Time to Say Farewell…

This past week I had to say goodbye to an old friend.

The one my son commonly called the toaster. My business was a mere five years old we bought this car, and it lasted for 12 years taking me to and from my customers homes, nursery shopping, and running around town. Sometimes she overflowed with flowers and herbs, giving me a full day’s work and an everlasting supply of different scents. It was a well-known car in town, between the shape and the logo ( a white Scion), and I often heard people saying they had seen me driving around from job to job in my unique car.

feb28 006
It’s funny how you form an attachment too an animate object. I knew every nook and cranny of my car and the sounds she made, so I realized she was in trouble. And I had to make the decision to let her go, the time was here for her retirement.
After a fond goodbye, I now I have something new, “does happy dance”! It’s bigger and bluer, and I’m hoping it will last me another 12 years.

Basic RGB
As a writer, I look back and I see I’ve given my characters unique cars setting them apart (Megan has an open jeep, Aiden has a cherry red ’65 cutlass, Jake has a red motor scooter), or gave them their own attachments with another item (Megan has a special bracelet, Makenzie wears a lightning rock). It’s easy to transfer your own emotions into your writing, your own likes and dislikes (Megan love chocolate, Mackenzie loves gardens, Paige and Rebecca love cats). Sometimes you might transfer the likes of somebody else into your characters; a comment a good friend may have made about loving a specific brand of handbags suddenly becomes your main character prized possession.
It’s not just inanimate objects we share with our characters, often we bring them in to our favorite place, too. Whether these places are from our past or from our present sometimes or even places we want to go to in the future, they find their way into the story. Some authors are talented enough to create their own places and bring the characters to that imaginary location. But each of those places, just like each of the inanimate objects we so love, means something to us as authors. We may not be aware that with our words we share this love with our characters, and in turn share with our readers.

shutterstock_278146181
As a reader, this helps you identify with the characters in the story, creating a bond. As a writer, it is our job to find a way to bond with our readers. So authors, share a little of your personality with your readers. Help them make the connection to you and your books.

Advertisements

Is he who he says he is?

Have You really thought about how little attention we give to what goes on around us? We take for granted the comings and goings of people in our day-to-day life. This could easily be a writer’s dream. Especially a mystery writer like me.

Here’s a good example… I was sitting at my desk working away, minding my own business, when suddenly, I glance out and there’s a guy outside my window. He gave me a wave, and I didn’t really think anything of it when I saw the tools. I remembered the contractors planned to be at my home today to install the hurricane shutters. Obviously he was here to do it.

shutterstock_181190111

But how did I know this for sure; he might be anyone. By being in a uniform, with a letter truck, people don’t give a second thought as to why a worker is there. This deceptive trick is used often on TV shows. The bad guys manage, very easily, to enter a location and then commit a murderer, plant a bomb, or steal a valuable item. All because nobody questions the reason they are there.

We don’t want to make the person being questioned feel uncomfortable, and you don’t want to appear rude. But if you don’t ask questions, how do you know what’s going on? We don’t hesitate to question when somebody rings the doorbell to sell something. We quickly put them in their place with either a yes or a no response. If the person looks like they belong or there is a reason to be there, it’s our human nature to not question. Maybe we’re too trusting, or maybe we’re just too nonchalant, but either way it could be used against you.

Think about the people that come in your life day to day. How many are there that you don’t give a second thought about? If you’re at home, it might be the pool person who comes to clean the pool, or the lawn maintenance man. It could even be someone as common place as a postal delivery employee. If you work in an office do you think twice about seeing somebody come in with a toolbox? For all you know it’s the maintenance man. Or if somebody comes in with a laptop and you automatically assume they are part of a technology team. Or how about someone with a basket of food—is it a lunch person your company has employed or someone with an ulterior motive?

How can it be we’re so self-absorbed that we don’t ponder about the things that are going on around us? Have we become too complacent? Whatever situation you might be in, I hope I’ve put a caution on your mind. It’s time to think about who’s coming into your inner circle and if they belong.

 

shutterstock_227270773

Let the writer explore the possibilities of the people that wander in and out our lives, you take care of the real-life safety precautions.

Remember it’s a mystery or thriller writer who plots about evil strangers…
The writer of Sci-fy brings the stranger as a visitor from the future…
A fantasy writer might create a whole new world where the stranger is from…
A romance writer might think ‘here comes prince charming’…

shutterstock_572190457

Give a little back…

There comes a time in your life when it’s important to not only take, but to give back.

