Nanowrimo to the Rescue

So, I did decide to join Nanowrimo to try and get a draft of Faith in Salem written.  50,000 words in 30 days, means about 1600 words a day.  In three days, I’ve got 4923 words written. It’s requiring me to do a little research as I go…I know little about crystals, the Salem Witch Trials, or witchcraft ~ all things that Faith will be experimenting with.  I expect I will be making a lot of things up as I go along.  lol

But at this stage of the game, isn’t the point to get words on paper?  I can go back and edit later. But I can’t edit if the words aren’t there.

If you join Nanowrimo yourself, find me there:  jgwriter69

 

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Writing Faith in Salem

I’ve started writing Faith’s story. It’s been a little while away from my writing.  This time, instead of taking my writing with me to my work event, I left it at home. I wasn’t quite ready to commit to the story.  It was still percolating around in my head until earlier last week when the perfect beginning occurred to me.  So, I’ve finally begun.

This story is going to be my visit to the Salem Witch Trails, but it is set in modern day Salem. There will be a paranormal element and Faith will be visited by one or more of the women accused. Faith is going to get sucked into the magic of…well…magic. At least for a while.

That’s about the only statement I can make about it at this early date…I’ve only written 419 words so far. I’m going to just write and let the characters take me where they may.  I have a little idea about Faith’s background, but for details of her current life I’m going to give her more permission to tell me who she is, not that I’m telling her.

This may actually be the perfect time to begin this project, since it’s almost NANOWRIMO time of year. The month of November is right around the corner and I could use the inspiration to focus on my writing and try to knock out a very rough draft of this story. Y’all should join me!

Status of Mamie

I’m still shopping around my first book to agents. I am giving myself through the end of the year and if I don’t find one, then I’ll move on to finding a publisher myself. I’ve considered self-publishing, but I would truly prefer to put the book into the hands of professionals, for this first go around. Just as a confidence builder, if nothing else. I’ve joined the local writer’s association to surround myself with other writers and hopefully find a way through a publisher’s door.  It’s not easy, that’s for sure!

Dad’s Journey

I think I mentioned in a previous post that I’m tabling this right now. I’ve got the layout of the story completed…basically an outline that includes large portions of text. But there are so many other details that need to be added that I believe I will need to revisit this at a later date. There will be much research required for this…and more information about Dad’s time there.

So, if you’re keeping track, that makes three large projects going on at the same time.

To say nothing of the genealogy….

That all should keep me out of trouble for a while!

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Hurricane Dorian Stops In

Just as many of you, my husband and I were glued to our TV, watching Hurricane Dorian march across the Atlantic and stall out over the Bahamas. It has been heartbreaking to see the destruction ~ and also scary as hell, because we knew where Dorian was headed after his extended stay in the islands.

Dorian

Radar of Dorian’s track as it passed by our shore. Too close for comfort, as it ramped up to a Cat 3. But a blessing, as it pulled water way from the shore.

Charleston was spared this time from the full effect of a powerful hurricane making landfall. Fortunately, for a city that sometimes experiences flooding during high tide, the tides and the strengthening of the storm as it reached our coast protected us from more devastating damage than lost power and fallen trees. The flooding could easily have been worse. Damage to homes could have been worse.

I haven’t heard of anyone in this area having lost their lives to Dorian, which is also a blessing.

It’s difficult to focus on anything but the storm for the week or so before it comes wandering into town. You know it’s coming, in some fashion for at least 7-10 days. Probably you’ve had some kind of expected landfall information further out than that, but most of us who live along the coast don’t tend to worry too much about it until we are somewhere in the 5-7 day range. If I remember correctly, Dorian was originally supposed to plow straight across Florida into the Gulf. Then he was going to make landfall along the Florida coast, head north to Orlando, and then we were expecting only rain by the time it got to us.

Of course, this information changes so often that early on, you roll your eyes and just get on with your life. Why waste your time worrying about a storm that may or may not even head this way?

But in the days leading up to Dorian’s actual arrival, I started getting worried.  Not outwardly worried ~ I wasn’t buying up every loaf of bread in the grocery store, but worried in a more subconscious way.

