Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Wisteria Writer's Tag (and a Sneak Peek at "Cloaked")

I have borrowed the Wisteria Writer's Tag from Mary Horton at Sunshine and Scribblings because I'm procrastinating it looks like fun.  She didn't add new writing questions of her own, so I'm just answering the ones she answered.  I happen to love wisteria, so couldn't resist this one!  Mary, you didn't actually nominate me, but I shall say Thank You to you anyway, for posting this where I could snurch it :-)

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer the ten questions asked.
3. Add ten (writing or book related) questions of your own.
4. Nominate people.

1. Which of your writing projects is your favorite and why?

No, but honestly, people think this is an answerable question?  How can I choose one favorite?  Do you know the sorts of sad and lonely and unloved and disappointed looks I'd get from all the others?  I can't choose a favorite.

Now, a favorite character... weirdly, that's easier.  Right now, my favorite is Hauer, a very important person in my Red Riding Hood western, "Cloaked."  I would totally marry him.

(I hope all the questions aren't this hard to answer.)

2. Can you share some snippets from your favorite project? (and no you cannot say no to this IT IS MANDATORY)

But I just said that I don't have a favorite project.  How about I just share a little bit from "Cloaked," which I really ought to be working on instead of doing this tag?  This is the opening paragraph:

The stagecoach was smaller than Mary Rose had expected, more cramped. Two people would only just fit on each wooden bench—if you didn’t know your neighbor well already, you would by the end of the ride, she guessed. And yet, a man had contrived to fall asleep on one of those small seats, the forward-facing one, curled up on his back with his knees in the air, his dusty boots tipped up against the side, heels on the seat. No spurs on his boots to mar the wooden bench, at least. He had his arms crossed over his chest and his stained brown hat settled companionably over his face. Mary Rose wondered if all the rattling and jostling of her entrance would disturb him, but he never stirred. So she sat down across from him, smoothing out the skirt of her brown travelling dress so it would be at least somewhat presentable by the end of her ride.

(1880s traveling dress)

3. What is your favorite tense (past, present, future) and voice (first person, second person, third person, etc) to write in?

I prefer to write in past tense.  Very much so.  For fiction, that is -- sometimes I write movie reviews in present tense because that's fun.  I've written lots of fiction in both first and third person, but second person is really hard to pull off, and I don't think I handle it well, so I don't use it.

4. When is your favorite time to write?

In the morning.  Sometimes I even get to, if I can skip off to Starbucks on a Saturday while Cowboy takes the kids to the grocery store.  But I do most of my writing at night, after my kids are in bed.  Fiction-writing, that is -- I write blog posts at any time of day or night.

5. What is the most unpleasant thing you've put one of your characters through?

Okay, so... I have written and co-written more than 30 stories set in WWII, all fan-fiction for the TV show Combat! -- and the awful truth is that lots of bad stuff happens in war.  LOTS.  I've beaten, shot, stabbed, blown up, burned, and bludgeoned a lot of characters over the years.

I think the worst thing would be a toss-up from when I killed all of Saunders' squad at once in "The Better Part of Valor" and when I convinced Hanley that Saunders was dead in "Lost."  Though the latter was temporary.  I could never kill my beloved Saunders.

(Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders on Combat!)

I just realized that this answer totally shows that I consider emotional pain to be worse than physical pain.  It interests me much more, too.

6. Are you a more character-driven writer or a more plot-driven writer?

Character-driven, allllllll the way.  I struggle with plots.  Basically all of my story ideas start out with "Oh, this is a cool character!  I like this person.  Oh, this is another great character!  I like them too."  And then I have to think up a terrible situation, toss them in it, and see what they do.  I'm really bad at plots sometimes -- this is part of why I've fallen in love with writing fairy tale retellings.  The plot is there, I just have to put my own characters in it.

7. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I'm a plantser.  I have to know the basic beats of my story before I start writing -- where it starts, where it ends, and some of what happens in the middle.  The plot points have to be there or I'll get muddled.  But I cannot plot the whole thing out ahead of time.  I can't outline.  When I do that, it kills the joy and I never actually write the story because all the fun and adventure of discovery is gone.

8. What is your favorite word processing system to write in and why do you like it?

I like Microsoft Word because I'm used to it.

(So I should stop procrastinating, huh?)

9. If you were left on an abandoned island with the last character you wrote about, how would that go for you?

It would go really well if I was stuck there with any of the good guys from "Cloaked."  I'd prefer being stuck there with Hauer, because as I said earlier, I would totally marry him.  And he's skilled at living off the land.  But Mary Rose and I would be good friends, and I think we'd muddle through surviving all right, as she's a great blend of optimism and sensibleness.  I'd be fine with Jubilee too.  As long as I don't get stuck there with my Bad Guy, I'd be fine :-)  I suppose I could just kill and eat him if necessary.

