Friday, August 28, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award


Helen Ginger who writes a really interesting blog at Straight from Hel, awarded me the Kreativ Blogger Award last weekend, but it’s been such a busy week I decided to wait a while before accepting it.

There are a couple of major requirements to this award:

1. I have to pass it on to 7 other creative recipients, which requires choosing 7 from all the wonderful blogs out there, which requires making decisions, which requires time…

And

2. I have to list 7 favorite mystery authors: Help! I always answer “too many to name” when people ask who my favorite authors are; and no, specifying mysteries and asking for 7 really doesn’t help.

So what should I do? It’s a pretty award, and I’d really like to post it…

The phone rings. The clock ticks. The dishwasher needs to be emptied and the next load of washing awaits. Meanwhile I search through my favorite blogs, and inspiration strikes. How about I just find seven really neat blogs that feature great mystery authors, and do both lists in one? So here you go…

Beth Groundwater: wonderful mysteries, interesting articles, great blog.
Forensics and Faith: The blogging home of Brandilyn Collins, who writes the Seatbelt Suspense mysteries, highly recommended
Minnette’s Worlds: where you’ll meet Minnette Meador and read her accounts of interviews with homicide. She’s currently writing a fascinating romantic mystery called The Bell Stalker on textnovel.
Murder by 4: with 4 great authors, including Aaron Paul Lazar, who writes the wonderful Gus LeGarde mysteries, and Marta Stephens who writes about Sam Harper.
Mysterious People: where mystery author Jean Henry Mead introduces a wealth of fascinating mystery authors.
The Cockeyed Pessimist: where I was introduced the wonderful mystery writer, Chris Knopf.
The Kill Zone: Too many great mystery and thriller writers to mention, and they’re all writing great articles too. (Actually, there’s 7 of them, which is oddly appropriate.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday on Thursday again

The Wednesday Writing essentials prompt was a bit more complicated this time:
• mention one of these six obstacles to achieving goals – procrastination; crisis management; switching and floundering; television, telephones, internet and friends; emotional blocks; and illness
• use the word August
• reference temperature in some way
• freewrite for five minutes and include that freewrite at the beginning of your article.

So here’s my effort, though I struggled to find five uninterrupted minutes:

Freewriting...

His most august majesty sits above us, cool in his shade while we broil in the heat down below. A lazy movement implies no procrastination, no prevarication now, don’t switch your point of view or flounder. We live to obey. We live to serve.

But, since he’s a cat and he’s stuck in the tree, we also live to find a stepladder and climb and rescue him.

And since the son is filling in his next online MFA application, with me as backup, I’m not sure I have five minutes for freewriting, but I’ve used two and a half (so the computer time says) so my cup’s half full.


and writing...

His most august majesty sits above us, cool in his shade while we broil in the heat down below. We watch and wait for his command.

His lazy movement implies no procrastination will be allowed. Remember now, he seems to say, you mortals merely live to understand and to obey.

The hanging tail twitches again. The claws cling tight to the tree. Then we who serve find a stepladder to rescue our errant friend.

And mother lives to serve the child, the child to serve the future, while the august cat that rules us all is contentedly serving the past.

(100 words)

...and now they're all talking at once

I wanted my characters to talk to me. I wanted the end to be more than just six letters on a page. But perhaps I should be more careful what I wish for.

There I was, imagining my book was almost done. But now the wedding seems as distant as it was at the beginning, and my characters keep talking, everyone at once.

David wants me to know he's not giving up on Emily. But he has to have some time to think, so he can work out what's best for her. Emily wishes I'd tell her what's on David's mind, because Elsie's not really so bad, and he really shouldn't worry. Meanwhile, I know he's glad he gave her the ring. I know they'll get married in the end. But wasn't that meant to be soon...

I guess it can't happen now until I get some more free time for writing. But never mind. I'm quite enjoying their conversation.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Why won't they talk to me???

My textnovel's up to 60,000 words, and the characters are ready to move on. They know what happened. I know what happened. "So just write it down for us," they say, "and let us get on with our lives." But it's not that simple.

