Friday, October 30, 2009

Doing the blog

Last year, when I told my friend, Monica, that I was writing a historical western set on a cattle ranch, she said I had to go online and check out a blog by a woman living on a cattle ranch in Oklahoma. I kept putting it off. I mean I thought it might help a little with my research, but how interesting could a woman blogging about living on a ranch in the middle of nowhere be?

Oh, was I in a for a big surprise!

This woman is every woman's dream of the perfect friend. She's funny, smart, loving, out-going, goofy and self-deprecating in the best of ways. She can cook up a storm and take beautiful photos of the process at the same time. Talk about talent. I would surely drop my camera in the batter bowl every time. She also does weekly give-a-ways of spectacular prizes.

From the little blog site she started three years ago, she has now won numerous awards, has published her first cookbook and has been televised on The Bonnie Hunt Show!

And what I appreciate the most from her is that she always puts a smile on my face when I read her daily blogs.

So ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, let me introduce you to Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Plotter or pantser?

Writers tend to fall into the category of plotter or pantser. Me? I'm a plotter. Even when I try to write by the seat of my pants, I find myself opening a new Word document and typing in notes for backstory and future scenes and bits of dialogue. I guess I'm afraid I'll lose some of my ideas if I don't get them typed into a document.

Besides if I don't know where I'm going, how will I know how to get there? Definitely a plotter.

Though there are different levels of plotting. I'm still trying to find my level of comfort. With my last manuscript, I followed Karen Weisner's plan as she described in First Draft in 30 Days. I did the draft in June of 2008. In the fall when I tried to sit and write the story, it had no zing. It felt worn out. I had thoroughly dissected it and had no interest in bringing it to life. So I put it on the shelf and worked on other stories until June 2009.

In June I dusted off the 3-ring binder and opened a new Word document. Then the scenes spilled out of me. I was writing a new chapter every day for about a week. It was exciting and new and fresh again.

I wish I could say that excitement and speed lasted throughout the entire writing of the book, but alas no. Middles and endings can be so long in coming sometimes, but with the regular weekly meetings of my critique partners, I plowed through and finished the manuscript at the end of September.

It was an interesting experiment in major plotting. At times I felt my story lacked spontaneity and creativity because everything was already prescribed in my outline. I did change things as needed, as my characters took me down different paths, but mostly I stuck to the outline.

Now I am trying the completely opposite method. I've started a new project, and I haven't written a single character sketch or background timeline or scene outline. But I have opened an extra Word document to type some notes about backstory.

I guess I'll never be a true pantser.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Off Schedule

Okay, I've been remiss, and I owe all our faithful readers an apology. I know you've all been sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for my next blog post. Yeah, all two of my family members who check this page maybe once a month. Ha!

But seriously, as an aspiring author, I need to be in the habit of regular blogging. And I have so failed this month.

So, what happened, you ask? Umm, I don't really know.

Must of been the submissions to agents at the beginning of the month. They put me in a nasty funk of self-doubt. It's hard to come up with something pithy, entertaining and educational to blog about when I'm feeling the inner demons shredding my soul.

Yeah, that's it. That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.

Happy Way Off Schedule Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Baked Beans

Happy Wednesday. I often find myself looking forward to comfort food mid-week. Here is a great recipe that was passed on to me by a friend. Enjoy!

1 large jar of Randall's Navy Beans drained
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup catsup
1 1/4 cup of white sugar
1 tbsp of vinegar
1/2 pound of bacon (bake the bacon in the oven on a pan at 350. Then cut into small pieces and mix into the bean mixture)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour then at 250 for 2 hours. I also make this in the crock pot on low all day.



Monday, October 5, 2009

The Edits!

Happy Monday!

This past week, I learned a lot from my critique group. They keep me grounded and make me work harder. About a month ago, I finished my first WIP. Each week, I have been bringing a few chapters to read, and last week I floundered. As my critique partner, Andrea, was reading my work to me, I got those bad feelings we all get when things aren't going right.

In other words, I didn't like my own work. So, it was back to the laptop this week. I ended up chopping about five chapters and rewriting the ending. I'm much happier with how things turned out. In fact, my main female character, Micaella, gave me a surprise at the end.

So, I learned this week that it is very important to have someone read your work to you. Then, you can decide how it sounds and if you need to rewrite anything.

Have a blessed day.