Monday, December 13, 2010

Modern Conveniences

Thank goodness she lived in modern times. This sure beat cleaning clothes in the stream and hanging them on branches.


Microfiction Monday offers a new image each week and a challenge to write a story of 140 characters or less. Click on the image to see other entries. Why not try your own?

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Double Duty

Don't remember what I was doing last week, but I missed the Three Word Wednesday challenge. I didn't discover this until I went to post today and realized that I had used last week's words. Hate to waste them, so here's two weeks worth.

A Different God

Who judges what’s right or wrong? Surely not the gracious deity, who had provided him with an early nightfall and escape from his pursuers. Relaxing in the safety of his hideout, the thief began to count the rewards of his exploit.

Right before my eyes,
it met an untimely demise.

No effort was made at revival.
Who cheers a mosquito's survival?


Three Word Wednesday. is a meme that challenges writers to create something using three selected words. This week's words are judgenightfall and safety.  Last week's were demise, effort and revival. Click on the link to view other entries or submit your own.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Grave Matters

Now do you believe me, Stan? We should have taken a cruise with that money you spent on perpetual care.


Microfiction Monday offers a new image each week and a challenge to write a story of 140 characters or less. Click on the image to see other entries. Why not try your own?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And The Winner Is . . .


And every other participant in the NaNoWriMo challenge.  It's a great experience and has value that goes far beyond meeting the marker.

That said, I'm proud of completing the 50,000 word challenge and prouder still to have finished my first draft of Essentials today, racing another 20,000  words past the finish line.

 Editing?  I'll be starting that tomorrow.  But tonight I'm savoring my success.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010


They shuffled back and forth, neither advancing nor retreating. Don’t attract attention and the danger will pass. Tom did not pander to this foolishness and fled the scene. Better to be called a chicken then to be served for tomorrow’s dinner.


Three Word Wednesday. is a meme that challenges writers to create something using three selected words. This week's words are advance, pander and shuffle. Click on the link to view other entries or submit your own.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

On Your Mind

I'm not sure what's on your mind, but I bet I know what's on his!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Winning The Battle

I hadn't planned on writing today, but the lure was too strong.  Just 1,005  away from the 50,000 word goal and the next chapter was begging to be written.  So I tackled it and crossed the finish line with 1.448 words to spare.

Have I won the war as well?  Not yet.  I'm estimating another 20 to 30 thousand words before the first draft is completed.  There's eight days left before NaNoWriMo draws to a close.  Completion in that time frame is  possible, but not my goal.  I'm ready to slow the pace a bit and will happily settle for 5,000 words a week.  Hopefully, I'll greet the New Year, with a completed first draft and still have found time to pursue other neglected interests.  A bit of  hopping is near the top of my list.  I've missed visiting my blog world friends.  So don't be surprised if you find me knocking at your door.  Virtually, that is.

NaNoWriMo 51, 448 words and still writing.


Sunday, November 21, 2010


Need a bit of tranquility? Who doesn't? Come join me. Lean back. Smell the trees, feel the gentle breeze and hear the sounds of the cascading water. You deserve a break.

NaNoWriMo  48, 995 words.  Taking a quick break and then back to write some more.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Forget Research

"Then you discover you can't french kiss the guy who puts the new roll of toilet paper on top of the old used--up roll instead of moving it the extra two inches. What? Does he not see it? Does he not see it? I'm telling you, marriage is the Jack Kevorkian of romances."
Remember that line?  In my latest Chapter of Essentials, three women have gotten together for a movie night.  I wanted them to watch a movie that would generate a little good-natured male bashing.  I thought that Rita Wilson's line from Forget Paris fit the bill perfectly.

Of course, I couldn't remember the line exactly.  I don't want to confess how long it took me to locate it.  Then I wondered when the movie became available on video.  Couldn't find that, but the movie came out in 1995.  Since my scene occurs in 1999, I figured it was reasonable for my characters to be watching a video rental.  Is it okay to quote the line in my book or do I need some kind of permission? 

