Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Stream of Thought by Konnie Enos

Do you ever have one of those weeks with all the best intentions and a nice to do list but then it just doesn’t happen. Seems to me this week there have only been two things I really needed to do other than the normal errands, and I haven’t gotten either one of them done.
One thing I’ve needed to do is finances, which I have worked on, but not completely updated, nor have I done my usual preparations for the new month and payday is coming fast upon us. I’m behind schedule. This means I’m going to be spending, well I’m assuming as much of today and tomorrow, and Friday, and possibly Saturday and again on Monday and probably still on Tuesday as possible updating my checkbook registers, balancing accounts and paying bills. Yes, it takes me that much time. If it was just my own accounts I could do it in a day, but I have to deal with the men in my family too, and their accounts. I could spend all day on how frustrating my husband is and another day on how frustrating our oldest son is, which is almost as bad as his dad.
Then again, I won’t get to spend any full day on finances anyway because my family won’t let me. At some point they’ll need me to run them somewhere or go to the store or there’ll be some reason they need my attention and of course it’ll be more important than getting the bills paid.
The other thing I’ve needed to get done this week, and I even started, at least three different times, was writing this post. Now writing anything has its own set of problems. There is still the very real issue of interruptions, but there is also the problem with losing your train of thought.
Three different time I started this post and got a fair piece written than last my train of thought. I couldn’t finish it. I couldn’t even make sense of what I’d already written. Scrap that. Start again. Then that one didn’t even work.
I can easily blame my distractions. Most of the time I was in the middle of writing and one or more family members would either come in to talk to me or they’d insist I needed to be doing something else. Okay so at least once that was taking them to a doctor’s appointment and another time it was going to the store because we were out of things. But honestly none of those ideas worked because they weren’t well thought out to begin with. Or maybe they were too well thought out. Sometimes just typing what you are thinking works far better than trying to focus on a topic.
I’ve been told, more than once that steam of thought writing can simulate the creative process. Maybe it can. It can sure help get a post written when no ideas are coming to you.
On the home front two special things have arrived in the mail since I last posted. First, and just this week, I received a wedding announcement from my oldest child. The other one was a letter to our youngest daughter accepting her into the program at her college she wanted to get into, her first step on becoming a veterinarian.  
And lastly, next week we celebrate the birth of our nation. I saw a post on Facebook asking what symbolized the Fourth of July to you. My first thought was birthday cake. Bonnie and I celebrate our birthday the next day.
Have a Happy Fourth. Happy Birthday Bonnie.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

POV By Bonnie Le Hamilton

POV stands for point of view, or rather where the person is standing to view a scene. If you’re talking about a place it could be a scenic lookout, but even then, by looking at the same spot from a different direction or distance, you can see something different.

I actually know of a spot, where, when driving a particular road, you’ll see up ahead on the left what looks like a face formed in rock, but as you get closer, that formation will spread out until there is no recognizable face at all. At a distance, the formation appears to be much narrower than it actually is, and only small protrusions of the longer formation can be seen from a distance. And those outcroppings combined with what is visible of the formation appear to be a face.

Prospective makes a huge difference. The same goes with what we are writing in our stories. And I know I’ve said this before, because it can make a big difference. Generally, as writers we tend to lean toward writing a scene in the POV of the character with the most to lose. Essentially, we write a scene in the POV the character with the strongest feelings, in doing so we must recognize that the other characters who view that same scene will view it differently.

Not because of where they are standing, but because of how they are feeling. All of us filter what we see and experience through our own emotions, so each of us experience the same event differently, because we feel them differently.

And just because one character doesn’t like what happens, doesn’t mean another can’t hate the event too, but for totally different reasons. And to say one characters feelings are immaterial is ludicrous. The feelings of one character doesn’t cancel out the feelings of the other, even if you are only showing one POV, both characters have feelings. 

