Archive for December 2008

2009 Goals

December 29, 2008

I’m going to stick my neck out here and post my writing goals. I’ll choose 3.

Goal #1: Learn Word. I can admire Bill Gates but I hate Word. I use it only when forced to and every “new, improved version” appears more cumbersome to me. So accomplishing this goal will be my most difficult. However, I see this is what publishers and agents expect if you submit electronically. Expect me to bitch lots while I’m struggling with this learning curve. Bitching helps me get to understanding sometime. But I’m leery with believing that about Word.

And yes, I know, if I don’t have a positive mind-set, I make my task more difficult. So that’s a sub-goal which I’ll work on between now and January 5. And I’ve already purchased a book to help me (with useful cartoons to humor me) and located a couple of experts.

Hopefully, by 12/31/09, I will have this software under control.

Goal #2: Revise & query Seasons of Wine. I wrote this several years ago, polished it up and queried it. I even had some interest in it, but the market wasn’t right. Well, that market may still not be in the perfect spot, but it’s time to take this out, fluff it up, and query it again. It’s the kind of story that can fit these rough economic times when we might acknowledge things are bad, but we love to see the hero and heroine overcome bad situations and find real joy in themselves, family and simple things in life. Yes, got to get that going again, and convert it to Word to work in the polishing one more time.

Goal #3: Finish current Wise Woman novel. Yes, and work on this is Word also. I learned long ago that it’s easier to learn a new process if you are using the process in a constructive way. And you remember what you learn. So, my heroine Cassie has been languishing as I’ve been sidetracked with other important projects but I promise her in front of all of you that she will get finished this coming year. And polished up and sent out to query. Cassie deserves it and so does the next friend whose story I must write.

Oh, I have other goals, some are personal, some intellectual, some emotional. This is the time of year to set goals. I’ve always been a goal-oriented person, must be part of my Capricorn self, but this is a first for me, putting those goals OUT THERE! A real virgin experience–not easy at my age.

May all of you have all you wish for in 2009.

Happy New Year!

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Remembering John

December 21, 2008

Christmas is a joyous season as I wrote about last week. However, for me it is also a sad event, at least the few days leading up to Christmas itself. For the three days prior to Christmas Eve, I fight a jagged hurt in my heart. My Paul-Newman-blue-eyed son died a few days before Christmas, sneaking up on 9 years ago.

Each year around Thanksgiving I begin the usual hectic Christmas pace many of us do to prepare for this holiday. As a little boy, John loved helping decorate sugar cookies, mix the dough for the breads, drag out the decorations. He anticipated Christmas with childhood glee.

As a young man he always was first to appreciate the decorations, help when I asked, grab a cookie to tease me. Those are the memories that help me get through these next few days and then to enjoy the actual holiday festivities. But church services always sadden met for Christmas is celebrating the birth if Mary’s Son. For me, it also commemorates the death of mine.

John didn’t have to die. He made choices about alcohol until the need for drink controlled him.

And killed him.

As a family we tried so many times to intervene. We even got him into rehab a few times when he asked. As soon as he got out, he started again. Alcohol took away his joy in being with family, his humor, his true personality, and kept him away. His choice. I was mourning that long before I mourned his death.

Three days before Christmas I got a call early in the morning from the emergency room nurse at a local hospital. She asked me to come quickly. John was in critical condition. He died with strangers around him. Though I hurried to get there the weather was wintry dangerous. I was a few minutes too late. My last sight of him was on a hospital gurney in a cold room where I had to provide a positive ID on this shell of a man.

A piece of me died that day.  My heart still aches. Harbor Historic Lighthouse-12-22

We buried him three days after Christmas.

So Christmas has become bitter and sweet for me. It always will be. And each year on the anniversary of his death, I go down to our harbor and watch for the historic lighthouse light to come on. To me for some reason, doing this makes me feel closer to John if only for those few moments.

How does this relate to writing? All the emotions stirred in me over this event get used in my writing. I think it’s one reason I love reading subtle humor though I can’t write it well. Our lives are the fodder for our words and the worlds we build with them. It’s also the reason, I will likely never write a Christmas-themed story though again I enjoy reading them. Usually…

I write this to remind all of us, writers or not, that experiences in life can strengthen us, teach us lessons, and often contain the tart with the sweet. I am blessed with other sons who are with me yet. My faith allows me to see John in a better place, free from the demons that drove him while he lived. That comforts me.

May your holiday season be all you wish it to be, and if the holiday takes an unexpected swerve, allow yourself to gain strength from whatever comes your way.

A Writer’s Christmas Wish List

December 13, 2008

My family celebrates Christmas. As children we looked forward to getting something from Santa at that time, and during this preparation for Christmas, called Advent, part of what we did very early was make a list. Do you remember doing that? I’m sure Mom enjoyed the fact that when we made our lists we were too busy or too worried Santa’s elves would put us on the “naughty” list if we argued.

Putting on the list all those things we really, really wanted for Christmas, and if we were very lucky and very, very good, Santa might drop by with one or two of those special items.

But I outgrew Santa. I discovered that the idea of Santa was the joy in giving that the adults around me nurtured. These traditions of Santa and giving were passed down to my children and now to my grandchildren.

So what do I want this year for Christmas just for me as a writer?

Of course, I’ve made a list, a quite extensive and elaborate one, for the Twelve Days of Christmas but with nary a partridge, gold rings, lords a-leaping or French hens. Here it is.star-package

A computer system that never fails at the most crucial of times.

Time each day to chat with my muse and not feel guilty.**

Easy edits.

Another contract offer.

The perfect agent.

Word software that’s easy to use.

Readers who can’t wait for my next book.

Knowledge of how best to market/publicize my book.

Manuscripts that flow.

Powerful ideas for new stories.

Continuing support of my husband, family, & friends.**

One day a month where everything goes smoothly.

My fantasy list is pretty long. I’ve checked it and cut it down to two and starred the items on my final list. After all I can’t be selfish, and most items on my wish list have factors even a writer’s Santa might be hard-pressed to give. Oh, but if such a special Santa existed, wouldn’t, wouldn’t that be interesting.

So what’s on your writer’s Christmas list?

A Steamy Morning Moment

December 7, 2008

scan00021A few days ago a writer friend of mine ventured into the blogging ocean.

 

Her first post grabbed my attention. But then she’s a great writer, so how could her entry not?

 

Her post discussed those scenes we writers get in our heads.  The ones that won’t leave us alone.  We don’t know where they came from or what they are connected to but our muse that put the scenes in our minds keep nagging at us to do something with the idea.

 

So we mull the scene over and if we are lucky after some thought, time, and research we have the elements of a future project.

 

I’ve had those situations happen and I’m sure most of you have also.

 

Today I woke before sunrise.  All I had on my mind was what to do with my current project which I’m editing.  And that important cup of morning coffee. 

 

While I sipped my caffeine, I watched daylight break and I had one of those moments where a scene popped into my head for some future book.  What prompted the scene which had an eerie feel to it but wasn’t necessarily frightening?

 

I think it was the scene outside my window.  Our lake water is still far warmer than our frigid air.  This can cause steam to rise off the water.  The wintry sun reflecting off this steam was a magical sight.  Almost something from another realm.  And I saw in my mind a woman wrapped in the magical steam. 

 

What will I do with this?

 

I don’t know just yet.  But someday that scene will be in one of my books.