Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Stubborn by Bonnie Le Hamilton

With Labor Day right around the corner, I find my thoughts turning to a certain someone who entered this world on Labor Day many moons ago. Enough time has passed since that day that said little boy is now the father of a teenager, but when I was a junior in high school, he was the little imp I wrote the following anecdote about.
* * *
The bus pulled up in front of our house, and as I got off, I could hear Patty giggling, and Ben yelling excitedly that the bus was here, but the one I heard most was Danny’s jubilant, “De! De!”

I knew that when I opened the front door, he’d be there to greet me with the same cry as always, “Hi, De!”

Pesky stubborn old rat anyway.

Sure enough as I opened the door, he bounds off the last step and flies into my arms, loaded down with books, and nearly toppling me over. “Hi, De,” is all he says as he gives me a great big hug and kiss.

“Dan, I love you, but I’m not De!” Then I gladly hand him over to the girl behind me.

Why don’t I ever come in the garage door, so Konnie can get attacked?

Danny gives Konnie the identical greeting, but he’s not satisfied. Five minutes later, he wants a drink and can’t find anyone who isn’t busy? So what does he do? Simple, he picks up his cup and trots in the living room, where I’m on the couch reading, and tugging on my pant leg, begs, “De, De, dink, peas.” And he shoves the cup up to me.

This time I get smart. “Konnie, Danny wants you to get him a drink.”

But to no avail. When Konnie tries to get him, and the cup, into the kitchen, he pulls away and, pointing to me, yells, “No, dat De!”

Dag blain brat anyway!

“All right, I’ll get it. But I’m not Konnie!”

This still isn’t the end for today. When Ben comes in my room to tell me Mom wants me to peel potatoes, he’s right behind Ben calling, “De.”

This isn’t her room.

“Just a second, Ben.” I ignore Danny.

All through dinner, he calls everyone by the name he uses for them after someone else says their name.

“Pass the potatoes please, Bonnie.”

“De, De, De.”

“Pass the Kool-Aid please, Bryon.”

“Be, Be, Be.”

“Hand me the beans please, Konnie.”

“De, De, De.”

If I recall correctly, when Ben was Danny’s age, he could tell us apart, he just couldn’t talk. I’m not sure I’m glad Danny can hear.
* * *

J Anyway, Happy birthday, Dan. I love you. And I’m glad you finally learned my name.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Of Epic Journeys by Konnie Enos

Something has been bugging me this past week.
Writers are supposed to write realistic and plausible stuff, but sometimes it can be really difficult to do unless they’ve actually experienced it. Particularly road trips.
I recently went on a road trip. One I carefully planned for, studying all possible routes. And google maps was very helpful, giving me not only the distance, but a time estimate.
This trip was in four parts, each leg approximately seven to eight hours long. We planned our departure times accordingly.
Now if any of you understand what is entailed in driving anywhere long distance, you know you can’t just drive straight from point A to point B. You are going to have to stop once in a while or you could run into other obstacles. That estimated travel time doesn’t take into account any of that.
Not a problem. You can plan for that. Add thirty minutes for every two hours on the road. So guess that an eight hour drive should take about ten hours. Then plan to keep stops as short as possible. Always stop at traveler’s stops. (Food, gas and bathrooms.)
So you hit the road. But somehow it still takes longer than you thought it would.
Road construction, heavy and slow traffic, two lane hi-ways and some lower posted speed limits. And with all the delays, you have to stop more.
I was dreading the second leg (and by extension third) of our trip because our information said we’d have to drive through numerous construction zones, so lots of delays.
The reality? Both trips on that part of our journey took approximately seven to eight hours, with stops, traffic and construction zones. Not so bad.
Before we left I figured the easy part of our trip would be the first (and by extension last) leg of our journey. Only about eight hours, a fairly straight shot and little or no flags for construction zones.
The reality? Both times it took us twelve to thirteen hours, by far the longest most tedious stretch, and the return trip included about an hour on the hi-way moving maybe three miles per hour, if at all.
When I got home I realized writing stories with road trips in them just couldn’t come close to describing the reality of it unless a person actually tried it.
Plus when you’re writing there is supposed to be road blocks.
From here to Salt Lake City is about a six hour drive, it’s another, maybe three to where my sister lives. So about nine hours. A popular college is another hour’s drive beyond there. Do you think anybody could do a ten hour drive in just ten hours?
I’d be willing to bet it would be impossible, especially with a carful of kids.
And from what I heard, that hour drive between where my sister lives and that college town turned into something between three to five hours because of the eclipse traffic this past week. (College town was a point of totality.)
So knowing the distance from point A to point B and an estimate of how long it should take to travel that far doesn’t tell you how long it will take.
Now that I think about it, writing about a road trip should give you plenty of ways to throw in some obstacles for your leading characters to deal with.
Right now I can’t think of any stories I’ve read that included tales of being on the road, unless you count epic journey stories such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s books or “Eragon”.
  Can any of you name some that might be worth reading?

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Beginning at the Right Place, and Time by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Some time ago, I started a story and it seemed to be going really well, but when I reread it, a voice in my head started yelling, “NO! NO! NO!”

I took some time to consider it, and thought I’d figured out the problem and I came up with a solution. I kept the first scene, where the hero and the heroine first meet, but I dramatically changed what happened next, and I was getting somewhere.

Then life, and other stories, got in the way, and it was a while before I opened this version again, so I started by rereading it. And again, the voice was yelling at me. Then it dawned on me, the voice starts yelling when I’m on the first wonderful scene that I slaved so hard over to get it just right. The scene I spent hours writing, rewriting, and tweaking.

So what was the problem?

Simple, I had them meeting on the first day of school. At the time, I thought the hero meeting the heroine before he learns she needs help would be best, but when I thought about it that was kind of dumb. If a person were inclined to help someone out when they need it most, they’d do it whether they actually knew the person or not.

And the other issue was the premise of the story. It just didn’t seem possible for them to accomplish that task starting in the fall and ending before winter. A fact I had considered in my second version; among my dramatic changes, I had it that he started fixing up the place where most of the story takes place over the summer; they would just finish it together. But even then, they didn’t have enough time, because he hadn’t been planning to finish before winter. Until she came along, he didn’t need to.

So I needed to start from scratch. Well, not completely. I did have the character list, the backstory, and a few pieces of the other versions I could reuse with a little tweaking. But with scrapping that first scene, and changing the time of year of they meet, I was starting with a blank page.

And I started writing — twenty-one pages that first day. WOW!
Additionally I had just over 35,000 words seven days later, as in nearly half a novel in just a week. Can you believe it? And while I haven’t achieved that word average this week, I’m still moving along.

Of course, that isn’t to say that this will be the final version. I have over a dozen versions of at least one of my finished manuscripts, most I have between four and six versions. But I rewrite all the time, and then the editing starts making more versions, all saved in the same file.

Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Of Wedding Rings by Konnie Enos

Why is it that people think engagement rings have to be big flashy diamonds?
I’ve seen this story on Facebook about a couple and their inexpensive wedding rings. Ariel Desiree McRae tells how her now husband Quinn McRae spent a mere $130 on her rings and the sales clerk at Pandora said it was “pathetic”.
Ariel defended her husband, saying basically it’s the thought that counts. Most of the comments in her support are from people saying they (or their spouse) spent very little on their rings and it didn’t matter.
I agree with them.
When I met my husband his mother was a penniless widow trying to raise her teenaged son alone. My mother and her husband were both muddling by on disability. My stepmother had a full-time job but my father had spent most of that year fighting leukemia so they had mounting bills and one less income, not to mention three kids still at home. Both my soon to be husband and I were in our late twenties, lived on our own and worked full-time. We both knew we’d be paying for our wedding.
I knew something else.
I have never, ever wanted a solitaire diamond of any size. I also knew there was no way either one of us could afford one without going into debt. Going into debt just to get married was ludicrous to me. I flat out told him not to get me one because I didn’t want one.
He didn’t. Though he did tell his youngest sister he wasn’t going to get me one.
SHE raided her jewelry box and found a small ring with the main stone being a pearl and a very small diamond to the side of it. The gold wrapped around it was shaped very close to a heart. She mailed this to her big brother so he could propose to me.
My sister-in-law hadn’t even met me yet, but she loved her brother enough to send one of her rings to him so he could have something to propose to me with. (Well actually, give to his fiancĂ© since we were engaged by then.) I still value that ring.
What is so pathetic about living within your means and providing for the needs of your family rather than splurging on extravagant things?
I never needed rings. We didn’t even buy wedding rings for ourselves until after we’d been married for a couple of months because we couldn’t afford them sooner.
That ring is just a piece of jewelry. It has absolutely no more significance than what you give it. You are no less married if you don’t wear it any more than you are more married if you spend more money on it.
Do you honestly think the couple who goes down to the courthouse to get married and only spends money on the license is less happy than the couple who spends several thousand dollars on that huge extravagant wedding is?
What really gets my goat is that sales clerk. I would not have let such a rude person get my sales commission.
As the sales clerk, her obligation was to show them rings within their price range and possibly indicate which ones she thought looked nice, but telling a customer they’re choice is pathetic is, well, pathetic. She’s in sales for pity sakes. She needs to learn how not to be rude to her customers.
My daughter agrees with me. She didn’t go broke getting her wedding rings (see picture).
And I’m in the throes of preparing for the wedding, which is Saturday.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Camp Nano part 2 by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Camp Nano is over, and I’m telling you right now, it wasn’t easy for me. By the 14th, I’d only finished 14,835 words, when I should have been to 22,580 words. Meaning two weeks into the challenge, I was 7,745 words behind!
 By the 21st I was at 28,016 words, when I should have been at 33,870. I was closing the gap, but I was still behind at the end of the third week of the challenge!
I do know why I got so far behind. I kept realizing I had a plot hole, or I needed to show something sooner,  or some scene I’d already written wasn’t right, but if I changed it, I had change certain things that came before it, so I kept going back. In fact, by the 21st, I’d gone back through my entire manuscript 4 times editing and adding things, which wasn’t helping me at all.
Then came week four.
On the 22nd I managed to get to 32,521, but I was still short of where I should have been, 2,962 words short to exact. But I had least closed the gap further.
On the 25th, I realized I had another plot hole, and a few other things I needed to change entirely. But it was the 26th, and I had plans on the 31st, which I couldn’t change. So I decided that I didn’t have time to go clear through my manuscript (which, may I remind you is the one I started last November, so it isn’t nearly 50k long, it was closer to 75k on the 26th, and I’m a slow reader/editor ), so I determined to just write some notes, and press on. I had to finish. I set the goal; I was going to make it.
So, I moved forward, on the 26th I not only managed 3,158 words, I closed the gap! I was right where I supposed to be for my goal. Wahoo!
Then on the 27th I did 3,022 words. I had 5,039 words to go. I thought I can do this; I can finish before the 31st. All I had to do was to manage 2,520 on Friday, and 2,519 on Saturday. Since I had been managing at least 3,000 words a day, I knew I could do it.
So I started writing on the 28th with the goal of getting a minimum of 2,520 words, but I also told myself, if I could manage more, I should. And I did! When the day was done, I wrote 5,039 words! I reached my goal on Friday the 28th!
Now talk about perseverance and determination, writing that many words in one day took me all day. It was after 8 in the evening when I finally finished, but I did finish.
And I know not many writers have the time to spend an entire day writing but I’m so glad I could, and that I could reach my goal. And now to take a few weeks from writing to get some other things done around here, like laundry and dishes, and mopping the floor.
Yeah, I neglected a few things so I could write all day. But don’t all writers do that at least some times?

Happy writing everyone! J