Where Do Your Thinks Come From

Cover of "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day ...

Cover via Amazon

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson was written as Ms. Watson washed the dishes.  She would stare out her window and plot what was to become a marvelous story (though I have to say I enjoyed the film more….)

 

“Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try…”

Says Dr. Seuss.  And he would know, because my goodness, that man came up with some thinks!

I find that I think my thinks in some of the oddest places, especially when it comes to writing my novels.  Some of my best thinking comes when I’m standing under the hot spray of the shower. Why there?  Who knows. Maybe water is refreshing of the mind. It clears the cobwebs and washes away the dirt and troubles of the day.

I’m also famous for plotting while I spread mulch, wash dishes, clean the toilet, watering the yard, picking berries, walking to town. I can rarely plot while sitting down to write. I find that my mind goes blank while sitting at a blank screen or sheet of paper. Granted, I have found that sitting over the baseboard heater at the breakfast table with a cup of coffee in the afternoon is one of my best thinking spots. I’ve scribbled out countless thoughts and ideas there. Something about having a warm behind and that cup of coffee…

I find that I can come up with ideas when I’m doing the most mundane things, but have no time to write it all down. I have to hold onto the ideas and pray that I don’t forget them while scrubbing the shower until I can grab that piece of paper and a few moments scribble it all down.  It can be exhausting at times, but it’s also exhilarating to have thoughts flood your mind.

So, I’m curious, where do you do your thinks from? Do you plot as you walk? Do you compose as you water with the hose? Are you like Ms. Watson and write as you wash?

How do you get your thinks?

Signing of

Kate

 

That Tapping Sound That Makes You Feel Like You Accomplished Writing

Because we couldn’t use an actual rotary phone

Here I am tapping out this post on my laptop to that marvelous sound of a typewriter….. No, someone is not using my Royal. I am typing to a program that simulates the sound of a typewriter on your computer.  Seems rather strange when you think about it. Are we all so nostalgic for something that we will make a sound to recreate it on our computer? It’s rather like the cell phones that have a regular phone’s ring, or that attachment you can connect to your cell that looks like a regular handset from a home phone.

Anyways, Walter and I were talking last week about how we he wondered if there was a program to make your laptop typing sound like a typewriter. There is. There are three major ones in fact though I think one is better than others.

I’m using Qwertick which is the simplest of the three. No setting, runs easy, and you can shut it down relatively easy.

Then there is ClicKey which took me a while to figure out how to change the settings. Downside, all keys sound the same, including the Enter key, which on Qwertick actually sounds like an electric typewriter’s carriage return.

The third one is Home Typist which we didn’t like at all. The sounds were a little to computer game sounding, in my opinion

My Royal

So, am I going to use this that often? Probably not. It does bring a bit of nostalgia back into typing, but since I can yank out my Royal anytime I want to actually hear a typewriter, then why not do that? Walter thinks it’s great because he’s not the world’s best typist so the extra sound lets him know he has hit a key. And I have to admit, it is rather fun to hear that sound, though I prefer a manual typewriter sound versus an electric machine sound.

I just find it rather humorous that we search for things to bring back the old into our modern lives, when if we would just unplug the laptop, or cell phone, we could pick up the typewriter or the rotary phone and have those old sounds or feels right at our finger tips.

Check out the apps. Let me know what you think.  Would you use this?  I think the typewriter sound might be fun when I’m working with Dark Room.  Which I happen to love for the minimalist approach to writing. (I would like spell check occasionally, but you know, you can’t have everything when you are going minimalist.

Signing off

Kate

Accomplishments

Despite the month of August being a smoke filled month (say hello to California wildfires and forest mismanagement) and the constant fill of farming and watering and working more than I care to think about, I was able to accomplish some pretty nice things this month and I thought I would share them.  So drum-roll…… Well, you can add that in if you want. I’m doing it in my head….

