Sunday, December 17, 2017

Until They Vanish

I walk beside you along the beach
While the laughing waves follow,
And wash the signs of our passing
Until they vanish.

We toss our dreams out on the breeze
To watch them soar up and away,
Unaware of how far dreams may travel,
Until they vanish.

As the sun sinks beneath restless waves
The sand grows cool to our feet,
And stars dance across the night sky
Until they vanish.

(c) July 23, 2006 - Cynthia I Maddox

My Writing Space

Finally! My creative space is exactly the way I want it Well, for now. I mean, I need to get the space underneath the desk better organized but for now, it is functional down there. The top is what really matters. Cause there is where eveything writing/business related happens.

I have to tell you, I'm so excited about it because I designed and built this all by myself with a ruptured disk in my back. Mike helped me install the support brackets. I really love the size and layout. Particularly since my son, Mike, mounted the larger monitor. It is at eyelevel and takes all the strain off my neck.

Since the back surgery I've tried to insure that my posture at the computer was as healthy as I could make it but looking down at the small screen of the laptop has been causing pain in parts of my neck. I also had to turn my head to the right to utilize the larger monitor and this caused pain. It just wasn't working as I thought it would. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I realized the only wat to solve it would be to get that larger monitor in front of me but it had a huge screen with a very nice large base. The desk is about 18 inches deep, enough space to work but not enough to stack monitors.

So, last week, I found a wall mount on Amazon for a reasonable price and ordered it. You can see the results in the photo above. I took this just after cleaning the dust and organizing everything. Yes, I tend to be a clean desk person. It gets messy but it is very distracting for me when it is messy. I have things in folders, notebooks, and files. Bills go in the metal bins along with notes and reminders and working copies of my writing. I like having hard cover of a dictionary and a thesauraus handy as well as a good grammar book. These save me huges amount of time when editing my or someone else's writing.

Yes, I know I can find that stuff online but I still prefer to look up a lot of things in real books. I have one dictionary that is 10x7, 4 inches thick, and weighs probably 10 lbs. Yes, really. I love that thing. I bought it at the Stars and Stripes bookstore in Frankfurt, W. Germany in 1978 and while the language has added a few more words, I doubt in my lifetime that it will increase enough to fill another volume this large.

Just so you know, I don't have this one on the desk. But I digress.

I've been writing a bit every few days but I've been very dissatisfied with what I've been doing. Still I'm plodding along. I forgot to log how much I've written and that's annoying, too. I wanted to do that because it helps me keep my focus on the fact that I am writing and have numbers to show it. Now, if you feel that's not helpful, that's fine. It helps me to know I've actually written 50 words today before the pain forced me to stop. I like knowing that I hit 1500 words in an hour on Monday because by Friday I may be unable to move for several days. Depression looks for weaknesses and if I have something to beat it back with, even a small stick, it helps.

What does your writing/creative space look like? Do you like it clean and tidy or are you one of those who thrive in a cluttered environment? If you could change one thing about your writing space, what would you change?

The Underside of Platforms

I don't get this whole platform thing. I mean, I know what it is... sort of. Where I'm from a platform is something you preach from or where you get on a train. Oh, and of course, the oil well platforms. There doesn't seem to be any similarities.

The current model seems to be metaphorical. I know you need "followers", a public who recognizes your name before you become famous. Of course, I'm making an effort with things like Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and a blog.

Recently, I started to push to get more followers on all those and have had some moderate success. I still don't know what it means but hey, there is a trail of people behind me. It just isn't enough. 

A few days ago I discovered that there might be a downside to this platform thing. Today I was reminded of it again. I should say the underside because there is definitely an underside. 

Once upon a time, I had a blog on a site called Multiply. I actually paid for it! I loved Multiply and all the friends I made there loved it, too. What I remember most from those days are the marriage proposals. I got quite a few from some Prince. Of course, I was younger then but I was also already married. He kept sending them, though.

In the last week, since I've been building this platform thingy, I had a message on Facebook from an extremely handsome fella asking if we could get acquainted. I got to tell you. It was so difficult (I'm not married now) but I was strong. I said, "Nope."

This week I got a message on Twitter. From a Polish fella in Georgia. I assume it is the US Georgia because there was some mention of Atlanta and I don't think the one in Europe has that. He keeps sending these inquiries into my health and happiness. Very polite, he is. Today he wanted to Hangout. I don't think he realizes that Google Hangouts is not the best platform for meeting someone. Skype has far superior functionality. 

Oh, and he had a photo, too. It was not the same man . . . unless the first photo was a fake. It wasn't nearly so difficult. I said, "I don't do hangouts with people I don't know. Thanks anyway." He continued to send me invites to these chat sessions with 20 other females involved! I'm not impressed or inclined to join the party. I blocked him today.

The combination of these two events made me realize that there could be things under this platform. I have extensive experience with things under floors. They tend to be unpleasant. Some have multiple legs that are all crooked. They have fat bulging bodies and bulging eyes and they jump in ways you can't predict and don't usually want. 

Hang on a second while I check around my chair. 

