Archive for October, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Posted in writing on 10/31/2007 by Susan Shay

How do you celebrate Halloween? My earliest memory of Halloween is when I was five years old, and my family had just moved to the town where I live now. Mom had set it up so a couple of little girls from home could come trick-or-treat with us, so Sister Debbie and I were really excited. But when they got here, it wasn’t just Janie and Sally. It was all my parents’ friends. A surprise house warming!

Mom was thrilled, but Debbie, Janie, Sally and I weren’t so happy. We had to wait too long to get candy.

My family has always done Halloween–even during the years when churches preached sermons about the evils of the celebration. (I learned everything I know about satanic worship sitting in church. <G>)

Over the years, my kids have been some really cute characters. When they’re really young, I dress them up as little devils. The warm onesies that cover them from ears to toes, leaving only their faces uncovered make the devil body. Then I concoct a pair of horns and sew them to a grograin ribbon and make a tail by stuffing a long red sock with fiber fill and sew it to the rear end. I paint on pointy eyebrows and a curly mustash, and they’re about as scary as a one or two year old can get. And when Halloween is over, you remove the tail and have a great warm outfit.

When my oldest wore his, he was not quite two years old. He walked up to a little girl about his size, curled his fingers as if he were about to grab her and growled at her. He was delighted to hear her squeal!

One year the two youngest boys were puppies, with the cutest costumes you’ve ever seen! I still have them somewhere. I think it’s the kids who make the costumes cute, not the other way around.

The favorite costume I ever wore was a clown costume that had belonged to my Uncle Paul. My dad’s older brother. I think it was pretty much shreds by the end of the evening, but I had a great time wearing it.

So what’s your very first Halloween memory?

Perfectionism

Posted in writing on 10/30/2007 by Susan Shay

I have a writer friend who’s a perfectionist. She’s an award winning, fabulous author, but because she demands perfection, she doesn’t write much. And it kills me! To have all that natural talent and not use it is simply not fair.

There’s a great book called Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I know. People talk about it all the time. They quote it. They buy it. They put it on bibliographies. They get it mixed up with another woman’s book that’s touted much the same way. <G>

But how many have read it?

I’ve owned mine since 1997. It’s probably the first book on writing I ever bought, but I’ve never read it. AND IT’S A VERY INSPIRATIONAL BOOK.

But I’ve started reading it. In it, Anne talks about everything she knows about writing. One of those things is perfectionism. (No, this isn’t a post to see how many times I can write a form of the word perfect.) Anne knows a lot about the subject.

She starts the chapter by saying, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life . . . .”

The very next paragraph begins, “Besides, perfectionism will ruin your writing, blocking inventiveness and playfullness and life force (these are words we’re allowed to use in California).” Funny, but true.

She goes on to talk about how perfectionists try hard not to make messes. They want everything right the first time out of the gate.

I love Anne! She thinks clutter is wonderfully furtile ground. If so, my office is about as furtile as it gets. <g> If I keep working in this furtile office, I might be a New York Times best selling author!

Or I might get rats.

In case you can’t tell, I’m anything but a perfectionist. We have a new girl in our office who is. She keeps her desk pristine. The other day, her office mate’s desk got messy, so she cleaned it, too. Luckily for her, she’s not my office mate. People who mess with my stuff will their fingers whacked, and their ears burned. 

I really don’t understand the thinking that, just because I like my surroundings one way, everyone should have theirs that way, too. Or just because I do things this way, no one else should do it differently.

What makes cleared decks better than happily messy ones? Why is sterile better than a tad dirty?

Why do “those people” get to make the call? Because we let them? Because we feel guilty about working on something for so long, we don’t have time to put things away? Because we aren’t “perfect” and they are?

I don’t think so.

Back to my writer friend. I’m not saying she has to write the way I do. She doesn’t have to shoot the words onto the page, and leave them until the next day to fix. She can polish as she writes. (Wish I could.) She can work at each page, each word if she wants, until they gleam so much she can see herself. It’s the way she hurts when she makes a mistake that bothers me.

So what if there is a mistake? What if it’s not finished on time? Or something gets lost? What if the absolute worst happens, what ever that is?

Nothing. Maybe that’s what a perfectionist doesn’t want to know. It’s not a big deal. Writing should be fun, or else, why do it? Life is to be enjoyed.  And if we flop, nothing will happen. We aren’t the center of the universe.

And guess what? God won’t even be disappointed. He knew it all along anyway.

Wonderful Weekend

Posted in writing on 10/29/2007 by Susan Shay

Wow, what a great weekend! I hope you enjoyed yours as much as I enjoyed mine.

Not that I did anything really earth shattering. I wrote a couple thousand words. And I got to clean house, which usually isn’t something to sing about, but after not having a full day inside the house in two months, it was wonderful.