 

  1. I started running again.  Okay, so that might not sound like a lot, but I had to give it up for all of July because it was so hot I could not stand being out in the dark running. I just had to put it on hold until the evenings were cooler and not so intense. I do not do well in the 90’s.
  2. I ran three miles. Whoo Hoo! This is huge! I rarely can run more than a mile, mile and a half at at time.  Last week I ran three miles, and two of those miles I ran in straight mile stretches. I hope that makes sense.  What I mean is, most of the time I can only run a quarter to a half mile before I have to walk a while before completing the mile. Miles 2 and 3 were an entire mile before stopping.  Again, this is huge. Granted, I hurt like crazy and my knees weren’t too happy, or my shoulders, but it felt so amazing. The endorphins high I got was incredible.  And last night I did 2 1/2 miles pretty easy.
  3. I can fit into my size two Ann Taylor sheath dress.  An LBD in some ways. Now, I’m not a size 2, but Ann Taylor dresses must have been invented with smaller sizes to give women a boost. Because I can say I wear a size two. Which is funny since my previous post was about not being a size two…..
  4. I wrote a short story that is semi flash fiction, but my parents love it! It was all inspired by Boris and his trip to Atlanta and I teased him about taking his xs-214 double barreled ray gun. The fact that this story has potential is just exciting. I’m going to need a couple beta readers, so if anyone is interested, drop me a comment with a valid email.  I only need a couple readers since it’s so short. Just over 600 words, but it’s periodical/literary magazine worthy, I think.
  5. I finally solved the yeast infection in my dachshund’s ear after 11 years! Who knew that just plain povidone iodine swabbed daily could clear it up? I didn’t. My vet never said to do this. I gotta tell the vet. This has been something that has driven me nuts for years. My dog hasn’t enjoyed it too much either.

 

Okay, so maybe those are small accomplishments, but small doesn’t mean inferior or not important. It’s the little things in life that count, right? I have to take little things and enjoy or savor them. The running is huge. The short story is huge. So, I’ll go with it.

Anyone else have some accomplishments that made them want to dance around?

Signing off

Kate

Oh Look, The Jealous Factor Creeping In

Oh lord, there it is. You are reading along in a blog then you come across a comment, or something that tells you that another person is a writer trying to get published. And in that instant, boom! You have the green eyed lady smacking you in the face and making you see, well, green. You know this has all happened to you, right? The jealous factor that you have more competition. It isn’t enough that you have your own neurosis to deal with, but now you have that added pressure that someone else might get published before you do. And it’s even worse if you see that they are trying to get an agent, a publisher, a query letter, in your field of writing. For that split second you want to dash their dreams into the ground because, hey, writing is a cutthroat world and YOU want to be published first.

Image by citris blossoms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had this happen to me the other day and I almost screamed for that one moment when I realized I was just one of tons of people trying to publish and I’m not putting in the every day work required to do this. I’m blaming several bloggers I follow, who’s general writings are putting pressure on me. It’s all your fault, people that have ambitions.

Ironically, I just started reading a post by J. Sander of Don’t Delete Me, about our day jobs and wishing our day jobs were writing jobs. First thing tackled is about how you are just one person and there are millions out there that are doing the same thing as you. Gasp, hold on while I take a moment to breathe. BREATHE! That can make anyone panic. Does it make you panic and think you might as well give up now? It makes me for a flash moment.

I even panicked today when I was reading Cassandra Clare’s bio and realizing that I will never, let me stress, NEVER, be that good. (I know, I’m already self destroying myself) Along with the panic was to work on my cover letter, but still, I am constantly panicking that I will never be good enough, that I will always be striving for the impossible, that I might as well give up now. There is the drive to succeed, and the fear of falling flat on my face. I think the fear is more 80% instead of a more level number. (it shouldn’t be that high, should it?)

And there is the constant jealousy that while I’m super happy for anyone that can be published, I also want them to fall flat on their face and make way for me to be published. It’s sick and twisted.

But I bet I’m not the only one, am I?

