January 28, 2013

Belated New Year's Resolutions

Yes, I'm a little late with my new year's resolutions. But, hey...January's not over yet.
Do you make them? I don't. I mean I have, maybe once or twice in my life, but as a rule I don't believe in them. Why bother? Does anyone ever keep them? I think everyone resolves to lose weight or quit smoking and then on January 2nd the resolutions go up in a puff of smoke and a chocolate eclair.
But this year I decided I'm going to give this another shot. Why? No clue, but here they are:
1. Quit smoking
Okay, so I don't smoke. I thought I should have at least one resolution with a 100% probability of success. I did smoke, when I was young, when it was still cool and we didn't know it was going to blacken our lungs and kill us. Then I quit - 30some years ago. Thank god. It's such a stupid thing to do - draw smoke into your lungs and pollute the air around you and stink up your clothing. Oops, I'm jumping down off that soap box now. Sorry, I know how tough it is to quit, but DO IT NOW.
2. Write for at least five minutes every day.
That doesn't seem so hard, does it? I can certainly write more than that, but to have some discipline about my writing, five minutes a day is a great goal. This is a tip I learned from one of my writing coaches, Jerry Cleaver, and it's a good one. The least that happens is I get five minutes of writing done, but the most? Sky's the limit; I finish my story/novel/article/poem, write a new chapter, discover new characters...it's all about sitting down and not getting distracted by the Internet or TV or a book or the state of my nails. It's all about just doing it. Maybe if I stick to this resolution my second novel won't take eight years like the first one. Actually, I'm about 3/4 of the way through the first draft of The Ones You Left Behind, and I'm very excited about it.
(I also like Melanie Thorne's Not-Resolutions for writers so I'm going to add them to my writing list. Since they're faux-resolutions they don't seem so daunting.)
3. Take French classes.
Ah, c'est une bon idee! I envy people who went to Europe when they were young, traveling on a Eurail Pass (do they still have those?), sleeping in garrets, smoking Gauloises. Why didn't I do that? Maybe because I grew up in Toledo and no one I knew was doing that. I had only been on an airplane once by the time I was 18 so traveling to Europe never occurred to me. I'm sorry I didn't have that experience as a kid but, I'm not dead yet so I can still do it. It'll be a different experience, of course, and I'll have to do it differently now: no garrets (not that a garret was ever my style), and definitely no Gauloises. But at some point I want to live in Paris. At least for a little while. So, this year I'm going to brush up on my high school French.

Alright, enough with the resolutions. No need to get carried away here.
Did you make any? What are they? Will you keep them?

January 23, 2013

One Star for Me, Five Stars for a Space Heater

I love it when people take the time to write reviews of my book on Amazon or Goodreads and every once in a while I check for new reviews. Here's one I just saw today from someone who hates my book, and  I mean REALLY hates it. Like, hates it so much that she took the time to write a review and the only other things she's ever reviewed are a space heater and humidifier, and both of those got five stars.

1.0 out of 5 stars
Terrible novel. A pure waste of time.January 12, 2013
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: What More Could You Wish For (Paperback)
First of all, I consider myself a pretty avid reader. I will read everything that is put in front of me, and every so often I read a chick lit book for guilty, relaxing pleasure -- to take my mind off of the daily grind of life. I don't expect much from these books. So when a book is so awful that I find myself skimming and skipping pages just to finish (I try not to leave a book unfinished, regardless of how terrible it may be), you know I think it's bad. It was a ridiculous concept and a book that had me shaking my head thinking "this is one of the worst books I have ever read." Mind you, I am more of an adventurer and a quester, more than conservative by any means. Given my personality, one would think this book might appeal to me, since the "not always taking the safe and steady route" is an intertwining theme in this book. However, I could not be done soon enough with this book. And then it went where it belonged -- the trash. I couldn't even bring myself to donate it as I typically do with my completed books. Enough said. It was the first and last time I ever read anything written by this author. To each his own!

January 22, 2013

Writing Tip: Let It Be Crappy

My new novel: The Ones You Left Behind
I'm working on my second novel and I'm doing it differently this time around (hopefully this one won't take eight years). I'm just plodding through the first draft, trying not to go back and edit as I write, which is a little like having a plate of chocolate truffles nearby and being told not to eat them. I'm a serial editor.
The thing is, I want to get the story down and find out what happens and meet all the characters, and then I'll start revising. I know the first draft will have lots of problems and will possibly be pretty crappy, but that's just the foundation. Later I'll go back and fill in all the holes, smooth out the wrinkles and add the details.
As I was writing the other day I needed to go back and see what happened the last time two characters met and I saw that I had set up a scenario that I completely forgot about - I introduced a character I didn't remember and have no idea what I planned to do with her. Hah! The writing process is so interesting.
Did you know that authors don't know all the characters? People just pop up and introduce themselves.
I suppose that's not true of all writers, some make elaborate outlines and know what will happen every step of the way but I like letting the story tell itself. I like being surprised.
So, I just wrote this and really like it. Tell me what you think.

Sometimes people come into our lives just when we need them most, and isn’t that a treasured thing? They come from seemingly nowhere at the exact right moment to add something that’s missing or to help us with something that seems insurmountable. Perhaps sometimes we’re not open to it and they go away without making an impression but if we’re very, very lucky our lives are richer for meeting them, no matter how long they stay in our lives.

Okay, time to get back to work now...

January 4, 2013

Happy New Year To You All

Wishing you a year of good fortune, good health, peace and comfort.

Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. 
~Mark Twain