Sunday, September 26, 2021

Getting My Groove On

 I had an idea months ago for my ghostwriting client to produce a series about four guys lamenting the lack of ladies in their town. The client gave me the go-ahead, but then realized he needed Christmas stories more than he needed the Lonely Hearts Club series (or whatever he'll end up calling it.) So, I put the idea on the back burner and focused on Christmas. 

Now, I'm resurrecting the series idea and getting back to work on it. I'm nearly 2/3 done with the first book, and am enjoying this concept and the characters, who will appear intermittently throughout the entire series. This should keep me busy until the end of the year. When I sit down in the morning and reread the previous scene in this book, I'm enthusiastic about where the story is headed. It should be a great way to wrap up the year. I'm in the groove.

As for my own story, which was mired in the mud portion of my brain, it's still stuck. All I'm doing is thinking about story lines for books I'll never write. For example, yesterday there was a young couple sitting across from me as I waited for my dinner partner. The guy glanced over at me and told me he was ten days sober. I congratulated him and told him I liked his tats. The woman he was with laughed off my comment, as if someone my age shouldn't even know what a tat was. There's a story line there, if someone wants it. As for me, I'm in the writing groove, but I'm living in the 1860s in Colorado, not modern day North Carolina. Far safer, from my perspective. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Hopelessly Lost

 As most of you know, I'm a plotter who works from a sketchy outline when I compose my manuscripts. None of this writing out of sequence stuff or coming up with a plot twist willy-nilly for me. I like to know where I'm going and how to get there. Some surprises might show up along the way, or the plot line might alter a bit during the writing phase, but I usually have a good idea of the how the story will progress before I start. 

Not so, this time around. 

I wrote the outline and sent it to my writing buddy, who shot it down, starting with the first graph. There were still parts of it that were good, so I took her critique to heart and began again, ironing out the problems. I got the first part of it written, and then looked at my outline again to see where the path was to go from here. 

It was like I was reading a totally different story. Nothing about the manuscript matched any of the outline, except for the name of the hero and the fact he began the story wearing an eye patch as a disguise. 

So, I've spent the last week splashing around in the pool on a floatie, staring at the ceiling and trying out various scenarios in my head. Usually, this works and I come away from my physical therapy sessions with hips that don't ache and a solid idea for the next scene. This past week, though, all I've come away with are good hips. 

How do I get my H/H out of the south with a runaway slave and a belligerent horse? How do they get to participate in hanky-panky while hiding said runaway? What mode of transportation will work? Will the hero give up in disgust and ride off into the sunset on the belligerent horse without a backward glance? 

I'll keep staring at the ceiling until the answers emerge. Or maybe I'll break down and write a new outline. That would definitely make life easier. 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Back To School Time

 I'm no parent, but once upon a time, I was a child, and the Labor Day holiday meant the fair was over and your new school shoes had been adequately broken in after two weeks of wear, so you were set for the school doors to open the day after Labor Day. The final week of summer spooled out in long, hot days, lying in a field, staring up at white puffy clouds racing by overhead, as if to escape the walls of school that were closing in on us. 

It wasn't so much that I hated school. I would have rather just been outdoors instead. With my nose in a book, one of my own choosing rather than being told what to read. With my feet bare rather than in ill-fitting shoes. But, I must admit, some of the lessons I learned in school were unexpected and have helped formulate the adult I've become. Case in point:

My best memory of high school was my first day as a sophomore, when I was on the committee to select our class jackets.

A few of us wanted to push the envelope and try a new style but the majority went with the teacher's recommendation and decided what had been popular the last ten years would once again be the norm. I elected not to order one. And for that, the teacher labeled me a rebel. 

I've tried to live up to his assessment of me ever since. Here's to you, Mr. DeMarco. 

And, to anyone who started back to school this week, I offer this advice. Take a breath of the outside air, keep your nose in a book of your own choosing, and run your naked toes through the grass. Keep that rebel spirit alive. You're going to need it as a grown-up.

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Christmas Is Nearly Over

 Over the past few months, I've been tasked with writing several Christmas-themed novellas as part of my ghostwriting work. I promised my client two stories for certain, and, if I had time, a third. I turned in the two promised ones, but then he did something not done before by this particular person. He sent me a rough outline of a story he wanted written. Usually, it's been up to me to create the story line and run with it, but this time, he'd put the story together for me. All I had to do was write it. 

Since I sensed this was important to him, I agreed to write a third story. After all, he'd done the hard part and come up with the storyline. I fleshed out his basic idea and began writing the story a few weeks ago. 