I got to go to church. Since I love church, it’s been really hard to miss the last few Sundays. But I made it back to hear Mike Hughes preach.

He’s not a big name preacher, but he’s one of the good ones. Maybe it’s because he’s from my hometown, but when he talks, he knows which of my toes to step on. <g>

Last night, our church had a Harvest Hoe-Down. The entire town was invited, and I think most of them came. We had baby goats (I want one) a calf, chickens and a miniature horse for the kids to pet. There were games to play, races to run, a maze to find your way through. And there were horses to ride. (Kids rode, adults led.)

 Oh, and there was food to eat. We had hot dogs, chili, popcorn, dill pickles and nachoes. And pink lemonade to drink. And t-shirts for all the kids.

Believe it or not, it was all free! I didn’t have a job, so I wandered around with my niece, Hope, and watched her play, and eat and ride. I did crawl through the maze and pet the baby goats. (Did I mention I want one?)

Mike spoke for about 5 minutes. Not nearly long enough (in my humble opinion) but he did a great job with his “scary” message. He talked about the BTK killer, and having lived in Wichita for 10 of the man’s 30 year killing spree.

Scared me plenty!

Can you tell I had a good time?  

Habits

Posted in writing on 10/27/2007 by Susan Shay

Like so many things in life, for me, writing is a habit. The more I write, the more I’m able to write. And conversely, if I haven’t written in a few days, it’s hard to get back in the groove.  

But it’s darn easy to find ways to procrastinate.

For the last two months, I’ve been so busy with WHERE THE MAGIC BEGINS and CIMARRON DREAMIN’ that I haven’t written much. But I’m an expert at finding ways not to write. My favorite ways are 1- to read loops I’ve gone ‘no mail’ on and 2- read other people’s blogs.

I found a wonderful blog this morning–Smart Bitches Who Love Trashy Books. And after reading a few moments, I stumbled on to a great video.

Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAeT4Il7V2U

It’s an author, telling how she writes sex scenes. So funny, you’ll laugh outloud. Or maybe I just thought it was funny because it’s so close to the way I write them. 🙂

I heard a multi-published author speak once about writing sex scenes. She actually listed on her calendar what she’d be writing about each day before she started a book, so she knew ahead of time when the sex scenes would come up. (Imagine being that organized.) She said when it’s time for one of “those” scenes, she’d do her best to get in the mood. She’d make herself a martini, dress in comfortable clothes, wait until evening, yada yada. (Do I need to mention here that she’s . . . older? Or maybe she just doesn’t enjoy the real thing.)

Anyway, she made it sound like so much work, I wasn’t sure I could write one. Then I wrote one of my learning novels. (One that I’m so very happy never sold.) It had a great title, but that was the only good thing about it. I didn’t have much of a plot, so to fill up the book, I had a lot of those scenes. I’ve never counted them, but if I’d kept going in that direction, I’d have been ahead in the erotica game.

Don’t lose any sleep, Jaci Burton. <g>

But I learned to write them. And they aren’t too bad, if I say so myself. Now I can read one I’ve written without laughing all the way through. The hard part, now that I’ve published, is knowing that people who know me are going to read them. Like my dad. And my sisters.

One of my sisters, the one who actually read my book all the way to the end, said she had trouble reading it until she stopping thinking about it being me who’d written it. Until then, she kept trying to figure out who I’d based which character on, and how I’d gotten that idea.

So, if you’re wondering, here’s the answer:

Is my book based on something I’ve known or seen?

NO!

Do I practice “those” scenes (do hands on research, have practical experience, whatever) before I write them?

NO!

Do I know my characters in real life?

NO!

It’s called imagination. Writers visit Imagination Land (thank you, South Park) and write.

  

Posted in writing on 10/25/2007 by Susan Shay

I’m just about ready to email Make Me Howl to Elaine. About. <g> I had a new online friend read it, and she made some great suggestions. And I found a few critiques I hadn’t fixed yet, so I’m feeling a little more secure.

I’m hoping bfs Marilyn and Meg will find time to do a quick read through, but they’re both so busy, I’m not holding my breath.

Meg (Margaret E. Reid) just took her dive finals and only has about a hundred and one things to do every day, and Marilyn has another book due, like, yesterday, and she has a brand new grandson (I’m so jealous!) so with both the ladies, I’m dragging a dim last place.

I just hate to send it out before it’s perfect, you know?

Posted in writing on 10/25/2007 by Susan Shay

DH and I went to Tulsa last night so I could see my dermatologist’s assistant. Then, after shopping for the last fittings we’ll have to have for the pond (thank goodness!) we went to eat at Outback.

