Procrastinating, Dilly-dallying, Puttering

raven Hello again and Welcome to Fiction Friday.

All new years start off with good intentions.

I am writing this Fiction Friday post because I am putting off revising a scene from my WIP.

I have committed FaceBook-ary, Tweeted, researched the nature of Ravens and watched The Blacklist.  Now, I’m here..

I know Procrastination is a serious problem.  Look at all of the words related to the topic.  The person who gathered this list probably should have been cleaning up after the family cat.

The scene I am working on, should be working on, is an interesting one so I am not at all sure why I don’t slip on a pair of Nikes and just Do It..

My protagonist, Judy Hawks is doing a welfare check for her home-bound friend, Carl Eps.  She arrives at the elderly social worker’s house and finds her dead.  Just dead.  The front door is open, the refrigerator is humming and Mrs. Finley is sitting in a task chair at her desk, stock still, her hair a halo of white and unexpectedly soft as Judy leans in to touch her cheek.

While I am not revising this scene I thought I’d give you a list of Procrastination’s closest known associates, partners in crime or at least accomplices of some sort.

Why don’t you all join me as I participate in Procrastinating, Dilly-dallying and Puttering.

Words Related to Procrastination

dalliance
dawdling
dabbling
delay
delaying
dilly-dallying
frittering
frivoling
idling
loafing
loitering
playing
poking
procrastinating
puttering
toying
trifling

Don’t touch anything sharp.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

A grey cube

A grey cubeI have been working on character development for the 2016 NaNoWriMo Event.

Over the past few weeks I have been developing characters using college ruled paper, a fountain pen and paperclips.

I have my favorite reference books close at hand.  I will not open yWriter and begin my next novel until November 1st.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Every time I start a new novel I learn more about character development.

I want to share one of my new lightbulb moments with you.  I will begin with an excerpt from The Old Testament book of Ezekiel from the King James Version.

“And every one had four faces:

the first face was the face of a cherub,

and the second face was the face of a man,

and the third the face of a lion

and the forth the face of an eagle.”

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

A grey cube         Imagine your character as a cube.  The surfaces may have huge or subtle differences in color, form, brightness or darkness.  A character possesses human traits and emotions, all on a continuum.  These characteristics may be muted or amplified depending on era, setting and situation.

One of my characters has a work persona.  Her work face or cube surface at work is confident, calm, businesslike and easy to get along with.  Over time, we might discover she has a love for horses.  At work she keeps this part of her cube mostly turned away.

People on the ranch see another cube surface.  She is happy, free, in control and a little horse poop is all in a day’s ride.  The people at the ranch to do not see her work surface.  There is no need to turn that outward.  No one knows she is buttoned down and controlled by her company’s expectations.

Character Development – NaNoWriMo 2016 Prep

Your character’s backstory, nurturing, nature and life experience write on that cube that represents who she is.

Under normal circumstances your reader can observe the work-a-day/recreational surfaces but there is much more going on.

Change the normal situation into something unexpected and the cube will transform.  Repressed traits on another surface break through.  We see an evolving character.  She will adapt and comply or maybe she’ll come completely undone.

Her control issues may surface in an amplified way.  This may distort or cover this character’s cube surfaces.  She may present a yet to be seen surface.

The good worker who loves riding horses is still there but those traits have been dialed back or muted.

As her world begins to change, she begins to change.

A character developed as a kind, giving and loving person may turn and face you with a surface projecting a more human and flawed persona.  Put more pressure on her and she may stalk and prey on you with the skill and strength of a lion.  Present another situation and she might swoop down on your pages as an eagle swooping in for the kill.

Human personality exists on a continuum.  Some traits which are deeply hidden or controlled will surface in reaction to an abnormal situation or event.

When you are working your character remember all sides.  What events will mute or amplify her character traits.  Let her show more than one surface.  Show us the corners, the darkened cells holding repressed memories, the bright and shiny bits of pride and accomplishment.

            Let her be a cherub, a human, a lion and an eagle.

cherubim

 

 

What is a Submission Packet and Why Do I Need One?

Submission Packet clipart folders

What is a Submission Packet and Why Do I Need One?

You have your novel written, revised, revised, edited, revised again, already.  Now, you want to start looking for a publisher.  Your words need a home.

 

Authors need to have a Submission Packet.  The infamous Query Letter is only the start of this Packet.  The following components go into a file on or off of your computer called the Submission Packet.

 

  • The Query Letter
  • The Submission Synopsis
  • Sample Chapters
  • The Cover Letter
  • The Manuscript

The Query Letter

Most of us know about the query letter.  There are as many how-to sites for writing query letters as there advertisements on the Home Shopping Network.

