Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Posts tagged ‘Writers Zen blog’

A Long, Meandering Path #IWSG

IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month we were asked – What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

My real life world is a rich source of material for my stories.

A Long, Meandering Path

Often authors are asked what started them on their writing journey. Their answers (from this side of the print) always seem so self-assured and definite. “Oh, I’ve always written.” “From the time I was a little girl I was scribbling stories.” Or, they always had a precise moment in time they can point back to that directed them down the path of authorship.

I’ve always been jealous when I read those answers.

I haven’t always written. I can’t think of a single moment in time that pointed me in this direction. In fact, I still have my moments of feeling like an imposter. It feels as if I’ve stepped into someone’s ‘author’ shoes that they left lying on the floor and nobody’s noticed that their not my shoes yet.

Now, I’ve always read. Since I was able to start deciphering the cryptic letters on a page and realize they created words which told stories, my nose has not been out of a book since. But writing the stories? Why, that was for the ‘real’ authors; Madeleine, L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time), Hugh Lofting (Dr. Doolittle books), or E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web).

There was that period during senior year when I filled pages with teenage angst filled poetry – but that was work that earned its place in the rubbish bin. It doesn’t count.

I might have dipped a toe in the world of writing sooner – but a room full of peers in a creative writing class in college delayed that action for many, many years. I don’t even recall the first story that I penned that I took to class for critique. Oh, lordy, I still remember the soul-crushing reception my words received. It would be many, many (many) years before I’d attempt writing again.

I was talking about writing with a long-time friend one day. “But you’ve always written,” she said.

“No. I haven’t.”

“Yes, you have. Look at all the newsletters you’ve done over the years. And the small cookbooks you made for the herb store you had.”

But…that wasn’t real writing. One was a cooking newsletter which was a Christmas present in the days when I had to deliver Christmas to family, friends, and one young child on less than $100. The herbal newsletter was when I was trying to get my small herb and garden store up and going and desperately needed a few extra dollars. The little cookbooks to sell in the store? Another cash generating idea. But…you see, typing recipes and relaying herbal information about how to grow and craft with different herbs doesn’t count as ‘real writing’.

And then, after all the years, the boys grew up and moved out. I moved. Finally, I grew up. And it seemed that suddenly there were stories spilling out of my heart and onto the page, and the faster I try to tell them, the more the tide flows in bringing more tales with it. Okay, and a pushy Grandma from heaven who wanted her story told helped me along the path a little sooner than my dragging feet were ready for.

And the critics looming in the background? The cousins to the other students in the college creative writing class from so long ago? Oh, they still make a peep now and then. But the difference is that now I keep going, despite criticism and negative remarks. I know I’m not perfect yet. I’m not where I’d like to be as a writer…yet. But I keep tapping away at the keyboard. And now, the peers I hang out with are much more supportive and we applaud each other’s progress as we journey down this writing road together.

I’d tell you more…but I’ve got ghosts from the past whispering in my ear wanting their story told next. Must. Get. Writing.

Jeepers Creepers – IWSG

IWSG

Every month, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) announces a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. “These questions may prompt you to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. Include your answer to the question in your IWSG post or let it inspire your post if you are struggling with something to say.”

Remember, the question is optional! (But I usually try to go with their question.)

November 6 question – What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

The awesome co-hosts for the November 6 posting of the IWSG are Sadira Stone, Patricia Josephine, Lisa Buie-Collard, Erika Beebe, and C. Lee McKenzie!

first flight

Jeepers-Creepers

A writer’s browser history – it’s funny, but this subject just came up in my writer’s group a few days ago. One of the members is writing a psychological thriller. She was telling us about how she’s creating a board about her serial killer, similar to the ones shown in police departments in crime shows. She was joking about hoping that the police never show up on her door with a search warrant for any reason, laughing about what they’d find when they entered her office. She’s going to be doing some blog posts about her progress with this, and wants to put a disclaimer somewhere on the board – ‘Honest, I’m just a writer!’

From there we started talking about how our browser history would look to anyone examining it.

