Organization?

Organizational, I am not.

Okay, okay, you can stop rolling your eyes. I can see that, ya know. And since you did it out loud, hear it as well. You know who you are.

As I was saying, or more exactly confessing, my organizational skills are a tad… primitive. Working on three different projects at the same time, in addition to the other parts of my life which involve people who do Not Write, means I must Get Organized. Or at least fake it until something shifts.

A friend told me how she attends a weekly staff meeting, just her and Jesus. Because she is the staff of one in her business and He does run the show. The same in my life. So, after a second or two of prayer, I decided to try it.

Made a list of really what it is I do. In the writing world, and a couple of other things that repeat in my life.

Which is:

Blog (of course, you know this)

Short stories (they keep popping up)

Books (2 published, 2 completed-not yet published)

Journal (really a book of prayer journaling for writers, will be published soon)

Bible study (personal and with others, couple of studies written but not ready)

 

Whew. Looks like a lot. Ah, not really. But I do want to keep up with them, ‘cause I do all of it. And it grows all over the floor. Might as well keep up with it.

And of course, family stuff. Grandkids and all that.

I don’t count housework. Or baking, knitting, other fun details. They fit in the corners of the other stuff.

My point is I Must Get A Handle On It All. Crazy, I know. But the crazier part is, it is working. I mean, not crazy that He does do stuff but my own follow through is not always a given.

So far, I’ve actually accomplished what we discussed on our first staff meeting. Blog entry, done. Prayer Journal entry, done. Letter writing, done. And I do have time for lunch. Hmmm. Can’t wait for tomorrow to see what happens.

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New Project Jitters

Been working on a new project for the past few weeks and it’s always lurking in the back of my mind. Even random quotations jump into focus, then blur into murky threads, if I don’t get them written down fast enough.

Like today.

There I am innocently knitting, creating a fun thing for a friend (who for the record did ask for it) when a quote from a cryptogram came to mind. It’s a great quote, planting an image, an idea, a struggle in the morass of my brain, when BLAM, another unrelated concept slips in, smacks me between the frontal lobes.

And just as quickly, dissolves into some gray goo. Leaving no bread crumbs to follow, no scent to suggest a direction, no taste to remember What Was That Thought?!

Is it because I’m in the middle of writing a new thing I’ve never done before? Could be. All the insecurities of new territories mess with my head, so it could be that. Or fear. Or my own brand of nutty creative spasm.

That I do like, because then I don’t have to do anything with it. And I am nothing if not always evading what I don’t have to do. ‘Cause all the stuff I want to do won’t go away until I Do It.

Motivational posters give me hives so I make fun of them. A lot.

Wacky enough, the new project gets into that area. Every time it starts to get pompous, I rewrite and write to rewrite.

Writing is serious good stuff but taking myself too serious is not good stuff. Which, now that I think about it, may be the reason, that thought melted before I had the chance to trap it.

Ah, ha. One more item off the to-do list. Someone mention lunch?

Ideas Pop Up

Funny how ideas pop up, like dandelions in the middle of a new mown lawn. They are all over the place. Each one valuable, useful and full of promise. And just as pesky.

Odd phrases rise, fade and jump out to startle me awake. The blankets are still nestled around me, lazy filaments of sleep catch at eyelids but I am awake.

At 3 a.m.?

Yep. And the ideas continue to waft across to-do lists, sniggering at my attempts to hunt each one down, dig it up and use it or toss it.

Heard the thought that good ideas float on the wind, teasing and tempting every writer. Some of them take root, producing short stories, novels, articles, editorials, movies and television shows.

The rest?

They serve as compost for the next dry time, seeds buried in the mire of undone possibles. So, today, in another valiant attempt to capture this stuff before it gets way on the wind, I’m writing words.

LongSufferingHusband says programming is like that, or it was for him before retirement. He’d wake up in the middle of night with code sifting through his mind. Sometimes it made sense, sometimes not. But it was code.

This time, for me, it produced a blog post. Later today, got a hunch, it’s part of a short story. Not big enough scope for book-length. Yet.

Change. Aaaauuuuggghhhh!