I think the romance novels which have the “he said/she said” scenes depict this quite well, and I’m certain I showed it myself in a phone conversation scene I wrote years ago. In that, I included each character’s feelings to what they were saying and hearing. It was a simple back and forth, but it wasn’t they’re words which told the story it was their thoughts.

Each of them viewed what was being said differently, because they each felt different about it. That isn’t to say one point of view is wrong and the other is right, because they are both correct.
The event is the same, but the emotions are different, and one interpretation of the event doesn’t cancel out the other interpretation because everyone bases the interpretation on their feelings, not on the event itself.

Someone once told me that sometimes you could learn a lot about a character writing a scene from that character’s prospective instead of the one you have. I think that for some it will be an eye opener, just like when we try to see real events from the prospective of someone else. If we do it right, we see the difference and come to understand the other person better, if we do it wrong, the gulf remains.

In writing, we must at least visualize the feelings of every character involved, so that we show their reactions correctly. It is by far not the whole picture, but it is at least some of it.

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Mom’s Big Day by Konnie Enos

Being a mother isn’t the easiest job in the world. There is there no effective guidebooks covering everything so you are pretty much doing just about every single job you can think of all at once. You are also on duty twenty-four/seven from the time you have your first child until the day you die.
As a mother I think the hardest part is raising well-adjusted, capable, human beings. That alone takes a great deal of effort and you’re almost completely on your own.
There are tons of books out there on parenting. And there will probably be lots more. And it would be easy to find parenting books that didn’t agree with each other, or with tips and ideas that really don’t work for your family.
I’m going to repeat myself now. No two people are exactly alike. You can’t find answers in books because there isn’t anybody else exactly like “Jonny”.
Don’t get me wrong. Those parenting books can help. Glean what you can from them, but because each child is an individual, you just have to figure out each of your children to know what works and doesn’t work with them and for your family.
That’s the hard part, and time consuming.
You spend twenty or thirty years putting all your time and effort into raising these kids, hoping for the best, praying they turn out okay and then just waiting to see the end results. That’s all you can do, wait and see how it all turns out.
You watch them as they grow up and always wonder if you are doing things right. If maybe you should handle something differently.
They go through their rough spots, their teenage rebellion, and you’re positive you’re not doing it right. They have problems in school or making friends and you wonder what else you can do or what you did wrong. It never gets easier because every bump in the road you wonder what you did wrong and what you need to change to make things better.
But dealing with another human being means they have a roll in how things turn out too so you can never tell what the outcome will be. With your first born you could just take away the TV, but your second born doesn’t mind spending hours alone in their room. Each child is different. So it’s hit and miss, a learn as you go experience, raising kids.
But one things for sure they are probably not going to come right out and tell you how to raise them or that you are doing things right. That’s why you have to wait and see how they turn out.
My children are getting to the age where I can start to see how they are going to turn out. My oldest will be getting married soon and her two sisters are in college. (My boys are in high school.)
But the real test is seeing how they do raising their own kids. We’re clearly not there yet.
But the other day I had two separate conversations with my two daughters still at home. I don’t remember how either one started other than I was driving each one somewhere, or really what we were talking about to begin with. I also know that I never mentioned my first conversation to the second girl. 
But at some point both my daughters said, “You got it right, Mom.”
I raised them right. I did a good job. Made my day.
Oh, and Happy Flag Day.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Write What You Know by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Writers the world over have probably been told a time or two to write what they know. I heard it a lot in high school, and at some point, I began to wonder how any author could come up with more than one story, if authors can only write what he or she has experienced personally. To my mind, even all those years ago, I didn’t think I’d be able to write a decent story, if I had to stick with only things I’d personally experienced.

I mean I did try. My two novels dating back that far have a heroine who was two years behind in school. That was something I did know. And in one of them, I originally had a scene where the hero and heroine meet while watching a pair of swans taking off in flight from a place called The Oxbow, it’s on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park.

The setting exists, and that pair of swans did once take off in flight, but there had only been one person standing on the bridge above watching — one young lady. Me.

And, just so you know, that’s one sight I will never forget.

