New Posts on Wednesdays and Saturdays -- er generally

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

cycles

This has to be the most chaotic holiday season we will see in many years *fingers crossed*. The election has led to so many bad feelings at a time when everyone is already stressed with trying to meet 'holiday' expectations.


Our Thanksgiving was good as we drove east of the Cascades to a home we had rented Sunriver, one with enough room for our kids, grandkids, and us. Our daughter and daughter-in-law did the planning and cooking for the dinners-- which was just fine with me.



To have all of us under one roof is something you can't appreciate fully until they all move out into the world, and what was 'we' ends up us and then with miles between and different interests. Next year our granddaughter will be starting college *sigh* -- where does time go?

Over the years, we have rented homes at Sunriver many times as it has miles of trails, an ice skating rink, the Deschutes River nearby, lots of shops and restaurants, but best of all the houses are nestled into the pines with some on golf courses, even though as of yet, none of us golf. It does give a high degree of privacy. It is also a place with enough homes with the ability to sleep ten.

This was a time of mixed generations. Our kids are into middle-age but look younger. The oldest of the grandkids is a young woman with the grandsons catching up fast.  And Ranch Boss and I are firmly into old age where for so many years our look was more undefined. 

Middle age can stretch a lot of years. I am not sure where it has to stop; but when I see myself in the mirror or a photo, I think I am a type, like an aging Olivia de Havilland-- a nice sweet looking (generally) old lady with long silver hair. Not dying my hair is a choice, but the old part is the cycle of life. 

It feels weird to be old and not because I feel young. It's because it's something very new after years of not that much different. Some, of course, is the weight I've gained, but it's not all that. I think some is also because when I am writing a lot, as I have been this year, I forget what I look like, don't really care. When I come up for air, I look in a mirror and wonder-- who the heck is that woman???

Writing at Sunriver wasn't as fruitful as I had expected in finishing my second Christmas novella for this year. I cannot type well on the laptop. I am used to a large monitor and though it has a nice sized one, hitting the wrong keys constantly had it changing text size. There was no desk, as there would be in many hotel rooms, but rarely is found in home rentals; so I typed on the hassock in front of a big stuffed chair in the master bedroom. Hard on my back and very inaccurate for how I hit the keys. If I rent a house again there, I'll bring my little portable desk and wireless ergonomic keyboard.  

Because I had worked the ending for the book, I typed the last chapter on Monday after getting home Sunday. I have some editing to do, a cover to create, but it's off to the first of three beta readers with a goal of next week for its publishing.

Meanwhile, my suggestion for readers here is to try to turn off the political thinking for awhile. We are on our way to Christmas, and it's a time to be thinking about a joyous season, a time of love, of beauty, of giving. 


I do get how many people are upset and say they aren't willing to let this election go; but frankly, we only hurt ourselves when we hold onto anger or fear. Now is a time to join organizations, which are ready to fight for each American's rights and give our own angst a vacation. This is true not for the sake of others but for ourselves.  There will be a time to act, to write letters, to demonstrate, to make the argument why something is the wrong thing to do. It's not yet. It's when this new government gets in power and begins to move in directions we feel are detrimental. Now though would be a good time to encourage more to run for office with the viewpoints we share with them-- 2018 will be coming faster than we think.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

more on writing

These memes were all created in Stencil from their images and selection of quotes. Fun to play there also when I need a break
Writing a book is somewhat the same as anything I write. Write. That's the secret of being a writer-- the one huge secret. Write. Write when you are excited by your ideas. Write when you are not. I write usually a scene at a time and then stop, check out the newspapers, go to Facebook, write a Tweet for Twitter, check emails, and then go back to the next scene. All the time I am doing other things, my mind is on what comes next for my characters. I argue through various scenarios while doing something that doesn't require thinking-- like playing spider solitaire or Mahjong online. The break lets me consider if where they are heading works. 


If it's been long between my writing, say a visit to town was in between, I usually reread that last scene. Writers are never not writing. The pen to the paper or fingers to the keyboard is often the end result of hours of consideration and sometimes jotting down notes as reminders.  I spent a week-end debating how I could get my characters, in this current work, to where I wanted them to go. All of a sudden there it was. Breaks, long or short, do help. 