So, how often do you feel the green lady’s gaze clouding your judgement? Do you get panicked and want to just throw in the towel? D

Signing off

Kate

Agent Query Cover Letters

So, I have a question for anyone who has considered submitting to a literary agency or has submitted.  Have you ever written a cover letter instead of a query letter?

I’m working on one for the Sheldon Fogelman Agency, and I’m just not quite sure about it. I was wondering if anyone has some advice about typing one of these up.  I’ve got the synopsis down pretty good, I hope (gutting some of my query letter) but it’s mostly the bio I’m struggling with. I mean, I have not published a thing, anywhere! How does this sound to everyone?

I wrote Lulu Buys a Hat after my own experiences hunting for a good hat that wasn’t too expensive and looked just right. It took several shops, and a best friend in tow, to find the best hat in an area where hats are not a common thing.  When I am not writing picture books, I write weekly on my own WordPress blog, entitled Kate’s Bookshelf.  I was referred to your agency via the Writing and Illustrating blog, run by Kathy Temean.

Jazzy enough?   Yep, I am relying on you readers for some help. You’ve been great in the past and I am SOOOOOOOO nervous I’m going to do the wrong thing. I’ve only queried two agencies in the past.  So, any help you want to share would be great.

Alright bloggers. Have a marvelous Wednesday evening! I’m off to pick some jostaberries. Yes, that is a real thing. Ah, farm life. I wish it was more of a writing life (by which I mean published author writing life)

Signing off

Kate

Hey you, did you know I am writing about you?

Hey you! Yes you. No, not you reading this blog, I’m talking to the people who I base my characters off of. Colin O’Donoghue, did you know you are my lead male in a romance I’m writing?  Martin Freeman, did you know you are part of the love triangle that involves Colin?  (FYI, you don’t win, sorry) Tyler Hubbard of FGL, you are a lead male too.  Ladies? You are all models from clothing catalogs I love. You wear fashion like there’s no tomorrow.

What am I getting at here?  I’m talking about having a model for my characters I write about. Just recently I’ve added two to my list of people for characters. The interesting thing is, as you can see from my above list, all my characters are not ‘real’ people. By that I mean, they are actors and not someone I interact with on a regular daily basis. The newest edition to this list is the singer Mika. I first heard about him when I found his song “Big Girl (You are Beautiful)”, then he wore this most glamorous dark blue velvet suit on Dancing With The Stars singing “Popular” with Ariana Grande. That right there kind of cinched it. (I really thought he looked quite cute in that blue suit). And recently I’ve just taken to listening to more of his music and I really like it.

And I need to have him as one of my characters! I can so see him being this super cool best friend to one of my gals. Like Phaedra who lives in SanFran and is a photographer. Or Mia who works in a book store. Or Kate (who is not me and I had her as Alyssa but I don’t like that name so she’s back to ‘Kate’ till I can come up with something better) who is a hotel manager’s personal assistant.  I just need to use him.

So, while all of my character models listed are not people I know, I do have to add that I just told writer Shawn Bird  that I just have to base a character off of her. Check out her blog and look at that super cool, edgy picture she has! I love her hair! That blond, blue and purple  is just rocker chic and I just know that I could come up with something great about that, right? The thing about this, Shawn wrote back and said “That’s funny. I’m used to turning people into characters, not to be turned into one myself! ;-)”shawn bird tweetWow, I’d never thought about how strange it would be know someone was basing a character after you. I don’t know of anyone who would write about me, and I wonder if I would want to know? I had never thought about this because I’m always ‘borrowing’ people from life for my novels. We’ve all done it right?

Well, I have two other people in my life that I have as characters. Calvin, my first crush when I was 5 and my ideal ‘man’ for years, is the hero of “Kate’s” book.  Then there is Mimi. Mimi has become Coco in my Phaedra novel. She is this voluptuous, sassy, curvaceous, redhead that owns a flower shop and she’s just super cool. Hey Mim’s, did you know you were a character? Well you do now!

So, while I stick with mostly famous people, watch out, bloggers. Someday I just might write about you.

