Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Aftermath of our Writer's Rock Brainstorming Workshop with Brenda Cubbage

I thought this might interest you. On our Writer’s Rock Workshop yesterday, we discussed brainstorming with Brenda Cubbage. Some very interesting ideas emerged. One was by C. B. Hampton, author of Writing Great Stories. This is his take on brainstorming on your own. Interesting to note: His brainstorming incorporates research, daily journals as well as trying to get people to brainstorm with you. Here is his chapter 15 of “Writing Great Stories. “

Chapter 15: Brainstorming Alone/Breaking Writer’s Block

The only real writer’s block is uncertainty about what to write next or the self-doubt beetle eating at a writer’s soul. Brainstorm with your own subconscious and kill that beetle.
—The Golden Quill

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a best friend to sit with and brainstorm your tough writing questions whenever you get stuck?
How great would it be to sit with someone who totally understands your writing problems, someone who will patiently allow you to explain what you’re trying to do? Who won’t keep looking at the clock, as though they’re bored to death?

I tried using my wife for this purpose, but she kept jumping up, saying, “‘Scuse me, be right back. Gotta check this or that. Each time she left she was gone a little longer than the time before.” So, I gave up on her.
I then called several of my friends to see if they would like to help me brainstorm a solution to the problem.
Most of them said something like, “Uh, how long will this take?”
I said, “I dunno. Couple of hours, maybe.”
They said things like, “Uh, well, I gotta go shopping.” Or,  “How ’bout Saturday afternoon two weeks from now. I—”
“But—but, I need help right now!”
“Sorry, gotta run. Later!”
So, I gave up on friends, too. Hell, they all think I’m a little nuts, anyhow, wanting to write novels.

John Steinbeck’s Solution

And then one day I ran across a paperback copy of John Steinbeck’s posthumously published book Journal of a Novel, aka The East of Eden Letters. They were written to his friend and editor, Pascovici, on the left-hand pages of the notebook in which he wrote East of Eden.
The letters were written in the period between January, 29 and October 31, 1951.They were his way, he said, of “getting my mental arm in shape to pitch a good game.”

What struck me about the letters, which were in my opinion, more a diary of his thoughts, was that he used them as a sounding board to talk about the things he wanted to do in the novel and the problems, the blocks he was having. I read the book cover-to-cover and came away more confident in my own prowess as a writer.

To myself I said, “All I have to do is get a great editor like Pascovici, and then I, too, can write an East of Eden.” Then suddenly reality set in. I didn’t have an editor, great, mediocre, or even lousy. I had only myself.

Suddenly I had a flash of brilliance. I’ll write letters to myself to warm up my mental arm, to plagiarize Steinbeck’s characterization. Following is my very first journal entry. As you read it, you’ll quickly realize that I was inexperienced at novel writing and at journalizing, but not at writing.

December 19 – 6:30 AM

Current Writing Problems
At the moment, I have spent 4 days working on the Tunney chapter, trying to make it work. As I wrote, I continued to find problems with previous Tunney chapters, particularly relating to FBI procedures, equipment, attitudes, etc.  For example, I found that I had left out assigning an agent to watch Philip Masters, who is the main character in the story.  This was easy enough to repair.
Then I discovered that I had not considered how my multiple agents would get around the County. How in the hell can you follow someone in a car when you’re on foot? Then, of course, how the hell can you watch a subject continually, if you have to drive back to base to turn the car over to your relief? Ergo: need two vehicles to maintain two agents working one shift each. With six agents working the case. By my count, that adds up to six cars, two to watch Philip and Nolly; two to watch Courtland; two to watch Jessica. Crap! This is an undercover operation. All of a sudden I need a damned garage to hide my vehicles.  And, don’t forget the van.
Okay, this is stupid! I don’t need six agents. I’ll just overwork two. That means only two cars: Tunney’s and the other agent’s. Yeah, that’s easier anyhow.
Next, I suddenly realize that I have field agents using “hand sets” (walkie-talkies). This is probably somewhat obsolete technology, and, considering the seriousness of Tunney’s assignment, the latest technology would undoubtedly be used. Problem: what the hell is the latest technology?

