Ingenious (and Helpful) Inventions

My tablet, set up on the Bluetooth keyboard...and Scribbles II on the screen.

My tablet, set up on the Bluetooth keyboard…and Scribbles II on the screen.

When hubby surprised me with a cruise to Cozumel, Mexico last year to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, the cover story he gave to get me to the Port of New Orleans, without my being any the wiser, was that we were going to spend our anniversary at a nice hotel in Nyawlins. So I took my laptop along, planning to join my chat group each evening while we were away from home.

But it turned out we were on a ship, not in a hotel, and I couldn’t get online via my laptop. So it was just so much dead weight. (I did write a blog post about our cruise, but still…)

Hubby had always said that he didn’t EVER want to set foot on a ship, after all the time he’d spent on Navy ships. But he had a blast, as I did. He had such a good time that he decided that the best way to check off the last item on his “States I’ve Visited”  bucket list…i.e., Alaska…was by taking a cruise to said state. And so he had our travel agent book us on a cruise at the end of August.

In the meantime, he bought me a Samsung Galaxy Tablet and a Belkin Bluetooth keyboard to go with it. They are small enough to fit in the back pocket of my pocketbook. So the tablet accompanies me everywhere I go, and, if it appears I might have an opportunity to write, the keyboard goes along for the ride.

While they aren’t as heavy as my laptop, they aren’t exactly light as a feather either (hubby says the weight of my pocketbook makes it a lethal weapon). But that’s beside the point. I can go anywhere equipped to write should the opportunity present itself.

On the 4 ½ hour flight from Atlanta to Seattle, I whipped out my tablet and keyboard and got some serious writing done on Scribbles II: Escape. (The flight from Pensacola to Atlanta is barely long enough attain altitude, drink the cup of water the flight attendants serve, then come in for the landing…not long enough to do any writing.)

Through much of the trip on board the ship, I was like so many other passengers, glued to the dining room windows or out on the fantail, mesmerized by the gorgeous scenery. (Don’t ask me why, but while the open decks were too, too cold and windy for me, the temps outside on the fantail were pretty comfortable.) But during the times the ship was in open waters, with no scenery to miss out on, hubby read and I wrote.

And I wrote on our return flight to Atlanta, and by the time I got home, I discovered I’d added 10K words to my manuscript! Too cool. So, I love my tablet/keyboard combination. Do you have anything that’s helped you with your writing?

Writing…again

Georgia Guidestones

Image copyright SeanPavonePhoto, via BigStockPhoto

Some writers plot. Some don’t. I happen to belong to the latter category.

When I begin a novel, sometimes I have a vague impression of where I’d like it to go. At other times, not so much.

And another thing. Some writers can determine what they will write. Like, they may decide, “THIS time, I’m gonna write a romance.” Wish I could do that. When I started tappa-tapping the keys a couple of weeks ago, I DID decide I was gonna write a romance. Unfortunately for me, my fingers didn’t get the message.

Now, I’m several thousand words into what promises to be yet another thriller: Scribbles II, sequel to Scribbles.

Have you ever heard of the Georgia Guidestones? AKA, American Stonehenge? When I learned about them a couple of years ago, they crept into the novel I was writing at the time…but they didn’t fit. Red pencil time. I cut them because they didn’t fit that story. But I saved what I’d written about them, thinking one day, some day, maybe, they’d be part of another story.

So. When I started typing recently, expecting a romance to magically appear on my computer monitor, imagine my surprise when I saw the indicators that the Georgia Guidestones were on the horizon in the developing story.

Oh, well. I suppose I have to bow to the inevitable. This story is gonna write itself, and apparently, those granite blocks standing on end in Elbert County, Georgia, with their creepy engraved message, will be part of it.

Let the tappa-tapping continue.

Writing…

Image copyright BigStockPhoto

Image copyright BigStockPhoto

There’s writing, and then…there’s writing.

These days, I enjoy writing novels, but…I’m actually typing them into a computer, not writing them by hand.

Why? Because, increasingly, I can’t write…not by hand, anyway. Actually, I’ve never been able to write well.

