Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fruit Trees

The apricot and plum are blooming. And we are having the coldest weather of the winter!

I put lights in the trees this year to see if that might help warm them a little. Last night it went down to 24 degrees. And tonight it is supposed to go almost as low. According to a chart I found, unopened buds should be OK. The fully opened flowers may be killed off. Sigh.

Going on 6 years and we haven't eaten an apricot, yet. Hopefully, some of the buds will survive.

The plum tree only has a handful of flowers open, so I'm not as concerned. I'd say the apricot is about 1/3 open. I will keep my fingers crossed that some of the remaining unopened buds will survive.

The other fruits in the yard are still sleeping. I saw some buds swelling on the blueberries and cherries, but they are just knobby at this point. Thank goodness.

Our mild winter has spoiled me. I am not happy with the cold. And since I was out digging in the garden last week, I am disappointed to be stuck indoors. The high today is forecast to be 39. Definitely not warm enough for me to play outside!

Can't wait for summer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Learning to relax

I once had such a stressful job that I found myself multitasking at all times. Even at home. When I changed jobs, I had to pace myself. Multitasking can lead to mistakes. Or even dropping one thing for another, of which I am often guilty.

Now that I am self employed I can set my own hours and take my time. Somehow that isn't happening. I set goals and milestones and fret about them. Life gets in the way and then I stress out.

But they're just personal goals. No one will die if I don't get this done by Tuesday, or the 1st or whatever. Whew.

I wanted to publish Unintended Consequences by the end of March. Right now it's out to a second round of readers. That's a good thing. When I get it back, I will probably have a few more tweaks for it. Then it will be line edited for grammar and spelling. So it looks more like the end of April than March. Is that such a big deal? It was only an arbitrary date I picked out last year.

It's taken me awhile to condition myself to write every day. Now I feel guilty if I don't get some words on paper every day. Yikes. One more thing to stress about. So last weekend I declared a day off. Since it was a lovely sunny day in the low 70's, I spent the whole day in the garden. Which is also behind in being ready for planting...sheesh.

There's a difference between not working because I don't want to and not working because I need a break. Everyone needs a break from time to time. And now I am going to allow myself that luxury!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Spring Flowers

Crocuses are all in bloom. In my yard they come up by color. The yellow first and the purples last. I don't know why.

 These creamy yellow ones were a lovely treat. I forgot I put them in!

Spring flowers are so rejuvenating. When we moved to this house, I was very excited to see what the previous owners had done in the was of bulbs. I was sorely disappointed. They had a couple of tulips scattered here and there. That's it!

How could they forget daffodils? These baby daffs come up very early. They are so sweet. It just makes you smile.

And of course miniature iris. They are very early also. And so pretty. They only stand about 6-8" I love irises in all shapes and forms. But it is wonderful to have a small dose of them before their larger brethren are even putting up leaves.


Monday, March 18, 2013

November Afternoon has been added to the artwork page. It's a painting about big skies. The color shifted a little in the image. It comes from a time when I was doing a lot of painting and was experimenting. I think it is one of those lingering warm days in early winter when the trees have lost all their leaves, but the sun is still warm.

Check the Artwork tab for sizes and prices.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Coming Soon!

I just got the draft back from my readers. I haven't even looked through it all yet. But I'm really excited! The feedback was mostly favorable. Now I need to get my head out of the current WIP and go back to this one.

It's good to take a break from a story. It's been about two weeks since I messed with UC. That will give me some distance. And now that my head is in a totally different world, I may be able to read UC with a little more objectivity.

I'm close to the deadlines I set myself. I wanted to publish it in March. Not sure if I will be able to finish up the tweaking and get it out to a second round of readers then run it through a line edit by the end of the month. It might get pushed back to early April.

I have to say that I am resistant to putting the current WIP aside. That's a good thing for that story. But I only have so much time in the day for writing and that means one of them has to go the back burner. And the weather is turning milder...the garden is calling.

Sheesh. I really need to achieve rich and famous status soon!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Too many crises makes a story dull

I just gave up on reading a book. I was about two thirds of the way through and couldn't put up with it any more. It wasn't a novel. It might have been a television show. The characters stumbled along falling into various misadventures and floundered their way out again, only to get back into trouble. That's not a story.

None of the characters had any goals beyond not wanting to be doing what they were presently doing. There were plenty of possibilities there. But I guess they never made it out of the author's head.

Each time a character got in trouble they trembled and shook and sobbed with fear and pain. Hmm. Aside from questioning whether the author understood the limits of the human body when it comes to pain, it made me dislike the characters. It might have been realistic for them to fail utterly in the face of overpowering odds, but that's not what I want to read. It can happen once, perhaps, as an epiphany. Then the character needs to get stronger and smarter and squeeze out of the next spot of trouble just in the nick of time. And using skills or information that they gleaned from the previous failure works even better.

That didn't happen. The bad guys were just egotistical sadists, not sure why, that seemed remarkably easy to dupe. And tolerant and rigid at the same time. Because they kept arresting the same people and letting them escape again. Hmm. Why not just shoot em?

Another thing that happened that really didn't work - the author had one of the protagonists (because I think there were 4) kill a child. Nope, not gonna help me like her. That's a scene that should have been the epiphany, or a major twist/reversal. The protagonist (M) is facing the bad guys who caught a bunch of them escaping. M turns into a puddle of quivering goo. She's scared, she's failed, she doesn't know what to do (again!). Bad guys give her an ultimatum - kill the child or we will. So she throws the little boy off the cliff and watches him fall to his death. Wow. All kinds of wrong there.

Every scene has the characters reacting to the most recent trouble. There's no planning, no direction, no tasks that need to be done. They just flail around in whatever arrives on their doorstep. So they are furious or terrified and almost always confused. There were a few scenes of flirting that were so out of place I skimmed them. But again they were blushing and giggling and generally over the top.

Now don't think I want scenes of laundry and cooking dinner. But where's the roller coaster? It doesn't work if it's all up with no downs. Some of those quieter scenes can anchor the world, which definitely needed some work. Or backstory, or maybe a hint of what these people want?

Everything in moderation.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A new story in the works

I'm flying along!

This may be the first novel that I've written entirely from scratch. White Lies was rewritten many times and it started as a screenplay. The same is true for Unintended Consequences. Both were torn apart and rewritten each time I learned a little more about writing and storytelling.

So it's been a good long time since I just wrote. Just put words on the page to get the story out of my head.

This is based on some characters from a story that wasn't working. I didn't know why it wasn't working and I rewrote it a couple times. When I looked through my folder I had all kinds of plots for these people, but nothing finished. Nothing even halfway done. It all just petered out. Even the outlines.

But then I tackled the setting. It's a near future distopia. It always was, but I hadn't taken a good look at the world. Then a few things clicked. The world must influence how the characters act, react and think. If the world has changed, how does that affect them?

Once my world was nailed down, my characters changed. I knew them better, and how they fit into this world. I knew how they saw the world and what hopes they had for the future.

And then I just wrote. I didn't try to rewrite the older pieces and squeeze them into the shape of the discarded stories. I started fresh. And it's so exciting. I'm managing more that 1,000 words a day! I even wrote out a simple outline.

I'm having a blast with this!

Friday, March 1, 2013


When I first started writing, I didn't think setting mattered that much. I had a few stories that were set in a city. Did it matter what city? I didn't think so. Somehow those stories never really worked out. I knew they weren't working and I just couldn't nail the reason.

Unintended Consequences was one of those stories. I admit that I've changed it a lot in its final incarnation, but the biggest change is setting. Once I anchored it somewhere, it started to work better. The setting crept into everything.

The story is sent in a fictional south Jersey town squeezed between the Pine Barrens and the salt marshes. The smell of the marshes, the damp salt air, a cold rainy October. All those things appeared as soon as I added real estate. There are a lot of Irish and Italians in that area. Suddenly I had a pizzeria with all the aromas of oregano and garlic, cannolis and strong black coffee.

Another story is a near future distopia. It was always sort of in NY City, but not really. Again, the story wasn't working. Part of that was because I had written it before I understood storytelling. The rambling adventures of various characters does not make a novel. But in trying to sort that out I realized I needed to deal with the setting.

To create the setting, I needed to take a look at my world. One of the criticisms I had gotten on a different story was that the technology I had mentioned was already outmoded. I'm not a techno geek, so that can't be an important part of my story. That means I need to build the world in other ways. I had to look at things that did make sense to me. What is the climate in the future? How has transportation changed? It's starting to come together and in building the world, I'm building the setting, and it is flavoring my characters.

So I finally understand how important setting is.