New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Saturday, August 27, 2016

sometimes a meme helps

 January 2010 Oregon Coast
There have been times where I look more into whether I am satisfied with what I am doing or whether I need to make changes. Some of that happens because life changes with aging. In a time like that, mental exercises can be helpful. 

For anyone wondering whether they are where they wish to be, this is a useful exercise. I filled out this meme on March 2, 2010. When I read what I'd written, I think on the essentials, with a few minor changes, it'd be equally true for today.

To do it for yourself, erase what is behind the colon.

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I am: an unconventional woman who looks conventional on the outside
I think: about the meaning of all life and get nowhere with my thinking
I know: less than I should about many things
I want: passion in my life of all sorts
I have: a good life
I dislike: hypocrisy
I miss: someone
I fear: loss
I feel: joy
I hear: the computer
I smell: nothing
I crave: life lived fully
I usually: follow a routine
I search: for beauty
I wonder: about life
I regret: nothing as it’s useless
I love: freely

I care: deeply and forever when I care
I am always: thinking I should do more but not doing it
I worry: under certain circumstances which mostly revolve around family
I remember: Tucson
I have: a good life but it’s not all I want
I dance: sometimes around the house
I sing: when a song comes to my mind

I don't: give up easily
I argue: about things that matter to me

I write: constantly
I lose: with grace—i hope

I wish: for my dream day
I listen: to others
I don't understand: hypocrisy
I can usually be found: around the farm

I am scared: when something loud and scary happens outside at night and someone must check on it
I need: to have more discipline
I forget: names sometimes, numbers more times

I am happy: in spurts with cycles of up and down

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

the writing lifestyle evolves

 photo from 2011 on the rim right below where Zane Grey's cabin stood before the big fire burned it

2011 was, for me, a transition year. It had been twenty years since I had made any serious attempt to see published the many books that I had written. Although, back then, I'd gotten encouragement from editors, it was clear that what they wanted in a romance wasn't what I wanted to write. I could have tried to fit the zeitgeist of the times, but it seemed wrong considering my view of life. It didn't stop me from continuing to write. I have pretty much written my whole life. 2011 was the year I had decided I would bring my books out as an indie writer. 
"I think one must finally take one's life into one's arms." Arthur Miller
When I looked over them, I saw they needed a LOT of editing. Some of that was because of how our culture had changed for my contemporary suspenses. Writing styles had changed for expectations, but some editing was because I was better at my craft than when I'd originally written them (luckily the plots and characters all held up and met my goals). My work that year involved going over each book word for word. In spending a lifetime writing, creating characters and stories, it had all been for myself, I didn't have to meet anyone else's expectations. That was about to change.

At the end of 2011, I brought out my first book, and 2012 was when I began learning about the other end of writing-- promoting (oh my gosh, what a lesson). The following was something I wrote that year after looking at all these books and immersing myself in writing and my own philosophy behind what I wrote. I kept the essence of the piece but did edit it-- I'm a better writer today than I was in 2011. I will be a better writer in five more years if I keep writing. It's how it works.


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The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be more aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware. Henry Miller 
Art is only a means to life , to the life more abundant. It is not in itself the life more abundant. It merely points the way-- something which is too often overlooked not only by the public, but by the artists themselves. If it becomes an end, it defeats itself. 

To put it another way, the process of creating art is what an artist is all about. The end product , that's the gravy in the process, but it's the creating which is most satisfying and challenging. It's about process; and if the process is confusing and conflicting at times, well that is also part of what it can be. Anything that flows with no emotional angst is probably craft. That doesn't mean there aren't those moments the creation is flowing, the artist/writer/creator is writing along, grinning, and feeling so good for how it went-- but they are matched with the times of writing, rewriting, writing again and eventually deciding to tear the whole thing apart. 

When in the midst of creating, often it involves spending time examining articles on how to be successful. Sometimes the articles can seem contradictory. Here are some recently read suggestions for writers on how to get a publisher to accept their work--
Get rid of all extraneous parts
Don't have events happen that don't carry the story forward. 
Edit down to the bones of what is needed. 
If your story is over 100,000 words , it means you didn't edit enough.

