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Showing posts from March, 2010

Celebrate the Small Victories...

This week I’ve been writing madly on my WIP wanting to enter the first two chapters in the West Virginia writers contest with postmark deadline today, March 31.

It was a lofty goal as the story idea was only two weeks old, in its earliest stages of life when I decided to enter it. I had pulled out old stories and just didn’t have the enthusiasm to do heart surgery on any one of them at this time.

This story with the working title, KILL ME OR DRIVE ME TO FLORIDA, is told from eight year old Daisy Dunn’s point of view. She, her mother, and her brother are driving old Frank Stutler to Florida in his battered station wagon. Right now the story is so new that details change almost daily.

However, yesterday, fearing that I would not have those last few pages finished for today’s mailing, I started second guessing every word, every sentence, even the very idea until I had myself convinced that I should trash the whole manuscript and be done with it.

I have a demon editor that lives inside me and…

Hyacinths to Feel the Soul...

Carved on a stone in one of the gardens at Lake Chautauqua are these words in honor of the beautiful hyacinth:

"If thou of fortune be bereft, and in thy stores but two loaves left, sell one...and with the dole, buy hyacinths to feed the soul."

The hyacinth is by far my favorite spring flower. It does indeed feed the soul. I love it not just for its beauty but for its heavenly scent. It reminds me that good things are to follow its blooming. Sunshine, summer breezes, picnics under the tree out back, more iced tea with lemon, the laughter of the grandchildren playing ball in the backyard, the house doors flung open to let in the smells and sounds of it all.

The poem about the hyacinth reminds me of charming Lake Chautauqua with it's sail boats on the water and the Victorian gingerbread houses lining the streets above the lake.

Being invited there as a guest to attend the Highlights Writing Workshop was the high point of several summers for me. Kent Brown always made us feel s…

Sweet Tea and Memories

I was wondering the other day when I was driving somewhere drinking sweet tea, if iced tea is sweet tea. A lot of my friends serve iced tea. It never has sugar in it. What's that about? How can you drink iced tea without sugar and a lemon slice on the rim.
When my mother served iced tea it was ALWAYS sweet. I was born and raised in Putnam and Kanawha Counties, West Virginia. We drank sweet iced tea either in glasses with a border of Dutch boys and girls or a border of yellow and red tulips. Of course, there was the summer when plastic glasses hit town and we had them in all colors, yellow, green, pink and we used those.

My good friend, Sherry, was born and raised around Delaware, Ohio and her mother always made iced tea without sugar - ever. So Sher drinks unsweetened tea.

My dear friend, Diana, makes iced tea and has simple syrup on the side for those who like sweet tea. Diana doesn't use much sugar in her food so I try to remember that when Sherry and Diana visit to make a pit…

Monday, the Golden Snail, My Mother

It's been a crazy kind of day. Rainy and foggy. I've been hard at work on my Florida story - I'm having trouble getting the scenes down and the dialog right.

I realize all over again how very hard writing really is. I forget when I've been away from it for awhile. It only takes an hour of writing to remind me. Then it only takes one sentence to come together perfectly to remind me why I write. There's nothing like the feeling that embraces a writer when he gets it just right.

When I was having trouble pulling together a scene, I brought out my certificates and awards for contests I'd finaled in and spread them out across my desk. That's a confidence builder, believe me. I added the gold sparkley snail ornament my writing buddy Sherry gave me. It's to remind me that while the snail - me - is slow he always arrives at his destination.

Looking back on my accomplishments helps me to have the confidence to move forward on a project. To remind me that I can do …

Writing Revising Cutting

It's been a busy few days. Yesterday I made rhubarb sauce from rhubarb I had frozen. I got it last summer from Mrs. Beachy, the Amish woman who lives down the road.
We get all our produce there in the summer and it's the best. Anyway, I took her a jar of the sauce. One of her daughter's answered the door. Her mom had gone to visit family in Michigan.
Then I puttered - I can putter an entire day away and never accomplish anything. Can you? Or am I the only person that putters anymore? I did some writing of my own and read more of Sherry's manuscript, ISLAND PASSAGE. I'm getting caught up in the story and not doing as much editing as I should.

Today I pulled together two stories to enter in the West Virginia Writers contest, deadline March 31. That's with a late fee! I'm always a last minute entrant.

I'm going to submit KILL ME OR DRIVE ME TO FLORIDA - I had to write a one page synopsis. Try to fit a novel into a one page summary. Nearly impossible. But I d…

My health care article in news again today

The Detroit Free Press used my article on health care today. I googled Detroit Free Press and my name. IT came up. They interviewed me over the phone and added some additional information that wasn't in the earlier version that was printed by the Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Hope you read it and respond if you have any health care worries. Thanks!

The sun is shining and I have lots to do today.

Everyone have a beautiful bright sunshiny day.


Kill Me or Drive Me to Florida...

Today I wrote a new scene for my story - titled so far- KILL ME OR DRIVE ME TO FLORIDA. A scene that lets the reader know why these people are all on the road together.
I hope it's as interesting as I think it is. AND I hope others like it as much as I do.
That isn't always the case when we write something close to our hearts. WE think others will see our characters as we do - feel their breath and hear their hearts beating. Not always so.

The scene today just flowed. I've been reading - again - BECOMING A WRITER by Dorothea Brande. An old book that's been revived. Her advice is so very good you must read this if you write. She says to do something mindless before writing. No reading of other books. No talking. Sit somewhere quietly. Go to a symphony - no words.
Then your own words will flow within your head, your heart.

Sometimes I talk my stories out and then have no enthusiasm for writing them. Don't make that same mistake. Hold your stories close to your heart as …

Total Sugar Breakdown

I had a total sugar breakdown yesterday at Walmart. I hadn't had sugar in the house for several weeks, other than one piece here and there. I completely lost what little sense I have. After I finished blogging I looked at my receipt and realized I was so caught up in my sugar high that the clerk did not take off the coupons I went in there to use. AM I insane or what? That will teach me to watch so lovingly as he loaded each sweet into my bags, lusting after each one. I should have been watching that he deducted my coupons.
Also after blogging I found the jelly beans and chocolate eggs, which I immediately tried for freshness and I'm proud to report that they are the ultimate in freshness. Of course it took three of the chocolate eggs to make sure. And several handfuls of the jelly beans. I love them all, even the black ones.

AND not a grandchild in sight so I can't say I bought the stuff for them. The little ones are in Wisconsin, though I must say the triplets would make …

Today I was going to write...

Today was the day I was going to write write write on my current story titled Untitled.
Instead I went to WalMart with Susan, my second daughter. I went to buy four things and to help her as she had a big grocery shopping to do. I ended up with a cart full of --- junk. I bought a bathroom rug since I spilled nail polish on the one in there on Sat. night. (I also had to discard my pajama bottoms that night and scrub the tile floor with Comet). Ok, I bought a cake mix to make a pineapple upside down cake, Smores Little Debbies, Chunky Chips Ahoys, trail mix - in I swear a five pound bag, a fruit and nut Cadbury candy bar - if you haven't tried these I highly recommend that you do, A Heath candy bar, a Dr. Pepper, and a bag of lightly salted rice cakes to eat in the car coming home. A box of raisin oat bars for R, and a box of macaroon cookies for the cookie jar. I also got out of there with a fancy silver wire looking dangly necklace thing, and a sharp red blouse off the clearance ra…

Wringing the most out of a character...

As I look out the kitchen window rain hits the wooden deck at a steady pace.
Today I'm making tuna salad and iced tea in anticipation of sunshine and spring when I might take a tuna salad sandwich and eat it at the bench under the big tree in our backyard. I made a coffee cake from a recipe from Ladies Home Journal, Feb. issue, pg. 128. I put in extra walnuts and orange zest in honor of my mother who went through the depression and used not only the fruit but the peel whenever she could. Some of her frugality rubbed off on me - not all mind you but some. I zest every orange and lemon that comes into my kitchen, freezing it, and plenty comes in as we love citrus fruit.
I try to use every bit of food we buy and rarely throw anything away if it can be used. (BUT I don't like leftovers, go figure.) I cook shriveled apples and we eat them on homemade biscuits. I use the last potato in the bag. Okay I throw the really bad ones away. But I get the most out of everything I can.
Perhaps …

A quote and a broken promise

Vita Sackville-West said: "It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the

When I don't write, that's exactly how I feel. That the moment is lost. That the day has slipped emptily by.

Today, unlike many days lately, I wrote. I didn't at all do what I was supposed to do. I had agreed - during March Madness Challenge - not to edit and to write write write on my new story. But every day I felt my words were falling into thin air as I wrote because my first chapter was shaky - the boards were loose and my words were falling through the cracks. When I write I must have a good foundation to hold my story. So I cheated and reworked the first chapter.

Now I feel as though my story can stand on it's own two feet instead of standing on mine - just as I did when I was a child and stood on a partner's feet to move around the dance floor. I no longer need to do that. And neither does…

Dinner at the Buzz In Buzz Out

After a long day of meetings and talking, I came home exhausted. R was having no talk of leftovers when all I wanted to do was fall on the sofa and rest. He had heard from Charlie the tractor man down the road that the Buzz In Buzz Out had a new menu and he'd like to take me there for dinner. Before I could answer he was getting ready. How could I say no when I'd been off doing my thing all day.
So I crawled literally into the car after throwing on some lip liner - like anyone at the Buzz In would notice - and off we went. There were a couple of grubby truckers there.
R decided to try the new hot buffet - which had all of six choices and priced at $5.99 a pound.
I went for the personal pizza when the waitress wasn't sure she could get the pulled pork for a sandwich thawed in time for me to have my sandwich when R had his buffet meal. So, he came back with a plate of steaming mashed potatoes and gravy, a brat, some vegetables and garlic bread. He loved every bite. I ate a part…