I've spent so much time on these characters now. David took me to work with him, introduced me to his mates in their cubicles. I really felt like I finally understood why he's so organized. Then there's Emily. It wasn't hard to see why David liked her, but she took quite a lot longer for me to get to know. She's wary, but nice.

David's mother, Jessica, seemed happy to have me round. I've sat in her living room drinking coffee, nibbling on cookies - gluten free. She's had a really tough life.

And the other one? The character that hides behind emails and word docs and all that. I simply quoted his stuff at first because I still didn't know him. And then I found out...

They make me feel like a reporter chasing the ratings now. "How did you feel when you learned...?" They just look at me. "How do you think we felt, you twit?" But I want them to say. I can't just finish the novel with "Here's what happened." Ever heard of show and tell?

"Yeah, we tell and you show." But what can I show if they won't talk to me?

My characters are ready to move on, but they're leaving me behind. So I chase them across the green as I walk the dog, metaphorical pencil and paper in my metaphorical reporter's hand. "Just let me know about the wedding then. Did it all go to plan?"

"Well, I did see this girl..."

Okay, I've got it. Thanks! And I'm writing again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Another Wednesday Drabble

Okay, I know it's Thursday, but here's another drabble written for Wednesday Writing Essentials on Gather. It's called "Turn."

“Turn left,” says he.

“How far is it now?”

“Be less if you turned the right way.” His eyes start to frown.

Her fingers tense round the steering wheel as she feels him rejecting her skills, the glorious sparkle of her diamond fading to dusk.

Downhill and slow; musk-scented trees bow low to the engine’s murmur, darkening sky while heaven’s diamonds shine... up above the world so high...

“Turn left,” says he.

And, “How far is it now?”

So he sighs. She stops the car.

“Turn my way.” She turns. He plants a kiss. And rejection flies far far away.


© Sheila Deeth, August 2009

Written for Wednesday Writing Essentials:

• include at least five words of a song
• type one word twice and see if your reader catches it
• use onomatopoeia (language that imitates or suggests the sound to which it refers. Think: cuckoo, gurgle, swoosh)
• use the word "sparkle"

and the theme was something that everyone else can do but someone can't.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A Heartfelt Blogger Award


Kristi at Books and Needlepoint just sent me this lovely picture and a Heartfelt Blogger Award. Here's what she says...

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know that feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt award is all about: feeling warm inside!

Well, the cookies would have to be gluten-free, which probably means most of my family and friends wouldn't like them (though seriously, some gluten-free cookies are really and truly delicious, especially peanut butter... Mmmm). But yes, I do reach for the cocoa, tea or coffee while reading many blogs, and I guess I'm meant to pass on the award to some. (Up to nine it says, but I'm only a poor mathematician. I'm not sure I can count that high and read, both at the same time - especially not if I'm drinking coffee and eating deliciously sweet and crumbling peanut butter cookies...)

So, a few of my favorite blogs, besides Kristi's, which you really should visit...

Tilly the Rescue Dog, 'cause she's sweet and cute and fun and I love dogs.

Bo's Blog, 'cause he's very cute and fun too - is there a theme here?

Romance Author Terry Spear, cause wolves are almost dogs aren't they, and her wolves are, well, a bit special.

Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem - usually more moonlight and lace, and always a delight, plus I've won some lovely books there to read while drinking coffee and eating cookies.

Sia McKye, who always offers coffee with her thoughts.

Lynn Mosher's Heading Home, except she's already a heartfelt winner. Her posts are always so uplifting and inspiring.

Musings from Down Under - likewise inspiring, lovely pictures and words

Peace be the Journey, which always has helpful and interesting articles for an aspiring writer.

And finally, Jack Regan's Writing Ramblings, which frequently has me spluttering cookie crumbs into my coffee.

Okay, that's my list. And hey, I sort of did 9, if you count Lynn who's already got one. (Who knows, maybe everyone else already has one too. But more cocoa or tea and cookies... who's complaining...)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Looking on the Bright Side


Saturday's weather was rather gray. I set up my stall in the cool of the early morning, far side of the hall with a really great view of the door. It was all I could've asked for. Then I settled in to read. I'd brought a book but maybe I should've brought two.

