Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Song Title Inspiration by BL Hamilton

Have you ever considered titles to songs and imagined the stories to go behind them?

I have. I not only think it’s fun, it sometimes spurs the muse. I say sometimes because there is one song title that I think would make for an interesting story. Maybe a YA romance, but I’ve yet to concoct a story to go behind it.

That song is “Frog Kissing.

And yes, I know that kind of dates me, but not really, since I learned this song because it was in my father’s collection.

But anyway, I think this song title would make for a cute book title. Just have to figure out a story to go with it.

I actually think there are a lot of song titles or songs that could and should inspire some full-fledged stories, more than the few that have done that.

“The Gambler,” “Coward of the County,” and “Convoy” I know were made into movies, but I’m not talking movies; I’m talking books, novels even. And I got to wondering if any other writers felt the same way.

Have any of you been inspired by a song? Have any of you used a song title as working title for your work in progress?

I can answer yes to both of those, since I have been. My one song title/working title is “On The Wings of Love,” which of course lends itself real well to a romance novel.

Now, can any of you name a song title that inspired a story of yours?

Happy writing everyone J!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Human Kindness by Konnie Enos

Years ago, when our only car died we did without, for a full year.
We lived in a small town. We could walk and there was one bus route which went right through the complex we lived in, and my husband was able to get rides to and from work from a co-worker. We managed.
This year, I wasn’t really thinking of the possibility of being without a car not even after my husband’s car gave up the ghost. Mine was fine. More or less.
Then mine went down.
And it would happen at the end of the month and money. Not to mention right before we were planning to drive up to our daughter’s college graduation.
And if you think being without a car in a big city should be easier than in a small town. Think again.
For my husband, a disabled vet, it wasn’t too difficult. He can still walk around, at least enough to catch the city bus and he gets a steep discount because he is disabled. Then again, most of his appointments were through the VA and the DAV, Disabled American Vets, runs a bus service just for the vets to get to their appointments. So for him, being without a car only meant it took longer to get there.
For me to get to the grocery store, which is more than a mile away, or my daughters to get to their doctors’ appointments, required finding someone to take us.
No problem. We’re regular church goers. Pull up a church roster and call a few stay at home or otherwise retired women and ask for some help.
At a guess I’d say over the last three weeks eight out of ten calls I made went to voicemail. I must have placed around ten to fifteen calls every other day or so, and out of all those only one person ever got back to me. She saw I’d called her several times earlier that day.
Needless to say, between all the appointments my daughters had over the last three weeks and just trying to keep milk in the house, it felt like trying to pull teeth to get rides. My fridge will only hold so much milk and it never lasts longer than three days. I was lucky if I could get a ride every four to six days. Plus each of my daughters ended up canceling an appointment because we couldn’t find them a ride. (For several reasons the bus system wouldn’t have worked for my girls the biggest one being they’d be out in the sun for far too long, which neither one can do for medical reasons.)
So I was really happy to get my car up and running again, though feeling basic human kindness was a thing of the past.
Then yesterday two of my daughters and I were at the store and we had to get dogfood. With five dogs, it’s a fifty pound bag. We were shifting things in my trunk to make room for it when a gentleman walked up, commenting on the size of the bag and dropped it in.
I’ll admit both my daughters are petite, but they’re used to moving those bags. We get them every month. But after all the trouble I had trying get the help I did need from people I know, it rather astounded me to have complete stranger be a gentleman.
All three of us thanked him, though he made light of it as he walked off.
This man passed it forward. Now it’s your turn.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Writing Distractions

How do you write a whole novel? Sheer persistence and it isn’t easy. Lots of things can distract you, or as least, they distract me, since being easily distracted is like the hallmark symptom of ADD. Getting distracted can be as simple as seeing something and realizing you need to take care of it.
Like the time I started to make my breakfast and barely even got the ingredients out, and not all of them, when I started doing the laundry instead, then I started to gather the dishes. Then an hour later, my blood sugar level told me I forgot something.
And distractions are everywhere. AOL News and Facebook are two major problems for me, but then so is the TV, which is sitting across the room calling to me right now, the sink full of dirty dishes, the birds flying past my window, and the full laundry hamper.
That’s a bit of life getting in the way, and a bit of ADD.
Like I said, it doesn’t take much, and last week, it wasn’t the little things, it was the big things. As Konnie said in her last post, her daughter was graduating from college. Well graduation was Friday, and late Thursday afternoon, Konnie and her husband arrived here.
So I managed to get some writing done on Thursday. After running a few errands and until around the time, I expected Konnie to arrive in Pocatello. See she couldn’t drive straight to my place, because I’d only given Konnie directions off the interstate and to nearest the gas station to my apartment, figuring with all the turns involved from there, it would be easier if I navigate once she got here.
So, anyway, I was pins and needles until she called saying she’d made it that far, and then, of course, I had company, meaning I didn’t even open up my computer, except to show Konnie what I’d written that day.
Friday, we drove up to Rexburg to be with her oldest daughter on her big day. Then Saturday after breakfast, we loaded all three of them into Konnie’s car, then I hopped in mine and led them out to McCammon where my husband is buried.
Since they live so far away, when my husband died, they’d only been able to afford for my sister to come up for the funeral, and while my niece had since had a chance to see where he was buried, her father hadn’t, and he wanted to see it. I lead the way.
Once he’d seen the place, we each returned to our respective homes. Though obviously, I had a shorter drive than they did.
But my weekend of distractions wasn’t over. You see, a week ago Sunday, a friend of mine past away, and her funeral was Saturday. After seeing Konnie and her family off, I hurried home, changed, and went to the chapel where the funeral was being held.
At least after I got home, I was able to open my computer again. But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been distractions. I already mentioned some major ones, but well, there’s also a trip to the doctor on Monday, and errands, again, and on Tuesday, there was an unexpected visit from a friend, a trip to the eye doctor (new glasses) and a church meeting.
And I don’t need any of that to be distracted, since my thoughts can run off on tangents at the slightest inclination, frankly, it’s amazing I have finished six rough drafts. Most of my manuscripts are like the one Konnie requested a current copy of yesterday.
I did send it to her, but later, she complained that I’d started making changes to it, and hadn’t even finished the changes.
“Well, yeah, I know. I got distracted.”
The fact is one of my other stories started calling to me, and I’ve since set that one aside to work on the one I am now working on. I get distracted real easy. It’s amazing I’ve worked on this one for over a month.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

On Higher Education by Konnie Enos

I recently I came across an article where the TV personality Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs was commenting on his thoughts on “free college education”. Of course with the current political campaign I was a little bit interested, though I only read it because the heading said he was opposed to Bernie Sanders’ ideas.
I thought about my own kids. My oldest child graduates from college on Friday. Her two sisters are either in college or planning to start soon and already know what they will major in. The same can be said for my oldest son who is still in high school. My youngest however, well, he may or may not attend college. Even though he does have an aptitude for computers, I’m not sure he’ll go to college.
Here’s the thing. I don’t care.
I wouldn’t care of any if my kids decided not to go because there are plenty of other ways to get the skills and education you need to be employable.
I have an associate’s degree in both arts and science, and I very nearly earned my bachelor’s degree in arts. I technically have no marketable skills. Not that I don’t have skills, I just don’t have a degree that will get me a job.
My husband has only a handful of college credits, but through job training programs, and on the job experience, he has marketable skills despite the fact he has never earned a college degree.
I have never understood why, as a culture, we are pushing our young adults to go into a huge amount of debt and get this little piece of paper saying they persevered beyond the basic required education. Some people just weren’t cut out for college and there are plenty of necessary jobs out there that will get you through life.
I actually like how my aunt handled getting her three daughters educated. She told them she was going to pay for just one year of cosmetology school then they could work their way through any further education they might want, suggesting they get their LPN as she had done.
Their oldest did as she suggested then, years later, as a single mother, she earned her RN degree. Their second did get her license then got married and raised a large family. Their youngest got her license and went to work. As I understand it, she manages at least a couple of shops today. All three, as far as I know, are happy with their lives.
I know people with mounting college debt. How much smarter would it be to get that education without the debt like my cousin did? But then if college isn’t the thing for you, why go in the first place? Why not do what my youngest cousin did and get marketable skills in a trade school then get to work doing something you actually enjoy?
And think of this, what would this country look like if we had no mechanics, construction workers, plumbers, cosmetologists, nurse’s aides and a host of other jobs you either learn on the job or in trade schools?
So no, I’m not going to push my kids to go to college. Because as I’ve always said no two people are exactly alike so cookie cutter answers cannot possibly be the solution.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Backtracking by BL Hamilton

I'm a frequent backtracker, and I mean backtracking, not backpacking.

I'm talking about my writing. I'm constantly going back and changing things.

It not so bad when it’s something relatively easy, like when its just a minor tweak; I just have to go back, and find the appropriate spot, or spots, where that item should be there, and then get back to where I was.

It really only takes a few minutes with that handy tool call “find” just as long as I know the scene where it should have been, and can come up with a single word, or distinct phrase, that will take me right to it. If I can’t do this, or I’m not sure where I need to add that something, then it’s a big pain, since I’d have to start from the top and skim through the whole manuscript looking for all the right spots to add it.

I’ve done this both ways, on just my current WIP.

But sometimes it dawns on me that my character couldn't, wouldn't, or should say or do what I have them saying or doing. There’s always something, to the point that I get the feeling my writing works on the two steps forward one step back basis. I’m just constantly backtracking.

I’ve been known to have to go back several whole chapters. None of which is all that bad, except when the changes I make, change everything that happened after it. I really hate when I come up with those.

This last week, I had a moment when I realized that a minor character wouldn’t just stand by and watch. She may be minor to the story, but she’s got quite a personality, and inserting her more fully into that scene changed the outcome of that scene, changing everything that I wrote after that, and made a huge difference in the story.

And it needed it. Well, actually, I needed a way to get the main characters out of that scene earlier, but that didn’t seem possible with all that happens in that scene, until I considered this one minor character. And then I realized I she wouldn't have just stood there. And a new scenario played out in my head.

Backtracking that time was kind of fun. I knew what words to use to find the scene, because it the name that minor character’s business and better utilizing her strong personality did get the hero and heroine out of there a lot sooner. J

And aside from all that, what I am currently writing is really backtracking. I realized I needed to add and change several things near the beginning of this one manuscript of mine. Most importantly, I realized I needed to show what happens between Tuesday and Sunday of the first week the Hero and Heroine meet.

What I had before touched lightly on those days, in just one paragraph, as in not anywhere near enough detail, so I thought I should add about a chapter, and forty-three pages, and almost three chapters later, I’m on Thursday. I think now I might be showing too much, but I can edit out what I really don’t need, once this story is finished. It’s not going be a short any way, never was going to be because it covers too many years.

In fact, I was originally trying to cut down scenes to make it shorter, but since I can later turn the tables and have other characters stand in the forefront, I figured I should make each section as long as I can and edit them down later, after it’s finished.
This may well be my next monster manuscript though. I even think it might be bigger than my first one whose rough draft was over 130 thousand words. Yeah, I think this will be much bigger.
Though I doubt it will rival Konnie’s so-called opus, whose rough came out at over sixteen hundred PAGES! Yeah, I don’t envy her the job of editing that monster.

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Passing it on isn’t always Good by Konnie Enos

