It Drives Me Nuts

I'm so confused

I’m so confused

First, I have to say I am the contest chair for Ozark Creative Writers Conference contest. Some weeks I block on writing a blog. That probably shows up in the ones I do write. This week has been H E Double L.

The weekend spent at the hospital with my husband, who was taken from home by ambulance and put in the cardiac section. Turned out to be either a hiatal hernia or gall bladder. We still don’t know.

Then, after sitting three hours waiting to get him out—cause who wants to work on Sunday, even in a hospital?—and him lying there punching his button and moaning “I want to go home.” every three seconds—we finally trailed in about six o’clock. Then he had to be fed because he was starving. That green stuff looked like a cow’s cud and the chicken was nested on something foreign he couldn’t identify and would not put near his mouth.

Waiting patiently on my computer were messages, pleas asking me to make sure a certain contest submission got in the contest. People who wait till the last minute drive me nuts, but I do understand. It’s just that I can’t handle that. I have to be organized,

Going Nuts

Going Nuts

have all my ducks in a row and be ahead of schedule on everything, so naturally people who don’t drive me nutty. I still love them, don’t get me wrong. Friends and acquaintances, writers and family galore, I love them all. Some just drive me nuts. As I no doubt do them. About now, if my editor could see that sentence, he’d be turning purple.

So here I am, all the entries sorted to where they belong, envelopes to judges addressed, letters written telling them when to return their choices so I can get them in to the lady who writes the checks and fills out the certificates. I’m ready. But I have to wait for those late comers. Please don’t write me how you were sick, or broke your arm or had your appendix out. I already know and I do understand. But, and that’s a big but, there are those who absolutely cannot be ahead of schedule. They just can’t work that way, even without a broken arm.

I am a gentler, kinder contest chair. You leave your name on the pages, if you only have a few pages, I’ll black it out and send it on to the judge. Most chairs return them. If it’s too many pages to mess with, I make a phone call with a chance to fix it if there’s time.

Next time you enter a contest, please consider that contest chair who has to handle each and every submission, make sure the rules have not been broken before she sorts them into the proper files, and eventually number and remove your cover sheet and mails the bundles off to the individual judges. So, read the rules and follow them explicitly. Don’t drive her nuts.further nuts

It’s almost over. I can mail them all Friday morning and relax. But wait. The judges have been reminded that I must have the results by September 26. I can start going nuts again because at least one or two will wait till midnight that night to send theirs. Is there no end to my dilemma? I guess not.

My latest book, Beyond the Moon will officially be out Sept. 30, and will anyone do the stuff that needs to be done? No, not until the last minute, effectively hitting my nuts button once again. It’s just the way the world works. I’m the one who is out of step. Everyone else is doing a fabulous job promoting the book, designing posters and cards. The book is gorgeous. It’s available on preorder for ebook at a discount. So what’s my problem?

Celebrate with joy

Celebrate with joy

How do you handle working with people who don’t understand that you need stuff done weeks ahead of time, not at the last minute? Or maybe you are one of them that drives me nuts.

 

 

 

 

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You Want Me To Do What?

stack of books

Attend a ribbon cutting at Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Why would I do that? Because it’s for a company like no other I’ve ever been associated with. They wanted me and their other authors to be there when they officially cut the ribbon for Oghma Creative Media, a Promotional and Publishing House. Right here in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where there are so many authors you can’t stir ‘em with a stick, as my grandma used to say.

Several months ago I signed with these guys, having no idea what I was getting in to, but impressed by the pure energy exuded by Casey Cowan, its founder, who along with Patty Stith came up with the novel idea of promoting authors, artists, musicians, and artistbusinesses. And by golly, it was working.So I decided to try them out. I signed for promotion of a three book series I had on Kindle, something from my backlist. Known as the Montana Series—yeah, I know, that’s not very creative—the three books had slacked off from earlier booming sales and were clumping along with sales of five to ten books each month.musicians

I’d see what they could do for me to improve those sales. Immediately, Casey began to promote not only the Montana series, but what was more important, me as a writer and my work on the whole. Things rocked along. Casey said Tweet these subjects five times a week and so I did. Only one of them had anything to do with my books. The rest were information, entertainment, socializing. I continued to blog and Tweet and hit the social media route online, and there I would see stuff about me and my work, posted by the people at Oghma Creative Media.

