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.

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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.

I’ve Been Tagged!

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

Cherokee Rose © SeanPavonePhoto

The writers’ blog hop simply asks ten questions about your current story, and then you tag five other writer-blogger friends to participate next week. Bethany Jean over at My Saviour My King tagged me. Thanks Bethany!

I’m posting about Across the Wide River, the third novel in my historical series.

1: What is the working title of your book?
Across the Wide River

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’d written the rough draft of High on a Mountain, the first book in the MacLachlainn saga, and titles for three sequels came to me: Deep in the Valley, Across the Wide River, and On the Red Clay Hills. I didn’t know what the stories would be about, but all I need is a title and a keyboard in front of me, and a story will flow.

3: What genre does your book come under?
It’s historical fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I rarely watch television or go to movies, so I’m totally unfamiliar with the current list of popular actors. However, since my most of the characters are Cherokee, I googled Native American actors and picked these (because of copyright constraints, I’m not posting photos of the actors, but links to photos if you’d care to check them out):

Yonvusdi MacLachlainn, the main character, would be played by Eric Schweig http://avalon-medieval.blogspot.com/2010/01/eric-schweig.html

Coinneach MacLachlainn, Yonvusdi’s uncle, would be played by Adam Beach http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Beach

Wayaunega, Coinneach’s uncle, would be played by Wes Studi http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0836071/

Susanne Bertrand would be played by Michelle Trachtenberg http://wallpapersget.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/michelle-trachtenberg-girl-beautiful.jpg

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young boy loses his home when his father dies, and throughout his life, he wants to go home.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?
It will soon be self-published (currently being edited).
7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I tried to write it during NaNo 2009, completed the 50,000 word challenge, but had not done the research necessary to make the historical part of the story accurate. When I began the research phase, I realized I had to throw out everything I’d written and start over again, which I did about a year ago. With all the interruptions I’ve experienced since I started over, it has taken me about a year to write the first draft (or second draft, if you count the discarded NaNo false start).

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
That’s a difficult question to answer. There are some elements in Yonvusdi’s childhood with his grandparents in the first part of the book that might be compared to “The Education of Little Tree.” But for the rest of it, which includes the Trail of Tears, for instance, I’m at a loss as to a book to compare it to.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?
This is a continuation of the story of Ailean MacLachlainn’s family, and I was inspired to write Ailean’s story by the experience of the Scottish ancestor of a friend of mine.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
One event in the story is one some people have heard of but don’t know much about…the Trail of Tears. Although it’s a painful period in our nation’s history, we need to know what happened then. And I think there’s an inspiring lesson for those who study the history of those days…the Cherokee people suffered the loss of their ancestral lands and lost loved ones (it is estimated that at least 4,000 Cherokees died during The Removal to Oklahoma, and some put that figure as high as 6,000…..and that is out of a population of about 15,000 people). They experienced much hardship, but they didn’t give up. They overcame obstacles that might have destroyed a lesser people, and they survived and are thriving today, both in Oklahoma and North Carolina.

NOTE: The image at the beginning of this post is of the Cherokee Rose. The legend of the Cherokee Rose says that Cherokee mothers cried on the Trail of Tears, and the elders prayed for a sign that would lift the mothers’ spirits. The next day, a beautiful rose began to grow everywhere a mother’s tears fell. The petals were white, representing the mother’s tears, the center of the flower was gold, representing the gold taken from Cherokee lands, and there were seven leaves on each stem, representing the seven clans of the Cherokee. The Cherokee Rose grows wild along the route of the Trail of Tears.

Why Reading (Literature from Bygone Days) Is Fundamental

Image © L. Emerson via stockxchng

Image © L. Emerson via stockxchng

I’m not altogether sure when it happened, but the American people, in general, lost touch with their language, both in written and spoken form. Every day, on Facebook, in emails, on blogs, and in other places, I see evidence of that fact.

Some problems, I suspect, may have developed because of certain accents. Like, for instance, the use of “weather” when the word should be “whether,” because in some places, people have dropped the “h” from their pronunciation. (To hear how “whether” should be pronounced, go here.) And the use of “then” when the person means “than,” or vice versa, likely stems from the same problem…pronunciation.

Other problems may have come from a lacksadaisical approach to the study of the English language in school. Like when folks write “ice tea” rather than “iced tea,” because they don’t understand WHY it should be “iced tea.” (Hint: it’s because the tea has been “iced,” i.e., poured over ice, not because the tea was made from ice…like, chamomile tea,  herb tea, ice tea, etc.)

So. If you think you may have been shortchanged as far as using the language properly, check the title. At first, it was “Why Reading Is Fundamental.” And then I realized, no, just reading per se (not “per say”) wouldn’t help, because of the plethora of misuse everywhere. No, to be exposed to words and language in such a way as to absorb how it should be used, you’d need your reading materials to have been produced during a time when people knew how to use words.

