Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Momma Bear Got to Roar by Konnie Enos

I’m sure any good mother would be protective of their children when the need arises. When you have children who are disabled in any way that protectiveness goes into overdrive. I should know. I’m the mother of five wonderful children and they all have their individual trials, including one on the Autism spectrum (high functioning) and two with health challenges, one of those major ones.
With her long list of diseases and conditions she has faulty collagen, loose joints, and issues with her heart, and her digestive track not functioning as it should. All thanks to EDS, Mast cell disease, Lupus and Gastroparesis. And those are just the major highlights of her list.
Over the last eight months she’s been in and out of hospitals and going from one doctor to another. Sometimes as much as four in one week.
This last month has been more of a nightmare. She’s been to the ER every single week, as much as a couple of times. Then the week before Spring Break she went back to the ER and they admitted her.
Things went well the first couple of days. They seemed to listen to her about her reactions to medicines and then they determined her issues seemed to require surgery.
Things went downhill from there.
The surgery was on Sunday. By Wednesday they had not given her any nourishment of any kind and were concerned that her blood sugar was so low.
NO DUH! You aren’t feeding her!

Then four, yes FOUR doctors invaded her room and made every effort to brow beat her into submitting to their treatment plan and when that wasn’t working one of them took me out of the room and suggested she needed a psychiatric evaluation.
I not only told him in no uncertain terms my daughter was of sound mind, but I also told him he was NOT paying any attention to the fact she had Mast cell disease. She AMA’d (she signed out of the hospital Against Medical Advise) shortly after that.
As she left one of the doctor’s, expressing that he thought she was making the wrong choice said, “I hope we don’t see you back here anytime soon.”
By Friday it became clear, from the pain she would have to return to a hospital, but she refused to go back to the one she’d just left. So we found another one. (Thankfully this is big city and it was easy to do.)
I can say this much for the staff at this hospital. They were very thorough in running tests to figure out what the problem was and seemed to listen to her about her reactions. One of those tests required her to go under anesthesia again. Thankfully it also helped them find and fix the problem.
The problems arose after that.
As they were preparing her for that test, she said she was feeling nauseous. After the procedure she started throwing up.
Every doctor and nurse we came into contact with the rest of that day insisted it was because she’d been under anesthesia totally ignoring the fact the nausea started BEFORE they took her in to do the procedure.

I had gone home to get some sleep but my dear daughter called me back with a text. She was still throwing up.
I had to find the nurse and tell her to disconnect the medicines being pumped into her by IV.
She hasn’t thrown up since.
She spent the next day refusing all treatment.
The doctors and nurses repeatedly told her it was her choice while also stressing she would die if she didn’t continue treatment.
While my husband and I were visiting with her one of the doctors came in and tried to get her to submit to their treatment plan.  
According to my husband I was rather thorough in chewing him out when I told him the failings of his plan.
I know I told him she couldn’t move and was throwing up while they were pumping all that medicine into her and she only started getting better when she stopped all of it. I also again, reminded him, she has Mast cell disease.
All I could think was that when the patient it reduced to a nearly vegetative state and is lying there repeatedly throwing up when they have had zero nourishment in over twenty-four hours THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG! When all of that slowly subsides when the patient STOPS ALL medicines, THEN one can conclude continuing treatment IS NOT the best plan for the patient.
Yes, I went a little Mamma Bear on him.
And yes, I helped her AMA right out of there.
Yes, she has been improving daily since then.
Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Also Posted on my daughter's, May Enos' blog, Price of Genetics (it will be up at 9 a.m. April 18th).

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Critiquing is Hardest by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Writing is hard. Editing is harder. Critiquing is hardest.

I once told a guy who asked me to critique his “chapter” that it read more like a synopsis of a novel then a chapter of book. He refused to talk to me again. And I thought I was being gentle. I did tell him he had a good concept, but that he needed more practice with showing the story.

Now I’m faced with the dilemma of an excellent novel with too much detail in the fight scenes. I’m talking literal blow by blows, but I have very few fight scenes in my stories, and certainly no battle scenes, I’m not exactly sure I’m the right person to tell this author to pare it down a little. There were spots so detailed it’s boring.