The Synopsis

The Submission Synopsis is not a plot summary of your novel.  The synopsis uses a specific form.  They are written in the present tense even though the novel may be written in past tense.  It follows a single viewpoint character through the plot.  This may seem restrictive if you have a novel containing three story lines and seven POV characters.  The synopsis also uses the third person even though your novel might be telling itself from the first person perspective.  You have to tell how your novel ends.  This is not a burb or a hook.  You should have a long and a short synopsis in your packet.

 

The Submission Synopsis should follow these guidelines.

  • Single or Double Spaced with 1 inch margins and numbered pages.
  • Present tense.
  • Third Person.
  • Begin with a strong hook.
  • Follows a single viewpoint character to the end.
  • Mention the VP character’s motivations or goals.
  • Follow the story chronologically from beginning to ending.
  • Sticks to essential plot elements.
  • Uses a dramatic tone and presentation.
  • Always includes the ending.

 

Sample Chapters.

You will want to include sample chapters in your Submission Packet file.  Some publishers ask for 3 chapters.  I’ve submitted the first 50 or almost 50 pages.  These three chapters don’t have to be from the start of your book.  But the first three chapters might do the work of hook setting and you never want to make anyone in the publishing house work to catch onto your plot.

 

The Cover Letter

This is not a Query Letter.  The Query Letter is part of the Submission Packet Files.  On a time-line, we’d Query first.  When asked for more we go back into our Submission File for the other documents.

The cover letter accompanies the other items in your file.  It reminds the publisher that the contents of the package were indeed requested.

You should include your hook again and itemize what you have included in the package they just opened on their desk or computer.

 

The Manuscript

Your manuscript should be formatted in a traditional way.  Submission guidelines will help you out.  If only chapters were requested, do not include the full manuscript.

 

Clipart disorganized file systemWhy do you need to have a Submission Packet?

Because it makes you an efficient writer.  It saves time.  It sets you up for success.  Put in time on these files and you won’t have to scramble when the agent or publisher gives you the nod.  With all of these things tucked away and ready to go you can start on your next project because nothing sells a first book better than a second book.

This is the end of my post about Submission Packets.

Don’t touch anything sharp.

Submission Packet Contents

  • The Query Letter

  • The Submission Synopsis

  • Sample Chapters

  • The Cover Letter

  • The Manuscript

 

 

 

 

Fiction Friday – Cannibal Prompt

Fiction Friday a Writing Prompt

I am using a Prompt from A Year of Writing Prompts 365 Story Ideas for Honing Your Craft and Eliminating Writer’s Block by Brian A. Klems and Zachary Petit.  This is a Writer’s Digest book well worth $7.99.

clipart stew pot
Fiction Friday – Cannibal Prompt

From the e-book January 29 entry –

Fine Young Cannibals

You have been captured by cannibals. How do you convince them not to eat you? If that fails how do you attempt to get away?

(I only use one cannibal in my entry)

An ancient woman is stoking a fire in her hearth. She comes back to the counter and begins chopping root vegetables. “How much to you think you weigh, sweetie?”

“You aren’t thinking what I think you’re thinking?”

The old woman plunks a heavy iron pot up on the counter. “You look a bit scrawny, that’s okay though.”

“I am, really, you should try that hen I saw out in the side yard. If you un-truss me, I’ll go get it for you. I’ll even lop her head off with that ax.”

“Nah, I am in the mood for the other ‘white meat.’”

“Then I think in the interest of full self-disclosure I am not just scrawny, I am bitter. Really, I am a mean evil, bitter, bitter woman. You don’t want to eat me.”

“Bitter, you say. What kind of bitter?”

“My husband dumped me for a newer model, a real freaking model, blonde, vapid.”

“Go on.”

“My boss said I was out of date, he promoted a kid with pimples to be my supervisor.”

“And?”

“I was out for an afternoon hobble when you offered me tea and cookies. When I came inside you knocked me silly, trussed me up and now it looks like I’m going to be the main entrée at a dinner for one.”

The woman snatched up the knife she’d put down while I was pleading my case. She leaned over me.

“That’s it girlie, I’m cutting you lose.”

“What? Why?”
“Just go, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

I almost ran back to my apartment. Sure I wasn’t dinner tonight, but now I know I am not even good enough to eat. There should be some comfort in this ending but all I want to do tonight is marinate in a bottle of red wine.

Then End…

Don’t touch anything sharp.

All Fiction Friday Posts 

Go down to the comment box if you’d like to add your own response to today’s prompt.

Hello World – Sally is in the Building!

A Sign Saying I'm BackI’m back.

I have renewed my Domains for Writerly Wednesday and Fiction Friday. I have my virus protection up-to-date and may be starting a job with another publisher, soon.

What? Someone asked where I have been?

No one would believe the stranger than fiction story behind my quiet spell. Let’s just say that when I am in a persistent vegetative state, a journal will surface.