NaNoWriMo is giving great advice when it tells us to squash our internal editors and let the words spill out.  It was just one paragraph of the book.  The exact movie and line was in no way critical to the story.  I could have written another chapter in the time I spent researching this bit of trivia.  Enough of that nonsense.  I'm getting with the program.

NaNoWriMo  46, 422 words and still writing. 
At least when I'm not distracted!


Friday, November 19, 2010

So Close

Took a much needed day off from the novel, but I'm back at it again. I just love the graph that NaNoWriMo provides. Whenever I need a little motivation, I check it out. Seeing those bars soaring towards the top keeps me writing.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Bad Old Days

I'm still wiping tears from my eyes.  Calico and I just finished watching  Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice and they were tear-jerkers.  We're a bit behind in our viewing, so they weren't this week's episodes. No problem, of course.  Calico has scheduled our favorites to record and we watch them when we have the time.  It's hard to remember what it was like before we could record everything.

Actually, I've been recording for a long while.  I got hooked on the soap, All My Children, when I was working a night shift.  When I switched to days, I wasn't ready to give it up.  So I hitched the TV and the cassette recorder to a timer.  When I got home, there was an audio tape of my soap waiting for me.  Having watched the show for years, I had no problem identifying the actors' voices or picturing the scenes.  I thought it was a pretty impressive setup.  Pretty cheesy in retrospect.  When it comes to technology, I'll take the good new days.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


For most of you, this is just a little symbol of the season.  But if you're an SPP'er, ya know what I'm talking about!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can't Do Everything

Who do I think I'm kidding?  Grandma's finding it hard to do two things:  write a novel and post to this blog.  Two minutes to midnight and nothing to say.  Except that the novel is going better than the blogging.  I expect to cross the 40,000 word marker in the next couple of days.  I want to say that guarantees my 50,000 word finish by the end of the month.  But I'm not going to say anything.  That's the type of statement that will  cause illness, family catastrophes or the demise of my PC.  Grandma's not that crazy! 

NaNoWriMo  37,587 words and still writing.


Monday, November 15, 2010


We do our best to conserve on energy, particularly when it comes to heating our home.  Living green is a prime motivator.  So is saving green.   Days are easy, we dress warmly and keep the temperature in the sixties.  Bedtime is another story.  Sleep does not come easily when you are cold.   Add too many blankets and you'll just feel weighted down and confined.  In the north, we always used electric blankets,  dialing the amount of heat we needed.    Didn't suppose those were used much in the south.  Time to think again.  Today Calico returned from the store with three of them.  My granddaughter is quite excited.  And so am I.  I'm feeling toastier just thinking about it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Break's Over

I gave myself until tomorrow to resume writing.  Didn't even last that long.  An hour ago, I couldn't resist the urge and started pounding the keys again.

NaNoWriMo  33,399 words.  Not counting this extensive post!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Take A Deep Breath

Some days the writing flows smoothly.  More often is varies between smooth and grinding.  The last chapter?  It just ground all the way.   The material was plentiful, but I couldn't find the right words and it was pure drugery the whole way through.  I'm happy that I've built a little breathing room into my word count, because I need a day off. 

I'm not without plans for the evening, however.  Grandma has a hot date.

NaNoWriMo 32,061 words and pausing to catch my breath.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Essentials Glimpse #2

In the early days of their marriage, Elaine's husband shows her a home he would like to buy.

The kitchen was beyond appalling.  The original linoleum still graced the floor, dull and peeling. Outdated appliances had aged to a grayish yellow. The countertops had lost their finish and dampness had eroded them into crumbling pasty slabs. Sagging cupboard doors provided the only color,  painted by some demented artist in alternating patches of neon pink and green.

“Did you see the hardwood floors and the fireplace, Elaine?  Look at the space in this kitchen.”

No amount of space could convince her to live in this dump.

