CHEERS TO THE HOLDAYS

images_271This is the most fun-time of the year. Family members snooping in closets, under beds, and anywhere they can remember, from last year, where presents were hid. And yes, the trips to stores to drop gifts, unwrapped, off at the places for families who need gifts. This is the important part of the holiday season…sharing. Giving rather than receiving.
I remember years ago, my parents driving me and a backseat full of gifts to parts of town I did not know existed. When we stopped in front of homes, some of them did not have lights, but candles. I thought this was neat, until my mom told me the truth about their candles. Even today, I have problems with lighting candles, except at church.
Still we all know there are discrepancies in the lives of people we know and people we do not know. It becomes our cheer to give to those whose lives are not as fortunate
as ours.

One family we encountered had two little boys….all I could think of was balls, toys, warm clothes, until the oldest kept looking around and shaking his head. When I asked if he was okay, he nodded and turned to go still looking around. “Did you loose something?” I asked. The answer came back in a whisper…”No, guess Santa never heard me.”

“What did you want from Santa?”

“A new coat for my mom, and a puppy for my brother.”

My heart dropped down to my knees. He wanted for his mom and his brother but nothing for him. “Maybe, Santa had his sleigh full and couldn’t get these inside. If he doesn’t come back tonight, we will search for him tomorrow.”

“Really, you’d help me?”

My dad turned his head around and surprised me….”Of course, but you need to keep this a secret.”

The little boy’s eyes widened as he shook his head up and down.

“If we can find Santa tonight, we’ll be back; but if we have to wait until Christmas Day, we may be a little late.”

“Okay.”

No other response. This little boy believed both of us.

“Dad, what are we going to do?”

“Everything except the puppy. They can’t feed their own family, and certainly not a dog. But, you, my daughter, will take him to the Animal Shelter and let him play with all the dogs he and his brother can handle.  AND…This will be once a month for the next year.”

I noticed the change in my Dad’s voice and I knew what he meant. A promise is your word to another person and it cannot be broken.

The next day, we drove by their house. The candles were all lit, singing came through the cracks in the doors and windows. It was a happy sound, and next to me was a huge hairy dog. We opened up car doors and started toward the house. The singing stopped, and the family members met us on the rickety front porch.

“We found Santa,” my dad hollered, but he only had a few things left. “A new coat for mom, a new flannel shirt for dad, clothes for both of you boys, and a new part-time pet. Meet, “Big Boy.” We will bring him by every so often and my daughter will take you with her to help at the animal shelter. Santa smiled as he got his sleigh off toward the North Pole.

“Merry Christmas to all who believe.”

RESEARCH? YES. NO.

more work
Yes, I believe we all do research to a certain point. We need to know the place where our story takes place and the surrounding area. Or do we?
As creative writers, we create, and in fiction we can make our characters our own. But does everything have to be accurate? Our creativity can come alive in a make-believe place. This is the place where our characters will live, love, argue, be torn apart by some event, meet again from our  own creative thoughts.
I enjoy making up my village, town or city.  I can name the streets whatever seems right to me and my characters. It can be in the mountains, by the ocean, a hot desert feel, and the stores are from creative imagination. It is like making a blueprint for your surroundings.
Sometimes, making up the place the characters become alive. Not the cookie-cutter characters. It is like you are giving them freedom to be who they are. Soon they realize this and watch out. Their actions and spontaneity are off the page. They like being unleashed.
They are in a new place, meeting new and different people, and they love the independence you give them. As a writer, you create emotions and your characters show your fingers which keys to hit. Go with them and see your story take twists and turns. The writer has an idea of who, what, when, and where the story/novel should go. When it takes off on another path, our characters run with the story and it is hard to keep the fingers moving so fast over the keys. (Don’t worry. You can edit later.) Let them have free rein to romp, run, and roam. Your story has changed because of the freedom you are giving your characters. You are writing fiction.
On the other side, Non-Fiction research is necessary and important. You need to know all the facts you can, and still give the characters a chance to show themselves as real people in a period unfamiliar to others.
HAPPY WRITING.  HAPPY CREATING.  HAPPY CHARACTERS.
                                            HAPPY YOU.

