Sylvia's blog

Sylvia's blog

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Quagmire (n): A situation that is hard to deal with or get out of; a situation that is full of problems. Conundrum (n): a confusing or difficult problem.

So, based on the definitions above, can a person have a conundrum in a quagmire? A difficult problem in a confusing situation?

First, I'd like to say that I chose the above words because they sound funny, and are words that just describes two simple things...a difficult situation and a difficult problem.   I come from a world that uses the K.I.S.S. principle all the time...Keep It  Simple, Stupid.  So when I hear people say that their "situation is something of a quagmire." Or they "have a conundrum."  I just smile. You got a bad problem!  Don't be fancy with it.

Secondly, does using those two words make your situation worst?  Your problem worst?  Or is a bad situation or problem just that...bad?

Writers have a tendency to use words in their works that they feel are more impressive, or expressive, than simple words.  I'm not sure whether it's to impress the reader with their vocabulary or because they feel that the more expressive they are, the more elevated their work is portrayed.  I tend to put these books down, to be picked up later.

I write simply.  Too simple for some authors.  It's been said that my books are layered with simple constructed sentences and that my characters are not as expressive as they could be because of it.  I can understand that because I write like I talk.  My characters have my thoughts and my wise-ass manner.  My slang and dialect comes out in my characters.  It's unfortunate sometimes because one of my main characters (MC) is Australian and I don't know anyone from Australia and even listening to movies and television doesn't give the sense of what a real Australian would say in the situations I put my MC.  It's also unfortunate because any country that puts out a commodity like Chris Hemsworth (and his siblings! Gawd, you guys are lucky in Australia!) should be genuinely represented in my books.

It's just that I feel my readers...all readers as a matter of fact...have vivid imaginations and can hear the characters' voices the way they (the readers) feel should be portrayed.  The readers can visualize each book's characters the way they see them. The readers don't have to see Chris as my Australian character, like I do. They can see Sam Worthington or even Alex O'Loughlin....Geeze, what choices!  Trying to decide between those three...a confusing problem.

I do like that conundrum. In my own private quagmire.

By the way, book 2, The Agreement: The First Year, is out on Amazon and the third will be out by April 2015.  Thanks for your support.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Magnet (noun) - Something or someone that attracts people or things.

 I really hate to say this but I believe I've become a magnet. I'm attracting...(sigh)...cats. I don't know how it started and I've done nothing to encourage it, but it's happening.

Case in point....I have a potted Christmas cactus at my front door, and I started noticing sandy-gray fur snagged in cracks in the pot.  I also noticed that every morning some of the succulent leaves would be on the ground around the plant. These were leaves that were healthy and still green and firm, but somehow they were now on the ground.  So I would pick the leaves up and curse whatever furry creature was rubbing it's nasty little body against my potted plant.  At my back door, I  noticed a white cat curled up in the leaves taking a nap (yeah, the pile of leaves in the back yard is a whole 'nother blog entry!).  He wasn't bothering anything, but would raise it's head whenever I go to the back door.  I would say "hey," and keep on doing whatever in the kitchen.  Six weeks ago, my next door neighbor asked me if I had a cat and I, correctly, said no.  A week later, I opened the front door to go to work and there is this big long-haired sandy-gray cat stretched out across the length of my door.  He barely moved to my "Shoo! Shoo!  Get out of the way!"  Now every morning there is the sandy-gray monster in the front, and every evening when I come home the short-haired white one is in the back yard.  I don't feed them.  I don't leave water out for them. I just say "hey," which I feel is the polite thing to do.

I have a theory.... I am post menopausal.  My estrogen levels are near empty.  My pheromones no longer are strong enough to attract a good man.  Maybe, when you get a certain age, however, whatever hormones, or Mones, you have left attracts lower-life creatures....dogs, birds, rabbits, fish...Cats!!  Old women wearing shawls and having 84 cats in the house are not doing it because they want to.  They have that many creatures around them because they are attracting magnets!  It's unavoidable.  It's kismet! It's fate....Destiny.  I'm doomed.

I haven't named the two cats yet but I do refer to them as male cats.  I'm just hoping that's how these things work....

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Assumption (n) - a fact or statement taken for granted.

Today I was driving to an appointment an hour away from my place, and turned on the radio for company.  Normally, I'd tune to the satellite radio channel but since I was not on the freeway yet, I listened to the local station.  A song from the 70's came on, and the chorus had the guy singing, "Give it to me. Give it to me, baby". I was singing along and turned the channel after it was over.  For the next half hour I contemplated what "it" meant.  What did he want his baby to give him? I 'assumed' that "it" was sex since he had mentioned he got home the night before and his lady friend didn't make love to him.  But was I just making an assumption that was what he was talking about the next day?