As you reach certain levels of success, you need to take somebody under your wing  to mentor.  Give back to your community and, in a broader spectrum, give back to the world.

I was taught this as a young child. But, of course, my parents didn’t call it ‘giving back’ they said you’re doing ‘what’s right’. We helped the lonely and the elderly who lived in our neighborhood by making sure their lawns were cut, they got occasional visits to keep them company, and treats like plates of homemade cookies. We did our part for church, too, making sure we were there for every cleanup and event the church sponsored. And we gave back to the school in forms of being part of the PTA or helping on class activities.

shutterstock_313309499

It was right after I moved to Florida, getting a job with a man who was a community leader, I learned about giving back to the business community. He taught us it wasn’t just giving back money to associations and good causes, it was about giving of yourself. Giving time was  sometimes more important than giving money. A perfect example was after Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead Florida, many of the large nurseries were destroyed. Nurseries unaffected in other parts of the state sent down representatives and supplies to make sure those businesses demolished could rebuild. The made sure families affected would have food, water and shelter. These nurseries that helped didn’t make any money from their efforts; it was simply good will, and it was the right thing to do. This example of giving back made a lasting impression on me.

When I started my gardening business, I made sure I got involved in the community by joining the Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit organizations. Even if I didn’t have money to help these organizations, I had my time and efforts and I gave freely.

Now, as I enter a new stage of my life as a writer, I’m determined to give back once again. And, although I’m not as knowledgeable as other authors with more experience, I freely give what I can to help new authors starting out. Sometimes a kind word of encouragement is all another writer needs. Another way I give back is to read other people’s books and write honest reviews.

shutterstock_504649120
You can easily do this, too.  Or, become a beta reader when you can. And don’t be afraid to promote another author’s book. By promoting other books in your own genre, you will also promote your own books. As more and more people become interested in the same style of writing as yours, you’ll find the sales increasing.

It’s exciting to be part of the writing community, and I’m thrilled to give back. I know most of us are introverts and tend to prefer working from within our own comfort zone, but with the use of the internet you can easily help another writer get through a  tricking plot point . Plus, I’m amazed at how many great friends I’m making.

shutterstock_326406221

So, as a result, occasionally you’ll find I don’t post a traditional blog. Instead I’ll help support other author’s by posting a promotion. This will give you the chance as a reader to have access to new books and new writers you might not have known. It also gives these authors more exposure, which we all need.

I hope you will enjoy these promotions and take advantage of them. Remember if you enjoyed the book take a moment and let the writer know. Send an email or, even better, write a review on Amazon.

I think you’ll find it feels wonderful to give back!

Watching for Inspiration

Sometimes you have to just push the chair back and walk away from the desktop.You can only stare at a screen for so long before your mind goes numb and you’re searching for inspiration.

49661916 - working place of designer, close-up

49661916

 

Some of the best inspiration that you can get is from watching the people around you. This is especially true at large public locations. I’m lucky to live in South Florida; between the place where the mouse lives and the place where the dolphins swim there’s plenty of attractions to go and watch people. I don’t know what it is about people who are on vacation, but it seems like they’ll do the most amazing things. It might be because they’re letting their inhibitions down, as ifthey have an “I don’t care” attitude. Or maybe it’s because they think no one’s watching: at least no one they know. Young or old, male or female, there’s plenty of inspiration to watch for.

 

I especially like to watch the interaction between people;  what they’re doing while they’re talking. There are so many hand gestures and movements a person makes without even being aware of it and if you incorporate those into your story line you can add a lot of interest.

35641408_s

35641408 

 

Here’s a perfect example…

We were at the place where the mermaids put on a show in the springs  by Tampa. Two little girls very close in age were excited to be able to see the show with the mermaids. They jumped up and down and chattered non-stop. Their parents kept exchanging looks as they tried to quiet them down. Finally it was time for all of us to go in and sit down in the auditorium to watch the mermaid show. The two little girls were overjoyed with excitement and chattered loudly.Their mother tried to quiet them down but to no avail. Rather than getting in the middle of an argument with them, their father simply took each   girl by  hand and led them to their seats.  Instead of letting them sit together, he conveniently put himself and his wife between the two of them. They weren’t able to feed off the excitement of each other and they settled down to enjoy the show.

