Wednesday, June 24, 2015


As you know, Konnie and I are writers, and quite a few of our fellow authors have suggested that we should collaborate on a story. Others have been surprised we haven’t even considered such a thing. Then the other day Konnie, her youngest daughter, and I were all on Skype together. It all started with me asking Konnie for some help with a scene I was writing, which just wasn’t coming out right.

Konnie didn’t have a solution, but, considering the age of the character, suggested I asked her youngest daughter. Long story short, we ended up in a three-way chat to solve my problem, then Konnie came upon a passage she was having trouble with in her WIP, and finally her daughter brought up her own writing conundrum.

We were all working on our own stories while also online helping the other two.

Did it faze us? Did we even find it unusual? Cripes no. Adding in one of Konnie’s daughters is a bit uncommon, but Konnie and I do that constantly. If we’re both writing, we’re both online, and inevitably, we’d end up brainstorming. And both us at some time or another have helped her daughters.

And this isn’t the only way we instigate a brainstorming session. Sometimes, it starts with one of us emailing an excerpt, or even the whole file to date, to the other with a notation of, “Help,” or variations of thereof.

Generally speaking, I send her a scene saying I still don’t like how this is reading, asking for help, then we discuss it and hammer out a much better scene.

In fact, when it comes to writing a story, Konnie doesn’t always get the male characters right. Something I seem to be able to do automatically. I can’t tell you how many times she’s sent me a scene, asking if it works.

It usually doesn’t, not in the least bit. I can always tell why. It’s either that guys in general, or that character particularly, wouldn’t respond or react that way.

As I said, Konnie doesn’t always get it right. But she has enough brains to know when a scene isn’t quite right, and sense enough to ask me for help.

On the converse, I’m not all that good with shy characters, on top of that, I can handle a character with a phobia (unfortunately, I know how that works all too well) but I’m at loss with characters which are a bit jumpy for some reason or another.

As much I correct her male characters, she corrects my characters on the above points. Without her assistance, some of my stories wouldn’t ring true, and the same goes with her stories without my help.

So, in a sense, we do collaborate. I certainly know her stories as well as she knows mine, but the result is our own work, individually.

No matter how many times we concoct scenes suggestions for each other, the wording and phrasing, in the final version is always the author’s language choice. Suggestions are just that, suggestion.
And personally, I think having a brainstorming partner, is the best way to collaborate.

What do you think?

Happy writing, everyone. J

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Excuses, Excuses

One of the first thoughts I had this morning was I’d spent most of the previous day actually working on my opus.

And I didn’t actually write anything.

No, this isn’t one more excuse. I did work on my opus.

You see I’d been working on my opus the night before and in writing the scene I realized I couldn’t remember if a certain character had died in a battle or not. (They are at war.)

If he hadn’t died, I was fine, I could use him.

If he had died, I had a problem. Not because I couldn’t use him again, but because I hadn’t addressed his death.

So of course, I had to check.

Finding the correct scene wasn’t too difficult. However, it showed that the character in question had died. So I had to figure out how to address it.

But realizing this wasn’t the only time I’d forgotten a detail in my rather large opus, I thought it would be helpful if I had a complete list of all the characters which included any details about them, like being killed, so that I had an easy reference to refresh my memory when I needed it.

First I required a complete list.

So I started on page one and carefully combed through for all such details.

So far I have three and a half pages of names and I’m less than forty-five percent of the way through it. And I basically worked on it from the time I got up until I went to bed with few interruptions. (I told you it was an opus.)

I ate and even helped Bonnie and my daughter with their stories while still working on mine.

While I had been rather proud of myself for concentrating on my writing for so long, my next thought was that I hadn’t done a whole list of chores like balancing checkbooks, paying bills, dishes, laundry.

You get the idea.

The whole thing actually bummed me out. I had wanted to continue my search so I could address the issue of the characters death and finish the scene that had set the whole thing off. But, of course, I knew it would take a good part of the day to get my to-do list knocked down.

Then as I went over the things I was supposed to have done yesterday one particular item jumped out at me and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Usually I use my to-do list, and the many interruptions from my family, as an excuse for not writing. So I find it rather amusing that working on my opus was my excuse for not doing one very important thing on the top of my to-do list.

Write my blog post.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Writing Every Day

“Write every day.” That’s advice I’ve heard in writing chats since the very first one I attended way back in 2000. For years I viewed the statement on the same lines as the one about outlining before writing — one big load of not for me.

Of course, way back then, writing every day wasn’t for me, because I don’t write on Sundays. I absolutely refuse to write on that sacred day. (In my church, we call it the Sabbath and there is after all the fourth commandment. Exodus 20:8 - 11)

Hey, I may not be to the point of earning money doing this, but writing is work, a lot of work. More importantly, it’s my work, so not on the Sabbath. Anyway, the adage didn’t work for me, until I realized one thing.

The advice isn’t about work ethic as much as it’s about keeping in the habit it’s about not waiting for the muse to hit, and just about being in your writing place ready to write at a certain time. 

Meaning it doesn’t have to be every day, if it works better for your schedule and lifestyle to write only every other day, than do it. If some days of the week it’s easier to write first thing in the morning while others, it’s easier to write later in the day than do it.

The point isn’t to write every day, it is to write CONSISTENTLY. It’s about forming a habit that will help the muse know when it’s a good time to catch you ready willing and able.

But even the best-laid plans can get sidetracked. Konnie would be able to present more examples of that, but then Konnie’s writing plans tend to get sidetracked on a daily basis. She has too many people living in her house wanting her attention and time, and none seem to realize how much of time they hog collectively.

Since I live alone, I don’t have as many distractions, and I have in fact gotten in the habit of writing every morning except Sunday. So much so that I have trouble changing the time of day I write.

If I can’t write during the hours between breakfast and lunch, I may not get any writing done that day, and Monday was one day when I wasn’t able to write at all, no time. Busy all day. Tuesday, I did manage to open my WIP up last night. I wrote one paragraph. That’s all.  

Sometimes life does just does that to all of us.

I know what obstacles Konnie faces every day. I can name all six of them. J  What kind of obstacles do the rest of you face? I’m guessing its family and friends, both of which got in my way this week, and all of which gets in Konnie’s way daily. So name who make its hard for you to write every day, and maybe let them know if it will help.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Family Ties

Look at a Norman Rockwell picture and you’ll see multigenerational families gathered together enjoying one another’s company, a big family meal to celebrate a birthday or a kid’s birth, or the occasional holiday.

I can remember some similar experiences growing up, spending time with extended family. But because of time and distance, my boys have little or no memory of such multigenerational gatherings and considering their complete lack of living grandparents and great grandparents, a difficult thing to do.

It leaves me wondering if families are even close like Rockwell depicted anymore.

How many families do you know where all the adult kids live within the same city? County? State? How many extended families do you know who gather more often than once a year to celebrate anything or spend time with aunts, uncles and cousins?

My mother’s siblings all live in the same state we all grew up in, but the last two times I know they all gathered in one place were for my mom’s and her mom’s funerals.

My father’s siblings also all live in the same state, and technically their grandfather’s family has a reunion every year in Idaho Falls, though I haven’t heard about for the last few years. And Great-Great Grandpa Westover’s descendants have a reunion every year on the family ranch. Though I’ve heard attendance is falling and I have only been once, when my girls were young, before the boys were born.

I have a general idea where all my aunts and uncles are, but my husband isn’t even sure all of his are alive. We found one within the last ten years, but the others we have no contact with.

I can remember someone taking a five generation picture shortly after my niece was born, with said niece, my sister, my mom, my maternal grandmother and my mom’s maternal grandfather. I’ve never had the opportunity to form such a picture. And considering my parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, etc. are all dead, to form one now I’d have to be the great-grandparent in it. So I’ll probably in my 90’s.

My oldest son can’t tell me even how many kids two of my brothers have, let alone genders, or names. He barely knows how many kids my youngest brother has. I’m sure his brother is even more clueless.

I had ties to my grandparents and cousins growing up. I still have contact with some of them. I remember my grandparents. My kids are missing that.

My second oldest is delving into family history with a fervor, finding stories where she can about her ancestors. And maybe that’s why she does it, to feel the bond with her family she doesn’t have here on earth.

But how do I help my kids create those bonds with their cousins?

How do you give your kids close ties to their extended family when they don’t see them, don’t know them, have never met them? How do you give your kids the feeling of loving grandparents when their grandparents are all dead? How do you create bonds with cousins your kids never get to see?

I know I’m failing. I feel bad becauase my kids don’t have that kind of extended family.