I had planned on posting about my new writing project, but there’s plenty of time for that. Instead, something else caught my attention. Today when I opened my account, WordPress happily reminded me it’s been three years since I started my blog.
Really? It’s been three years? Doesn’t seem that long ago since I looked at the overwhelming programming here and wondered what I was doing. It seems such a short time ago, I was wanting to be a writer. Dreaming of writing a book.
Anniversaries are a good thing. They remind us of where we have been. How far we’ve gotten in our journeys in life. Sometimes they are a painful reminder of losses and failure, but for the most part, the anniversaries in my life make me happy.
This particular anniversary reminds me I pursued a dream and made it happen. I may not have made it as big as I would have liked, but I accomplished the simple act of creating, writing, editing and getting produced not only one book, but two. And during the journey I learned how to post and be in countless social accounts, learned to blog, learned out to market and format, found a whole world of internet friends, and reconnected with long lost friends!
While I may not be in the best seller market, I’m totally amazed I’ve made it this far. It seems like years ago I first wanted to write a book and despaired that it would ever happen. Now, here I am. The satisfaction from just accomplishing my goal is a reward in itself. My hat is off to all who have succeeded in making their goals as well. Now it’s time to go and celebrate!
Are you feeling unnoticed, unloved and down now that you’ve written that book? Does it feel like it’s lost in the vortex of Amazon? Today I ran across this on Facebook by the Buddha Bootcamp and it kind of fit a writer’s life. It opened my eyes……..
We also have an incredible and unlimited capacity to love, but the question is: can we do it like a flower? Without needing to be admired, adored, or even noticed? Can we open our hearts completely to give, forgive, celebrate, and joyfully live our lives without hesitation or need for reciprocity?
It seems like sometimes we go beyond taking things personally and are noticeably deflated when unappreciated. In-fact, devastated, we wilt in sorrow and then attempt to guard ourselves by withholding, using all sorts of protections and defenses. We get hurt (even angry), if our boss fails to recognize an astonishing feat, if a lover pulls their hand away, or when a friend forgets our birthday. Can you imagine a flower copping an attitude for not being praised, or the moon dimming its glow because we’re too self-absorbed to notice it more often?
Each chapter in Buddhist Boot Camp invites you to make an effort to shine no matter what, to love unconditionally, and to be a kind and gentle soul (even when nobody is watching).
And, if you’re so inclined, hug the next tree you see and say, “Thank you!”
So it is Christmas morning and you are excited to open all your presents, except when you get to the Christmas tree you find all the presents unwrapped and just sitting there underneath it.
This is like a story where an author feels compelled to let you know everything that the character is thinking, saying and doing.
I wish sometimes I had just remained a reader being totally clueless to anything but what I liked or didn’t like. In the days before I studied writing I could blissfully read through a book and tell you simple things like “Great plot,” or “It didn’t keep my interest,” or “You should read it too.” Unfortunately this has changed since I slipped to the dark side of writing.
Nowadays, after reading a book, I’m more of a critic. Before I couldn’t have told you why a particular book was boring. I understand now it is because of simple things like the author not trusting their readers to have the ability to figure out what is going on behind the scenes without being told.
I want a story where the characters backstory comes out like a slow strip tease. I enjoy putting together the puzzle piece by piece with a final reveal that makes me think “aha!” Take for instance the book I’m currently reading. There is a pregnancy that has complications and they don’t have the medical set-up for it. So far five different characters have noted this and discussed it.
Or the opening of the last book where the character thinks over their entire childhood and then again, a couple chapters later, repeats certain key points of this very same childhood to their friend.
Then there are the characters that go through a scene reporting in their heads what the other person is probably thinking or feeling and all the reasons for that.
When I first heard the ‘show don’t tell’ mantra, I was frustrated as a writer. It is so much harder to show something than just explain it. But remember, humans are observers. Only 20% of communication is through verbal skills. The rest is observation of the actions, facial expressions or body movements. In order to create a feel closest to the actual experience we must write the other 80% as observation.
As a reader, ‘show don’t tell’ is my medium. I understand a furrowed brow, a wink, or a slap across the face. I want the mystery and the chance to solve the emotions or motives behind these silent communications on my own.
I hate it when I read, “She raised her hand, slapping his face with all of her puny strength, feeling really mad. ‘He deserved that,’ she thought angrily.” I would much prefer, “Her face contorted into an animalistic mask of rage as she swung her open palm at his face, connecting with a resounding clap.”
To write an observation, or a ‘show not tell’ scene is hard. It is so tempting to make sure our reader understands what we are trying to say. As a beginner, I’ve made so many of the mistakes I now read in other’s stories. Information dumps, to many adjectives, and descriptions full of to much prose have been a challenge for me. But I know practice makes perfect so I continue to study, edit, pay attention and read.
The one thing being a reader has taught the author in me, don’t baby your reader. Allow them to go on the journey and feel, hear, see, touch and experience it through your character’s eyes.
I was impressed from the beginning by their giving hearts and willingness to support other independent writers.
I’ve purchased all of their collaborations up to this point. I have read to many a grandchild from the collections of the finely crafted children’s stories. Find out more about this group of big hearted authors.
THE PEACOCK WRITERS
We are a small group of writers who have banded together with one purpose in mind – to collate children’s stories & poems to donate to children’s charities.
Thanks to our wonderful team led by Paula Shene & Gwen D’Young & our contributing authors, we manage to publish two books each year. No two series are the same as each have their own common theme. Each one is available to but as Kindle edition, plain text or illustrated version.