Yeah, I’ve done that (not in a fight scene), back before I learned better. I just never realized until reading this unpublished novel what all my friends, and Konnie, had been talking about. I’d never had to read someone else’s far too detailed scene, and there is an enormous difference between writing such a scene and reading it.

Back when I made this mistake, I thought the more detailed it was, the easier it would be for the reader to “see” the scene. I couldn’t be more wrong! The more a story is bogged down in details the harder it is for the reader to “see” the scene in their head. I found myself skimming over such sections in the novel I'm critiquing, I just couldn’t handle it, which also meant I wasn’t helping the author fix the issue.

It also made me eternally grateful to a friend who once helped me edit two pages of description down two paragraphs. Konnie knows the scene. I was trying to show the reader one hideous room, in detail. Konnie even said it was boring and that it took too long. In writing, general descriptions go a long way, but you also must have descriptions.

Anton Chekov has a famous quote about not telling the reader the moon was shining but rather show the glint of moonlight on broken glass. Or something like that. Description does take more words than simply telling, but it doesn’t have to take up a whole page or more. Limit it!

The trick is give the reader enough detail that they can fill in the rest on their own. The reader doesn’t need minute descriptions of a scene or the actions of the characters, just general descriptions. And the reader certainly doesn’t need a blow by blow of a fight scene.

I have one where the hero’s dogs come to the rescue of the heroine, and about all I have is them jumping on the bad guy and clamping their teeth into him, then the hero comes running and the bad guy gets slammed into the wall and the hero gets in his face and tells him he’s fired and to get out.

And I think that’s the longest fight scene I have in any of my stories. Earlier in that same story the hero was in altercation with his brother, and all the hero did was slug the idiot and walk away.

I do have a couple altercations in the novel I’ve been editing the last few months, but while in one I mention one of the secondary characters “throwing punches” I do not mention in detail every punch, and the only mention I have of who he is fighting is calling them “the miscreants.” We’re talking about one paragraph in a scene that starts with the victim screaming in terror and the good guys running into the fray and ends with the miscreants being carted off by the police.

I could have gotten a lot more detailed, but what more was needed? The heroine’s cousin was fighting hard and connecting only with the miscreants and not with the hero or his family, who also entered the fray. Enough said, beyond later mentioning the black eyes a few of the miscreants ended up with.

In the other fight scene, the fight itself is a couple small paragraphs, leading into it, and the aftermath takes longer. Its not that I don’t have details in the fight scenes, I just don’t have minute detail.

I didn’t need to give a blow by blow, because a blow by blow would have been too tedious to read. And tedious detracts from the story. None of us want that, especially the readers.

The problem is how do you tell a talented aspiring author they need to cut the detail without discouraging them from writing? Anyone?

Happy Writing everyone. 😊

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Finding the Writing Motivation By C. Hope Clark

Motivation means different things to people, but for many it is so elusive that they give up on it. Some are afraid they don’t have it. Others are afraid they’ll mistake a quick nice feeling for motivation. Some worry they don’t understand how to maintain it.
            Many of my readers ask where I get my motivation from. It’s not magic, and it’s not science. For a writer, motivation comes about through the culmination of its several parts.

1)      Having an original idea.

In reality, most of us fear of being too original. Sure, we talk about having that grandiose idea or remarkable brand, but seriously, are we willing to be SO original that we are unlike anything else out there? Isn’t that scary? What if we are so different that nobody gets us?
Experts and celebrities bank on their originality, making money because of their talent and the fact so many people want to be like them. However, we have to avoid emulating someone else’s success so much that we lose our originality. Following someone else’s path means we often take the safe route and latch ahold of someone else’s wagon. We call that copycatting. The trouble is, there’s nothing motivational in being a copycat. We don’t totally scratch that itch.
On the other hand, when we snare a grand idea, and are daring enough to strike out with it, we can become flooded with a deep motivation that carries us so much further than an idea similar to someone else’s. There isn’t any energy in playing someone else’s game.

