1/28/2012

Queen's Bath


Many aspects of Kauai are warm and soft and mellow. Others are beautiful but violent. This is Queen's Bath, up north. Our guidebook shows a picture of two people floating in the "sheltered" pool formed by rocks that "protect" the swimmer from being violently washed out to sea.

Perhaps Queen's Bath is okay in the summer, but definitely not in the winter. As you hike down to it, there is a rock plaque with the number of people who have drowned there, something like 28 persons. It was fascinating to watch the turbulent water flowing in and out of this small cove.





1/27/2012

Sunrise on Kauai


We were so excited to be here, hubbie and I were awake at 5:30 am the first morning, waiting for the sun to come up. It comes up at 7:20 am. We waited around for a little while, but it was still quite dark when we walked to the beach to watch the sun rise.

Our condo is only about 300 yards from the ocean, and so we can hear the surf at all times, and the trade winds blow right through the condo, cooling it. We have an ocean view, but there's nothing like being on the beach itself.

Our condo is so much nicer than the one in Maui two years ago that we were quite surprised and delighted to see what we had rented. We each have a bathroom. The living room is huge. There is a separate dining area and, of course, kitchen and bedroom. This one (at the Kaha Lani Resort) is only $20/night more expensive than the one in Maui. The one thing it lacks, though, is a washer and dryer.

I might try to post more pictures, however our Verizon internet modem is quite slow. We're staying in Kapaa, on the east side of the island, which gives us good access to everything. On the first day, we headed north and saw most of what you can see in that direction. (Sorry to be so abbreviated--breakfast is awaiting me.)

Yesterday, we went to Wimea Canyon and saw most of the sights in the south. Unfortunately, it rained heavily all day--a deluge--and so we weren't able to see as much as we'd hoped. We got out of the car long enough to see Spouting Horn.

This morning, we're back at trying to see it all again. Our  5-hour coastline tour of Na Pali, including snorkeling, is tomorrow. Our Waco ride that will fly us around the entire island is Sunday.

We've been leaving early and returning late, but tonight, we need to get back early so we can be at Port Allen by 8:00 am tomorrow morning ... roads such as they are here, and though it's probably only 30 miles away, it could take us 90- minutes to get there.

Aloha!  




1/23/2012

So Much to be Thankful For


The weather warmed considerably on Friday evening, resulting in massive melting through the night. On Saturday, I was busy getting ready for our trip when hubbie said to me, "I think you'd better come down to the basement."

An inch of water crossed the entire floor in my scrapbooking room. It had also spread, and was continuing to spread, into other parts of the basement.

We had re-roofed the house last summer, but there wasn't time to do the finishing touches. I.e. putting up rain gutters. All the snow had melted off the roof. An enormous pile lay along the north side of the house. It was all melting. Seeping into the basement through a flooded window well.

I hadn't even gotten dressed yet that morning, and so as my hubbie said, "You looked like a crazy woman outside in your fuzzy pink bathrobe, madly scooping water out of the window well with a bucket."

He got the new bucket tractor and dug a ditch along the north side of the house so that the water would collect there and seep into the ground, instead of making a beeline for the basement.

In all, I spent five hours in the basement. At first, I was bucketing and sopping up water. When that was done, I steam cleaned the entire 1200 sq feet of vinyl flooring.

Finished, I could hardly walk back up the stairs, I was so tired.

It wasn't the first time our basement's flooded. It was the fourth, but the first time when vinyl flooring had replaced carpeting.

The good news is that it happened before we left on our trip. Had we been gone, I cannot imagine the damage that would've been done. As a minimum, water would've soaked into the sheet rock and ruined it.

Nothing in my scrapbooking room was damaged, as virtually everything was in plastic storage units.

At the end of the day, we went to our grandson's second birthday party. This is the little guy who was born seven weeks premature, one week prior to our going to Hawaii last time. We'd worried about him and his mother. We'd taken care of the other two children while Mommy and baby were in the hospital. We also worried we might need to cancel our vacation. Everything turned out fine.

I snapped the picture just as we were leaving to go to Grandbaby's birthday party.

Now, today, we are on our way to Seattle and, once again, to board a plane for Hawaii.

1/20/2012

Slammed!

We'd heard 2012 was supposed to have a bad winter. There was absolutely no signs of it. Until now.

Hubbie and I have been watching a couple of our grandkids since Monday while their parents vacationed in Las Vegas. There was no school on Monday, due to the holiday.

Then it snowed. And snowed. And snowed.

Even in Seattle. Roadways are terrible. Seattle (300 miles away) seldom gets snow, and so people don't have snow tires. Even if they did, they don't know how to drive in it. There are hardly any snowplows. The metropolitan area pretty much shuts down. Sea-Tac International Airport has been open intermittently. Same for Spokane International (near where we live).

My son and his wife have been stuck in Seattle, waiting for a flight to Spokane since last evening. They'll probably get home sometime today. The airport opened up again at 10:00 AM. They are on standby.

As you can imagine, they and everyone else at the airport are grumpy about cancelled and delayed flights and being on standby.

We're grumpy around here too. I couldn't get to work at all on Wednesday. It took my husband four hours to plow out our driveway Thursday morning. I got to work around 1:00 PM, but then that evening when I went home, I couldn't get the car back up the driveway. Now the car's stuck at the bottom, useless. Hubbie discovered it has absolutely no hooks beneath it for towing.