I don't want to appear unfriendly. I'm actually rather likable, on my good days. However, I'm just a bit hesitant about adding any more planks to this platform. I mean, I know I have to build the thing. I just really hope that that Prince doesn't do Twitter or Facebook. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Firing, Hashing, & Crashing

If you remember, before my back surgery I had to hire an assistant. I mentioned it in a previous post. I even posted photos of him at work.  Well, sadly, I fear my assistant has loafing.

👈 Just look how I found him! Sleeping on the job. I'm telling you, you can't find good help these days. Just like Mike Rowe says, 5,000,000 jobs out there and they can't fill them. Probably because of people just like this guy. 

Fortunately, since my surgery, things are looking up and I'm able to type better and I don't have a lot of pain. I do have copious amounts of fatigue but I'm trying to work around that. I've been writing on two novels but I'm going to have to focus on one and get it done. 

There is so much I need to do around here, too. I still have the pass-thru to finish out and a couple of finishing touches in the den. After that, I have to work on the half bath. I have a new security light to get up outside, too. With no handyman about the house and Mike going back to work, I'm flying solo. Sarah said she'd hold the ladder. She wanted to use the drill but I think that'd be a bit dicey. 

And still plenty of writing to do. 

I want to sit down and work on my "world" for All That's Holy". That's been nagging at me. Of course, that could be just to pull me away from the real writing. I also need, that's NEED, to work up the final chapters to Long Summer Run. I'm there. Just do it! Overwhelming to have so many novels in the last stages of completion. This is what NaNo does to you!

Do other writers struggle with this kind of stuff? I fight the RA but mostly, I just do what I have to do, despite the pain. It is the fibro fatigue and brain fog that really gets to me. I can't find a way around that other than sleep.The good news is that now I can snuggle with my pillow on either side and not have to sleep totally on my back. This has been a gift. Things have improved so much since the surgery that it is frustrating to still deal with fibro. I have the added bonus of the bad angel nagging to write this, write that, over here, over there. I feel positively ADD.

I've prolonged the inevitable long enough. I must go write the real story. I hope I've not bored you to tears. If you're on Facebook or Twitter, follow me, please! I need followers. The links are on this page in the column. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Batter Up!

For this NaNo, I've been working on a previous NaNo novel. I haven't done much because of the back surgery and the nerve problem in my hand and arm have interfered with my ability to type. I've tried speech recognition software and managed to get some writing done. That's better than nothing. This last week, I worked on typing a bit. With over 60K words already written and a projected 30K to go, I've only produced the proverbial drop in the bucket. But I'm hopeful. At least, today I'm hopeful.

I really love this story, which is a far cry from most of my other NaNo novels. I only have one other that I truly love and it too is very near completion. My problem is that life is constantly throwing me curve balls in the form of illness or catastrophes such as a ruptured disk compressing my spine. To the point that I've despaired of finishing either novel. But I am working on both of them. 

Yes, both. I've decided that the way to deal with a curve ball is to find a new batting style. I've decided to ask what novel I want to work on for the day and to work on that one. If I grow tired or hit a roadblock, I will work on the other one. This has actually helped because it removes some my excuses for not writing at all and I manage to make some progress.

It never fails when I'm working on something that another story comes to mind that I could be working on. I try sticking to one but sometimes, I just hit a spot I feel I can't go further. Usually, that can shut me down for a while. Now, I just open the other story and start working on that. This has been surprisingly helpful. It means I'm writing. It also means boredom isn't a factor in my writing. I also found that it tends to push me to try to stick with the story I have open. Because after all, I want to finish ONE of them!

Maybe it isn't the best solution but at the end of the week, I'll have worked on two stories instead of one. Right now I'm focusing on All That's Holy because I really need to get some things structured. The story is complex and has a parallel structure. So, a lot going on and it feels all over the place. It probably isn't as bad as it feels but there is a lot of work to do on it before the 1st draft is done.

I hope your writing week has been productive, despite the holiday stupor that gets to all of us.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sitting On the Dock

We're getting down to the wire now. As of tomorrow, you have 5 days to write. Don't stop now, even if you think you can't finish. There is still time to get 10K-15K words. Really, there is.

Here's a new prompt for you to try. Your characters are sitting on a dock talking about something. Their relationship? The crime they've committed? Their kids? The trip they're planning? Maybe they're hiding from something in an isolated location. Perhaps someone has died and one is trying to console the other. Or maybe one of them just discovered they have a terminal illness. 

Whatever it is, you decide and use it to generate a new scene. 

And best of luck, my friends.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation
[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor--and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be--That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions--to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

RE: Thanksgiving Proclamation

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Voices In My Head

I spent a whole day this past week wondering why I bother. Why do I even think about writing? What's the use? What's the point? Who am I kidding, I stink. I'm terrible. I'm sick all the time. I don't write enough. I can't think. I have so much to do and can't get my act together.

I give up! I just quit. I'm not going to bother even trying. I can't do it anyway and my mind seems to have taken a permanent vacation. So, I should, too.

Yeah, I said that.

And was immediately miserable.

