Traveling Down a Long, Dark Road

Traveling Down a Long, Dark Road.

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Traveling Down a Long, Dark Road

Did you ever travel on a long, dark road with nothing to guide you? No street lights, no road signs, no map, no GPS?  Nothing but miles of road ahead of you? Maybe the road curved. Maybe it was straight. There could be rain, or a storm. Whatever the conditions, some things remain constant: The night is dark, the road is long, and you don’t know where you’re headed or where you’ll end up.

That’s kind of where I am now. A heavy sadness and feelings of lethargy have overtaken me. 18-Dark-Road-430

I’m not enthused about much. I worry about my lack of writing but can’t seem to do anything to change that. Can anyone relate?

I suspect at some point I’ll return to normal, if I was ever normal in the first place, which I’m beginning to question.

My blog is not current. Feelings of guilt about not keeping it up creep into my mind.  Alas, all I have at this time is an update on what’s going on with my writing.

I still have two stories out at Woman’s World. The mini-mystery was mailed on Oct. 15. Generally speaking, a long delay in hearing back from them is good news. It means the ms has gotten past the first reader, gone to the Fiction Editor, and maybe even to the Editor-in-Chief. So I wait. And wait. With bated breath I check the mailbox each day, only to find a handful of bills and advertisements. I wait another day.

I am taking an online class called Be Your Character’s Life Coach. The material is profound and challenging. It requires a lot of time, thought, and effort to complete the lessons. The premise of the class is to delve deep into your character’s soul to discover incidents, people, events, etc. that shaped and molded his/her personality. It is a good method to fully develop a character beyond the usual: name, age, appearance, family, likes and dislikes, etc. The lessons force the author to go much further than that. It’s heavy stuff. I’m having some problems, but I’m pushing through.

My novel has stalled, and until I complete the class, I’m letting it simmer for awhile. Maybe when I get a better grip on my characters I can move forward.

I have one lesson left on the Goal, Motivation, and Conflict class. Since the same novel is involved in both classes, I’m letting that last lesson wait for awhile, too.

In the meantime, I’m still traveling down that long, dark road.

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Sweet Successes in Small Bites

Sweet Successes in Small Bites.

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Sweet Successes in Small Bites

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Who would have thought I would have a 25 word story published! Well, I did! This is an interesting little publication that takes stories and poems of exactly 25 words! The title, not included in the word count, must be the name of a nail polish shade. Believe me, there are a gazillion colors out there, and some of them are quite interesting. OPI has the most creative nail polish shade names EVER. Go to their site online and you’ll see what I mean.

Some of the stories and poems on here are so creative. I never thought mine, my first submission, would be accepted. But I’ll take another publishing credit, whether for 25 words or 2500.

Here’s a link to the website:

https://nailpolishstories.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/january-2015/

Just scroll down until you find mine. It’s called “Flawless.”

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What is it about Rainy Days and Tuesdays?

What is it about Rainy Days and Tuesdays?.

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What is it about Rainy Days and Tuesdays?

 

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It’s been a gloomy, dreary, rainy day. The sun has not peeked out even once. If I had to describe the sky, I’d make up a shade of gray for an automobile paint color, or a man’s sweater, or a cocktail dress. I’d use words like Silver Mist, Harbor Fog, or Grey Pearl.

I haven’t done much of anything today, although what I have accomplished has been productive. Cleaned out the fridge for one thing. A garbage disposal and a dishwasher come in handy for such a chore, as do giant garbage bags for discarded bottles and jars. I feel badly for having wasted so much food, but the sight of a clean, fresh-smelling refrigerator assuages my guilt. I felt I had to get this task out of the way before I sat down to write my blog entry.

This will be my last post for 2014. At this point, I don’t want to make a list of writing goals and plans for the New Year. I never follow through, so I find it best to just keep on plugging along, maybe with a little more effort and perseverance.