 

THE END OF AUGUST 2015

Video

images_063August is coming to a quick end. Did I not look at a calendar, or do the days fly by and I do not notice? Knowing me, I’d say I do not notice.  Why? Because life is a merry-go-round, and I want to keep the momentum going. Still, sometimes I have to step off and watch the horses go up and down for a few turns. A breather, you might call it. And I got hit with this at my last SilverSneakers® class. One of the members hollered, “Hey are we going to have class on Labor Day?” Labor Day, that’s next month and the hammer hit hard. No, That’s next week.  They are such a great group, we will probably take the Holiday and be ready to come back refreshed, renewed, rewound.

August came and did its heat on all of us. The humidity hit hard against the body and I can only imagine what the states with such outrageous fires are going through. Now, Hurricane Season sticks its neck out and we have Tropical Storms forming in many different regions.

This made me think of the process of writing. An idea forms, and we wait to see what this idea wants to do. Yeah, even in the middle of the night, these thoughts filter into our sleep. Sometimes, these are the most important filters to trap into our dreams. We are asleep and our subconscious takes control.  There is no censor on these trips, rather our naked nature and we roll with the punches.

I am working on a new book and thought I knew what would happen. Wrong.  My character’s all have different names, the location is out of my control and so are my characters. This all happened one nightmarish night. I woke up in the morning and my bedroom looked like a ‘war’ zone. Guess I was fighting the changes, but then could not remember what changes. No, there were no scribbles on my notebook, because I’d knocked it on the floor before I could scribble. So, I sat at my computer and went to the folder of the WIP (work in progress). What I encountered was nothing compared to my — encounter. I keep plodding in the old file, hoping my dream will return in a more prudent manner.  Life as a writer at times sucks, and then a times shines. We are hooked and never give up or out.

Proof of this is the Trailer of my book, Breaking Point, which is out in printed form. If the ‘gods’ are with me, I will try to have this video added at the end of the post. If it works, the big thanks goes to Carolyn Wren, a Secret Cravings Author, who has given up her time and energy to produce trailers. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

This is what writers do…help other writers. There is no industry in the world that has the help from one writer to another writer, Thank you.

p.s.  video did not work, but challenges are a part of writing. If you would like to check this out, please visit my website at http://www.patricia-patterson.com. I’ll work on this challenge ASAP.

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?

An IdeaThis is a question where no real answer can be found. Why? It depends on the person and the field of creativity they choose.

We sometimes forget about the landscapers, home builders, clothing designers, or photographers. They also go through a creative process.

If you are an artist, your blank, white canvas can be over whelming. In your mind’s eye, you can see the colors and the vibrancy, but the brush held in your hand never moves. You are stuck.

As a writer, we open a blank page and stare.  In our minds, we know what we want to appear, but our fingers are sticky and do not slide over the keys. Yet, everything we do has a process and this includes becoming a creative writer.

First, you must decide what kind of writer are you? Is writing just a hobby to you or is writing something you HAVE to do, WANT to do, and WORK at becoming the best you can be? This is a crossroad only you can decide. When the passion of writing becomes your inner most desire, you can feel the need to improve and grow. This takes time and patience, and when this wears off, you turn to writing as a hobby. As a writer, you are challenged ever step of the way toward the best creative process for you.

You begin your creative process in learning the structure of writing, appreciate the skills you learn, and overcome the obstacles thrown in your path…frustration. Writing takes practice, more practice, and more writing. There are characters to develop, scenes to create, and yes, strong plots. You must have the conviction to start and complete your story. This is where confidence plays an important part of the process.

As the process continues, you must focus on grammar, sentence structure, story flow, and learn to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. This is where your passion to create pushes your forward. No writer’s block or waiting for the muse, will make you stop writing. However, if there is a missing part to your story or nothing seems to fit right, go have some fun. You can take a long walk, but do something fun and let your stress disappear.

Time is another part of the process for the passionate writer. You are excited to hit the keys and watch your story take shape with each additional chapter. Some writers have the opportunity to write as a full-time job. Others work outside the home and schedule their writing around work, home, and family. No matter where you are, keep to your schedule, because this is your desire and you are excited to be a writer.