Seriously people I don’t get it.
I understand why people go out in public when they know they are sick.
Okay, I know I’ve gone out when I had a cough, but having a cough doesn’t always equate being contagious. Like today. I’m not contagious. Just have the after effects of a cold. I’d never leave the house, if I waited for the days without coughs or sneezes. But going to school or church with any of the signs of illness, such as stuffy noses, coughs, sneezing, and body aches, just doesn’t make sense to me.
I’ve heard the excuses.
“It’s just a little cold.”
“I’m almost over it.”
“I’m not that sick.”
That’s completely beside the point. You are sick!
If you can’t think about your own health and getting yourself better by resting, then be altruistic and think about all the people out there you might run into and infect with your “mild” cold.
Back in 2002 during the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, UT they had an outbreak of a really harsh illness called RSV, which can be deadly to preemies, and kids under a year old, or anyone with a weak immune system. For most people, old enough to fight it off, it wasn’t anything other than a “mild” cold, mostly just a runny nose.
My youngest was still under a year old. A family whose kids had runny noses tended him for me. He got RSV. At one point he went Code Blue. We’re lucky we still have him.
My entire family has asthma. Colds easily go to our lungs. Recently my oldest son came home complaining, for the second year in a row about a girl at school being sick. And for the second year in a row, he soon had the same symptoms. Effectively bringing the cold to a house not only full of asthmatics but one family member has auto immune diseases (yes, I said plural diseases). Not a good combination.
And both times my son complained about her it was that her parents wouldn’t let her stay home even though they knew she was sick.
I so don’t get it.
Are you really so selfish you have to get everyone else, even those people for whom simple little cold isn’t quite so simple, sick?
I don’t care how healthy you are, or how well you can fight that cold off, even if you choose not to take care of yourself. Some people have to take care of themselves and avoid coughs and colds as much as they can in order to stay healthy.
So I really, really don’t get it. Why do people have to be out in public when they need to be home taking care of themselves?
Take care of yourself, get the rest you need, don’t pass that cold on to classmates or co-workers. They might be healthy, but maybe someone they live with isn’t.
Personally, I’d appreciate not catching all these colds because someone had to go to school or church with a cough.

Today my sign off is: Still coughing because a parent didn’t care that their kid was sick.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Chaotic Life by BL Hamilton

Not too long ago a friend came to my house to help me out for a little while since I wasn’t feeling well and really needed a few things done. At one point, we were talking and I apologized for my place being a bit of a disaster area. She laughed and said my place was more, “Organized chaos than disaster” then said, “I bet you know just were everything is.”
Well, yes and no. My spare bedroom is a huge mess, and will take a long time (if I ever get to it) to clear that up and organize it. The hall shelves are another mess, but yes, I pretty much know where everything is, I have lived here a while and I do pass that a lot. I can’t help but see it. And another huge mess is my couch, most of the time.
Frankly, give me a warning before you come to visit, otherwise the only seat available will be the recliner across the room. Well, and the kitchen chairs. There is literally no room for anyone else on my huge, monster of a couch because spread out next to me are a ton of things I use or need at hand’s reach on regular basis, starting with my blood pressure cuff, my equipment to check my blood sugar, and my medicines.
I also keep my laptop and my reader, and a few reference books. (Let’s face it folks sometimes books are better!) And, during the day, I usually have a couple bottles of water with me. Of course, sometimes one is empty, but with two, I don’t have to get up as much.
Okay, yeah I’m lazy! Not! I only take one bottle with me when I’m out and about to do errands, unless I know I’m going to be more than a couple of hours, and hey, I don’t want to run out. No, I keep two bottles at my side, because I don’t want to interrupt my writing that often to get a refill.
And there are other things that have found a home on my couch, instead of somewhere else, because I simply haven’t put them away, or they just plain belong there.
Like Scotty, my big shaggy Scottish stuffed dog which was a gift from my husband years ago. And the throw pillows, most of which are on the other end of the couch. And of course, my phone’s base is on the sort of shelf at the back of the couch, within easy reach. It would be easier if I remembered to keep my phone on the base because then I wouldn’t have to search for when it rings.
It would also be easier if everything on the couch stayed in the exact same place, but I’m constantly tossing through this stuff looking for either my remotes or phone, or both.
Why is it always those things that are buried? Okay, honestly, unless I’ve straightened up the mess recently, I generally end up searching for something. About the only things that doesn’t get lost in this mess are my laptop and the zippered binder I use to try and keep my finances organized. But that, like everything else, only works, if you remember to use it.
Yeah, my life is a mess and try as I might, I think it is going to remain this way for a very long time, mostly because I can never seem to stick to any one task for very long. Take yesterday morning when right in the middle of fixing my breakfast it dawned on me I didn’t get any laundry done the day before, even though I had gathered and sorted it. And that I really needed to get that going, before I forgot again, so I set aside what I was doing and to just real quick get a load in, figuring it would only take a couple of minutes, since after all it was already sorted.
Yeah right.
When I finished getting a load in, I remembered something else I’d forgotten and the next thing I know I’m getting a little light headed and there’s my breakfast half fixed sitting on the table. Yeah, that wasn’t a good start to the day.
I’ll try harder today.

Happy writing everyone! :)