Thursday Insights

Hi, guys. It’s nearly noon and I’m just getting started with today’s blog. I had a great session with Sam, my book coach today. I have more changes to make, and they’ll make my story better. We talked about how different writing a book is from writing a blog. And it is so different, it deserves a moment to discuss it.

This blog is written from my heart. It’s content are my musings on any given day. Some days, I have ventured into current events, but I try to steer clear of them. I talk of things of my heart, people I love, how the Babe and I spend our time, and how grateful I am for the life I’ve had so far. God’s been pretty good to me. It could have gone so many different ways.

Great Words for These Times

Actually, these words are great for any time, not just now. Be rare. Be someone people can trust. I think we all need someone we can trust totally. Those people are the ones who are hard to find. Of course, I trust the Babe. Be a trustworthy friend.

I may have mentioned before, the only bad thing about masks is you can’t smile at someone. That’s not good. Many times while going through Target, I’ll come across some little kids or moms and dads, and want to smile as I excuse myself and walk past. They don’t know I’m smiling as I do it. Isn’t half the communication lost then?

I need to put blinders on as I write about a scene. I notoriously try to cram backstory in while trying to fool myself into thinking it belongs there. Sam cannot be fooled, that’s her job. So, I’m writing some more and reminding myself along the way; “If it has nothing to do with the scene, leave it out.” Much easier to say than do. I have a book to read with good examples of how to give the backstory with few words, usually dialogue. It’s amazing how differently the author has accomplished that. Writing is a lot harder than most people think. I don’t hate my work, I like it. It just needs tweaking.

The Babe is working on updating some things about the house. New fireplace face, new flooring in the kitchen, entry, and two bathrooms. It’ll be nice, just hope it goes well. People are eager for work, after being quarantined off and on. We should be able to complete both projects before any additional distancing is required. I think having retired from a business that provided updating to existing homes and dreams coming true in new construction, he naturally thinks that way. I just have the benefit of his knowledge. Thanks, Babe!

Well, I have some rereading and rewriting to do. And probably a lot of rethinking. It’s all ok. Blocks of time will be spent now since we no longer have Gavin to keep us busy. Miss that little guy. Gosh, I hope the school kids adapt well. Tuesday will tell for him, Wednesday for Addison. And all the teachers, please be safe. Thank you for doing what you do for our children.

Thank you for reading today. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. My dad always said that. And I’m remembering his words, because I’m working hard to my novel. And I know it will be worth it in the end. Be safe, Be kind, Be thoughtful, and Be courteous. We need to be good to each other. See you again tomorrow.

My Story. So Worth It.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

I saw this guy on the deck last week. It was pretty cool, watching him move ever so slowly. He seemed to move one segmented joint at a time. It was fascinating to watch. I love seeing the creatures of the world from a safe distance. One bug I hope to never see again is the Japanese Beetle. They are so beautiful yet so destructive. The dragonflies, and butterflies are welcome!

August is month with a lot happening. School again (we think), and I don’t envy parents at all. I think our children will be behind where they should be if remote learning would continue for an extended period of time. I don’t think our grandkids are finding enough challenge in the work assigned and I’d hate them to lose out on some critical learning as Addison is in eighth grade and Gavin is in third. They are both very bright and need to be challenged.

Goldie has a blast with butterflies. She could have stood there watching this one for hours. I love showing puppies and babies to watch butterflies. Dragonflies are a lot harder, they move very quickly.

Another August event I’m looking forward to is working with a company to set up a new website for the VFW Post 2503. I’m involved in maintenance on the old one (probably twenty years old), and it is in serious need of an update. It needs to be done, and I’m glad for what I’ll get to learn about WordPress. I can use the knowledge to add pages to my website, and the blog will continue to be one page of many. As I get closer to finishing my book, I’ll add pages to my website.

