Category Archives: Writing



I’m not sure where the 21-day rule originates, but I found it on line listed as first published in a book called “Psycho-Cybernetics,” a self-help book first published in the 1970s. I’d always heard it was a month, until I looked it up.  It says, “You can create or break a habit in just 21 days.”

This is a nice article, telling you how to break a bad habit,

I’m not convinced any method works. I’ve given up ice cream for over a year at a time, but it is still my go to treat when I’m blue. My husband is a lifelong smoker, a real bear when he’s quitting. In forty-nine years of marriage he has tried to quit or quit at least forty-eight times. Temptation or stress appears, back to half a pack a day.

Here’s an equally nice article with five rules on how to make a good habit.

I think this one is possible. After two months of writing everyday, first in JuNoWriMo and then CampNaNoWriMo, I’ve written the first five days of this month with out any hesitation, as though I have an unbreakable habit. Looked around and found a site to post my word count on too, for my needed pat on the head. It is “My 500 words.” I do not intend to drop my count though.

Now if I could just learn to write in the morning, or start at noon, or something besides reading the Internet for two hours and then about ten or so at night starting to write, I’m sure I would double my word count. I’m still at camp speed, over a thousand and I’m happy. NaNoWriMo is 1667 words a day, every day, so I need to build up a little before November.

Some days I think I cannot think of a thing to write. But still I write. I’m praying the old rules are true. “Write with your heart, edit with your head.” Looked for an image to post, thought Hemingway said it, might be Elmore Leonard. This Hemingway quote is close. thQIUAZWMA

All I know about writing can be summarized in these last two quotes.









Today we’re supposed to share our favorite blogs. Mine are all on writing or screenwriting (best tool I’ve found to learn story structure).

I don’t go online often to a particular site, there are so many riches out there. Receive email when some of my favorites post a new blog and always check out these people.

JoAnna Penn at The Creative Penn  – her blogs are recorded plus transcripts and she has a great English accent plus priceless, current advice on the Indie-Publishing world.

Orna Ross – another big Indie-Author, with a lovely Irish accent, she interviews the best, her blog is recorded with transcripts so you can listen or read it.

Seth Godin – @ThisisSethsBlog – old, talks a little swishy, knows everything about writing, selling, and making a living as a writer or speaker.

Other podcasts and blogs I follow on YouTube:

Ashley Scott Meyers, selling your screenplays – he interviews independent film makers and award winning ones. Lots of advice on how to sell your work.

Erik Bork – famous for writing Band of Brothers script, has wonderful practical advice on story writing of all kinds

Jenna Moreci – she is loud, (swears a lot), writes short peppy blogs and I love her energy and enthusiasm

Brandon Sanderson – lessons on Sci-Fi Fantasy writing, whenever I’m needing a glimpse at a successful writer, like to listen to him teaching his genre, a low energy speaker

I read newsletters that send me to feature bloggers.

Writer Unboxed: Some of the best current writers about the publishing industry.

Book Baby: Generic blogs, well-written on designing covers, writing back-of-book blurbs, fighting writer’s block, etc.

In other words, fart away way too much of my life online because I feel I have to be constantly learning something new all of the time. Internet and YouTube make that more than possible and terribly addictive.



Rain storm this afternoon has settled into a gentle soothing rain. I’m enjoying writing in the rain. Listening to some music on You Tube like these three tunes.


Well, back to writing while the rain drops make music for me. None of these are related to my story. Hope you had a sweet rainy day too.









Love books. I’m always wanting to read another, buy another, write another. I’m happiest now in bed with my Kindle reader open, reading a book to fall asleep, or waking late, wallowing a little in bed to finish the story I started the night before.

As a member of writers groups, President of a local group for almost forty years, I’m surprised how many people join the group hoping to write a book, preferably a best seller. I’ve never discouraged anyone from pursuing their dream because it may very well be a book I’ll love to read.

Honestly, there’s not that much money in writing for most people. If you don’t love writing, if you have a choice to quit it and take up another hobby where you can earn money, then you should quit while you can. I write because it is a compulsion and my brain keeps spinning stories that keep me awake at night. So, I make notes and when I think I see a complete story, I get up and write. You can make this a habit, and it may make you wealthy, but understand the odds are pretty long.

What I do for all dreamers is to encourage them to write and finish their stories. If you want to write, read a lot, read a lot of books about writing, and write until it becomes an unbreakable habit. Please write your stories and books.

I also warn beginning writers to beware when it comes to spending a lot of money with anyone who offers to help them realize their dream. Honestly, I listen to tons of webinars, one even offered to mechanically help you write the next book in a few hours. Others advise hiring others to create the cover, edit the book, or handle the promotion. Writing a warning tonight, because just read two good articles saying the same thing, beware. Here are the links from AutoCrit.




