Tag Archives: happy

Thinkin’ on Thursday: “Song Sung Blue” Everybody Knows One

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

I read recently (in The Writer) about an idea for writing: describe the soundtrack for your story. I am a writer who is more “word‑oriented” than “music‑oriented.” I think I married a man (only two years ago) who may be “music‑oriented,” though he also has a fine mind for words. Notice I said “mind,” not “ear.”

He sings along with almost anything that comes on the car radio while we’re driving somewhere. I’m thinking words, while he hums, or sings full-voice and beats rhythms all the time. (He also includes what he calls “chair dancing,” but we won’t go there.) Almost anything will make him remember a lyrical phrase from a song, which he then quotes.

This made me think about the musical background to any story. Do any of my characters play an instrument? Do they sing? What kinds of songs do they sing, know, remember, and think about? Do their songs make them “blue” like the Neil Diamond song? Happy? Do they laugh along, cry along, hum along?

It seems that a touch of music, here and there, could enliven a story. It would also appeal to readers who are more aural than visual “learners.”

Give it a try. Take some story or chapter you’re working on. Add a radio, or a tape recording. Have someone singing in the shower. (Even I do that most days. Well, very quietly.)

If you’re writing for children, all the better! What do they sing along with? What words did they misunderstand? What did they sing instead? It’s like the story of the child who said he was singing about “Gladly, the cross‑eyed bear” at church, when the song was actually “Gladly, the Cross I’d Bear.”

Generally speaking, children love music. When my daughter was very tiny, we would hear her singing in her crib very early in the morning. Most of it was nonsense, but that didn’t stop her. She sang anyway. Later, she learned actual songs, “real” lyrics. Why wouldn’t your child character, or an adult character for that matter, include music and singing in his or her life?

When and where are your characters singing? Listening to music? Thumping out a rhythm?

See you next for Spellbinder Saturday!

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Monday Moans: A Pox on All Things Electronic!

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

My computer and my messed up and hijacked email are causing me all kinds of problems. Moreover, the 750 words dot com daily writing challenge is also giving me fits. We found out (“we” meaning “HA”, of course; I have no idea how he tracks all this down) that someone calling herself benschwensch at live dot com, purportedly from the UK, has hijacked my stuff. My inbox shows nothing. Same for files for “sent,” and “drafts,” and “spam” [well, that’s a good thing], etc. And I’m not receiving any new emails. (Wait. Maybe that’s a good thing too?) I don’t show any of my contacts—though, if I start typing a name or even an email address or topic, it will pull everything up from the “non‑existent” files. Go figure.

Meanwhile, 750 words: my computer jumps to the navigation system if I type a “b” at the end of a line and deletes all, or nearly all, I’ve written in front of that. Then it informs me of the glitch and tells me I can zap out of the program and reinstall. Only then it doesn’t let me reinstall either! The other night, doing some blogs, I waited until the next morning, and was able to retrieve the unexpurgated version I’d been working on when it jumped. Last night, it made such a jump again on a blog I was nearly finished writing, but wouldn’t let me pull up the “saved” blog. I ended up having to write it all over again. If it doesn’t delete the rest of what I’ve been typing, it leaves a slash and a space. Delete extraneous letters/symbols, and I’ll find I’m typing in all caps.

The computer also attacks me in another way. Every ten minutes . . . and I mean every ten minutes . . . it wants me to choose a system for operation, giving me the default in a small window; but, as I type rather quickly, it instead fills in the box with the next letters I was typing —anywhere from one or two, to four or five of them. I delete them, check the “preferred” system and go back to my document . . . only to find I’m in cap lock again.

When HA comes in to help, he uses terminology (you know: computer-eze) I’m not familiar with, or makes reference to several items in a row which leaves me wondering which one he’s talking about now. When I ask questions or try to get clarification before he moves on, he gets frustrated, which makes me think I’m asking low‑level idiot questions. It’s not a happy experience.

Sorry to be so grumpy right after Christmas (or maybe you feel a little ragged at this time of year too), but struggling with my computer absolutely drives me nuts, or—as my “ex-” used to point out, “That’s not a drive . . . it’s a short putt!”

See you day-after-tomorrow for Wednesday’s WIPs!