The Babe and I couldn’t find anything to watch on TV last night, so we watched an Amazon Prime movie, “Fathers and Daughters.” It was quite sad. The daughter was very young when her mother died in a car accident. The father was a writer (go figure!), and mentally ill/struck with seizures after the accident, loss, and having a child to help. He went to a mental hospital for seven months, had ECT (Electric Current Therapy) and other therapy, and returned to raise his daughter. It paralleled his life with hers. She had little understanding how to have a personal relationship with anyone else. She was a social worker, helped a little girl who lost her mom, yet couldn’t commit to her boyfriend. It was a weird story to track. At the end, there was this beautiful song: “Fathers and Daughters Never Say Goodbye.” Yes, it’s a tear jerker. It makes me miss my dad.

Sometimes, it seems as if it’s silly to still miss him after all these years. I have already lived longer than he did. He was cheated out of enjoying his retirement by that tyrant, cancer. I miss his support. Not a “good job,” kind of guy. More of a, “keep doing what you’re doing, and you’ll get there,” kind of guy. He’s still with me. And that is all I need to know.

I have a lot of work to ready and send to my book coach for this week’s conference (Thursday morning). For some reason, it seems to just jump at me from nowhere. Lots to do, so cutting this a little short. Have a beautiful day. It’s cloudy, but you can make it sunny in your heart. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Safe. Help someone. Hold the door open. Small things add up. You’ll feel better, too. I appreciate you reading today. I’ll see you tomorrow, and we’ll catch up. Be careful out there.

Fabulous Friday

It is really a beautiful day outside. I swear God sends cold fronts through the humid and hot areas like Nebraska to give us a break and make us feel like living again. It improves the general feeling of your soul and gives your mind a break. Still, I like the four seasons. Four “alleged” seasons. It seems like we skip a lot of spring and a portion of fall many times. Hope there is comfort to deal with the rest of the pandemic we are having.

Where we live in Gretna, it is very close to Omaha. The VFW Post we attend is in Omaha. We have concerns about the possible mask ordinance Omaha was considering. It appears the health department has backed off from enacting one. I say it’s a shame, the legalities were questioned and they asked people to use their best judgment. With those rights comes responsibilities. To me, it makes sense to wear a mask. We do not often make the best judgments. Some use motorcycle helmets as an example. I favor helmets, seat belts, and wearing masks. Yes, it’s annoying. So are helmets and seatbelts. But I’m safer using them.

My asthma doc ordered me to have a COVID test before my appointment with her last week. I thought I would test negative and did. I believe curtailing my social activity and social distancing, which includes wearing a mask when shopping is helping. Please think long term on the outcome, it may make more sense.

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

In addition to working on my Poppies Quilt, I’m devouring a couple more books for writers: Write Great Beginnings, and Point of View. It appears there is more competition than ever to attract a reader who will read a book. It also appears there are fewer who start a book who actually finish one. I have only quit reading maybe 4 books in the last ten years. When I buy them, I think it’s a terrible waste to not finish. One was borrowed from the library, a biography by Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys. Brian is a genius and has had mental illness for nearly his entire life. It’s a very sad story, and one that concludes well. There are better versions written, believe me.

In addition to having a hook to attract a reader, you have to do a lot to keep them reading. Each chapter ending should make them just want to keep reading. I love books that do that. They are easy to read and quick. No time wasted. Now to learn how to do exactly that.

I have some real characters to introduce once I build them. It is such fun to be able to do that. There is something I read to make sure to appeal to the theater of the reader’s mind. What does that mean? Simply put, have you ever enjoyed a book more than a movie? Yes, an author needs to write so well the images in our minds are vivid and our imaginations can take us through the story. That’s the challenge.

Conflict is the center of fiction. Intensifying the troubles that stand in a main characters way. The problems are big, and he or she drive the story with their decisions. Because they chose this, something else happens. I’m told it gets easier the more I understand it. I trust Sam Tyler, my writing coach. She has made this endeavor so good for me. I’m so lucky to know her from the Nebraska Writers Guild. She is a writer and coach. Very good with critique. Asks hard questions. All with good reason. If I can’t answer the questions, how can I write my answers to them?