Today I was going to get so much done. Change my blog site, write twice as many words, get my blog written earlier in the day. I planned it all, and like this old goose, I let everyone know what I was going to do.


I gave it a little try, only I went to bed really late, and then I woke up even later. I came out to the computer and sat down. I beat the water a little bit, wrote the minutes for the CCWA writers group from the day before and posted them to Facebook. Opened my novel’s file, but then thought maybe I ought to eat some leftover chicken noodles I’d made the day before.


So, I went down to settle in front of the television and surf through Netflix and Amazon until I picked a stupid movie to watch while I ate. Homemade stock from chicken quarters, but ready-made noodles, yummy. Like this big goose, I felt too fat and lazy to tackle technology when it’s much easier to just float along.


Tonight when I came back up, I decided I’d better work on my novel, rather than waste the rest of the day battling with things I don’t understand. Made my thousand words, then, of course, I needed to do this post thing. Finally, felt like I’d taken flight with the words all flowing.

I may never get an email list, and that’s okay. I really only want to write until I see where this story is going. Right now, he is leaving and their hearts are breaking at being pulled apart, and it is slow writing.



But I never forget that this is my goal. To write and work and polish a story until it is good enough to pull a reader along with me on the journey.

I may never be a whiz or entrepreneur or any of the things a modern successful Indi-Author is supposed to be. But some days, it’s enough to be a silly old goose and just write.



Not the fourth until tomorrow, but neighbors have been setting them off since it turned dark. Wish the rains had made it instead. Still big booms, but at least they have a purpose. Really, I’m just grousing because I’m trying to write and only 112 words tonight.  Anything for a distraction.

Twitter and the Internet have caused my downfall. I’ve been at my desk nearly two hours,  wasted time checking and tweeting, then reading and following links. Finally noticed the time and here I am, a little too little and a lot of time wasted. Y is closed tomorrow so will just sit and plink out more, at least a thousand more before I yield. Procrastination, it’s not just a disease, it’s a way of life.

I have no idea what the proposed length of a blog should be. Think it used to be 300 to 1000 words. Believe that was before people ran out of patience to read long ones. Most I read are short like this. Not trying to teach or offer training, just share my journey as I struggle to create another book. Often feel like I have a butterfly net with really fine cloth and I’m using it to capture dreams which I struggle to keep real and alive as I pin them in the pages of a book. Another analogy I like is the one below.

For all you writers and dreamers out there, happy writing and happy and safe 4th of July.




Blogged earlier today about my early addiction to books. Stopped for lunch, or would have posted it then. Addictions are nothing to be proud of. Almost every room in my house has a wall lined with shelves and crowded with books. For Christmas, most of my cleaning was moving the stacks of books to shelves or into closets so the kids and grandkids wouldn’t think I’m a hoarder. My new tablet at Christmas has over two thousand Kindle books saved. Okay, I am a book hoarder, but I try to be a neat one.

I’m not saying this to brag. I’m really embarrassed that I am such a book hog, but I love books. One of my secret fears is to have time to relax and nothing good to read.


Since I can remember, I’ve been making up my own stories, but I really didn’t start to write until my son was four and my daughter two. A stay at home mom, I went to take a writing class and left them at daycare for the hour or so I would be there. My daughter of course just walked out the door and started walking down the street. Luckily they noticed and my son ran out and caught her. We were all rather shaken, and I didn’t try that again.

Back then, in the seventies, there was no Internet, no free workshops, nothing. But the lovely teacher, Leola Archer, also taught extension classes at U.T., and I mailed in the homework. She was so encouraging to me to keep writing, and when it was good, told me where to submit my work.

Leola proposed I join her writer’s group, Pen Women, in Knoxville. All remarkable women, all multi-accomplished in their fields. Some were composers, others artists, photographers, but most were writers. They met on Saturdays, and my husband the angel watched the children. At the time you needed  three professional, paid for credits to join, and I had exactly three. Wonderful time. Have been writing stories, articles and books for over forty years.

Started a writer’s group when we moved to Cookeville because I missed my writer friends. Cannot encourage anyone too much to join a group of writers. The praise and criticism is priceless. Most of all, I love being in a room with sympathetic souls who do not think I’m any crazier than they are.


All those years I wrote, edited, submitted, queried, went to conferences to meet editors and other writers. Mailing submissions off with a SASE and return postage. The usual routine. Sold lots of stories and how-to articles, but only one book.

Then Pat Gentry dared everyone in our little group to post a book on Kindle. Bless her heart. It’s like any other compulsion now. I write and work on the book until it’s the best I can do, but instead of burying it in some computer that goes dead and swallows it whole, I clean it up and publish on Amazon. Since retiring I have quite a cluster posted there now, admittedly some of them are a little weird.


