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.”

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Healthy Distractions

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You walk by your desk, stare at the computer and close your eyes. Even the thought of writing is uninviting. You need more words filling the manuscript and all you have is a blank mind. Empty today, so you walk away. Even your shoulders are heavy as the muse lays more guilt on each one.
Distraction is what you need, BUT it has to be a healthy distraction. Not just a passing idea that lasts a few minutes, but one to jump-start your creative endeavors. You feel shame and clench your fingers. It makes a writer feel unworthy of their words as peers will be disappointed in them.
Hey, wake up and think of something that interests you. Yes, YOU. Now is the time to revisit areas in your memory and pull yourselves up out of the quicksand. Writing is a solitary endeavor and you need a little social life.This will give you a boost forward. Ladies, remember the lunches with friends and guys remember the runs with your friends. These bring back memories of good times before writing took over your lives. Taking time for a social life will improve your writing.
How long has it been since you dug in the dirt? Gardening can grow flower, vegetables as well as your thoughts. This is a ‘healthy’ distraction. Ladies, what about knitting or crocheting like you did eons ago. Or, maybe you dabbled in the paints. Try again. Guys, remember how you used to ‘tinker’ with the car, lawn mower or fix the drip inside the home? When a writer turns to other matters, the pride in their work is returned in abundance. This is what our writing should do for us.
This reminded me of the ‘Adult Coloring Book’. No one is looking over our shoulders to check for coloring outside the line. It is fun and frees the mind at the same time.
Healthy distractions open up thoughts and bursts your energy. These keep your mind alert and excited. When they are release you will find your characters respond to the new freedom.
Watch Out…Healthy Distractions turned loose can invigorate each scene, each page and you will have happy characters and your writing will flow. You will never look at your desk and computer with despair, but elation at the ideas abounding in your head.

HAPPY WRITING. HAPPY HEALTHY DISTRACTIONS. HAPPY CHARACTERS.

 

 

 

I NEED INSPIRATION

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Have you ever plopped your tush in the chair, found the keys on the keyboard, and nothing entered your mind? You know what you want to do…write…but your mental and emotional energies are not connecting. Why? Are there problems in your life that need attention before your writing? I know, as this has happened to me. My head says ‘WRITE. WRITE. WRITE.’ but the emotional side is in turmoil. Knowing you should write and not allowing yourself the attention you need to be healthy, will not improve your writing. I’ve tried this and my writing comes back like a stranger playing on the keyboard. The writing is unacceptable, terrible, and the spelling is at a first grader’s level. Still, I keep plugging along hitting the keys until the DELETE KEY is my only salvation. Today, is my day to take care of me and I shut down the computer.
Inspiration is not forced, it is waiting for you to find this part of your writing. Sitting at the keyboard is not the way to go. Get yourself out. Yes, out of the chair, out of the house, and explore an area of town that is unknown to you. Stop in at a coffee shop and watch the special coffee show pets. Imagine this…dogs on leashes sitting beside their owners and not growling at another dog. Or Fluffy sitting in a patron’s lap. No hisses. No claws out. Just a relaxed cat snuggling up to its owner. Each pet is so thrilled to be out on a “date” with their owner and no keyboard around.
I had kept myself glued to the chair, wanting to write, and nothing happening. Getting out and about, I find as a writer, I need to play, live, be with others, and absorb living from everyone.
Get out of the box you made for yourself and visualize your writing  in a new corner of your neighborhood. Take yourself to an afternoon movie and sit wherever you want. Splurge on a box of popcorn and notice the difference in the taste. Take yourself to breakfast. I love the WAFFLE HOUSE. Food is fantastic and you can eat breakfast at any time. Coffee is always fresh and hot. The order language is foreign, but works. I always get what I ordered. Customers and staff are friendly and informative, if you ask questions.
You need to balance your life with whatever you like to do. JUST DO IT! Do not write without checking for the balance and you will see your writing take off. New ideas hit the waves and the creative juices fill your passions for writing. Have fun.
Now, a thank you to all of my readers. Your comments are always welcome, and I would like to hear from you about stories, articles, or what you want to see on my blog. What do you want? I consider this our blog and welcome your suggestions.
On a personal note, I received an invite to a Cancer Survivors’ Celebration, from Piedmont Cancer, for a picnic, parade on the baseball field on Sunday June 12, before the game, and see the Atlanta Braves vs. Chicago Cubs. Will I be there? You bet your dollar I will. It’s been a hard row, but with faith, friends, family, and all the wonderful doctors and staff at Piedmont Cancer, we’ve made the journey.