AHA! There it is! This is also a great living example of why/how to outline everything (major events) in the story you want to tell. Sure, you have it all in your head, but trust me, your memory isn’t that great some (most) of the time. As I write, other ideas spill out and I can end up in a completely different area than I wanted to be. I’m learning to be a planner, not a pantster. A pantster is writing by the seat of your pants. When you think you have a great idea, it’s easy to think you don’t need to plan anything. I can be foolish at times!

Just as maps are not always up to date in Google, our outlines can leave a bit to be desired. We need to be open (always) to modifying the outline. Even if you’re well into the story. Lots to think about. Lots to wade through.

And There You GO!

Off to work on another unrelated issue. I’m helping get information together for the new VFW Post 2503 website. It should be a fun project. The one we have is pretty outdated and cumbersome to work on. I’ll be learning some WordPress tricks I don’t know and will benefit tremendously from it. Thank you for taking time to read the blog today. I appreciate it, and hope to see you tomorrow. Stay Safe, my friends. I want you all with me the rest of this journey. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Careful out There!

Hydrangeas 101

Good Saturday Morning, folks! It’s another beautiful morning in Gretna, Nebraska. Breezy, bright, and full of promise. Maybe that’s the coffee talking? No, it’s my vision for the day.

One of our local nurseries is having a Facebook Live lesson on Hydrangeas. I am interested as we purchased a couple of new plants this year, and had two grow very well this year. I thought those two were dead! Fooled again by foliage! I’m interested in seeing what they have to say.

Did a lot of reading yesterday about personality changes, rewriting your story (life story, that is), writing vivid descriptions, and thumbed through “The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression.” Awesome resources. Now to use parts of all of them in my work later today.

I used a little time yesterday to tidy up my studio writing area. It’s amazing how much paper I’ve gathered while printing things I thought were important to my research, learning, and all aspects of writing. One area it all gets fuzzy is if you self-publish. Some advice is market yourself first and foremost. I’m unsure how that will help if you may be two years out from actually having a book ready to publish. You would have exposure but would people be tired of keeping in touch if you had nothing to sell them right away?

Works For Me!

I remember a little kid that used to live near us. If he had a Spider Man shirt on, he was invincible. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all had that kind of confidence when we try something new? It’s interesting to watch people in a crowd. I’m totally enthralled by people who sing well in front of a packed crowd, especially if we’re attending and watching a live performance. Of course it takes hours and years of practice to really do it well. The better they are, the more they have practiced. I love being able to reap the benefits of their hard work. Kudos to all of my musician friends!

ABSOLUTELY!

Locally, we had a professor post on Twitter about a “Back the Blue” rally that was scheduled for today. The individuals who planned for this event were Bill and Yvonne Williams, founders of Patriotic Productions, the group who sponsored all of the Honor Flights for Veterans of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Women who served in Vietnam. He was the speaker a couple of weeks ago at VFW Post 2503 Honor Guard’s Banquet and shared information about the event with us before his news conference doing the same.

It seems this professor called it a White Supremacist Rally. How educated he must think he is. How does he feel now, after finding out most of the speakers at the Back the Blue event are people of color? And how dare he criticize the Williams’ family. The college issued an apology, nothing from the professor, he deleted his Twitter account. I hope he loses his job over this. He is an Associate Professor of History (Christian History, no less). No wonder some of our young folks are confused about things of real life. “And that’s all I’m gonna say about that,” to quote Forrest Gump.

One of the biggest challenges as a writer is dealing with “backstory.” The definition of backstory is everything that happened prior to page one of your book. That can be a lot! It’s important because it reveals important events that contribute(d) to the characters personality, lifestyle, and behaviors. It isn’t story, it slows the pacing, it’s often revealed much too soon. Some advise not including backstory until after page 50 of your book. That is really something for me to think about, and figure out about how to introduce my backstory when it’s appropriate.

I find is fascinating the backstory could be included as a flashback, and those also must be placed carefully. They must be short, after the first third of the novel, and be placed after a powerful scene. If they are after a boring scene, the reader has no reason to come back to your story. They may want to stay in the flashback, according to Sandra Gerth, who wrote “Show, Don’t Tell.”

