Writing Course- Write a Novel in 10 weeks
I just completed the halfway point of the course. Our assignment for this week was the first page of our book. 250 words maximum with the one margin all the way around, 12pt font size and in Times Roman with a header of our title and our last name. Except, I don’t have a name yet, so I wrote TITLE and then my last name. I always leave word in the setting it comes with and apparently that’s not publishing standards so I had to correct that and the font size. Nor do I ever pay attention to the margins or indentations because typically I write poetry. It’s just more things to remember to do before I write.
With that said, I wrote my first page and received positive feedback and I’m proud of you from the instructor. I read it to my husband Vic and a good friend who both agreed I had curiosity aroused immediately and they were invested in the character.
Theresa, I have averaged 25 hours a week this month. I have a twelve-page character traits list, three-page ordinary world scene set-up. I have a strange outline going but right now I’m not really sure how much I’ll stick to it. Mairin, my character has a mind of her own and she keeps surprising me as I write.
And if that isn’t enough on I’m participating in two different writing challenges for the month of August. One I am leading is a virtual blogging trip through all 13 countries in South America. I’ve created activities and planned our lodging and food for each country and the bloggers have to write from those prompts. It’s a fun way to learn about different parts of the world.
Then there is a challenge where we form teams, we review like crazy other writers work, and do writing challenges in hopes of beating the other teams. There are battles where the two teams pledge to do so many reviews and the winner during the set time frame wins extra points. It’s called Game of Thrones, kind of a play off the show. My house is Florent, there is a fox on our banner. There are 13 total houses competing with 10 people on each team for the whole month of August. Last year, we got bumped out of the top three where we had been for 3 years.
This is one of the jellyfish I’m working on for my eldest granddaughter’s new apartment in Santa Barbara. She loves the ocean so everything in her apartment is related.
Thus far we’ve only had 2 days off this month of insanity. Thankfully, no more broken pipes like we began the month. A company came in and removed the rug, what a disaster that was. They set up drying equipment and treated the area for mold. There was no way with my allergies could I handle removing the rug, I had difficulty breathing down there with the cleaning I did do.
We’ve met some fascinating people from around the world. We’ve hosted 3 different families from China, a father, and son from the UK, two different German couples, a young man from India, a woman from Romania, a man from Italy, and right now a young woman from Bangladesh. And tomorrow we have a woman arriving from India and on Monday a man from Africa.
My scones are definitely a hit! Right now I have cinnamon chip scones and cookies I used to make my kids with Rice Krispies, oatmeal, and flour with shredded coconut. There called Ranger cookies. I always tweak them with different ingredients and these have chopped walnuts and dried cranberries. If I get ambitious tomorrow I’ll post the recipe with a picture.
I have peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers growing in containers on the lower level. Everything is growing very well in spite of the crazy weather we’ve had. I am amazed at how huge my cucumber plants are, guess they enjoyed all the rain, because they’re huge and covered with buds. I’ve picked three so far that were six inches long. I’ve picked about 20 cherry tomatoes and 2 huge green peppers and there are at least a dozen more almost ready for picking. The zucchini has been a bit slower but it does have buds finally. I did have lettuce but the dang squirrels dug it up. So to be safe I put bird netting on the rest of my planters.
I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to read all the blogs but after this intense writing course I will catch up.
I’m reading Octavia Butler’s book Parable of a Sower. “Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. When a fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into the world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.” I’m really enjoying the protagonist who is a self-assured young woman who instead of being defeated is taking life by the horns.
Real Life Writers and Critique Group
Now, this is definitely something new for me and the writing group as well, we’re going to an open mic in Philadelphia. A bunch of us are going to present our work to a live audience. To be frankly honest, I’m scared shitless. I panic when I get on stage and there definitely is one there in the bar where this is going on. Thank goodness I won’t be alone. Jordan, Dan, Marcus, are definitely doing presentations. The guys are so comfortable in their skin whereas I’m not. There are going to be about 10 of us going together to support each other. I wish Sara and Pam were in town, their part of our group but no longer live in this area. The ladies would rock at this. So right now it’s me and the guys.
By the way one of my poems was published in a local newspaper.