 

 

Fortune Cookies and Writing

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You’re kidding. What do these have in common with writing? Words . . . not just any words, but words with ideas.
Late one afternoon, a few of my book club members decided to go out for an oriental dinner before the meeting. Some of the members are writers and others readers of books. After the last course, Fortune Cookies became the centerpiece of the table. A ‘savage’ grab got our fortune right in front of us. One by one, we read our fortunes out loud. Voices got softer as each cookie not got read.
“Stop,” one in the group hollered. “These are all about kidnapping, murder, and death. Who did this sinister trick, and no, it is not funny.” We looked around the table. No fingers pointed to another. No eyes stared at a specific person. One lady, a writer of mystery answered, “This helps me know which character will go over the edge.”
“Why not put all of our fortunes together and see what we have,” I said. “We might be on to the beginning of a fantastic book.” All I got was silence and big eye stares.
After our review of the book for the evening, I returned home and begin thinking about fortune cookies and writing. They do have a lot in common. First, someone has written all of these proverbs, humorous sayings, statements, predictions, advice, and messages. Fortune cookies are not new and have been around for a long time, and remind me of words at play. Isn’t this what a writer does? Play with words until the right ones enter the mind and the fingers make this known on the keyboard. Here you get a good meal and at the end, possibilities for a new story.
The next time you open a fortune cookie, keep your message. No you cannot borrow or exchange your cookie with others. This was the message YOU picked up. It is YOUR personal message. Think of this as a prompt for your writing. Start keeping these fortune cookie messages in a jar, box, envelope, or what you have handy. Now, you have your own Fortune Cookie Prompt Jar. When you get stuck, dig in and find a new message. If you’ve used it before, replace and get another. Think of all the story starters these create and enjoy your Fortune Cookie Treasures.
Happy Hunting. Happy Fortunes. Happy Writing.
                                 HAPPY YOU.

 

 

 

 


					

DO YOUR CHARACTERS APPRECIATE THEIR AUTHOR?

What a puzzling question? This came to me as I was revising some pages of a new novel in process. I read through and decided this needed to be changed, the flow might fit better if these paragraphs were moved to another section, and for some reason my character’s name became a prominent area. During the writing process, my character had grown up and was not happy with her girlhood name or nickname. Why hadn’t I noticed this before? Because my character and characters were quiet, letting me take them into uncharted areas. Not anymore.
As I attempted to revise, making notes as I changed a scene, I found my fingers did not flow over the keys. I misspelled words, left words out, and forgot dates that at first were SO important. My characters did not just play with me, they turned obstinate. I felt their heels dig into the page and no amount of pressure on the keys made them move. Giving them some room to realize their stubbornness, I paged forward to another chapter. Same scenario. Why do you hate me when I am trying to bring you to a new story and become ALIVE?
Now what? I’m one-hundred pages into this new novel, research done, a critique partner okay with the first fifty or so pages, so I saved this version and started a new version with a different title.
The story line I kept in tact, but changed the location Hey my fingers are flowing over the keys. Next, my main character showed up without an invitation and began crawling through my thoughts. I listened and learned she did not like her name, the color of her hair and was NOT a teenager any longer. When had she grown up? Because this was MY story to write and she was only a character. WRONG. At the beginning, I created her, but as the story proceeded into new and different areas, I forgot to grow my character and it was retaliation time again.
We took a trip together and became writer, character, and friends again. She let me know with keystrokes what she wanted  and if now, well you guessed. . . . my fingers hit the wrong keys. Sometimes, it is so hard to be a creator of characters, an author who follows some of their wishes, and in the end makes the story shine.
Make sure you give your characters a wide array of choices and let them lead your fingers to the ‘write’ keys. This keeps everyone happy and your story will flow from author to character and from character to author.
HAPPY CHARACTERS.  HAPPY AUTHOR.  HAPPY STORY.  HAPPY WRITING.