I don't write because someone makes me. Maybe if they did, I'd be more productive. I do it because I can't help it. Even when I feel awful, I try and write something. But it seems so little that I end up angry and frustrated with myself.

Every year I start a schedule but then something happens about 4 months in that totally derails me. Usually, my RA or Fibromyalgia flares and I'm knocked down. I keep writing but the momentum is gone and sometimes, even the energy. I become too ill to get anything done.

Today was one of those days. I went back to bed after I got Sarah to school and slept hard for two more hours. The rest of the day I lay in my recliner, still exhausted. I can't tell you what I did because I don't remember. I dozed off and on all afternoon. I think I read some. I think I went somewhere.. oh yeah, to lunch with Mike. Wow, totally forgot that. My back hurt, my hand hurt, and I was so tired when I got home, it was an effort to stay awake. So, I slept. Those types of days are frequent.

I beat myself up. I flay myself until I'm bleeding from every pore. Metaphorically, of course. I fall into a depression and despair of every producing another completed piece. I quit. At least once a year.

Then, I find something in a file that I wrote. And I'm shocked because I don't remember writing it and I wonder how I wrote such beautiful prose. Then, the voices in my head start talking about the story, pouring details so fast I can't keep up. I'm driven back to the keyboard to get it all down and repeat the process.

Maybe I'll finish something. Maybe I won't. That bothers me most. But I can't stop. I can't quit. I have no choice. The voices in my head won't let me quit. They may become overwhelmed by pain and despair but they refuse to remain silent for long.

NaNoWriMo: In Still of the Night

Middle of the night, in a strange city, on a lonely street. A woman alone. Or is she?

Is she in her own city and couldn't sleep?

Does she make a habit of walking at night for some nefarious purpose.

Is she going to meet her enemy? Or a friend?

That's the thing about these images. You can write it anyway you want. As long as you build your word count.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Thursday Initiation

Again, this is for those who are writing unusual stories. I won't label them with a genre. You can do that. But try and get this little scene in there.

I know there are at least 1000 words in this photo. Really. I could do it. 

What's this drink for? Why is it being served in this manner? Who will drink it? Is this some sort of ceremony? A picnic in the woods? Is she just warming the wine/drink with her hands? WHAT! 

Come on, fill in the story here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Wednesday Wizardry

Thanks to
What is this? One of my NaNo novels might get more added to it from this photo. I have to keep it in mind when I'm working on it. I love the texture and intensity of the flames and the person in the robe with their ... whatever it is... pouring flames out of it. Awesome.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Tuesday Terror

Thanks to
It isn't my thing but if it is yours, go for it. I like my gentlemen with bite but this is taking it a bite too far.

You know, I could really keep going with this but I'll leave it here for you to toy with, just like a cat and mouse.

Monday, November 13, 2017

NaNoWriMO: Monday Wash Day

Thanks to
Something a little more mundane today for you to try and get more words. 

Some of you may not have a use for this but surely some of you are writing novels where your character could be going to the laundry? 

Why as photo prompt? Because sometimes a photo can make something click in your mind and if you try, you can get a thread of a story started. Keep weaving that thread and you'll have a paragraph, a page, several pages. 

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Nanowrimo: Sunday Sunday

So, you're moving along. Your story is flowing from your fingers like Niagra Falls in the spring. Right?

What? It isn't? You're not at 20,000 today? Surely you will be by tonight! I'm sure.


OK, well, here's a little something that might help. I don't know what your writing but maybe you can use this photo to get a shot in the arm and 1667 words down.

I mean, just look at it. Dark foggy night. Lonely deserted road. Or is that a lonely deserted house you just pulled up to? Whatever it is, you strain to see and there, in the glare of your lights, the fog parts and you see...

Well, I don't know what you see. You can share it later. Just write it now!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Saturday Storm

Hopefully, your Saturday is a productive one and your word counts are soaring.
You should be at 18,334 words.
If not, try using this photo to generate a new scene. Your MC needs help or someone else needs you MC to help them.

Who is in the car? Who was driving? Is that someone lying on the ground? How did your MC come to be here? What caused the accident?

You see, there are lots of ways to go and you can get an easy 1667 words out of this. Get busy! The clock is ticking!

Friday, November 10, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Friday Fog

You've worked hard all week but there's the weekend waiting for you.

Here's your Friday photo challenge. Anyone have a city buried beneath that poisonous fog?

Perhaps your in your mountain cabin watching the morning fog roll down the mountains while you drink your coffee and enjoy a moment's solitude on your mountain island.

Or perhaps your character is trapped on that mountain by the release of toxic gas from that nearby facility you've been investigating.

Whatever it is, run with it and get those word counts up!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Thursday Apocalypse

Depressing. Bleak, War-torn. Destruction.

It's a stretch for me. I rarely write such depressing stories. 

What about you? Are you writing dystopian drama? Has a deadly disease ravaged society and lead to internal wars to survive? 

I'm depressed now. I am going to find chocolate.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Wednesday Word War

Add 500 words to your story using this image. You can change what you like but use this as a jumping off point. 

Just think 500 words! That is about 1/3rd of the day's requirement. It will do your story good.