People Saw It at The Time
Mismatched Yet Perfectly Paired
Up-close and Unsettled
Inspired by What Lies Beneath
Seduced and Betrayed
In a Galaxy, Far Far Away
Belief is Potent
Mismatched Yet Perfectly Paired
4th of July
Happy 241st Birthday USA! There are many aspects of our beautiful country I am proud of but unfortunately, there are many aspects I am not. Our present leadership and the increasing amount of hatred for individual differences I find appalling. I’m sick at the path our country is heading as I am sure our forefathers are. They would be very disappointed at the misuse of power that happens daily in our country with the twisting of the Constitution they wrote. We are facing dark times and I’m not sure the damage can be repaired.
We have to stop trying to make everyone into one mold if this world is going to thrive. We need to embrace each individual, and respect their uniqueness and whenever possible support them in their journey because together we can do anything. We need to remember ultimately we all share the same home…. Earth.
May, June, and early July
I really enjoyed reading Tami’s summation of her month and decided I’m going to give it a whirl today but I’m going to do the past three months. I love reading other blogs because you get so many inspiring ideas. Theresa has helped me focus more on the time I spend writing. I actually managed to write for the month of June 80 hours. Not too bad but I need to get more writing time in.
I’ve enjoyed reading the different bloggers the past three months. Initially, I tried to read everyone each day but found it was too time-consuming so I choose five different ones each day. I spend time catching up with their entries while I am there. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers. Thank you!
In the 7 weeks, I’ve been crocheting on the Mandala I have 103 hours invested. There will be probably that much more to complete it because the rounds are so much larger. I am very happy with the color choices, it is so vibrant. My friends Sara and Debbie each had the opportunity during the past weekend to snuggle underneath it. The smiles on their faces made all the time invested so worth it. I wish I had taken a picture of them, next time I will definitely do that.
I did take a couple mental health breaks from the Mandala and crocheted a couple hats and a scarf. Right now I’m working on jellyfish in turquoise and blue for my oldest granddaughter Mikhayla’s new apartment’s bathroom in Goleta, California. I still can’t believe she’s 21 now, time flies when you’re having fun.
In May and June, we’ve had 18 guests in the Airbnb part of our lives staying in our home. I baked scones, muffins, cookies, and brownies for their enjoyment. Staying on top of the furballs was probably the most time consuming since they are shedding a lot with the warmer weather. The calendar is important too because our lives require a bit more planning than they once did but all in all it’s worked. We blocked out time each month for family and friends so we’re not overwhelmed.
We’ve been enjoying having the windows open before the peak of summer really hits so that has added to their shedding I’m sure. So far in the month of July, there are 8 bookings and in August we have 6 thus far.
Macavity has benefitted the most, in my opinion, he was a very shy cat with strangers but has become more social with the different interactions. I had to chuckle with his recent antics of lying on the front landing in front of the stairs to go up to the upper level to reach the bedrooms so whomever passes must rub his belly. He especially loved having Sara dote on him while she was spending time with us. We can’t wait until she returns again, we have so much fun together.
The renovations are coming along slow but sure. The dang water pipes Vic has got under control since the pex pipes and shark bite fittings have made the process rather easy.
I finally got the back yard under control with the dang weeds growing between the patio stones. The birds drop so much seed it is an ongoing battle all the time. I had to put bird netting around my peppers, squash, cucumbers and tomato plants because of the pesky squirrels. The have-a-heart trap is going back in the lower yard too because they are so destructive to my garden.
Sara and Vic hung the lights on the lower level before the party on the first of July. It looks so pretty down there after dark, I love how the lights give the space a beautiful ambiance. Speaking of the party, we hosted “a gathering of the minds” party with the writing group and their significant others. At one point there was 26 of us here out of the 30 invited. 🙂 Sara and I made three different salads and homemade sangria. We were very pleased with the results. Vic cooked burgers, hot dogs, and kielbasa on the grill and Mother Nature even cooperated long enough to complete the grilling time before she down poured on us. Even then it was only a brief shower and we were able to go back outside. I was very pleased with how everything came together and seeing the enjoyment of all that joined us made all the extra work so worth it. I even managed to get 15 minutes writing time in early that morning.
My first writing class and assignment went well. I am excited about the class but also worried that in the process I will lose my own voice with the methodology. Several of us taking the course discussed the same concerns with other writers and decided to work together if we have issues. That’s the best part of our in-person writing group, we help each other grow to our potential with honest feedback. I’ve created a character Mairin, she’s going to be my hero in my story about facing death. I’m going to work on expanding on her character traits today so I’m ready for the next class.
I need to bake fresh scones and cookies this evening or maybe tomorrow morning since a new guest will be joining u tomorrow evening. Today, Vic and I are going to spend some much-needed couple quality time together.