I'm closing in on the ending now, and should have it ready to send off early in the week. This story will bring to a close my Christmas story-telling for the year. I'm pleased I got so much accomplished, but come December, it will all start again, this time not in a story. Will it feel like an after-thought?

Sunday, August 29, 2021

What, Me Worry?

 Like most of us who tune in the nightly news, the tendency is to be overwhelmed by the scope of tragedy in the world. A world-wide pandemic coupled with a Cat 4 hurricane setting its sights on already beleaguered Louisiana, and the horrifying scenes coming out of Afghanistan make me want to bury my head in the sand until it's over. I have to keep telling myself I've done what I can to make things easier for myself and let the rest go. Worry will only tie me up in knots and I have too many obligations to let that happen. 

The same holds true for those situations that are closer to home. Health issues are plaguing my friends and family, causing sleepless nights. Again, I realize worrying about it is pointless. I've done what I can to help the situation and the rest is out of my control. 

My good friend is moving for the first time in a long time and she's got a hamster running around in her head with all the things she has to do, the questions that must be answered, the timing of everything, how much of her belongings will fit in her new place, and all the rest. I'd love to be able to take some of the burden off her shoulders, and I've done what I can to make life easier for her. The rest is up to her, and no amount of my worry will help her. 

As for my ghostwriting. I recently responded to an ad for a holiday-themed novella . I've been working on Christmas novellas for several months now and am finishing up the last of my promised ones, so why not sign up for one more? The deadline is a bit off from where most authors aim to get their holiday books into the hands of the public, but once I write the book and get paid for it, it's up to the client to market the book. Again, it's not my worry. 

So, folks, what's keeping you up at night? I hope for all our sakes, it's merely a good book that you can't put down. 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Logistically Speaking

 Since I began my writing journey, one thing has become clear to me. I'm a linear thinker. I like working from an outline, even a vague one, since it keeps me pointed in the right direction. While I admire the writers who can write scenes out of sequence and fit them all together later, it's not a talent I'm blessed with. 

Long before I discovered Blake Snyder's beat sheet, I did write a story that wasn't well thought out. I had to keep revising the story line and when I was reading the final draft, I realized I'd put the Christmas celebration ahead of Thanksgiving! That's when I stopped freewheeling it. 

But my logistical nightmares don't stop with my plot ideas. Take yesterday, for instance. I needed to get gas, but as I was getting ready, I ran out of moisturizer. Fortunately, the grocery where I buy my face cream is in the same parking lot as the gas station, so I cleverly thought I'd combine both on my way home from the gym. But as I got halfway down the road, my growling stomach reminded me I hadn't eaten anything yet that morning. Since working out on an empty stomach only means I'll start getting dizzy, I decided to change things around and go to the grocery and get gas before I headed to the gym, since there was a fast-food place there as well. My plan was firmly in place, and I was combining my trips and saving on fuel and time. Good on me. 

But the line for the fast food place was wrapped twice around the building. Changing my plans on the fly yet again, I gassed up and then went into the grocery. I am expecting company next week, so I needed to get a few things for that in addition to my moisturizer. Oh, and then Klondike had their new Reese's peanut butter cup Klondikes in stock and in front of my face. To be fair, the frozen dessert aisle is a mere hop and skip from the aisle where the creams and shampoos are. While I was in the ice cream aisle, I searched for and found an elusive flavor that comes and goes from the aisles. I looked at my shopping cart and realized there was no way I could subject that ice cream to a 45-minute stay in a hot car while I exercised. So my plans for the gym were scratched. I grabbed a bag of Cheetos to eat on my way back home with my ice cream. 

See what I mean? This trip was me putting Christmas before Thanksgiving again. I suck at on-the-fly logistics. Or maybe it was just the ice cream talking. 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Weekend

 No, I'm not talking about the singer, the R&B artist with the totally fake name. I'm talking about the actual weekend and when it begins. Let me explain: 

A writing buddy and I were talking about our schedules. I told her I had 3,000 words to go in my story and I'd probably finish it by the weekend. Since it was already Friday afternoon, she pointed out to me that we were already at the weekend. 

But when you're retired from the 9 to 5 world, weekends tend to lose their significance as something different from the week. I count Saturday and Sunday as work days, as a normal part of the week. So, when I say I'll have it done by the weekend, I mean 11:59 pm on Sunday. 

It may be the wrong way to look at the week, but it's my way. And, it works for me. I've still got a bit to write as I pen this blog, but hey, it's only Sunday morning! It'll get it done on my timeline, I'll do a read-through Monday and send it off. The next idea awaits.