2)      Being organized.

We can be busy or we can be organized. And if the busyness feels frantic, stressful and out of control, then we’ve indeed lost control of our direction . . . our motivation. We are answering to all sorts of stimuli instead of focusing on a plan making us ineffective. Disorganization quickly dilutes motivation.
So the point is to establish your goals for each year. Complete the novel? Publish the novel? Submit to 25 magazines? Attend three conferences and take a class. Identify your writing strengths and weaknesses, then make concerted plans to fix the weaknesses. Wake up in the morning knowing what you will do that day toward your annual goals. Keep a calendar and stick to it, helping (enforcing) family and friends to better understand the seriousness of your mission.
You cannot get anywhere without knowing specifically where you need to go. Don’t say you’ll write more. List the word count, number of chapters, and period of time to complete them. Define your tasks in measurements you can be accountable for.

3)      Being focused.

The world today is about instant gratification, easy wins, and keeping a tally while watching our neighbor. It’s about writing a paragraph then checking email. Writing another then reading Facebook. Attempting one more paragraph then reading a new blog post.
Being focused means just that. . . working uninterrupted. And don’t blame others for interrupting you. They can’t without your permission. Leave the phone out of the room and don’t open social media. Mute the sound so you don’t hear incoming messages or updated headlines.
Then fall into your work. Become engulfed in it. That’s where you find magic. That’s where you tap that stupid mythical muse so many talk about. It comes from you being proactively focused, not from some invisible feeling randomly striking you. There’s almost nothing as satisfying as coming out of a straight, multi-hour writing afternoon with a couple thousand words under your belt. That doesn’t happen with a muse. It happens with purpose and sweat.

What is motivation?

Motivation is having an idea, planning how you’ll achieve it, then diving in deeply to create it. And the amazing thing about it is that the more you’re able to achieve using this formula, the more empowered you become. In other words, the more motivated.
I simplify. I say no to things. When I feel out or sorts or too busy to get everything done, I start culling the obstacles in my path that are inhibiting my motivation. If writing is your goal, then whenever you’re doing something that’s NOT writing, ask yourself if it’s necessary or did it just slip in the way. Then discard it. Decide what really isn’t needed in your writing plan, and what’s in your way of doing something meaningful.
Learn to feel excited about your writing again. Feel excited about the direction you’ve decided for yourself. With a mission, and a plan to achieve it, you once again love reporting to work, even accepting the parts of your work that aren’t your favorite. Make your work become play again.

BIO: C. Hope Clark’s latest release, Newberry Sin, comes out late April 2018. It’s the fourth in the Carolina Slade Mysteries, and Hope’s eighth mystery. Hope is also founder of where her newsletter reaches 35,000 readers. The site was selected for Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers . . . for the past 17 years. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

My Least Favorite Holiday by Bonnie Le Hamilton

This coming weekend will be my very least favorite holiday of the year. I so detest this one certain day of the year (or rather the holiday associated with it) that when I wrote my last post I originally said it was one holiday I’d never put in any of my stories. Konnie corrected me in the nick of time. I do have one story with this horrendous holiday mentioned.

And I have no idea why I forgot it. It was the first novel I actually finished writing. Though I also know when I wrote that story, I had wanted to ignore this one day, but according to the time line I had worked out, things happened on this most annoying day of the year.

Can you tell I can’t stand it?

I have actually tried hard to ignore it, and when possible, I’d hole up in my room to avoid my family on this one day of the year, when I could. However, if it was any day other than Saturday, I had to interact with others, unfortunately. Though now days, the only day I can’t avoid contact with people is well, usually Sunday, except, thankfully, the first Sunday in April is when my church holds their semi-annual world-wide conference, which I can view on my computer; I can hole up! Yeah. I can avoid any and all persons acting the fool, unless they happen to call me.

My father did that one a few times. Actually one year, Tom and I received big news on April 1st. We weren’t sure any of our family would believe us when we called them, but we did try. I remember being totally frustrated with my father, the consummate prankster, who refused to believe it wasn’t a prank.