Talk about a difference in perspectives!

NaNoWriMo  30, 231 words and still writing

Don't forget to head over to the Weekend Writers' Retreat to enjoy submissions from more authors.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

No Time Left

for writing.

I usually write for the NaNoWriMo challenge in the early hours of the morning.   Our home isn't terribly noisy, but some days anything will distract me and the flow of words halt.  So you can usually find me writing somewhere between 1am and 4am.  Sometimes, I don't finish the daily quota of words.  My eyes begin to blur and so does my mind.  That happened this morning, leaving me about 500 words short of my goal.  I got some sleep, arose around 11am and fortified by caffiene and breakfast, I decided to give it a try.  Surely I could manage 500 more words.

I could.  Then I wrote some more.  When I finished it was after 5pm.  I had long since tired of writing, but the words didn't want to stop.  Over 3500 of them. The quality wasn't bad either.  I've produced far worse when I've written far less.

The bottom line is that I've nothing left for the blog today.   But I'll be back tomorrow.

NaNoWriMo  27, 906 words and still writing.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Autumn Beauty


For more pics, hop on over to Wordless Wednesday.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I Know

I've heard that the secret to writing is to write about what you know. That's always puzzled me. Do you have to be a murderer to write about murder? Has Stephen King experienced all the horrors that make his tales so riveting? It just didn't seem logical. Discouraging too. How much does one person know?

I'm pretty good at a couple of things, computer programming comes to mind. But I've been out of the field for five years now. Things change rapidly. Perhaps I could write a story about the olden days of computing. Maybe one novel, okay maybe a chapter in a novel, but it's not going to go much further. I have smaller skills too. I'm pretty good at baking bread, but I don't want to write a cookbook.

In the last week, I think I've come to understand the concept a bit better. NaNoWriMo gets the credit. I've got the general plot for my story, but each chapter could be described in two or three sentences. That won't land me anywhere near that 50,000 word target. So I've started to worry less about writing grammatically correct sentences and more about what my characters are seeing, thinking and feeling. I take a mental walk in their shoes and let the words flow onto paper ( er, screen). As I do, little pieces of myself find their way into the story. This character looks like my Uncle Fred. That one loves to play solitaire. I've experienced a good cup of coffee, bad hair days and moments of triumph. The list of things I know is endless. Now I only need to weave them into my stories.

19, 824 words and still writing.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Weather Or Not

We just didn't deserve last weekend. Our summer had been brutal and we didn't see the last of 100 degree days until the end of September. October had a plethora of ninety degree ones. How can it be possible that less than a month later we were facing a freeze? Not to mention a furnace that refused to produce.

The temperature reached the low seventies today and there was no need for a space heater. That's more what I had in mind. Let's hope it lasts until the furnace repair folks return our call.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's Beginning To Look

a lot like Christmas?

I don't like rushing things. Over the years, the commercialized side of Christmas has done just that. When I was younger, the Christmas themes arrived at the stores on the day after Thanksgiving. Eventually, they got more aggressive. Turkeys and mistletoe sat side by side. Soon they started showing up with the witches and ghosts. I don't go to the stores much now. Just as well, I fear I'd find them sitting next to the Independence Day decorations.

So I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I spent a good part of today perusing Christmas clip-art. Sure, I had my reasons. I'm preparing a tutorial for the Christmas edition of my graphic group's newsletter. At the beginning, it felt strange. The strangeness began to recede. As the day wore on, the Christmas spirit began to prevail. Although I had gathered enough material, I couldn't seem to stop. I'll just look at one more image or perhaps one more page. Wait, make that one more site. Only the hour and the need to post halted my Yuletide insanity.

Fear not. I will not post any Christmas pics today. I can't promise more than that. But perhaps I could convince Calico to decorate our tree.