December 22 – 6:30 AM

Well, just finished (yesterday) a chase to find a source for the latest in communications technology. Hit a gold mine when I called Opamp bookstore in L.A.  Guy named Robert told me to check out “Jane’s Security and Counter Insurgency Equipment,” a $300 reference book. Yikes! Then I called libraries around Orange County and couldn’t find the thing. LA County Library has it, so I can go down in a few days and check it out.  But this slows me down some. I also discovered that I don’t know crap about weapons. Had an agent named Feinman shooting a 30-30 with scope. This is probably laughable, but I understand that Jane’s has everything for security and counter insurgency. Wish I had $300 and could bring the book home and browse. Have to be content with Xeroxing what I need at the library.

December 22 – 8:45 AM (went to watch news)
Back. As I watched the news, I realized that a field unit nowadays probably would be using a portable satellite uplink the way CNN and other news agencies do. Question: how big are they?  What do they look like.  Do you need a van or are they really portable? Etc.
And re the comm units:  are they using voice activated mikes, and ear receivers, all invisible to the outside world.  What’s standard? That means a call to the FBI. Have to prepare for that with a list of questions ahead of time.

Anyhow, the gist of this report is that I was going along like a bliss-filled idiot, thinking I had it all under control, when I really was living in a dream world.  I probably don’t need too much detail, but I need to know what’s possible, so I don’t do stupid things and create plot turns on obsolete concepts.
Another major problem I may be having in this chapter is that of UNITY. I keep trying to have Tunney’s base approached from the POV of a roving enemy scout. Is this really necessary to the story? or do I only have to have Tunney learn: that Philip may be friendly with the enemy, that Jessica is leaving town and Cable Mathis is following Philip.

Will I use the problem of the scout later or is it just window dressing to avoid moving on with the story.  If I throw it in, what will I really do with it?  Maybe it’s just irrelevant red herring. Bet it is.  In that case, I should just dump it altogether and get on with the story. Forget the BS.

December 25 —7:30 PM
Well, I didn’t do much writing today. Or yesterday for that matter or Monday, the day before.  On Monday I went to LA City Library and Xeroxed a bunch of pages from Jane’s. Got just about all I need to cover the technical side of Tunney’s communication operation. The gist of the research is: there are comm packages to suit darn near any requirement, so I can invent whatever I want and it will be plausible.

Got weapons: pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, scopes. Got communication equipment: head sets, underarm harnesses, voice activated, leg harnesses, helmets, etc. Got security equipment: to keep out listeners, etc, create magnetic field around unit.  Got bug detection equipment, etc.
So, now I just have to make some decisions: do I want to use ear stuff in California?  Probably not.  Hand units are okay.

What do I want to use in Arkansas?  Probably Tunney would insist on covert surveillance communications harnesses, due to the possibility of surprise attack; also, since the previous teams disappeared without trace, he will want all members voice activated, so all they have to do is speak to give input; plus this leaves them hands free.

Sounding Board Problem Solved

The examples given above were my first, quite naive efforts at writing a journal, but they taught me a couple of things.
·       Talking to myself about my problems, in lieu of someone else, works. I figured it was like programming my subconscious with the problem. Quite often I found that my subconscious popped out with the solution before I got the problem programmed in. That’s great.
·       Writing down my writing problem helped see clearly what the real problem was, and showed me other problems I had.

The result is that I have solved almost all my writing problems including things like the craft of dialogue, the craft of description, the craft of story, the difference between character and characterization, etc.
So, happy journalizing to you!

If any of you are interested in reading Chuck's entire book "Writing Great Stories," it's available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com and a link of a free mind-mapping software is below. 

Link for XMind, the free mindmapping software is:  https://www.xmind.net/


Saturday, May 23, 2015

Review of Marc Estes' Book, 'Four Pieces of Power.'

I am happy to have Marc Estes, author of the exciting Vendicatori series, on my blog today. I hope you will check out his lastest in the series, 'Four Pieces For Power'

About the Author

Award winning writer, Marc Estes, is proud to present his debut novel, Four Pieces For Power, Book One of the Vendicatori. This marks the first in a series of Vendicatori novels developed by Mr. Estes. He is a two-time winner of the Vermont Playwright's Award for his plays, What Would Dickens Do? and Glass Closets. What Would Dickens Do? also won the 2012 Robert J. Pickering Award for Playwriting Excellence. His play, Gumbo (adapted from the short story by Charles Huckelbury) was a finalist in the 2011 Safe Streets Arts Foundation Short Play Competition and was presented at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. His play The Practice of Killing (co-written with Robert Johnson, and adapted from the short story by Mr. Johnson) has been published in the Spring 2013 edition of Tacenda Literary Magazine. Estes is a native of New England and graduate of the University of New Hampshire.