(OH MAN, now I've got him staring at me in aghast horror at the revelation that I would cannibalize him.  Sorry, dude, you'd totally deserve it.)

10. What is your favorite writing resource? (this could be a blog, website, newsletter, writing book, that one pet who listens to all your writerly ramblings, anything basically)

My best friend.  I could not do this without her.  She's my Ideal Reader, my Writing Mentor, my Cattle Prod, and my trustiest of Trusty Scouts.

(She's also really great at braiding my  hair.)

I was not tagged with this, so I'm not going to tag anyone either.  If you're a writer and want to fill this tag out, have at it!

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Four Fictional Characters Tag

MovieCritic of Movies Meet Their Match tagged me with this a while ago.  Thanks, MC!  I'm pretty fascinated by what makes me relate to characters, and I spend a good bit of time thinking about this sort of thing, so it's fun to share four of those with you.

The Rules: 
1. Link back to the person who tagged you. 
2. List four fictional characters (use pictures if you want! They can be from movies or books) and, if you like, describe what they're like and why you believe they relate to you. 
3. Tag a few other blog people! Three, or four, or even twenty. :) Share the fun! Be sure to let them know you've tagged them!

1.  Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015).  Illya and I share the tendency to get obsessive when we're on a quest for something.  We follow what we want in the most relentless way we know.  We're also both hesitant to begin new relationships, be they friendships or romances, and very cautious about who we trust.  And I'm afraid we both tend to want to smash stuff when we're angry.  He actually does it, I just want to, but it's still there.

2.  Lucy Moteratz (Sandra Bullock) from While You Were Sleeping (1995).  Lucy is the first fictional character that I ever looked at and said, "That's so me."  If I were single, I would decorate a Christmas tree just for me and my pet.  I've totally worn my dad's old clothes just to feel close to him (even though my dad's still alive).  We're both helpful, we both like to feel needed, and we're both fond of giving Christmas presents to random people who might not expect them.

3.  Bard the Bowman (Luke Evans) from The Hobbit films (2013-14).  Everything Bard does, he does for his kids.  He's a devoted, caring, protective parent.  Me too.  Bard and I both tend to reluctantly assume authority if no one else is willing or able to step up to the task.  And like Bard, I tend to give people second chances even when others say they don't deserve them.

4.  John Reid from The Lone Ranger (2013).  John and I are both loyal -- sometimes so loyal it causes us problems.  Once you gain our trust, we will trust you forever, and with just about anything.  We both like boxing.  Neither of us are quite as cool as we'd like to think.  We both will take only so much annoyance before we blow our tops and start stomping around shouting.  Shouting very sarcastic things, I might add.  And we're both prone to rescuing kittens.

Okay, those were my four!  I'm going to tag four people:

Cordy at Write On, Cordy!
DKoren at Sidewalk Crossings
Eva at Coffee, Classics, and Craziness
Hayden Wand at A Singular and Whimsical Problem

Play if you want to :-)  And if I didn't tag you and you want to do this, I hereby tag you too!

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

The Shadow in "Femnista"

"Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"  That's how the radio drama The Shadow began every episode.  The title of my latest Femnista article, "The Shadow Knows," is how they answered that question.  Read the article here if you want to learn more about why I think that question and its answer explain why The Shadow was such a popular character for so many years.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Summer To-Do List 2017

Right!  Time for a new to-do list.  Here are the things I'd like to accomplish before September:

~ Read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

~ Read 4 other books from my TBR shelves

~ Read 5 books from the library


~ Watch 5 movies from my TBW shelves

~ Rig up a new cover for our deck swing

~ Finish the skirts and cape I'm sewing for my kids

~ Finish my Newt Scamander scarf (I mean, it can't take me forever to knit one scarf, can it?  This has to end sometime.)


~ Reorganize the shelves where I keep all my homeschooling materials and supplies

~ Order curriculum for the new school year

~ Make lesson plans for the class on creative writing I'll be teaching our new homeschool co-op group

~ Clean up my crafting corner

~ Organize my kids' crafting cabinet

~ Publish "Cloaked"

That last item is going to use up a lot of my time and brain-power, I know, so I'm letting this list be a bit shorter than many of mine!

How about you?  Got anything special you'd like to get accomplished this summer?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

"Five Poisoned Apples" Cover Reveal and Contest Info

Hey, guess what?  Today's the day that Rooglewood Press announces their final fairy tale retelling contest!  And I get to be part of the reveal.  Here it is!!!

I don't know about you, but I think this is the prettiest one yet.  The cover photo is by Wynter Clark, and the design is by Julia Popova, who also designed the previous covers in this series.