Enjoy your day wherever you are. I’m sending you positive vibes.
“I’m good at multi-tasking. I can listen, ignore and forget all at once. 🙂 “
Part 12 is complete, The scallops as I thought took me about 3 1/2 hours per round. I’m very pleased with the color choices for this part. It is 65 inches now. I’m taking a short break from the mandala because we have a good friend coming in from Ohio and I promised her a snuggle under this gem.
I whipped up a hat this evening with the same colors because I really liked how they look together. Not that I needed another hat. The hat I completed in 2 hours, it’s just a simple beanie. I decided to do the long single crochet and half double crochet’s to make the pattern. The upper section is all double crochet which made it real quick to do.
On Thursday evenings for the next ten weeks, I will be at a writing class with Raz Steel. He pledges that a writer can write a book with his instructions from start to finish with his techniques without getting stuck. I’m game. I can write great beginnings but then I crash, the middle gets my ass every time. Then I get frustrated and there it sits. Wish me luck.
Raz is a published author of two books Love Without Blood and Blood Between Lovers. We are very lucky to have him as one of the writers in our Lower Bucks Creative Writers Group that meets in Langhorne, PA every week.
I pruned the juniper shrubs, and the hydrangea vine because both have got out of control in my lower back yard. My back is screaming this evening from all the tugging I did on the dang English ivy that was overwhelming the yard.
I have one more task to complete on Writing.com than I can crash. I am so ready but I needed to get some writing time in today. Sadly, this entry is all I’ve done since I worked in the yard for over 8 hours today, then I came in and made strawberry, orange and rhubarb scones for the guest staying with this evening. She mentioned how she loves strawberry rhubarb pie this morning during breakfast when she was eating strawberries. She inquired if I make pies. I told no, I’m not a good pie maker. I told her about the strawberry rhubarb scones and muffins I’ve made. She thought that was interesting so I promised I would make her some. Lucky Sara gets to enjoy them too when she arrives tomorrow. This is the first time I put the oranges in and that addition made them spectacular. Tangy and sweet, yummy.
Making your mark on the world is hard. If it were easy, everybody would do it. But it’s not. It takes patience, it takes commitment, and it comes with plenty of failure along the way. The real test is not whether you avoid this failure, because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/2 cup raisins (or dried currants)
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 large egg
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Grate butter into flour mixture on the large holes of a box grater; use your fingers to work in butter (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in raisins.
- In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
- Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
- Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7- to 8-inch circle about 3/4-inch thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.
I don’t do the frozen butter all the time either. If I have bars unfrozen I used my pastry blender or two forks to work it in. The end results are the same.
I’ve substituted the raisins or currants with 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or dates and a half cup of chopped nuts. I’ve used walnuts, macadamia and almonds thus far. I’ve done a cup of blueberries too. I did strawberries and rhubarb but used only 1/2 cup of each. I’ve also done a whole 12-ounce bag of cinnamon chips with chopped walnuts. As you can tell the substitutions are endless, just have fun.
I did them once without parchment paper and the bottoms browned too much, so I agree with Pam about using the paper to get a light golden bottom.
The great part in an air tight container they stay delightfully fresh for a week.
If you want to make them fancier drizzle icing on them.
This link surprised me with the information available for writers. It’s always a good thing to double check before entering contests or submitting work for anthologies because the expenses can add up and if you’re like me money doesn’t grow on trees. I was surprised at how many bogus contests there really are.
I’m on round 82 the last round of part 12, I’ll post a picture when I’m done. I am very pleased with the turquoise, teal, and burgundy together. I’ve decided to do a hat and scarf in the three colors for me.
I made cinnamon macadamia scones and cranberry macadamia scones for the guests this weekend for breakfast. The fresh fruit is pineapple, strawberries, and honeydew melon. I also have Stonyfield French Vanilla yogurt. They shouldn’t be hungry.
For dessert in the evening, they have the choice of buttermilk sugar cookies, coffee white chocolate macadamia cookies, and double chocolate chunk cookies. I try to keep a varied selection on hand. My favorite of this week’s selection is the coffee white chocolate macadamia ones, they are so moist!
Here’s the original recipe by Cindy. I never follow any recipe to the letter, it’s just me. I’m not a huge fan of almonds so I substituted chopped macadamia nuts and I used white chocolate instead of the chocolate. I didn’t bother to toast the macadamia nuts either. I also increased the vanilla to 2 teaspoons because I am a huge vanilla fan. However, you prepare them they are divine and the perfect adult cookie.