Amazon Review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By harry whitewolf on August 28, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
There's much to like about this story of an average guy, Andrew, who suddenly becomes involved in a clue solving contest to win an inheritance and take his seat at the head of the shadowy organization of the Vendicatori, but at the same time, I was constantly wanting more of some bits and less of others.
I wanted to know more about the organization, more about Andrew's 'nemesis' Robert, and more about the rules of the game they found themselves in. There was a slight lack of depth to the characters' actions because of this, but if you take it all at face value and just go along for the ride, then the book is very enjoyable.
The author is an extremely capable writer, whose style fits the genre perfectly, and the reader is swept along and constantly wanting to know what happens next. The sub-story of Andrew's family back home and his sister preparing for her wedding is a great device to give balance to the story; and to highlight the underlying general theme of family, but I felt there was far too much of the sub-story, and therefore too little of 'the action' and the competition at hand.
As this is the first book in a series, presumably some of the questions I was left with will come to be answered.
All in all, if you're a fan of conspiratorial adventure books, in the vain of Dan Brown and Clive Cussler, then I'm sure you won't be disappointed. It's an easily read, mostly fast paced book which I could easily see being turned into a movie. And maybe the author's much more clever than I think- seeing as I'm left wanting to know more, and will therefore be wanting to read the next in the series!

Once again, I very am happy to have Marc Estes, author of the exciting Vendicatori series, on my blog today. I hope you will check out his lastest in the series, 'Four Pieces For Power.' 


Online Writing Workshops Can Be Fun as Well as Educational

Sorry for the lag in my posts. Tooth issues again. This week it was root canal part two. Now, it's over and done with. No more infection. No more pain. I'm recovering and don't feel so stressed over it all.

Dixie (horse) and my new novel "Matt's Murder" are now stressing me out. Need to have something to stress over, don't we? Will share a little of Matt and its problems with you sometime down the road. 

Something I'd like to talk about today.

As you probably know, I took over a successful online writer's group in April. We changed the name to Writer's Rock (Facebook) and chat on Monday nights at AOL's Chapter One. For those of you on AOL, that would be at 9 EST, 8 CST, 7 MST and 6 PST. We're moving right along with topics and presentations covered through June. 

We're moving into a new more interactive workshop presentation mode. Instead of just presentations, we're presenting, then giving the writer's a chance to have some fun with the topic. 

Two weeks ago, Donna Mains gave a presentation on Action and Reaction. I wrote a blog. I know you know this, but reaction is what happens after an action takes place. Action: I went to the store and saw my boss. Reaction: My boss saw me and fired me.  That's pretty basic. The action must precede the reaction. I say "hi," you say "hi" back. I say "see you in ten minutes" you say "not if I see you first."  It gets more sophisticated than that in novels, but if the timing is wrong, it can send you right out of story. Might even get your book thrown against the wall. (horrors upon horrors.) 
So what did we do? We came up with the worst sentences we could think of and corrected and had each other correct them. Came up with many LOL and ROFL. Our Internet endearment terms. 
Everyone took part, even those who are a bit shy in participating. Hilarious--but a real learning experience. Who said writing classes had to be boring? 

Can't wait until someone takes the purple prose or misused words and expressions. 

If any of you writers who are on AOL want to learn and grow as a writer and participate come join our Monday night workshop chats and FB group. Go to Facebook/Writer's Rock and check us out. 

My email address is:  Patguth@aol.com if you have questions. 

Now, I get to work on Dixie. She's coping a "tude." I wonder if she's coming in season. 


Monday, May 18, 2015

Writer's Rock: Tonight's workshop "Action and Reaction" by Donna L Mains

So, did you ever read a book and throw it against wall, because the sequence of action and reaction was all wrong?

Example:  Joe walked out of the elevator, eager to get to his birthday party. "Hi," he said. He then opened the door to find a hundred of his closest friends eager to celebrate. "Joe," they said.

What's wrong with that? Well, He said hi to his closest friends before he entered his apartment. In fact, before he even got near his apartment. You could even argue, the group should have said hi first, then Joe  reacts to their expressions and THEN thought they were eager to celebrate.

