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But like many endings, it also heralds the beginning of a new blog. 

For all of you who have commented, read, or just peeked at Just another day in the life, I thank you with mucho big thanks!

Please stop by and visit my brand new blog and website. http://authorshawnathomas.blogspot.com

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This sucks.

Why am I still reading it?

I’ll answer that question later.

Have you ever had trouble getting into a book? Did you ever wonder why? Did you keep reading? As a writer, these questions are important to me. Namely because I never want a reader to think this about one of my books.

Okay. Now to answer the questions– I told you I would. Have I ever let you down?

Well, that’s easy. I’ve read several novels by a certain author… in fact, I think this was the 5th or 6th book I’d read and I know he can write. Boy do I know he can write. So I knew it had to get better. So I trudged through the first half of the book, making myself read, waiting for the payoff. Why? He’d already sold me. I was reading the author, not just the book. I had confidence in him and his writing.

Which leads me to another lesson. If it had been his first book, I may have still finished (because I’m anal about things like that) but I would never have picked up another written by him.

First books are like first impressions, they stick with you.

You might think I’m going to say to make sure your first book totally rocks the house. I’m not. The problem? I could have just as easily picked up this book first. If so, I’d have never read the other 5 which I thoroughly enjoyed.  

So my point? Every book counts. If it’s the first of the fiftieth, make sure it rocks the house.

The good news?  Once you have a following, if one of your readers stumbles through one of your books, chances are, it’s not going to break the relationship.

 Consistency is the key.

As a writer, what lessons have you learned by reading?

As a reader, do you continue to read a book that just doesn’t grab your interest?

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Friday funnies.

PRESIDENT IN 2013

Here we are, already discussing the future President of the United States, beginning with the Year 2013. For those of you who would like THE VERY BEST choice for President, we have a solution: It is probably time we have a woman as President.

One choice is a very special lady who has just about every answer to assist in helping us to solve our problems. PLEASE give this a thought when you have a moment… Don’t just take my word. Learn where she stands on some very important issues.

Maxine on “Driver Safety” “I can’t use the cell phone in the car. I have to keep my hands free for making gestures.”

Maxine on “Lawn Care” “The key to a nice-looking lawn is a good mower. I recommend one who is muscular and shirtless.”

Maxine on “The Perfect Man” “All I’m looking for is a guy who’ll do what I want, when I want, for as long as I want, and then go away. Or wait nearby, like a Dust Buster, charged up and ready when needed.”

Maxine on “Technology Revolution” “My idea of rebooting is kicking somebody in the butt twice.”

Maxine on “Aging” “Take every birthday with a grain of salt. This works much better if the salt accompanies a Margarita.”

MAXINE FOR PRESIDENT! Very eloquently put… don’t you think?

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I’ve always loved horses. I love everything about them. I went through that horse stage in early adolescence; had horse figurines; read every book in the Black Stallion and Misty series; always wanted one. Still do really. But growing up in the city, I’ve never really been around horses

I’ve been on the back of a horse three times now. The first time I was about 10 years old: “Here, sit on here. (the saddle ) It’ll steady ‘em.” The “em” being the horse that was about to get its feet inspected. Oh yeah, and the little thing stuck in the frog, let’s just dig that out. By holding on to the mane, I managed to keep seated through the first buck. The stirrups dangling way below my grubby tennis shoes were no help. The owner grabbed the halter just before the second try to throw the little girl from the saddle. It’s a good thing too. I think the first was practice.

Second attempt a year or so later: “This is a gentle horse, we’ll just walk.” Okay… this time the stirrups were actually adjusted for my feet, reins in hand… hey it’s kinda cool. I could get used to this. How do you make this thing turn? Then my companion (and her horse) decided to trot down to the birch trees by the river. Well, my horse wanted to tag along. Did you know you have to hold on really tight with your thighs? I didn’t.

Third attempt five years later:

Mom–You should really go out with this guy. He’s nice.

Me–Sure why not?

Guy– Let’s go horseback riding.

Me–Sure, why not?

Get there and guy decides to ride double bareback. Well… okay, he knows what he’s doing, right? I get to sit closer to the head, further away from the slope that is a horse’s rear. It’s all good. We ride through the orchards, he decides to trot. I remember to hold on really tight with my thighs and um… there’s no stirrups. That kinda helps you stay on the horse but so far so good. Then the horse decides to run. Guy pulls back on the reins then… he’s not there. A second later, a weightless feeling and lack of warm hairy flesh (horse not guy) is followed by the solid impact of California hardpan. I look up. Horse is nibbling on grass a few yards away. Guy is laying on the ground in the other direction. Except for a throbbing pain in my knee, I seem to be okay. I make my way to the guy. He’s bent over. Says, “I think I have a concussion. Guess I shouldn’t have picked I forgot horses name. He hasn’t been ridden in over a year.” I almost kicked him… maybe would have if not for the throbbing knee.

Fast forward to yesterday. Husband says, “Babe, I’d love to go horseback riding with you.”

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I’m back

Please don’t tell me you didn’t notice I was gone… ; )

For the last few months, I’ve been:

A. Extremely busy

B. Locked out of this account

C. Working hard on my non-fiction

D. Publishing two more books under my pen name

E. Falling in love!!!

F. Contracting a The Devil You Know with Carina Press!!!

G. Dealing with one sick kid after another!

Leave me a comment if you want to know more about any of the above. I’ve missed you all!

