Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Past, Present and Future by Konnie Enos

Last week about this time my youngest son was complaining about how slow the week was going.
Isn’t that how it always is? When you’re anticipating something time seems to drag by, but when you’re furiously trying to prepare for something it flies by so fast you simply don’t have enough hours in the day, week, month or even year to get everything done.
Here it is, the next to the last day of 2015. The whole year has gone by, in little more than a blink of an eye.
When I look back on this past year I can see some of the changes in my life.
With some effort I’ve lost between 50 to 60 pounds.
I decided I did not need my job but rather my family needed me home more than I needed the stress of trying to work and I’ve found I’m running just as much being a stay at home mom as I was trying to maintain my very part-time job.
I finally, with a great deal of prodding from Bonnie, and encouragement from friends at The Writer’s Chatroom, I finished writing my opus. All 150 chapters of it, and clearly the story can go on. Now the editing begins.
Considering the time of year that it is. My goals for this next year are to lose another 50 or 60 pounds, work on editing my opus and a romance I have finished, plus finish and edit my fantasy.  I hope by 2017 I’ll be ready to start looking for an agent for any and all of the above. Of course, I’ll still be writing more stories while doing all of this. I’d also like to make my saving account grow, hopefully better than I did this last year so I don’t end the year with empty bank accounts.
And, per advice from my Writer’s Chatroom friend Audrey, I’ve already broken my savings goals down into monthly goals (I only get money monthly so that works for me.) Now I have to do that with my writing and editing goals.
Then I have to work on my weight loss goals. Which I’m sure would entail actually adding exercise to my routine since I’ve almost got the diet thing down pat.
Anyway, that’s where I’m at on this bright morning, two days before the start of a brand new year. Now back to being a busy mother.
Where are you?

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tis the Season by B. L. Hamilton

This is the time of year for spending time with family and friends, for wrapping last minute presents, baking, and maybe gathering around the table to play a game or two. If you’re getting any writing done, your family is either real understanding, or you’re living alone.

But with Christmas just two days away, all I’m saying today is Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And, happy writing everyone, if you can manage to get any done. J

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tis the Season by Konnie Enos

‘Tis the season for annoying commercials and the extreme commercialism that has become this holiday season. Everywhere you look there is another ad for something else you simply have to buy. One recent ad on the air here touted, repeatedly, that this was the season of getting. The entire ad never once said the word give, or at least not that I heard.
What’s the worst part of it is many people blame this get, get, get, give me, give me, give me mentality on The Spirit of Santa Clause. It’s no more The Spirit of Santa Clause than it is The Spirit of Christmas. Santa Clause is about giving, not getting.
   The Spirit of Santa Clause is about giving time and talent to make or find that exactly right gift, that special something for someone you love. It’s about family and time.
In the hustle and bustle of this world too many of us forget why we celebrate Christmas. They focus so completely on what they’d like to receive they barely even think about what they are giving. The Spirit of Santa Clause isn’t just about giving, it’s about giving the right gift.
Stop focusing on how much you’re spending, other than keeping it within your budget, and don’t worry about how many gifts there are. Think about what will really please the person you are getting those gifts for.
One year, with a really tight budget, as usual. I could only get one gift for each of my children. I skimped and saved. I planned. I tried to figure out what each of my kids would love to get, that I could afford. It wasn’t easy because I knew that one of my kids wanted a camera. But with a great deal of effort, I managed to find just the right gift for all of them, including that camera, the most expensive gift I bought that year, and probably ever.
But the right gift doesn’t have to bought, it can be made. In fact, the very best presents are from the heart, handmade especially for the recipient.
Can you draw? Then make a picture.
Do any sort of handcraft? Utilize them.
Do you have a sewing machine and know how to use it? Same thing.
Can you cook? Bake? Know anyone who is away from home this time of year? A box of homemade goodies always pleases.
My daughter does paint by number pictures and frames them for gifts, or counted cross stitch pictures. She’s also knitted baby hats and made necklaces and earrings.
I can crochet, knit, do cross stitch and other handcrafts. I can cook and I write. It’s a simple thing to plan what handcrafts you’ll use to make that one gift for that one person on your list. As a writer, there is nothing wrong with composing a story for your family as a gift. Perhaps you’ll manage to pen the next great best seller. Richard Paul Evans did and The Christmas Box was born.
I’ve made gifts for my children over the years and they still talk about them. I can think of at least twice, if not three times that I’ve written something as a gift.
Personally, I think it’d be a wonderful tradition to make at least some of your gifts each year. But I’d challenge all of you to really think about your giving and who those gifts are for. The best gift for someone who collects Nativities is one they don’t have yet. It’s not that book, movie, game or anything else you can think of that you absolutely adore but they don’t.

So in the true Spirit of Santa Clause and the true spirit of the season, the Christmas season, give from the heart.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

What’s Your Character’s Sign?

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of different posts on Facebook about various personality traits and the Zodiac sign they were supposed to show under, and I recalled talking to several friends about creating characters and some of them mentioned using the signs of the Zodiac as part of it.

Personally, I’ve only ever read those deals for a good laugh, because I have never found one that described my personality to a T. Every single one I’ve ever read either sort of but not quite described Konnie, or sort of but not quite described me, or was just plain so ambiguous it sort of but not quite described both of us. And our mother was a Cancer too. Add her into the equation and those things never jibed with reality.

And as far as creating characters go, I don’t often even come up with a birthday for any character in my stories except when that birthday plays a vital role in the character’s personality and or the story. In fact, there’s only once when I took the time to devise exact birthday’s for more than one character in a story and that was because the story covered most of a year, and thereby had to have some birthdays during that time. Additionally, if there were, those birthdays would have some impact on the events in the story.

Then of course, there’s the fact that the story in question has since morphed into a series, and yes I have lots of character birthdays, because those birthdays could impact any future story line.

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one other time when I mention a character’s birthday, and I started that story the day before said character’s birthday, so the event played a vital role in the story line.

However, when it isn’t vital to the story, I don’t make one up. Why bother? I don’t need it and it doesn’t impact the character or the story line.

Now the other day I found an article somewhere on the internet, and I forget where, about what personality traits congregate to what states. When I saw the headline, my first thought was, “Really?”

They took the time figure this out? Why?

Then I realized the information might be a fun fact to add to a story sometime, so I read it, and I should have taken more notes, but I kind of lost it when I got to the paragraph on introverts and extroverts.

You see, the article said introverts congregate in states that include Idaho (where I live) and extroverts congregate in states that include Nevada (where Konnie lives)!

Yeah, I laughed out loud. Found it very funny. Seems Konnie and I are living in the wrong states, if you were to believe that article. But I guess, if I’d bothered to save the article; I could have probably used it as a topic of conversation in some story.

What do you think?

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Picky Eaters

Recently I was reading an advice column where a mother was asking how to get her young child to eat healthy food without doctoring it with ketchup. The advice columnist simply gave the age old adages for getting young picky eaters to try new foods.
I read it and could only come up with one thought. “You’re overlooking a major cause of picky eating.”
I personally know several adults who were picky eaters as toddlers. In one case, the person falls on the autism spectrum. It’s a texture problem. In the other cases, it turned out the food the people didn’t like were foods they were actually allergic to, and those allergies got worse as they got older.
A pre-school aged child doesn’t understand everything that is going on, nor do they have the words to explain exactly what he is feeling. I know my own daughter fought me for years on chunky peanut butter. She hated it, always said it made her feel like she was choking.
Guess what? She’s allergic to peanuts. Actually now basically every type of nut there is.
She’s also never liked peas.
Guess what else now makes her very sick, as in major allergic reaction. The close cousin of peas, soy.
I could go on and on at this point about how much trouble it is to have to feed someone on any type of restricted diet. However, the point I wanted to make here, was that even young kids, who don’t have the words, or even the understanding to know what they are feeling isn’t normal, still know what they don’t like and can try to express it in some ways.
When a child won’t eat certain foods why do we just assume they are being picky and simply try to find ways to make them eat the offending food? Why can’t we first check to see if there might be a reason for them to not like that food?
My youngest daughter has always, always hated chunky peanut butter and peas.
I figured she was my picky eater. First I ignored it. Then I did a tiny bit to accommodate it. I bought some creamy peanut butter. Eventually I let her dig the peas out of her food and not eat them. Finally, as she became an adult and her allergies got worse and worse, I listened to her.
Another person I know who was a picky eater as a child still shows all the symptoms of being on the autism spectrum, though high enough not to have been institutionalized and forgotten as a child back in the era when it was still fairly common to tell parents to forget their children who would ‘never live a normal life’.
My point is, don’t assume a toddler refusing food is doing it to be a fussy kid. They might just be doing it because they are actually allergic to that food, or maybe there is another medical reason for it.
Really listen to what your child says about it. If they say it makes them feel like they are choking, think allergies. If they talk about how yucky it is or feels, think possible sensory issues, like those on the autism spectrum.
I also admit toddlers will refuse to eat. And that could just be a phase. It too shall pass. And you can help it pass by utilizing those age old adages to encourage them to try new foods, but it shouldn’t be the only thing you look at when dealing with a picky eater.
This from a mother who knows.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Writing Challenges

