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Change is in the air…

As one struggling to become a good writer, good being the operative word, I read and study something about writing almost every day. Recently I read an article by author Cheryl St. John. She talked about what she learned from a book written by Dwight V. Swain in 1965. Hmm, that long ago you say? Yeah, all the new stuff being written today about ‘showing’ and not ‘telling’ is all in his old book, Techniques of The Selling Writer. Cheryl said the book was deep and hard for her to stay with at first—I loved it from the first sentence. I like logical, down to earth deep thinking and writing, not the ‘longhair-deep-off-the-wall’  stuff that some writers like to do; just a personal thing. 🙂

Yumm...
Yumm…

Dwight Swain explains writing as if he’s talking to a reasonably intelligent person who has a desire to write interesting books. Page-turner books that sell.

Everyone out there who fits this category,  raise your hand.

So you wonder what the photos of my lunch have to do with anything about writing?  Mr. Swain says that change must happen to keep a story moving forward. We humans are moved and motivated by change. We’re hard-wired that way. I thought about the changes that took place in my head over one tiny incident—a plate of food. I see what he means.

My lunch, a plate of new creamed potatoes, fried squash, corn on the cob, and a big sweet green onion. My sister, Ruthy, brought it to me. That plate of food went through several changes, and in pretty rapid order.

It made me think about what Mr. Swain said about change and how a good story is constantly changing, pushing the reader forward page after page. All the way to the end.

The first image is the way my lunch looked when it arrived. What are your thoughts as you view the image? I had several. ‘Wow, looks good enough to eat’. My mouth watered. I had warm fuzzy feelings toward my sister. How thoughtful of her.

Hmm. a lotta' food...
Hmm. a lotta’ food…

In the second image my stomach had about caught up with my eyes. Sigh. Now that was a satisfying lunch. Contentment.

The third image brought about more change. My sister knows I shouldn’t eat a big lunch when I’m working—whining—I’m too full to think now, I’ll have to take a nap—blame. 🙂

Thank you, Ruthy, for cooking me  a wonderful lunch! And thanks to our cousin, Sue Ann, who is the  gardener who grew the fresh veggies and shared with us. You’re both too good to me!

Change happens in everyday events and so it should in a story.

Cheryl St.John says that change forces our characters to adjust. Change won’t let him stand still. He must react to what is happening. Mr. Swain says to make sure the changes that happen impact the main character and his goal—box him in. Impede his goal. Give the reader something to hold his breath over, to eagerly flip another page for, and a heart-pounding reason for the reader to pull for your main character as he works toward his goal.

As you can see, I pigged out and finished every last bite of my delicious lunch.

To the last bite nibblet...
To the last nibblet…

I didn’t record the last change of my lunch saga; the dish scrubbed clean, and going home, filled  with my gratitude. 🙂

 

May God bless all your plans and may all your changes be good,

Mare

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Broken, but still working…

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Hmmm, you don’t even notice…

Several weeks ago I was preparing my usual afternoon tea. I keep my favorite teapot, cup, saucer and dessert plate all together on my counter in a handy place. Usually desert is a chocolate chip cookie (or two).

I had poured hot water into the pot and reached for the lid. The pot cozy that a friend made for me years ago was sitting close by. Teapot cozies really do help keep the pot hot much longer. 🙂

Anyway, as I reached for the lid, I made one of those mid-air mind changes and went for the cozy instead. As my hand swooped to the lid and then zoomed on to the cozy, I grazed the lid and it went flying off the counter and landed on the tile floor.

Why was I trying to reach for both things at once? I have no clue. This was my time to relax, it wasn’t as if I was rushed.

I stood clutching my cozy, devastated.

I mourned that l had ruined something that I enjoyed so much. I have other pots. But this was my favorite. I never throw away anything that I may use later in a still life, so I gathered up the pieces. It hadn’t broken into as many as I feared. I was amazed to find the knob on top (but no longer on the top) in one piece.

Teapot with damage showing.
Until you look really close…

I remembered that my husband believed J.B.Weld could fix anything. If anyone would know, he would have.

