Madeleine L’Engle’s passing

It just came to my attention earlier today that Madeleine L’Engle passed away late last week. Maybe this is old news to some, but I couldn’t help myself in writing this.

Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time is one of the books that started my interest in reading and writing. I remember sitting in the floor at my grandmother’s house, listening to a cassette tape of The Police while I read A Wrinkle in Time. I don’t know why but the music seemed to suit the mood of the story for me. It seems like a crazy combination, but I was a kid.

Reading of Ms. L’Engle’s passing has left me feeling strangely reflective.

Links of interest:

Madeleine L’Engle’s website -

A Wrinkle in Time website -

Madeleine L’Engle at Wikipedia -’Engle

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Year and a half in review

All-righty then, I now know that some habits just don’t die. During my fix up of my blog a few days ago, I discovered this post about my 2006 New Year’s Resolutions.

Let me see…

Blog more? Nope.

Write new articles for my websites? Nope.

Write some fiction? Some, but not nearly what I would consider the expected production of a dedicated author.(See footnote #1)

Devote more time to myself? Oh, that’s a good one. Didn’t happen. In fact, I think I finally gave up on all my hobbies, just so I could keep up with life.

Please don’t think I’m bitter about it all. Just know it.


Okay, for real now. I love my new home and my new office. And yes, it was worth putting off a year or so of my life for, because this was and is truly my dream home. I’m watching the sun come up from my desk, because I have windows that reach from floor to ceiling right in front of me. I see trees and hear birds and can think about peaceful things if that’s all I want to do. It’s my own blank slate when I want to visualize. I can stare at a blank wall and feel nothing but sadness, but I can see into my forest of trees and brambles and brush and  feel peace. Spending time alone with your thoughts is the most powerful writing tool an author can utilize.

footnote #1
I built a new home which my husband and I had started in January 2006. We moved in in March 2007. I had a hand in a great many things–apparently to my detriment. According to a hand specialist, I did not give myself carpal tunnel syndrome as my family physician believed, but I did in fact give myself a bad case of tennis elbow. In both arms. Fascinating, huh?

I painted my beautiful two-story home with its fabulous two-story foyer and all the attendant rooms a mini-large home can have. (Mini-large defined: smallish, but not small.) Three coats for every lovely wall.

I installed hardwood flooring in every room of my home with my husband, because we were too cheap budget-minded to hire someone else to come in and install the flooring.

Did I mention that when we decided to sell the home that we were living in at the time had an unfinished addition we had started almost a year previously? Yeah, should have mentioned that. I painted that one too. And installed some fake hardwood while I was at it.


My to-read reading list

Hmm. You see that list over to the side of the page? You know, the one in the right-hand sidebar column? It says “Books to Read.”

Well, I still haven’t read any of them. In fact, I’ve spent most of my time of late reading non-fiction, such as Blink, The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. (Aside: I love Malcolm, but not that Malcolm. It just so happens that my sweetheart of a husband shares the name.)

I’m on page 10 of this particular book. I thought it might give me some insights as to how–oh, get over it–I just thought it sounded interesting. Sometimes there’s no better reason to read a book than that.

Moving on, I should also say that I have been in a dire fiction funk for way too long now. The very idea of reading anything that doesn’t grab my attention before I’ve even read the first word bores me. I wish it weren’t so, because I’ve always loved reading, but maybe it’s a normal thing to go through a funk like this.

Isn’t it?

(Reassurance desperately needed here, since it has been almost a year and I can count the number of fiction titles I’ve read during that time on one hand.)

You would tell me if I were wrong wouldn’t you?

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Ah! Finally I have my blog back

A few weeks ago, I moved Thoughts and Such from one hosting account to another. In the transition period, I screwed something up, and since I’ve been so busy working I haven’t had time to fix it until tonight/this morning.

Not that my ideal use of my time is to fix a broken blog at three-thirty in the morning, but I couldn’t sleep. I do try not to waste valuable time trying to get back to sleep once I wake up, but even for me, three-thirty a.m. is a little early. However, these days, I’m very lucky to feel energetic at all. I have to take it as it comes….three-thirty a.m. or one p.m.

It is nice to be typing again. I realize I’m very close to the bottom of the heap when it comes to being a prolific blogger, but at least I do post at least once every six months or so. That has to stand for something. :-)

AHHH!  A moth just popped me right in the face. Apparently it thinks my computer screen is a  lovely warm fire.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten this off my mind, I think I’ll head on back to bed. Maybe I can catch a few more winks of sleep before I have to get up bright and early this morning.

Have a great rest of the night!

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Text in my head

So, I woke at 2 PM last night, writing a new query in my head for one of my books. That hasn’t happened in a long time.  I can’t believe how interesting it was to wake up to text in my head (when I say writing in my head, I mean literal writing, word by word, no jumble of thoughts, only the flow of sentences and paragraphs).

We finally completed the new house and moved in, and I think this means that something has finally broken free.

Here’s to happy writing days ahead.

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yWriter from Spacejock Software (aka Simon Haynes)

I’ve spent the weekend really getting used to yWriter from Spacejock Software (listed on my Software for Writers page).

I knew yWriter was a good program, because I’ve used it before, but since WriteWay Pro has been my main writing software for the last few years, I haven’t spent much time playing around with other software.

However, I recently started a new project and decided to give yWriter a shot this time, because I wanted to try something that used true text files–that way I can move my files around and even edit them on my pda without having to save it between formats.

If you haven’t tried yWriter and you’d like something powerful and free, try it. yWriter is an excellent, full-featured program. Nowadays, this programs has almost all of the features that I love in the WriteWay Pro program, including the ability to track work count progress (although not detailed like WWP’s reports), keep text notes on characters, print outlines/synopsis, work with a storyboard, and edit scenes independently of each other without losing the convenience of fewer files. (yWriter keeps the text files separated into chapters, whereas WWP is one single file.)

Give yWriter a try and let me know what you think about it. Are there particular features you like or don’t like?

I haven’t found anything that I didn’t like on the program, other than the inability to use italics or underlines. Other than that, I don’t do much formating of my work until I’m editing in the final stages.

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A Solitary Writer’s Life

I need to be alone to create, whether I’m alone in the sense that there’s no one here with me, or alone with myself and my thoughts in the middle of a crowd. As long as I’m able to center myself within my mind, I can enter my world and create.

However, times come when I can’t be alone or I’ll go crazy. Most humans need interaction with others and being a writer doesn’t really make me that different from everyone else.

I get lonely sometimes, when I look up from my computer and realize I’m not part of the world I’ve created. I’m not a character. I don’t live in that world.

The real world beckons.

There are writers who will tell you they never have problems separating themselves from the characters they create. Good for them. I’m not sure I always believe them, but who am I to say what goes on in another writer’s mind?

If I couldn’t become the characters I create, how can I be sure their actions and reactions are genuine? Because for me, creating a character is about more than writing down a set of actions and saying that’s what happened. The dispassionate observer will always make different choices than the one made by the person who’s actually in the moment.

This is why I believe a synopsis written before-hand will almost always lead you astray.

I become my characters and I write as if I were in the situation I’ve created, and my ideas come when I move about the room, talk to my friends and my enemies, see the things around me. I translate what I see and what I do into words and write them down.

This is the reason why I don’t think out my story before I create. This is the reason I have to be alone. When others are talking to me or interrupting me, I can’t be someone else. I have to be me.

But then the time comes for me to leave my world and re-enter the real world. Because a solitary writer doesn’t have to be a solitary person–can’t be, if authenticity of character is important.

The way people behave changes as society changes. A good writer has to stay on top of those changes so their characters are reflective of real people. Every person you write should have some basis from someone real. Only then can you write characters that real people care about.

The things real people do are great story fodder.

I don’t always want to be the characters I create, but there’s a strange joy in figuring out why someone has done something.

If you’ve hit a stumbling block with your story, think about your characters.

  • Are they making genuine decisions or are you forcing some issue?
  • Are you becoming that character in their moment of crisis or are you playing puppeteer?
  • Is your character boring you?
  • Have you reached a point where you don’t want to be the person you’ve created?

These questions can help you, if you think hard and are honest with your answers.

There are times when a writer must be solitary, but don’t assume you should always keep yourself locked up in a creative state. Sometimes you just need to listen and learn from the people around you, so that your ideas can flow freely.

(Comments on this topic are welcomed.)

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More time to write

It’s amazing how easy it’s becoming to find more time to write. Just this past week, I noticed that is now selling grocery items (Affiliate Link! :-). This wouldn’t be that big a deal, but as a member of Amazon Prime, I get free shipping on most of the items I buy through Amazon, and I live in a state with an enormously high sales tax rate (9.75%). I don’t pay taxes on my Amazon purchases.

Of course, if you’re not a member of Amazon Prime, and you’re not in a hurry to get your items, you can also take advantage of the Super Saver Shipping and still get your items delivered for free.
I love that I can now save myself two hours or more of time that would have been spent running to and from Wal-mart to pick up something my local grocery store doesn’t carry. My rural area has only one major grocery store and it never seems to have everything I need, and the things it does have are overpriced and undersized.

Writing time is precious these days, so the extra time is well worth the wait. As a relatively slow writer, two hours of time each week is several pages of whatever book I happen to be working on at the time. In a sense, those two hours each week could mean the difference between meeting my writing goals for the week or not (assuming I only go to the store once a week, which isn’t always true ;-).

On a personal note, I’m excited about the Amazon grocery sales because my sister must maintain a gluten-free diet. The stuff she has to buy is outrageously expensive as it is, but because of size of the town we live in, she has to drive over 50 miles just to buy a package of gluten-free potato flour.

Amazon sells lots of those specialty items and I can get them for her with my Amazon Prime account so she doesn’t have to pay for delivery. :-)

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Writer’s block, another theory

I read something on the AskAnAuthorAll loop (for RWA members) today that struck a chord with me. I’ve been suffering from the horriblest (not a word, I do know that) case of writer’s block I’ve ever found myself facing. It might not be a true case of writer’s block per se, because I believe it stems from stress related to building my new home and all its related problems and issues, but it has been a genuine problem for me for the last 6 months.

However, there’s another theory, and a post I read on the AskAnAuthorAll loop brought it to mind (actually, you could even say it spelled it out for me). This theory is that of the lazy writer.

How many times have I suffered from what I called writer’s block and yet knew what the problem was and how to fix that problem, but just didn’t want to do it? Or was too tired to do it? Or just didn’t feel like doing it? Or really needed to do other things?

I will admit, lately, with the house reaching a critical point in its development (the last roof is going on Monday and the plumbing rough-in is DONE and the electrician is anxious to get started), I have spent a lot of time on the phone, treking to and from the house, out shopping, etc, but there have also been a lot of days and nights when I’ve spent at least several hours watching television.
Not sure why I’ve chosen to unwind in front of the television instead in front of my keyboard, when my writing used to be my number one coping mechanism for life!

This is certainly going to require some thinking on my part. (I do love to analyze my behavior patterns, and no, I really don’t know why.) :-)

If you have any thoughts on this, do share.

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eHarlequin Contest

If you enjoy taking trips, you might want a chance to win one from eHarlequin.

Visit and enter the Your Family Garden Contest for your chance to win a family trip for four.

Just thought someone might be interested in entering! I was. :-)

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