Thursday, August 19, 2021

Almost on the Road . . . Again!

We're just home from a trial run, a relatively short trip up to the Wallowas in eastern Oregon. Here's the view from a picnic bench along the way, near Hat Point, an overlook near Hell's Canyon. Despite all the challenges and calamities, these trips remind me what a beautiful world's around us. OK I won't tell you about the 20 mile one-way gravel road, with sheer drop offs, but gorgeous views. 

Update on the writing: Yes, I always bring the laptop on any trip. A little HP netbook that had nearly no memory. When I opened my file and began to type, the cursor didn't move! So no writing other than scribbling in my journal. Oofta! Now home again, hubby surprised me with a new computer. Argh! This Lenovo has so much stuff going on (and memory), I probably need to take a class. 

No writing at all for about a week on the road. So, after unpacking and cleaning the fridge, I thought maybe a little nap would help because I want to get back to my writing. 

Five minutes later, I wake up with a scene floating in my head. Sort of. A woman’s driving a car, and a guy is seated next to her. I don’t know who they are. I don’t know their names. They begin talking.

“So, are you going to take that job?”
“No, I’m not going to take that job. It’s a paid hit. I’m not doing that.”
“How much were they going to pay?”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m not taking the job.”
“You want to tell me about that black SUV that’s been following us?”
“What black SUV? Oh, shit.”

I'm left wondering what happens next! And who these people are! That's how another story starts. 

Meanwhile, we're getting ready for that longer trip. Writing projects with me? 

  • Island Wife, that fourth (last?) story in the 'stones' series, now a tetralogy or quadrilogy (from the Greek). Hoping for feedback from my beta readers so I can begin the next round of revision.
  •  And the next art crime novel, The Last Sarcophagus, set in Egypt (draft stage), so that means a few research books come along too.
  • Maybe the family history. Just finished the working draft about my grandfather, Frank Henry, one of the first forest rangers back in the 1920s, and will begin next with my grandmother, Sigrid Torgny, a woman I always thought was born in Sweden (since that was so important to her). Turns out, she was born in Chicago. Anyone else like 
  • Oh, yes, that dream? I might just find a few more scenes along the way.
Meanwhile, may the end of the summer be good to you. May this crazy world calm down a bit. May Delta stay far away from you and those you love. And if you write (or read), I hope you enjoy every moment!

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

August IWSG: On Writing and Curiosity

August begins with hot days and here in the Pacific Northwest, a lot of smoke. Yesterday, our Air Quality Index was 181, pretty much unhealthy for everyone. That means more staying inside, wearing those masks everywhere, and doing the daily walk at a nearby mall or Rite-Aid!

The Insecure Writer's Support Group challenges writers to participate with a blog post on the first Wednesday of every month. IWSG's purpose? To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

Why not join in? Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

August 4 question: What is your favorite writing craft book? Think of a book that every time you read it, you learn something or you are inspired to write or try the new technique. And why?

Consider taking a look at Elizabeth Lyon's Manuscript Makeover. Her comprehensive, analytical discussion of style, craft, and characterization consistently invites me to improve my editing skills. I especially admire her ability to teach WITHOUT using 'should' and 'don't'. Instead, clear writing goals and specific examples lead my way deeper into revision. Yes, I have a shelf of other how-to-improve-your-writing books, but Lyon is truly my first choice.

Writer's Digest, though obviously not a book, is my other favorite resource that sparks my thinking about writing. For example, the May/June 2021 issue focuses on curiosity. 

Which led me to ask: How does curiosity shape my writing?

Immediately, I'm kicked back in time to that moment about ten years ago when DH and I visited historic Fort Vancouver near the Columbia River. We passed a sign in an empty field: "Native Americans and Hawaiians once worked here." The small, out-of-the-way sign inspired me to write about the McDonnell family in the mid-19th Century, and led to now four books in the series! Well, three and one at beta reader stage. And that need for research led us to meandering trips through Canada, Scotland, and Egypt. With a still untold story about Jamie McDonnell at ten, who signed onto a clipper trading ship headed for China, again in the 1840s. Maybe another trip, post-pandemic?

Writing Update: For those who are drawn into writing challenges and like to track word counts, yes, I did complete July's Camp Nanowrimo at 14,000 new words, just a thousand short of my goal. Along the way, my latest project, a second art crime mystery, The Missing Sarcophagus, set in Egypt, is taking shape.  

Can I really work on drafting one project while finishing edits on another? I'm not sure, but I'm having fun along the way.

Now, why not visit the hard-working and generous co-hosts for IWSG's August post: PK Hrezo, Cathrina Constantine, PJ Colando, Kim Lajevardi, and Sandra Cox!  And leave an encouraging comment!

Happy writing ahead!