Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Pinch of This, A Dash of That

Last week, Lydia Kang at The Word Is My Oyster held an awardapalooza. Lydia writes an outstanding blog, and if you haven't been there yet, go. You'll love it.

I'm not the only one who thinks so because Lydia was blessed with 4.7 jillion awards. She placed them all on the buffet table and listed those invited to the party. I was one of the lucky invitees. Lydia asked each of us to choose an award.

The award I chose was:

The reason I chose this one was because I love yellow and sunshine. I also chose it because with buckets of moisture from Hurricane Alex heading our way, I figured I could use the cool rain boots.

I'm passing the award on to five bloggers who always offer smiles on rainy days - and whenever I need one:

Clarissa Draper
Helen Ginger
Talli Roland
Cassandra Jade
Patricia Stoltey

= = = = = = = = = =

I also planned to blog about two other things.

First was the state of my desk and binder. I'm keeping my desk clean - hey, it's been a whole week :)

But I'm not close enough with the binder yet to take a photo. You'd think it still looks like it did in the last shot, even though I've made considerable progress. It's hard work!

- - - - - - - - - -

Second was that a roadrunner has been visiting off and on over the past few days. The same kind of Beep! Beep! roadrunner that tormented Wile E. Coyote.

Today I was out with the doggies. We rounded the corner of the house and there he was.

Blessed are the dog trainers because they have saved my sanity. Arf and Woof BEHAVED! I couldn't believe it.

We backed up, and I pulled out my phone. Didn't have my camera, but my phone has one.

Sadly, it has a poor excuse for a zoom. The roadrunner looks like any other kind of bird in all the shots I took.

So I'm not blogging about these things today.

See you Friday!

Monday, June 28, 2010

A New Twist on an Old Note

Last night I watched Design Star on HGTV.

Two teams of five designers each designed bare enclosed terraces. Each of the designers chose a musical instrument for inspiration. So each terrace was to reflect the inspiration of five different musical instruments as interpreted by five different designers, yet each terrace had to work together as a whole. Much like a piece of music does with all the different parts played by different musicians.

One terrace accomplished this feat. The other did not.

As fiction writers, we experience this type of coming together in many ways.

Although we create our characters, we all know how pig-headed they can be. They take on lives of their own. It's our job to see that they follow their inspiration but still play well with others.

When we're fortunate enough to land a book contract, we work with possibly an agent, certainly at least one editor, maybe someone from sales who would like a ton of information ... yesterday. It's our job to make this work as a whole, not just part by part.

This all comes about because something inspires us. Maybe it's a trill in a piece of classical music. Or the solid bass in a hip-hop song.

Or maybe it isn't music that inspired our creation. Maybe it's a place you visit, a memory from a dream, a snippet of overheard conversation. Maybe it's like the grain of sand in an oyster. Something you had to write about because that grain of sand irritated the fire out of you. Anything can serve as our inspiration.

Someone much wiser than I am - Thomas Edison - said success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. All you who are writers know that's true. Don't be afraid to take your inspiration and sweat over it. A lot.

Whatever inspired you, hang onto it. Nurture it. Sweat over it. Watch it grow and develop between Once Upon a Time and They Lived Happily Ever After.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten outdoor activities for summer:

10. People watch at an outdoor bar or cafe

  9. Ride on a boat

  8. Swim at the pool

  7. Hike beside a mountain brook

  6. Picnic at a park

  5. Relax on your patio

  4. Walk at the beach

  3. Read in a hammock

  2. Ride on a bike

And the #1 outdoor activity for summer:

  1. Visit right here . . . Under the Tiki Hut!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Name It and Claim It

Desk Update:

I found my calendar! And the binder for my WIP!

The mess is organized, and I now have three stacks. It took me 15 minutes a night on three separate nights to get this far.

One of the stacks is the next chapter to edit of my WIP. One is things I have to read, including the book I'm about to finish and things about the dog training we're involved with now. And more.