If you're interested in entering the contest, the official page is right here.

You know that I won the previous contest, and my story "The Man Buckskin Horse" is now available in Five Magic Spindles.  I'm excited to also announce today that I will be involved in the publication of Five Poisoned Apples too -- but this time as a judge!  That's going to be such fun.  In fact, I'm looking forward to it so much, I'm posting about it on both of my blogs!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Results of My Spring To-Do List 2017

Memorial Day is past, and since that's the day that (in my mind) kicks off summer, I'd say it's time to see how much I accomplished from this year's Spring To-Do List.

~ Read Hood by Stephen Lawhead  Check!  My review is here.

~ Read Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.  Fail.  I'm putting it on my summer to-do list.

~ Read 4 more books from my TBR shelves.  Check!  I read The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson, Wizards, Hobbits, and Harry Potter edited by Mark Whitlock,  and two books for the INSPY Awards (I don't want to say which ones so I don't want to seem to have favorites based on which books I read first).

~ Read 4 books from the library.  Check!  In fact, I read TEN.  They were The Trouble Begins at 8 by Sid Fleischman, Rogue One by Alexander Freed, Black, White, Other: In Search of Nina Armstrong by Joan Steinau Lester, Jane and the Stillroom Maid by Stephanie Barron, Something Rich and Strange by Ron Rash, The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend by Glenn Frankel, April Twilights and Other Poems by Willa Cather, Superman Versus the Ku Klux Klan by Rich Bowers, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, and one book for the INSPY Awards (but again, I don't want to name which one).  It was a great spring for reading!!!

~ Watch The Great Gatsby (2013)  Fail.  I wanted to get it watched before I started my read-along, but that's kind of not happening, I guess.

~ Watch 4 more movies from my TBW shelves.  Check!  I watched Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004), Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008), The Three Musketeers (2011), Francis the Talking Mule (1950), and Ambush at Cimarron Pass (1958) -- that's five, and a nice mix of modern and classic.  I also finished season 6 of Castle and watched Alan Ladd's episode "Committed" from General Electric Theater (1954), so I got those off my TBW shelves too.

~ Start blogging about how 2017 is the 500th anniversary of the start of the Protestant Reformation  Check!  My first post is here, and there will be more to come.

~ Sew a skirt using a new pattern (I want to try this one) and the Jane Austen fabric I bought a while ago from Etsy shop Cute Little Fabric Shop  Semi-check!  I did make a new skirt for Easter using that pattern, but I used different fabric because I'm not sure the straight lines of the fabric I wanted to use would really work well with that pattern.  Still searching for one that will.

~ Finish knitting my Newt Scamandar scarf  Fail.  It's getting longer, though!  Almost 3 feet long, I reckon.  As long as I finish it before cold weather sets in again, that's what matters, right?

~ Finish the rewrites of "Cloaked" and be into the pesky line-editing stage.  Check!  My "editing team" has the story again, and I'm looking forward to their input.  Still planning on a summer release, probably in August.  This has gone from a long short story to a short novel, and I am looking into releasing it in print as well as e-book form.

~ Bake myself something ridiculously chocolatey for my birthday.  Check!  I made chocolate-orange cake from this recipe.  As you can see, we didn't wait quite long enough for the topping to set before we dug in, but it was soooooo moist and dense and delicious!  And a great size for us to just have it a couple times and then be finished with it, and thus not have cake around the house for days and days.

~ Make a miniature Hobbit home in one of my flower containers out on my deck.  Check!  You can read all about it here.

~ Hold my annual group yard sale.  Fail.  But only because we got rained out -- we will have it later this summer instead!  I have it all organized, and a whole passel of my friends have their sale items tagged and ready to go, so it's just a matter of there being a Saturday that works for all of us where it doesn't rain.

I had such a productive and enjoyable spring!  Did you get something accomplished, read, watched, cleaned, or made?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Robin Hood Giveaway Winners!

Oo-da-lolly!  Time to announce the giveaway winners.  Here they be:

Lois J. -- The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle

Art3mis Took -- Robin Hood notebook

MovieCritic -- The Adventures of Robin Hood by Roger Lancelyn Green

Olivia -- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Eva -- Princess of Thieves (2001)

Natalie -- Robin Hood, Maid Marian, and Allan-a-Dale notebook

Congratulations, winners!  Check your email for a message from me about how to give me your mailing address so I can get your prize to you.

Everyone who didn't win, I'm sorry :-(  Better luck next time!  I've already got some spiffy prizes for us to celebrate the end of my Great Gatsby read-along, which begins on Thursday, don't forget.  (And that giveaway will be open world-wide!)