Except-- 

When I read a book that I am enjoying (also when I write stories), the little tidbits, the pieces that don't take it anywhere are sometimes the parts I enjoy most. Life isn't full of everything being directed toward a conclusion. Life is full of things that just happen and sometimes with seemingly no meaning, but they are part of the whole. It's like the grace notes in a piece of music or in a painting. The little things some may not even notice, but they are part of the whole picture and make it what it is more than the broader more obvious strokes. 

I see the conflict on these two opposing ideas being like a big X. Be concise and to the point but don't forget the grace notes. Both can be right-- when in balance.
Never lose track of where you are going.
Except--
Don't rush so much that you miss the roses along the way

So I try, when I am working on stories, to think of all that would happen or might, gloss over the points that don't matter, but never lose sight of those tiny jewels that aren't taking the plot forward but are very much part of the experience of the characters and of life. 

Little moments often tell the reader more about the character of people than the big ones. My favorite books to read are full of small moments. The problem is selecting the right ones to not bore the reader while leaving them with an enjoyable aftertaste. 

One other thing that working on my books has been reminding me. I have to like the characters to want to spend time with them at all. The other day I saw a review on a biography of a well-known woman artist of her time. It said she was a nasty woman but very successful at her painting. I thought why would I want to spend time reading a book about a nasty woman? I didn't buy it. I try to keep that in mind for my characters. If they don't seem interesting and aren't essentially likeable, why would a reader want to invest time in them.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

lifestyle


 Lately, I have been thinking a great deal about lifestyle. My writing projects are more or less planned out for a few months, but in my day and night dreaming, I've been thinking about how we, as humans, determine how we will live. How many of us don't have that choice, and we just get through day after day because thinking of what we might want seems out of reach?  How many people even think of their own lifestyle or options they might have.

Thinking about my lifestyle is something I've thought about off and on through my life. I go through spurts of reading books on how to get the life I want-- or even decide what that might be. I've done suggested exercises and then forgotten about the whole thing as I go through times of just being where I am with no planning for where I might want to be.  

Most recently I've been in one of those-- just get it done phases, but in August, my mind began looking ahead. Am I living life as I wish? I began much of my current lifestyle in my mid-30s, readjusted it in my mid 50s and maybe this is my cycle-- every twenty years reassess. Besides figuring out what I might prefer to where I am, I am asking what would I have to change if this isn't right for me now approaching my mid-70s. 

This summer, as I was surfing with the TV remote, I got into watching a program on cable, GAC to be exact, on people choosing an RV. It has become one of the shows I try to remember as couples or individuals hit a dealership, look at assorted rigs and decide which would work for their needs which range from full-time living to camping trips. More people can work anywhere they want to live, which makes full-timing in an RV more feasible. Slide-outs and luxury RVs make them seem more like home on the road than the traditional image of a recreational vehicle. They have goals of seeing the country, home-schooling kids, going to trade shows, boon-docking, or just simplifying their lives ,with freedom to move on whenever they wish.

Going RV (on Wednesdays) has me pretty much addicted to checking in. Since they repeat some couples many times, I watch the new ones, leave it on mute or turn it off, come back in half an hour to see if it's someone new. It works well with my writing where I need breaks.  

It's also a practical show for getting info on the cost of these rigs as we are considering trading in our travel trailer for a fifth-wheel because they supposedly tow better (Ranch Boss' goal for the change) but also they'd offer dividing the space better (my goal for taking the cats with us when they still are dicey for getting along).

Then there came a new show on GAC which drew my attention-- Living Big Sky. Each half hour show involved people looking for their dream home in Montana. It's a great advertisement for Montana (a state I love and unhappily haven't gotten back to since 2012!). The families varied for how much money they had to spend, which let the viewer look inside a variety of homes as well as learn something about the lifestyle the families/couples were hoping to find with their new home.

Since lifestyle interests me right now, I'll be exploring the topic for awhile in this blog. Some of that will involve pieces I wrote some years back on the subject but that seem good reminders today.  

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

ups and downs


A writing lifestyle has its ups and downs. If I include into that lifestyle the blogs or anywhere I post my ideas, it has even more hills and valleys. 

This blog is a prime example. There have been days it had as many as 1400 page views... and days where it's had around 100-- all in the same month. I can't explain why it's not consistent-- either way. This summer, I had no explanation for why I was suddenly getting more page views from the Ukraine than the US. Then it switched and hardly any from the Ukraine and more from Russia than the US-- double the amount. Then that disappeared. 