Especially email addresses. Double Aaaauuuugggghhh.

That vague sense of impending shifts started a few months back. Both Long Suffering Husband and I poked at the idea of changing email addresses. Twenty some years is long ago and far away in tech universe but all our stuff was connected to the old address. I could send attachments, locate contacts, use group mailing lists, do all my business stuff at a keystroke.

But we both ‘felt a disturbance in the force’ kinda. How long would that old address actually work? What if the platform, gasp, updated? And really, what does that mean anyway? I still think of a platform as a wooden structure with support beams, nails assembled for someone or something to stand above eye level. A place to speak from. Now, it’s a mythological abstract you can’t physically touch. But it shifts and business as usual, doesn’t.

Ewww.

Embarking on the trek into getting contact lists reset, contacting each and everyone in our world to let them know Our Email Address Has Changed.

When it’s done and I relearn how to do all the stuff I knew how to do with the old system, in the new way, I will celebrate and stop rolling my eyes. Okay, I won’t really stop rolling my eyes but the comfort levels of how to do anything will be better.

Notice all that future tense stuff? ‘Cause right now, I’m TENSE.

Change? What Change?

Oh, yeah, that change.

Ewww.

Next blog post, I promise, no whining. Well, not as much or on the same topic or maybe even in the same universe. But don’t hold your breath. It requires change, you know. And we all know how that works.

 

Setting Goals

Setting goals is a learning process for me. I’m pretty good at the outset, not so hot at the follow-up. For all my whining about artificial constructs, cultural expectations and the tyranny of the urgent, turns out I need a form to follow, a deadline to meet and consequences faced.

Bored yet?

Me too.

Gonna blame the weather for it. Winter—not my favorite season. Still, turns out I need down time, confined and confirmed to finish some projects. Not a cold wind aficionado nor a wet, cloudy day person. Those days drive me inside, huddled into fleecy blankets with the space heater full blast. Accompanied by a hot cup of tea, coffee, apple cider. Fingerless gloves of course and wool socks.

Ahhh. Even writing this makes me feel warmer.

Let’s see, what was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Goal setting.

Ahem.

The need for goals. And how to set them.  That sends a chill down my spine. And up my nose. But I do it because if I don’t, chaos ensues. Left to my own inclination, those ideas in my head would be only in my head, books unwritten, dreams drifting away on spring breezes. Today, I am fulfilling the goal of a blog post written every week. And a new section of a concept laid out daily.

Sounds crazy, huh?

Except the blog post gives me space to open the trunk in my head, delight in one of the old cardboard file boxes, get lost in there for a bit, playing find-the-point-before-I-lose-it. And the section thing? Attempting something I’ve never done before. New territory not on my map at all. Much like trying figure out how to spell words the internal dictionary can’t decipher.

The really fun part? A sense of accomplishment sneaks around the corner of my brain, twinkling at me, then running off to the deeper parts of my character, giggling. Silly writer, tricking me into Getting Things Done.

Crazy. The things you learn when you do housework.

Crazy.

The things you learn when you do housework. And the things you wished you learned before you started. Two very different things.

The thing I learned? That dish liquid must be very strong. I cleaned my oven for the first time in a while. It’s self cleaning but last time I did that cycle, we burned out one of the heating elements. That’s part of one of those things I wished I knew before I started cleaning.

So, still have the oven and it still works, just not as efficiently. And until last Saturday, still grimy. Got an idea off Pinterest to use dish liquid. Turns out if I pour dish liquid on burned on stuff, leave it to soak for about 30 minutes, a lot of the baked on yuck comes off. With a good bit of help of course, but it does work. So, not a total Pinterest fail.

Now the oven is mostly clean and next time I will pour dish liquid on the burned parts, soak and then clean.

The other thing I wished I knew before I started? That my hips, shoulders and thighs are not 35 anymore. Sore in lots of places that I didn’t know I had. Today much better.

And tomorrow will be even better, ‘cause I don’t have to clean the oven again for awhile. I promise, no house hold hints from me. Merely a few house hold rants from time to time.