All writers are different, but generally speaking I don't like to write more than 2000 words in a day just to be sure my characters are not rushing ahead and missing something. 


Currently, I have two works in progress but that is unusual for me. It happened  a bit serendipitously as writing often does. I was trying for a short story in August and the first possibility (historical) clearly needed to be a longer story. So did the second possibility (women starting over). In the meantime, I had already begun a longer book in the paranormal series

Most Americans will relate to how I wanted a break from stress and Christmas novellas were the perfect antidote to escape into another world. I finished the historical novella (with edits to come) and will get back to the more stressful paranormal after Thanksgiving holiday is over. After that, the historical novella will be Book 8 in the Arizona historical romance series-- and there is a ninth historical for that series, which I plan to write in January.


Writing begets writing. 



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

when writing a blog

Yes, I like to write. It's what I do. It's what I've done most of my life-- but that doesn't mean it's always fun. It can be stressful whether it's trying to come up with a blog, comment somewhere, or write a book. Putting your words out leaves you vulnerable in a way that hiding them does not. Readers can show you what they think of your words when they boycott your blog. On the other hand, I write my truth here as I know it. I can't write just what others want to hear or what is the point of it?

Besides writing books (I wrote my first full-length manuscript when I was in my 20s), blog writing came into my life in 2004. I was whimsical back then, didn't write much, came back to it, stopped again and finally began writing fairly regularly in 2006. I had only a vague idea of what I'd do with a blog and only gradually firmed mine up into being about ideas. 

Through the years I've read quite a few other blogs, different sorts where some are journals, sometimes revealing way too much information. There are blogs that make a reader feel they know that writer. Of course, they know what the writer wants them to know. I used to read more blogs, but as my time for pleasure reading has narrowed, I only regularly go to a couple.

Currently, I have two of my own blogs where I regularly commit to posting something (Saturday and Wednesday for this one and the other on Tuesdays). I have two blogs for new books , which are updated only when a new book comes out. I have three video type blogs (music and image trailers and one for discussions. Then there is a blog for our grassfed beef and lamb (sadly neglected); one for the vacation rental in Tucson; and one for rants (political in nature) which gets something only the mood strikes. It takes little time to write since it is supposed to be a rant.

On the regular blogs, when the words aren't coming, I switch to photos or even make memes like this one, which has the advantage of being able to use them on Twitter or Facebook with the hope they'll prove uplifting to others.


With a long and particularly turbulent time, like our country has had with this election season (turbulence not remotely over) writing for this blog has been particularly difficult. I both wanted and did not want to write political posts. Finally, I wrote on some cultural and emotional issues knowing I'd doubtless lose readers over it.


I have read, and it makes sense, that a writer should never discuss politics or religion. Somebody, in such a divided time, is bound to disagree whatever you say. The hatred, fear, and rage after this election are being stirred to fever pitches. Being a writer, you do not need enemies more than your books already might make. On the other hand, I am a human first who lives in a certain culture and with grandchildren close to going out into the world, I can't ignore what I see as important-- lose readers over it or not.


When I come to the keyboard, with a date for a post looming, there are times I literally can't think of a thing to write. If I didn't write on a schedule, I wouldn't have that problem. On the other hand, if I didn't write on a schedule, the ideas might not come to me that often do once I start typing. Sometimes sitting in front of a keyboard is the impetus for an idea to emerge. 

Besides this blog, I have another where I post once a month, a community blog of other writers, Smart Girls Read Romance. That one can be more stressful than this one due to feeling I should not let others down by an inferior or boring post. A once a month post that is aimed at writers and readers definitely stretches me. I may not continue to do it but for now, I am. Then now and again, I do a guest post for someone else's blog. I try not to do many of those, though they are beneficial for reaching a different group. The thing is my brain only stretches so far and there are always the new books to be written. 