But even as I wrote both of these stories, I felt like I wasn’t really writing what I know. Yeah sure, I’d seen those swans myself, and yeah sure, I had been two years behind in school, but neither of those characters were twins. I’m a twin, I know what being a twin is like. And yet, while I have had characters that are twins, I’ve yet to write a story where the heroine is a twin.

And I’m still not sure why.

Then I discovered Dick Francis.

Now anyone who knows me knows I’m a big fan of his. I have been for years, but well after reading a couple of his books, I started thinking he must have led a fantastical life, considering all the careers he knew so much about. I was beginning to wonder how I could ever write anything when I had such limited experience. Then I learned a few things about him personally.

Number one, he had been a jockey, which explains why horse racing plays such a major role in many of his stories, but he’d also been in a pilot in World War II, explaining his stories where the hero is a pilot. But he never lost a hand; he never suffered the injury his character Sid Haley suffered nor have I ever discovered any information on him saying he was a fraternal twin like his character Kit Fielding.

And what of the artist living on a Scottish mountainside? Or the wine merchant, or the glassblower, and oh so many other characters. He didn’t do all those things! It was physically impossible for one man to have that many careers in one lifetime.

So how did Dick Francis do it?

Research! From what I’ve read of him, he’d interview people in those fields, picked their brains for details, or even follow them around for a few days. And his writing shows that knowledge, making each novel interesting and fresh.

So the take away is, write what you know, but don’t limit yourself to personal experience. Go out there and find the information you need to make your story realistic!

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Animal Characters by Konnie Enos

Recently we were discussing using animals/pets in our stories. Bonnie mentioned she has them in a number of hers but I can only come up with two of mine that do, and only one of those has indoor pets. They both start on farms.
Considering I have a house full of animals, Bonnie found it surprising I didn’t incorporate them more into my stories.
Since we’ve moved into this house, a little over twelve years ago, we’ve develop something of a menagerie here. Dogs, cats, mice, Guinea pigs, hamsters, and parakeets. All of which have personalities all their own.
My own Mabel insists on joining me in the bathroom than stands, with her back to me, staring at the door until I open it. I haven’t decided if she’s standing guard or simply doesn’t like closed doors, but then she doesn’t do that when the bedroom door is closed. Maybe it’s the small space?
My husband’s dog will cower at loud noises. So the Fourth of July will find him either shivering in our bed or cowering under my husband’s desk. Though he could find another place to hide if he doesn’t feel safe enough there. The other day he climbed in our daughter’s bed and laid on her considerable amount of hair because something scared him. Took forever to get him off because we couldn’t find Dad.
Then there is said daughter’s own dog. He doesn’t like loud noises either. One time a neighbor kid was over here and he had a balloon.
You guessed it. Somehow that balloon popped, and near Gunner.
That poor boy was so terrified we could see the whites of his eyes. It was all I could do to hang on to him while yelling for someone to run for my daughter who was at the neighbor’s house.
Thankfully one of the boys visiting here ran fast to get her from his home where she was visiting with his sister.
One of our previous dogs (Rusty died nearly three years ago) was really laissez-faire. He was our largest dog and at the time we had two cats. He walked into this house and his whole attitude was like, “Oh you live here, I live here now too.” He was a huge sweet heart and he really loved our one cat.
Anyway as I was thinking about this total lack of animals in my stories, I thought of all the personalities of our pets. Each and every one of them, large and small.
And my one overriding thought was, “I can see how “The Incredible Journey” could be written.”
Including animals in your stories isn’t just giving your character a pet, but creating another character for your story.
They need a name, a description and a personality.
And just like with humans, no two are exactly alike.
My one daughter has now had two Guinea pigs. One really loved his green vegetables and loved being held and would pull on her zipper every time. Her current one doesn’t mind being held and petted, but doesn’t pull zippers and much prefers his fruits to his vegetables.
Even our dogs, each and every one has been different. You can get some idea of their temperament and personality from what bred they are, but that is never the whole picture. Just like with humans, you have to get to know each one individually.
I believe that’s why I don’t put more animals in my stories. I already have enough characters in them.
But then writing another story similar to “The Incredible Journey” might be fun too.
What do you think?

