Blizzard Friday

I’m looking out the Home Office window, seeing the snow dance across the driveway. As a kid, I always thought there was a requirement of a lot of snow (over eight inches), and very high wind. Now, as an adult, we’re told it’s simply the high wind and the blowing of snow that makes a blizzard. It could simply be blowing existing snow. I have to say, the view is magnificent. My thoughts are with those who don’t have warm coats, homes, and food. Help them out, if you’re able. Together, we can make a difference! Our friends at Moving Veterans Forward Nebraska can give you some ideas for some immediate needs as they move some of their clients into apartments, out of the cold.

I have an announcement to make tomorrow on the occasion of my 500th blog! It’s huge for me, and it will be shared right here, in Blog #500, tomorrow.

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Today, I’m watching more educational/craft videos on writing, producing books, being your own publisher, with a KidLit slant. What’s interesting, is when I first started learning about all of these things, I had to pull back and not read the barrage of email from everyone and their dog, touting their classes/kits/fool-proof plans for success. I had to put them all out of my mind and just write. I felt torn, according to the folks peddling their wares, I had to market, sell, entice readers and build my sacred email list.

I am a skeptic to all these offers and claims. Luckily, I’ve asked a group of writer friends from Nebraska Writers Guild if they’ve seen or bought any of these great things, we share that kind of information, and help each other avoid scammers. It’s a good practice.

Whatever information I gleaned from those who weren’t scammers, I’m recalling now and it isn’t confusing or so foreign. My brain is telling me, “You’ve heard this before, and this is how you can use it now.” It’s a good feeling. That all tells me this plan of publishing a book for children is coming together. Accomplishment is what spurs a creative human on to create more.

My “makeup” class from Picture Book Challenge by Storytellers Academy is about Crafting Voices for your character/drawings. Looking forward to it. My “live” class today is, “How to Make a Picture Book Summary,” and I’m waiting to enter it via Zoom right now.

Stay warm, if you’re in the blizzard region. Be Safe. Help each other out! Have faith, everything will be ok again. I’m sure of it. Thank you for reading, and I’ll see you tomorrow! #500!

Suddenly It’s Sunday Again!

Wow! What a week! It’s been the longest short week I’ve had for quite a long time. It was a great one, though. How about for all of you? I hope you’re all well and able to enjoy this beautiful Sunday, wherever you are.

The Babe and I had a big list of stuff to do this week. Probably 75% of it was done. But even at that, washing windows was not in the cards with all the much needed rain. Probably this week. I once had a house with 36 windows. They were old, cheap combination windows I cleaned twice a year. What a job! Now, instead of having to take the parts out, I can take out the screens, and use a product that hooks to your garden hose. You can clean the window, switch the product off, then rinse. Five minutes, then give the screen a shot of suds and rinsing, it’s all clean and ready to put back in when dry. Since we have a ranch style home, you can squeedge the water off or dry with a cloth. You can see again!

We went to the Post this morning for the first Sunday breakfast in a long time, and we enjoyed a good meal for $8. They did well, and it shuts down at Noon. We had breakfasts once a month for quite awhile, then stopped because not a lot of people were coming up, and that was before COVID. Good call to start them again. A new group of helpers makes the work go well.

Today, I will put the finishing touches on my stories of origin. It’s been a fun project and I’ve learned a lot. This has also been the week to unveil the new VFW Post 2503 website. The Babe’s brother in law Brad is a web designer, among other things, and he put it together for us. I’ve learned a lot more about WordPress this week, so that time has been so worth it. It’s been a fun as well as frustrating week. My stubbornness has kept me from calling him for help in figuring things out. Some things I still needed help with, but it took me back to my working days and the triumph of trouble shooting problems. A victory when you figure stuff out, for sure.

There will be a learning curve to keep going, and it’s ok. I’ve actually improved my website too, in case you didn’t notice. The new “Home” page has a bit about me and my headshot. I’ll need a new one since my COVID hair has grown almost shoulder length. I decided to keep the hair. I’ve missed it. I’ve had long hair most of my life, it’s sort of a signature. So what if it’s gray. No one cares anymore. Part of my brand, actually. “It’s Not Too Late, and I’m Not Too Old.”

The newest blog for the day is under “Today’s Blog” and a collection of all my blogs is available on the “Blogs at a Glance” page. There is a page to “Contact” me, and I’d sure like my followers to fill that out. I’ll keep e-mails to a minimum when they start, trust me! I haven’t published yet, but I’ll have your contact information for when I need it. I’d appreciate your help with that.