It is now week three of Nano, and where am I? I’m at well over 58k though I’ve had some bumps on the way, I’ve also had one dozy of day where I managed over 6k words, that’s over 25 pages, in a single day. Okay, that’s fast, and a dang lot of typing, but you should have seen the day before, my third worst effort to that point. I know the problem the other two days was I was rather busy and wasn’t able to get more done, but the day before my banner day, I just couldn’t concentrate on the story I started, the story I had.

Finally, I decided to, without starting a new file, or deleting what I had so far, write what I could of the story bothering me, then return to the story I had started. To date I’ve written over 31k on the new story and only around 27k on the one I’d planned to write this month! And at this rate, I may never finish the original story. But then I can’t predict the future, and I still like the other story, just at the moment, this one is compelling me forward to the end.

And I don’t know about anybody else, but that sometimes happens to me, just usually when the story I’m writing gets bogged down some way, and I’m not finding a solution to fix it, that just wasn’t the case this time, but oh well, eventually I’ll have two new stories! It just takes time, which is something I don’t have, since tomorrow is Thanksgiving and boy am I not ready for it! Sort of usual for me to, but I’m cutting this short so I can get some work done.

So, happy Thanksgiving everyone! J

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Tortoise and The Little Engine That Could

Last month I challenged Bonnie to see which one of us could finish our story first. Obviously hers was shorter and she hadn’t been working it as long as I had been mine, but I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Then as the month was drawing to a close, she discovered she had a glaring error in hers which needed corrected before she could move on so she conceded. I also realized I wouldn’t make the goal of finishing by the end of the month so I tried to keep her in it.
In every post since she conceded, when she mentioned it, she said I won merely because she faced an obstacle and wasn’t going to finish before the end of last month. I pointed out I wouldn’t finish in October either. Between family obligations and figuring out I needed a couple of scenes I hadn’t considered, and one event I had planned took seven chapters to cover it, so it took more than I’d thought I’d need when I made the challenge.
Then her last post she wrote about the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race. And I thought, the tortoise wasn’t only slow and steady, he DID NOT GIVE UP. No matter how many time he trudged past the dawdling hare, or it zoomed past him afterwards, the tortoise kept going.
Be the tortoise, and the little engine that could.
I started my opus, the story I was working on for this challenge, in November of 2008. It was a dream I had and I worked like a mad woman that month trying to get it all on paper before I forgot any of it. By the end of the month I had somewhere between 65 and 70K words, so if I’d entered the NANO that year, I would have won. It was in a nut shell a sci-fi romance with two POV characters, though I could easily see the other stories in it.
Shortly after that I started writing another “companion” story, then another. As I started the third one I realized they all ran concurrently and needed to be told in the same story, especially since they ended up in the same place and time. Thus my opus was born, with a full seven POV’s.
Now, this month, a full seven years after I started, I finally reached ‘The End’. Or at least got back to where the first story ended. My opus now has 150 chapters, 1644 pages, and over 405,000 words and still covers the same time span.
I didn’t give up. I kept plodding along. I kept trying. Several times I had to backtrack and redo scenes because they just weren’t working, or I got a detail wrong, or I didn’t put in something that was needed. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of the last seven years I had to go back to the beginning and change details of my story because I decided something wasn’t going to work the way I had it.
But I didn’t give up. And I’m not giving up. Now I’m ready for the fun and torture of editing.
But before I start that, I’m going to make sure my fantasy is finished. The one I started back in high school, about 33 years ago, as a short story.
The race goes to the tortoise and the little engine that could.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.