I ended the call before I started yelling at him and called Konnie. When I told her the news, she believed me right away, and when I told her how frustrating our father had just been she not only agreed he was being pigheaded, she got off the phone with me and called him and told him off!
My quiet, shy twin told off our father! Of course, she knew, I’m Bonnie. I don’t joke, I don’t tease, and most importantly, I can’t stand April Fool’s Day!

Now, Easter is another issue. As a good Christian, Easter, like Christmas, is important. And since this Easter falls on Conference weekend, I have two things I’m looking forward to, and will enjoy, on a day I usually wish wouldn’t happen.

And this is something else we need to consider when adding holidays into our stories. How do the characters feel about the holiday? How will they respond to the holiday? Do they have any traditions for that holiday? Do their traditions differ from each other? Are they compatible? Or not?

All of these can affect how you portray the holiday in your story, and how your characters will act.

Happy Writing everyone! 😊

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Best Laid Plans by Konnie Enos

Planning is supposed to work. Make a plan, follow it and get things done. The problem with planning is we don’t live in a vacuum.
You make a plan to do something and life will get in the way because inevitably the others around you affect whether or not you can be successful.
Take this month for example.
One, since we get all our money at the beginning of each month I generally spend about the first week paying all our bills and dealing with most of the finances which includes making sure my children get their money. Due to illness and just being busy, even this late in the month, I’ve barely managed to get the bills paid.
Then since it’s been about three months since my dog has had a grooming I had planned on taking her in since it is clear she is in need of it. Generally we bath her regularly but she also needs her fur and nails clipped once in a while. We don’t have the equipment or knowhow to do her fur so I take her in when she needs that done. Between being sick myself and just plain busy, I have yet to get her in.
I’ve also planned for several weeks to attend a local writer’s group meeting. The first week I thought I’d be able to go I glanced at the clock in my car as I was leaving the Quick Care with my son. The meeting was already starting. Considering how far away it was and traffic that time of night, I would have missed most, if not all, of it. The second one I myself was horribly sick. This of course was thanks to one of my children bringing a cold home from school.
  Then there is this week. Feeling better and finding it time to go to the writer’s group meeting I realized I had nothing stopping me from going so I just got up and went. It was nice to be able to do something I wanted to.
However, this week being the one I had to post I also planned on getting my post written well before Wednesday morning so I wouldn’t have to worry about while I was getting my kids up and off to school.
Yeah, it didn’t work out that way.
One, I wasn’t coming up with any solid ideas. Two, I simply didn’t have time. One child has been on my case to either help him with his homework or finish doing the finances for this month. He wants his money. Another child needed to borrow my computer to do either homework or something for school. And yet another child, currently hospitalized, wanted Mom. And while I was dealing with that I was told a trip to the grocery store was needed, again.
So again, my plans went out the window.
At the rate I’m going my son will get his allowance a whole month late. I doubt I’ll be able to get my dog groomed before her booster shots are due, next month, which means I have to get that done first. So putting that off too.
Being a mother is a constant juggling act and a never ending to-do list. Sometimes delegating works. Thankfully I have a daughter who can handle grocery trips when needed. It’s just all the stuff I can’t get anybody else to do that can be daunting. It can also put a wrench in my plans.
Back to the drawing board.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Luck of the Irish to ye! St. Patrick’s Day is this Saturday, and thinking about it beings to my mind my strongest memory of the holiday.

Way back in fourth grade, a week or so before it, word started going around our school that only those of Irish decent needed to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day; everyone else should wear yellow.

Of course, being as it was in fourth grade, we all already knew the “punishment” for not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day, but this tale about wearing yellow including that a person should be punished for wearing green if they weren’t Irish.

Now I knew I had at least some Irish blood in me because my maternal grandmother’s maiden name was of Irish origin, but come St. Patrick’s Day it dawned on me I didn’t have anything green in my wardrobe. For that matter I didn’t have anything yellow. Let’s face it, my favorite colors are red, white, and blue – guess what was in my wardrobe?