Then the unbelievable happened. Casey decided if they could promote writers, why not publish them as well. He went to work learning the ropes. If you know him, you know he doesn’t mess around. He gets right to the core and it wasn’t long before he’d contracted M.G. Miller for a reprint of his incredibly fabulous book, Bayou Jesus, and Pamela Foster for Noisy Creek, her poignant story of aging gracefully in a small southern town. Then he asked me if I didn’t have a book. I said, sure, I’ve got several, but I was “fixin” —that’s Arkie for preparing—to put them on Kindle. “Let us see one of them,” he and Greg said in unison. So I did and the rest is history.

Beyond the Moon, the book of my heart and soul, will be released September 30 from Oghma Creative Media’s Foyle Press in Ebook, Hard cover and paperback, and I couldn’t be more excited. If you were at the ribbon cutting you know that Casey announced that Oghma is nominating Beyond the Moon for a Pulitzer Prize in Literature, which has me “beyond the moon.” Even more so than when I got the New York call back in 1993 that started all of this insanity.ny skylineOh, by the way, I’ve signed for two other books that will be out next year. The second of The Twist of Poe Series, The Telltale Stone, in April 2015 and a little evil thing I call A Savage Grace, scheduled for a Halloween release in 2015. You’ll be surprised that such a wicked story could come out of my sweet little self. Oh, and my cookbook will be re-released sometime during all this excitement. There’s talk of more, but why go on?

Casey is brilliant, Greg is a top notch editor, Staci and Jess and all the others who have a part in building this new business are super hard workers, always ready to lend a hand to any one of this stable of authors that is growing by leaps and bounds.

When Casey looks at me now and says, “I need you to …” I don’t hesitate, not any more.

 

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WHERE DO THEY COME FROM?

wild west

Many times I’m asked where I get ideas for my western historical romances.  It’s simple, really. In fact I have enough stuff scribbled down to write these books for another twenty years or so. I prefer to write about the 1860s through the 1880s, though that’s not a set rule. Each time I go on a trip through that era in my research the most fascinating thing happens. Characters begin to appear and talk to me. Tell me what it’s like to live in the time and place I’ve stepped into. They speak to me of amazing feats, how tough life can sometimes be, how enjoyable certain facets of that life are. First it’s the women who visit with me, but it isn’t long before some strong heroes show up and give me the lowdown on being a man who sticks by his woman.

Soon I begin to ask questions. Where does she live? What sort of family  does she have and are they close? Sometimes I find myself hoping she is alone, because for my type of book that works out best. I need a heroine who has overcome many barriers on her own to get what she wants. Then she meets the man of her dreams and up pop more barriers that they must overcome together.pensive woman

Women were second class citizens, and I have to remember that. They weren’t much more than slaves to some men. So perhaps she’s trapped in this sort of situation. But because it’s a romance, she’s not married unless it was arranged. Her “master” may be her father or an elder brother who’s now the head of the family. He might be the man she works for, as in cooking, cleaning, washing. Or she could be an innocent girl caught up in the life of a “soiled dove,” or a widow battling being alone again.

Consider the set-up of several of my books to see how these women are situated: In IMAGES IN SCARLET, an original from Topaz and now available from Kindle, my heroine, Allison Caine, lives in Missouri. It’s 1866. Her father, a photographer during the Civil War, has died.  Trained by him in his craft,  she sets out alone with her camera equipment in what was known as a “what’s it” wagon to go to Santa Fe where she wants to set up a photography business. Oh, I forgot to tell you, she’s armed with a Navy Colt, just in case. Inspired by an article on women photographers of the day.

woman horseIn Goldspun Promises, also from Topaz and now available through Kindle as  MONTANA PROMISES, seventeen-year-old Tressie buries her mother and a stillborn child and is left alone on the prairie. She is obsessed with getting revenge on her father who deserted them to go hunt for gold. The only way she can do this is with some help. And in rides Reed Bannon, badly wounded and in bad trouble. She has to save him before he can help her out of her dire situation. The gold rush to Virginia City Montana inspired this, the first of the Montana books.