Or, how about  you threw the book against the wall and read the book. (all kinds of other reasons you might throw the book against the wall, but we're assuming it's because the sequence was wrong. (rather simplified example, but you get my drift.) You have to read the book, THEN throw it against the wall. (and probably before you get to the end.)

There are so many examples, way to numerous to mention here. Tonight at 9 EST and  8 CST in our AOL chat room "Chapter One" our "Writer's Rock" workshop group will discuss sequencing in "Action and Reaction."

Looking forward to this one. Just something else
to consider, when writing your greatest American Novel.

Happy reading and writing.



Congratulations American Pharaoh winning Preakness Stakes

Congratulations American Pharaoh, The Zayat Stables, Victor Espinoza and Bob Baffert for winning not only he Kentuck Derby, but the Preakness Stakes as well.  Just before the race began a torrential rain pour down on the racetrack and the horses. Despite the (very, very) sloppy track, A.P. managed to lead wire-to-wire and win by seven lengths.  On to the Belmont.  I'll be watching. Been waiting for a Triple Crown winner since 1978 when Affirmed won it ridden by Steve Cauthan.

I love horse racing. I know it has its ups and downs. Like any competitive horse sport (even trail riding) horses and jockeys have their casualties. One thing I've noticed about this sport is their desire and resolve to make things better for horses and jockeys. From the Disabled Jockey's Fund started by Secretariat rider Ron Turcotte to Old Friends and many other retirement homes for former racehorses. It's not perfect yet, true. But it is getting better. Vet's onsite at the track won't allow an injured horse (who sometimes plays too much in the starting gate) to race. Vets take blood tests for all winners and the public eye has been on horse racing that few people get away with breaking the  rules and  regulations.

I love horses Period.

Friday, May 15, 2015

BBKing Legendary Blues King Dies

This isn't a news drop here, but I thought I'd share. 

Legendary Hall-of-Famer blues king, BB King died yesterday in his sleep. He was 89. You'll find his remarkable story all over the Internet and on the television circuit. 

It doesn't matter what genre of music you follow, you'll probably have heard of the blues king. 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Novel: Matt's Murder

Legacy is still in the bowels of my computer. I think I know the problem, and hopefully, will work it out. Meanwhile, I found another novel, which needs to come to light, I think. Why I left it, I'm not sure. Maybe it was just cooling its heels. Matt's Murder is a mystery novel. (with romantic elements, but I don't think I'd call it romantic suspense.)

"Matt" is finished, but needs adjustments. Possibly elimination of some extemporaneous characters, tightening up, less telling and more showing character's actions. Basically, things I didn't know when I first wrote this story. The good news is: It is finished. At least the draft. Unlike Legacy it has a beginning, a middle and an end. I'm happy with it's structure. (for a change.) 

Question: Do you believe in prologues or not? Matt has one. The information can be filtered into other sections, but I had so much fun writing the murder that starts the slew of other events that happens in this mystery that I'm reluctant to exclude it. I might just have to. 

The setting:  A horse community in Forest View, Illinois (you probably won't find this town) I've used it in another novel "In the Arms of the Enemy." It's not a sequel or a series. 

Questions: How many characters are too many? I have three main characters, six secondary characters, (some of whom are suspects,) who have a hand in the solving the crime(s,) and twelve minor characters, some who are walk-ons, others who forward the plot in some small way. 

The dilemma is finding the extemporaneous characters (my new favorite word) and combining them with someone else. I'm thinking. I'm thinking. 

It's been a while since I've written a new novel. The last was Waterlilies Over My Grave. Same problems there, but I cut a lot and rewrote and rewrote and rewrote etc. etc. etc. The same may happen for Matt. 

One thing I've found with characterization is having the characters write home about events happening around them. Julie will write to her mother. Tom may have internal thoughts about how he feels. So may other characters. This will never enter the novel, but will strengthen my knowledge of the people involved. 

Another problem: (and, I'm sure you other writers have the same issues) What I wrote about in the 90's may not be relevant in 2015. For instance, I never mentioned cell-phones or computers. These are items that I will make use of this time around. 

Purple Prose: I think my novel is loaded, but not nearly like it was the first time around. When I started Matt, My whole first chapter was setting and character background. I wouldn't dream of that today, and it was a good thing I lost the whole novel when I transferred from an old word processor to the new Asti I had at the time. Save? What was that? Those were the Floppy days. Remember them? 