Tonight, just received a five star review on the new book, Joanna of Virginia: Fires Down the Shenandoah. Made me so happy I danced around the room.

Knowing somewhere, someone is paying money and taking down my book to read to while away an idle hour or sleepless night is priceless. I encourage everyone that has a story in your heart or crowding your head to write it. After all, the more you write the more you have to read – maybe even one of my books.

And this makes 31 blog posts this month. Yay, another dance tonight.






Busy working out some details for my next Civil War Wives story, now that the first is due to be released in a day.

Always start with images. Know my girl will be one of the thousands of Irish immigrants running from poverty to opportunity in America. It opens in 1861, the year the war begins and unfortunately she meets her true love on the boat from Ireland. Brendan Conner is more than a charmer and has already plotted his destiny upon landing, but he can’t resist sweet Erin Quinn and doesn’t see any reason he should.

Almost as soon as they arrive, he is swept away in the fever of the emerging war and joins old friends to enlist in the Union cause under the charismatic Thomas Meagher. He is excited to be part of the fighting Irish of the 69th. She of course is terrified. Although her sister has sent the ticket and she promised to join her in the linen mills to work and repay her, her heart is breaking that he will be thrown in harms way so soon. Unwilling to be separated, she comes up with a daring plan to enlist too.

My great niece sent me an article last year about the many women who fought disguised as men during the war and I have been excited to write a story about one ever since.

Sorry about not posting a blog yesterday, will try for two tomorrow.



So I sit, spinning stories in my head. Gathering more silk for my web by  busily researching history, which I love to read and study. There are diaries and accounts that document people’s lives, both the immigrants, and those who fought in the war. It is easy to get lost in the beauty and horror of imagining the circumstances of their lives. War is a tragic world in which so many young flowers bloomed only to die on blood soaked fields for causes that most little understood or truly believed in.

Not sure when I’ll ever get into the writing but need to start soon or I’ll never be done. Wish reading and noodling wasn’t always the fun part. Names, places, dates will change, but some scenes or elements are already vivid in my mind and probably won’t change. Others I won’t know about until I write the story. Exciting, fun part of writing is when all I’ve planned starts to change as the characters come to life and take over the book.abrahams

Found another useful article or checklist, this by Erik Bork, an outstanding Emmy winning screenwriter for HBO.



Waiting, hoping to get additional feedback to make more changes in the morning on Fires Down the Shenandoah: Joanna of Virginia. Few hours still left. Trying to occupy my mind with working out the next book or two. Would be great if I could write multiple stories at once, just don’t seem to have the mental capacity for that.

Looking at more outlining tools and advice. Here are another couple of articles that I found useful.

This one talked about eight different ways. Includes the first article’s and more so will only discuss it.

1.In the Snowflake method, one just keeps adding to the central idea. Normally my books start with a vision of the main character(s), and once I have them in my head and a really difficult problem for them to tackle, I spend a lot of time visualizing and working out the story in my head before I write a word. Probably why I’m so slow.

2. The next method the summary, I’ve used several times. State the story in a single sentence, then tell the story in a paragraph, then rewrite as a page, then make a list of scenes, and off you go.

3.Have also used the third method, the skeletal outline, at least since I tried my hand at screenwriting. Don’t think any of my scripts were very good, but it is a great way to see the bones of your story and the major turning points and incidents. As mentioned in previous posts, the Save the Cat outline available online is very useful for this.

4.Flashlight outlining was new to me, just shining a light on the details of what will happen in the scenes. Similar to the last two methods. As I said, I have to visualize the scene happening before I can write it so maybe this is what the author meant.

5.Free Writing is something I’ve used to come up with a flash story or start something when my brain feels blank. Suppose you could come up with a novel idea that way, although I never have.

6. The Visual Map sounds like the mind-mapping that I’ve talked about before. Like the author, I can’t read my handwriting enough to follow what I’ve written down. But I think the idea is to figure out the connections of your story. Suppose if I sat and typed the jottings down as an outline quickly enough, I would remember enough to come out ahead.

7.Contextual Preparation, working out the details of where the story happens, and doing an interview or filling out a questionnaire for your character. I’ve known writers who did a lot of this. One had a color coded notebook with a section for each part of her novel. Not sure she ever wrote the book, but she knew everything about it. Wish I were that organized and patient.

8. Outlining Software is also something I’ve never used. There are a lot of programs, especially for screenwriting, like Story Board, Story Weaver, etc. that sound wonderful. Scrivener, the magical word processing program a couple of my friends use, is supposed to have wonderful outlining options. According to Gregg Brickman, you can put in images of your characters, plot summaries for chapters or even break it down to scenes, then use the notecards from the bulletin board to write your back of the book summary, etc. Someday, when I get over my fear of learning it, I intend to fall under its spell.

Happy Writing.