Okay, so readers, do you use people in your life as character models? Do you stick with famous people or do you write about that somebody you saw at the coffee shop or bookstore, or market? How do you get your characters?

I really want to know. So comment below and I can’t wait to see how you create your characters.

Signing off

Kate

How Did I Not Know About The Writer’s Almanac?

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor

English: Mr. Garrison Keillor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you like poetry? Do you enjoy random bits of history about writers? Poets? Things in history?  Do you just adore listening to Garrison Keillor? Do you want a daily audio update about all these things?

Well, you’ve come to the right place to direct you t an even better place. I have discovered The Writer’s Almanac. And what is this, you ask me? Why it’s a marvelous little daily podcast hosted by the most marvelous and talented Garrison Keillor.  Every day Mr. Keillor reads the birthday of one or two famous authors/writers, a bit of history for the date, and lastly a poem. Done in his marvelous voice it can be soothing or just the thing to hear in the morning, taking no more than just five minutes, it’s about the time it takes to get fully dressed, or for you women out there, maybe get half your makeup on.  It’s charming and informative, and well come on. It’s Garrison Keillor and how can you go wrong.the writer's almanacSupported by The Poetry Foundation, it’s a marvelous little thing.

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La...

English: Billy Collins at D.G. Wills Books, La Jolla, San Diego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How did I find out about this? Surprisingly enough, Wikipedia when was reading about Billy Collins, poet, who has become my favorite modern poet. Within the article about him, it was mentioned that he co-hosted The Writer’s Almanac for the summer of 2013. Well, I just had to find out about it and wow, I’m so excited.

So, I urge you to check it out. It’s quick and fun, and well, we could all use a smidge of literary in our daily lives.

Signing off

Kate

Icy Writing Prompt

This has got to be the best prompt I’ve ever heard. Well maybe not iciclebest, but pretty incredible.

I was talking to an older woman who’s a semi friend today and she was mentioning she and her late husband used to winter at their cabin in the mountains. Every evening they would have their cocktail hour and he would mix up drinks. He loved to go outside and break off an icicle to stir the drinks with to chill them.

Isn’t that great? And icicle cocktail stirrer and chiller.  I love it and I had to share.  Now, people, run with it!  I want to see Flash Fiction, short stories, or a blurb or something with this.  Please, pretty please.  :)  I know you all can come up with something great.

Link back to me so I can read them all. I might come up with something myself too!

Signing off

Kate

Enhanced by Zemanta

Reading Classics to Learn About Character Development, and Please Don’t Say We Don’t Need Them

Disclaimer: This may irritate or annoy younger writers. Proceed only if you want to hear my honest opinion.

I started this morning off reading a reaction post to The Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters.  See the original article for this story HERE  I was actually quite fascinated with the list and could understand why many were put on this list, specifically, and I stress this, because it was done by the British.  They have their own tastes and ideas and it was a decidedly British list.

What struck me was the reactionary post.  It was written by a blog I follow, from a young author  and I won’t name names because I’m not out to irritate people, but this thought came to me.  How can you give honest criticism about why certain characters are not on the list, if you have not read most of what is on the list? How can you judge whether or not a character from a book you like should be on the list just because you think the character is haunting?

First off, let’s take the word Haunting.

:  that haunts: such as

a :  lingering in the consciousness :  not readily forgotten <the cathedral organ and the distant voices have a beauty — Claudia Cassidy>

b :  having a disquieting effect :  disturbing <from two handsome and talented young men to two horrors of disintegration — Charles Lee>