My Tuesday blog, Rain Trueax, does not demand original ideas. I decided to do an excerpt blog there where it gets a piece of one of my books. Because I don't keep track of from which books I've shared a scene, I try not to share from the same ones too often. The excerpt blog has the advantage of maybe showing a reader a book they might someday like to read, but also encouraging other writers for ideas I used that might inspire them. The only real problem there is forgetting to grab the piece and Tuesday about the time I am drinking my second cup of coffee, I realize I haven't yet done it.

Saturday I will have another blog on writing fiction and what that takes. Books have been written on that topic; so my blog will only lightly touch on it.  

Saturday, November 19, 2016

a giveaway


from Stencil images

For the last month, I've had to get myself in the mood for Christmas as I've been writing Christmas oriented novellas. It's a little early to be thinking that way for many, who have just been trying to get past Halloween, the election, and then Thanksgiving. As I considered which traditions would be in my books, I also was thinking how grateful I was for my readers-- here and of the books. Writing is rewarding but more so when someone else reads what the writer wrote.

That led to my thinking of how I could show my appreciation in a more tangible way. It had to be an Amazon gift card. Then how to do it. Although I've given away books and other gifts at author events, I haven't actually held one myself. Rather than try to have a separate event, I decided to tie the giveaway to my blogs. I set it up on my book excerpt blog, Rain Trueax.

To have a chance to win the $25 Amazon gift card, go to the link below (a blogspot site). Comment as to your favorite Christmas tradition. Come back Tuesday the 22nd to see if your comment, randomly drawn, won the $25 Amazon gift card. An added bonus, for you, will be reading what others especially like at Christmas.


If you haven't ever gotten such a gift card, they are easy to use if you have an Amazon account. The gift is sent where you direct it and becomes a credit to be used whenever and however you wish. To make this easier, for the week, I removed that blog's usual ID requirement (which became necessary to reduce spam to manageable levels without going to captcha or moderation).


Incidentally, if you haven't already signed up for my email list, which you see alongside the blog, it lets you receive notice of new book arrivals, giveaways, and special sales


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

False Expectations Appearing Real

Warning: if you see fear as a good thing, you probably will not like what comes next. Return on Saturday, and I'll be back to more 'normal' posts... i think.

 Petroglyphs from Lava Beds NM where long ago humans tried to leave a message for those who would come after.

Because of what I've been reading in Facebook, blogs, and articles, I felt I needed to cover one more outcome from this election-- fear. Fear is anticipating what has not yet happened. It is often encouraged by spin doctors who benefit from having people living in fear as they are more easily manipulated. Someone experiencing terror finds it hard to use clear thinking.

I am not saying that fear is never valid but when it is, it should be a physical and real danger. When there is a very real physical risk, like say a tornado approaching your town, fear can serve a positive purpose by increasing your adrenaline to get your body in action. It can cause you to move to your basement or a shelter. Fear though that you might be hit by a tornado when none are around can prove debilitating. What does adrenaline do when the risk is not one you can address physically?

Fear has been stirred up by the recent election. Despite what some believe now, that fear went both ways with those who believed a Clinton Presidency would be the end of our nation, take away all freedom, bring the government to collapse, increase our debt to an impossible level, destroy our culture, over-regulate, use power to go after enemies, and start new wars. Trust me, many feared all that and more. Well, she's not the one now to fear.

What could President Donald Trump actually do to this country? There are many fears regarding that. I'd like to start with the big one for many progressives-- that he will quicken global warming and destroy the earth through rising oceans, increasing big storms that decimate natural vegetation leading to droughts, leading to massive migrations of humans and animals. In his four year term, he can hasten global destruction. 

The irony here is many of those, who fear global destruction and too much CO2, fly around the world, think nothing of taking a cruise (boy do they pollute), and drive many miles at a whim.  

Progressives want the government though to at least say it can do something about what might be a natural periodic event on this planet. Trump denies climate change exists hence making him a leader for them to fear. 

Much of the science of global climate change is based on observations of fossil discoveries along with projections. It depends on making certain assumptions because if it's happening, by the time it is measurable, it would be too late. For those who don't trust the conclusions, who believe it's all about bringing on Communism or destroying businesses, they see it as a hoax, and Trump has been in that corner.