Well, enough time out. Need to go see Dixie. Been working so hard at setting up my new chat-workshop and placing its page on Facebook, plus working on Matt, that I haven't been out of my house. 

I think I'll put Julie's letters to her mother on my blog. Won't give anything away though. 

Cheers/ Happy Writing. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Retirement? Creating a Writing Group

Sometimes past histories repeat themselves in different ways. 

Retirement is great, but I don't think you can ever leave what you were meant to do. 
With me? Well, the horses stayed the same. I still have a horse and still ride, even though not as often as I once did.

I'm singing again. Opera, church choir to teaching back to church choir. 

I'm back to sorting out past novels and trying to bring them up to "snuff." 

I'm also refreshing my writing craft and taking over a successful writing group that was on AOL for many years. The past owner and administrator retired and handed over the reins. To me. 

This is only the first week. I've known about it for a month, of course. Trying to get my head into a new venture took some time. Actually, implementing the new job, bringing back old members, hanging on to present and active members scared me a bit. I shouldn't have worried. The active members are enthusiastic and full of rich ideas. 

For a long time, we've had great workshop presenters who teach different aspects of the writing craft. We will still continue along those lines, but add some new interactive activities. Like what? Round robin brainstorming sessions, prompts followed by everyone writing a paragraph or two, fixing problems in our novels and stories, discussing topic ideas that haven't already been discussed, marketing ideas, new ways to create conflicts. The list can go on and on. 

I, for one, am excited. 

For now, we're in an AOL chat room. I hope to find a room that will incorporated writers who come from other providers. 

I heard from somebody that Verizon just bought AOL. Anyone hear that? I think I will Google and find out for sure. I haven't seen any official announcements yet. 

If anyone has any ideas for an online writing workshop, please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you. 

Have a great day--writing, reading, working, or just enjoying life. 



Monday, May 11, 2015

New Novels and Old Novels and In-between Novels

New Novel: One wintry day in the Midwest, Tony Richardson walked up to his study to work on his accounts. His boarding facility was booming. Horses romped in the pasture. A storm front loomed on the horizon. More snow. He powered his computer, prepared to work. 

Out of the shadows, a dark figure approached. A "Hi Tony" and then, nothing. The bullet rammed into the skull of Tony Richardson, and he was no more. 

That is the beginning of a new novel by Patricia A. Guthrie (that would be me) a story of horses, intrigue and murder. And perhaps, love. Love always comes into the mix. 

Old Novel: "Legacy of Danger" still isn't far from my thoughts either. I brainstormed with a colleague the other day and think that end-of-the-middle escape from the castle probably isn't working (what was my first clue?) 

Maybe I'll work from the end back to the middle. I do like the beginning and through to that brain fog moment when life in the Romanian mountains and under the castle disappears for me. Gag.

In-between Novel: And, there's still "Stolen Horses: Broken Dreams." Never far from my writer's guilt trip. 

I hope you're all taking notes. There will be a quiz.  LOL 

Back to work.   

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Motherhood--the Oldest Profession by Micki Peluso

Happy Mother's Day. A tribute by my colleague and friend, Micki Peluso, author of her memoir "And the Whippoorwill Sang." 