Let’s take the second definition.  We are not talking villains exactly. Because while Mr. Rochester could be described as the antagonist in the story of Jane Eyre, he is not exactly that.  Nor is Caliban the villain in The Tempest. These characters have a more in depth point to the story. It’s not merely good or bad, but technically grey.  They are not Good vs. Evil.
That being said, some of the characters on the list are evil, but not necessarily so. The word definition is crucial here.
So where am I going with all of this?
I’m finding that younger writers who have not read a lot of classics, nor have they lived unique lives, don’t have a grasp of what makes a character evil, haunting, disturbed, manipulative, psychotic, complicated or whatever adjective you want to address a character. If you have lived within the sheltered pages of life going from high school to college and that is it for your age, really, you have not lived.  And if you haven’t read the classics, or at least a couple of them, I don’t think you have a grasp on some really good character development.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have not read a ton of classics, but at age 13 I read The Three Musketeers and from there on, I’ve attempted to tackle more in depth books.  Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Scaramouche, Jane Eyre (though I have not finished it yet, but saw the film), The Great Gatsby… I’m blanking on others.  But in the past 10 years, I have learned a lot, and I stress LOT, by reading those types of books. You learn that characters are complicated. Sometimes there is no right or wrong, but there is something about a character that is thought provoking. Heck, even Mr. Darcy could have been considered haunting. (not really, but guys need to read P&P to understand why women adore Darcy….though there is Mr. Knightley…)

I don’t see how anyone can really write without reading some of the more famous works. I never thought I would say that you need to read the classics.  My father would kind of shoot me, but I honestly think you need to read some to get even the slightest grasp on character development and depth.  And if you haven’t read most of the classics, don’t even try to complain about why Voldomort is not on a list but Heathcliff is.  Don’t even go there.

And Haunting doesn’t mean evil.  People, remember that!

Side Disclaimer: I have not nor will not ever read A Clockwork Orange, anything Stephen King or anything really disturbing.

 

Whew! Now that I’m done ranting, I want your input. Are you someone who thinks you need the classics?  Do you think I’m off my rocker?  How do you get your character development? And what do you think of the list of Haunting Male Characters?

Signing off

Kate

Enhanced by Zemanta

Utter Crap

the persephone bookshop

the persephone bookshop (Photo credit: this lyre lark)

I probably should be writing this over on Escaping the Inkwell, but I’m going to be utterly lazy since this post is about utter crap. Seems befitting. Though I feel I should say ‘utter rubbish’ instead as it’s so much more polite and I’ve been reading British things. (How did I not know that Persephone Biannually was so interesting? I have about 8 different ones!)

Moving on.  So last week I ‘finished’ my short story about jars of hearts, lipstick, et cetera. See the post here.  I was so wired to finish it and for those first few hours, even though I knew that it was going to need serious editing,  I was quite thrilled with it.

Then the reality set in. Or maybe it’s writer’s reality, or whatever you want to call it.  Anyways, there I was the next morning going, “this thing is terrible! it’s crap. There is no way I could ever hope to submit this to a literary magazine (because yes, I am considering it). I should just toss the whole thing in the garbage and start over.”

Never mind that I wrote the whole thing out longhand with purple ink (new fountain pen and ink. If I have the inclination I shall write a review on the Lamy Vista which has become a favorite pen!) Never mind that I have told my sister she can read it when I’m done.  Never mind that I was quite hopeful of it.

Now is it really that horrible?  Honestly, I don’t know because I’m looking at it through my eyes. No doubt it needs a lot of work.  Heck, in just the first two paragraphs I have already added a bunch of things I left out. Meaning I started typing it up to have a more readable copy and started editing in the process.  I’m sure it will be fine. (Repeat again and again, self) I’m sure my friend will enjoy it if I ever get it typed up and edited before having her take a looksie.  But my own self doubt.

I just read something in my Bianually about the author Dorothy Whipple how she thought that her novel Greenbanks was never going to amount to anything then low and behold it became a best seller and is now being sold by Persephone Books.  I’m not saying I’m a Dorothy Whipple (whom I must confess that I’ve never read any of her books) but self doubt is high.

I am still going to work on the darn thing. It really needs a title.  I want a bit of horror in the story (because it is a bit like horror in some ways) Not the creepy kind, but just a life type horror.  Once I’m willing to share you will see.

But for now I feel that it is utter crap!  Why am I a writer?

Signing off

~Kate

Enhanced by Zemanta