Personally, one of the reasons I voted for Clinton was environment (think pipelines and mining), but I am not convinced we have as much influence on the earth's warming as we might wish. Some say a long period of low sun flare activity (which we are in) may do a lot to cool us.  Currently, where I live we have yet to have a freeze, which is unusual but then the measured temperatures for any region isn't all that long, and this might be par for the course in a long range cycle.

What I think environmentally important is protecting wilderness areas, air quality, and water quality. However, let's be honest-- in the years of the Obama Presidency, Flint happened, Standing Rock happened, fracking happened, and nothing very real about climate change. Gasoline prices dropped to unbelievable levels encouraging people to drive more. Obama had the majority in Congress his first two years, and he did nothing beyond talk. He has not supported the Native Americans trying to protect their water supply as that pipeline is ongoing as I write this. 

It's hard to say what Hillary might've done. Maybe a carbon tax to encourage some to fly and drive less, but big money is what gets most politicians elected. In the end, they cater to it. Such a tax would bring in revenue, but likely, given the current low price of fuel, won't do much to discourage travel unless it was so large that it destroyed the economy. Some of the regulations intended to lessen pollution end up with other side-effects that are undesirable. There are things that can be done but getting rid of all fossil fuel is not happening no matter how many extreme left leaning sites claim it will. And whether we end up with a catastrophic change may involve more than what the US does. So should we fear it? Is it something real that endangers us, that we can do something about-- especially with so many proposals years in the future.

Another Trump fear that I am seeing expressed is that minorities are being violently attacked after the election, and it will get worse. This is working on the assumption that the racial divide began with Trump running for office. The only ones believing that read only left wing newspapers. It's been ongoing-- as has been the violence in too many communities. How much of the fear about Trump regarding this is stirred up and how much is a very real danger to anybody? 

The Black Lives Matter movement has stirred up fear among the minorities that the police are hunting them down. Now this is not to say we don't have bigoted cops, but seriously, does anyone really believe blacks are being hunted down by the police? Maybe Hillary did when she said in the debate to a question:
Lester Holt: Do you believe police are implicitly biased against black people.
Hillary Clinton: Lester I think implicit bias is a problem for everyone not just police.
I wish those believing that about the police would give a little thought to what they face. It might give some perspective-- as police fears are based on anticipation of dangers they regularly face. The fact that their fear leads them to sometimes overreact is another example of the problem of fear.

In the aftermath of the election, the violence has gone both ways, with the extreme left also attacking those who supported Trump-- or even someone they thought supported him. The recent accusations that he has caused bullies to grow larger in number ignores the rest of the story. Yes, there are bullies. Yes, they are in many groups. But the President doesn't cause that. It comes out of a rage and anger that is there before either a Dem or Repub gets in. If you don't believe that, then you have to believe Obama has caused it for the last eight years. Seriously, you don't believe that do you?

Trump went to black communities. He talked about the need to protect the people in Chicago where stray bullets and gang wars cause so many innocent deaths. He claimed the left has let the black community down by destroying jobs and the fabric of the family through policies that sounded good but did harm. Now whether he could do any of what he wants or said he wants, who knows. That was always the risk with him. But a lot of the fear here is being stirred up by certain elements, who gain from that. The people who live in some of those neighborhoods have plenty to fear now-- with real physical threats, not an assumption of them to come.

Some see Trump as a path to Hitler. It seems that's always pulled out and they bring out the books to prove their point. Except we elect Presidents every four years. We have a Congress who can stand against the President-- and has with Obama. Our Presidents can be impeached. This is not Hitler anymore than Obama was the Antichrist. The hysteria of the left and right always leads to such accusations but get a grip. 

Regarding the Antichrist, evidently some are saying Nostradamus predicted Trump as the last one, who will usher in the Apocalypse. That requires having a spiritual belief that such a thing has been predicted and might be spiritually brought on. It requires reading couplets that can be taken many ways and interpreting them to suit yourself. It requires ignoring earlier predictions of doom like 2000 or the end of the Mayan calendar.