Motherhood — the Oldest Profession
By Micki Peluso
This Sunday mothers throughout the country will be honored in many and various ways. Toddlers and preschool children will cheerfully drag their mothers to their favorite fast food places and older children will escort them, with great decorum, to restaurants with actual dinnerware. The majority of children will serve their mothers breakfast in bed, a calamitous tradition that refuses to die. Adult children with children of their own will have greater reverence for their mothers, graced with understanding and empathy. Mothers will righteously accept the presents, cards, flowers and candy, and promises of exemplary behavior in the future. She has always and will continue to deserve the esteem bestowed upon her by her family on this one honored day of each year.
Motherhood, while fulfilling in ways too numerous to mention, has never been easy. Today it is even more difficult due to the diverse roles played by the 21th century mother. Some mothers are the sole support of the family; others work to supplement insufficient incomes, while many choose to balance a career with caretaking — all monumental achievements. Some households with dual incomes have learned to share the ongoing chores of home maintenance and child care, but it usually falls to the mother to be the primary nurturer, manager, coordinator and ‘gopher’. In spite of reports on ‘burnout’ among working mothers, and ‘latchkey’ kids left alone too much, many American women are proving themselves capable of being both mother and working woman, placing the emphasis on quality versus quantity time with their children.
However, a small percentage of women have elected to forgo their careers, reasoning that careers can be resumed, but childrearing is a onetime occupation. Due to the trend toward women bearing children later in life, some women have worked and established careers for 10 or 15 years before having children. The skills they’ve attained are often utilized in creating home enterprises and small businesses, allowing them time with their children.
Unlike Father's Day, which was erratic in its installment, Mother’s Day was accepted with enthusiasm. In May of 1907, Anna M. Jarvis of Philadelphia was inspired by the idea that at least once a year children should pay tribute to their mothers. She organized a special Mothers church service and the concept quickly spread to other churches. By 1911, the observance was widespread, including every state in the union, plus Canada, Mexico, South America, Africa, China, Japan and several islands. Leaflets proposing certain exercises were printed In 10 different languages and distributed to various countries. What the leaflets said in part was: “A day that has shown that it has heart and living interest for all classes, races, creeds, native and foreign-born, high and low, rich and poor, scoffer and churchmen, man, women and child, is Mother’s Day, observed on the second Sunday of May. The common possession of the living world is a mother . . . .”
A Mother's Day International Association was incorporated in December of 1912 to promote a greater observance of the day. The following May, the House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon all government officials to wear a white carnation in celebration of Mother's Day. In 1914, Congress designated Mother's Day as an official holiday and asked Pres. Woodrow Wilson to display the national flag on all public buildings. On May 9, the president issued a proclamation asking the people to follow suit and display flags on their homes as ‘a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of the country’. The wearing of white carnations on Mother's Day was modified to distinguish living mothers from those deceased. White flowers were worn by the motherless and red flowers by children with living mothers. Gift-giving by children became popular, especially homemade gifts and cards. One gift in great demand for Mother's Day was the reproduction of Whistler’s portrait of his mother, the most famous mother portrait of the times.
Ever since Eve rocked the cradle that begat civilization, mothers held an almost mystical place in society. Research shows that even the caveman, while chauvinistic to the nth degree, cherished and protected his mate, knowing instinctively that without her the clan would become extinct. The cavewoman was healer, food gatherer, herbalist and fur-skinner, as well as mother. The custom of holding festivals to honor motherhood dates back to the ancient Greeks who worshiped Cybele, mother of the gods. Rome adopted the tradition around 250 BC and celebrated the festival of Hilaria on the Ides of March. The festivities lasted three days and included rites in woods and caves, significantly different from modern celebrations.
Today's mother has exhibited proficiency in job skills, self-reliance, and creativity while continuing to supply the cohesive element that binds the family unit. Possibly the only thing that a mother cannot be is a father. On this Mother's Day, as children and fathers lavishly pile gifts and admiration upon her, the mother is reminded of the importance of her role. When beset with trials and stress that would devastate the average person, the mother does her job and does it well; because it is a most rewarding occupation with no mandatory retirement. The benefits of loving and molding young minds far outweigh the tribulations of guiding children from infancy to adulthood. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my mother."

Friday, May 8, 2015

Poem "Along the Dusty Trail" by unknown. About a rancher and his horse.

Thank you Joanna Spencer. This is lovely. 
I have been getting emails asking about the poem I posted awhile back about a cowboy's love and respect for his horse. So here it is for those of you that asked and for those of you that may have missed it. Its a good one.
Along the Dusty Trail
This old horse, the Rancher said,
she’s seen some better days,
she’s eating up my profits,
and costs a lot for hay.
Another horse would suit me,
a stronger one at that,
shes seen a lot of miles
just like my cowboy hat.
This old horse, the Rancher said,
she helped me herd my steer,
I’m pretty sure shes magic,
I know I hold her dear.
Another horse would suit me,
one that can run fast,
maybe one that’s younger,
or maybe one that lasts.
This old horse, the Rancher said,
she’s long and far in tooth,
my children do remember,
her fondly from their youth.
Another horse would suit me,
a gelding in his prime,
one that needs less fixin’,
that helps me save a dime.
Why, they asked, then keep her?
why not trade her now?
bring her to an auction?
replace her with a cow?
The Rancher's brow grew heavy,
he took a staggered step,
his eyes did show his hardships,
in wrinkles, as they crept.
His breath, he took in deeply,
as he poised to say his words,
it’s as if the earth grew silent,
that his message should be heard.
This old horse, the Rancher said,
has given me her life,
I wouldn’t trade for anything,
nor either, would my wife.
Another horse would suit me,
and perhaps someday will come,
but this old gal, I love her,
she is the chosen one.
This old horse, the Rancher said,
her service she did lend,
her and I, have seen the years,
this old horse, she is my friend.
Another horse would suit me well,
but her home is here to keep,
I owe her sanctuary,
my love for her is deep.
Another horse would suit me well,
and younger days for me,
and I will keep my promise,
until our last breaths, set us free."