My mother helped me fashion a shamrock out of green construction paper and pinned it to my shirt. Though being as spring had not yet sprung, when I entered school that day my coat was covering my shamrock and my cousin, who was in the same grade as I was, noting all the blue I was wearing, promptly slugged me in the arm.

I opened my coat and prepared to slug him back, but he stepped away from me insisting that as we were not Irish. I reminded him of our shared grandmother’s maiden name then got him once of hitting me and a second time for wearing yellow. His sister, just a year younger than him, had been wise enough to wear both yellow and green.

But that is the only year I heard anyone, besides myself, say anything about not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day. And, of course, I do have Irish blood, so after that, I have managed to have something green to wear for St. Patrick’s Day other than a construction paper shamrock.

Only thing is, after marriage, and not having any kids, I’ve lived through quite a few St. Patrick’s Day’s where the only face to face contact I’ve had was with Tom.

Once Tom come home from work and asked me why I didn’t remind him to wear green. “Uh, let’s see, because I was asleep when you left.” I also tried to inform him that I forgot and wasn’t wearing green either. Tom was quick to point out that my flower covered dress had green leaves. That doesn’t mean I remembered.

And then there was last year. I had nowhere to go; I never once stepped out my front door, nor did anyone visit me, and with Tom now gone, I didn’t see anyone, but I did wear green; I guess it’s just part of who I am.

And it makes me wonder why I’ve yet to write a scene involving St. Patrick’s Day. I know I have stuff involving Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and even New Year’s, but not St. Patrick’s Day.aH I also have one with April Fool’s day, and I don't like that holiday.

How about you? What holidays do you have in your stories? And which don’t you have? And why?

Happy writing everyone! 😊

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Book Reviews and Plot Holes by Konnie Enos

This past week I’ve read two new books which in and of itself is unusual since I don’t get as much time as I’d like to read.
The first book I read was Tamora Pierce’s recently released Tempests and Slaughter which is set in the lands of Tortall but unlike all her other Tortall books, the leading character is a male. The subtitle for this book is The Numair Chronicles. The lead hero is Arram Draper who latter (not in this book) changes his name to Numair.
I am so thrilled to be able to read his backstory and I was, just a bit, disappointed, that I didn’t learn how or why he left Carthak and changed his name. I cannot wait until the next instalment, The Exiles Gift, comes out so I can learn the rest of his story.
One thing I did learn about Tamora Pierce’s writing is she knows how to handle the delicate matters of going through puberty in telling a story. I’ve seen it in how she told both Alanna’s and Kel’s stories and I see it here. I sort of wish I’d had this book when my boys were tweeners. It would have helped me discuss their changing body with them. I’m going to recommend my daughters read this before they have sons going through that phase of life.
The second book I read was a romance. I saw on Goodreads that my eldest daughter was reading so I checked it out. It was free on Kindle so why not?
The story line was actually very interesting and held my interest but within just a few chapters I learned something.
I got an excellent illustration of what a plot hole is and how it can pull the reader right out of the story.
You see in this lovely story the author went into some detail describing the heroine’s rattle trap car as she’s parking outside the hero office building just before they are to meet for the first time. Within minutes of them meeting, he drags her off in his car (there are reasons for this) and then much later that day returns her.
Here is where the plot hole is.
Now I understand why the author has the hero return the heroine to her home, NOT his office. She needed him to know where the heroine lived for the next scene and the most logical way was for him to take her home. In fact, if he’d just taken her to her car he would not have known her address or phone number and therefore he would have had difficulty getting in touch with her in the next scene. So I understand why he took her home but she never once addressed the heroine’s car. And she only shows the heroine returning to that office building one other time, over two weeks later.
Through the rest of the story the heroine’s car is never mentioned again. Not once.
I read the whole story wondering what happened to it.
If she had never mentioned the heroine’s car I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. But that wasn’t the case and now I’m left wondering who stole the girl’s car and why didn’t she report it to the police?
I’ve heard of plot holes before. I understand I’ve got at least one in one of my stories that I’m currently working on, but I’d never seen one so obvious and glaring as this one.
Anyway, if you are into fantasy you really should pick up a book by Tamora Pierce.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.