Normally the music is loud enough that I can’t hear the people in the next booth, but I wasn’t that lucky this time. DH had his eye on a women’s volleyball game on TV, so he wasn’t real talkative.

But the guy at the next table was. He and a woman were seated when we got there. The waitress asked them if they were ready to order about that time.

Guy: “Bring us a couppla more beers and we’ll make up our minds about food later.” He said beers as if the last E were a U. DH thought he sounded as if he was from Texas. I thought he sounded as if he had something weird in his mouth.

Girl: “I guess it’s gonna rain again tomorrow.”

Guy: “I just checked the radar, and . . . .” (About this time I was dying to peek and see if he was a local weather man. I restrained myself, but he wasn’t.) “We will still have a lot of wind, though. This morning it was blowing so hard, it was moving my trailer around.”

Trailer???

Then he said, “I recommend the fillet.” (DH had just made the “real men don’t eat fillet” joke.) I almost choked on my ice tea. “Either that or the ribeye. I find the Outback wherever I’m working, and I know what’s really good.”

Then he went on to tell the woman every place he’s lived in the last twenty-odd years. Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma (of course) and Mexico, in a gated community.

I tried to visualize his trailer in a gated community. Could the term “gated” means something different in Mexico?

I got so tickled, I interrupted the volleyball game. DH wanted in on the joke. DH could see the guy, so he enjoyed it more than me. 😦

Next the guy said, “I can’t thank you enough for calling. I was beginning to think no one was going to. None of my . . . .”

The woman answered him, but I couldn’t tell what she said. She had a soft, pleasant voice. It sounded a little bit as if she were talking over a yawn, but I’m not certain about that.

We left before they did, so when I stood up, I took a swift glance around to see this big talker. He didn’t match his chatter at all. He was smallish. Graying hair. And kind of cuddled into the corner of the booth with his hands fisted together between his knees. Well, that part might be my imagination. He was probably using his hands to eat.

We went book shopping after that (one of our favorite things to do) and I started thinking. If someone had wanted to listen to us chat during our meal, they would have been severly disappointed. We spent way more time listening than talking.

Anyway, I found Kate Perry’s new bookPROJECT DATE, and I can’t wait to read it. I snatched up a new (for me) Kay Hooper book, but I’m not sure which one I bought. It’s one of the “OF EVIL” books–TOUCHING, WHISPER OR FEAR, I think. It doesn’t really matter. Whatever she writes is always wonderful. I went to Tess Gerritsen’s books, but I’ve read everything they have. Too bad she can’t write them as quickly as I read them. <G>

   

Posted in writing on 10/23/2007 by Susan Shay

 I spent the weekend in my pond. Head down, you know what up. Working. As much as I love my pond, cleaning it is not my fav pastime.

First we had to empty several hundred gallons of really nasty water. Honestly, it had lost about 5 inches in depth from all the fish stuff on the bottom. That’s what happens when your pump gets eaten by a plant. <g> So we got a new pump and emptied gallons and gallons of water into the yard. . . right where we walk to and from the house. Not a pretty sight.

And while the water emptied out, I sprayed more in. And stirred tiny white rocks (at least they were white at one time) to get all the yuck and blech out of them.  And I made a path through the rocks so the y and b could drain out and run to the pump. (DH’s idea. Smart guy, DH.) And I scrubbed the rocks that line the edges with a big yellow brush.

Oh, and did I mention I chased gold fish? Catching those speedy little demons with a net made for an acquarium wasn’t easy, except when they got sucked into the pump. Then they were kind of bent, but easy to catch.

We have some beautiful goldfish (or maybe they’re baby Koi. I’m not sure.) Some have lots of colors, some are just orange. But some were a coppery color. And a few were the color of mud. 😦

Sunday we finished cleaning the pond, and started refilling. I went into the house because it takes a while to fill up the monster, and when I glanced out, I saw something floating on the pond. Lots of somethings that looked like bubbles.

I could just see us having to empty the pond again before we could put the fish back. (Plastic buckets aren’t their favorite abodes.) So I went storming out the door. I flew down the deck steps and skidded to stop–well, it was more of a slide when I stopped because of all the mud. Anyway, I was ready to throw something when I realized that what I saw “floating” on top of the pond was really the super white rocks lying on the bottom. I just wasn’t used to the water being so clear. Or the rocks so white.

Molly, our pupper, is loving the clear water. Makes it much easier for her to go fishing. Luckily, she’s not fast enough to catch the fry, but she keeps trying.

Oh, and guess what happened Sunday night? It rained. Monday found the water not quite as clear as it had been on Sunday, but it’s still much, much better.   

BTW: I sent Gypsy to Editor Michelle at The Wild Rose Press. Keep your fingers crossed that they’ll want both Gypsy and Blind Sight. I am! 

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