Best poison for…

How to dismember…

How deep to bury…

How long to freeze…

Alas, lately most of my writing lately has been historical fiction, so I can’t think of any fascinating things that I’ve had to research. Most of my searches lately have been of the ‘When was this phrase first used’ category. Or, what type of clothing was worn in X? When were bicycles first used? What movies were showing in 1934? What books were published in 1848? How long does it take to churn butter?

‘Jeepers, creepers’ is one of phrases I had to look up. More of a fact check instead of research. This frequently comes up in my writing group. One of us will use a phrase and some asks – was that even used then? Out come the phones as people frantically start googling the term.

I did that myself. I was reading a children’s book, set at the time the Wilber and Orville Wright were about ready to have their first airplane flight. The phrase was used a few times in the book. I thought – that’s too early. That’s a 1920s phrase.

I was wrong. The phrase came into popular use much earlier and was used in 1903.

These little pieces are all tidbits that I need to know. And they’re interesting to me – however, I doubt any of these searches quality for the strangest thing to google prize. I am interested to read some of the other posts today, to see what odd things that other authors have had to research.

IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: If you could pick one place in the world to sit and write your next story, where would it be and why?

laguna beach.jpg

As If There Were Any Question

Laguna Beach, California is where you’d find me writing if I had my druthers. Scotchman’s Cove, Diver’s Cove or Heisler Park – wherever I could find an empty bench or a sandy spot for my beach towel with the fewest people around.

And why there? Because it’s one of my favorite spots on earth and the sun, the salty air and the pounding of the surf nourishes my soul and heals me. It opens me up to write from my inner being. But although that’s my all-time favorite place, I wouldn’t be adverse to a week nestled along the shoreline at Big Sur either. I’d say any other beach – but that would be a lie. I’m a bit of a beach snob and am fussy about where I spend the little beach time I have. Which, now that I live in Texas, is about nil.

It wouldn’t be Huntington Beach. It wouldn’t be Seal Beach. It’s wouldn’t be…any of the other flat boring expanses of sand that graces so much of the coastline. It has to be rocky and craggy, where the surf can dash itself against the cliffs. Where there are tide pools to explore. I don’t even have to dip my toes in the water. All I need is the sights, the sounds, the scents of the vast ocean in front of me.

But you know – barring no acceptable beach, I could also disappear into the mountains where jays are screeching and the wind rustles through the pine trees that perfume the air with their fresh pungent scent.

Alas, since I’m thousands of miles from a beloved beach, who knows how many miles from a decent mountain forest, and its 95-degrees outside as I write this, I’ll settle for writing at my keyboard, tucked away in my home with the AC blowing full blast and the bit of nature that I’ll revel in right now is the teensy little spider trying to build a web outside in the corner of the window frame.

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Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 1-2 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. Right now I’m scheduling authors for October and November. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.

Get Pages of the Past delivered to your inbox every Friday!

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laguna beach 2.jpg

Patience Required #IWSG

IWSG

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: Has your writing ever taken you by surprise?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Renee Scattergood, Sadira Stone, Jacqui Murray, Tamara Narayan, and LG Keltner!

 

Patience Required

calendar flying by

I thought I was prepared for a freelance writing career. Before I gave notice to my employer, I prepared. I’d read about a freelance writing life. I started submitting long before I gave my notice. I had some money in the bank. I was ready. I had a plan. I had patience. I had this!

And then – the realities proved that I didn’t.

Knowing that I wouldn’t work and get a paycheck two weeks later (immediate cash compared to how the writing money trickles in), I had enough cash to get through three months.

And then…the car broke.

I had a plan and I was submitting.

And then…the acceptances didn’t come in fast enough.

And then…

Much to my dismay – and what wasn’t planned – was me taking a part-time job. But, I discovered that I really do like to eat! And the car, now fixed, really likes to eat too. And so do the plethora of cats that fill the house.

Several things caught me by surprise. The first was that even thought I thought I had a well-thought out plan – it wasn’t adequate. The second was that even though I thought I was patient – I wasn’t patient enough.

