daily · journal

No More Excuses

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I am amazed at what I can accomplish when I stop making excuses.  I’ve also been fabulous at making excuses as to why my second novel hasn’t been completed. However, excuses get boring and are empty words when I keep repeating them and yet do nothing to change it. Quite frankly, making excuses is now what I want to put on my list of accomplishments.

First thing I did was decide what I wanted to complete to feel successful in the year 2019.  I want to finish a sequel to House Of Redemption. I also wanted to complete the next two writing prompt books.

Plan of action was second on the list to do. I set a minimum attainable daily word count.

As though I haven’t done that before. I had to identify why I have failed. Simply put, I never allowed myself a day off. If I wasn’t writing, I was feeling guilty and focused on cleaning house, chasing kids, and what not. If I was doing something else, I was feeling guilty for not writing. A vicious non-productive cycle.

I gave myself two days off from writing. Guilt free days to do whatever I wanted.

The last item that goes with the Plan of Action is accountability. Being a great supporter of others in their ventures, I gathered a few of my fellow writers where we set our monthly word count goals and on a shared worksheet, we track our writing, We can see what we are and what we aren’t doing.

So far, the sequel to House of Redemption is coming along. Burn Down the House Volume II and From The Ashes Volume III (ten-minute writing prompts) should be released in a few months. (Accountability. See what I did right there?)

How about you? What is it you want to accomplish in 2019? What is your plan?

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Top 5 Reasons Why I Rejected a Story

It was a pleasure and an honor to be on the committee that selected the stories for the Cover_Change_front_120-683x1024new anthology Bubble Off-PlumbCongratulations to the twenty-six authors whose stories were accepted. Competition was high as  921 stories were submitted. Kudos to all the authors who pulled up their boot straps and sent their stories in. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It takes courage to submit your story knowing full well that it may be rejected. Until you develop the scar tissue over thicken skin, that rejection hurts like hell. As Kim Dickens once said, “It’s like a kick in the cooch.”  So yay, to those authors who stood tall and tough and took the kick.

But why did the story not get accepted?

Here’s my five top reasons why  I did not nominate a story.  There was a committee of three that nominated a story. Please note that this list reflects only my thoughts on the subject and are not the opinions of the other members.

#5   Did the story meet the theme requirements?

Bubble Off-Plum theme was original fiction short stories of such a nature; odd, unsettling, full of twists, etc.  A story submitted fell under the romance genre. It was a good story. It was sweet and loving. That’s a big compliment coming from me because I do not care for romance and love stories and this story still moved me. BUT it did not meet the requirement in my opinion. There was no twist or oddness to the story.

#4  This and That and Very

How clean was the story you submitted? By clean, I mean did you edit it first by removing the filler words and removing redundant words? I would be lying if I didn’t say to myself, This is going to be a pain in the ass to edit. I don’t want to.  Two stories could have equal value story-wise; the cleaner version is going to get the extra point.

#3  Did the story ramble or do multiple time jumps?

How long before you got to the point of the story? Did you fill it with backstory or flip between present and history multiple times? When faced with the job of reading hundreds of stories in a short period of time, Multiple characters and time jumps are going to task the reader. One story comes to mind and, it had a kick ass ending that I loved, but it took too long to get there.

#2 Three Act Requirements

A story needs to have three simple parts. Beginning, middle, and end. And I’m still pissed at one story specifically. Act one. The Beginning was awesome. Fabulous exciting build up. I couldn’t put it down. I was excited for this story. And then it was over. First Act only. No middle. No end. Just done. WTF??

I suppose it’s possible the wrong file was sent by the author, the incomplete file. But we aren’t going to follow up and ask where’s the rest of the story.

#1 Weak or Flat Ending

I’m sorry to say that a lot of stories had flat or weak endings. A shame really because the beginning and middle were excellent. It felt like the author either got tired or didn’t know how to bring it to a close. Story was just done and I felt blah afterward or I had questions about what just happened. I liked the endings that had a twist at the end or made me gasp in awe or surprise. I liked the endings that made me laugh.

All in all, the stories submitted  were good. With a few tweaks here and there, I hope the authors continue to submit their stories. They will find a home.

 

 

 

 

 

journal · quotes

On Writing: Being Brave

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I finished the second draft of my short story Good Thoughts. I won’t lie. I loved it. It’s fabulous. It’s all that I hoped it would be. Good hook, strong ending. I don’t mind saying the middle’s pretty good too. Time to press the send button to my buddies … my buddies who will find what I missed, and possibly rip it to shreds. All the doubt that lingers outside the door rushes in. Why did I press send? I should have added more to the ending. Was more detail needed? Should I have gotten more technical? The publisher’s going to hate it. What was I thinking?

Perhaps the better question is why do I doubt myself? Why do writers go through this act of self-depreciation? If I liked the story I sent out, I already know it’s a good story. It might need a little fixing (and it did) and that’s just it, it’s fixable. Why go through the act of a whining puppy pissing on the floor begging for approval? The only answer I have to the question is  it’s human nature. I’d like to say it gets easier with more writing, more critiquing, more experience, but I’d be telling a big fat lie. It is what it is. Face the fear of rejection and fix what needs fixing.

But the most important message is to give people the opportunity to say that they love your story. Give them the opportunity to read it. Don’t write and hide it. Don’t write and be afraid someone won’t like it. You can’t please everyone. Your story won’t be for everyone. You could write a classic beautiful romance story that sells to a million and I would still puke because no matter how good you are, I don’t care for romance novels. I give my horror novel to a romance novel lover and guess what? Guess where that one star review came from. Someone who reads mostly romance. You won’t find romance in House of Redemption (maybe a little lust). Ultimately, did I get butthurt over that one star review? Not at all. It wasn’t applicable to my novel as this person was not my reader (aka a person who reads horror).

You cannot enjoy the perks, the endorphins that flood your body, when someone says they loved your story if you do not give them the opportunity to read.

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When It’s More Than You Think

Way back in time in my early twenties, I was at an open market and found a beautiful tapestry. A forest scene with bears would go perfect with the saloon style bar or so I thought. I lost the bar, but I kept the tapestry all these years. It still hangs on my wall. I didn’t ever think of the artist or the history behind it until my daughter sent me this picture from Masha and the Bears. The grandkids were so excited to see Grandma’s tapestry on the video. I had no idea there was a puzzle. I had to know more. img_66881

Took forever to get a freeze frame that would show me the title.

Turns out to be a famous painting.   Morning in a Pine Forest was painted in 1886. It was painted by two Russian artists, Ivan Shishkin and Konstantin Savitskiy. Ivan painted everything except the bears. Both artists signed the painting, but Savitskiy’s name was erased by an art collect, Pavel Tretyakov.  (According to my internet research.)

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The photo doesn’t do the tapestry justice. The colors are richer. The funny thing is that both my daughters found it to be terrifying. Maybe they were concerned I would take them to the forest and leave them there. Probably shouldn’t have read them Hansel and Gretel with so much glee.

journal · quotes

Crash and Burn and Emerge Again

God and a writer have something in common. They both create worlds. They both create people. They both intervene on individual’s lives, both blessing and cursing them.

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My first story that I began a gazillion years ago had a working title of House. I fell in-love with my character Victoria. She was gorgeous with flowing auburn hair, smart, compassionate, and brave. The story placed Victoria leaving the library when the limousine cut in front of her blocking her way. Two men headed toward her. And this is where the story stopped for all time. I would not continue because I know what was in store for Victoria. I couldn’t let the scene happen. I wouldn’t hurt/kill her.

Some would say that as the author I have the ability to change the trajectory of Victoria’s path. I could. However, it wouldn’t be true to the story. The readers might not know, but I would.

I find myself in this position once again while writing the sequel to House of cb386-front2bcoverRedemption. The words were flowing. I was getting to know the characters. Everything was working the way it was intended.

And then came the dilemma and I chose to be selfish.

You see writing House of Redemption was a bit of therapy for me. The sad fact is that you can’t flay a pedophile in the real world and not go to prison for it, but you can do a lot worse to the kiddie fiddler when you are writing fiction. I enjoyed the scenes of Tom getting his ass kicked more than I should. And here comes the dilemma.

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It was my intention that the souls would remain in Blackstone Resort. Now ghosts, they would relive their vision of Hell. The remaining survivor (no spoilers here) would find a way to free the trapped souls.

And then I came upon the conundrum. If I free the souls, that would mean I also release the pedophile from his hell. I’m not ever going to be ready to let bygones be bygones. He will suffer forever in my fictional hell because I know the (long list of profane name calling) POS isn’t suffering from his crimes even if he is serving in prison for the rest of his life .

The alternate ending is the souls are not released. It’s all or nothing and if I choose that ending, the survivor is now damned. What Hell does this character inherit during the remaining years and worse after death?

As in my first story, I love my character. I cannot , I will not, damn my character’s soul. I will not free the pedophile.

The characters that haunt me will join Victoria and remain frozen in time.

On the day I decided to stop writing the sequel, a message popped up on my phone screen. It said.

Don’t look back. You’re not going that way.

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When I wrote House of Redemption, I wrote it as a stand alone story. It was never my intention to write a sequel and considering how much time has passed since the novel was published, I don’t think I was meant to continue the storyline. Best to leave it to the reader’s imagination as to what comes next.

I’m ready to stop looking back. I ‘m ready to start fresh. Ready to begin a new adventure.

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journal

Apathy

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I had the upward peak of writing. The thrill of words flying onto the page. I had the excitement of getting to know the characters and being on the inside of their plan. And now here comes apathy sticking it’s dirty muddy finger in the cake batter and swirling it about. Here comes the feelings of just don’t care. The cast of characters can float in limbo for all time. Could note care less. Don’t want to play anymore. Don’t want to write anymore.

I lie to myself. I do care. And I can’t stop writing.

It’s a pile of crap. 

Yet another lie. 

And even if it was true, first drafts are always crap. 

You’re fat. 

Now you’re just being mean. 

What’s next?

I’m going to take a step back. I’m going to finish the painting of the ocean front. I’m going to find the dress/shirt patterns. If time allows, I’ll do a few more projects. 

You’re fat and slow. It won’t happen.

I love you too. Some of it will happen and while I do the painting or sewing or clearing, my characters will talk to me and I will note what they say and the words will flow again as the house becomes alive.

You won’t let it. The house scares the shit out of you. 

People are going to die in that house.

And that’s what scares you. You like your characters.

I don’t want to like them. They’re bad people. 

They don’t want to be bad. They don’t think they’re bad.

They’re assholes. 

And they will die. 

But will they stay dead? 

Will they?

My characters haunt me. 

 

 

 

journal

Distractions are not a bad thing.

Maybe this wasn’t the right time to escape to my room to write. She found me and to beIMG_6641.jpg honest, listening to Paw Patrol is not inductive to the creative flow. Nor is the kid asking “Are you done?”

And this was actually a good thing. I set the paper aside and went to do some chores and while doing those chores, I remembered an important fact or better said I remembered an important question that needed to be answered. That question being… what is the newspaper article saying about the individual characters. There was a book of newspaper clippings in the first novel. There must be an additional similar book in the second novel.  Knowing this question will help when writing the character’s personal story.