Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - Expect the unexpected

I didn't expect this... I turned on my laptop, I heard it chime, but the monitor stayed black. Argh!
I know there are people who write their blogs on mobile devices, but I'm not going to put myself through that particular torture.
I'll go watch Wheel and suffer through my withdrawal symptoms quietly.
See you next week, I hope.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - Go out and do things

I usually write up Wednesday Writers Tips on Tuesday evening but last night my brother treated us to dinner at the Chart House on Lake Tahoe. We had a wonderful meal, a good visit, and an unusual and spectacular sunset. Unfortunately, we got that sunset at the cost of the trees that are burning west of Lake Tahoe. The smoke from the fire left a band of gray haze over the mountains and when the sun dropped behind the smoke it turned into a glowing red ball.

Today's tip is to Go out and do things! Don't forget to connect with people, they will refill your well. Last Thursday a few friends from work took me out for drinks and dinner at my favorite Mexican restaurant for a (Semi-) Retirement Party. It's good to have the time to chat outside the work environment. Then on Saturday I went to a reunion party for people who have worked for the local paper over the last ten years or so. I enjoyed seeing several old friends from those days. Even though I live in a small town, I don't run into them very often. Then there was dinner last night with my brother, sister-in-law and our mother at the lake. It was a leisurely (expensive) meal. A treat mom and I don't get often.

Another thing I'm going to Go out and do has more to do with my writing. I signed up for the Senior Citizen Law Enforcement Academy hosted by our local sheriff's office. You have to be 50 or older and "never convicted of any offense other than traffic." You have to agree to a background check, too. The classes or lectures are from 1pm to 5pm, September 9 - 13.

The goal is to provide crime fighting educational programs and information to seniors. Presentations will include: training and instruction on uniformed patrol procedures, jail/custody procedures, criminal investigations, crime scene processing, narcotic and gang investigations, criminal justice system, criminal prosecution, court procedure, dispatch operations, identity theft and fraud prevention, law enforcement volunteer programs, fire prevention, youth services and emergency medical information.

These lectures will certainly be helpful since I'm working on a series of stories involving investigators in a small town sheriff's office.

Before I started writing seriously in 2005, I wouldn't have wanted to attend something like this. In fact I didn't Go out and do a lot of things as I was timid about pushing my envelope. But since writing my first novel I have done a lot of things I never would have done before.

One of the things I've Gone out and done: I drove from Nevada to Alberta, Canada to research a novel involving an American Music Teacher and an RCMP officer. The border officer wanted to know why I was traveling, alone, to Alberta in October. I said that I had planned to travel in September but a death in the family (my cat) cause me to postpone the trip. Then I had a real "Joan Wilder" moment when he asked what my purpose was and I said, "I'm writing a romance novel involving an RCMP officer." He took my driver license and ran it in their system then came back and told me it was crooked. I had several smart remarks at the back of my tongue but kept my mouth shut. In fact, I think I forgot to call him sir. Oops.

Have you found that writing has broadened your interest in Going out and doing things? What have you done that you wouldn't have done before you were writing?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - Planning to write a novella

Today I'd like to share a writers tip or two from a short book full of great advice. And it's free!

The book is: Writing Romance Novellas by Susanna Carr.

It discusses the definition of a novella, planning and plotting, writing novella collections and shortcuts to writing novellas.
Today's tip is from Section 2: Planning Your Novella. I used these two tips in my current wip novella.

Storyline Tips* Make it easier on yourself and tell a story where the main characters already know each other. Establishing a relationship takes a lot of pages, and you want to use the 100 pages to deepen and test the connection between the hero and heroine.
* Consider having the hero already in love with the heroine (or vice versa), and then the story gives more time to show the other character’s journey of falling
in love.
You can read this book on the web site or download it to read on a mobile device.

Check out more writers craft book on my bookshelf.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday - My First Leisurely Day Semi-Retired

Now wait, you say, yesterday you were retired and today you are semi-retired. What gives?

After announcing my retirement a few weeks ago, my boss asked if I would like to continue to "help out". After a few meetings and negotiations I agreed to do that -- doing the same job basically, only closer to home, three days a week/20hours. Working at the local office where I started 21 years ago. People have come and gone and come back and four of the people I worked with all those years ago are there now, too. It's like old home week.

Today, my first day, I came in early at 9:45 -- it's hard to call that early when I used to get up at 6 to be at work in the city by 7:15 -- I wanted to make sure my work station had been transferred ok, and all my programs worked. I knew I'd have to sort out the "storage" items that had accumulated in the area, too. I got everything situated and started work around 10:30. At 4:45 I realized it was time to leave. So, I guess the day went by pretty quickly, even though my computer was working a bit slowly. And, frustratingly, it wouldn't do some functions.