If you feel stuck, get yourself out and explore something different. You can try writing at a library, coffee shop, or whatever makes you feel comfortable around other people. Writing is a lonely venture, but you can change this and feel new energy in your writing.  Exercise your body and your mind together on a long walk. You will come back refreshed and ready to hit the keys.

What I’d love to hear from you is YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS. WHAT KEEPS THE ENERGIZER BUNNY INSIDE OF YOU GOING, GOING, AND GOING?

CHARACTERS

Where do you get your characters for your stories? Sometimes, they are just in our head and as we begin to write, they emerge into a scene. Then you get this idea and the character will not appear. No matter what you think, scribble down, or hit the keys, the character stays hidden. Characters, like life, are fickle to our stories and just do not behave the way we think they should. Of course, not. This is the reason we have characters.

Characters need to have a will of their own. They are often complicated with hope, fears, and dreams and at times contrary to what writers want them to do. Have you ever started your story with a sweet character who turns into a person you do not know? Your character is showing volition and this is what you want.

Your characters need complications to overcome. They need to be full of life, powerful, and have potential and appeal. Also, they need to show a softer side in some scenes and give the reader a chance to observe their different sides. If your character or characters do the same thing over and over, you are not giving your reader an incentive to read more pages.

How your characters dress, their age, their mannerisms relate to the reader. Put a spark of imagination in their attitudes and see what changes they can create in your story. What about their names? This can say much about your character. Odd names can remain in your reader’s mind for a long time. Just make certain this name fits your character.  This brings up the use of ‘nicknames’ for your character. Do you use them?  If you do, make it a name to remember for your character. We are not talking about a William to Billy, or a Harold to Hal and then on the female side, an Elizabeth to Betty, or Suzanne to Suzie. You need to stop and listen. If the name does not fit, your characters will not act the same.

Then your character is in the reader’s mind and emotion as the story moves forward. Are your characters friendly? If so, your reader will relate to the character. If your characters are cold or standoffs, your reader will not relate or even suspect this character of being rude throughout the book. How your characters come across to your reader is an important, if not the most important, connection of the reader and the story.

Play with names, mannerisms, age, and let your characters be themselves. They will come forward and liven up your story in the most unusual ways. Let your characters work for you and enjoy your writing.

HAPPY DAY.  HAPPY WRITING.

REVISION (S)

images_028Does this word scare you? If so, think again and use part of this word as a positive attitude of writing. The word we need to focus on is VISION.

How many times do we read, read, and read our work again. Each time we can find something we missed the last time we read through the W-H-O-L-E manuscript. We get upset at the mistakes we noticed again and sometimes we are so used to seeing our manuscript, we do not read, rather glance over each page. If we use ‘track changes’ or the ‘balloon inserts,’ we might not even double-check them. Why? We did that the last time.

Still there are errors to clean up, names to keep straight, dates, ‘oh my’ the dates, and the seasons. The protagonist cannot be caught in her bikini with snow drifts piled beside the pool. Or the hero sweltering in his overcoat as the sun beats down on the pavement and he races to catch the thief.

Silly thoughts? Of course, but we all make mistakes, and then we hear via an email or received the manuscript back with “this still needs revising,” written in ink all over the first page. It becomes time for the hair-pulling exercise. Yes, our hands to our own head and a few yanks close to the roots.

So instead of going bald, try something new. As we start to read again, all 400 or so pages, look with the word VISION in mind. Each area showing red marks, balloon inserts or other identifying track changes, stop. Can we change this? Is that what we meant to say or show or were we directing our characters? Play around with each marked-up area and listen to what your characters say to you or even show you what can be done to make then more active, more alluring, and even more dangerous.

When we turn off the vision censor, we can let go and see a different setting, a new twist, another layer of the character that wasn’t there before. Maybe, just maybe, we peel away more layers and find the sequel to this manuscript. Then, as we continue with the Vision Process, we become more in step with our writing and our characters. We let our characters have free rein, and sometimes have to curb their intentions.