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The ick

I am sitting here with a hot cup of some cold preventative stuff fizzing on my desk.
I think it’s too late for it to prevent, but I’m hoping it kicks some virus butt anyway.
You see, this is the second time in the last 3 weeks that I’ve had the ick. Considering I’ve only been ‘better’ for 4 days, that’s frustrating.

My youngest was sick, then the oldest and now the 9 yo, but did they come down with the same ick? No, like any well-adjusted child, they all have a strong sense of individuality and came down with separate icks.

What that means is that I’m cycling through all of them one at a bloody time.

I wish I had something profound to say about that and I’m quite sure it ties into writing somehow, but I’m short on creativity today. Any suggestions?

That said, I am so enjoying the rainy/cloudy grab-a-jacket weather. Just last week it was 103!

I hope your week is going well!

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Confession of a pantser.

Recently I read a well-written, well-reasoned article on plotting. I really couldn’t argue with anything the authors put forth, and as I read, that familiar feeling of inadequacy, of not quite meeting par or being a real writer crept over me… Why? I don’t plot.

The article maintained that every writer plots, some just do it in their heads. I thought about it as it applies to me and thought… to a certain extent, yes… and then no, I don’t. And then it struck me. This die-hard plotter simply couldn’t conceive writing a book without at least a simple outline. The ducks need to be in a row before you start shooting. The majority of the work is plotting the rest is filling in… etc, etc. Why? Because we’re wired differently.

And there is nothing wrong with that. However, just of the thought of filling out an outline, chapter summaries, etc before writing the book gives me the willies… I mean how does one write the book afterward? Does that make me somehow a lazy writer?

I admit that it does take dedication and writing an outline is probably a time saver…. But have you ever painted contrary to what the boxes told you? Or better yet, freeform? Glanced at the recipe and decided to experiment? Okay… I digress (and is it any wonder? I’m a pantser) For me, here is how I plot. And yes, I do talk to myself.

What if there was a woman, an empath?

Empathy has it been done before?

 Not sure… So okay, what about this empath? What would her life be like?

She’d feel what everyone around her felt. It would be overwhelming.

Yeah, it would drive someone to drink.

Perfect! An alcoholic empath.

Oh yeah.

She’s the Shoshoni. (a character that popped up one day with no apparent home.)

She is the Shoshoni.

Perfect. *Connecting plot bunnies.*

Something bad has to happen to her.

Yup. *evil laughter*

I know. She finds out her fiancé never loved her. She accidentally compelled him to love her.

No. I don’t like that. She’s the heroine.

She doesn’t love him. He loved her but she just mirrored his affections.

That’s better. And when she finds out. She’s devastated.

How do the holy places factor in?

I don’t know yet. *Write Write Write. *Got it! There’s a council. She’s part of the council and left when she broke up with her fiancé.

*conversation with someone about the new WIP where, in describing it, more plot reveals itself.*

*Write write write.*

 *to another writer* Hey, will you read these first few chapters? Let’s brainstorm. Other writer doesn’t think the character I described would leave the council for the reason above… she has a point.

So…. *think think think* Got it! She blames herself for her partner’s death. Delete, delete, delete. Study, study study Write write write

*lightbulb* The bad guy isn’t a bad guy… there must be another bad guy somewhere…. Who could he be? *think think think*

Got it. Someone who studied under the bad guy who now isn’t the bad guy…

Brilliant.

*Write write write* Hey, I like this bad guy. But really… what’s his motivation?

He has to have a believable motivation.

*run, run run* (Oh… that’s the treadmill. It shakes the plot bunnies free every time.) Goes back and weaves new bad guy with new motivation through existing MS

I am now at 35K… the entire plot is there…. More or less. This is what I call the rough draft. It’s the equivalent to the plotters outline. I know where we started, where we’re going. Now I need to go back and add details, fine-tune, dig deeper into my characters motivations, etc. This second pass… what I call the first draft, is discovering the characters anew. Often times I find new plot threads and I’ll follow them, and weave them back in because I know where the main plot is going Do you get the idea? I plot as I write. It is the act of writing that inspires the plot. I learn more about my characters if I’m talking about them, or manipulating them on paper than I ever could by writing down height, weight and other pertinent statistics in a file. Do I plot in my head? No. I don’t. I daydream about the plot. I think about the characters about how they interact. I usually know the beginning, a few obstacles and the ending before I start writing.  But not always. In fact, coming home from the grocery store, I ‘”saw” a woman enter her home very early in the morning–it was still dark and she was wearing last night’s clothes. There’s a man in her apt. He’s a former lover. He’s in trouble. She says she’s moved on. He tells her if she had, she would have spent the whole night.  Tons of tension. Vivid images, angst, heartbreak… it’s all in the single flash of a scene.

Obviously there are a ton of missing details and no plot here. However, if/when, I take the time to write down their dialog.. boom. The plot will be there. I know this. I will find the plot as I write.

Most important: I found when I start with an outline, when I’ve tried to be a good, responsible and professional writer and wrote an outline, I write in a loose 3rd person POV. Why? Because I’m not the character as I’m writing. I’m telling it… telling the story I made up instead of living it. And it shows.

So plotters, please, I will never try to win you over to the dark side. Promise. You go ahead and plot to whatever level you feel comfortable, but please, leave us pansters alone. We are not unprofessional and every bit as “real” a writer as you are. Don’t make excuses for us, tell us we really do plot…. and tell us how we do it. We know, okay?

Let’s just agree to disagree.

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