Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lady Desperado: Western Novella

LADY DESPERADO: Western Novella

Harp, Montana 1880

The stagecoach robberies are blamed on Raven, a masked man, wearing a cape, an eye patch and a large plumed hat.

Tough cattleman Grayson Steele has to catch the Raven, who has stolen The Book, which contains his infamous teenage art work.  Exposed, The Book could ruin his political chance. His only clue, a feather scented of gunsmoke and oil leads him to gunsmith Olympia Hutton.

In a slumped, timid clerk-like disguise, tough westerner Gray is immediately hired by Olympia.

I think you'll enjoy this humorous take on a man who has met his match in "Oly", the only woman who does not want him...

Read the first portion in my WHAT'S NEW PAGE and I hope you'll want more. I haven't written that many short stories or novellas, only a few, but I really enjoyed writing Lady Desperado.

My thanks to designer Naj Gamber Designs for the great e-cover. My e-newsletter, available for free My e-newsletter, available for free subscription contains more upcoming works.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Writer's Visuals and Ideas

 Writers often use visuals, i.e. maps, pictures of movie stars, settings.

While visiting family in Lexington, KY, my young friends had toys that might be used as visuals by writers.

The house scene with little people could easily be used by mystery writers. Doll houses have been used a lot by sci-fi and horror writers. The girl who owns this arranges the people all the time. I watched her and thought, she's thinking of stories, of how these people should look, or where they are and their activies. It was interesting to watch her arrange these toys. I wondered what went through her mind as she studied the arrangements. Was she thinking of her own life and what she would do?

To me, she looked almost like Alice in Wonderland, as if she could step into this tiny toy and become part of it.

This spacecraft consists of over 600 pieces and the boy who put it together, did it in an hour. I see all sorts of Starwars and Space Pirate stories coming out of this toy.

The beautiful girl with her long waving hair is a study in herself, the meticulous/thoughtful way she handles the toys.

You can just see adventure in the boy's eyes as he handles this ship. You have to wonder where he'll go and what he'll see and what vehicle he'll use in future times.

Both toys and children were extremely interesting studies that I'm sure will pop up in one of my stories somewhere. :)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall is Writing Time

*If you're looking for great pie pumpkins, get these dull, ugly babies. They are really bright orange on the inside and have thick "meat". Cooked, sieved, mixed with ingredients like molasses for pies, the taste is surpreme.
It's that time of year… Nanomonth, pumpkins, autumn leaves, etc. Writers get busy, invigorated by conferences, hyped up by holiday sales.

My nearest writing groups are excited about Nano/Jano. I thought about doing it this year, to finish a Work In Progress (WIP). In reviewing the WIP, I had the synopsis already, a partial done, and notes.

I don’t know how many are outlining their month long writing projects, but I thought this might help someone: When I first started to publish, the purchasing editor wanted a numbered paragraph outline. 

She wanted 10 chapters (I started in category).
It’s a good basic outlining process:
·      Place 10 numbered paragraphs down the page.
·      Each paragraph has 2 sentences. A.) what happens in the story and B.) what is happening in the relationship.
From that, the story grows.
I do more plotting now, but this basic still holds. You can do 20 chapters, etc. But halfway, say Paragraph 5, that is the midpoint. The story has to grow up to the midpoint. It has to continuing growing. By the last chapter, the storyline/romance had better be completed, the questions answered.

Everyone has their own plotting method. There’s the old plotters vs plungers deal, where one type of writer will plot heavily, while the other just jumps into the story. Both have value. I do both.

I’ve used plotting software. Some of it is too complicated and you lose writing energy conforming to the software. I’m fond of PageFour by BadWolf Software (they create good products, i.e. SmartEdit and NameGenerator). However, currently PageFour is only in PC. Their trial software is great. I’m so hoping they move to Mac. I’ve done tons of work on that program, which is especially great for keeping series information straight.

One program I liked isn’t around anymore, or maybe it is. It was a Brown Bag program in early PC time. Basically designed with Frames, the author listed all the main things/plot points that should occur in the story, then dragged them into whatever Frame suited—this is along the lines of a 4 act play, so 4 Frames.

The SHAPE of the story is different from mystery to romance and mystery is different from suspense. All good things to note when plotting.

Plungers, just write. Not that you write Dreck, but Dreck is really important to get started to get this vehicle up and running.

You know you’ve got a good story when you’d rather work on it than watch your favorite TV show. You know you’ve got a good story when it feels like it has a heartbeat. 

If you can tap into that heartbeat, don't let anyone take that excitement from you. Best to all you Nano/Jano writers.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Experiencing Your Character's Story

My First Attempt at Homemade Laundry Soap. Who knew?!!

As a writer, I value a variety of experiences; they enrich our stories. Like other readers, I've read about settings that I've visited and the book was way off. I try to keep authentic. Plus I'm just a person who likes to do stuff.

Currently, I’m working on a long term project and my heroine can really use my latest experience—making laundry soap. (Do you know how many times I’ve typed soup, when it should have been soap? :))

This snagged me/got me started reading recipes on Internet, and there are a lot of them: In today’s economy, money saving tips are great. With small children, my neighbor’s daughter makes homemade soap.

I thought I’d try this as it doesn’t look too hard. (EZ as pie, really!) There are all sorts of how-tos online. Basically, I didn’t have a 5-gallon bucket; I went with a large Animal Crackers container (not good). The stuff turned out to be a gel/pudding thickness and a lot of it.

Using ¼ cup per wash load, these containers of soap should last a while, or even a half cup. One take was that it cost .04 per load. I do know the ingredients yield a lot and are around $6 here in SW MO. That $6 goes thru several “experiences”.

The advantage is not only $, but no heavy scents—unless you want to add them. Plus, you’re not getting a lot of chemicals you don’t want. The basic 3 ingredients recipes are combined in different strengths.

Every recipe on Internet seemed to have different strengths, proportions to water, but the 3 basics are a bar of soap (FelsNaptha is laundry soap. I’m using Ivory next time), Arm&Hammer Washing Soda and Borax 76 oz. size.

The directions: Slowly add grated soap into boiling water and stir slowly. My big old French wooden spoon did nicely.

NOTE!!! Grate very finely to help dissolve better. Some directions said to use a food processor. I grated and measured onto a paper plate.

Add the soda and Borax, stir. Add warm water as directed and stir. Let set overnight. Mine gelled right away. Next time, I'm dissolving the soap in water in a smaller pan and then adding to a graniteware pot I found in the basement. Jugs with handles, small ones, or a vinegar jug work best, because shake before using. Or I have to.

Later. It’s always later when you first try something, right? Later, my neighbor gave me a great recipe she’s made for years.

Result: this laundry soap is cheap and really, really works well. 

We learn by mistakes and for this first time, I learned that I would use more water in the grated soap soup. I think I’d like more slime texture than gel. Next time, I’ll add baking soda for a sweeter wash, and maybe some lavender oil. On the other hand, using something other than FelsNaptha may produce another product.
Those with HE washers posted that they use this homemade laundry soap, and some said in the liquid form (there are dry recipes). I have an old washer that did just fine with the liquid, but caution those with HE washers to read the material.

Here's a big nod to Budget101.com for her comment below on Laundry Sauce, made in the microwave. Be sure to read.

If you have any recommendations about homemade laundry soap, I’d appreciate them. Correction: My heroine might need them :). I can just see her trying to give the extra amounts away to her neighbors like I'm doing.