Moonspun Dreams from Topaz, is now available through Kindle as MONTANA DREAMS.  Our heroine Dessa Fallon travels from Kansas City to Virginia City because her parents have learned that her brother, missing since the end of the war, may be alive. During a horrendous stage ride, she is kidnapped by a gang of robbers. Unknown to her at the time,  the mercantile her parents own has burned down and  both died in the fire. Now she’s in a pretty fix, huh? Except for the reclusive Ben Poole who may be the answer to her prayers. Driving the golden spike to connect the east and west coast by rail inspired this tale of a mythical train ride.

I think that’s enough to give you an idea of how to place a heroine in a precarious situation to kick off a book about the wild West and the people who lived there as well as where the inspiration comes from.her saddle

 

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WOMEN WHO CONQUER AND RULE

 

armed woman Republished from July, 2012 with some updating

Besides being a writer, I’m a woman, a wife, mother, grandmother and a great grandmother. And I’m a human being, an American, a daughter of pioneers. My great grandmother on my mother’s side went west with her Victorian parents when she was 13. She was born in 1865 soon after the end of the Civil War. She married a lawman in Winfield, Kansas and they had four daughters. My grandmother lived in Montana after her marriage until they moved to Arkansas. Here she rode side saddle and carried a 22 revolver. I was told she was quite fearless as a young woman. One of her sisters went to work for the Winfield Newspaper when that was not really the thing a woman did. Another was a true rebel, what today might be called a flower child. So it is in my blood to do what I do.

Navy Nurse Corps

Navy Nurse Corps

Over the past 30 years that I’ve written and been published, I’ve seen the role of women in novels and stories evolve from the meek to the mighty. Some could say this has happened much too slowly, some could add that the female role has become a bit ridiculous in some instances. Women who fight and conquer monsters might seem to some to be outrageously impossible. Yet isn’t that what has been done since that day in 1920 when the lowly female of the species was at last allowed to cast her vote? It was once outrageously impossible. A monster which women conquered.

I can’t help but point out, being a writer of much that is western in fiction and non fiction, that the first time women were allowed to vote and hold public office took place in Wyoming as early as 1858. I have long wondered why this happened there, of all places. Could it be that because women were in such short supply on the western frontier, they were deemed more important? Or more probably, there weren’t any men who would consider holding these offices, and so it fell to women. Let’s hope it was because the women were stronger and more stubborn, having survived the challenges involved in going west and living on the frontier.

I know that is true of such job offerings as post masters of small towns on the early frontier. The pay was so small that no man would apply for the job. It was also work that could be done from home while tending to the washing and ironing, the scrubbing and cooking, the birthing and raising of children. Today, women are fulfilling all sorts of jobs, not because it’s easy, but because it’s difficult.

My favorite quote, and here again I’m paraphrasing: Women who behave don’t make history. In other words, if we don’t raise all holy Ned, then our names and our deeds will soon be forgotten. Take my very distant cousin, Clara Barton. She did what most other women of her day disapproved of. She cared for the sick, including the male of the species. My grandmother was so infuriated by such actions that she would not lay claim to our relationship to this courageous woman who began the Red Cross in this country. Barton dedicated her life to seeing that soldiers and indeed all those who fell ill or were injured, received the care they deserved.

Women who move beyond the limits set by their culture often gain other women’s disapproval. For instance, Mabel Dodge, who dared marry the man she loved who happened to be not only a Tewa Indian, but a man who worked as her chauffeur. She and her husband  went on to build The Sagebrush Inn in Taos, New Mexico.