The day went well, but this evening my thoughts are for my cat who has developed another health issue to add to six weeks of recovery/relapse. He's such a sweet, loving cat who adopted my five years ago next month. I don't think he could be older than six or seven. He's too young to be sick. My mother is really up set, Cheetah has been good company for her while I'm at work. Research on the 'net says there can be several reasons for his symptoms as well as several outcomes. Guess I'll be making another visit to the vet. $$$. Good thing I still have a job!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday: My First Leisurely Day of Retirement

Today is my first day of RETIREMENT! -- -- (Tomorrow is my first day of semi-retirement. More on that later in the week.) -- -- This is what I had planned for today: I'd get up at 8. (No more getting up at 6 on work days!) I'd leisurely fix myself a nice Nutritarian breakfast, have a nice leisurely cup of tea. Then I'd go out to my home office and work on the revisions my editor sent back to me last month!

This is what really happened: I got up at 8:15 (not bad for a night person), showered, put a load of wash in the machine, sat at the breakfast table and leisurely read Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (the program I want to follow now that I'm retired and have more time) and looked up what I could have for breakfast. Fruit.

Dear Mother (DM) came in then and fixed herself some breakfast (cottage cheese with chopped home-grown tomatoes) and coffee. She chatted as I read more about what I could fix for breakfast. Then, just as I had decided what to fix, she started emptying the dishwasher. She puts away what she can reach, then leaves the rest for me.

For breakfast I fixed: 1 med chopped apple, 1 T currents, 1 t ground fax seed (will increase gradually to 1 T/day), and the juice of one fresh orange. I let it sit so the flax and currents could soften in the juice. While waiting, I finished putting away the dishes.

I made a nice cup of white tea and sat and leisurely wrote down the guidelines of Eat to Live as DM chatted. Then she said, "Would you like to clean out the refrigerator today?"
Why do parents do that? They teach you not to lie then they ask you questions you have to answer with a lie if you want to keep the peace. 
I'm thinking: What the hay! My first day of retirement and I gotta clean the fridge? Because, of course, I can't say, "No, I already have plans to work on my revisions."

So, I cleaned out the fridge. I didn't just wipe down the shelves with baking soda, as DM asked. I took every shelf out and scrubbed it at the sink. (Background: I moved in with my parents so they could stay independent in their own home and I could save on rent. Dad died almost two years ago now, so it's me and mom and the cat.)

Half way through cleaning the fridge I was getting hungry. I sat and leisurely enjoyed my fruit bowl (it was actually really good with the orange juice on it) and leisurely read my current book Septimus Heap - Book One - Magyk by Angie Sage, an entertaining fantasy. I finished the fridge, then cleaned up the kitchen. It's now 12:45 and I'm just sitting down to do my revisions. Except first I have to blog about My First Day of Retirement.

Those of you who have dieted, read about dieting, or listened to a friend complain about dieting will know that the first few days can be hard on your system. Your stomach will protest by pounding on your brain, saying, "I don't know what to do with all this fresh veg and fruit." I started, or maybe I should say re-started the program (because I've been sort of, but not really, following it for over a year) on Saturday and I've lost 4 lbs. That's encouraging.

I had to share this day with those of you who are younger and looking forward to retirement. It isn't always what you imagine. So far...

I still have a lot of My First Day of Retirement to go and I plan to do whatever comes up in a leisurely manner.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tips - Deep Point of View

I read the book and I took the workshop. I still need to study this technique as there's a lot involved, things to unlearn. I also think that the deep point of view, as it is presented in this book, might be a little too deep for the tender romance genre I write. But as with any writing advice, take what you can use now and shelve the rest to refer to later.

Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. (I have the Kindle version on my iPod Touch)

Today I'm going to focus on Chapter Three: Never Say He Thought/She Thought. This is where I have trouble and I'd like to work on it.

In Deep POV [Point of View], you will not need to write he thought/she thought. The same goes for he felt/she felt... he knew/she knew...  wondered... realized... speculated... decided... wished... etc. These phrases are death to Deep POV, because they create narrative distance. Readers are now at arm's length from the character, not in the POVC's [Point of View Character's] head where they belong. 

A narrator is required in order to say that a character "knew" something or "felt" something or "wondered" something. Inside ourselves, we rarely preface or follow our thought with those kinds of words. We simply think what we think without saying to ourselves that we "thought" it or "wondered" it or "knew " it. If we are inside a certain character's psyche, why would we need to say he thought/knew/realized/felt something, etc., when we can proceed directly to whatever it was that the character thought?

There are a lot of examples of Shallow POV vs. DPOV. Here is just one sample:
Shallow POV: He thought a good bath wouldn't hurt the dog.
Deep POV: Whew! A good bath would do this dog a world of good. 

Besides all the before and examples, there are before and after exercises at the end of each chapter so that you can practice changing a shallow POV sentence to DPOV. Here's one you can try yourself.
Shallow: He wondered whether she would show up for his birthday party.
DPOV: _________________________________________________

This book definitely has a lot to offer with chapters covering Point of View Basics, Deep POV Is/Deep POV Isn't, Name that Feeling-Not!, and more.

More books from my writers craft bookshelf.