These things and more are why it takes so long to write a novel. In re-writing is where the story often changes and becomes clearer. Even if entire chapters are not used, they are not wasted. They are learning opportunities.

Most of Our Days in Life Are Quite Ordinary.

With all the info I’m reading about writing, I have to be honest with you. When the “50 Shades” trilogy came out, I bought it, just to see what the hubbub was about. I really thought the writing was horrible and the story was terrible. Basically, you had a very rich guy, used to having his own way all the time, take a young girl, and introduce her to the world of S & M and a few other things, and she never seems to question anything. All she can say is, “Oh my.” I became so sick of reading that phrase! Oh, and “Laters, baby.” How cheesy.

I’m guessing the author (this was supposedly her first book) didn’t have a coach, didn’t read any of the books I’m studying, and somehow got lucky the publisher picked her. She made a boatload of money and I’m unsure if she ever wrote anything else. Did she? I’ve never looked for any further books. I’d rather never sell a book if I wrote something that was so redundant, boring, and forgettable. Sorry for the bad review, but I have to be honest. I understand she is now a Romance, Erotica, and fan fiction writer.

Thankful Thursday

Every morning, there are tons of posts on the Facebook feeds marking everyone’s take on the state of the United States right now. Some are worth watching, some are not. I have viewed, and even liked, YouTube videos from The HodgeTwins. Twin black men who give a sometimes humorous answer to some of today’s odd situations. It is much food for thought. Check them out. CAUTION: Language. And encouragement to use plain English. Their post is about Bubba Wallace. How terrible his situation was a hoax! Why do people have to do this type of thing? I’m a NASCAR fan, but wow. This is a new desperate attempt to try and get attention for a sport that is having a severe image problem. It’s just not the same since Tony Stewart retired. He was the last great scrapper of a driver, in my humble opinion.

It’s a big day today. It’s official. Book Coach Sam Tyler and I have entered into a contract to work on my book, The Freeing of Katie Fitzgibbons. It is a prequel to what I’ve spent the last year writing, These Walls DO Talk. Walls is now on hiatus, and Freeing is the work in progress now. I’m very excited and have a lot of work to accomplish before our first meeting date of July 9. It seems as if that’s a long time away, but it isn’t.

In the work we’ve done so far, I’m finding Sam knows things I’m not aware of about my characters and how they behave. She can coax it out of me and onto the paper. You think you know all about your characters. Creating them doesn’t equal knowing about them. I didn’t believe it myself until just now when I wrote this. It’s eerie and comforting at the same time. She is helping me become a much better writer. And if I become a better writer, I’ll be a better author when my body of works become reality.

Are you an empath? I am.

Shannon Schofield, a friend from I Create Daily, wrote the poem above in the spirit of Paul Harvey’s “So God Made a Farmer.” I wanted to share it with you since I found it to be perfect for the current world, in the grand scheme of things.

I don’t believe being an empath is a bad thing. Care must be taken when an empath cares for someone. Caring can be listening to, counseling, walking miles for friends, and many other gifts of giving empathy. It’s a learning process. At first, we are trusting everyone has a good heart. Wouldn’t that be wonderful if everyone did? Unfortunately, empaths often attract narcissists. It’s a hazard of the empathetic soul. After awhile we learn which souls are pure and which ones aren’t. We learn to spend our gifts on the genuine souls. I think some folks have discovered the empath in them since the pandemic started. It can be exhausting, and we need to learn to hold space for our own care every day. That’s a hard thing for me but I’m working on it.

Tonight will be the official party for Gavin’s birthday of June 30. Out of town relatives will help make a great celebration for him. I love birthdays, it’s a day that’s just YOU. Unless you’re a multiple. Strange, Goldie must have missed Gavin all morning. The Babe was gone, and I swear I’ve stopped every five minutes to see what she wants. Finally settled down to sleep awhile. It’s worse than trying to figure out what a fussy baby wants. I think Goldie’s an empath, too.