The other stack is the binder for my WIP. Look at it! I moved things out a little so you can see. LOTS to do here to get this organized. Do I hear side bets for the number of nights it will take me to complete this project?

Another update Monday.

Maybe I'll have some of the binder organized. Now . . . you know I have to pull things out and make a mess while I work on it. Right?

= = = = = = = = = =

Kwik FAQs:

The Remington typewriter and Remington guns - rifles/shotguns/etc. - were part of the same Remington company. Who said words can't hurt you?

Western artist Frederic Remington was not part of the typewriter/gun family.

Neither was TV private investigator Remington Steele.

Even though steel was used in those Remington guns and typewriters.

Monday, June 21, 2010

I Know It's Here Somewhere

Thanks to all of you, the weekend bash here Under the Tiki Hut was a huge success.

But now it's Monday and time to get back to work. I started last night.

One of my friends is helping me to become more organized. It's going to be a huge undertaking, even though we're just tackling my desk. If I listened more to her, we might would get farther down that road, but for now, desk is good. This is only part of the problem. It all looked like this - and worse:

So far I've shredded one stack of paper, made some folders, and sorted through a pile of single sheets of paper and index cards. These things either ended up in the trash can, in the shredder, or placed into stacks that I need to do something with. One of those stacks goes into one of the new folders after I finish with it. Another goes into the binder for my WIP. Neither you nor I can see this binder because it's buried under the rubble shown above.

My friend suggested I limit the time I work on The Desk Project so I don't bog down and become discouraged. I think she's right. The spot I cleared now looks like this:

Now I'm encouraged to work on it some more tonight instead of being upset because I didn't finish or don't know what to do with something.

Who knows . . . I might become more productive if I learn how to keep my desk neat. I might even be able to find what I'm looking for when I'm looking for it instead of two days later. My friend says I can keep it neat by the same process - a few minutes every evening. I hope she's right.

How about you?

How do you keep your writing-self organized?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

NEWS FLASH! We have updates to the top ten items to bring to the Tiki Hut to celebrate our new grand opening. Or to celebrate Friday. Or just because :)

16. Talli is bringing Pimms

15. Lydia is bringing chips and salsa

14. Joanne is bringing blog friends

13. Elspeth is bringing wine

12. Helen is bringing Mojitos

11. Aubrie is bringing Margaritas

Top ten items to bring to the Tiki Hut:

10. Flip Flops

  9. Straw Hat

  8. Sunglasses

  7. Beach Bag

  6. Sunblock

  5. Favorite Coffee Mug

  4. Colorful Koozie

  3. Beach Read

  2. Hot Topics

And the #1 item to bring to the Tiki Hut:

  1. A smile

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Another New Look

Well, what do you think?

Is this background more Tiki Hut?

I can see the water at the bottom using Chrome. On Internet Explorer, all I get is sky. But the same oranges and blues are here, even with just sky showing.

Blogger offers an option with palm trees, but there's very little color with it. I LOVE COLOR.

If this still doesn't give you the right feel, I'll continue experimenting. After all, Under the Tiki Hut is all about you. I want you to feel good when you visit here.

Speaking of feeling good when you visit . . . have you ever visited someone at their home and gotten a completely different impression of them than you had before you saw where they lived?

And when it happens, does it totally creep you out?

I want to write a character like that.

He would be the antagonist . . . that's the easy call.

But what if she were the protagonist?
Could she carry a novel?
Could readers relate to her?
Would they want to?

How would you write a character like this?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jazzing It Up

Notice anything new?

If you stopped by over the weekend, you may have noticed more than this new look. I've been playing.

What do you think?

I think it's still not quite right, but it's the new one for now. Everyone needs a change every now and then to keep things fresh. So please indulge me :)

And . . .

I have a treat for you.

My flash fiction story - "Blues in the Night" - has been published in the premier issure of Dark Valentine magazine. My story is on page 16.