We decided that people must be staying indoors since the fair seemed so sparcely attended. Of course, if the day had been sunny we'd've said everyone was too busy enjoying the sunshine to browse our stalls.

Still, I sold two books and lost one. (Someone had stopped to look at it, then turned to a neighbor, swinging the book in the air by a single page. Soon afterwards, the misused page fell out. I guess that's life.) And I gave away tons of promotional flyers and bookmarks and business cards.

Maybe one day a flyer will land in the hands of someone interested - someone looking for an Advent devotional for church, or a Bible picture book for their after-school class... And maybe they'll contact me... Maybe make an order... Well, I can still dream.

Meanwhile, I read the book I took with me, made several new friends, and learned some more tips on how to set up my stall. As long as I keeping looking on the bright side, I'll know it was a really good day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thank You Lulu

There's going to be a summer fair in our neighborhood on Saturday and I've booked a stall to sell some of my self-published books. Last Christmas I just had the Christmas and Easter books on sale. This time I'll add my Thanksgiving book and Genesis People, and take orders for two other books as well.

I was worried about the sale because, for the first time ever, my book parcel contained damaged books. Lulu's packaging is usually incredibly good and I wasn't sure what to do.

But Lulu have come through for me. Though they can't replace the damaged books in time for the fair, they will arrive very soon afterwards. And, since it's a local affair, I can take orders using my proof copies, and fulfill my deliveries as soon as the parcel arrives.

I'm really grateful to Lulu for their help. I'd never had to complain to them before, and I wasn't sure how they'd respond. But they've been very kind and helpful. And now I can look forward to Saturday with a happy, and busy, heart.

Thank you Lulu.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Silver lining to my cloud

Every black cloud looked like smoke today. And every scent of barbecues smelled like fire. I switched the cooker off after dinner then checked it three hundred times. But now I'm walking round making sure all the electrical outlets are cool. Unplug the kettle and the clock in the spare room. Crawl under the desk for the socket for the TV. Wonder what I've forgotten. And say a prayer for the neighbors who have nothing left.

Suddenly, instead of feeling neurotic, I realize how lucky I am... and check the outlets again.

If you hear your neighbor's fire alarm...

A house burned down in our neighborhood last night. Flames were shooting into the air, as tall as the highest trees. From the corner of the road a satin ribbon glowed orange and yellow and bright, hiding where the side and the roof of the house should have been. Alarms were beeping (in neighbor's homes I expect). Friends were rushing with garden hoses to dampen the undergrowth, to maybe protect what wasn't yet destroyed. And the air around us roared.

I stood on the corner with other neighbors who lived a few streets over. We saw the fire engines arrive, first one, then another. We wondered in fear, in a drought, how many homes might be lost with the flames shooting so hot and so high. (It was raining, though not enough to feel like it was making any difference.) Then suddenly water was gushing in an endless stream and the fire died down to crackling, flickering lights.

I was amazed and delighted at how quickly the firemen got there; amazed again at how fast they made a difference. And I went home, not my street, still got dinner to cook.

Part of me feels guilty for going to see. Part of me feels guilty again for walking over there this morning. But it's not just idle curiosity. There's the fear that it might have been me or my next-door neighbor; it could so easily be anybody's house.

The owners were away, I've heard, and are on their way back now. But their house is a shell, blackened, roofless, nothing but ashes to see through the shattered glass of the one remaining window. The fire inspector is picking through the ruin. He says it must have really taken hold before anyone noticed, before anyone could've known to dial 911...

And my ears still ring to the beeping of alarms though they're all silent now. I think how many times I've run round the house - no, it's not us, so we quickly check outside but all seems well... Another time, if I hear a neighbor's alarm, I'll walk the street till I work out whose it is, till I know it's okay. This fire was a little too close to home, and there's ashes on our drive.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Meeting more writers

I went to Rose City Romance Writers this morning as a guest of Minnette Meador, but everyone made me so welcome I felt like everybody's guest. They're a wonderful group - so encouraging, so fun, and with such a vast range of experience.