I am determined to submit at least one piece before the end of the year. I have two stories, actually, that I’m thinking of sending out. But I know there are problems with each of them. Have you ever subbed something you knew wasn’t “quite right?” You knew the work was flawed, yet sent it off anyway? That’s what is going to happen with the two pieces of mine. One is an 800 word romance for Woman’s World.  It’s a good story, with a well-developed main character, conflict, tension, a believable resolution, and a “Hopeful” ending. Here’s the flaw: I had to use a lot of words for the set-up before the conflict appeared. (Usually in such a short work, the conflict comes in right away.) The love interest appears late in the story (he resolves the conflict), but my remaining word count is too low to create a lot of interaction between them. So I tried to make sparks fly in a few words, and leave the reader with a “feel-good,” hopeful, ending for the woman and the man. It’s a kind of Cinderella story involving shoes, and that’s all I can tell you. This theme has been worn out, but it still appeals to romantics.

I’m hoping that the editor at WW will like it enough to overlook the flaws and maybe do some editing to get it up to par.

The other story is a romance I’m sending to a UK magazine. I’ve tried to make it sound British as best I can, but the cultural differences create a problem. I’ve changed all my “Mom’s to “Mum’s”.  The big flaw with this story is that there is an important reference to cars.  An English friend told me the people in the story would likely ride the “tube” – train – for their shopping and errands instead of driving a car. One sentence about an automobile is so crucial I can’t think of a way to change it, but perhaps a more creative writer could. Again, maybe a good editor could tweak it.

What will it hurt to send these two stories off? I won’t know ‘til I try, and there’s no use trying to fix flaws when I don’t know how.

So wish me luck.

Happy New Year, everyone. May it be a productive, successful year for all us writers

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Writer at Work!

Writer at Work!.

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Writer at Work!

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Here I am, slaving away at my new novel! I’m all dressed up for the writing session in my new power suit and sensible oxfords. My hair is freshly coiffed, and I’m ready to turn out 3 or 4 chapters of great work.

Actually, that’s Agatha Christie. I found that image when I googled “Writer at Work”, and on a whim, I decided to use it with my post.

I am in awe at how Agatha Christie and other writers wrote full-length novels on those little typewriters. I guess typewriters were a new invention that allowed writers to write faster and turn out more work when they progressed from pen and paper.

I see what appears to be an outline, or notes that Christie is working from. See how neat and organized her work space is?

Now if Agatha Christie and others could write best-sellers on a manual typewriter, why can’t I just finish a novel, for Heaven sakes? I’ve got a decent computer, a comfortable room with sunlight streaming through the window, a ceiling fan, and warmth or coolness at the ready, thanks to an efficiently operating central Heat/AC unit. I have a choice of hot or cold beverages, and plenty of snacks. Sweet or salty. And a purring, sleeping cat at my feet. What else do I need?

My writing attire is usually my pj’s, and I’m barefoot. If I’m dressed, I’m wearing jeans and a tee shirt and athletic shoes. My hair is brushed. Or nah. My short grey ‘do is unruly, and if you know who the singer Miguel is, his messy, piled-on-top hair style is what mine looks like when I get up. My hair tends to look wild and pompador-ish ’til I tame it with water, gel, and hairspray.

An Agatha Christie I am not, but I have been doing some serious thinking concerning my writing and going in a different direction. The little cozy mysteries I write and the light, sweet romances are not marketable. Several have been published online, but I haven’t made any money. And folks, I’d like to sell my writing. I’d like to be paid, but as I’ve lamented before, the paying markets are few.

I’ve had friends ask, “Why don’t you write a novel?” and I’ve always answered, “I’m not a novelist. I don’t think I can write a book.” And that’s an honest answer. I don’t know if I have the patience or if I can come up with enough words. I’m a “tight” writer. I don’t know if I can pile on the dialogue and the details and the back story and the conflict and all the rest.

I’m at a crossroads. I am taking some online classes, and the first assignment deals with Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. I am lost. However, I did manage to write what I’m calling the first chapter in a novel. It doesn’t stand alone. I’ll have to keep going. I did the best I could, polished and tweaked and worried and fretted for a few days, and finally, hit that Send button. The first chapter is on its way to my instructor.

We’ll see what happens. If I’m on the right track, and if/or I can master the GMC components enough to work on a novel, I’ll keep going. Who knows? I just may finish that book I’ve started. For motivation, I’ll think of Agatha Christie and her little black typewriter.

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New Story Published!

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My flash fiction piece was just published at:

http://www.alongstoryshort.net

It’s called Grand Larceny and a Petty Thief.

I had fun writing it, and I hope the readers enjoy it.

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Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Stephen Carver

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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