My book, Fly With The Mourning Dove, is about a strong and determined woman, who from early childhood enjoyed the freedom of ranch life. A difficult life lived on the high desert of New Mexico where women were breaking out of the mold in so many ways. Edna Smith Hiller, who lived the life I wrote about, faced plenty of adversity, much of which the book doesn’t touch on. During her 92nd  and 93rd year, she shared her stories with me, the great adventures of her life, going back to the age of six. Her memories were precise, her stories amazing, and she recalled so much of the early Anglo settlements in New Mexico around Taos and Santa Fe. This admirable and amazing woman is also a sidesaddledistant cousin. At 97 she handed over the management of her ranches to her daughter and son-in-law. Until she passed away last year, a few months short of her 100th birthday, Edna had a hand in managing two of the ranches that have been in her family since the homesteading days after World War I. As far as Anglos and this United States are concerned, New Mexico is young compared to other states.

My header reads Sexy Dark and Gritty stories of Gutsy women from all walks of life. When all I wrote were western historical novels, it read Stories of Gutsy women who won the west, but now that I’ve branched out into women’s fiction of a contemporary and recent nature, we’ve changed that a tad so it includes all my fiction and nonfiction, including the new mystery series.

Women like those who were courageous and strong enough to settle unknown country, build homes, families, churches, businesses, molded our lives in so many ways, for which we should all be grateful. We are who we are because of these women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From a Nubbin of Inspiration

 

wood carving

wood carving

 Finishing a project is self-fulfilling, no matter what it is we create. Musicians, artists, crafts persons, writers, we all share something exciting. With our minds, we make something from nothing. Well, almost. That nothing begins as a nubbin of inspiration.

 It is said that a wood carver removes all the excess wood from something that waited within the piece of walnut or pine or birch. That is much the same way a musician works.music notes All the excess notes floating around are pushed aside to find those that await, perfect in every way. Painters discover images in the swirls of color, the strokes that slowly form what lay fallow in their minds until just the right movement of the brush revealed it in all its glory.

Artist

 When someone asks me where I get my ideas, I have no idea where to start. I find them in the sound of wind through a giant oak outside my window. In the ray of sunlight that prisms just so through the glass. The laughter of a child who has discovered something new in her world for the first time. A story told on the news that brings a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. A young, courageous man returning from war with a smile on his beautiful face. A mother who holds her newborn child for the first time and sees the hand of God at work.

 I could go on forever explaining where a writer’s ideas come from. But I won’t, because I think you get it.

Going all philosophical can be explained easily. My latest book has just passed through the galley stage and I will soon hold it in my hand. Approximately 150,000 words labored over off and on for years. Characters I have lived with so long I love them all dearly, hate to let them go, in fact. This book is the crowning glory of my writing career. I have this niggling feeling deep inside that I will never surpass it. 

Some writers only write one book in their entire lifetime. I’ve written many, but none have meant so much to me as this one. It is based on true happenings during a time when I was most vulnerable to new ideas. My children had left home to begin their lives, not without me, but apart from me, and I wandered the empty rooms of my house for months, not quite knowing what to do with myself. Then I turned on a television program that sent me reeling into what would turn out to be months and months of research, several years of writing, many more years of rejection and hope.

soldiers

 That television program featured a young, haunted man who had been charged with all sorts of trumped up charges. But mostly, he had come home from a dreadful war known as the Vietnam Conflict after being held as a POW for more than five years. And we called him a traitor, among other things. I watched Robert Garwood try to tell the American public that the military had left behind more than 2,000 men in Vietnam. I watched two men take him by the arms and escort him immediately away from the mics waiting for his statements. And I began to cry.

 I still cry when I think about what was done to this young man who was involved in the bloody killing fields, tortured and imprisoned, and then mistreated by his own countrymen. But I did more than cry, I did what a writer does. I spent the next six months digging into everything I could find out about that war and what happened to so many of the men who fought over there for their country. Then I wrote a fiction novel based on what I learned, and I decided to make a woman the main character. A woman who falls in love with a fictional Glen Tanner, who has returned from nine years of captivity and torture, broken and fighting a battle to survive.

 Beyond the Moon is the book that will soon be released from Oghma Creative Media. It’s a long book, a big book, a story of bravery and the power of love, and I hope many people will read it and come to admire Glen and Katie and their abiding courage.

 

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Naked Ladies in the Yard

Belladonna Lilies

 

I may be rather old fashioned, but that comes from my Victorian grandmother’s side of the family. She wouldn’t even refer to a stud horse or a bull by those names, but rather thought up euphemisms for such things, such as the gentlemen. Yet when it came to the beautiful pink lilies that emerge after their initial leaves have died away, their stalks standing talk and naked–their true name which is Belladonna, often called surprise lilies–she always called them naked ladies.

 

Indeed that’s what they look like, and we have bunches of them in several spots in our country yard. They are in glorious bloom right now. Since so few flowers manage to bloom in the heat of July and August these ladies are a welcome sight when all else save some Rose of Sharons (or would that be Roses of Sharon?) still struggle to show off their bright colors.

 

The wildflower kingdom is a bit different, for we still have all manner of sunflowers and daisies displaying their golden brilliance in ditches and at the edge of the woods. This morning I gazed into the shadowy wilderness that surrounds our yard and thought how beautiful this year’s foliage is. With so much rain it is more like a rain forest than a typical almost-August Ozark woods.

 

Into the woods

Into the woods

Jade green leaves of oak, maple, hickory, and black walnut are lush, while the plate sized lighter shade sycamore leaves brush against each other to sing in the breezes that blow on our north slope in the early evening to dark. The crisp fragrance of fresh-cut grass, still thickly green, floats in our windows flung wide to accept every breath of fresh air. No air conditioning to mar our enjoyment of the outdoors. The cloudless sky is so blue it appears to crackle in the sunlight.

 

Just sharing a typical day here at our place tucked up against the Ozark National Forest and a part of the White Rock Wildlife Management Area along the banks of Strickler Creek. Hope you’re having as beautiful a day as we are.

This is where  I create my books, novels and stories. Beyond the Moon will be out in late August and I’m ecstatic about its release. I know you will  enjoy this love story that you’ll remember for a long, long time after reading it. Glen and Katie will grab your hearts and minds with their courage and impassioned devotion.

 

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Amazon: The Elephant in the Room

Elephant or Amazon?

Elephant or Amazon?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know how to advise young or beginning writers of any age. Knowing how we did it when I began isn’t necessarily the way to go today. A few months ago I was still advising self-published authors and experienced authors with a backlist that they owned the copyright on to publish to Kindle, perhaps even go the route of KDP Select. In essence that meant that they could not publish the book anywhere else, but they received several perks.

A lot of us jumped in early and earned some good money. What will happen with the changes Amazon is adapting is anyone’s guess. But I can’t say I didn’t expect it. For the past year I’ve taught workshops on how to format and upload to Kindle, but always warning everyone that Amazon remains the elephant in the room. Hovering there, so huge that anything it decides to do will be done.

After reading the Kindle release explaining Kindle Unlimited, well I’ll admit it sounds good on the surface. Here’s the simple explanation taken from that newsletter:

“Now, when you enroll your title in KDP Select, your title will be included in Kindle Unlimited–a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Customers are able to read as many books as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles while subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. When your title is read past 10%–about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books–you will earn a share of the KDP Select monthly global fund. For July we’ve added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.”

Here’s what Publisher’s Lunch had to say about it:

“With KU, Amazon has gone from giving exclusive self-published authors their best deal (70 percent of sales) to giving them their worst deal (an unspecified monthly share of a pool). They unilaterally changed the game, and the extent to which they make it up to those authors by increasing the monthly pool of pro-rated cash that pays for KU and Kindle Owner’s Lending Library reads is at Amazon’s sole discretion. You can be sure that if a regular publisher did such a thing, there would be howling across the internet. (Don’t get too satisfied, publishers; this is why authors and agents already hate unbounded high-discount clauses, and why they objected to agency unilaterally changing their new release royalties.”