What is that guy doing anyway? How did he get there? Who is driving the car? Why are they driving with him on the hood? Why don't they stop? Is this a stunt, an attack, an accident? 

See, lots of ways to work it. Now, start.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Tuesday Terror


 I was just walking along minding my own business when I heard a noise. I looked back and ... well there he was and I started to run.

Whew! Running up the down escalator is exhausting. But when something like that is after you, well, you don't dare stop.

Let's be clear. I don't do horror very well.

Monday, November 6, 2017

NaNoWriMo: Monday Word Watch

Did you ever feel that someone was watching you? You know, when you're walking down a dark alley and there is that spot between your shoulder blades that aches? Or you're lying in bed and that crack in the closet door is really giving you the heebie jeebies?

Or maybe... maybe your character locked someone in a barn? Or a chicken coop? Perhaps, she is hiding from the person stalking her?

Well, whatever, here's the next photo prompt to help you create more words.

NaNoWriMo: Sunday Morning Word Surge

We're starting the second week of NaNo today and this is commonly known as the Second Week Slump. You may hit a wall by Friday and feel like you can't do it. You can! Just use every tool in the arsenal your ML's and NaNo provide:

  • Attend as many Write-ins as you can
  • Try the Sprints
  • Use word and photo prompts
  • Check out the Twitter feed for NaNo
  • Check out ChatNaNo and get in the chat room with friends for Wars. 
Now, about this photo - what is she doing? Filling a bottle? Washing something? Disposing of something? Getting something out of the water? So much is going on here! Is she alone? She looks tired? 

Try a scene with your character in this situation. Doesn't have to be a female. Or an adult. Or human!

Just go for it and good luck getting the word count up.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Character is Everything

I got a text message a while back from a friend that made me laugh. This friend and I met through NaNoWriMo, started a writing group together, discussed writing over the last 8 years, and we've read one another's work. During the conversation today, which was quite long, he paid me the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid me. Here is the initial message and the praise that followed.  

"Do you have a process you go through to create a character, or do you just say I need this and sit down and "pants it" and the character comes naturally?"

I responded, "LOL, say what? Give me a minute to reread and process that." 

After digesting it I took several minutes to explain several aspects of my character creation techniques, and how I might be crazy. His response was so nice.

"You are BRILLIANT with characters. If that's crazy, I'd take it in a second. Yes REALLY! You have characters that just come to you. You take a simple character and make the reader care, even if they aren't doing anything. I see plot. I can create setting. I suck at character.You SEE character, that is by far the most important of the three."

I was a bit taken aback because I'd never thought about it much. And certainly no one had ever told me I was brilliant, except family.

My friend and I have discussed this character creation issue several times and he does seem to have a mental block when it comes to it. But in some of his stories I've read, he has some wonderful characters. So, it confuses me when he says he has difficulty creating one. I can't even imagine not being able to do so.

Still, the conversation made me think about my process in a different way. I had playmates as a child but I distinctly remember playing alone quite a bit and I always made up characters and played parts, like a play. I was a nurse or a teacher. My made-up characters might be a doctor, or patient or a student. Or all of them. I suppose you'd call them imaginary friends but I don't remember anyone ever saying that and, in fact, no one ever said a word but they must have heard me because I talked! 

I created stories with characters in my head long before I could write. My grandmother said at three I sat on the sofa and "read" the comics. Dick Tracy was apparently my favorite. She said I couldn't actually read but it didn't matter because I made up my own story based on the pictures and read that aloud. I was three! That shocks even me. 

What it amounts to, then, is for nearly 60 years I've created characters. I've made them walk, talk, and act. I've imagined them doing and saying things and things happening to them for decades. Not until I was 11 did I start writing it down. 

So do my early years have anything to do with my ability to create a great character? Maybe it does. I do think I'm good at creating a character. I wish I had my friend's talent for plot. The man can sniff out a plot hole faster than a bloodhound could find your mother-in-law. 

Toward the end of our conversation he said "Character is everything." I agree with him. I've always believed the best stories had characters that reached out and grabbed you and it didn't matter how exciting the plot, if the characters were flat, I wouldn't read it. It was quite nice to know that  my characters can reach out and grab someone. 

NaNoWriMo: Another Chance to Up the Count


Another day and another prompt to give you something to think about. This may not be for everyone. It is a bit post-apocalyptic but surely someone is writing post-apop.

I found it intriguing with the person on the near bottom right standing with their bike and staring at the burning city. I may tackle this in a short story later. For now, give it a try if you can use it.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Some Days You Don't Want to Wake Up

Some days are just unpleasant. Today is no exception. I woke up feeling terrible: groggy, sluggish, sleepless. It was a rough night. And yet I dreamed pleasant dreams. A dark-haired man walked along the road with me and then hugged me. We sat down in the grass and he kissed me. I didn't recognize him but he felt familiar.

True story. 

I've missed him for several days now. I should have realized what time of year it is but totally forgot in the craziness of my ruptured disc, my pain, and the surgery. I've been too busy trying to recover and juggle NaNoWriMo to remember it is that time of year.

