between author Sandy Carlson (for my MG historical fictions) and author S. L. Carlson (for my YA fantasies). I gave them each my business card (I was the only one with any), but warned them my website needed some serious updating. From their feedback, I realized I ought to set up a separate website for S. L. Carlson. It meant additional research and work, but what an unexpected epiphany… coming from newbies! This old dog learned new tricks from young pups. I thank you! Woof.
The breakout session on podcasting was eye-opening-new to me as well. Yet another reason to attend writers conferences: to keep updated on the industry’s technology.
Keep on writing. Keep on learning. Woof-woof!
Did it. I finished writing my next book in the War Unicorn series, standing now at 64K. The writing was a long and hard part. My relief is sweet, but short. Now onto the next hard(er) part (whole novel revision) before more revisions and sending off to my first editor for even more revisions.
Most of my chapters have already sailed through my critique group. They are a remarkable group. I find it amusing how one can spot things the others don’t, and that’s true for each person. I love my critiquers!
For this first whole novel revision, I’m basically using Darcy Pattison’s book Novel Metamorphosis. It’s meant as a workbook. The spine glue on my copy is coming apart even though the only writing in it is Darcy’s signing on the title page. The book is well-worn because I’ve used it for nearly every one of my manuscripts. This particular book is a bit more complicated than my others, so I needed wider eyes to evaluate it.
I just finished my Connotation Worksheet, found on page 69 of her book, but expanded it. In order see my characters more clearly, I adapted her basic form to my own categories. I have many characters. By doing this, I am able to see where to strengthen the individual’s relationship to his various aspects. These are some of my categories across the top of my page:
CHARACTER FAV FOOD SECRET AFRAID OF ANTAGONIST MAIN GOAL/DESIRE
Okay. Enough sharing with you all. Off to do more analyzing of my novel so I can revise better and delight you each with this book coming out in September. And here’s the cover reveal: