Working on my skills

pexels-photo-261470.jpeg Papers are stacked all over my writing room. Some papers are receipts and other pieces are scratch paper with a combination of typing and handwriting. It’s hard for me to remember a time when I would stare at a blank piece of paper or computer screen, willing the black letters to scrawl across the page.

I do wish that all of my characters would show up during the day instead of at night when I am tucked in bed, relaxing, and getting ready to sleep. Sometimes my body will decide that sleep isn’t necessary. I will wake up three or four times during the night for that bathroom break or muscle cramps. The cramps start at my feet, work up my calves, and sometimes end up in my thighs. Then when I try to get back to sleep, the problems of the day will run through my head like a herd of stampeding cattle.

Recently I started a class with Dean W. Smith. If you are writing fiction, you should check him out. He teaches the skills that are needed to write readable stories. I thought that I was doing well with my writing. When I don’t have a challenge then I do a little skating, which in other parlance means procrastination. So to my surprise I found that I am plot-driven and am not grounding my characters well enough. It is another way of thinking and I am realizing that my skills need a lot of work.

I don’t mind work and in fact I get a little thrill when I find out something new and can use it. Also my little smugness from getting four stories out last year has been knocked out of me. I need to tend to the characters a little more.

I always thought that it was plot that was hard to write. To my surprise, I don’t have that problem. So on to my problem areas and I’ll have fun in the process. Damn. I didn’t realize until just now that when it gets tough, I get happy.

So to show that I am actually writing, I am giving you a small excerpt of “Xandra Peel,” widow and ogre-human hybrid.

Xandra Peel

Scrip. Scrape. Scrip. Scrape.

I gripped the shovel tightly. The blisters on my hands cracked and bled, as I scraped the last of the loose soil in the bottom of the grave. Wiping my eyes with the back of my hand, I left a swathe of dirt across my face. Sweat trickled down into my eyes. I gasped and held the tears in. I couldn’t cry. Not in front of these people.

I had been digging this grave for hours. The vultures hadn’t bothered to help me. Oh yes, I knew I was hated in this community, but they had been careful to hide their animosity until the death of my husband, my John. They peered down at me as I scraped away the last of the dirt. I refused to look at them. They were ghosts to me.

My lips cracked. I yearned for water. The dust coated my mouth and tongue. It tasted of ash. Then a voice jerked me out of my reverie. He wanted to kill me there and lay my body beside John’s feet like grave goods. At this moment, my heart was dead. I would have lain at my John’s feet and let them slit my throat.

The sweat trickled down my neck. My hair stuck to it. I lifted it from my neck. No breeze reached me six feet down.

John had loved my hair. He had said that it was all the colors of autumn—red, yellow, and brown. It wasn’t a natural color for a human. But then I wasn’t human. I was a troll-human hybrid.

When the dimensional gates opened, when the scientists had used the Large Hadron Collider, searching for the “god” particle, the collider had put so much stress on the dimensions that it had ripped open the earth. Two worlds collided — Jorden and Earth. The clash between the two societies had been brutal. Worlds pillaged and women raped. I was a product of such a troll-human interaction. Just by my existence I was hated by both worlds.

As I tried to scramble out of the grave, a hand reached down and lifted me up. I blinked when the sun hit my eyes. From its slant it was late afternoon. I could smell the sour sweat of fear on the townsfolk. The mayor, his face stern, took the shovel from my hand and pushed me toward my house. The mayor’s black hair spiked around his face, his skin was swarthy, very different from the other town folk, and his feet ground the dirt like a conqueror. In a small town that didn’t like the new or strange, he was strange. For an instant his countenance wavered and I thought I saw something else behind the mask of his face.

“Xandra,” his voice pulled me back to the present. I felt my body pull to attention, and I faced him. It would be bad. He was the only person since John’s death to talk to me. The townsfolk had dragged me here, put a shovel in my hand, and forced me to dig.

“You have lost the name Peel,” he said. “By morning if you are still in this town… you will be killed as a creature of darkness.”

2017 in Review

winepixabay

CC0 Public Domain LunaSeaArt

My goals last year were a little high. I managed to write 91,000 new words and finished 3 novels and one novella. My goals were 200,000 words and 4 novels. I learned one thing last year. I can write even though I am sick. I write better when I am recovering from two surgeries and a stay in the hospital for pneumonia.

The other thing I learned this year is that I must set high goals and reach for them. If I hadn’t set the goals I did, then I would have given up. In the process, I received some synchronicity this year. I found an editor who itched to get her hands on my manuscripts. I found readers who urged me on to write more. I am grateful for all of you as I look back on this impossible year.

This last month I went back through many of my stories that I had online. I have decided to revise and update my early books in between writing “Unlicensed Sorceress,” book three in the Hilda’s Inn series.

I tried to be more social last year. Plus I tried to save for some conventions. I would love to meet all of you in the same setting. Unfortunately I learned that being around people can send me to the hospital for an extended stay. The lessons I learned about my health this year were not subtle at all. It was like I kept ramming into a brick wall.

So I will keep meeting you online instead of in person. I am sad about that.

This year I decided to take another writing course online with Dean W. Smith. He has turned out to be one of the best instructors of creative writing. I have learned more from him in his online class setting than the four years I spent in getting an English Literature degree.

I will proclaim that the year 2017 was full of challenges and that I managed to survive them and to write.