Oh, and I did get the second book out on  Amazon. Now have MotherLove and Kiss’N’Kill on Kindle and paper. Currently working on a writer’s prayer journal, to be followed by a collection of short stories.

Not really sure what to call the shorts but I do know what the cover will look like. It will have a big bowl of popcorn, a bottle of wine and two pink fuzzy house shoes. As if I’m reading, eating popcorn and drinking wine. Sounds like a lovely evening of fun.

There are lots of good/bad things to be discussed. Like if YouTube is a curse or a blessing. I think both cause I’ve been able to catch up on Nero Wolfe, lots of British mysteries and loads of yarn things. Not really sure if my LSH is as happy with YouTube as I am but he tolerates it.

All this does go under the Things You Learn when you do stuff and the Things You Wished You knew before you Began it. most of my life goes that way. The next project to be tackles will be getting my website corrected on the content stuff. And I’m not much into how to Promote ThySelf so to Sell Thy Books.  Oh, boy. As in, not yah but must do.

I sort of rank that stuff as less fun than scrubbing floors. At least with floors, my intelligence will not be insulted by electronic stuff that is supposed to be ‘intuitive’ whatever that means. Ah, me. Enough whining for now.

Words, Words, Words

Long ago and far away, the BeeGees did a song called Words. The line It’s only words, and words are all I have” illustrates a sliver of where this post is going.

Words make all sorts of pictures, emotions and constructs jump around, bumping into each other, falling over, vanishing and morphing inside me, prompting new lines of thought, old mental anchors, these lovely toys of life.

It meshes together most of the time, not always.

As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

That proverb talks about being careful who you hang around with, because the other guy always has plans. And who you hang with, you begin to think like.

…for out of the abundance of the heart, his heart speaks. Matthew 6:45

The first part of that verse contrasts a good person’s words and an evil person’s words, ending with what’s in the heart comes out in the words. Again, who you run with, runs inside you to emerge from your mouth.

Don’t usually quote but today, because I’m still rummaging inside the huge boxes in that attic of my imagination, quotes feel appropriate. Plus, this idea of words being tools to move, adjust or direct that vague construct we call culture suggests I examine every tool I make use of.

I work in American English but the threads come from all over. Robert Frost to Robert Heinlein, Nathaniel Hawthorne to Rex Stout, boxes labeled or not, I use ‘em all. The goal is to use ‘em well.

It’s a beginning. For now.

Ventures

Here I am working on a new venture. Okay, so not really a venture, and not really new. I mean, the blog is on-going, with an entry every week on Mondays. At least it better be ‘cause I set it up that way.

Technology and I often have these deep philosophical arguments so what I intended may not have occurred. Crazy part is, I’ve used passive voice in so much of this entry, it will have to rewritten. New goal for the year, recognize and squash passive voice as much as possible. Or in this case, leave it in as a slap at technology.

Take that! You mindless machine. As I hear a sniggling chuckle in key clacks.

The new venture I meant is I’m writing a writer’s prayer journal. Didn’t want to kill myself so I opted for a 90 day length. And if I keep to a schedule of three entrys a day, will complete it in a month or so. Heavy on the “or so”. I set goals and schedules. They do not always agree. With me or each other.

A couple of other projects are chugging along. The newest book Kiss’N’Kill is now out on Amazon, kindle and paper versions. That means two book available. And I dipped into the realm of Author Page and Look Inside.

Sounds like something in a fantasy novel. Kinda is, for me at least. For all my moaning about technology, when it works, it is a wonder. To be able to have a print book out there within days or weeks is amazing.

Since I have four other completed manuscripts and a couple of dozen short stories, I can begin final edits and unleash the hounds into the world. Should be interesting. Have also found a new beta reader. A couple actually. That means I get to show the almost ready stuff, get feedback and keep going.

The Nora Holmes series will be completed when the last two books get out of my head and into the computer. Got another book lurking on the horizon but I’m putting it off so I can concentrate. And people wonder where writers get their ideas.

Mostly we try beating them back into order until we get a few hours sleep. I am not the only one. I know. Don’t ask how I know. I just do.