Ho Ho Ho!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

In the Nick of Time

I decided from the start, that once a week, I would take a break from writing my novel. That means that I have to do a higher word count each day, of course, but a day off each week makes it worthwhile. I was more than ready today and throughly enjoyed my break.

I hadn't intended to take a blogging break. I did that all summer and I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. Suddenly, it's 11:54PM and I realize I haven't posted. I mentioned it to Calico, who gasped and ran to her blog.

Calico has an excuse. We woke up to a cold house this am, the pilot light on the furnace won't stay lit. She researched and replaced the most likely part. No luck. She researched some more. Next possibility is the gas valve, something that will require professional services. She blocked a couple doorways with sheets and started the space heater in our main room. Things warmed up and we'll be fine until we can call someone on Monday. Calico continued her day, completing coursework for her business and accounting classes and fixing dinner. She's been busy.

And what's Grandma done? Played with virtual pets, took a nap, ate and ... Hmmm. Guess that's it. At least I'm good at relaxing!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Essentials Glimpse #1

Only a few pinholes of light relieved the blackness of the woodshed. It wasn’t very big and his hiding spot was even smaller. An ant crawled up his arm and he shivered as he flicked it off. He hated bugs and the shed had plenty of them. At least it wasn’t a spider. Those were so creepy and three had landed on him the last time he’d hidden here. Still it was a good spot. Pa had looked for him here more than once. Opening the door and bellowing his name. He stayed quiet, just like Mama said. He tensed as the door creaked open. He heard the labored breathing as Pa stood for a minute, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness. But all that was visible was the poorly stacked wood and a few tools hanging on the wall.

“Damned woman can’t even stack wood right.”

He slammed the battered door and the shed shook. Small pieces of dirt and chips rained onto his head, but James remained crouched in the small space behind the stack. Mama had made the hiding spot just for him and showed him how to add a few pieces to fill the small opening. He was safe there.

NaNoWriMo   12,139 words and still writing.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Did It Their Way

So I finished the sixth chapter of Essentials around 4am.  It wasn't until I stopped that I noticed the tears trickling down my cheeks.  I've had stories move me to tears before, but never one of my own.  Usually I'm too busy thinking about what comes next or what needs to be changed to experience any emotion from my writing.  Perhaps I was just tired.  Still I wondered.  So later in the day I asked Calico to read it.  Same effect.

Part of the NaNoWriMo writing process irritates me.  I like to correct errors as I see them.   It's hard to stop reviewing and editing.  Previous chapters linger in my mind, whispering seductively.  "Come back,  I'll change for you."  It's a struggle to resist.

Still the process has it's advantages.  Thoughts flow and details I've never considered find their way into the writing.  And then there is Chapter 6.  Perhaps I'll stick with NaNoWriMo a bit longer.

9,416 words and still writing.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Essentials - Chapter 1
 “How can she afford a home?”
“You saw her home. “
“The van? My God. That can’t be. How can four people live in a van?”
 When I heard the word homeless, I always pictured bag ladies and disheveled individuals huddled in cardboard boxes.  Street people.   Not all of the homeless are in the streets, however.  They can be found seeking shelter in vehicles, boats, storage units, colleges and abandoned buildings.   They range in age from infants to senior senior citizens.  They are found in cities, suburbs and rural areas.

Homelessness is a key topic in my new novel.  I'll be blogging more about it this month as I face the NaNoWriMo challenge.


Monday, November 1, 2010

What's In A Name

NaNoWriMo has begun.

The clock had barely moved past midnight when I started writing. By 4AM, I had spewed 2845 words into my word processing software. That's substantially more than the daily target. I’m hoping to get a couple days of leisure somewhere in the month or a little wiggle room when the creative impulse gets blocked.

Speaking of wiggly, Chapter 1 begins with a wiggly puppy. Is Grandma writing a 50,000 word children's book? I assure you, that's not the case. 