Going to take it easy this afternoon. Just read a little and make some more notes for my next book writing session. I’m reading “Personality Isn’t Permanent,” by Benjamin Hardy, PhD. While dealing with self-limiting thinking, you cannot become anything else but what you are limited to. Introvert? I was terribly as a kid. I really was in high school. And I was until about age 30 when I got divorced. Hmmm? I had to be different. It was the biggest decision of my life so far, and I had to make it work. It did, and I’ve never looked back to my self-limiting living. More on the book tomorrow.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. Hope to see you tomorrow, you know I’ll be here!

#290! Fabulous Friday!

Here is blog post #290! I’m excited at making this a habit for nearly a year. We have a way to go until we reach 365, but we’re getting closer and closer. I’m just happy for the friends and family who have stuck with me and continue to do so. Thanks for your support.

The Babe and I spent the day doing much-needed “stuff.” Errands, things you put off if you can. Most important thing was the saga of the broken Acer laptop. We have only had it for 18 months or so, good thing we bought the insurance for it. The new service center Nebraska Furniture Mart outsourced their computer repairs to is CPR, not far from where we live. OK, they checked it out, and needed to order a new screen component. Replaced the whole thing. Took it home, didn’t work. Took it back, they ordered yet another new screen component, fixed it, we picked it up. After using it once, it failed again. They certified it was non-repairable.

The Insurance Company who processed the claims took forever. It’s been a good 30 days since we’ve been able to use the laptop. They gave the Babe a very bad time (how dare they!) and finally emailed with info about the credit we received for a new one. It was purchased in November, 2018, and of course, all the models have changed. That’s ok by me.

So when I finish here, I hope the new HP Laptop is charged. It has Windows 10 on it. It should be a good one I’ve always been pleased with HP. I know there are naysayers out there, and that’s fine. For my money, I doubt I’d get another ACER again. Maybe that will change. Unless I live to be 95, I don’t know how many more laptops I’ll need in this lifetime. What a concept to ponder!

And now, in the “What I’ve Learned About Writing,” category, I’ve read a series of articles about manuscripts that aren’t necessarily bad but may not measure up for one reason or another. And it all has to do with beginner author mistakes that are so common. In my mind, I’ve thought, “No way, will I make those mistakes.” And yet, here we are. The manuscript of “These Walls DO Talk” will be put on hold, indefinitely. And that’s a good thing. It’s a little exhausting to write about dysfunctional people. Really. Instead, I’m concentrating on one person (Katie) and chronicle how she grows up and rejects many ideas her family had for decades. No idea how long it can be, but I think it’s got some important messages in it for girls who know what they see before them is not what they want when they grow up.

And it’s been so long since I was a twenty-something. The world has changed so much since 1972, when I turned 20. I look forward to working on it the next couple of months. No writing is wasted, it’s something you need a lot of practice doing. I can tell some days my blog isn’t as good as others, and other days, it almost writes itself. So goes it when working on a manuscript. Even if they are abandoned, there is a lot of learning that takes place. And that’s the best I can hope for in this world. To learn everything I can.

I love my reality, I have no reason to escape it. I write for those who need to escape theirs for a little while.

Song of the day: Sugarland’s “Life in a Northern Town.” Listen here.

Note: this is an audio only, a static picture, no video. Sorry!

I love their singing. The first time I heard Jennifer Nettles sing was for the Super Bowl show where she sang “Who Said You Can’t Go Home,” with Jon Bon Jovi. What a voice! I couldn’t find the Superbowl video, but the one I did find was at Daytona International Raceway. Great combination!

And here’s another version, from the Hurricane Sandy relief fundraising concert of 2012. Here, Bruce Springsteen joins him. Two Jersey boys making their hometowns proud. I am always amazed to hear of their works of charity; Bon Jovi with his restaurants, Habitat Homes, and Springsteen has always collected food for local food banks at his concerts since the 1980s. Generosity abounds.