Now, lest you think I hold myself up as an example of correctness, let me say, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha {gasping for breath} ha ha ha ha ha! I’m as prone to making errors as the next person (I would normally say “the next feller,” but some would take issue with that word “feller,” and I’m trying to make a point, here, so….). But, I do try to pay attention and learn.

What do you suppose would happen if we ALL tried to pay attention and learn…..

Saying Something

Image © Byron Solomon via stock.xchng

The advice given to authors is to avoid commenting on religion or politics. After all, we wouldn’t want potential readers to discover what we really think and thereby lose sales of our books. But I realized that anyone who will be turned off by my statements of what I believe will likely be turned off by my books, anyway, since my world view comes out in what I write, whether fiction or non-fiction.

And of late, the danger that I see looming for my country is such that I can’t remain silent about it. Book sales are of no importance when compared to the demise of my country and the untold suffering about to be visited on my fellow citizens.

Granted, there are a huge number of those fellow citizens who have no clue what’s coming, and they embrace the very thing that will prove to be their undoing. And they will most likely ignore what I say. But I have to at least give a warning so they can’t come to me later and say, “Why didn’t you say something about what was coming?”

So…from now on, I won’t be silent, I’m saying something….

50th Anniversary

Image of rings © Alexander Moroz via iStockphoto

September 29, 2012: fifty years ago today, my hubby and I eloped.

We’d known for some time that we wanted to get married, but the idea of “walking down the aisle,” with all the attendant fol-de-rol was intimidating to both of us. Neither of us enjoy a big fuss or being “center stage,” so eloping seemed the logical thing to do. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to bypass the ceremonial activities that I’d dreaded and make our vows privately before the Justice of the Peace.

I know this route is not for everyone, but it was perfect for us.

Last year, I realized we’d be facing another situation that could possibly entail a party or other event that made me feel squeamish—our fiftieth anniversary. I dreaded it. I said off-handedly to my husband that I wished there was some way we could “slip under the radar” and enjoy our anniversary quietly, no muss, no fuss, no party. And, sweetheart that he is, he arranged it.

He told me last week that it was all arranged: we’d go to a nice hotel in Nyawlins (that’s “New Orleans” for those of you who “ain’t from around here”). And we could celebrate it however we chose. Sounded great to me!

A few things he mentioned during the intervening days sorta gave me a sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t telling me the whole story. But…I didn’t ask, I just waited to watch everything unfold.

When we arrived in Nyawlins and he headed to the Port of New Orleans, my suspicions were confirmed. And today, on my anniversary, I’m taking a few minutes to write this post while the Carnival Elation is docked in Cozumel, Mexico.

Leave it to my hubby, he always has the greatest ideas! What a perfect 50th anniversary celebration for the two of us!

What about you? Is there a special time you’d like to share a comment or two about? I’d love to hear it!

HyVee

Image by Tommie Lyn

I must say that blogging per schedule (i.e., having to churn out blog posts whether or not you have something to say) is wearing. Why is it that exciting topics hide when I’m ready to write, and others find them and beat me to it?

Plus, at this moment in time, my focus is on current events…which is a no-no in blogland (unless you’re a political writer, which I’m not).

The only other option, when your mind’s empty of possible topics, is writing posts about writing. Also a no-no, since other writers are the only ones likely to have an interest in reading them, and far better writers than moi cover writing topics much better than I.

That reduces me to digging up topics that no one, not even me, have an interest in reading or writing. For instance, I could talk about my addiction to working jigsaw puzzles (yawn!).Or maybe, a post about another addiction…Extra Dessert Delights Sugar-free Apple Pie Gum (yum, yum!).

Or…say…how about a post about…HyVee Supermarket? YAY!

Hubby and I made a trip to North Dakota this summer (part of his bucket list…he’d been in every state except North Dakota and Alaska and wanted to tick them off his list. Guess where we’ll be going next year?)

On the way, we needed some things and stopped at a supermarket in Kansas City, Missouri…a supermarket we’d never seen or heard tell of…HyVee Supermarket.

First of all, let me say, we were intrigued by the name, because, when one of our grandsons was small, he could never wrap his mind (or tongue) around the fact that hubby’s RV was, well, an RV. He called it a “high vee.” And here was a supermarket by that name. (An omen of what was to come, that this place was special? Indeed!)

But what bowled us over was the store itself. HyVee stores are employee-owned, and it shows the minute you walk inside. It’s clean, the staff is friendly and glad to see you, and the selection is amazing.

I walked in the door…and fell in love.

There were so many things to choose from, we spent more time in the store than we’d intended, just marveling at everything. Plus, they have restaurants in the store and a salad bar that is incredible. (Hubby got a fruit salad assortment and I got a tossed salad…never had a fresher, better-tasting salad, even the ones I make at home.)

Suffice it to say, I will pine for HyVee until, by some small chance, the HyVee company decides they ought to build a store in the Florida panhandle. Sigh…

What about you…do you have a favorite place to go grocery shopping?