To tie all this into Monday-Is-Something-About-Writing-Day, here's the takeaway: Persistence Pays.

It hasn't paid yet with the new look, but it will before much longer.

It did pay with my story. This is a story I wrote a few years ago. It started life at about 3000 words. Couldn't sell it. Padded it by adding a subplot. No go. Yanked everything but the core. Changed the title. Twice. Adjusted the ending. No sale.

All along I believed in the story the character needed to tell. I tried fitting my edgy little story into all the markets I could find. I called it literary, mainstream, crime, spec fic, whatever the market wanted. But still no sale.

Then along came Dark Valentine.

They didn't ask for specific genre(s); they wanted dark across all genres. I love that magazine because the people there loved my story. They GOT it!

That's what we all hope for when we write . . . readers who get what we're saying.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It's Raining Cats and Dogs!

It's raining here, and we're under a flash flood watch.

Low water crossings can become death traps when the water rolls off rocky hills and flows into dry creek beds. It's not an unusual situation here, but a few times a year people don't pay attention or think their vehicle can withstand the force of the water.

They're nearly always wrong.


Over the past few days, I've been reading a lot of blogs about people and their cats. All the cat talk has made me miss ours, even though she's been gone for several years now.

Her name was Miss Kitty, and she was something else. If I had a photo handy I could post, I would.

But since I don't, she was a classically marked seal point Siamese, mouthy as hell, and a wonderful friend who never really liked me until I kept her warm one very cold winter day. I still miss her.


And dogs.

No meandering blog post of mine would be complete without mention of Arf and Woof. They're the sweetest, smartest dogs. Do you think I might be a little prejudiced?

You'll have to take my word they're sweet.

But on the smart scale . . . Woof is a border collie.  #1 on the canine scale of smarts. Arf is an Australian cattle dog, aka a blue heeler. #10 on the scale.

We're doing some advanced training with them. Arf gets everything right away, but doesn't always perform willingly until after two or three tries.

Woof watches. When it's his turn, he just does it as if he's been doing it forever.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Writing Exercises

Sometimes we all need a little boost to get us going. So today I'm posting three writing exercises - maybe one will work for you.

My goal is to light a tiny fire of inspiration in your writing soul.

Exercise 1
First Line - You complete the story.
The old woman hobbled toward the checkpoint, a net bag swinging from her shoulder.

Exercise 2
List at least ten things about each of these words. Your ten things may be synonyms, related items, emotions, moods ... whatever comes to mind. Write a story using at least one thing you derived from each of the starter words.


Exercise 3
In one paragraph, describe one of the locations in List A from the point of view of one of the characters in List B. Mix and match and do as many or as few as you want.

List A
hospital room
unfamiliar living room

List B
man late for meeting
pregnant woman

Have fun with these.


Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

My top ten summer songs:

10. Summer Nights

  9. Hot Fun in the Summertime

  8. Don't Worry, Be Happy

  7. Surfing U.S.A.

  6. Summer in the City

  5. Summer of '69

  4. Summertime Blues

  3. Kokomo

  2. Margaritaville

And my #1 summer song:

  1. School's Out

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Name is a Name is a Name

Last week I read an article on CNN by Stephanie Chen titled Does Your Name Shape Your Destiny?

Go check it out - it's short. And it has a photo. Go ahead, I'll wait.

"Gin!" Oh, you're back already? You read quicker than I do.

Think about this article when you name your characters. Their names shape their destinies, too.

Think what you could do with these characters:
A mixed martial arts fighter named Miles Osbourne.
A stripper named Emily Greene.
A physicist named Billy Joe Hatfield.

When the name don't fit the character's occupation, it opens up a whole new side of the character for you to layer in all kinds of good stuff.

Now think about these characters. How do you envision them?
Liliana Fontaine
Florence Bartlett
Quinn O'Neill

What's in a name?

Could be quite a lot.