I am still in Season 1 of Yellowstone. I wanted to review it before the new season begins on Father’s Day. Not sure if I’ll hit that goal or not. It is a very good drama, and the scenery is beautiful. Although it’s supposed to take place in Montana, it was filmed in Utah. Those states are all so beautiful. I’m sure it will be another interesting look at their lives. What a story those people have!

Thank you for reading today, I”ll be here again tomorrow. Hope to see you then! Stay safe. Wear your masks. Wash your hands. Be kind to each other. Set a good example. Have a great weekend.

Thinking About Thursday

This Plant Needs Prayers!

Our beautiful pure-bred hunting dog must be a vegetarian or something. She mangled about four plants this week. I suppose it’s my fault for trusting her too much. She’s a puppy, still. And now, she’s sleeping peacefully on the floor by me while I write and it rains outside. All is right with the world.

She’s Sleeping Near the Bag of Coloring Supplies.

It started out a beautiful day, right now, the clouds are rolling in. It’s still a beautiful day and when the rain comes in, I’ll be grateful to not have to water. Even the plant Goldie tried to eat. Well, I guess she DID eat it.

I am so happy to have these two dogs for companionship. They are great company and comfort, even if they just nap in the room I occupy at any given moment. They are powerful creatures. They sense everything about us. Earlier this week, Lexie didn’t like Goldie tugging at a toy Gavin was going to throw for fetch. Lexie walked over in between them and gave a low, throaty growl, ever so quietly. Goldie let go. Gavin threw the toy, Goldie fetched, Lexie walked away and laid down again. She watches her people, and I love that about her.

I had a great conversation with my book coach Sam this morning. We have developed a plan for July and August. I’m taking a slightly different path in as much as I’m writing a different story over these two months, and will check in regularly to discuss the progress or lack thereof. If you’d like to read about Sam, here is a link to her website. You’ll hear a lot more about Sam and our work later in the summer.

Today is a day filled with significant birthdays! In addition to being Sir Paul McCartney’s birthday, it’s my older brother’s birthday and Dan’s younger sister’s birthday. Tom Jewell and Linda Ulmer, Happy Birthdays! Hope you both have a great day. Don’t need to wish Sir Paul one, after all, he’s Paul McCartney!

It seems the food industry is rebranding several products we have used for decades and probably not realized their packaging was racist. Aunt Jemima is having a makeover. I suppose it must be done. For years, I haven’t given it a thought using these products. I thought the updating done last was just like the Betty Crocker image on packaging, cook books, and other items. Were women offended by an old fashioned representation on the cook books? I don’t remember.

Uncle Ben and the cook on Cream of Wheat simply told me they were pictures on a package. No different than any other picture. And now, things will change. Will it change the violence in the streets? Most likely not. But those offensive photos will no longer be staring out from shelves in the stores. So be it.

Sometimes I can’t help but think there needs to come a point where we stop being offended. Where we stop pointing fingers and placing blame, and sit down and formulate a plan to just stop all of this. Both sides. Just stop it! Start respecting each other, just because God created all of us. Then work on being better humans. As you work together, and have frank discussions, you will grow in respect of each other. And yourselves. Do something that’s never been done. Admit there is fault on both sides. Quit being the stereotypes we all hate. The bad cop. The bad punk. The gangster. The professional rioter. Talk to each other. Talk with each other. Listen to each other. Listen to hear. Hear and act. Act in a rational manner. Make the change you want for everyone. Teach your children how to respect and behave, not show attitude and bad behavior.

We have plans to watch Gavin play ball over the weekend. Being a tournament, there are quite a few games to get in. And of course, the forecast is calling for a whole bunch of rain. It wouldn’t be a ball tournament without it!

I also have a lot of writing things to accomplish in the next three weeks. It will be a great way to spend time, and a great way to move forward with my projects. A plan and a partner work well together. I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading today. I appreciate your time. It rained quite nicely here, and now appears to be dreary for the rest of the day. Perhaps dreary and rain is what my Goldie – relocated plants needs to come back to life. I’ll see you tomorrow! Stay safe. Wash your mask before you wear it again! Wash your hands. Be a good example. Teach your children well.