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Thursday’s 13: How to Have a GREAT Christmas

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

  1. A new baby came to my house on Christmas Eve.
  2. She is my first GREAT‑grandchild.
  3. Of course, all my grandchildren are GREAT.
  4. But this is the first authentic Great‑grandchild.
  5. I gave this tiny girl her first Winnie‑ther‑Pooh doll.
  6. It was bigger than she was.
  7. But she was cuter.
  8. Even cuter than Winnie‑ther‑Pooh?
  9. Of course!
  10. We had food, family, friends.
  11. And we had . . . the baby.
  12. Life is good and Life is GREAT.
  13. But she is my FIRST and      GREAT Great‑Grandchild.

Love and a Happy Holiday Season to all, and To All a GREAT . . . NEW Year!

See you day‑after‑tomorrow for Saturday’s Softcover!

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Tuesday’s Tutor: Taking Care of Business When?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

A close friend and former student of mine is in the process of writing his first full‑length book. I am doing some editing for him and, so far, he has sent me about 130 pages. His opening line is a killer. Literally. Much of it is good. He has minor issues with punctuation, occasionally a typo or mistake of some kind—but very few of those. He is husband/father/grandfather of . . . I’ve lost count . . . but several talented children, a gorgeous and talented wife, and at least one grandchild. He works for the government, and can’t tell me what he does. So don’t ask. And he was a first‑rate writer, even as a high school student many years ago. I am so thrilled that he’s taking it up again.

He’s somewhat discouraged about his writing just now. He’s a bishop in an LDS ward, not in Utah. That means end‑of‑the‑year time with tithing settlements, ward functions, etc. No wonder he’s feeling like he can’t make his “quota for the month” right away. I did send him some advice, part of which I offer you (and “myself” as well):

November and December are hard months to be writing. EVERY business has end‑of‑the‑year wrapping up . . . along with “wrapping up” presents and family gatherings during this important time.

In spite of those cares and distractions, do not let yourself get discouraged about your writing. You probably have much of it which is worthwhile. It can all be worked on once you get the initial draft done. Just give yourself permission to keep going no matter how “horrible” it may seem some days. All that can be fixed, down the road. But you can’t edit and revise a blank page!

Someone within the Utah writing community a while back made a comment on a blog ‑something along this line, though a little longer than my current version: I wanted a short statement I could post on the top of my computer: “Revise Enough to Get Rejected!” That’s pretty good advice. But it’s also beyond the purview of the “first draft,” which is what he, and all you NaNo‑ers out there are working on.

Another local writer/friend was concerned about all the time she “wasted” during NaNo (which at THIS writing is a very few days from being over) because she’s a wife, a mother, a friend, a daughter, etc., etc., etc. I got her complaint down to a single statement as well (feel free to adapt it to your own situation): Stop Mother‑ing, Wife‑ing, Me‑ing, Writing, Playing, Crying, Exercising, Praying . . . Stop Everything at Once‑ing and Be Where I Am at Every Moment Every Day.

Writing is nothing you should do in multi‑tasking mode. And I’m afraid my friend was forcing himself to do just that order to meet the “quota” he’d set for himself.

Even full‑time writers deserve a “vacation” — we all need time to refill the reservoir: read a book, sleep, do things with family, listen to some music, day‑dream, etc. And this is especially true through the November‑December holidays. Don’t think of it as bowing “out” ‑ it’s actually “rejuvenating”. Give TIME back to YOURSELF.

For me, Christmas Eve is my Christmas. That’s when I have family, etc. By Christmas Day, it’s all over with. I try to read some, eat left overs, relax because the “hectic” time is over. By that evening (sometimes because I’m finally bored!) or for sure by the next morning, I can become a writer again. Don’t stress yourself out between now and then. Don’t give up your goal. Just take a realistic look at what’s coming up and say “On December ___, I will pick up where I left off.” Or “On January 1st (or whenever?), I’ll pick up where I left off.”

Meanwhile, Happy Holy‑days! Be easy on yourself! Take care of you, then you’ll be ready to take care of your book.

See you day‑after‑tomorrow for Thursday’s 13!

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Wednesday’s WIPs: Working with WIPs

EASY AS A, B, C . . . from A, B and both C’s

As a group, we discussed the 3-act structure often associated with film and fiction, with all its sub-divisions of plot points, twists, etc.

H.A.  The Other Siders: Two new support characters have been added, causing a major re-write from chapter one on.  The added characters have given me foils for the other characters to bounce off of, as they give us a chance for comic relief.  They seem to have added what would have been needed if Harry Potter had been written without Hermione and Ron.

B.B.  Shattered Shards: Changed the title . . . again!  Right now it’s being called gElf and the Legend of Jarra-Jen.  This is the contest piece for an author to write a “new” story of Jim Henson’s original The Dark Crystal film and various books and graphic novels.  At only 7,500 to 10,000 words max., I probably only need to have four chapters.  My first two chapters I’ve written and rewritten a couple of times.  I think they’re fairly smooth now and express what I meant to say.  I’m hoping to get chapters three and four done EARLY this week.  Then I’ll be prepping for NaNoWriMo—the National Novel Writing Month in November, as well as trying to get back into my faerie tale.

C.C.  Ezzy Bear: The 3-Act structure, usually meant for fiction, is actually helping me even with my non-fiction book.  Emotional moments, whether tense or happy, are both included—I’m working on keeping it well-balanced.

JC The Shadow Master: The plot structure discussion has helped further my vision. I now understand my antagonist, his purpose, drive, and  cause and I know why he is doing what he is.  As a result, I am now able to move forward with the plot: roadblocks have been lifted.

See you day-after-tomorrow for Friday’s Friends!

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Sunday Snippets: Whelmed? Or Over-Whelmed?

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

Ever had one of those weeks with too much on your plate?  What if the deadlines . . . ALL of the deadlines . . . were self-imposed?  My writing life feels like that just now, so I took notes from Jon Winokur’s thoughts on angst in W.O.W.: Writer’s on Writing:

Writing is pretty crummy on the nerves. ~ Paul Theroux

It’s a nauseous process. ~ Rebecca West

Let’s face it, writing is hell. ~ William Styron

I’m not happy when I’m writing, but I’m more unhappy when I’m not. ~ Fannie Hurst

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter. ~ Jessamyn West

See you day-after-tomorrow for Tuesday’s Tutor

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Saturday’s Softcover: My Mother was an “Elizabeth” Too!

Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB

My mother was named Margaret Elizabeth, but I never knew her to go by Margaret, or any of its wonderful permutations: Maggie, Meg, etc. In fact, she didn’t go by any of the changes to Elizabeth either—it was always full throttle: Elizabeth. And she loved movies. She felt very connected to two famous Elizabeths: Queen Elizabeth, who named her son Charles—my brother, almost exactly the same age, is named Charles. And she loved Elizabeth Taylor. So, when I saw Lu Ann Brobst Staheli’s book entitled Just Like Elizabeth Taylor, I knew I “just” had to read it.

The book is tender, frightening, angst-filled in part, funny, and ultimately— mostly—very happy,81N-fns-EuL__SL1500_ though I was in tears at the end.

Liz, named Elizabeth for the movie star, becomes Beth when she runs away from home. How will this young girl, not yet a teen, make her way on her own?  Actually, a lot better than she can do at home where her mother is too weak to give up the boyfriend who beats her, and Liz cannot fend off the boyfriend’s loathsome son.

Plucky girl that she is, she steals some money from the “boyfriend,” and runs away—but only as far as a fairly nearby town. She finds an abandoned shack at a winter-deserted K.O.A. place, where she manages to have bathroom/water/ electric amenities, ekes out her meager “savings” with school lunch and occasional lunch leavings from other students.

As the school year draws closer to an end, “Beth” must find a way to make a friend, save a lunch lady, let her mother know she is still alive, find a more permanent home, and bring justice to her “real” family, while maintaining a decent GPA so she won’t be “found out.”

At every moment, I was aware that the author had taught junior high school for years: she knew the angst, the failures, the desperation of some, the heartlessness of others, and the pluck of the brave. Just before the ending I was in tears: not because it was sad, but because I was so angry at what happened to “Beth” next: pulling all the threads together, the horrific scene had me crying for the unfairness, the drive, the caring this young girl exhibited. It was a fitting triumph, finally.

I know Liz, the lost girl. I know Beth, the loner. I know Elizabeth, the winner. I’ve taught those high school, junior high school and middle school kids too. Read it, and you’ll know them as well!

 See you day after tomorrow for Monday Moans!

A1YSS+kQ4cL__SL1500_BTW, the prolific Staheli also has a book, A Note Worth Taking, about “best” friends, surviving lost friendships, making new friends—you know, all those things we suffered in junior high or middle school. I’m reading it next—you should too: it’s on sale at Amazon for $0.99 through the end of July.

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