Is this REVISION? Yes, but with a new twist. We are listening to our characters, seeing improvements to our manuscript, but do we use everything? No. We make adjustments and modifications to our story, save some for the sequel. As we travel through each page, we review, reconsider, find expansions to our story. As we progress, we might even develop new plots to have our characters undertake or risk.

Revision now becomes a mission as we make corrections and let our characters express themselves in different gambles. This makes the VISION of REVISION work for our manuscript.

Happy Revisions. Happy Visions. Happy Writing.

CREATIVE CHALLENGES

energyDo you have them? Do you ignore them? Do you not believe in them? What do you do with them?

A lot of questions with no set answers. Why? Because every writer has their own version of creative challenges, and it start at the beginning…or does it?

What if you were to start writing the ending and then travel back to the beginning? Would your story have a different ending or a different beginning?

How many of you remember or saw the movie, The Spanish Prisoner? What did you decide after seeing this film. It could be anyone of us out to play with the possibilities of capture or secrets.

Then the movie, Memento, pops into my mind. Was the guy crazy? Did he really kill his wife? Or did he watch his best friend commit the crime?

This is a challenge to all writers:

Start your story at the end and create as you travel backwards to the beginning. This makes for a different type of writing. You have the ending, but how did this story begin?

The ending hits your heart and soul, but why? Dig deeper and see where you came from and then stop. Let all of these scenes into your head and fingertips. Your writing will take you back to the beginning at a slow pace. You will see and feel everything in a deeper way and a more vibrant color, than starting at the beginning and going to the end.

Confused? Yeah, a little. Okay, start a different way. You write down the first scene that comes to your mind. This is the story you want to write. You know the characters, who will be in your story, their lifestyles, their loves, and their secrets. It is a beginning, but as a writer you feel empty. You plot your scenes and know there is something more, but what? The ending must come first. So you begin at the end, and this is a summary of my thoughts, at this time:

“Stop. You cannot close the casket. She is not dead. I just talked with her and she needs to tell me more about the argument.”

“Ma’am, she is dead. There is no chance for error.”

“Then, why do I hear her pounding on the casket lid?”

People quiet. There is no talking, no noise, no cranks of the equipment to lower the casket further, but there is no sound.

“Shh, I hear her talking.” The casket lid opens with a slight push, and her gloved hand slips into the open space.

‘He is here. Find him.” Her voice comes out sure and strong. The lid closes again, and her voice is quiet.

Okay writers, start your story backwards from this point and work your way to the beginning. A love story backwards. A mystery with the death before the why.

Have a great time with this scenario and let your thoughts push your writing into another depth.

HAVE FUN. WRITE BACKWARDS. EXPLORE NEW DEPTHS. HAPPY WRITING.

What Is An ISBN Number?

images_005Just so you will know, I wrote this piece back in 2012, and I’m using this again. Look at all of the books in the picture and then wonder about their ISBN numbers. What are they, Where did they come from? What do these number represent? Let’s find out.

Have you noticed a group of numbers on all books? They are there for a purpose: for you, the writer and the publisher. This number establishes and identifies one book title from another. Booksellers, libraries, universities, and a whole lot more of people in the publishing arena use these specific numbers.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, which used to be a ten digit number until 2007, when the numbers increased to thirteen. Let’s take a look at the old “10” number and the new “13” number. Grab yourself a book from your shelf or go to the library or a bookstore.  The ISBN number is found on the inside of the book where the information on the publisher, copyright, all rights reserved exist and again on the outside of the back cover.

The first digit gives the origin of publishing – 0 – equals English, while another number equals a different country. The next six numbers identifies the publisher and the next two numbers identified the title or edition. The last digit validates the ISBN number. There you have the 10 digit ISBN.

In the 13 digit ISBN number, you will find this in the same area inside the book and on the back cover. The only addition is a three digit number instead of a zero. This three digit number will have 978 numbers represent a group or country.

However, if you go through the traditional publishing avenue, your publisher will do this for you with their publisher numbers. If you self-publish, go e-book, you will need to do your own work, but some independent publishers will handle this for you. However, you need to know if your book is published hardback, paperback, e-book, etc., each will have their own ISBN number even though it is the same title, but a different type of publication. Once you use an ISBN number, you cannot use it again.