  • I slept even worse than normal.
  • I had migraine headaches.
  • I couldn’t focus on anything ~ so, no writing was done.

This is my fourth storm and, while I am far more relaxed than I was for the first one, I still maintain a healthy respect for their power. I’m reminded of that power every time I see a photo of the Bahamas, or Puerto Rico, or the Florida Panhandle.

And those images sit in the back of your brain as you wait day after day for the storm to continue its tour of the east coast.

It’s difficult to explain the feeling to someone who has never sat in wait for one of these beasts. You go on with your life all of these days, knowing it’s coming. You go to work, you go to the post office, the bank, you grab lunch at the local burger joint…all of these things are happening as if disaster isn’t potentially on it’s way to your town. It’s a little surreal.

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Dinner at Five Guys on Tuesday evening, before Dorian rolled in.

The best way I can explain it is this:

Imagine you live in a bad part of town. You go about your life, constantly looking over your shoulder because you never know when something bad is going to happen. The gang member might be right around the next corner, or maybe the drug deal might be happening in the parking lot of the shopping center and you certainly don’t want to have a run in with either. You go through your days on high alert, waiting for the inevitable. It’s like they are taunting you…enjoying your fear, they drag it out as long as they can. Maybe you’ll see a glimpse of someone out of the corner of your eye, or you’ll read about something that happened just down the street from your house. You know it’s getting closer, but there isn’t a thing you can do to stop it.

By the time the storm arrives, it’s almost like finally ~ let’s get on with it so we can get to the other side of it.

We lost power only a couple of hours into the 24 hours or so that Dorian was making his way past our coast. That’s the first time we’ve lost power during a storm. We remained without power for about 40 hours total. As inconvenient as it is, we all knew we dodged a bullet and I think most of the community shared a collective sigh of relief because we all knew how much worse it could have been.

Dorian went through Wednesday overnight to Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday were for getting caught back up at work, cleaning up the debris in our yard, and putting all the hurricane supplies back in the box so they were ready for next time. Hopefully, there won’t be a next time (this season at least).

With a deep, cleansing breath ~ and a shower, because, you know, yard clean up in the south ~ I’m able to refocus on my writing. I’ve only done large edits…moving chunks of text from one place to another, but it’s something. I’m grateful to have been able to do that much.

I’m grateful to be able to sit in my air conditioned house, with the sun shining bright in my windows, where my story remained safely on a flash drive, waiting for my return.

I’m grateful to have picked up branches and not have to pull a tree out of a second floor bedroom.

I’m grateful to have propped up a portion of our fence that the wind took down, and not have had the roof torn off the house.

I’ll take these smaller inconveniences any day.

And I’ll be grateful.

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Photo by Carl Attard from Pexels

 

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Plans Derailed

Well, as any of you who have been with me for a while can expect, my plan was derailed.  I mean, after all, it’s right in the title of this blog that things are going to interfere with my plans on a fairly regular basis. haha.

If you recall, I was going to take large chunks of time on the weekends and dedicate them to one project or another so I could really invest some productive time and effort to make measurable progress.

I didn’t even make it one week.

My husband works 4th shift in a manufacturing plant. Fourth shift is a weekend only shift, so he works 12 hours Saturday and 12 hours Sunday. Because the plant is open 24/7, they need machines and equipment running 24/7. The 4th shift alternates with 1st, 2nd and 3rd…so when 1st shift works their weekend, he works 3rd shift and so on.

The next weekend after my big announcement that I was going to invest all of this time into my projects, hubby happened to be on first shift.  I was looking at 12 hours days of being completely on my own. He works 10-10…leaving our house at 9am and not getting back until 10:30pm.

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this:  I love my husband. I do.

I completely enjoy those weekends when he’s off at work all day. When he’s working third shift, I have to be quiet in the house so he can sleep during the day. I have to watch what I make for lunch so the smell doesn’t wake him up (fish, spinach and mushrooms are no-no’s). I feel the need to run outside and kick our neighbors in the shins when they get their lawn mowers out. Generally, I spend more time worrying about helping him get the sleep he needs than I spend doing anything else those weekends. This is, actually, the best time to just leave the house and go shopping, but that’s a whole other story.  haha.

On his first shift weekends, all bets are off.  You’ll find shrimp and salmon cooking on the stove. I’ve got the radio turned up so I can sing along as I fold laundry. I turn off the air conditioning and open windows to let in the smell of all that freshly cut grass.

So, it was a first shift weekend and I was doing everything else but writing.  My back and knees were protesting loudly about the amount of housework they were forced to participate in. I cleaned out closets, my office and the laundry room. I organized and purged. By the time I was done, there was no way I was sitting at the computer. I was flat out on my super comfy sofa.  🙂

The weekend after that, I was preparing for one of everyone’s favorite exams – the colonoscopy. I turned 50 in April and my doctor just couldn’t wait to hook me up with another old person exam. The doctor’s office had, ten years ago, gleefully sent me up for my first mammogram. That’s been an annual joy ever since. Happy birthday, Julie! For your birthday this year, we’re giving you a referral to Charleston GI. Best birthday gift ever. 

Last weekend, I needed a break. I didn’t do one damn thing but read my book (I still have 200 pages left of the old confederate widow book) and watch TV. That’s not completely true…I also did a book review.  But you know what? It felt great! Every once in a while, I think everyone needs to just have a weekend to lay low and waste away the hours. It felt so indulgent…almost naughty. In today’s world, we are truly not conditioned to relax, but to just keep moving, moving, moving!

So after my mini sabbatical, this weekend rolls around and I feel recharged. It’s another first shift weekend for hubby, but I was focused and ready to go. I’ve been working on my story about my dad all morning and made some great progress.  To the point where I felt I needed to stop, print it out, and do a first bit of editing.  I’ve been busy with stream of consciousness writing…just getting as many of the easy parts coming from my head and my life experiences down on paper. I know there is repetition that needs to be cleaned up. I also need to find the breaks between each experience where I plan to cover dad’s military service and what was going on in Vietnam while he was there.   It feels like a good place to stop for today so I can let the writing breathe a little before I get my red pen out and begin slicing and dicing.

That does not, however, mean I’m headed to my sofa (although it looks so very inviting). I’m spending the rest of the afternoon working on my family tree. I’ve got some tintype photos I want to try and get restored…I have Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers I’m searching for details on their war service, and I have to begin collecting birth certificates that will enable me to keep going backwards in time with confidence that I haven’t accidentally taken a fork in the road.

I’m blogging about that journey as well ~ check it out at: https://applesfromourfamilytree.blogspot.com/

 

Word count: 11,639

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A New Plan Takes Shape

I’ve been forced to make a new plan.  I was trying to do a different project each night of the week.  One night was for my crafts…one for writing…one for genealogy…you get the idea. But by the time I got home from work, made dinner and cleaned up afterwards, I didn’t have all that much time left.  And a lot of nights, I just didn’t have it in me to do anything but relax on the previously mentioned sofa.

Well, this weekend, I thought I would try something different.  I decided I was going to dedicate a block of time…4 hours…to working on writing projects, whatever they might be. So, I wrote an entry into my Story of My Life book. I did a little research and wrote a bit more for my dad’s story, I wrote a synopsis of my novel for my latest submission, and I’m writing this blog post.

I’m pretty damn proud of myself.

On top of all of that, I started reading another book review book, and read a few pages of the book I’m reading because I want to: Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. I’m about halfway through it right now and it’s been a little challenging to get into, but it’s been a great story. If you ever wondered what the world was like through the experiences of a regular person during the Civil War and beyond, you’ll feel like you are actually there, living it along side the characters. There is a little bit of flashing back and forth from the old folks home where the widow is living out her final days back to the days of her youth. The transitions are sometimes jarring…I don’t expect them and sometimes don’t realize we’ve time traveled right away. But otherwise, I’m enjoying it.

I would keep going, but I’m exhausted.  I didn’t take one of my weekend naps today (I absolutely love a good nap) so I didn’t get a chance to recharge. Now it’s almost 10pm, so I may as well just go to bed and begin again tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to an equally productive day tomorrow. I wish productive days for all of YOU as well!

