chuckle for the day

Want a chuckle? This one is thanks to one of my shiftleaders, Derek. It was very slow last night and he told me not to worry, if he got bored he would just reinstate the Roman Empire... aparently, he's read this list of 474 things to do when you're bored. I had to come home and Google it, then spent 45 minutes rolling in laughter over the list with my daughter. Some of the references are such that most kids would not get it today, but obviously the list was created by someone around my age.


Quote of the week...

"She is too fond of books, and it has addled her brain."
-Louisa May Alcott

Most people gear up for the day-after-turkey-day shopping. Me? I'm gearing up for the day-before -frantic-rush-to-find-all-the-stuff-for-your-dinner rush. I work in a grocery store.

So while you're out there pushing your way through the crush of the people looking for the stuffing and cranberry sauce (aisle 5 and 7 respectively), be sure to be nice to your grocery store associates. We're doing our best to get your on your way.

I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday!

I'm leading a double life...

Make that a triple life.

By day, I'm a mild mannered mom (well, not always so mild-mannered as my kids will attest to) and an assistant manager of customer service for a grocery chain. I'm also a writer. Have been for a very long time. But then, if you didn't know that you probably wouldn't be at my blog. And, occasionally at night, I'm a ghost hunter.

This new life is not so new... but the title is new. Before that I was just some chick roaming cemeteries and talking to people who weren't visible to most.

Sounds confusing, doesn't it?

Sometimes, it is. But the more that I do each of these things the more that I realize how well they mesh together. And how each serves the other well. The daytime job is not something that I will probably ever be able to do without. The pay is needed. But the job offers something else to my psychy. I get to talk to people. During the week before Thanksgiving... I get to talk to a lot of people. That connection is something that I savor. My soul drinks it up as I connect with others. Even when it's as simple as telling them what aisle the stuffing is in for the five hundredth time in one day.

It's in aisle five... all the way to the back... on the right.

The writing offers me the creative outlet that I need. If I go too long without writing my husband will tell me to go write. Apparently, I become grouchy or something. Also, if I'm procrastinating over things then I tend to create projects for him. Hence, the new counter tops.

But the writing is a part of me that is almost ancient. I was born a writer. Most writers will tell you the same thing. I came from a long line of storytellers and I'm sure the line is set to continue. Storytelling is history, fiction or not. Storytelling is life. Art. Love. Inspiration. Perspiration. Humanizing. Intensifying. And most times... frustrating. But we do it because we have to.

The last part is the newest. My writing led to my newest passion... hunting for ghosts. Now, my husband not only has the challenging endeavor of telling people that his wife is a romance writer (not that he ever really minded), but he must now tell people that his wife runs around in the dark, armed with a camera, camcorder, IR thermometer and a digital voice recorder. I'm not sure that even he can believe it. And he's had a long time to become accustomed to me. I came to the ghost hunting through my love of history. In this case, Maine history. I became quick friends with Kathy and Tony at Maine Ghost Hunters and I realized that these were people who shared many of the same traits that I do. They are curious, with a thirst for knowledge, and minds that are open to the things that can't necessarily be seen with the naked eye. (Well, most of the time.)

All in all, I don't mind the split personality. I've got more than enough curiosity to go around. But should you happen to see me in the grocery store with an EMF detector, please, don't be surprised.

Lessons Learned...

I was watching one of those Sunday Morning Preachers on the television. I am not someone who will normally discuss my belief systems with others. I have them. I'm just not the type of person to discuss them with others. But on this particular Sunday, the preacher was talking about Joseph and his "loyalty". That one words struck me more than others. And, as it always does, my mind moves as to how this builds characters? How does this create a belief system?

Dianna Love gave a workshop at the KOD Retreat in Portland on World Building. The questions that she asked were unusual and geared toward creating an entire society... complete with belief systems. So, when I heard this lecture on the television I began to look at it and ask myself... what is it that my hero is so loyal to that he would never walk away from? What is it that forms his belief system?

I'm going to add this to my list of questions that I use to create my characters. What is the question that you believe has the most impact when you look at creating believable characters?

Off the Bookshelf...

I had the very distinct pleasure of sitting next to Dianna Love at the booksigning for the KOD Retreat in Portland, Maine this last October. She, along with Mary Buckham, gave great workshops that had us all mesmerized and urgent to get home to work on our own books.
It was at the signing that I picked up her latest release, Phantom in the Night. I'd had a chance to talk with her a bit about the experience of working with Sherrilyn Kenyon on this project, but nothing compared to reading the book.
I admit. I was saving it until I had finished a project I was working on. I'd put it aside as sort of a reward for when I had more time (yes, I know that crazy talk). You see, between writing and paranormal investigating, a full time job and two kids and very patient hubby I have to restrict myself to lunch time reading.
But once I started reading Phantom I couldn't put it down. I read it on lunches, regular breaks, my few spare moments at night and even waiting in the car for my hubby to come back from picking up a prescription.
I was hooked.
Not only is the writing seamless, something that very few can carry off when working with a writing partner, but the story was fresh, intriguing an totally captivating. I loved it from the start and had to reread the ending twice since I was in such a rush to the HEA.
I bow to your greatness Ms. Love and Ms. Kenyon. I want to be you when I grow up.

The research answers you can't get just anywhere...

I've been working on my non-fiction book, but there are some elements that are taken directly from my family, some experiences that come from my family's background. I was working on a particular instance with my maternal Grandfather who was, among other things, a fisherman off Harpswell. I needed to know what kind of boat he was using at the time between WWI and WWII. Now, I could just Google and find the answers, but there were too many different factors to take into account. What was used in Harpswell at that time? Even, what kind of boat would my grandfather have actually had access to at that time? This things can just not be Googled.

So I went to my next best reference... my dad. He is a great source of reference for anything that had an engine, boat or otherwise, during this time. Did you know that it was common during that time for fishermen to have either a Hampton style boat? Or a boat called a Peapod, which was shaped like the vegetable? I didn't. He even went on to tell me that the simple engines that they used at that time had to be cranked to start and there was no reverse. The only way to reverse a boat when it was coming into the dock was to catch the motor at a certain point in it's workings and to throw the controlling lever. It didn't always work and more than one boat hit the wharf. The engines made a put-put noise and were loud. Very important for a story when you are trying to build atmosphere. Could they have heard over the engine? Probably not.

So, when looking for references and information, don't discount those that are around you. Not only can they tell you the pieces that can't be Googled, but you are preserving some of those details for the future.

Confession time....

I hate SYNOPSIS...

Okay, so there are a lot of writers out there who will sympathize with me. We take our hearts and spill them out into stories, only to have to condense those hearts into ten pages or less in order to sell the stories to the editors.

But these synopsis do serve a purpose other than to torture us. They let the editor know at a quick glance that all the required elements are available within the story. The editor can see that the story progresses at a logical pace and that the growth of the characters and the advancement of the storyline is enough to make it a satisfying read.

For years, I've been judging synopsis contests. In fact, I coordinated one for Maine RWA. And I continue to see the same things represented in synopsis time and again...

1.) If the story is a romance, then the focus of the story (whether it is a suspense, paranormal, futuristic, etc...) should focus on the growth of the relationship. It seems simple enough, but the concept of condensing a storyline down can sometimes overshadow the reason for the story in the first place. The reason for the attraction, the steps of intimacy... and in this case I'm not just talking about making love. I'm talking about the steps that need to happen in order for this to become a relationship versus a one-night-stand. I want to know what it is that brings them together and pushes them apart. In short, it's about them.

2.) Put your heart into the synopsis. You wrote the story for a darned good reason. No one sits down and undertakes the telling of a story without knowing that there is something that they want to offer to the reader. Make sure that you imbibe your synopsis with this heart. It's going to make the difference between a simple storytelling and a story that catches their attention.

3.) You have just a few short lines to capture the editors attention. Don't waste them. I've been to all kinds of workshops on synopsis. There are plenty of authors out there that will tell you that they know the "secret" to a good beginning for a synopsis. Ask a question? Start off with a bang? I would suggest that no matter what you start with the character who has the strongest struggle. There is usually one main character that is stronger than the other. Tell their story and tell what it is that they want most within the first few lines. Then, tell why they can't have it. Sounds like the ingredients for writing a good story? It should. It's the same elements only in a shorter format.

4.) Your voice, the one that you've worked so hard to develop and show should be evident in your story. Show it, glorify it, but don't shove it down their throats either. Good writing should prevail and the place for long, flowery prose is NOT in a synopsis.

5.) Lastly, check, double-check, and then get someone else to check your punctuation. You may believe it to be perfect, but just a few simple mistakes like hyphenated words without hyphens can be the thing that makes the editor put your synopsis down in the rejection pile.

Will I still hate writing synopsis ten years from now? Probably. Will I agonize over it if I write 10 or 100 more of them? Most likely. But just for tonight I've got all the answers.

TOT... or Totally Off Topic

If you haven't seen the Dirty Jobs episode on the Fainting Goats you should really check it out. In the meantime, check out the IFGA site here.
I really like the t-shirts!
Looking for a little help with your writing? According to these stones will help enhance your writing...

writing: agate, amazonite, barite, blue topaz, diopside, fire agate, graphite, kyanite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, variscite, zincite

unfortunately... I don't see any that are good for stopping procrastination.
I haven't written on this blog for awhile. Not because I'm losing interest, but because my writing has taken a turn and I've been working furiously on a new project. This is a non-fiction regional book that I'm not going to say more out other than this. It requires a lot of research and so I've found myself doing a lot of internet and even leg work. Today, since school was out I took my son along with me and he helped me some. It's not that I'm not going to write romance anymore it's that I seem to be going through a growth stage and this is a very busy time for that change. I still have a book proposal, partial and rework of a short story to get out, but for some reason I've been unreasonably restless lately. Unable to focus and let my mind go to the purely creative side. This is where the non-fiction project has helped me by keeping me working.

I hope everyone is well and got the chance to get out and vote today. Me? I was at the polls when they opened at 8am. Maine has completely closed yet, but the first votes are coming in. They said the first district vote is in... but then, that town only had three voters. Surely, this could only happen in New England....

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