While I have had my own ideas on the damage of fear and how it has been fed, I read something very good at Facebook by a professional grief counselor and writer, Dr. Debra Holland. She had said it can be shared. I think it is good to share here for those who don't want to be afraid and are looking for tools to help them get past this. And yes, I realize there are drama queens/kings who get off on fear. This is for those who see it as negative, but they just can't let it go, read this and think about it:
     I read a lot of Facebook posts this morning that were full of grief, as well as fear and anxiousness about the future. Since I’m empathic, I was very impacted by the pain and fear and disappointment people were expressing. This post isn’t about those who are grieving, whether the election results and what that means to them, or some other loss. This is post is about fear, specifically what I call fear fantasies—some vision you have of the future which is causing fear and stress and anxiety in the now.
     Did you know research shows that 96% of what we fear DOESN’T come true? What fear, anxiety, and stress does is take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. YOU (and perhaps those around you) pay the price for your fears.
     The past is over.. The future has yet to unfold. All we have is the NOW. We have no guarantee that we’ll even be alive tomorrow. Yesterday, I did grief counseling for a company that had an employee die from being hit by a car on Halloween. This is one of many counseling jobs I’ve done for sudden deaths. I see all the time that we have only now. As for our nation, for all we know, aliens will descend in the next few months, and the whole world will be completely different from what we expected. Yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek, but it makes my point. We don’t know what the future holds for us as individuals, for our communities, for our nation, for our world.
     You can spend today in fear. You can spend today in shock. You can spend today projecting meaning onto millions of voters of either side that probably has little to do with each individual person who voted. There are a myriad of reasons people vote the way they do, which might not be at all what you think. Every American wants the best for our country, even if they disagree with the who and how.
     I’ve long believed that aside from voting or political activism, there’s nothing I can do about what happens in Washington. I STRONGLY believe that there’s plenty I can do to impact the world around ME. Regardless of the beliefs and actions of the people who govern us, I can live my beliefs. I can be a person who’s loving, kind, caring, tolerant, supportive, and giving. I can make the world a better place through my thoughts, words—written and spoken—and deeds. I can touch the lives of others. I’m not perfect, so I’ll slip up, but I’ll do my best to be a good person.
     After the time on Facebook reading about my friends and seeing the gamut of emotions, especially the pain and fear, I spent time in reflection and prayer for everyone who’s afraid or in pain—regardless of the reason. I prayed for our current and future presidents, that they would make wise decisions. I prayed that our country would heal and thrive.
     After that, I spent time with my animals. I cooked (which is not common for me,) I gardened. I straightened the house. All things to control my own environment and nurture myself—good to do when you can’t control and nurture the world (no matter how much I’d like to.) Later, I’ll write, I’ll exercise, I’ll nap—all things to take care of myself. And to take care of others, I went through the collection of bills and pulled out all the ones for charity (a lot come this time of year.) I sat down and wrote checks for all the ones I support, then I prayed that what I sent would be multiplied and bless people. As I did all these things, I stayed mindful of my blessings. I focused on all I’m grateful for in my personal life and in my country—all the things I tend to take for granted.
     After many years of dealing with people in crisis, I’ve seen those who are the most resilient. They manage their finances in a way that they have savings, little debt, and live below their means. They focus on their families and other people they care about and what they are grateful for. They give back to their communities. They acknowledge the impact of painful events on them or their families, but they don’t create more fears about what will happen because of the events.
     Please...today and in the coming days, practice resiliency. When you catch yourself fearing for the future, STOP. Take a deep breath, and then another. Remind yourself that you are making up a fear fantasy; it may or may not come to pass. It probably won’t. And if it does come true at a future time, deal with it THEN. Don’t let those fears rob you of peace for the NOW. Focus on what you can control—your mind, your body, your immediate environment, your finances, your personal goals. Follow your intuition, not your fear. Take steps toward your goals. Forgive. Be kind. Try to see the best in others, not the worst, and certainly don’t imagine and project the worst. Practice gratitude. Be loving. Through it all, remember to keep breathing.
 As something else that could prove helpful for living through difficult times, you might check out one of her books-- Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude.