Writing Life Update: Looking Up

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This past weekend, my husband and I went away on a 27 ½ hour vacation for our 9th wedding anniversary. I only took a few pictures, but they seemed to have the theme of “looking up.” (We had breakfast on Sunday in a bistro with a stained glass ceiling and then took a walk.)
 
I had a realization about my writing with the same theme.
 
I “owned” the term writer a long time ago. I write, therefore I am a writer.
 
Poet has been a little more difficult to own. I’ve self-published a book of poetry, but to be honest, the fact that it is SELF published reduces the legitimacy in my own mind. The two things that have helped me get there are acceptance by other poets and having had one poem chosen through a blind jury process for a collection. So, I’m a poet.
 
It suddenly occurred to me this weekend, though, that with the imminent release of a novel through Tirgearr Publishing, I can legitimately say I am a poet and a novelist.
 
It was a bit mind-boggling. I’m still reveling in that that.
 
Now, time to get back to writing.
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Writing Update: Somebody Knows

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Thank goodness for writer friends!

I’ve been struggling with this story and one of the elements that really had me confounded was whether the main character was part of the Marines or Navy during World War II.
 
He couldn’t be both, right?
 
For certain aspects of the story, it made far more sense that he was part of the Navy, but for other parts it made more sense that he was a Marine.
 
I put this conundrum before some friends and . . . it turns out he CAN be both, just not at the same time.
 
A friend brought up a story about someone he knew of who had been in the Navy on D-Day then honorably discharged and not much later joined the Marines.
 
Problem solved.
 
It is good to have writer friends with whom you can complain . . . I mean “discuss” the problems you are having with your story.
 
It’s good to have friends to discuss your problems with, period.
 
🙂

Writing Status Update: Clothes Pegs

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I haven’t written much historical fiction and certainly not something for which there is such a good historical record. Writing something of this nature has advantages and disadvantages. It requires a good bit more research than my regular fiction.

To that end, I’ve been reading Iwo Jima Recon: The U.S. Navy at War, February 17, 1945 by Dick Camp. It has a huge amount of information on the Navy Underwater Demolition Teams – how they volunteered for the job and the training, as well as the Japanese fortifications, bombardment of the island prior to the landing, timing of events, and everything else relevant. It has been fascinating.

I also watched the 2002 movie Windtalkers with Nicholas Cage and Adam Beach. That was much harder. It is a very realistic movie in some ways, depicting the confusion and horror of battle. It was downright nauseating for me at times, but useful.

When writing a story, I try to make use of whatever filters through my brain, and applies. While writing this story, I had a dream that I was in a small house that was picked up, largely intact, and carried into a huge tornado. The next day I wrote that in as part of the back story for one of my two main characters.

At our last writer’s group meeting, a work-in-progress from another writer sparked a discussion on the difference between a clothespin and a clothes peg. That night I dreamt of carving names into clothes pegs so that got written into my story as something a main character’s girlfriend does to remember people who have volunteered for military service, as she hangs the laundry to dry or takes it in.

Now I’m working some more on that big story picture – plot points that I know have to be there and the reality of timing during the reconnaissance with the fictional movements of my characters.

I’ve learned far more than will ever go into this story, but hopefully it will enrich the narrative the way a good broth base does for a soup.

Weekly Writing Update: Firebound

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It’s Camp NaNoWriMo! For those who don’t know, that means July is all about writing something NEW and shiny!

I’ve decided to work on my second novel in the paranormal romance series. This one is titled Firebound. I sat down to work on plotting yesterday and realized . . . I have absolutely no idea where this novel is going. That’s both exciting AND scary.

Right now, what I have is a young woman named Jennifer who is a lapsed Catholic. She died briefly in a car wreck but was resuscitated. While dead, she spoke to an angel. (I figure that’s gotta turn your world upside down.)

She also doesn’t know yet that her best friend is an angel who was born as a human for a lifetime, AND that her friend has been using her talent for healing to speed up and ensure Jen’s burns heal well.

It’s also paranormal romance so there’s the whole love interest thing.

Oh, we got complications, don’t worry. She has burns and is considering becoming a nun now.

See, she is realized she really wasn’t doing much with her life, just minimally working an office job so she could drink too much and chase cute boys. Now she’s waking up to life and wondering what she can do to make a difference in the world?

Her eyes have been opened, literally and figuratively, by the accident and her angel encounter. She can now see the demons lurking in our midst

This should be a fun novel! Battling demons takes time, whether they’re internal or external.

 

Weekly Writing Update: One Good Thing

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Have I mentioned that I never thought I’d be writing horror? And yet, here I am.

One good thing happened – a fellow writer just asked if I’d be interested in contributing to an anthology he’s putting together. My mind took off and ran with a story about a Navajo code talker and a Skinwalker during WWII.

And then the coincidences begin to drop. I was texting with a friend and my device changed McFlurry to McClure. Hmm, Mr. McClure isn’t what he seems, my brain said. Definitely a character for the story. The next day I was sitting at the Reference Desk at work and someone called with the last name of McClure. Strange, indeed.

In other good news, I’ve submitted my humorous horror story, Sinkholes, which features creepy doll heads, to The Literary Hatchet this weekend – keeping my fingers crossed.

I’m also working on cutting 1,500 words from my horror ghost story, Long Distance Call, to submit by the end of the month to Coffin Bell Journal.

And I’ve got another horror story in my head that plays with two men in a family line living 100 years apart in the same house, going through the same motions, making similar bad choices.

It seems horror is definitely running in my veins.

Weekly Writing Update: Aliens and Autism

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Weekly Writing Update
 
Well, I drafted my creepy doll head flash fiction story in short order so now my brain is percolating a story I started a year ago and mean to finish SOON. It is a science fiction with a main character who is a formerly non-verbal autistic teenage girl.
 
I had the good fortune to be contacted last year, just after I started the story, by a woman who is formerly non-verbal and autistic. I am going to think about her speech patterns and some things she had to say and let that inform the story.
 
I think I was coming at it from the wrong angle and I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I feel like I got off base by trying to write the story the way I write other stories. It’s definitely going to be third person and use the two very strange dreams I had about alien contact. We’ll see what else I find over the next few days for inspiration.
 
I’m very excited to feel like I’m back on track with this one. It’s definitely not horror. I’m going to be working on investing it with a feeling of wonder and awe. Wish me luck!

Writing Update: Pulling Weeds

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I had an anthology all picked out to submit my horror story, Long Distance Call, to but I found the button on Submittable was for submitting to one of their OTHER publications. Sent them an email and now I wait. I figure I’ll give them two weeks before I move on.

It’s the perfect time of year for writing – you can go out and weed while you work out some plot points. Any repetitive work is GREAT for the imagination but I love weeding. There’s the sun and the breeze and the satisfaction of seeing the detritus cleared away so the plants you want to thrive can use the nutrients.

I also started writing another short story in the horror vein.

I never would have thought it . . . me? Horror? Apparently, yes.

Why write horror? Maybe because it’s a retreat from the horrors we read in the news. Or maybe it’s just the joy of the twists and turns. The prompt for this one was creepy dolls and then I came across another note I had made for myself that I wanted to write something having to do with sinkholes. It all falls together. 🙂 

Ghosts on the line.

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I’ve been working on a story the past week that was inspired by this very old phone from my attic.

My main character cleans up the phone and hangs it on the wall where it used to hang, according to a picture she found. Then she starts receiving calls on it from someone who is no longer among the living.

I’ve been trying to look for old pictures online of phones like this but none of them are quite the same configuration. Has anyone ever seen one like this?

The Artist’s Way and Coincidences

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The year has not begun well for writing, (though I did manage a couple short poems while I was up with my daughter during the night last night,) so I thought I’d talk about something tangentially related – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

I picked up my old copy of the book this weekend to teach a little intro on it at my library. I pulled three sticky notes out of it. One was about a novel I’m working on editing, one was about the book itself and one was a bit of a shock. It was about the diagnosis of a friend who passed away just before Christmas. The note was roughly four years old. I had spoken at his memorial service exactly one week before.

I’ve always taken such coincidences as sign posts in the road, saying that I am where I am supposed to be, doing what I am supposed to be doing. As my friend says in his memoir, Cancer Just Is, not everything happens for a reason. But do “some” things happen for a reason? Sometimes I think yes and sometimes I think no.

I first bought a copy of The Artist’s Way in my early twenties and read through it but it didn’t really speak to me. Nearly a decade ago, when I was starting to seriously write, I took the book off my shelf and opened it again.  I didn’t remember it but as I browsed through it, it occurred to me that I could do this as a course, since I couldn’t afford to take any writing courses at the time.

I started reading one chapter every Sunday night. I would now say that this is one of the three books that changed my life the most. It opened me up to writing in a way that nothing ever had. It taught me a lot about myself. It also got me writing every single day.

One of the great things about this book is that it is not just for “artists” but rather for anyone who wants to be more creative in their thinking. Every aspect of your life can benefit from a more creative approach – work, parenting, partnering. I highly recommend it.

Writing is my present to me

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Christmas is coming and I’m in full present production mode! However, the writing must go on.
 
Now that the post-Thanksgiving cold has finally begun to abate, I’m back to adding to my NaNoWriMo novel, Unprepared. It’s a lot slower going than during NaNoWriMo, I only added 400 words at lunch today, but I’ll keep chipping away at it until it is done.
 
What is Unprepared about? When an agricultural engineering professor loses his wife and daughter to a bioengineered virus, he also loses his will to live but he may be one of the few people who can put his town back together again when it’s all over.
 
The book picks up when a quarantine goes into effect. The powers that be at first believed they were dealing with a particularly virulent flu pandemic, possibly bioengineered. However it is clear that it is even worse than that. They are losing people quickly and towns are soon isolated, dealing with their own disasters.
 
It’s amazing sometimes the ideas that come to light when I’m writing fast. This novel includes: chicken broth, a backhoe, biogas accelerating enzymes, Albuterol inhalers, and an inverter.
 
I’m looking forward to saying this draft is done.

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