When I was a first-grader, we practiced forming the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case. With pencils. On blue-lined sheets of pulp paper in our Montag Blue Horse writing tablets (anyone remember those?) I was never able to do a good job at this.

Mama would “tsk, tsk” over each paper I brought home. She gave me encouragement and instructions on how to make my writing…well, readable. But no matter how much I tried, my scribblings remained just scribbles.

One afternoon, I brought home a paper that made Mama ecstatic. “See?” she said. “I knew if you kept trying, you’d get it right.” She proceeded to point out the smoothness of the strokes, the regular, consistent size of the letters…until she came to the name in the upper right-hand corner of the page. It didn’t say (all crookedy and messy) “Tommie Lyn.” Another little girl’s name was on the paper. (I wonder how her mother reacted when she saw my paper and thought, for one horrible moment, that it was her daughter’s.)

I was careful after that to make sure my papers didn’t get mixed up with someone else’s. Poor Mama, I don’t think she could have taken another disappointment.

My handwriting got worse when I advanced to the next grade and started learning cursive, and it never got a whole lot better. It was never anything to write home about, but it was at least legible. Until lately. During the past several years, it has steadily deteriorated as I’ve aged, and now, no one can read it, not even me. These days, the only way my hen scratching can be deciphered at all is if I print the letters.

Like I learned to do in the first grade.

…about writers.

Writing can be an unusual undertaking.

And writers are, in some ways, unusual folks.

In most fields of endeavor, one encounters shades and nuances of rivalry, competition and, sometimes, even outright jealousy between contenders for a given prize. For writers, the sought-after award is usually publication of a piece of writing.

In working to attain that “reward,” I have not found rivalry nor competition among other writers who are also striving to be published. I have found, instead, that other writers form a built-in cheerleading squad, urging each other on, giving helpful advice and encouragement, and celebrating each milestone, each achievement.

How unusual that seems when compared to some human endeavors.

And how refreshing.

image copyright UmutKemal via stock.xchng

…about plots.

There are 36 or 37 of them, they say. Or maybe only 7. And some say there are as few as 2, with many variations.

Whatever.

I don’t really care how many there are. I don’t care what they are. And I don’t even care which “plot” defines the current story I’m writing, just as long as it has a plot and it’s interesting. The important thing to me when I’m writing is the emotion a story generates in me as I write it, and, hopefully, the emotions it will stir in those who read it.

What brought up this topic? I’ve started the process of writing my next novel, the first sequel to “High on a Mountain,” and I’m beginning to get involved in my characters’ lives, to see their faces, to hear them speak, to watch their actions, to understand their thoughts.

And that is what engrosses me as I write — watching these people “come alive.” More than the plot. More than the “arc.” More than the beautiful turn of a phrase (do I even have any of those?).

Granted, there are some technical aspects to writing, and without a plot, there isn’t really a story. But, for me, those technical things seem to apply after the story has been told, and their purpose is to make the reading more enjoyable, so that writing mistakes don’t stand between the reader and an interesting tale.

So, Ailean and Aodh and Cootiyah — I’m watching and waiting. What plot are you going to give me this time?

image copyright Michal Zacharzewski, SXC

…about writing.

Ah, that inner editor. That stumblingblock to creativity.

One of the best things I’ve learned during the short time I’ve been writing is the value of silencing that built-in critic, to write the first draft unencumbered, unshackled by the inner voice which tells you what you’ve written is wrong, bad, laden with mistakes.

Of course there are mistakes. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t make mistakes. BUT. They are correctable, fixable, root-out-able. No problem.

The real problem in writing, for me, is to allow the spectre of the mistakes flowing from my fingers, through the keys and onto my screen, to stop me, to allow it to slow the torrent of that first draft, to keep it from pouring out.

Because, I WILL edit. Forever and incessantly, I will edit. I just have to get my story fully told first, then I can allow myself to meddle, to whittle, to strike out and to add.

As a matter of fact, if my novel is accepted for publication and sees the light of day in print, I will probably be at the bookstore, chasing down the people who buy it, pen in hand, saying, “Please, please, just let me fix that one word. You’ll be glad I did…..”

image copyright ivanferrer via stock.xchng