Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Goals are one of those little things that most writers have. They range from specific--write 3000 words a week--to the vague--work on something connected to a work in progress most days.

I'm more on the vague side. In fact my goals for June are:
  • Word continuously on FF
  • Do the June exercises and house party at the Forum
I've done a great job on the second one, but the first, not so much. In fact, I've written hardly anything for FRIENDLY FIRE this month. Does that cause me to get down some days? You bet. But it is also the nature of writing to ebb and flow.

At the Forum, we have a running Goals Thread for each month. Since April, I've been the maven for this thread. You'd think that would help me with my goals, but so far, I haven't seen much of a connection. Of course I can blame my house renovation and various aches and pains, but, truthfully, I'm been a bit lazy.

So what about you? Are you a writer who works by the word count and have a widget to count the words in each of your WIP's progress (Check HERE for examples and how to get a widget), or are you more like me, a little vague letting the ebb and flow take you where it will.

Let's just say, my dilly dallying hasn't helped me move much on my 2013 goal of completing a rough draft for FF... ; )

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Laura Grace's Summer Garden

I'm still on a high from the house party. What a ride it was! Not only did I get to know Tom Chandler, I got to experiment with a young Laura Grace. The two are made for each other. ; )

Since I've written so much in the last week, I thought I'd give you a glimpse into Laura Grace's summer garden. All of these just finished blooming, are blooming now, or will be shortly. I've also added a bit of shade for the hot summer days.  Enjoy! ; )

(All photos Zan Marie Steadham copyright 2010)

Old Yoshino Cherry Tree



Lollipop lilies


Maple tree

Star Gazer Lilies

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

House Party--A Night at the Museum

It's House Party time! Not at my house. It's not ready for such...yet. ; ) No, this is an ad lib writing exercise at the Books and Writers Forum. We haven't had one in a while and we're excited.

From time to time, one of the Forum members hosts a "house party" for our characters at a setting of their choice. My characters have gone to a psychologist's office for therapy, visited London during the Blitz, attended a fair hosted by King Charles II, gone skiing in New Zealand, visited Istanbul in the 15th century, gone to the Mall at the End of Time, and hosted a Fourth of July party in Cherry Hill.

I've blogged about this intensive writing exercise several times. Here's two links to the Cherry Hill House Party blogs.



This time, I have a new character, one who I know only a little about, at the party--Tom Chandler. It's only recently that Tom has come forward as more than Laura Grace's dead husband. His goodness has been revealed through her memories and grief. Back in December, Tom Chandler rose from my subconscious to demand equal time. Here's a blog post introducing his story in CAMP FIRE.
When we began to talk about a house party, I thought I'd take Tom as a 19 year old. He's still feeling his way to being his own man. Why wouldn't a Night in a Museum with wacky exhibits be a good idea to help me learn more about him? ; )

Here's just a bit I wrote to introduce him to the other writers.

Thomas Cherry Chandler (Tom), 19, is six feet four inches, with a long and lean build rather like Michelangelo’s DAVID. His golden hair is wavy, just short of curls, and sits on his collar and covers his neatly attached ears and flops over his high forehead. His complexion is fair with a tendency toward red, especially when he’s been out in the sun. His long face’s best feature is deep-set, dark blue eyes that are rimmed with navy and turn to slate when he’s angry. Tom usually wears bell-bottomed jeans with well-worn hems and a tee shirt.

He’s a direct descendant of the founder of Cherry Hill—Lawton Cherry. Unfortunately for Tom, his mother still thinks that being a “Cherry” matters more than the content of your character. And he doesn’t measure up. He cares too deeply for the poor and wants to be a teacher.

Tom’s reaction is to draw in, but seek areas where he can be his own man like making reproductions of the antiques in the house that people pay good money for—money he will use to get an education degree at the local college and not go to UGA and major in business like Mother insists. He’s more than just a “Cherry”. And he loves to slip out of the Cherry House where he lives to the woods to camp and be alone with his thoughts—thoughts that might be better left unsaid. Some he’s voiced only to be slapped down by Mother. Others he knows better than to say. But his stomach was aching from all the swallowed thoughts.

“Thomas Cherry! If you persist on this path, you’ll never measure up.”

Her voice followed him upstairs and down. After every discussion of his plans to be a teacher. Measure up. It pulsed through him every day and in everything he did.

How did you measure up to a ghost? The ghost who reigned in every timber of the house and created the town that bore his name? A ghost who had stared at him from the huge portrait over the parlor mantel every day of his life.

The cold blue gaze held him captive every time until he had to blink. But the small gilt mirror under the portrait dared you to compare yourself to “The Law.” Did measuring up have anything to do with the having the same high forehead, eyes, and square jaw? Or the same height?

No. It couldn’t be or Mother wouldn’t continue harping on being a Cherry and acting like one.

What about being a Chandler? Apparently Daddy’s family didn’t matter. Nor did Daddy if the arguments he overheard nearly every day were any indication.

Forcing his eyes off his own face, he stared at the “Great Gray Eminence” of Cherry Hill again. “What do you want of me, Old Man?”

Be your own man.

He froze. His breath whistled through his nose as his heart kicked up.

He could do that. And it didn’t take creating a town to do it. No. His goal was to be worthy of Laurie. Pure and simple. That would be enough.
If you want to know more about Tom, check out the Night at the Museum House Party. Bear in mind that we just started yesterday. The story is just taking shape. You're in a  wild and fast-paced read. You'll be amazed at the creativity and talent of the participating writers. ; )

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mission Accomplished!

No, I'm not being political. No at all.

And no, I don't have a completed rough draft to announce....

But I am proud to have a fully renovated kitchen. It took over six weeks, but every microwaved and crockpot meal was worth it twenty time over. (I'm not sure all the delayed writing was though. I'll have to get back to you on that...that is if I get started back to writing my WIP.)

(Just joking...I think. ; )

We replaced the old vinyl floor with porcelain tile and the old counter tops with new tops that look wonderful. Added a new microwave/hood over the stove, under cabinet lighting, a tile back splash, and more outlets. All in all, an amazing up grade. Just like WIP drafts, though, not everything needs to be changed to improve. The old cabinets got a lemon oil restorative treatment and we didn't change the layout at all.

Writing is no different. We draft a story and then go back with revisions and renovations that made add new characters and subplots, but the basic story remains the same. Or we just add small details to a scene to make it shine. 
I've spent a lot of time figuring out the place for everything and then putting everything in its place over the last few weeks. Writing is the same. Sometimes we move a scene from the front of the story to the back, or lop off the front altogether to create a new beginning further into the story.  We pull out things that don't work like old worn out phrases and repetitive words. Or we repaint by adding imagery or setting details. And we restructure by rearranging the order of the plot or change a POV.

The large pass through opening used to be an outside window. Now it's open and admits a lot of light into the kitchen. And hopefully my rewrites will do the same by allowing a bright view of real life. So, when the revising, rewriting, remodeling headaches come in my writing, I want to remember that the outcome will be grand with a place for every character to live and a scene in every place the plot needs one.

What about you? Do you have a way to keep your head up during renovation of your WIP. If so, please share it with us all. ; )
(Copyright of all photos is Zan Marie Steadham 2013)