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Writing Gene

Writers abound in my family; poets, journalist, and just plain writers, there are lots of us, most of my siblings, several cousins, Father, Mother, grandmother, aunt. For years, we’ve talked about writing being in our genes, and I believe I’ve found the proof. (Well except for my mother and grandmother, they only married men on that line.)

I was online looking at my family tree and the name Shakespeare jumped out at me. (I’ve always been a big fan.) Then just a couple generations later, I find a Shakespeare who lived in Stratford on the Avon! So I opened another window and looked up The Bard’s birthday, and the fellow I was looking at was older then him. So I looked up The Bard’s father’s name, and it wasn’t Richard, the name I was looking it, but well Richard was enough older then good old William that I decided to check who Richard’s kids were, well of course I did know one, the one I come from, but when I checked, the first child listed was John!

That was Shakespeare’s father’s name. And yes, when I checked who John’s children were, William was there — the William Shakespeare, picture and all!

The fellow I descend from was John’s little brother, but that still means, William Shakespeare is a distant cousin of mine! Writing really is in my genes.

Now to go back to my WIP, I have a lot of editing to do. After all, I have a rather auspicious heritage to live up to.

 Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Of Bras and Other Monstrosities by Konnie Enos

Everybody is different.
Yeah, I know, I’m a broken record.
My husband has a stuffed full closet of clothes and every morning when he gets up he jumps into his clothes, including shoes, almost before he does anything else. Every day. Even when all he is going to do is walk across our room and get on his computer.
Me? Are you kidding? Why get dressed if I don’t have to?
Once upon a time I went rounds with my husband because of my tendency to stay in my pajamas all day. It is often used as a sign of depression so he was understandably concerned.
I finally had him step into our walk-in closet, look around and tell me what he saw. It took some coaching but he finally saw what I already knew.
Our closet at the time had two long bars on each side as you walked into it. I figured his and her sides and put clothes away accordingly. My husband, however, has never understood this his and her space or that a closet can be organized. That and the fact he simply had more than I did meant his clothes overflowed onto my side. I also had a selection of our children’s Sunday best clothes hanging there. About eighty percent of the closet was full of clothes that wasn’t mine.
I pointed out that dressing everyday meant doing my laundry far more often than I already was and since I was already doing several loads a day, well, I didn’t need or want to do more.
 So my husband and kids have gotten used to my non-clothes hog ways and not getting dressed every day. Even now when I have more than three outfits to my name they know I have no plans to go anywhere simply because I’m not dressed.
Of course it isn’t really to save time on keeping them clean. Bras and shoes are monstrosities. Abominations to be endured. Preferably for the shortest period of time possible. And clothes? Only the most comfortable. I’ve never worn jeans of any kind simply because I don’t find them comfortable.
Keeping all this in mind, yesterday morning my husband returned from taking our sons to school to find me up, dressed and reaching for my shoes.
What would you be thinking at that moment?
He asked me, “Do you have errands to run?”
Now mind you we had talked before he took the boys off to school. Yes, I realize it was early and he may have been half asleep, I certainly wasn’t awake. I was in fact still lying in bed with my eyes closed, but I know I told him I had no plans for the day.
I looked at him like he was crazy, thinking he’d clearly forgotten the obvious. When he didn’t immediately realize his error I said, “No. I have a dog.”
I’m still laughing about.
He’d clearly forgotten I’d recently acquired a dog who likes her daily walks. Good exercise for both of us.
And don’t worry, the shoes came right back off as soon as I returned. If I’d been at all uncomfortable I would have changed back into my nightgown. I really didn’t have anywhere to go.
But even Mabel, who I’ve only had for about a month now, knows when I get my shoes one on I’m going outside. She even knows what it means when I grab my purse and keys.
Smart dog.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.