- 3/4 cup blanched slivered almonds
- 1/3 cup instant coffee granules
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
- Toast almonds in oven for 10 minutes or until brown.
- Dissolve coffee in 2 tablespoons hot water. In a separate small mixing bowl mix flour, baking soda and salt.
- Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer at a medium speed until fluffy. Pour coffee, vanilla and eggs into the butter mixture; mix well. Reduce mixer’s speed to low and slowly pour flour mixture into the butter mixture.
- Fold chocolate chips and almonds into the dough. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 3 inches apart.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
“Memories may find me but they will always be behind me. I’ll take today over yesterday…any day ” unknown
“Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” —Mark Twain
” You think chocolate is addictive obviously you’ve never crocheted.” 🙂
I’m on Round 73 with the Mandala. I added orange, pale yellow and red from earlier rounds to bring the colors outward. My inspiration for part 11 was the fiery sunset, the sky glowed intensely Saturday evening with the beginning of our heat wave here in Jersey. Thankfully, today is the last of this heat and air advisory. I don’t mind the heat so much but 95 is more than I enjoy. I’m crocheting the Mandala directly under a ceiling fan or I’d be roasting. The picture doesn’t do the three colors justice but next to the blue is the orange, then its yellow followed by the cherry red and when I begin Round 74 it will be yellow again then the orange will end this part. The stitches are hdc, dc and dtr which are easy enough to do.
I did sneak in a mental health break and worked on a seashell hat and scarf pattern that I saw on Rhondda’s Oombawka Design Crochet. I was very pleased with how it worked up. I’m not thrilled with the buttons I’ve come across yet so that part isn’t done yet. The brown button isn’t large enough nor does it contrast enough. The white plastic just looks cheap to me. Maybe it’s just me because I really wanted a seashell about the size of the white button but finding it thus far has been quite frustrating.
I’m inclined to have the lighter turquoise be the front versus the darker only because so much of the darker turquoise shows on the hat. This is the first time, I’ve tried Caron’s Cake skeins, I loved how the colors unfolded in this pattern. I still have a small ball of yarn after completing the scarf and hat.
If you haven’t checked out Rhondda’s patterns they work real easy with the clear instructions. I’ve included the link to the next hat I’m going to do for my grandson.
Writing challenge for the week wasn’t as much as I hoped but I still did accomplish 35 minutes a day with the blogging challenge I am doing on Writing.com and I wrote 2 poems that I’m still mucking with before I share them.
We’ve had guests at our home since last Tuesday until yesterday with the Airbnb part of our lives. Tuesday through Thursday, we had two writers join us because they were attending a writing conference in Princeton. Then we had a couple from DC up to watch their son in a soccer championship for the weekend. And the final guests were a one-night college couple that left a lot to be desired and encouraged me to change the details on my listing. Two of the three groups were awesome and we really enjoyed the conversations immensely. I was genuinely sad to see the DC couple leave.
After looking at Tami’s cinnamon rolls and broccoli alfredo I decided to make the alfredo Saturday evening for dinner, the lesser of the two evils much to Vic’s disappointment. He’s not starving by a long shot. I made lemon cupcakes and apple brownies for the guests to enjoy and there were tons of leftovers. We had blueberry muffins and a lemon coffee cake for breakfast. The alfredo, I decided to try a low-cal version with vegetable broth, flour, and a bit of olive oil instead of heavy cream with freshly grated parmesan and garlic. I added broccoli that I had sauteed with garlic and fresh herbs from the garden after the sauce began to thicken. I love using fresh herbs. I grow rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, chives, and sage in rail planters. It came out so good, Tami, thanks for the inspiration. But I can never cook just for one meal so, on Sunday, I decided to add chicken and mushrooms which definitely took it to the next level. YUM!
Yesterday, I made us grilled cheese with tomato and fresh basil on sourdough bread for lunch. It was simply too hot to eat anything heavier and besides we had a dinner plan that was a lot more appealing. We went out for an ice cream date with our grandson, Chris. I don’t know about you but when it’s 92 degrees ice cream is a perfect dinner alternative. He enjoyed having ice cream instead of dinner too.
I’ve been enjoying reading USA Through Our Eyes posts about Rochester, New York. I learned a lot about the city and saw some lovely glimpses of the area. Gabe’s digital painting is really good , you should check it out.
If you’re looking for healthcare info I suggest you check out my better half’s blog Crain’s Comments.