In that same auditorium over in the corner there were three little girls in the front row leaning over the railing. They were so excited to see the mermaids that they were pushing their noses up against the glass. Instead of being loud and rambunctious like the other girls, these three little girls were in awe of the mermaids. They whispered back and forth to each other and when one of the mermaids swam over and waved at them they were so excited they just didn’t know what to say.  As the mermaid swam away, the giggling and the whispering started. Yet, it was a smile on the adults around the three girls that told the true story. We were getting more enjoyment out of the children’s joy then out of the show itself.

26087034 - old couple walking together

26087034

Children of all ages are great to watch, because they held nothing back. Watching an adult is a little bit harder; you have to really pay attention, without appearing to stare at the interaction between them. It can be something as obvious as to couples fighting with raised hands and loud voices, to another couple so comfortable with themselves that words are needed. They let  their emotions show through actions;   the older man holds the woman’s hand to help her over a rough patch in the sidewalk. To me that action was louder than the arguments of the other couple.

So, when you feel like you’re stumped, or that you need a break, get out of the house and see what’s going on around you. If you can’t do that, flip on the TV and watch the interactions of the characters on the show. Be sure to pay closer attention to the side characters instead of the main characters. Sometimes what you see going on in the background is funnier than the comic one-liners the main characters have.

Feeling inspired? Good, now get back in that chair and start writing!

 

 

About the pictures:
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_belchonock’>belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_catmando’>catmando / 123RF Stock Photo
 Copyright: <a href=’http://www.123rf.com/profile_yeletkeshet’>yeletkeshet / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Habits-Good or Bad?

Each and every one of us has habits, little mannerisms set us apart from everybody else.
Sometimes they are clear and obvious things that others recognize from a distance and can say; “Yep that’s her, I can tell just by the way she’s doing (fill in the blank).”

5121632689_275e52b132

Your habits can be as innocent as twirling your hair, tapping your fingers, pacing, humming, or tapping your feet. There so many, the list goes on. Sometimes habits irritate another person. My personal irritation is watching somebody bite their fingernails. Look, nothing grosses me out more, but I know that my finger tapping irritates my husband. So, it’s a give-and-take with us; he bites his nails and I tap my nails.

Mannerisms and habits can describe you in many ways. They can reveal that you’re nervous person or perhaps easily bored. Your “tells” may never be seen until you’re in a stressful situation and then act almost as a self-defense mechanism; we let our stress out with these little idiosyncrasies.
Take a look around you, do little bit of people watching and see what you find.

But, you know, it’s funny – people aren’t the only creatures that have mannerisms and habits. Have you ever stopped and noticed your animals actions?

a14563136c7b98ace69cd03f4a6de9d1

For instance I have three cats and each one of them has her own particular habit that they do. My little gray likes to find a furry blanket to curl up and then she start sucking on the fur. My long hair black-and-white one loves to sit in the middle of the doorway, not in & not out. No, she is right smack across the threshold, as if she can’t make a decision where she wants to go. And my oldest cat, who happens to be almost 18, refuses to drink water, unless it’s out of a running tap.

Even the animals out in the wild have their own particular habits. Some birds migrate to the same exact location every year without fail, without deviation. As a child, my parents would take us while the snow was still on the ground, to see the Canadian Geese that came by the hundreds to the lakes during their yearly migration. So you see, habits are not restricted to humans. Some are natural; cause from your heredity and others – who knows why we start with habits.

9741493

As a writer I think it’s really important to bring your characters to life by giving them habits. They can be irritating, endearing, or unconscious but they need to be there. These mannerisms give your character more depth and help reader get to know them better. For instance Megan, in my Citrus Beach Mystery series is a pacer. When she gets nervous she paces and often irritates those around her by doing this. It’s these little things that let you begin to understand the character more.

So, as you sit there on a bench and people watch, try figure out what habits strangers show without realizing. Can some of those habits that you’re watching from other people be worked into your story?

people-watching-with-dirty-dan-harris-fairhaven-washington-jordan-blackstone
Give your character some life, give them some interest, and give them some habits.

WATCH FOR THOSE ROAD SIGNS!

Road signs.

Have you ever noticed the many road signs you can see as you travel?