I don't always look at the numbers but when I do, it never makes sense why they come and why they go. When I try to figure it out based on my posts, I pretty well come up with the idea that I have nothing to do with the numbers. It is some outside influence as this month, there have been none from Russia or the Ukraine and South Korea is second to the US...



Because I don't visit many blogs myself, mostly due to a lack of time for pleasure reading, I don't bring readers back here as some do. I also don't write a journal type blog, which I think builds up more regulars as people get into your life. I not only don't write politics here, I don't read political blogs-- although I still have one cultural/societal one that I check on. Those though who regularly post partisan opinions are not on my blog list alongside. One that I did read, I'll get back to come late November to see if it has finally gotten away from the politics that currently can be so upsetting-- whatever side you are on. 

It's not that I don't consider the US political scene to be interesting. I do. I though save my rants for my more political blog (which has no schedule). Once in awhile, I spew something out there; but because I am a political moderate/independent, my views don't coincide with either party or candidate-- and can annoy both sides of our political and often cultural divide. Writing about it here isn't happening because I want this to be a respite, a break for me and the reader.



So my new book is out and probably won't have much in the way of sales as the first one did not. I have decided this series is a labor of love, which is why I will write all five regardless of whether they find readers. Sometimes, unless you need the money, writing is about following the muse and feeling satisfied with where you go-- even when it's not easy or rewarded.

Following the muse meant on Sunday that I wrote a short story, intended to bridge between the last Arizona historical and the one I will write when I finish these shorter contemporary paranormals. If the short story fits into a Christmas anthology, where all proceeds go to a charity, that's where it'll go. If it does not, I think I'll expand it to a novella as it has the potential to go way beyond 4000 words. It was a fast and fun write (edits yet to be done) and sometimes writing should be fun.

When we got our trailer back from Central Oregon, we stayed a few nights in two different sites, very different feel to them. The photos are from those days. 


I added a new label for this blog-- lifestyle as I'm thinking more about that for assorted reasons-- some of which may find their way here.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Book 2 in the Barrio Viejo Series


Leaving for the moment the nature photos, this is a bit about my newest book, which also uses nature as a character where the hero and heroine experience the Sonoran Desert as well as Arizona's Verde Valley. Although the story is of love and spiritual truth (or not), nature is a character in all of my books, and this one is no exception.

My western themed, contemporary fantasies approach the question of mysticism from the perspective of average people who suddenly are confronted with what they never dreamed was out there. Even the witch in this story, who does understand spiritual power and how (and when) it can be used, finds she doesn't know it all. 

To Speak of Things Unseen is available at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KDCI9VG and paperback at CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/6498879
 

Blurb:


Ornis, the demonic game player, seeks to make witches and mystics be seen as evil.  He wins some and loses some—finding it all too amusing. Humans are mere pawns in his game. 


Seeing increasing problems for her family, Elke Hemstreet believes she has an answer-- create a play from a bestselling fantasy novel, which will help the world better understand the realm of magic and spirit workers. Witches have had too much bad press. This is a way to change that. 


The mysterious and reclusive Mitchell Ford, author of Vislogus, refuses her request. He’s seen the other side and fought it. Writing about it has made him a target. He’ll not risk that happening to anyone else—especially not a woman he finds all too appealing.


Mysticism, ethics, love and family are all part of To Speak of Things Unseen as Mitch and Elke head from Tucson to the Verde Valley to look for ways to make humans safer, even those who would kill them if they could. Level 4 heat with some violence, strong spiritual themes.



Excerpt:

    “You are limiting an important work, which could reach more people if you were open to sharing it.”

    “I wrote the book. That was enough.”

    “Do you know Adolfo Lupan?”
    He laughed then. “So that’s what you really want.”
    She flushed. “Well… I did hope to meet him.”
    “What made you believe he was real and not fictional?”
    He saw her consider that. She was in no hurry to answer, which made him believe her real motives in all this were way more complex than she was about to tell him.
    A lightning bolt flared blindingly, as it struck the boulders outside his home. He turned with Elke to see a huge red boulder with a black burn mark zigzagging down its surface to the ground.
    “I’ve never seen it do that,” she said as she moved to the window.
    He knew that hadn’t come from nature and grabbed her around the waist pulling her away as he twisted to protect her with his own body just before another bolt struck his window shattering it. He felt pain as shards of glass struck his back.