 

 

 

 

 

WILD AND FUN WEEKEND

WheeeeeeLabor Day weekend filled Atlanta with many activities. Dragon Con had its convention in downtown Atlanta. Costumes captured all of the characters and the parade down Peachtree Street gave kids and adults the sights they were waiting to come to life.

Then, we had the 10th Annual Decatur Book Festival. This opened with the keynote speaker, Erica Jong, and another author, Roxane Gay at Emory’s Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. A new stage opened and is part of the Georgia Grown Culinary Village with cooking demonstrations and authors of cookbooks giving out their secrets and food. There were stages for authors in many genres–The Atlanta History Center, Science Track, Romance, Poetry, Mystery and Thriller, Art, and characters mingling with the people, and the Children’s & Teen Stages.

Venues were set up all around the city of Decatur. The Old Court House opened for different authors to share their work. Decatur is just the town for this event and opportunity to meet neighbors and make new friends. Decatur is home to history–Emory and Agnes Scott Universities. A vibrant city with an appreciation for the arts and books.

The Atlanta History Center offers author programs during the months of September, October, and through November. These are award-winning authors, best-selling authors of fiction and non-fiction, and even authors of cookbooks sharing seasonal recipes. This gives people a chance for discussions and meeting other enthusiastic readers who share the love of books.

What a way to celebrate Labor Day and then back to business, but not in the usual way. I find myself energized with new ideas, meeting other writers from all over Georgia and other areas and states.

The difficulty of my publishers’ bankruptcy announcement is still fresh in my mind. All of the authors of Secret Cravings Publishing are pulling for each other. Our Authors Only site is filled with tears and new beginnings. I keep writing and, in time, will republish Breaking Point and other books. Just not certain in which format. I’ll keep writing new stories and using the words from my head fill the screen.

The day this happened, I glanced at my horoscope, which I never read, but guess the ‘gods’ were trying to guide me.  “This morning you’ll open your eyes with a fresh perspective on life. Then, you’ll figure out what really makes you happy and prioritize your life based on that realization. It is truly a great day.”

Writing and I’ll keep writing until words cease to float through my head and my fingers are too stiff to move over the keys.

HAPPY YOU.  HAPPY DAY. HAPPY WRITING.

Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The OtherlifeYou will notice, that the original posting of Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow has been deleted from my blog. The publisher, Secret Cravings Publishing, is in the process of declaring bankruptcy. Therefore, my book, Breaking Point, has to be removed.

Yesterday, my book was published and offered to all of you. Today, the book will be down until I know which direction I want to take. Tomorrow, is another day for me to decide in which way I want to go with Breaking Point and all the other novels still in revision, and in my head.

My thanks to all of you who have been a part of this journey with me. The critiques, the opportunities, the wonder of writing. It is too soon to make definite decisions, but with my eyes open, my heart open to new adventures, I will find what makes me happy and write, write, write with a new prospective. Life gives us many choices and we learn to accept what we can and do what is most important to us.

My blog will be up and running, probably in circles for a few times, but this will improve my way of thinking, writing, and keeping you in the loop of publishing.

Thanks for your important part in my life. Words need to be written, novels published, and readers need to read. Hang tight with me and we will once again make waves on the calm waters.

P.E.PATTERSON (Patricia)