Essentials contains subject matter that has no place in children's literature. No, not the racy stuff. I'm talking about hatred and intolerance.  A character filled with these emotions would not use politically correct terms to describe those whose race, social status, religious beliefs or sexual orientation differ from his own. I need to use the terms that he would use. Those words offend me. I cringe as I put them on paper. I understand the difference between the author and the story. When reading a novel, it's never been a problem. It seems different when I do it.

The words will stay. But I'm still cringing.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Rebel

Mel Gibson in Braveheart screaming his final word, "Freeeeedom". Now that's a rebel.

Grandma?  Surely you've got to be kidding.   When it comes to avoiding conflict, I've got professional status.  Over the years, however, I've frequently heard that term applied to me.  Usually when I'm just doing something the way I want to.   That's what happened yesterday.

November is a week away and I've pledged to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Some folks begin on November 1st with just an idea, others have prepared an outline and done some research.  But the goal of the  NaNoWriMo challenge is to write the 50,000 words in November.

I'd come up with some ideas, done a bit of research and produced a sketchy outline, which has already been substantially edited in my head.  Could I actually write a novel in a month?  That nasty troublemaker, Doubt, crept to the front of my mind, rudely shoving novel thoughts out of the way.  That's almost 1700 words a day, longer than any chapter in Convictions, which usually required three or four days of writing effort.  NaNoWriMo is not about finished work.  It takes a "quantity over quality" approach.  Turn off the internal editor and write.  Even so, that's a lot of words.  Were there enough hours in the day to do this? 

Late last night, I decided to find out.  With the rest of the house in bed, I sat down and began to type the prelude to my novel.  Two hours later, it was completed and a bit over 1700 words.  Doubt lingers but has been relegated to a dimly lit storage room.  Once again I'm focused on what need to be done to prepare for the month. 

Yes, the writing is not supposed to start until the 1st.  Cheating?  No, I'd prefer to think of myself as a rebel.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Refrigerators and Convictions

Thursday Thirteen - Grandma isn't listless anymore

Throw out 90% of the refrigerator's contents? Insane? Not if you saw the contents. On Saturday, Calico will be bringing home lots of edible food. But it won't last long, if we can't refrigerate it. So today we bit the moldy bullet and tackled the job of cleaning our refrigerator.

Psychiatrists lay the blame for many of our problems at our parents' feet. The condition of our refrigerator is my mother's fault. Perhaps it was growing up in the Great Depression, but she couldn't bear to throw away edible food. Half a green bean left after dinner? Put it in a plastic container and wait three months. It will be much easier to discard when it's covered in an inch of mold. No wonder she dreaded cleaning the refrigerator. When she finally did, she enjoyed the results and swore she'd never let it deteriorate again. But a few months later, it would once again be filled with containers more fit for antibiotic research than human consumption.

I knew that I would do better when I had my own home. To some extent, I did. I was never guilty of trying to preserve atomic-sized food remnants. But if there's enough for a single serving, I rationalize that it could be incorporated into another meal or used for any easy-fix lunch. That does happen, but not often. I am NOT my mother, Then why do I hear myself saying, "From now on I'm going to clean this regularly."?

13 things we removed from our refrigerator today.
  1.  Five containers of sour cream. Each holding about a teaspoonful. If you count the mold
  2.  A huge container of beef stew. It was a wonderful stew and could have made another meal. I think that was the plan, but it got lost in the depths.
  3.  Most of a chocolate Christmas penguin. I'm not sure if my granddaughter ever tasted it. But it was so bad that even chocolate addicts like Calico and Grandma hated it - even when it was fresh.
  4. Four maraschino cherry containers with a little liquid in each. Not a cherry in sight.
  5.  A hardened lemon.
  6. A hardened lime.
  7. Dozens of crispy little pieces that had fallen out of something with a Mexican scent. Thought they must be taco chips, but they turned out to be petrified burrito.
  8.  A vegetable crisper that was almost full... of soggy veggies.
  9.  An almost full container of Cool Whip that had gone bad. If you're not familiar with the stuff, let me assure you that this takes a LOT of aging.
  10. Several wrapped dinner plates that my granddaughter had half eaten. She's always asking to have something saved. And the sins of the parents (and grandparents) are visited on the children.
  11.  A pork chop. I think. Not brave enough to search below the blue covering.
  12. The newest formulation for super glue. We really should have it analyzed. A chisel and several power tools were required to remove it from one shelf. And it had securely bonded two rather hefty containers.
  13. Taco meat. Several small containers of it. One of them was less than a week old. But we couldn't figure out which one. Safety ruled and we threw them all.
 I've already reached 13? But I'm only on the first shelf.