He’s a researcher and enjoys helping people be prepared for life’s unexpected nuances. If you have a question, he’s the person to ask, he’s really good at finding answers to health issues.
I’m going to close with Theresa’s challenge to write with our inner child creativity inspiring us to do something different than we normally write. That in itself is difficult to do because we’re just creatures of habit. At least, I know I am and writing differently sometimes makes me feel unnerved. I need my coffee cup and my pencil in hand. Even this blog entry I wrote the jest of it on paper and then copied it here on WordPress. I feel safe with my paper and pencil.
If you haven’t checked out Theresa’s Tattoo Girl, you’re missing an enjoyable read. I can’ t wait to see what happens next with Jaime and Corey.
“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced. ”
I’ll begin with the Airbnb part of our lives, thus far we’ve had 4 ideal guests and 1 not so much but that’s to be expected. It’s not that the one did anything wrong it’s just a courtesy thing that apparently isn’t a given across cultures. If I ask someone for an exception because I can’t make it happen in the timeframe I call and update the person so they can plan accordingly. Like for instance, check in is between 4 pm and 11 pm which is a 7-hour leeway. These guests asked if they could have a bit later than 11 pm and my response was no later than midnight before they even booked with us. Midnight came and went without a word from our guests. They arrived at 2 am and all they said was we’re late, oops. So that made for a short nights sleep for us. They left at 8 am, didn’t want breakfast after I had it ready. It was annoying because I had inquired when they arrived if they wanted breakfast and at what time would work for their schedule and then to simply dismiss the effort. Communication is a great thing when both parties use it. Oh, well chalk it up to experience. I changed the wording on the check-in process, so it is clear if you are going to be later than I need to be updated with a new arrival time or the check-in time will not occur.
I was in the lower yard taking down the compost from the kitchen to the compost bin when I decided to do some weeding while I was there on Saturday. We have a small courtyard with our townhouse that borders with our neighbors. On one side I have lilies planted and I saw this vine wrapped around my lilies strangling them from my neighbor’s yard. I untangled the ivy and put it back on her side of the fence. I didn’t think anything of it just focused on getting the yard cleaned up some. I came in and washed my hands and went on with my day. I woke up Sunday morning with my right eye swollen shut and my left eye puffy but able to move, unlike my right eye. My left arm was covered with red blotches and tons of blisters. Oops, that ivy I moved was poison ivy. I applied a coffee compress to get the swelling in my eye under control and applied banana peels to my eyelids after that to draw the oil out of my eye area since I couldn’t apply calamine lotion that closes to my eyes. I took Benadryl to help with the discomfort and tried to get on with my day. Finally, I asked my husband to take me to the hospital my eyes were on fire.
At the hospital, they numbed my eyes and checked to make sure I didn’t burn my cornea because it can happen with poison ivy than they flushed my eyes with water to reduce the oil levels there. The doctor then started me on a steroid regime to help get things under control. Yesterday, I could see out of my eyes but today, I arose with my right eye swollen shut again so again with the coffee compresses. ( Coffee works very well on swelling, it reduces the swelling quickly so if you have bags under your eyes that you want to conceal try some black coffee there, it works.) Are we having fun yet?
I have completed round 10 on the Mandala Madness project. It was very frustrating and challenging to stop and start because of the stitches involved.
As you see it has become rather ripped on the edges but the designer notes this will happen and the next rounds will flatten things back out. I did all of round 10 in sky blue and royal blue. Today, I am looking at my colors used and decided that I need to tie some of my earlier colors back into the project so I am beginning part 11 with the orange I used in the center.
Writing update, I didn’t get more than 15-20 minutes in writing over the weekend because of the eye, I’m struggling right now to see with one eye. I wish I could say I am such a good typer I don’t need to look at the keyboard but I’m not. I know where all the letters are located but fat fingers do make errors.
I’m in a blogging challenge on Writing.com so I have managed to get a blog post done each day thus far but they are really short for me. Hopefully, this is the turning point and my eyes will shrink back to their norm.
I entered one of my poems in the US 1, which is a local paper in my area for their annual local featured author’s edition coming out in July. The editor dropped me an email and commented how unusual the poem was and that was the first time anyone had submitted a found poem to their featured collection. 🙂
We got the sheetrock hung in the living room where we are doing the renovation around the fireplace. It looks so much better than it did already and we’re not even close to being done. A friend of mine is really good at spackling so she is getting the wall ready for me to paint. This is what it looked like with the ugly black glass and pink tile surround. My adopted grandson helping me take the old crap down.