I am going to put out a call for Writerly Wednesday Submissions and get back into my Fiction Friday Posts. I am even thinking about putting a toe into self-publishing my Spoon River of Houses anthology.

A few people have suggested I try my hand at some Writerly Workshops.

Hello World Name Tag

So, Hello World – Sally is in the Building!

 

If you have been a previous guest at Writerly Wednesday you are welcome to come back.  If you have a new book fiction, non-fiction or creative non-fiction that has a buy link, go ahead and shoot me an email. Full Info is here.. 

Thank You Heather McPherson for Doing it So Well

ESOPUS 22: MEDICINE

 

“…Our car felt like an oversize costume we had to wear; we were trapped inside and the eyeholes didn’t match up.”

To Save a Life by Heather McPherson

ESOPUS 22:  MEDICINE (Spring 2015)

 

 

 

Sometimes, someone writes something so vivid, so right or so wrong, that I want to reach into the book and render help to the character on the page.

Thank you Tod Lippy and all of the people at ESOPUS and thank you Heather McPherson for doing it so well.

 

I Saw What You Did Last Spring

Potatoes al la Doris graphic of potatoes
Potatoes al la Doris

“I’m pleased to be here, today.

I’m a little nervous.

We are gathered here, today, to dedicate this garden to the Hirsham Community.”

Papers rustle to the ground.

“I’m sorry, I can’t do this.. I can’t.” Pepper’s hands tremble. She pauses and begins to recite the email she received just before appearing in front of the best gardeners in the community.

 

The letter won’t leave her mind.  She sees the words hanging over the group.  Thinking is impossible.

“Dear Pepper;
I saw what you did last spring.
You thought no one would ever find you out.”

Pepper can’t stop talking.  She is saying the words hanging over the gardener’s bright hats and tries to stop, talking, reading.

“What you didn’t know, was that I’d been there before you. I saw what was hidden at the back of the shed. Back behind the rake and hoe.

At this point it is becoming obvious to everyone there that something is terribly wrong. Some folks are looking around at each other as if to confirm the unfolding event. 

“When I first saw it, I thought it was an animal. Dead, but an animal. Brown, tangled. Dried leaves stuck in there.
Then I thought it was an old wig. What it was doing stuffed behind the garden tools, I couldn’t guess. But it wasn’t a wig.
When I nudged it away from the wall, it tumbled to face me with a hideous broken toothed grin.”

Now the crowd has gone completely silent.

 
“It was the gold rimmed tooth that gave it away.
I always thought the gold made her look old, trashy, even.
But that’s no reason to lop off Doris’s head and sweep it into the corner like that.

A lady in the back row gasps and claps her hands to her chest.
Why didn’t you put it with the rest of her? You know. The dried up body you buried at the edge of the garden? Right there with the potatoes.”

 

New Plant and Spade
Garden Party

Pepper paused to look at the potato patch, not ready for harvest but growing quite well. A lot of heads followed her gaze.
She continued her recitation.
“How long did it take to dry her up, like that?
Where were you keeping her?
I knew something was up when I saw you bent and sweaty with a wheelbarrow at your side.
I know what you did last spring.
Always watching,
Anita”

 

The crowd mumbles. Someone laughs. Mostly they’re gawking in stunned silence.
Pepper excuses herself and darts off toward her car.
Finally Mrs. Sims, the group organizer, steps up to the podium, crunching the dropped pages under her heels.

“Is Anita here?”

 

Fiction Friday – Cell Phones and Junk Drawers

Clip Art of a Cell Phone

Welcome to Fiction Friday…

Today I will talk about Cell Phones and Junk Drawers

Clip Art of a Cell Phone
Clip Art of a Cell Phone

I knew something was wrong when the two symbols at the bottom of my cell phone were the only things that lit.

How do we mortals fix our electronics?

We turn them off.  Then turn them on again.

When you call a cell phone support tech from someone else’s cell phone they always ask the annoying question.

“Did you try turning it off?”

When you go to the emergency room the nurses aide, nurse and the doctor on call will always ask…

Bedpan clip art
Did you try turning it off?

“When was your last bowel movement?”

Sorry, got off subject…

Okay, nothing on my phone was responding to my touch.  I did not know how to turn it completely off.  So I pried the protective covering off using my thumbnail and a pen.

I couldn’t figure out how to get the back off so I could pull the battery out.  I had never seen the phone out of its protective clothing and discovered some thin plastic around the silver edging to pull off.

Then I noticed I was leaving finger prints on the back and obsessed over getting those off.  A naked sound control and a naked power button cried out to be pressed.  This resulted in more fingerprints.

During my cleaning breakdown I thought of my Kindle.  To shut them down I always pressed and held the power button.