Yesterday I missed him and said, "I just wish I could talk to him and feel him hug me and kiss me." And I dreamed. I don't feel better for it. 

Writing about it today seems the most logical solution to all of it. I am, of course, a writer. 

As Mike left the house he said, "Dad always told me "You've got more time than money, son". It was like a blow to my heart. I miss him so much again. I nearly choked on my supper. It suddenly tasted like bitterweed.

And then, searching for something to work on I ran across something I started several years ago and forgot because it was too painful to write at that point. 
My husband died, suddenly, on a cold, dark night wrapped in ice, on a dead-end road, in our bed. I thought, before that night, that my life was planned and despite the bumps in the road, the detours, and derailments, it was going according to plan. But you can’t plan for life. There is no road map, no compass, no GPS. You just start walking, telling yourself that where you’re going is just up ahead and all you have to do is keep moving and you’ll get there. It isn’t true.
I didn't read any further. I know how the story ends. I'm not ready to re-live it. I'd like to wake up and find him there, next to me. Not drifting away on some insubstantial dream that leaves me feeling cheated. I missed him more after than before.

So...the festive season begins with a subliminal greeting card from Death, to remind me how very cruel and powerful he is. It seems I'm to get one every year.

NaNoWriMo: Pushing the Count

Thanks to

Here's a new photo prompt to push that word count up. You're 5 days in and at the beginning of the Second Week Slump. 

So, find a way to incorporate the scene into your novel. You're a writer, you can dream up a reason he's out walking in the fog.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Photo Prompt Friday

Thanks to
So, are you doing NaNo? Well, have a look at the photo and use the scene in your novel in some way. Don't worry. You can delete it on rewrites but at least you can use it to get more words. Who knows? You might find your story going in a new and exciting direction.

I managed to get 93 words today. That isn't much as NaNo goes but with the challenge I've been facing with the nerve pain in my hand and the back surgery to relieve a compressed spinal cord, I think it's pretty good. 

No, no excuses! Go write!

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November Leaves

November is upon us and with it comes National Novel Writing Month. Remember that? 50,000 words written in 30 days?

Yes. That one.

Well, I'm not doing so well. With the ruptured disc surgery, I've been unable to even act as an ML outside of online. Thankfully, I have a great co-ML that is managing fine. I feel let down that I can't attend write-ins at this point but my hope is that in another week I might be able to do some online ones.

I'm not allowed to life anything over the weight of a gallon of milk. No pushing, pulling, or carrying heavy objects. So that knocks out my remodeling chores for a while. It is very frustrating because I have 5 rooms to address and a hallway. Never mind the finishing touches here in my dining/den/office. Did I say it was frustrating?

I haven't been writing yet either because the recovery has been difficult. The first week was horrible but things have improved and the doctor says the grip in my left (dominant) hand is amazing considering I'm only 2 weeks from the surgery.

 I can tell that some little improvements are happening but I really want the nerve pain to stop. It is horrible and makes it difficult for me to hold things in that hand for more than minutes. Writing with a pen is nearly impossible as it hurts terribly. I've taken to wearing a cover over the hand and wrist to alleviate the pain somewhat. It isn't much help but it seems to keep the nerve calmed a bit.

I finished one of my old novels a few days before surgery and now I need to edit and rewrite. I wanted to use November to finish another one but that plan fell thru with surgery. I'm still going to try and get it done before January 1. That's plenty of time. The nerve pain will play a part, of course, but I've been using speech recognition to write here and there so I think I can do that now.

I'm going to stop for now. Feel free to steal the top photo for a screen saver. I got the photo from and the verse from the KJV Bible. Have a wonderful and blessed day.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sometimes Things Happen

This is true. Today I did some writing. It was not a masterpiece. It was, however, writing on my story. It feels like something good happened, even though the writing sucked. 

Read back over the blogs and you'll find I've been unable to do very much writing. A ruptured disc in my upper back has caused severe pain and numbness in my dominant left hand and arm. So, writing is harder than normal. Surgery is scheduled for this coming Thursday so we'll see if we can do better in November.

But today... I wrote 1227 words. Not breathtaking prose. Not classical literature. Not a masterpiece. I just wrote the next to last chapter of a 103K word novel. Wow.

Who said Friday the 13th was unlucky?

1227 Words
Sometimes things just happen.

Friday, September 22, 2017


I've had such a difficult time with my left hand and arm that I've been unable to write for two months. 

👈  Today, I decided to take care of the problem. I hired a new assistant to help me with my typing. 

I can manage the computer but not long periods of typing. So the writing has dried up. I'm getting very antsy about it, too. 


This new guy was eager to start and I'm hoping we can really knock out some words in the coming weeks. I have to have surgery on my neck but with his help, it won't be such a huge setback. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

When Life Goes Sideways

I'm posting this on all three blogs to save time. I've not posted anything on them for a few months. This serves as an explanation, not an excuse. 