But a fun surprise down the line was having small checks appear in the mailbox unexpectedly.

When I started out, I sent submitted some devotions to The Secret Place. They only accept three submissions a month, so January, February and March of 2015 I sent in three a month. By then the realities were starting to show themselves and I knew I needed something that paid larger amounts and paid faster. So I stopped.

In May 2015 I got two rejections from them. Crickets on the other seven submissions. By then I was looking at other markets and never submitted anything else.

In October of that year, nine months after I sent the first devotion, I had one acceptance. Four months later I had another acceptance. And then an even louder chorus of crickets.

Two and a half years after sending in the first batch of three submission, I was pulling some weeds in the back yard. By then, thoughts of the other submissions never even crossed my mind. I heard the mailman drive down the street, so wandered out to the mailbox, expecting only a bill or two, possibly a letter from a friend. When I pulled out an envelope from Judson Press, I was confused. The name seemed familiar, but it didn’t match anything that I knew I had out.

I couldn’t wait to get to the letter opener. I tore the envelope open walking back to the house. There was a check for $20! Checking my list of submissions, I found it was to a devotion I’d sent in February 2015 – and a check arrived in June 2017 – two years and five months later!

I didn’t complain. It was just the right amount to buy a new printer cartridge, so I sent up a silent thank you to the heavens. After that, three more checks trickled in, one a quarter.

Now I regret not continuing on with my submissions. In my impatience of not seeing immediate results, I stopped and went to other avenues. I should have kept writing and submitting and I might have had other checks coming in through the next few years. But I stopped. So that pipeline is now dried up.

These periodic checks, while small and not large enough to retire on, showed me that patience is truly a large part of being a writer. That is one of the many things that I’d underestimated when I first stepped onto this writer’s road.

 

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Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 1-2 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. Right now I’m scheduling authors for October and November. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.

 

Get Pages of the Past delivered to your inbox every Friday!

 Join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/184527085517941/

The Three Cline Children Live On

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe, Natalie Aguirre, Jennifer Lane, MJ Fifield, Lisa Buie-Collard, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

cline kids

The Three Cline Children Live On

Oh, so often my characters end up with my own personal traits. After all, one of the common pieces of advice is ‘to write what we know.’ And what do we know better than our own personal traits – be they flawed, noble, or inaccurately perceived.

The three Cline children – I and my younger brother and sister – from our younger years have come to my aid on my newest work in progress. I want to write a series of three books about a set of 1934 quilt squares that were stitched by real people over eighty years ago – a chapter book, a middle-grade book, and a novel for adults. I initially planned to have one of the real people as the main character in the books. But, knowing there would be descendants of this real person, I didn’t want to write the book from their point of view and then discover that I’d grossly misjudged their character or what they were like in their younger years.

Since the tales will be told in a fictional manner, I created a family that is going to move to town. I needed two younger girls for the chapter book and middle-grade book, and a mother for the adult novel. Let’s put a boy right in the middle of the two girls and voila! There’s my family. The oldest daughter (me) is Faith, my middle name. A brother two years younger is played by Edward, my brother’s middle name. And the littlest sister is played by Elizabeth, my sister’s middle name.

Naturally, Faith, the oldest is a bit of a nerdy book worm. She’s more interested in books and crafts – mostly books. Edward is curious and active and loves to pester his two sisters. And Elizabeth has those huge, brown eyes that she bats furiously when she wants to get her way.

These younger Cline siblings may be older now, the two girls now grandmothers and the brother supervising from the heavenly realm. None of the three of us were even around in 1934. Our parents weren’t even born until 1934 and 1936. But thanks to the wonderful world of fiction, the three Cline kids will have their own Marty McFly vehicle, but instead of flying to the future, we’re stepping back in time to become characters in a tale from long ago.

You’ve got to love being a writer – the magic we can weave with our words!

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Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 2-3 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. I’m scheduling authors for August and September. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.