Of course, the bit Minnette hadn't warned me of was that I'd have to stand up and introduce myself. So who am I, I wondered? I've been calling myself a wannabe writer for so long but I suddenly couldn't find the words. After all, I'll soon have three short stories in print. Doesn't that mean I sort of am a writer?

They applauded my successes and I felt great, then they asked me what I write.

There's a mystery story, a science fiction tale, and a trio of historical pieces; and there's the two women's literary novels (unpublished), the middle-grade/young adult series (likewise), and the Christian books (self-published, with more coming soon.) I've not done a very good job of branding myself there, so "I write stuff" says I. Then I remembered that blogpost they asked for on redroom the other day. "What's your obsession?" and there was the answer. "I write stuff about people who aren't sure who they are or how they fit in and I watch them find out."

That includes romance, of course.

So now it's time to get back to writing that romantic mystery on textnovel. The characters were filling my ears with the next few chapters as I drove home, and now they're itching to get their hands on the keys... computer keys I mean... at least, I think that's what I mean...

It's been a long day.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Feel Old

My youngest son went out with the car-keys a few minutes ago. He's off for his first real driving lesson, looking confident, looking all grown-up. Pretty soon he'll be a real driver I guess and asking to borrow the car. It feels like a rite of passage - his into adulthood, and mine into...

I feel old.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Obsession

I joined redroom a while ago and promptly forgot all about it. But today I received an email inviting me to blog about my obsession - an interesting idea. One might say I'm obsessed with wandering round the internet I suppose, though writing's more fun. Anyway, here's what I came up with...

Am I obsessed? I'm obsessed with writing for sure. My family will tell you I write too much and more, but what kind of subjects are they that hold me in thrall.

I like science fiction, mystery, adventure, romance, paranormal, real-life,... You'd better ask my family again. They'll tell you I'll read anything and I'm just as bad with music.

So am I obsessed? What passion will I confess if I'm put to the test?

I like to write about people who don't fit in, don't know who they are, or can't quite seem to work it out. But then, I'm a Catholic Protestant, a mathematician who can't add up, a writer who can't spell, English American, mother of sons... perhaps I'm just writing about me.

I'm guessing maybe I'm obsessed with identity. And I'm hoping one day I'll find what I'm looking for and become a real author.

(But for "real" read "published." For "published" read "with a professional publisher." For "author," "someone whose got a whole book in print." And call it "obsession.")

Textnovel blues

I’m typing words on a page, and letters fly from keyboard to screen. My muse is hitting the high notes, laughing today, as fingers perform a percussion of clattering dreams.

And coffee’s bitter brew steeps sensuously, its scented veil trailing across my eyes.

But when I look at the wide white screen the notes of the muse have gone flat. Did I mean to write that? “Obituaries” will soon be telling its own.

Textnovel’s page is gray, the keyboard stone, and finger-ends are wearied skin and bone.

“Save chapter, start another?” Hit okay. The author and the muse together groan.

(100 words)


Written for Wednesday Writing Essentials:
• include three senses in your article
• mention a book by title, either a real book or one you've made up
• use the word "page"
• make sure someone shows a noisy reaction such as cry or scream or roar with laughter, etc.


“Obituaries” is the romantic mystery I’m writing for a competition on textnovel.com. You have to join the site to read, but if anyone’s interested, I’d love to see you there. You could even vote for me, but don't worry, I know I won't win.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dark Love

I loved her but love makes you blind. I didn’t ask. She didn’t tell. Her strangely fearsome hell.

Today, I’d question everything and risk whatever loss, except I’ve nothing left to lose.

What I called love, she simply called possession. Bat-transformed, she flew into the night, left me behind. She didn’t realize I was still alive, and nor did I. But now I’ve changed and followed, bourn a stake into her heart because of love, and this its cost. I’ve let her go.

D’you hear the sirens mourn? Fear me and tell me what you choose. I love you so.

Written for Gather Wednesday Writing Essentials
• Use the technique known as persona
• Include the word "possession"
• Reference transportation in some way
• Make this piece dramatic