Here we are at the end of September and I can't figure out where the summer went. I was doing rather well at finishing my novel, Hidden in the Mist. In fact, I'm probably less than 2000 words away. It was the 9th of July. The story was going well. I was working on the study/den/dining room to get it repainted and reorganized. I felt pretty good. There were plans to sell books. Things looked . . . bright. The road seemed smooth and straight. 

That's when things always go wrong. Somewhere, in the dark I hit something. 

Actually, in the wee hours of Sunday morning at 3 a.m. I woke up screaming and had to call Mike to come get me and take me to the hospital. My whole left arm was in excruciating pain and felt as if it were on fire. It was also paralyzed. I'm left-handed. I couldn't hold my phone, dial it, or pick up anything. Every move sent me into screams. 

I went to St. Vincent's ER (Primary care is at that hospital) and they did x-rays, gave me a shot of morphine and a steroid, a script for valium, and orders to go to physical therapy. I have a pinched nerve. I went home. 

At 5 a.m. Monday morning I was back at a second ER. This time I decided to use the hospital (Deaconess) where my records were for all my ailments. After CT scan and a couple of shots of something they sent me home with Loratabs and ordered to go see PT. Monday I went to urgent care at the orthopedic urgent care and the doctor said I could shoot myself. Yeah. Scheduled me to go to PT a few days later. 

It would be two weeks before I could see a PT doc but they could do physical therapy before that. I went to my primary care doc on Tuesday and she prescribed steroids, Gabapentin and Skelaxin. Let me just say that at this point, not a single medication had any impact. The narcotics took the edge off to stop me screaming. The Gabapentin made me a zombie who felt pain and I stopped it but it took three days to get my mind back. I had acupuncture the second week and believe it or not, 50% of my pain disappeared in 2 hrs and I could actually hold my fork! Brushing my hair and wiping my butt was still beyond me. 

I won't go into the rest of the last two months. Suffice it to say I alternated between screaming in pain and writhing with gritted teeth and sobbing. Eventually, after a fainting spell in my RA doctor's office, I was sent to a neurologist who did an MRI and found I have a compressed spinal cord. She immediately sent me to a neurosurgeon. Turns out I have a ruptured disc. I have to have surgery sometime in the next couple of weeks to repair it and to fuse some discs. I hope.

And that is how life has gone sideways. 

I was unable to type for three weeks and still have problems after typing for very long. The pain in my arm is bearable but only just. It still feels like it is on fire on the bottom side of my forearm, side of my hand and third and fourth fingers. I'm very clumsy and that is frustrating because I've always been very dexterous. 

Now it is as if my hand belongs to someone else. Thankfully, as a lefty living in a righty world, I'm a bit ambidextrous and I've been able to do a lot of things with my right hand. I'll never be able to write with it and I can't remember to do some of the other tasks with it but it has been easier to let the right hand pull extra duty. As a result, the right hand is a bit more functional. Probably a good thing since the doctor said he couldn't promise my left hand would return to full function with no pain. Apparently, when a nerve is pinched this long (07/09 thru 09/17) it might not recover. 

There's always a silver lining, isn't there?  I'm hopeful because God is good and I've got stuff to do. 

As a side note, during all of this, my son Mike fell off the delivery truck at work (about 4 feet) and broke his right arm and injured his shoulder. So the one person who helps me the most is also incapacitated. 

See, I told you there was a silver lining. 

And that's the way it is as of today, Sunday, September 17, 2017. 

If you pray, put us on your list. 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July 2017 Word Count Tally

I'm amazed at the July word count. Despite the inability to use my hand for nearly 3 weeks due to a pinched nerve, I did really well. It is a bit satisfying.

All of that was done in Hidden in the Mist. At least I'm pretty sure it was. I'm a little fuzzy on a few days but pretty sure.

I'm nearly through with the darn thing! Thank God! It has been a long haul and we won't talk about how many years. Thank goodness for Alice's constant prodding. As a result of it, I might have a finished draft by next weekend. Every writer needs a friend like Alice.Nag, nag, nag, prod, poke, and berate. Well, it seems to have helped a great deal.

Once this is done, my plan is to set it down and finish the other story that is nearly done. After that draft is complete, I want to start the edits on Mist.

One foot in front of the other. Step-by-step.

I'm probably done for the night because my hand is bugging me a bit. Mobility has returned to some degree but hardly any strength and limited dexterity. I can't open tear open bags, cereal bag, condiment packets, opening jars is now more than difficult. They are sending me to a neurologist to see if they can determine where the problem lies.

Still, I'm pleased with that 3491 words for July.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Goodreads Giveaway

Beginning August 1-31 you can register for the Goodreads Giveaway to win a copy of River City Writers' Anthology: Crossroads. We have 5 copies to give away so make sure you spread the word. Keep watching this post for updates. T.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The River City Writers Presents Crossroads by Cynthia I Maddox

The River City Writers Presents Crossroads

by Cynthia I Maddox

Giveaway ends August 31, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

The Blank Page

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Shocking Update

I'm more surprised than you are by that number. The amount of time it took me to write that was ridiculously short and it is very frustrating that I didn't do more. I'm nearly done with the first draft and it is by now means "finished", meaning that it needs a lot of work, but it is going to be done soon.