the photo is of my horse Shotgun Socks who passed away at 26 years old.

Monday Night Chat at Writer's Oasis about story "downtime."


I noticed my stats have been dwindling. Can understand that. I've come to see a blog like a home--or telephone. When you're never home, people stop calling you. When you come back, they start knocking at your door again. Or, emailing you. Or, reading your posts. I've missed you. 

We're having a great chat over at Writer's Oasis on AOL next Monday. It's about the importance of downtime in a novel. We had a "dry run" last night, and it was amazing at all the ideas shared and all the examples from novels, cited. If you're on AOL, you're all invited to stop by and listen and interact after the presentation.  Writer's Oasis is on Facebook, so you can check it out. It might be under the name Shirley Flanagan. She was the originator of Writer's Oasis and still takes an active, behind the scenes part in maintaining its integrity. There's nothing like interacting with other authors. 

Here's the "blurb."  Topic for Monday's chat on May 11, 2015.

Stories fraught with action and adventure aren’t only for summer movies. People of all ages seek adventures through novels and short stories. It's one of their favorite story forms.
Action is important in such stories, but characters and readers "need  breathers..." What are such breathing spaces? How are they important to, and for, the hero/heroine? How do they touch readers?  
To be presented by Carolyn M Johnson (http://clynjohnson.wordpress.com)

Tomorrow, I'll be posting my author friend, Micki Peluso's story about "Mother's Day." It looks interesting, and I hope you will enjoy her "slice of life." Micki's novel "And the Whippoorwill Sang" is a wonderful memoir--a sad, poignant, yet funny look at the life of one family. One we can all relate to in its many facets.  
Riding Dixie today. The dreaded "fear factor" may be subsiding.  A little. Just a little. 
Have a great writing, reading and just being alive day. May God bless and keep you happy and healthy. Oh, and productive. Sunday, I believe is Ascension Day, if anyone follows the church calendar. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Congratulations American Pharoah on winning The Kentucky Derby..

It's been several weeks since last I blogged.

Okay, okay. I have an excuse. A bad infection which resulted in a root canal done last Monday. Nasty. I have to go back for Root Canal...Part Two at the end of the month. 

Writing has been sparse lately. I'm still presenting some workshops over at Chapter One (Writer's Oasis) at AOL once a month of so. I held one on passive vs active verbs, always a fun topic. Another subject, near and dear to my heart is writer's block. I held a very successful workshop on the topic in January. Successful? Lots of participants. (seems to be a common failing) and it's posted somewhere on my blog.

So, you say, since you're SO GOOD AT THIS TOPIC, of course you got over it. Right? Well, not so much, no. I wonder. Is it time to hang up the novels? Maybe go for short stories? Or pick a topic and start writing non-fiction? "Is it? Is it? Huh?"  (My dog is laying on my stretched out foot, looking up with inquiring eyes.)

I'm not going to whine. But, I may just go back to what sent me into a writing frenzy in the first place. Several friends and authors come to mind. I loved Harlequin, especially the Intrigues. My first published book "In the Arms of the Enemy" was originally aimed at that line. It didn't fit with them, but did get published.

A mentor, author whose books I admire was an inspiration back then. I'll never forget her advice when I stalled in the dreaded sagging middle of "In the Arms of the Enemy." She said, "go for an explosion."  Thank you Joanna Wayne (who's new book "Showdown at Shadow Junction" just came out). I did indeed go for that explosion, and it took "Arms" in a new direction, which led to the black moment and climax.

Thank you Joanna.