Sunday is Father's Day and my love for music

I heard a song years ago by Dottie Rambo titled Sunday is Father's Day. She both wrote it and sang it with her family of singers. Since then I've had the words to that song embedded into my brain. I used to drive to Willo Hill Baptist Church in Willoughby, Ohio in an old Corvair, (R bought it for $50 from a neighbor and bought $1000 worth of tools to work on it- it's a man thing) that smoked like a double chimney, with the kids in the backseat fighting, and I'd sing that song to the top of my lungs - sure that if the Lord came that minute I'd be taken up in the clouds with him. I'm sure I told the kids if they didn't stop hitting each other they would not be going with me. I am a singing fool and can't carry a tune. I keep music going all day long, from soft piano cds, to the sound of the ocean lapping the shore, to Indian flutes, and Alan Jackson singing Precious Memories. Oh, and Kenny G. I love him too. And Aaron Neville. AND my ROD STEWART singing D…

Writing Requirements...

Writing requires
All impede writing.
Administer in small doses
The seat
Of the pants
On a chair,
Or a grassy knoll.
A pen or a pencil or the end of a burnt match.
A piece of blank paper, the back of an envelope,
A chalk board, or the living room wall
And the ability to move one's arm.
It's all the written word requires.
Don't let your most creative work
Be your excuses.

Find something else to occupy your time.
Saw wood per Mark Twain.

Moment of Success...

George Bernard Shaw said, "The real moment of success is not the moment apparent to the crowd."

I had to think a long time to figure that one out. Success means different things to all of us.

My moment of comes with every breath. As I play with words - words that crop up from some Netherland, singing, traveling from deep inside me - down through my arms and out through my fingers - to the keyboard where letters form words form sentences form paragraphs form verse form stories form novels.

Ah, success, it comes with every breath.

My Memory

Not enough memory
The computer box read.
It was THE DAY
I’d come to dread.
I had more words
Than my system could handle
I kicked it hard
With my old brown sandal.
The message blinked OFF
Then, ON again fast.
I had to do something
My story wouldn’t last.
I saved it to disk
And hoped it wouldn’t crash
I did it quick -
Just under a flash.
The machine gave a sigh,
And it’s final good bye.

Then, I went to the store
And bought more and more,
Computers and hardware
And software galore.
I’d get myself going
I would - I swore -
Even if it took me
One hundred days
Or more.

Newborn Stage and finding the real story...

I'm in the newborn stage of my novel. Birthing is over- I have my characters and part of the plot - I'll learn as I go - about the characters, their motives, and their story. Right now it feels good, like holding a newborn with all the expectations of what he or she will be someday.

Today I wrote a new scene and am feeling good about my work. This isn't always so. I'm a huge critic and a ruthless editor. That's why I've done well with short pieces. I love cutting and surgically removing all the excess fat. Sometimes I have little left.

But my "baby novel" is so soft and sweet and lovable right now. I want this feeling to last forever. And it will, until tomorrow when I'll allow myself to read what I've written. Then the disappointment will set in. How could I have been so fooled by my own words. How could something be so perfect one day and so misbehave the next.

It's all in the writing - finding the real story that's hiding among the man…

Here's to Lunch and Chia tea

Today's goal was to work on my novel. It's lunch time and I haven't started. Instead I talked to an editor at the Detroit Free Press about my article on health care that was in The Plain Dealer. She wanted me to cut it from 700 words to 550 and send it to her for consideration. So, that's what I did. Now that the essay has been reworked and sent I can move toward my novel writing.
Here's to getting out of my flannels, having lunch, and a cup of Chia first. Then to work.
What are you working on?

Even if you're not writing, you must be doing something. Anything? Reading a good book, drinking a Coke, cooking? Come on somebody. Respond....

Blessings on this cold Wednesday in Southern Ohio.

On Time...

Why does everything take so much time? Today I planned to start participating in the March Madness Challenge and work on my novel. With my grandson here it's been a challenge. If he isn't eating he's needing something else. Between his needs, his grandpa needs something. Toast. An apple. A bottle of water.
Something printed off the internet or something else equally important. In his eyes.

With the noise of cartoons in the background I'm determined to write before the day is over. I've had six calls that demanded my attention. I'm checking Chase's homework now. He goes home to Wisconsin this week end. We'll sorely miss him but then will I have more time? Somehow I doubt it. Time is slippery and can't be pinned down. I have one more call to make and then the day is mine. OF course it's nearly 2:30 p.m. and I've had these plans since 8 a.m. Soon there will be dinner to make.
No matter how well I plan every chore takes longer than I anticipated.

Setting Goals for March

In my quest to write for the month of March - joining March Madness Challenge - my goals are to 1- Write every day on my novel; 2- Without editing; 3- By March 31 have 100 pages of a rough draft.
I'm off here to start! Good luck to anyone who is joining me.

March Madness Challenge

For those of you who need to jump start a writing project - story, novel or whatever - you might want to join Denise Jaden's March Madness Challenge. I plan to use this challenge to help me get me moving faster on my new novel. I'm a huge procrastinator. Now, I've printed the instructions and plan to start tomorrow. Ah ha. A plan. Just what I need.

Learn more about it at her website -

I'd love for you to join me in this challenge. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Until then. Blessings.