The feeling is an odd one. I can do this in my sleep and there were times in the last month that I felt that is what I was doing. Some of the words suck but overall, I'm pleased with the outcome of the story. I know what to do now and the end is in sight.

In case you're wondering, it is the same feeling you get when you've driven for 800 miles with only potty breaks and fuel breaks. Yes, the very same one. I've done that kind of drive a few times and I know what I'm talking about.

When I write THE END, I will start on the next story I want to finish. If I can get the drafts all finished, I have something to actually work with. That's a goal, right?

To my friend, Doug, it won't be done by July 1 but it will be darn close. Then, I'm going out of town for a week.

My writing has been more sporadic but what I'm finding is that I have to have a prod. Someone has to poke me with a stick. Alice has done that for me on this story, virtually since I began it. She sort of slacked off for a couple of years but I think she got disgusted with me not writing. So, she's not stuck me as much as she used to. And she does, after all, have a life. She recently moved back to Florida and is working, so she's busy. Still, her sporadic pokes have kept me moving forward.

Now I'm going to have to find someone as demanding as Alice to fill in the gaps.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Good Day's Work

That's the number of words written today in Hidden in the Mist. Not a bad day's count and I think the words were pretty good ones for the most part. It actually took me less than 2 hrs to do it so it is really good work.

We're in the homestretch now. I should be done in less than 10k words, maybe 5K. That would be nice. I'm at 94,000 already. My original word count expectation was 100,000 words and I reduced it to 90,000 because I didn't think there would be that much but the story took a turn and now... well, I'm almost to my original count. And I'm almost DONE with this mess! The only real annoyance is that I'd rather be done with a novel I actually like.

I've not had a good month so far and it is shaping up to be a total disaster in many ways. The car is in the shop. The house insurance payment didn't go thru and they've canceled it. I have to get both those fixed tomorrow! That insurance thing I've been trying to get resolved since mid-May and I'm ticked because they did this to me last year! I will be changing insurance companies next time.

My pain level is about maybe a 3. That's tolerable. I didn't get enough sleep last night and was up before I actually started hurting this morning. Maybe that's the trick? Still, I feel tired, despite lying around dozing for several hours this morning. I don't like doing that because I get nothing done! I haven't touched the paint in two weeks! That will never do.

So now to try and get a few words in one of the other novels. Or maybe I'll just do the next chapter in the same one. I'm not usually so prolific so I have to make hay while the sun shines.

Speaking of... today is a gorgeous day. The temperature is 81 right now with a gentle breeze and bright blue skies. I'm on the back patio under the red umbrella and I don't want to leave anytime soon.

I hope you find your perfect spot today and can enjoy it. Try and write something new or work on something old.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Pile of Words

We ordered this set of words from Amazon and they're kind of cool to mess with. I already have a couple of sentences but there aren't enough words to complete my most recent one.

She entered a crack in the world of magic to escape a human monster.

He followed her.

I don't write fantasy but it is a great starter sentence. I could really do something with it and I may try. A few days later I had some more lines and rearranged the previous ones. 

Playing with the words is inspiring and I found that surprising. We want to order the original set because there just aren't enough words in this one. Problem is that they're expensive and there are at least a dozen different sets!

Ah well. More important things for now. Say sleep? 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Interview with the Author

Several years ago I played around recording an "interview" of me talking about my writing. I kind of used it to give myself some encouragement and incentive. I don't know if it worked. It was fun. 

In light of my recent publishing of an anthology with my writer's group, I revisited this video. It is still amusing. And a bit prophetic?

I might try it again sometime.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Saturday Confessions #1

On Amazon
I did not write this week. I could tell you that things interfered. They did. I had sleep problems for a couple of nights and spent most of the following day trying to either stay awake or napping. I had to beat back some of the laundry and I nearly finished it. Of course, I have more to do. There has to be an easier way!

Wednesday I spent cutting the yard, trimming some bushes, and weed trimming. It cost me another day, well, nearly two since it took a day and a half to recover sufficiently to become mobile. I am still sore in some places but it is manageable.

The good part is that I spent the most of my downtime reading this week reading. Some pleasure reading but I finished the Story Structure Architect and started The Story Grid - writing books. I bought the Story Grid last week and it came in this past week. I'll put a review on Goodreads when I'm done. Story Structure Architect is really a good book I got free several years ago and should have read then. Many things would have been better.

On Amazon
Story Structure Architect, by Victoria Schmidt, gave me a very clear view of story structure and the various types of structures and what they contain. It is not a "novel" or a book to entertain. It is instructional and you'd do well to approach it that way. Some of the reviews called it boring but I'd say those are folks looking for a nice neat formula to write a story. There isn't one but this book clearly outlines the different structures, which in many ways is actually a formula, or maybe form is a more accurate word. I have the Kindle version I got free during a giveaway. If you're a note taker I would suggest that you spring for the actual physical book. There is so much here and referencing it on Kindle... well, for me it is a pain. I made over 200 notations and finding what I want again on Kindle is going to be a nuisance.

So, that is how my week played out. I feel lousy today with the weather. We've had storms all night and as usual, my joints are not at all happy. I love storms, always have, but my body does not. I'd like to get some writing done today if possible but I have so much still to do. I drafted Sarah to help with the housework. This morning I made beds, hung her clothes while she cleaned sinks and toilets and put away her legging, undies, and socks. She's gone for a while and I've got more laundry washing and have the tub soaking in cleaner for me to clean. Ugh!

I have a lot of pain in my neck and back today and a horrible case of indigestion that nothing is helping. So, I think it is time I signed off and got busy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

All The Ways To Procrastinate... That I Know

It is one of those days where I scheduled writing time and with good intentions, sat down in front of my computer. I really did intend to work on the novel. Really. I showered and had breakfast and read my Bible and was ready to go. 

9:00 a.m. I sat down to write. No, seriously, I did.
I checked my email. 
I checked Facebook.
I remembered I needed to take my meds.
I had to text Sarah's teacher.
I had to get something cold to drink.
I stopped to take my Humira shot. Ouch. The stomach is less painful than the leg, by the way.
Sarah's Mom replied to my text with several texts of her own.
I shopped on Amazon. I'll put the order in tonight.
I posted to Facebook.
Sarah's teacher replied to my text. 
I checked Goodreads and updated some stuff.
Mike came in and we talked and he kicked back in the recliner... for an hour. 
I checked email. 
I checked Facebook. 
I decided to write this post. 
I remembered that I need to call ChampVA about an insurance issue. That's probably a half hour wait time. 
I created the artwork for this post.

Now, I have a headache. Probably from looking at the screen so much.I probably should take something and lie down. I also need to finish putting away a load of laundry so I can wash the next load. And I have dirty dishes in the sink. The lawn needs mowing but I'll save that for later in the week  . . . when I need something to divert me. That's a two-hour job. 

I wonder what to prepare for supper?

Oh, I should probably work on the novel sometime.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Playing with the Grid

For several days I've been working on hanging my Long Summer Run novel on the Story Grid. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out Shawn Coyne's website, The Story Grid or the podcast by the same name.

As I mentioned somewhere previously, I've been studying story structure for a few months now because I just felt I was missing something. Rather than wallow in self-pity and moan over my writer's block, I decided to do something constructive. So, I read Story Architecture, checked out Story Engineer, and started listing to the Story Grid podcast. Story Architecture helped me get a handled on different types of stories and plots. It is an exhaustive collection and well written and organized. Story Engineer was so poorly written I finally sent it back to the library less than half finished and feeling as if I'd never get it. After checking out the reviews of the book I felt better because I wasn't the only one.

Then, I found That The Story Grid wasn't just a podcast but there is a website and a book. Of course, I opted for the cheaper version. I visited the website and found the topics I'd listened to in the podcast and read up on them.

The sensation of dawning understanding is truly a beautiful thing. The sun came up and I think I actually smelled flowers. The breeze ruffled my hair. Things came together and made sense. Not everything but enough that I felt energized. As I listened to the podcast and read the articles, my mind was skimming through my novels and fitting the pieces together. Oh, this goes there. That fits there. That sort of thing. You know.

This week I sat down and began with The Long Summer Run. I wanted to start with them all. There's only seven. I forced myself to stick with one. For a few moments, I felt a bit squeamish. How was I going to do this? Coyne uses a Kubler-Ross Curve for Story. It would mean handwriting the whole process and I'm not up to that. Do I use an actual grid, like in Excel or do the curve? Since I use Scrivener I figured the ideal would be to use that. But how? It isn't like there's a template for it.

In the podcast, Coyne limits himself to the three act structure. At least in the ones I've heard thus far. The Story Architect also shows mostly three acts. In fact, it seems to be the universal norm, although there could be half a dozen acts. I decided to follow the herd.

I created three folders in Scrivener and titled them Act 1, Act 2, Act 3. Coyne talks about "The Math" and I encourage you to read that article on his site. He breaks down the construction so clearly that I decided to use the 100,000 word set up. This particular novel is almost that now. It may come out to less but I've got more to add and will just stick with this for now. It breaks down this way: 25,000 words in Act 1, 50,000 in Act 2, and 25,000 in Act 3. He says that the story may not line up exactly on that word count but if it is well structured, it will come close. The division is based on the length of the story and you'll understand better if you read the article. A good example would be if your story were 80,000 words. Then the breakdown would be  20,000 - 40,000 - 20,000. In my case, that would put my Act 1 over.

What I've been doing is moving my scenes into these folders based on where they fall in the structure. I've finished Act 1 and was surprised that my word count fell almost exactly on 25K, almost at the point it was supposed to end. I'm working on Act 2 now and the truth is, this is where the problems lie for me. I'll be interested to see how it comes out. I've actually got some of Act 3 written and as it seems I am at a point I'm ready to toss everything out the window, I may stop working on two and move to three to give me some balance.

Regardless of what I do next, this feels like this method will help me fix some problems so I can finish it and move on. I can already see a number of problems. Now I just have to figure out how best to solve them. The good news is it feels as if I can solve them.

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