I know. Today I was going to talk about the future of Convictions, my first attempt at a novel. It's not dead, but it is being postponed until next spring. Hopefully, it will not be covered in mold, when I take it out of cold storage.


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Glimpse of the Future

Yesterday, our dog was exonerated of any wrong doing in the absence of  posts from my blog. Today, we're looking straight ahead.  Really straight.  No looking back at previous posts.  No participation in favorite memes.  No work on Convictions. 

National Novel Writing Month is just a couple weeks away. My daughter, a participant in previous years, is already brainstorming her next novel. I've decided to join her at this event with the hopes of writing a rough draft of a new novel, Essentials. Check out the link and consider joining us in this challenge.

The rest of October will be devoted to a rough outline of my new story and a little research. I'll share some of that next week.

Am I dumping poor Beth? Leaving her at Redemption House, forever at the mercy of the evil Pastor Bob? Check back tomorrow to find out.


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Dog Ate My Posts

Why haven't I been posting? Didn't the title tell it all?

Okay. There's probably more to the story. Or maybe less. But it's not nice to blame our sweet border collie, who has no interest in virtual meals. Let me try again.

My health isn't the best to begin with and hot weather makes it worse. 2010 was the hottest summer of my life with temps over 100 for many weeks and a heat index that climbed into the 120's. Cooler inside, of course, but still approaching 90 degrees on many days. It was a rare day when I felt sharp enough to get my thoughts together and write something.

I'm a creature of habit. I had posted every day since starting the blog. I know myself. If I miss one day, another will follow. Soon there will be blogless weeks and months. And there were.

Blogging is like housekeeping. Do a bit each day and it's not that hard. Skip a few weeks and you're buried in chaos, unsure what to tackle first. Half of October has been spent trying to sort that out. The blogging at least, the house is still pretty chaotic.

So what's been sorted out? Tune in tomorrow and I'll tell you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Bit of Egg

What? You say there's egg on my face? Where have I been? What have I been doing? What's happened to Convictions?

Patience my friends. I have answers for all of these questions. Check back tomorrow to learn more.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back In Business

By yesterday, the entire family was suffering from a severe case of computer withdrawal. Sweltering temperatures have kept us out of our office for over a week now. Each day we check the weather forecast, but our hopes are quickly dashed. With no end in sight, Calico made the decision  and moved three of our computers out of the office, dispersing them to cooler areas of the house. Today I'm sitting in my cool bedroom, happily perched at my PC. Who cares about the weather?

Today and tomorrow will be devoted to completing an overdue graphics tutorial. On Wednesday, I'll be back to blogging on a regular basis. See you then.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cold Goulash?

The goulash has not been stirred for a few days due to illness. But cold? Hardly. Temperatures here have peaked near 105F for the past 3 days. The AC can't even begin to keep up with it. So we've been retreating to our bedrooms, the coolest part of the house, with cold drinks and good books. The kitchen goes unused except to turn out salads and smoothies. The office with 5 PC's is a great place to be, if you're in the mood for a sauna. There's been rumors that the heat will break, but at 10am, it's already in the 90's. Promises of rain too. Hopefully, they will become a reality soon and life will get back to normal.

Convictions? Yes, it will be back soon. Maybe a new installment next weekend, if the weather cooperates.

Stay cool.