You might also want to have a bar code, which is a requirement for many sales publications.

What do you do if you have some 10-digit ISBN numbers and need them in the new 13-digit? Go to Google on how to convert from a 10 to a 13. Another avenue is RR Bowker. Once you have your ISBN numbers, you need to let RR Bowker know and submit your title information, and register with RR Bowker.

Okay, lots of information, but have some fun. Go through your books and study the ISBN numbers. Your book “A” published by XXX publishing, and study the numbers. Then your book “B” published by XXX publishing and this has different publisher identifier numbers. What? Check again. XXX publishing may have different entities.

Have fun. Study. Learn. Enjoy. Do not forget to write. This is what will get your book finished.

Happy Writing.

Writing. Plotting. Thinking.

images_080These are the hard parts of writing and it is work. If you are one of the lucky writers and stay at home, this is your full-time job. Do you create your own work zone? Sometimes, we think we need a whole room, like a home office, but you can create your own corner, your special place.

You don’t see people, so why dress up? Why? Because you are going to work and should discard the p.j’s, slippers, and bathrobe. This might be a great time to try out the new hair style, paint your nails different colors, and a definite to makeup. Now, don’t you feel better?

If you are a male writer, the first three items are to be discarded, but you need to include a shave or at least brush the beard, spray a little cologne around your area. This will give your senses something to work with.

It is lonely. You do not see others, talk to others, just write, write, write. But watch out. You must set boundaries of times you are answering emails, checking out social media, writing your blog, updating your website, and leave the coffee-time friends until the day is over.

Keep track of your time and the number of words you added to this day. Of course, this might be the day for revisions, or new submissions, or research. This is a good way to keep your writing going forward and you feel great at the end of the day.

When you begin your workday, set an alarm to announce your work is done for the day. Put everything away, go for a walk, or just relax. Tomorrow is another day.

What about the writers who work outside the home? The creative space for you is still the same. A place where you know this for serious writing. Give yourself time to switch gears, have dinner with the family, walk the dog, play with the kids, and then, when the silence enters the rooms, and things settle down, you begin writing. Some days it is writing, some research, some revision, and new submissions. Yes, you do set your alarm and put everything away for the next evening.

Writing is work and we need to work hard and play hard.

Have a productive and positive attitude as you hit the 2015 year. May you accomplish your writing goals and dreams.

EXERCISE IS FUN

Yes, this should be about fun, parties, and everything that goes along with the Holiday Season, but it is. The exercise I’m talking about comes with the fabulous group of Silver Sneakers I have the honor of being their instructor.

Yes, we work hard every time we come into class. We stretch and stretch with the Yoga Stretch classes. We learn how to balance so our bodies can experience new poses and the stress of the day, time, month slide off the top. Then we learn how to combine the workout to strengthen our muscles, and put the balance to work as we squat, and squat, and squat. Never, do we go overboard. We work hard to make our muscles work for us. Like lifting weights and the ugh bicep curls. We use these muscles every day: picking up groceries, putting the clothes in the washer, shaking them into the dryer, and the important one – picking up the grand-kids.

We also work on the Cardio end of the scale to give our hearts the ability to help us each day. The rule is to do what you can and not push yourselves over your limit. Cardio can be doing a little more than we thought we could, but never over the limit.

We have a great room to workout in and welcome everyone; newbies, seasoned, and always have some oldies come back and surprise us with visits. We also combine fun with our exercises and our program. You never know what will pop up and give all of us a great laugh.

We do know how to party and express our new-found energy with different avenues. This is a set-up for the following pictures – our Holiday Luncheon. If you are new to Atlanta, been afraid to venture out to a ‘gym,’ fear not. We will welcome you, add you to our group, and begin exercising and having fun. You can find us at AGX, in the Blee Shopping Center in Chamblee, Georgia. No special clothes, just come and be with us as we go forward in to the new year.

Here are the pics to show our fun at the Hudson Grille in Brookhaven. I am fortunate, no Blessed, to have all the group at our SS program. Come be part of our group and learn how to exercise and have fun.

No, this is not my usual writing theme, but what stories can be written by the successes of our group.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2015 for your Good Health.

Patricia

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