Of course both go on to explain in detail, in a most confusing language, what this will do to and for authors enrolled in Kindle Select.

I’ve joined the ranks of many other authors and will take a wait and see attitude. If, as Amazon says, our sales royalties will increase, then fine; but others are warning that will not be the case. So if they tank, I’ll reconsider my other options. Sales online usually drop a bit in the summer, so it will take a few months to get a feel for this new program. At any rate, it’s not so much how many books we sell as how much we are going to make in royalties under the program.

If you would like to read the entire explanation from Amazon and/or Publishers Lunch, let me know and I’ll email them to you. There are other opinions out there, so check the forums at Kindle to see what others are saying about this.

If you are a member of Kindle Select, you will see your prices on Amazon set at 0.00 for Prime Kindle Unlimited. But does that mean you get no royalties? According to Amazon it does not. Every time your book is read for at least 10%, which is usually the chapter published with your book, you as the author will receive a percentage of the “pot.”

Published authors with a backlist are treated the same as self-published authors on Kindle. Only time will tell if this program will be better or worse, who it will hurt and who it will help. But if I were you and enrolled there, I would begin to look at other options. Just in case. There are some small publishers that would republish your book if they like it, even though it’s been on Kindle. But here’s where the cream comes to the top. Those publishers will be picky, their editors tough to get past. So if you have self-published your book(s), please make sure they shine before you submit them elsewhere. Kindle don’t care if the writing is terrible, publishers do. That misuse of the verb was deliberate, ‘cause I’m a fan of the Honey Badger. Honey Badger don’t care either. Check it out

 

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We Call Them Angels

Men in war

Men in war

Today, when a wife or loved one cares for a wounded warrior, whether he’s damaged in body or spirit, they are called angels. But that wasn’t always the case. In 1983 when I was researching for my upcoming novel, Beyond the Moon, all I saw portrayed was wives who filed for divorce, women were shown as harridans who did nothing but shout, scream and cry, then eventually leave their husband who came home from the war and was no longer the same person. Movies, books, plays, were the same. Women, they all proclaimed, did not try to understand their husband when he came home from war.

This was especially prevalent in those returning from the Vietnam War. This was the first time any of us heard the term, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, now known as a disorder. Many doctors simply did not know how to treat this disease developed by so many men involved in such an unpopular war. These men returned to crowds at airports spitting on them and calling them baby killers. Then they had to go home to face a nagging wife?

I could not believe that all women would react that way. I just knew that there were those who would struggle to continue to love and support this “injured” man. That was the reason I began the research that led to creating my protagonist Katherine Kelly for Beyond the Moon. I wanted a woman in circumstances that would mean she had the backbone, the fortitude, the desire to help a man so damaged by torture he’d endured for nine years in a POW camp in Vietnam that he could not function in society.

Yet, I knew in creating this man I would have to spend a lot of time immersed in veterans’ experiences. Robert Garwood inspired my story, though it is not his in any way. Read Conversations With The Enemy if you’re curious about Bobby Garwood. The book is available used on Amazon. When my story begins Glen Tanner has been hospitalized after his sister claims he tried to kill her. He’s been home less than a year. And he’s not doing well at all.

Right away I decided that I could not go into his POV, but rather should remain in Katherine’s. His dialogue and actions must tell his story. I became so buried in this research, spending days, weeks and even months in the library, (remember there was no Internet available to the common person at that time) that I actually felt as if I had been transported back to the years of that unpopular war. I lived with it day and night, could not let it go. Vietnam was the first war America watched unfold on television.

I must have rewritten the book eight or ten times. I don’t mean edited, I rewrote great chunks of it. It was my first novel, but an agent was interested right away and shopped it around New York. No one would touch it because of the subject matter. Some of the things I revealed from my research hadn’t been released to the general public.

Since I announced my plans to publish this book to Kindle back in February, I have acquired a publisher, and the book with its lovely haunting cover will be out in August of this year from Oghma Creative Media.

I’m pleased to say, though it baffles me why it’s taken so long, people are finally interested in the Vietnam war, the dreadful toll it has taken on the men who fought in a country no one had ever heard of until then, and the angels who have supported and loved them all these years. I know some of them myself and I assure you, they are indeed angels Soon I will tell you all about Katherine, Glen calls her Katie, and you will see why she qualifies as an angel with horns.

Cover by Casey Cowan

Cover by Casey Cowan

 

 

 

 

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Enjoy Wasted Time

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Bertrand Russell

Painting by Velda Brotherton

Painting by Velda Brotherton

How very true this is. The other day I got to thinking about all the time I spend dreaming up stories. Sometimes hours go by when I do little in production but much in creative meandering. I guess all those who create do so in much the same way. Whether it be words on paper, paint on canvas, music from instruments, or the dozens of other artistic endeavors that allow our brains and hands to work together but often don’t show results for days, weeks, even months.

Just think of the magnificent results from such “wasted time.” Beethoven, Chopin, Elvis, James Lee Burke, Emily Dickinson, Poe, Monet. We could fill tomes with just the names of those who have enlightened our lives with beauty of so many varieties we can’t begin to name them all.

So this summer sit in the shade or the sun, whichever you prefer and spend some time enjoying the imaginings of your mind. No telling what you might discover there.

As a writer, the creations of others have inspired me. From Edgar Allan Poe I drew twisted titles for a new mystery series; a poem by Emily Dickinson inspired a literary novel that will be published in August. Beyond the Moon is a phrase from that poem about war and the dark consequences of sending our young men into battle. I yearn to write as well as James Lee Burke, and that makes me strive harder to make every word, sentence and paragraph sing with meaning.

Enjoy your summer and don’t forget to waste some time that you enjoy. I sure will.

 

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Goodbye XP, I Knew You Well

writing always writing

writing always writing

For the past week I’ve been moving from my old XP PC to a nice light weight, faster and smaller laptop with Windows 7. At first I had hair pulling sessions which ended sometimes in tears, sometimes in stomping through the house between laptops using words my mother would have blushed at.

Having decided to use the old computer solely to stream to our flat screen television, I’ve alternated between downloading files from Carbonite to copying to CDs and transferring. This all depends on the speed of my DSL, which for some odd reason slows down during stormy, cloudy, windy days.

 

l learned after my third or so computer (my first one was DOS with no hard drive or mouse) that newer isn’t always better, but it is always more complicated. Where this could eventually go, I’m not sure. Though when I think about it I realize that my grandson and great grandson are so much more computer wise than I that it really does make sense. One day these electronic devices will only be understood by those not yet born, and I would cringe at trying to open one, let alone use it. But, of course it really doesn’t matter.

What does matter right now is that I’m 78 years old and learning yet another Windows program. Tutorials help some, but I find it easiest to copy them, print out the copy and place it next to my computer. I can’t remember more than two or three steps before my mind yells Whoa and my head spins.

About three days ago I found myself wishing for my old IBM Selectric typewriter, which was much more complicated than the manual I learned on in high school business class. Then I remembered retyping for every draft, struggling to make a perfect final copy, and finding something to do with the discarded piles of paper that were ankle deep halfway through the novel.

Finally, today I realized that I knew what to do with the files I’d copied and transferred, and how to do it. So, sooner or later I’ll have all my files transferred and everything will be good again. The secret is not to spend an entire day doing one thing, but to alternate between moving files, emails, Facebook, listening to the latest audio for the Montana series and glory be, writing (or editing) the next book.

Don’t call me an expert, and for goodness sake don’t ask me how to do something on Windows 7.

 

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