MID-BOOK

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Writing is slow as usual, glad to be in Camp where I get to hear others whine about their difficulties too. One of the other authors, we all are anonymous to each other which enables greater sympathy, as most things on the Internet do. Strange how candid you can be to a total stranger.  She wrote, “Every time I sit at the computer lately I experience writer’s block, but not the kind where you can’t come up with something, it’s the kind where you know where you want your characters to end up, but you have waaaayyy too many options on how to get them there. I’ve been trying to suck it up really but what if I choose the wrong direction? Blah.”

It is great to know you are not the only one. In this novel, I’m going back to minor characters in Fires Down the Shenandoah, the invading couple who take over Joanna and Charles home. Katherine and Robert Michelson are the enemies, but in their story, they will be the heroes. I was struck by how awkward it would be to be a Yankee, demanding that your enemy the Rebels, wait on you and give up their bedroom, etc. But part of the conflict for the couple is that it happened before when Robert came to Charleston to spy on the troops at Fort Sumter and he and Katherine Carlton met getting ready for the Debutante Ball. I know where I want A Picnic to Start the War, to begin and where it needs to end. But oh, the sticky, sticky middle.

The reason I’m writing it is I wanted to explore how you could hate someone’s politics, but love and cherish them at the same time. What is it like to live among enemies, which they both have to do at different points? Knowing you are not just unwelcome but hated. That if you aren’t careful, there is the real danger you or your loved one might be hurt or worse. Then there is all the danger of the battles to be fought between the start and the ending of this book. I’m forever researching too since there are many, many Civil War experts in this country and I want to get things right.

It is a maze and every day there are new decisions. Because once you create a scene or event in your story, it helps to change the next and every event after that.

Part of why I love writing. The open ended questions and the never ending problem-solving. Still, I’m looking forward to the end and hope my aim stays true on the target.

WRITER BEWARE

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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.

 

STEP BY STEP

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Not sure if this will work, but our prompt tonight was to make a list. I really don’t make as many lists as I used to. When I first retired, every night I still made a list of things to do, and the next day worked on them, hoping to cross off as many as possible that night before making the next. I would do them step by step, always numbering after I made the list so the simple, easy things came first. When possible, always breaking down complicated tasks into simpler ones. The joy in a list for me was always crossing off items.

Since I’m writing a novel, the steps for it might look like this.
Find images of the characters.
Decide on the setting and research the area, again finding photos if possible.
Outline the novel, emphasis on the opening scene, major turning points, and the closing scene.
Write a scene at a time, 1000 to 2000 words. Researching as new questions arise.
Read through the completed rough draft. Make editorial changes based on structure, adding scenes, or taking things out or maybe moving them after supplying additional information.
Write and ask if people who have read or reviewed previous books will read my edited draft to look for any additional errors.
Edit using mechanical apps, like Grammarly, Hemingway, Paperrater, Ginger, etc.
Send off to readers and wait for their changes and suggestions.
Work on cover and back blurb.
Rewrite and make corrections as needed from Beta readers.
Format versions for Kindle and Create Space.
Post book on line in both versions and make changes after looking at preview copies.
Publish and outline the next.

Which all sounds well and good, but as I write, too often the characters just come alive and run off with my imagination and the storyline. I try to follow, adjusting as I can, but enjoying capturing the developing story. Polishing comes later.

Now, I admit I am slowing down. I make a list about once a week, forget to look at it most days, and feel glad if I run across it and find I’m able to cross off a few things.

Do you make lists, and if so do you use any apps or programs to make it easier?

Trying to end with one of my favorite Abbot and Costello skits. If it doesn’t open, just google their skit, Niagara Falls online. Hope you enjoy.

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FAMOUS QUOTES

Late again tonight. Just barely finished my thousand words, and inclined to keep writing. Thought I would punt again with a few quotes from one of my favorites, Will Rogers.

Rogers was a witty cowboy from Oklahoma who could poke fun at the politicians of his day in short pithy comments that never mentioned murder. Part Cherokee, he first charmed the nation by doing rope tricks for the Ziegfield Follies, but his wit and jokes were the best part of his act. He made movies, wrote columns, and kept the nation laughing through some hard times. Here are a few of his words of wisdom.

First politics, since I was wanting a quote to use on Twitter when I started reading these.

This next group is just his philosophy of life, at least the part I agree with. Enjoy.

WOOL GATHERING

 

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My word count was short last night, and again tonight. Stopped to write this post, already 11:40 so pretty good odds it will post after midnight. I am at a major turning point and keep changing directions and taking out scenes and replacing them with others. Not what Nano is about, it’s supposed to be writing in a blind, white hot continuous flow to complete a rough draft. I know I should stop now, but still, I’m dithering.

Will write after posting this and try to at least make the measly thousand words for today. Pitiful. It never gets easier. This is book twenty-two or so, plus there are four or five shorter works, and these are the ones I’ve written and published after retirement. There are still a dozen projects completed and many abandoned that I never sold but believed they had promise. I’m sure they are so dated if written, or less than worthy if abandoned, that I just plow ahead with new things. At times like tonight, I wonder if I should just go digging through the closet and see if there’s something easier to write.

It is never easy, at least not for me. I’ve focused on a genre, preferring to write the books that sell. They seem to all be historical romance. I may break free next month and try a short mystery, but probably not. Wait, maybe I could write a mystery set in the 1800’s or early 1900’s. I love that kind of book. But no, I set a goal to write a series of novels featuring civil war wives, one from each of the thirty-four states. I’m only on book three.

So I sit here dithering, wool gathering, procrastinating, and in general not accomplishing a lot. Well, at least when I’m blogging, it gives me something else to write.

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GRATITUDE

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Since there is nothing in my head for the second time in this challenge, I looked at the prompt. Gratitude sounds a lot like platitude and I don’t want to sound trite. But today as I read all the online news I could stomach, I was struck by a story about the collapse of another country, like so many around the world in recent years, Venezuela. The thing that shocked me the most was not that people are starving and desperate, that seems to be the pattern after the Soros crew are through, but that there is no toilet paper left in the country. They have to cross the border to even buy that basic necessity. It reminded me that I am grateful to live in America, where people are still free and where the forces of evil haven’t destroyed us yet.

So here are a few more suggestions of why and how to benefit from taking a moment to appreciate what we have, instead of whining and complaining about what we don’t. I have a friend in another online group, she is working on her second year of listing what she is grateful each day. It has helped her survive medical and emotional crisis yet stay positive. So below is a summary of what just looking on the positive side of the ledger can do for your body.

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Since I’ve tried every other diet, slimming down by just being grateful seems a simpler plan to try, as well as all the other benefits. If you are willing to try but not sure how to begin, here are a few suggestions to help inspire you.

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Even without the list I know I am blessed. I love and feel loved and there is nothing more that I need. What are you grateful for?

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WRITING INSTEAD

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

PAID WEBSITE

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I watch and listen to far more infomercials or online webinars than any human should. I’m eager to learn and ready to be transformed after each session. I seldom bite on the offer, because if it sounds any good, it probably sounds better than it is.

Blogging is like that. Every few months I decide, “yes I can,” and I get excited and interested in trying to make an interesting web page, and blogging – because – as every expert tells you, it helps you gain readers and sell more books. All also point out if you are to grow and become more successful, you need to attract readers who share their email so you can contact them when the next book is ready, or whatever you’d like to sell

The real hang-up for me is that you have to buy a website and pay the host (usually four or five dollars a month) for the rest of your life, or until you give up on your own website. I’ve been very happy with the free version of WordPress for over three years now.  But you can’t collect emails on a free site, or at least I’ve never figured out how and I’ve given it a couple of tries.

So I listened to a spell-binder at and signed up for a lifetime secure host for a one-time payment of about $40. Now, I will be wasting most of the day, trying to figure out how to transfer the old blog posts onto the new site without losing everything. Wish me luck.

 

Well, I admit, I have zero internet skills. Will have to punt this project until tomorrow in order to make my word count on my book tonight. More to follow.

LUCKY NUMBER

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I’ve never been a gambler, so I’ve never believed in lucky numbers. The blog tip was to write about numbers though, so I’ll try. Think this was the prompt for yesterday, not today though. Will probably not be posting this until after midnight again, which is tomorrow, so there you go.

Post 14, almost half way in this blog challenge. Passed the halfway mark today in Camp Nano, so I’m relatively happy. Wish I had set my goal at two or three thousand words a day though, instead of just one thousand. That’s the trouble with goals, they are almost always self-fulfilling. Love this Henry Ford quote. When I taught Algebra I would write it on the board whenever anyone would say they couldn’t do the math.

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A wise man, because he didn’t waste any words. Found a list as I was searching for the quote to make sure I punctuated it correctly. Fewer the words, the more powerful the decision between a period or comma. Totally changes the connotation.

I’ve decided my lucky number is seven.

 

lucky_number_7__by_jayve1It’s the one I always pick when asked that question. Also found a bonus of seven more fantastic quotes from old Henry. Something to chew on, and I finally decided, he had it right each time. Hard list to comply with though.

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What’s your lucky number?

VIVA LA FRANCE

 

The Eiffel Tower is illuminated during the traditional Bastille Day fireworks display in Paris

Happy Bastille Day. If you’re like me, I’d heard of it, never realized it was their 4th of July. Celebrated every July 14th, the date was the kickstart to the French Revolution, the storming of the jail to free political dissidents.

Shows what you can learn when you are surfing in the middle of writing. Did get my story untangled and back on track and actually added over another thousand words. Happy.

As I searched for something to blog about, ran across the speech by the two presidents. People have died for ideas, been led to battle by words, by written speeches. Powerful for every writer to remember.

After listening, as always, I feel hopeful. With the homeless immigrants swept from the streets for this time of celebration, there weren’t the terrible riots that made watching the German coverage of G20 so difficult.

With each of these new televised meetings with other leaders from around the world, I’m always struck by how much respect they pay to this President. Sadly, not how he is treated at home.

Macron was a little faster reader, but in French, so maybe that made it seem faster. The reminder of the great sacrifice of life that is required to have the liberty and rights we enjoy always brings a lump to my throat.

Trump’s respect toward Macron and promise to remain staunch allies made me feel a little more secure. The speech was wonderful, the reminder that France was our ally in overthrowing British control and establishing our freedom. That they have fought beside us in every conflict, and we’ve returned the favor, especially in WWI and WWII.

They gave us our wonderful icon of Liberty.  God bless France and thank you. Happy Birthday Party.

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Silver Dreamer