When we hear sexually charged songs and the actual word 'sex' isn't actually mention, we just assume, with the rest of the song's content, that the "it" is sex.  But what if, in the song I was listening to (and we know it was the next day he was singing to his lady friend), the 'baby' was making breakfast and he was in a hurry that morning...the "Give it to me, baby", could have been the breakfast.  Or later that evening, she had fried some nice hot, crispy chicken, and they were talking and he said, "Give it to me, baby."  It could have been about the chicken, wouldn't you say?  I know I will always ask for fried chicken if I see it, and besides it was the next day, folks.  He could have been asking, "Give it to me" over anything.  And what self-respecting woman would just comply with, "Give it to me," when the dude has none nothing to get "it" (if we're talking about sex)?   I write romance in my novels.  None of my heroines would even think of giving "it" without the guy working for it.  Just begging, "Give it to me", would not fly.  Let's just not assume the "it" in the songs/novels is all about sex.  Think before you make any assumptions.  Substitute 'fried chicken' for "it", and see if that works too.  The song writer could have had something else in mind.

But again, what do I know...I haven't been laid in a long time.  Tomorrow a guy could wink at me and I would be thinking he wanted "it".  He could just have dust in his eye.

I'm just sayin'....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Procrastinate (transitive verb) - to be slow or late about doing something that should be done; or delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it, because you are lazy.

I often thought that if you looked up the noun version of the word, you would see a picture of me looking straight at you with a big-ass grin.  Yes, I am a procrastinator.  If there was an anonymous group for us, I would have to stand up and say, "Hi. I'm Sylvia and I'm a procrastinator."

I guess it's nothing to be proud of, but I have to admit to it.  I think it started when I was younger.  My mom assigned us kids household chores to do every Saturday morning, and my job was to clean the bathroom.  Mother would leave to go do errands and we were expected to get our chores done.  I was the youngest and it frustrated my sisters that I would wait until the last minute, right before I knew Mom was coming home, to start my cleaning. Sometimes they would have to help. I was always being yelled at...mostly by my sisters.

In school, I was one of those students who didn't have to study.  I got A's and B's...until I went to college and then realized I had no clue how to keep up.  I always waited until the last minute to read assignments.  There were long nights before exams sitting in the hallway trying to cramp "knowledge" into my brain.  Now, if it was just reading I didn't  mind, but 'forced' reading was a different matter.  I hate to be forced to read anything.  You can see how this may have cause problems in my military career.  I loved learning but studying for promotions put me to sleep every time. I did learn to meet deadlines...because I was forced to.

As an independent writer and self-publisher, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to publish traditionally and have such deadlines....having editors or agents calling you for rewrites or wanting new pages.  I'm sure it would be first...but knowing me, the procrastinator would rear it's ugly head sooner than later. Drat!

So I said all this to admit....I've been procrastinating again about completing my WIPs. I always say to myself, and others (you know who you are!) that life somehow got in the way, but I believe it's because I'm worried about the work.  I use to write for me and my family and friends.  I think everyone I know read the drafts of my books before I even self-published.  That's why I got the pity buys.  Why buy it when you've already read it and had easy access to the author?  Now that I'm starting to meet new authors and strangers are buying/downloading my work, I'm beginning to get that paranoid feeling that the work can't stand up to a readership. Reading other blogs and emailing/texting other writers I understand now that we all have that fear of success.  We want it, but we fear it.

Understanding that fear may not make me give up my procrastinating 'habit', but it's enough to get me to follow through.  Let's hope.  Or maybe I'm just lazy....

Monday, June 23, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

Tag - (transitive verb); to follow closely and persistently; to provide or mark with or as if with a tag.

My fellow writer/beta reader/goofy friend, Jennifer Kreft "tagged" me into this blog hop.  I will cause her pain all day!  Anyway, this blog is about my writing process, so hang on to your seats. Riveting stuff is on the way, but first let me tell you about Jen:

Jennifer is a former ad writer who took up novels after she decided to stay home with her three kids. Since then she's done a little bit of everything, from picture books to young adult, most recently completing a contemporary adult mystery. She likes her books to feature quirky characters and lots of pop culture references. After all, you can take the girl out of the ad agency, but you can never take the ad agency out of the girl.  

I've had the pleasure of reading several of Jennifer's stories, and you will enjoy them when they are published.  Check out her blog for updates.

What am I currently working on? 
I am presently trying to edit the second book in The Agreement series.  I've had it written for years but it needed tweeting after my beta readers (The Lovely Ladies) finished trashing it (smile).  No, I didn't change a lot after their review but am doing some editing.  For the last year I've been trying to get my first book in paperback, but am an idiot when it comes to technology, so now that I've gotten all the kinks worked out in the book interior, I can't get the cover to fit.  I get frustrated easily.  I also started a book about warrior fairies (human-like creatures), and another one about a family of hit-men. All that should keep me busy, huh?.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I don't think my work differs from any other mystery/romance that features strong women doing jobs along with male counterparts.  I think, as a writer, my work may not end as well, or as balance, as most novels.  I once had a German language instructor who told me she loved reading American novels because they all end well and happy.  My story endings may not be what the reader expects because life isn't so balance.  It's messy sometimes.  Endings aren't necessarily that happy.  Good guys die in real life.  Bad guys get away with murder. There are some uncompromising complications. Right?