As I mixed the messy stuff I wondered why they didn’t make it in colors or at least white? It doesn’t dry and disappear like Elmers does. I read on the package that one of the two part mixtures has steel in it; reason for the dark color and its strength. My bright yellow teapot would have the dark stain of black epoxy around the knob. I mourned all over again about what I’d done. It wouldn’t be as pretty now. Did I still want it sitting on my counter? The directions said after twenty-four hours the epoxy  would be permanent. Good as new. Really?

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Back where it belongs, waiting to serve.

As I carefully put my lid back together, I thought about how my favorite pot may not be perfect anymore, but it would work as perfectly as before. I thought about myself and people in general. There are times when I’m ‘broken’. But do I stop writing, painting, keeping my yard and being active in church?

Just as the epoxy needs twenty-fours to be effective, sometimes when something breaks us, we need to take that twenty-four hours to mend and rest before we can work effectively again. As long as I have the glue of church, family, friends and work, the source of my ‘color and strength’, I can keep mending the breaks that come along. Wouldn’t it be a waste if we couldn’t put ourselves back together when something or someone breaks us? At least our cracks and breaks don’t show outwardly—we don’t have the dark stain of glue showing where we’ve been damaged and mended.

My imperfect teapot sits in the same spot it’s always claimed. I am reminded now, every afternoon around 2:00 o’clock that people or things don’t have to be perfect to work perfectly.

 Have a great day and keep God first in your plans,

Mare

 

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Cover angst…

Here’s an update on the cover for my story ‘THE ROSE ARBOR’. Playing around with colors and different fonts is fun, but it’s alsoThe Rose Arbor #2 time consuming—and who has enough time? 🙂 This latest version is probably the one I’ll use…maybe? You can help me decide which has the most bang. I bumped up the color, added a tag line and included the “Coffee Break’ alert. ( Short story coming up! )

‘Coffee Break’ is supposed to  signify that what you are about to read is short. Very short—can be read in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee. 

I was (pleasantly) surprised to see several low ratings ( 2 and 3 stars ) for another one of my short stories on Amazon. Readers were  complaining about the length of ‘Coffee Break’ story, Books, Beads and Baubles. I said pleasantly, because those reviewers seemed to like my characters and the writing—just not the length.

Tell me what you think about this second version for the cover. 🙂

***

I started this post with, ‘I worked in the studio all day…’ but it so felt not like work that I just couldn’t let that stand. So instead of calling it work, I’ll call it what it is. Fun. A delightful day of pushing paint around. Laughing and talking with Ruthy, my sister. She paints too. We share a studio ( hide-out ).Ist version of The Rose Arbor

She finished a painting and so did I. Well, I’ve still got to tickle mine a bit more. I did a whimsical painting of a rose arbor. The illustration for the cover of  my short story, THE ROSE ARBOR. A humorous story of a farmer who has an old bull that’s causing problems to the farmer’s neighbors.

How does that have anything to do with a rose arbor, you ask? Trust me it figures in! 🙂

As soon as I tweak the cover a bit more, I’ll share the story. Here’s a look at the first version of a cover—I’ll do several more before I settle on the final one. I thought I liked the faded side…but don’t think so now. What ‘chew’ think? 🙂

Have a wonderful day, put God in your plans, things will go better,

Mare

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Fortune Cookie Wisdom

I had lunch at my favorite oriental restaurant with my sister, Ruthy, and her husband, Jerry. After we’d enjoyed way too much of the good food, we each chose which fortune cookie we wanted from a small tray the server had placed on our table. This is serious decision-making.

There’s just three cookies on the plate. I take my time. Any, minnie, minie, moe… I reached for the one on the farthest side of the small tray. After making the hard decision of which one, we then take turns reading our fortunes out loud.

When I read mine, my lunch companions laughed and accused me of making it up. I had to show it to prove I hadn’t fudged on it!

Have you ever had anything more scientific than this to confirm your decision to be a writer? I loved it!!

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