So here are a few of my writing goals for the next year–

  1. Hilda’s Inn world– I’m 30,000 words into “Unlicensed Sorceress” as Hilda and her cohorts adventures.
  2. Xandra Peel — an ogre hybrid. This one I started right after the death of my late-hubby. I feel able to go back and finish it. This will turn out to be in Hilda’s world.
  3. EJ Hunter — I have a third book percolating.
  4. Percy Doyle – (sci-fi space opera) This is the same character from “Percy Doyle’s Traveling Space Market.” A black marketeer that belongs to a family of space merchants.
  5. I’m leaving this one open because I might be writing more short stories this year as well. You can find a bunch of my short stories on Amazon.

I will also keep track of my writing this year i.e. how many words I write. This kept me on the straight and narrow when I got lost in a plot twist or two.

 

Learning to be grateful

candle-1health On my refrigerator I have a sign that says “Gratitude, Seeing, Blessing.” I use it to remind me every morning that gratitude must be practiced daily. The reason I have it there is that I forget to thank the people and beings in my life for their forbearance of my actions.

It is hard to ask for forgiveness and it is even harder to give forgiveness. So I practice gratitude instead.

One of the beings that I am grateful for is my dog, Foxy. She has the patience of a saint when it comes to my writing. She will let me sit here, while I pound on the keys for hours before she decides it is “walk-time” or “food-time.” I learn what “being in the present” means. I tend to push toward my next goal. I am future oriented. Before my illnesses, I would finish one task and jump right into another one. It was finishing that was more important to me than the journey.

With Foxy, I am learning about the journey. Also I had to get sick so that I could slow down. Apparently the only way to make me smell the roses is to send me to the hospital a few times.

I have been pushing myself to get the 50,000 words done for Nanowrimo. This is my old self pushing to the front. If I would stick to my 1,000 words a day, and then do the things I need to do to keep healthy, I would not have these little physical breakdowns.

The fire alarms in the middle of the night didn’t help me to get the rest I needed. It was interesting that when I started to go wild on my writing, I would have one of these events. It would throw me out of my writing and give me a headache from hell.

Also I am experimenting with new medications for my high blood pressure. Just a note, my hbp is caused by my kidney disease, which is a side effect of my Wegener’s Granulomatosis. The WG is under control, but it left a lot of damage to my kidneys. Eventually I may need dialysis. For now, I have been able to keep my kidney function stable with diet, exercise, and medications. There is not much else I can effect in that area.

I use niacin to help keep my blood pressure under control. Part of the symptoms of long-term WG is that the veins become unresponsive. The niacin helps the veins to dilate. This makes my headaches less painful. Flushing is a symptom I can live with. It is nothing compared to the pain I have had when my kidneys quit working.

So I am grateful to be able to walk and talk. There have been times when I was in so much pain due to anemia that I couldn’t walk. I did say I was a miracle walking. I am grateful that I can walk and talk under these circumstances. Even better I am grateful that I can write in full sentences. Also that I can write so that others can comprehend what I am saying. It is a miracle.

So I am humbly learning that it is better for me to write daily than to rush the writing. Maybe some day I’ll be able to write 2,000 words a day without a physical breakdown and that I can do other things to keep myself balanced.

Seeing is one of the harder things for me to practice. This is to see someone as they are now and imagine them as they would be in the future. This changes your view of someone. I also find that I learn to appreciate that person better when I see them through time. It is hard.

It can also be use for looking backwards. To see the child you were and then tell them that things will get better because here you are… in the future.

Blessing means to bless everything around you. We normally just bless our food or ask for blessings. But we have in our power the ability to bless others around us.

One morning I was practicing gratitude and I thanked the sun, the trees, the grass, and the wind. I thanked Foxy, the birds, and the rabbits. Then my thinking switched. After thanking them, I blessed them. It was a totally different feeling. I felt myself expand in my heart.

Since I am a fantasy writer, I do have a fascination for magic. I have wondered sometimes why we don’t see magic in our reality like the kind I and others write about in books and novels. But, I now know our magic is subtle. When we connect through gratitude and blessing, we are doing magic through this connection.

We can bless others and ourselves just by our thoughts.

So thank you and bless you for reading these words.

Happy Thanksgiving.

 

In-between the seasons

leaf-fall
This morning my toes were so cold that I put on fuzzy socks. It’s fall in Las Vegas and the temperatures are five to ten degrees warmer than normal. I’m still keeping my bedroom window open for the fresh air. The dog cuddles under the blanket. I’m not sure if the reason I am warm is because of the thyroid medication or because of the warm weather.

I still haven’t turned on the heater although I may shut the window. I not only feel like I am in the middle of fall and winter, but I also feel like my health is between crises. I saw my doctor yesterday for a follow-up on my lungs after my pneumonia scare this summer. She admitted that I do have asthma. She wants to adjust my high blood pressure medication to see if it will change my breathing patterns. Apparently metoprolol, my current high blood pressure medication, can suppress my lung function.

As I told her, I feel good. I can walk and get out of bed. I keep up with the dog, who likes to run when we walk around the apartment complex. I do feel tired.

But the main thing is that I am still writing.

My novella, Diamond Butterfly, is now ready for order at  Amazon.com. 

diamond butterfly2017Description:

It’s in the blood.

Someone is after Nova Tewa’s son and that someone is willing to kill to get the child. Nova is on the run in the middle of the a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada mountains. She will do anything to survive.

A novella in the EJ Hunter world.