YES.  It worked.  I shut the phone all the way down and restarted it.

fingerprint clip art
Oh, no, I keep touching it everywhere!

Then set to work on the fingerprints, again.  While I was cleaning the back I bought something on Google.  I think it was a book but I can’t find it, now.  Hope it wasn’t a car.

I got everything shined up and put the protective gear back on my phone when a message popped up to remind me it is Fiction Friday.

 

Welcome to Fiction Friday

Junk Drawers…
 Drawers tell a lot about a person.  You really want to know your neighbor’s mind, just look in the junk drawer.

When you feel stuck with your WIP check out his or her junk drawer.  You never know what you might find…

The following is an excerpt of a NaNo Project from November 2008.. The point of NaNoWriMo is to write without editing.. and keep writing.  The excerpt below is in its very first seat of my pants draft..

What’s in your Junk Drawer?

            Back at the house, Elizabeth chopped up some veggies for a salad and loaded the dishwasher with the morning’s cup and plate.  She sat with her salad and tap water wondering what to do next.  Then after some thought a junk drawer caught her eye.

Drawers tell a lot about a person.  You really want to know your neighbor’s mind, just look in the junk drawer.  There were a few junk drawers in the house she had shared with Steve over the last two decades.  She started with the kitchen.

Rubberbands and paperclips.  Rubberbands have a sort of half life, a point at wich they stop stretching and stop snapping.  She pulled the small trash can from beneath the sink and dropped them in.  She didn’t really need the paper clips either, when was the last time anyone needed to clip paper?  Out they went.  A stray butter knife she tossed into the sink.  Ink pen, blue, two bic pens, black, out.

You know what, she thought out loud, I’m tossing it all.  The pulled the drawer free and tipped the contents into the round file.  The little rubber mat stuck fast so she sat the drawer back up on the counter and pried it loose at one corner with a finger nail.  She pulled it loose the rest of the way, rolling it as she went.  Beneath there was an envelope.  An old crusty thing, she poked the rubber mat into the trash and began lifting the dingy paper from the drawer bottom.  She was about to toss it out of hand when the return address caught her eye.

Come back next week to see another Fiction Friday Post..

Don’t touch anything sharp…

Fiction Friday – They Never Saw it Coming

Photo of Quaking Aspen Blooms

Welcome to Fiction Friday – They Never Saw it Coming

Photo of Quaking Aspen Blooms
Quaking Aspen Blooms

Winter is slow to release its icy grip on spring time.  Tulip and Iris bulbs sleep frozen earth.  But the Quaking Aspens defy Old Man Winter and sport some understated blooms.

Photo of a Doe and her Fawns
Family of Deer

Little by little the grass begins to green.  Bunnies play among the fawns and birds try to get to the bird feeders before the squirrels and deer empty them.

Some things you’ll never see coming.  It isn’t written in the stars.  It will come like a thief in the night.

Afterward all sorts of people, religious groups and network news analysts will lie and say they knew it all along.

The Tulips and Irises will wait.  It is going to be difficult for wild things but they will adapt.  Human kind?  Well… first ‘hearts will go out’ and slogans will pop up and different groups will try to help pick up the pieces and put them back.  But soon everyone will begin thinking of themselves.

Some people are survivors.  Some are great at coping.  Some will lay down and die.  It is going to be a difficult time and when they write the history books they’ll agree they never saw it coming.

 

 

Fiction Friday – Paved with Good Intentions

photo of a laptop printer and USB drives

Hello Readers and Welcome to Fiction Friday.

Fiction Friday – Paved with Good Intentions

 

Last week I posted a very short scene.  A Simple Scene.  I re-wrote the scene, yesterday and hid it in a reply.

I am a neglectful writer, filled with good intentions.  I’ve heard the road to hell is paved with good intentions.  I am not at all sure what that means. But I love to research… let me look it up..

Meaning

The intention to engage in good acts often fails. It points up the principle that there is no merit in good intentions unless they are acted on.

From The Phrase Finder

photo of a laptop printer and USB drives
My Jumble of Writerly Stuff

Okay, that is out of the way.  I am going to tell you what is holding me up on my not so current writing project.

  • It is an old project and the files are scattered between at least two laptops, my SkyDrive and probably 3 USB discs.
  • While reading and arranging scenes I get sidetracked by characters who may deserve their own books.

And —

  • The work involved in gathering files, sorting and copying scenes seems TOO complicated, like a hoarder’s home, I don’t really know where to start.

I would like to hear about your ‘writing process.’  Don’t be shy, leave a comment.

If I Should Die and Milk Carton People by Sally Franklin Christie are available at your favorite book-seller in print and e-formats for your favorite e-reader.

Thank you for visiting and don’t touch anything sharp.