I truly believe the following books will make a lovely present for children this Christmas:
A Whimsical Holiday http://www.amazon.com/Whimsical-Holiday-Children-Childrens-ebook/dp/B006MQ1A0K
Snowflakes on My Lashes http://www.amazon.com/Snowflakes-My-Lashes-Peacock-Presents/dp/1492749443
For a full list of our contributing authors & to learn more about our charity group, please click the following link:http://thepeacockwriters.weebly.com/
I met Chryse Wymer on a site called “BookRix.” What caught my attention was a comment she left about grammar. I enjoyed her feisty outspokenness and I realized she was right about the grammar issues being discussed. Being grammar challenged, I found myself seeking her advice. Slowly I began to know the person behind the comments. I fondly call her the “Yoda of Grammar.” I’m so excited to host her blog here today.
Thank you, Robynn Gabel, for allowing me to guest post on what I know to be of particular interest to you: commas. For those of you keeping track, this is part three of my comma series. If you are interested in reading part one, visit A.B Shepherd’s blog at: http://www.abshepherd.net/, and part two can be read on John Abramowitz’s blog at: http://onthebird.blogspot.com/
This month, I’ll be hopping along from blog to blog to share my knowledge on the nuts and bolts of great writing. I am a copy editor, proofreader, and author—published both traditionally and independently. I’m also raffling off Amazon gift cards to get you started on your editing bookshelves. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or, for more information, visit: http://ocdeditor.weebly.com/ So here goes:
COMMAS – PART THREE
I want to reiterate that the basic function of a comma is to separate.
The fifth function of a comma is to separate adjectives that each qualify a noun in the same way < Next to a few odds and ends, she found a small[,] red leather-bound book.> There are a couple of tricks to help decide if a comma is necessary: one is whether or not you can use and between the adjectives. If you can, you need a comma. My preferred method is the switcheroo. If you can switch the adjectives out, then you need a comma, e.g.: Next to a few odds and ends, she found a red[,] small leather-bound book.
The sixth function of a comma is separate a direct quotation from its attribution <“Blue. I like the color blue,” she said.>
The seventh function of a comma is to separate a participial phrase, a verbless phrase (group of verbless words that make sense but do not form a complete sentence), or a vocative (direct address)—e.g.: “Having had coffee[,] she made her son breakfast.”/ “Anna, you’re so rotten!”
The eighth function of a comma is marking the end of a salutation in an informal letter <Dear Ms. Gabel,> <Dear Chryse,> and the close <Yours sincerely,>
Finally, the comma separates parts of a physical address <258 Monkey Butt Drive, Macon, WV> or a date <October 21, 2013>
Stay tuned as I continue my grammar and style tour 30 Days of Linguistic Love with . . . semicolons, one of the most-often misused punctuation marks. Visit me tomorrow on Dionne Lister’s blog at http://dionnelisterwriter.com/ to find out more about semicolons.
Just yesterday morning I found an article I had to return to my best friend and mentor, Viola. We had met long ago when I was in charge of the church newsletter and desperately needed an editor. Being about twenty years older than me, Viola had just lost her husband and had the skill of old school grammar and punctuation.
We immediately clicked. She was the example of the feisty, pioneer type of little old lady I wanted to be. We shared histories. Mine was obviously shorter than hers, but I loved hearing about her past and the obstacles she had overcome in her life.
I invited her to go with me to the first writing conference I ever attended. She had expressed a desire to write her memoirs, I just had the avid desire to write. I was in over my head and on the long ride down there I shared with her my long kept secret desire of wanting to become a writer. Viola fast became my hero. She had always admired my style of writing for the newsletter. At the conference, when we were seated with an agent, she sang my praises to her. The agent eagerly questioned my goals, story ideas and ended up giving me her card.
So began Viola’s mentoring job.
On the way home from that conference we brain-stormed and the plot platform for Windswept Hearts was created. Through the years she kept asking, prodding and singing my praises. When I finally handed her the manuscript for editing, despite her recent stroke, she faithfully found all my grammar and punctuation problems. When the book was published, she eagerly bought ten copies and gave them out as Christmas presents.
The way Viola lived her life was such an example to me. Despite losing her husband, she continued to live a full life. She loved to travel, visiting family all over, including family in Alaska. Her imagination and creative talents amazed me. She always had a project going such as painting, wood burning, and writing. Her natural curiosity and inquisitiveness led her to learn how to use a computer at the ripe age of eighty. She lived a Christian example of a very fulfilled woman. Even though the era she grew up in demanded she be a housewife, Viola was always a quiet rebel. Intelligent, witty and bright she filled our time together with stories.
After the church newsletter moved on to become simply a bulletin every Sunday, Viola and I continued to stay in contact, though not as much as I would have liked. Life got in the way, but we continued to make a lunch date every now and then.
It never seems enough though, when someone passes on. Yesterday morning as I was planning on calling her for a lunch date and returning her article, she had a massive stroke. Her family rushed to be at her side and she was not alone as she went home to the husband she missed so much and the Lord she loved so dearly. Her family included me in their calls to inform of her passing, showing me her love and consideration lives on in her children.
As I work on my next novel, I find myself bereft of some of the joy. I realized today how much I depended on my one-woman-cheerleading team. I will miss sharing plot ideas and discussing the creative process. I will miss her chiding me on my dismal misunderstanding of the use of grammar. I will miss so much listening to her own stories and encouraging her to write them. I will dearly miss my friend and mentor over all.
And if Viola were here, she would encourage me to not mourn or complain at her leaving, but to find the joy in having had the time together. To appreciate what we shared and built and to keep on writing.
Viola would be delighted to find out my next heroine will be sharing her spirit and love of adventure, and embarrassed to find out I based the character on her! She would shake her head, laugh and again remind me to review the proper usage of commas and punctuation!
Through my work, I will continue to keep our friendship alive, writing the best I can to honor my mentor.