Well, I'm back at the blog again. Maybe it will get me back to my writing again. Those two books. "Stolen Horses; Broken Dreams" and "Legacy of Danger." (yes THAT "Legacy of Danger.")

Oh yeah. I told you about The Nanowrimo Camp, at the beginning of April. Taking a book from the beginning and not stopping until it was done. Did it work? For about a week. So, even though others might have been inspired by my workshop session on "Writer's Block," I was not. So--do what I say not what I do.

Thank you to those of you who come regularly to my Writing Cottage. I'm back in the blogging frame of mind, so I'll be sticking close to the cottage at least several times a week.

You'll still see reviews, articles by other writers, horse articles and stories (yeah, American Pharoah) and occasional short stories and poems, in fact, nothing will change. I might do some interviews with characters. They're always fun. And, they're always mad at me, so they're entertaining.

Glad to be back from my self-imposed vacation. May the writing force be with you and may the writer within, never be blocked.

I'm riding Dixie today.


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Earth Day 2015; Promises Yet to be Kept by Micki Peluso

by Micki Peluso
This particular Earth Day is important because we can no longer ignore the obvious – the Earth is in the midst of a severe environmental crisis and the time for correcting the nearly insurmountable problems is long past. The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, initiated the Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Yet in spite of this, worldwide pollution is overtaking the globe faster than we can find the means to stop it. Apathy, disbelief, and big business intent upon getting bigger, are some of the many reasons. But the main culprits are overpopulation, especially in industrialized nations, along with modern technology. And from the same technology, which created most of the problems, must come most of the solutions.
We have become a throwaway society, thoughtlessly piling up mounds of garbage, some which will take hundreds of years to decompose; some which will never decompose. Even as technology continues in its efforts to halt the ongoing destruction of the planet, Earth citizens must undergo radical changes in both their thinking and their living habits.
In rural areas waste control is much easier. Newspapers are rolled into fireplace logs, food waste, such as egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels and even coffee grounds are composted for summer gardens. Cut grass is used for mulch and while in some areas garbage can still legally be burned, it's no longer a viable option. One of the ways we can cut down on waste is to buy fresh foods whenever possible and avoid products with excess packaging. Removing purchases from their boxes and leaving the packaging in the store might convince manufacturers that over packaging is not only unnecessary but can no longer be tolerated. Refusing to buy aerosol cans cuts down on damage to the ozone layer, and if done consistently can be a deciding factor in having them removed from store shelves. Industry produces what the consumer purchases. Boycotting is one power that consumers can use effectively. Carpooling has become popular reducing automobile emissions and savings on gas. Eating less red meat is healthy and would save some of the tropical rainforests in Brazil, where the forests are being converted to pasture land for that country's beef production. Within the United States, less beef consumption would free land for agriculture, instead of growing grain for cattle feed. Planting shrubs, bushes and trees creates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.
In Nebraska, Arbor Day, the forerunner of Earth Day, was a day set aside for the planting of trees. One million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day which fell upon April 10. Planting trees and replenishing the earth was well-established in Europe long before this continent was settled. In colonial times, trees were cut down to clear the land for agriculture and homes, and housing itself consisted mainly of lumber. Native Americans respected the Earth, taking only what they needed to live on and replenishing  the lands, as opposed to the settlers who killed massive herds of buffalo for sport, and until more recent years, never replenished the soil by crop rotation. Before the Industrial Revolution and the onset of mass production, people recycled out of need because there were no other options.
In order to live on a healthy planet we need to reestablish the law of supply and demand, only this time in relation to the Earth's priorities not our own. The Earth does not need us to do these things, as it is capable of adjusting to all manner of change and adapting to it. The Arctic seas freeze in some periods and melt in others; the Earth cares not if the oceans rise up and flood coastal areas.  People, animals and vegetation can be destroyed but the Earth will persevere. “Saving” the Earth perpetuates our own existence upon this planet. 
Not all Earth changes are caused by civilization or industry. Many are natural cycles within the planet’s routine which changes according to its own inner and outer workings; sometimes over thousands of years and other times seemingly without warning. As Earth citizens, it is imperative to live within our planet’s needs sometimes putting them before our own. We cannot stop all catastrophic Earth events, but we can do our part to undo the extensive damage that we have inflicted upon our earthly home. Our lives and the lives of future generations are riding on the hope that it will not prove to be too little, too late.