What’s even more fun is the fact that the road signs often reflect the community in which they are found for instance down here in Florida it’s not at all unusual to find a road sign that says Alligator Crossing or Peacock Crossing. A new caution sign I saw was Turtle Crossing; I guess you really have to watch for that one, and take your time.

th6TF624UE 330183340-28075439 th5EZLSZLZ gI_75026_Turtle-Xing-with-Graphic-Sign-K-9047

In a more mountainous area you might find road signs that say Rock Slide dangers or Avalanches Zone. These road signs give you cautions as you drive around town doing your daily activities help you be safe and get to where you’re going with minimal hazards.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if there were road signs for life events? Like that guy you’re going to go out on a date with. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a big sign that showed up and said Caution Crazy or Boring!

Other signs I would have liked to have loved to have seen when you’re raising your kids are signs that give warning for those trigger points that can lead to temper tantrums and fights between brothers and sisters. Although kids don’t come with a handbook, they do come with a lot of challenges. Can you imagine having road sign that can direct you around upcoming problems? Image signs that tells you; Caution get plenty of sleep, you’ll be up all night with a crying baby or

Caution child will climb tree and fall, breaking an arm.climb tree

But we don’t have road signs in our life, we just have to go from our own judgment experience and the wisdom of others around us who have been through it before us. And part of getting that wisdom is going through the experience yourself, without the road signs and with mistakes.

So you go forward with the adventure of life and parenthood. Hopefully when your child gets to be old enough you can teach them some of the road signs they are going to have to look for and point them in the right direction.

It will be up to them to read the signs as they show up on life highway.

beautiful life sign

Just Call Me Queenie

They call me the queen…

tiara

The queen of procrastination. If there’s something that can be put off, ten-to-one, that’s just what I’ll do. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s not because I don’t want to do; it’s just because it’s not needed yet. Most people will put things off; it’s just a natural trait we all seem to have. Of course there are exceptions; the ones that, as soon as they get an assignment or task, they have to tackle it right away. I should know, I live with someone like that.

Then there’s the people who tend to be more like me. I put things off, sometimes even waiting until the very last second. But you know what; I seem to do my best work when I’m under just a bit of stress. It seems that when I have lots of time I don’t concentrate as hard.

thT4OOQ5EF

Some task are put off because you don’t want to do, or because they are not exactly the most pleasant things that have to be done. Other projects are put off because of time management and even more tasks are put off because you don’t want to see something end. For instance I know I have to get my pictures ready for my sons graduation; but knowing that I have to put that all together is one thing, doing it is acknowledging that my son is leaving childhood and is now a young man going off to college. Not all mothers will be able to handle that very well.

There are other task that you put off unintentionally, you simply forget they were due. Then, I will agree, there is a mad dash to get things done and sometimes it may not be done as well as you would like to see them done. But- they ARE done.

So to all of you out there who tackle your tasks as soon you get them; just remember chances are there’s more procrastinators out there than you’re aware. I would even hazard a guess that we out-number you. So to each his own; whatever makes you happy, whatever gets the job done, whatever helps you move forward.

thBPRVVUDC

Here’s my question to you;

what job or task are you procrastinating on right now?

I wanna write, I wanna play….

photo

I wanna write, I wanna play…and with a view like this can you blame me?  Can’t you just picture sitting on this dock with a book in hand or possibly a lazy afternoon of fishing?

But it’s not that easy, is it?  Life makes many demands on our time and between the important parts like family and work, it’s sometimes hard to find even a few minutes to yourself.  Extra time to write, or a few minutes of quiet almost seem impossible to find.

That’s why I think I am so lucky.  This view is from an account on my “real” job, and it’s like this all day: either a river view or a beach view!   My mind can wander, allowing me to form ideas, plots and outlines as I work.

I recently starting using the voice memo app on my phone and record as I go; random thoughts that can later be formed into stories, or just erased because they just don’t seem worthy when I play the memo back.

There are so many beautiful parks and beaches in the area where I live and work, so I make it a point to stop for lunch or even a 15 minute break to spend time writing on my ever present laptop or reading before I head home for the day.

Because, you know what happens when I get home? Life happens.  Family members need love and attention, a dog needs to be played with, cats need some cuddling.  And then all the other stuff falls in line demanding to claim even more of my time.

Before I know it, dinner is over, the news is on and I am anxious to get to my laptop.  So here I am, trying to get some writing in for the evening: and the cat walks across the key board, the dog is waiting at the door to go out for a walk, my son is looking for a snack and my husband just smiles at me.

Guess I’ll have to wait to write until everyone else has gone to bed: my writing time starts around 10:30 pm.  Until then…

%d bloggers like this: