My rules for writing

Every author has rules for writing and rules by their favorite author. I’ve added John McPhee to my list.

Here are my rules…for what they are worth(not much):

Live

Live

Read

Write

Put that first draft away(by my experience, it’s crappy)

Live

Read

Live

Revise

Revise until you can stand your writing.

Get other people to read it.

Revise

Send it to your editor

Revise until she/he thinks it can be published

Publish

Go back to the beginning of the list

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This is spring??!

We are a month into official spring, the weather should act like it.

My crocuses have come and gone, the daffodils are blooming, scent of hyacinths lingers everywhere and the leaves of plants which bloom in late spring have pushed through the soil.

But here we are, back in a snow globe world.

Can’t do anything about it, might as well enjoy it.

Words

Profound thoughts come easily while sitting on a beach, I had a number of them, wrote them down, since then I lost them–I need to do a better job of keeping track of those profound wisdoms.

What I do remember are thoughts on language. Mostly I wondered if the people who were letting those words fall out of their mouths ever had a six second delay.

Like “stay in your lane.”  How could that phrase come out of any American’s mouth? Isn’t one of our ideals: “all men are created equal?” When did we abandon that ideal? I know that there are people smarter than me, have more money than me, more influence than me, better looking than me…but better than me?

Our ancestors voted with their feet to leave that class ridden reality behind in them in whatever country they came from.

 

The other phrase that is “America’s original sin.” Did anyone think about the implications of that phrase?

Routine interrupted

Routine got me through the writing of a number of books, a few scripts. Out of bed, workout at the gym, breakfast, then writing. But winter interrupts that routine. It is a time to get taxes ready, visit family, get supplies in advance of the next storm, shovel snow, visit the sun in parts south of us, drink another cup of coffee as the wind pushed snow in scenes reminiscent of Dr. Zhivago, but not getting out of bed early. It is too damn cold to get out of bed to go to the gym. The whole routine is upset, and it is damn hard to get back into it. But that is what adulting is all about–taking a deep breath and muddling through.

What a winter!

This winter season has been compact, most of the snow has come during January and February. It seems as if all of our winter weather got dumped on us at once. Like last weekend: snow, freezing rain, rain, sleet, hail, then high winds in the morning. The only thing you could do was hunker down. A good book, or movie, or good peasant TV (no Netflix or dish) to watch. Most entertaining was watching g the herds of deer come out of the woods at dusk to munch their way across the fields–a neighbor says he got a photo of 65(sixty-five) deer spread across our fields. I haven’t seen that one yet, but two of that supposed large herd just ran across the field to the east of the buildings.

Yet there is beauty through the high winds as the clouds drift apart and sun turns the world of snow and ice into a land of sparkling crystals. And as the sun breaks the horizon, the glazed ridge of a snow bank becomes golden.

The beauty may be brief, but it is spectacular.

What a winter with more to come.

Traditions of Christmas

Remembrances of Christmases past all started because my children didn’t know which family celebrated St. Nicholas’ Day. Mine didn’t, my husband’s did. The thoughts of other Christmases followed.

I never celebrated St. Nick’s Day, but when I found out about how my husband’s family celebrated, I added it to our customs.

Though I had a Christmas stocking, it was never used. But when I started my own house, I thought it was time to use it. I bought a stocking for my husband (later I made them for him and our children). Hung the stockings from a bookshelf on December 5th, and the next morning, St. Nicholas’ Day, we found fruit, nuts and candy in them.

There was always a real tree to decorate when I was growing up. We’d go to a Christmas tree lot and pick one out. I continued that when we got married. Then the children came and I decided it would be fun to cut our own. Most years we went with cousins to find the perfect tree. After snowball fights, tramping around a tree farm, maybe checking out two tree farms, critiquing each other’s pick, and just as the sun was setting, we each found the perfect tree. It is still fun.

Opening the Christmas presents. That was the real test. When I was little, my parents woke us at midnight. That was a mixed blessing for me–jeez, couldn’t they let a kid sleep! Later we opened presents on Christmas Eve. I didn’t think much of that either. What I started with my family was on Christmas Eve church service, on Christmas morning stockings stuffed by Santa Claus were emptied, breakfast, then presents opened, then a trip to Grandma’s house to meet up with aunts, uncles, and cousins.

However you celebrate Christmas, or don’t, Happy Holidays.

 

Onto the next

When taking a job, there is always parts of the job that you can’t anticipate. As an independent writer, the work is never done.  There is the writing, the numerous drafts to craft the story, the nail-biting when you wait for your editor’s comments, finding the right cover, working with the formatter, uploading the b book to the right places, then finally the publicity.

That is never-ending. Press releases, book fairs, local fairs, contests, creating programs for local libraries, and so on.

Then there is moving onto the next project. For me the next one is almost done and have started on the second next project. Both of which are departures from my Edie Swift books.

End of Season…maybe

In the forty plus years we’ve been farming, we haven’t seen a year like this before.

In our area, the harvest season started late due to lots of rain– 2-3 weeks late. The sun didn’t shine much and the ground held the moisture making for sections of fields that were left to be harvested at a later date–when the ground froze. Some farmers are still waiting for this to happen; on the way to Beaver Dam this week, I saw corn still standing.

Another common problem was standability, some corn varieties didn’t come up to snuff this year. We anticipate that there will be wind, that there will be rain, one of the traits in a corn variety we look for is that it will still be standing so we can harvest it. This year some of the corn fell all over the place making harvest a bear. The stress level skyrocketed this year. I wonder how many farmers swore during harvest that this would be their last year?

But the corn and soybeans got harvested, and the sun is shining and farming looks inviting–except for the prices. And next year might be better.

Farmers, the eternal optimists.

New Book

I have a new book out. Did I tell you that? It is the third book in the Edie Swift series: A Simple Song.

Police work isn’t always about murder, there are missing children to be found, city curfews to police. And for Detective Edie Swift, trying to escape her new role–hero of Troutbeck.

It is available on amazon in paperback and ebook.

Hope you enjoy the book.

 

Snow

Last night it snowed. I like this, it seems to quiet the world. Preparation for this season has ended…unless you farm.

There is corn and soybeans to be combined. Due to the wet fall, the harvest got started late and we ran into the winter season. And for farmers of a certain age, the specter of the 1985-86 winter is visible.

That winter the snow came and stayed. Lots of corn went unpicked. If we don’t get our crops, everything else comes to a standstill. Because we can’t deliver our grain, we don’t get paid. And it cascades from there.

I remember the anxiety of that year. I remember when spring came that in some fields I picked corn by hand; we needed to combine the fields with larger stands.

We remember the anxiety, the depression, but also joke about the year we harvested our crops twice.

The sun is out now, light is bouncing everywhere, the snow is sparkling, the wind is blowing the snow from the spruces. And it has covered the leaves I haven’t raked.