Speaking of, I must go and do some beating back right now. Before the horde escape into that back closet I call a notebook. Last time they managed to get into government files and we who follow the news…well, best left unsaid.

 

Tenses, Senses, Voice

Had a delightful conversation the other day with a fellow writer. We got into the fun stuff of past/present/future tense and that thing about first, second or third person point of view. You know, voice stuff on paper.

When I mention these topics to Long Suffering Husband, he smiles gently, sips his by now cold coffee and heads for the microwave to zap the coffee into life.

‘Cause that topic is as exciting to him as day old oatmeal. Cold, dry and kind of sticky.

Which is okay with me. I married him for lots of other reasons, not his none existent literary bend. He reads tax info, technical journals and diagrams. His baby blues (which are stunningly blue by the way) twinkle about other stuff.

Happy sigh.

Another writer buddy Angela Gutwein, recently finished her book, done in first person, present tense. Which has got to be the hardest thing in the world. And she did it magnificently. All emotional filters, gone. Immediate visceral impact? Enormous.

The book, Flying Lessons, will be out in a few weeks and I can hardly wait. The story, amazing and uplifting. Even in the gut-punches.

I learned so much reading and critiquing her manuscript, my own stuff is better for it. That’s the mark of a good read. It impacts your life in ways you never imagined.

Which is why I was talking to another writer about it. And her terrific way of holding to the right way to tell her story.

Forty years ago, stories were usually told in third person passive, past tense. “She began to touch the knife. She felt her fingers trembling.

Today, more like “She touched the knife, fingers jittering.”

She did the action, now. Wasn’t done to her or around her.

Today, sentence structure crisps or softens to carry the flavor intended for impact. Sometimes, in fiction, grammar is sacrificed for impact.

‘Cause I needed it. In that sentence.

Words are tools, always have been. Rules help communication stay clear, appropriate and focused. As writers we must know when to hold to the rule and when to ignore it. If ya want the focus to shift, ya gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.

Didn’t steal that line from Kenny Rogers, but from my dad who made a wild attempt to teach me how to play poker. Cards, smards. Would rather tell stories about the Joker and the Ten of Clubs.

Dialogue, my fav.

Everyone of you knew what I meant, even when it wasn’t English literature level. English is a funny language, with American racing into the wild.

Another book on the shelf.

Boy oh boy. Another book on the shelf.

And that is only half the story. Faithful Reader, by the time you read this, my second book will be on Amazon. Even though it’s all submitted, processed and ready for reading, the proof copy is not yet in my hand. After that, I can hit the final button and it’s out there in the world.

Kiss’N’Kill. Ah, sweetness.

Turns out, this process of having a document available for public perusal is almost if not more work than writing and editing the thing. Who knew?

Me, now.

With the patient, noble help of the writers group (Heart & Soul), my knowledgeable, kind editor Lisa Bell, lots of prayer and the delicate maneuvers of God Almighty, the second book grew from a lovely little germ to a delightful stalker novel. For others to read

Contented smile.

Human frailty is a glorious mine with thick veins of dark/light riches. People are such fun and such messes and their stories call out to be told. In a thousand voices.

The business of getting that story out to other eyes is much rougher than it looks like. Sort of like the sun-kissed mountain top, beckoning the hero onward. Past the dry, windswept desert, with no oasis in sight.

Distant mountain birds call out, and the faint aroma of sweet spice trees, with a delicate hint of water trilling through mossy stone channels call to the hero. They are there, on the horizon, just out of reach, waiting to be experienced.

Sand-laden grimaces bar the way. Desert promises of despairing pain, must be traversed. There are guides, stalwart individuals with hidden knowledge. They can help but first, they must be found. Some appear to be guides, false images, thin paper shredding in the night howls of desert jackals.

And I have crossed the Desert of Dis-publishing. Next is the Wandering Paths of Gathering Readers. Beyond this there be dragons….

No, no, no. Wrong direction.

Beyond this is a new test. The Gathering of readers start in small ways, sometimes including exploding balloons. Or that unknown animal, the Book Launch. I will be scouting out the track of this one. Later.

For now, enjoying the moment.