The other thing you could do under comments, is suggest a topic for the daily blog. If there is some part of writing you have questions about, I’d be glad to try and answer them. You’ll be helping me a great deal.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I have to say, I’m scouring the free photo sites and looking for typewriter photos. I marvel at how big they are now. I hated typing on an old manual typewriter, the very old kind, because I had to address envelopes for advertising. The darned shift hold wasn’t in too good of shape, so it would type off center of the line. Arghhh! Had to throw them away, the boss wouldn’t let me erase it and white out hadn’t been invented yet. It was embarrassing!

I have to say, owning one of these typewriters would be fun for messing around, but I’m personally very happy with the ease of computer software. It’s awesome. Easy to correct. I don’t know how many words I can type, but wow, it’s way better than the hunt and peck method most people seem to use now. I cannot imagine typing an entire 80K novel using the hunt and peck method!

Photo by Logan Fisher on Pexels.com

I love these Aspen trees in Colorado. This is the perfect time of year out there. Well, summer can be, too. I have never been there in the snow, or a blizzard, so I can’t speak to that. Our daughter Becky moved there in 2001, and it’s our favorite place to go, even before she lived there.

This afternoon will be spent re-reading my character origin stories, and maybe actually reading a book for pleasure. The deck is just perfect right now, so I plan to enjoy it. How will you spend your day?

Thank you for spending part of it with me. I’ll be here again tomorrow, and I hope to see you, too. Have hope in your hearts, we all need it now more than ever. Be Kind. Be Courteous. Be Safe. And definitely, Be Aware of all around you.

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.

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!

Friday Fun

It’s been such a busy day again. Those are the best. Someday, I’ll probably wish time wouldn’t drag by. Not now. I had another Zoom meeting with Sam Tyler, my book coach. I am learning so much about the mechanics of writing a good story. Of being a good writer. Of tricks and rules I had no clue about. It is exhilarating! As she told me today, it’s easier to learn these techniques and write well to start with, than it is to have 358 pages right now, and have to re-write all of it. My original story has morphed over and over. I really like where this is going. I believe this will be a story about change, so much that the person who experienced it can hardly believe her journey as she looks back at it.

The Babe and I visited the VFW, he worked on the business part while I sent their newsletter to the printer, and emailed it to members who receive it electronically. It’s something I’ve done forever. I know how elderly people love mail, and I’m happy to make sure they receive some. It’s good to feel remembered. Sometimes a widow will send a note to not send one anymore, her husband has passed. Or they’ll call. No one is there most days to answer the phone, but it is always nice to talk with them. Some day, that may be me. Hope someone is considerate then.

Well, now the neighbors on either side of us have moved. The first couple moved to a newer home they purchased, and the other side just finished up yesterday. We didn’t realize it was the last time so we didn’t get to say goodbye. That makes me sad. They were such nice people and we’ll miss them. We’re getting a younger couple, and we don’t know if there are kids or not. Always an adventure, isn’t there?

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

I remember how hard it is to move. Especially if you have a lot of “stuff.” I do, and probably half of it is fabric for quilts and clothes. It will all have to go whenever we move again. I’ll have enough stuff to work on. Books, embroidery, etc. Hope I have another ten to twenty years in this home I love. Hope the majority of it is with the Babe, too.

In the falling in love department, I love this meme from Jekyll Doesn’t Hyde. It makes you think, doesn’t it? I once read women fall in love much more than men do. Not sure if that’s true or not. I know love after 40 is way different than it is at 20 or even 30. Having been a repeat offender by choosing the wrong type of person to spend time with, my spark was under lock and key. I’m glad it was the Babe who put the spark back in my soul. Ladies, may you all fine one of your own. And gents, remember, there are a lot of good ladies out there. Make good choices, you’ll all find your spark again. It’s just so special. You’ll see.

It’s getting a little later in the afternoon and after that most excellent BLT at lunch, it’s hard to concentrate right now. The tomatoes are so perfect this time of year, I think this was the best BLT I’ve had in quite a while. Kudos to Addy’s Bar and Restaurant. Pure heaven.

Our local health department, state, and county are working together to come to a conclusion regarding wearing masks. The metro area of Omaha has quite a spike in cases, and I don’t think that’s a good sign. Folks, wash your hands, wear a mask. You never know, it could help more than anyone knows. My rights will still be intact when this is over, I just want my life and the lives of my family still intact, too. It won’t hurt us. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be courteous. We all need it.

Thanks for your time today. I’ll see you again tomorrow. Much earlier, I promise. Hang in and hang on.