 

Word Count 6,500

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Writing What I Don’t Know

I’ve come to a bit of a stand still.

This is the problem with not following the advice of your 10th grade creative writing teacher (and, frankly, every writing teacher you ever had) who said,  “Write what you know.”

Because if you write what you don’t know, you have to do research.

This isn’t a huge deal for me because I enjoy doing research ~ it’s one of the reasons I love genealogy so much. But the problem is that I don’t want to research the whole of the Vietnam War to write this story about my dad, but I’m not sure how easy it is going to be to find just the information I need (the time he was actually involved in the war) and be able to understand what was going on without…you know…researching the whole of the war. 

The frustrating part about doing the research is that it’s time spent not writing. And y’all know the last thing I need is another excuse to not be writing.

Plus, I still have my other story waiting in the wings. I wonder if I could work on both at the same time.



Yep…and then pigs will fly and hell will freeze over.

But yet…maybe that’s the solution.  Maybe by keeping myself writing, I’ll be inspired to keep going.  It’s like, when I’m cleaning the house, baking and running errands ~ if I keep going, I’m fine.  As soon as I stop for a “quick break,” it’s all over. We all know there’s no one getting back up off the sofa to finish the dishes after 4 hours of cleaning toilets and baking cookies (not necessarily in that order), and running to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. At least none of us who have started receiving AARP registration materials in the mail. Once I’m sitting, I’m sitting for the duration of the day. My back and my knees will allow nothing else.

Too bad my computer isn’t next to my sectional…I love my sectional…the corner where the two pieces come together is SO cozy.  And we have blankets and pillows…well, have a look for yourself…

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There’s even room for the cat to snuggle up (as evidenced by the cat toys and scratchers) and the ottoman that can be pushed over there so you can put your feet up.

How is this not the most comfortable looking piece of furniture ever?!  Sometimes I spend whole days there.  haha.

But that’s not the point.

Maybe by keeping going, I’ll get through the research more efficiently…or I can break it up into chunks so I can research a little and write a little. Then research a little more and write a little more.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m sitting here trying to write this post while I look at a picture of my comfy place with the soft blankets and the fuzzy pillows. We all know I’m not writing anything else tonight.

There’s always tomorrow!

Word Count: 5,286

 

 

 

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Because I Need Another Project

I’ve been working on my story about my dad, but I’ve got only about 4,000-5,000 words written.  Well, that’s not completely true….I have a few short stories of him that I will be blending into this larger work, so there are probably more like 10,000 words written, but I’m not counting those until I actually copy and paste them into the main story.

My Maternal Grandparents

As is always the way with me, this project has refocused me on my family tree project. So much so, that I’m thinking about creating a second blog to document that whole process.  I feel like I have so much information in so many different places, that if I can get it all organized on one electronic platform, that it will help keep me organized. The only thing keeping me from jumping in with both feet is I don’t know if I want to do this as a blog or as a website.

What I’m envisioning is a place where I can have different tabs/pages for different branches of the family (there would have to be a way to differentiate between my family and my husbands, generally, and then surnames on each side from there)…with a copy of the family tree, maybe the map showing our DNA results from where the family comes from with their immigration pattern to the U.S. And photos, of course, along with family stories if I know some or can find some. My goal beyond organization, is the ability to get a more visual feel of my ancestors and their lives (in one place) and to allow for easy sharing with the rest of our family.

I’m not sure what type of platform (blog or website) would work best for this project and I spent a couple of hours yesterday trying to research other people’s sites who maybe have done something similar.  I haven’t been all that successful ~ I would suppose most people who have those types of websites or blogs set them up to be private for family only. Which I completely understand, but it leaves me with little help trying to figure out which direction to go in.

I would like mine to be public, because even if I choose a website format, I want it to have a blog so I can share the research process as I go along, so I would like that part, particularly, to be public.  I’m going to work the privacy issue by starting my tree with either my grandparents or great-grandparents ~ basically, no one living except for my husband and myself will be on the site (unless other family members would like to be). I would suppose with a website, I can make the blog public and keep the other information behind a “Member” wall?

If anyone has any insight or ideas about what might be the best way to go about beginning this project, I would love to hear from you!

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