 

Living in the Past

iwsg

Today I’m writing for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s blog hop. The first Wednesday of each month, we write in inspiration to a question posed by the group’s administrators. We don’t need to write in response to the question posed, but I like to use their query as the springboard for the monthly post.

This month the OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question is: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite to write in and why?

The awesome co-hosts for the June 5 posting of the IWSG are Diane Burton, Kim Lajevardi, Sylvia Ney, Sarah Foster, Jennifer Hawes, and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

time-707642.jpg

 

Living in the Past

In true Gemini eclectic fashion, I read and write in many genres. A little children’s. A little contemporary. I dabbled with some romance that didn’t go too far. I plotted out a mystery – or rather, started plotting out a mystery. Lots of nonfiction and magazine articles get their share of keyboard time. But my all-time favorite genre? The one that sings its siren song, luring me to its shores?

Historical fiction. The days of the past. The eras long gone. Those are the stories that I long to tell.

Sometimes an old vintage photograph kicks off the tale. Many times an old postcard. A name inscribed on the flyleaf of a hundred year old book. Sometimes it’s simply touching an embroidered piece that starts the story unraveling. I touch the threads that an unknown woman touched fifty, eighty, or a hundred years ago. My mind drifts and I wonder…Who made this? What was she like? What were her hopes and dreams? What was her life like?

That’s all it takes. In a flash I’m living in the past. I dropped into 1850, or 1910, or 1934.

Who needs Marty McFly and his time-traveling DeLorean? All I need to teleport me to another time is a dish, a cookbook, a photograph, or some other memorabilia that began its life many years before I drew my first breath.

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Any other historical fiction authors here? In April I started a weekly newsletter – Pages of the Past – celebrating historical fiction. Each week I have an author spotlight on a historical fiction author, along with a Reading Roundup of 2-3 books from different eras. If you’re an author and are interested in being interviewed for an author spotlight, email me at texastrishafaye@yahoo.com. Right now, I’m scheduling authors for July and August. Also, if you have any books you’d like featured, email me and let me know and I’ll get it scheduled into the next newsletter for that era.

If you’d like to take a look to see if you’re interested, here’s a link to the May 31st newsletter.

 

N: Names

N: Names

babies.jpg

Choosing names for the characters in our historical fiction works can be difficult. Maybe not difficult, but we need to choose the names with care. After all, if I’m writing a tale set in 1910, a female is most likely not going to have an Ashley or a Taylor, especially not with a creative spelling such as Ashlee. But on the other hand, there’s only so many Mary’s and Elizabeth’s that can grace our pages.

One thing to keep in mind is the era you’re writing in and what names were popular at the time.

Another is where the story takes place, or if there’s an ethnic background. A story set in Scotland in the 1600’s would have a completely different cast of characters than my 1930 story set in the U.S.

And – as you are probably aware of and I don’t need to point out – watch the starting letters too. A story with a Mary, Margaret and Madeline could become very confusing for the reader. We want them to keep reading. We don’t want them getting distracted by trying to keep all the characters straight and knowing which ‘M’ one this was without thinking about it.

The Academy of Saint Gabriel has an excellent article that discusses choosing a medieval name.

The Academy is a group of around 50 volunteers who research medieval names and armory. Our primary purpose is to assist members of medieval re-enactment groups like the Society for Creative Anachronism to find historically accurate medieval names and coats of arms. To this end, we maintain the Medieval Names Archive and Medieval Heraldry Archive.

https://www.s-gabriel.org/names/dietmar/hints.html

The History Girls also have an informative blog that discusses names in the medieval period.

https://the-history-girls.blogspot.com/2017/04/personal-names-in-historical-fiction.html

Historical fiction author Elizabeth Pye has a video clip on her site from an interview. (Go take a look – it’s short, just under two minutes.) One of the questions was about how she chose the names in her French novel. One additional piece of advice she has at the end is: “Do you like it? Does it seem to fit your character?”

If you’re writing a story set in the US, the Social Security Administration has a great searchable list by decades that begins in the 1880s.

Do you have any favorite methods for choosing your period character names?

 

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