Why do I write what I do? 
I really don't have a choice.  My characters are in my head and they yell at me until I get them on paper.  I'm not crazy.  It's just the stories are there and need to get out. I once watched one of those afternoon self-help shows and the question was "What would you do with your life if you knew you couldn't fail?"  The host was saying pick something you love to do, and make a business out of it.  I thought it was a easy answer. I loved to needlepoint so I'd work in a needle craft store and maybe own that business some day.  Then I thought about it.  There would be inventory, dealing with employees, not being able to tell irate customers to take a hike...etc.  Nope.  That wouldn't work.  The same with my quilting hobby or reading or listening to jazz.  I would still have to deal with the surrounding crap.  Then on July 3, 2005, I got up one morning and wrote my first fifty pages of The Agreement.  Hooked like a salmon in Alaska! I may not be making a living off of it yet, but anything I complete a chapter, I have not failed.

How does your writing process work?
I'm what they call a 'pantser'...I write by the seat of my pants.  No outlines, just write.  I do have dreams about my stories and make notes to remember (the characters yelling thingy), but I find most of the time when I'm in my writing zone, things change drastically and the story takes a huge left turn on the freeway, sort of speak.  So the bottom line is, I get on the computer and write, then edit, then write, then edit, then send manuscript to the beta group, then get yelled at (smiled), and then edit and write some more. And when I go back and read what I've written, I always smile and think, "Wow, I actually am a writer." It is a never ending, but satisfying, process.

Now, at the end of this "blog hop", I'm supposed to pass you on to another writer but Jen, and the rest of my group, sorta kinda did that already so let me give you some blogs I follow:

Jen's, of course,

Marianne's (Marianne is another brilliant writer who will probably have a traditional published work out in the near future.  Follow her blog).

Krissy's (Krissy and I are not related, although she's the biggest nag I have when it 
comes to pressuring me about finishing my novels!)

I follow others and will be adding them in blogs to come.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Friendship (n) - a friendly feeling or disposition; a friendly relation or intimacy; the state of being a friend.

Over the years I have had some good friendships and some bad friendships.  I have also been a good friend and have been a bad friend.  Whatever the circumstances, I have learned something from all of them, and I consider any time I've spent with them a blessing. Besides my upbringing and environment, the friendships I've had helped mold the person I am today.

I'm writing this post today for a special group of friends...or should I say two groups.  The first group was formed about two years ago out of a desire to be a better writer.  I met these friends on a contest writers' forum. Every year Amazon Publishing has a free contest trying to find the next great breakthrough novel....Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA).  Every year 10,000 entrants lobby to because a publishing/marketing prodigy of Amazon's.  It's a great contest with great forums/threads.  Anyway, that's how I met this group.  We formed a beta readers group where we meet once a month and review each others' writings and provide encouragement.

 I've entered ABNA four years now...well, technically, three years because the first year I waited to the last minute and the contest closed.  I still count that for some reason.  I guess the preparation has something to do with it.  There are several rounds you have to get through to become a finalist and I've only made it through the first round once, and that was last year.  The "Pitch" round, they call it, because it's your chance to pitch your book to a reviewer and make it sound better than the other 9,999 entrants.  Yesterday I found out that I didn't make it, but the five other members of my beta group did.  Although I'm a little disappointed, I'm not sad because five of my friends are still in the running....and there will always be next year for me to try again. My friendship with these people...strangers, really, because I've not met one of them in person...keeps me motivated to do something that I love and that I know will eventually help me to reach my author's goal.  My fingers are crossed for each of them .

The second group of friends are the ones here locally who know I write and enter this contest every year.  My friend Frank marks it on the office calendar. They are all mad with Amazon this morning.

Love them all.....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cannon fodder (n) - military soldiers who run the risk of being wounded or killed in warfare.

This noun seemed appropriate for the title of my blog because, as a self-published author,  there are many days I feel my dreams are on the verge of being killed, if not merely wounded.  Listen, I don't want your pity or want to sound depressing, but any artist will tell you, they wish they were further.

Having an author's dream is like stepping off that Greyhound bus in Hollywood, filled with  the talent and enthusiasm, thinking that you're the next "big thing".  We all feel our novels are going to be the J. K. Rowling's breakthrough.  Realistically, we are just hoping that someone likes the words we write.  Even when we tell family friends about our new chapters, or new inspirations, or what our writer's group is discussing, we just know in the back of their minds they're thinking, "Yeah, right, Sylvia. Bless your heart.  Hope you grow out of it soon." 

Writing...or story telling as I like to define my putting the characters that are shouting in your head every day out for public viewing;  Running the risk of scrutiny, critiques, rudeness, and downright meanness.  But every so often, we are rewarded with kindness, praise, helpfulness, and reader's joy.

I don't mind being cannon fodder for writing.  It's the risk a writer has to take.

I'm just sayin"....