Because he has two four-wheel-drive pickups, he figured I could drive either one of them to work. The problem is, I'm not used to driving them, even when the roads are good. The 5-speed manual transmission. Having to figure out how and where to park the big ol' monster on the narrow, snow-filled side streets in the town where I work. (Grumpy. Grumpy. Grumpy). His expectation is that I should be fearless, let nothing stop me. After all, we're farm folk. We're hearty pioneers.

My thoughts about myself are that I'm a helpless, city born-and-bred woman. He shouldn't expect me to be fearless. I needed his help.(See where our expectations for ourselves and each each other don't match up? See why we got into an argument as he drove me to work this morning?)

So he drove me to work this morning, and will have to come get me this evening. It's two unnecessary hours on the road for him. (Grumpy. Grumpy. Grumpy.)

I wanted him to see that we need a 4WD car. He doesn't believe in them, because you sacrifice too much gas mileage year-round. I wanted him to see that I need studded snow tires. He doesn't believe in them because they ruin the roads. (This was subtext, thoughts on my part that didn't make it to the surface of our argument. The argument got shut down because the grandkids were in the back seat and "we shouldn't argue in front of the grandkids.")

The only truly happy people about all this are the kids, who attended school only one day this week. The pictures are of my oldest granddaughter, outside our house, playing with one of the farm dogs.

As I think about the snow and road conditions, I have to agree with him. I have to give up my egoic need to be right. Because I'm not right. What's wrong with me being independent, self-sufficient? Nothing. It makes more sense than me remaining a wimpy, helpless woman. We're can-do people. Beneath it all, I agree with him about 4WD cars and studded snow tires. I don't want to sacrifice 15 miles per gallon year-round, when you can usually count the snowy days in a year on two hands. I hate the deep grooves that studded snow tires wear into the highways.

So ... Once we get back from Hawaii, I pledge to start getting used to driving one of his pickups to work. The little black one.



1/16/2012

Keep On Keeping On

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning feeling sad. It's not unusual for me to wake up so early. I liked that it was 4:00 am instead of 1:30 or 2:00 am (which is also not unusual).

If I wake up at 4:00 am, then I get to get up in only an hour or two. If earlier, I'd have to try to get back to sleep, or be tired at work the next day.

Waking up isn't unusual, but waking up with a sense of sadness really is. Generally I am such a morning person that I can hardly wait to spring (happily) out of bed.

But this morning? Well, it struck me. The last post I wrote, only a couple of days ago, I thought I was so close to being able to send out queries on my YA manuscript. Now I see that I'm still weeks, months, away from doing so.

I LOVE that 14 people critiqued the manuscript. I'm planning to read each and every one of their suggestions and take them to heart. The problem is the time it will take. When will there be time in my schedule to start working on my new manuscript idea? Probably March or later.

Friday-yesterday, I worked all day each day on the manuscript and was able to work through only parts of only THREE people's suggested changes.

  • It took me all day one day to remove unnecessary uses of the word "said" from the manuscript
  • I also did a global edit and removed "language"--such words as Jeez, damn, God--not that there were so many of them, but my critiquers have a point: Without them, even the most discriminating readers, who will set a book down if they run across a swear word, could enjoy reading it.
  • I removed word doubles--times when I inadvertently wrote the same word twice. 
  • I addressed the issue of the hero's white gloves with the fingertips cut off: I clarified, then eliminated overkill and brought the mention of gloves down to a dozen instances, all necessary. I also "more fully rendered/realized" the scene where he finally removes the gloves.
  • I changed the scene where the heroine meets the bad boy/wrong boy and made him a little more likable in the beginning, so there's a more plausible reason why she ends up spending time with him instead of the hero.
  • I got through ALL of the comments made by only ONE critiquer, addressing questions that came up for her while reading the manuscript. 

I know without looking at the others' comments that there are still many more issues to be addressed; I wrote them down during the group critique, or what my friend Sharon calls, "The Inquisition."

It appears that it will take me a full day or more (8+ hours) to address each critiquer's issues.

It feels like an effort to "get up one flight of stairs," only to turn at the landing and start going up another flight, and another, and another.

It will get done, but given the small amount of free time I normally have, and less in the next three weeks, it will be months before the revision is complete. At that point, I might want to give it to the critique group for one last pass.

Anyway. That's where I'm at. Happy to have been given excellent suggestions. Sad that it will take so long to make all the changes. Sad that it'll be months before time opens up enough to begin working on a new manuscript.

1/10/2012

Another Step Along the Journey ...

I've learned not to become too attached to outcomes, but to enjoy the process (everything that life brings us), and to be open to new possibilities, new paths that might bear surprising, unexpected joy.

Because I am not yet a contracted author, I still have the freedom to write whatever I want. (Woohoo!) After recently finishing my young adult romance, I spent several weeks in soul searching as to the type of project to tackle next.

I've spoken before about having belonged to Romance Writers of America. About a decade ago, I wrote a couple of romance manuscripts targeted at the now-defunct Love and Laughter line, but didn't try to market either of them.

Life circumstances swept me in a different direction. We needed the money. I took a full time job as a Children's Librarian in a public library and didn't write again for about six years. Then when I did start writing again, it was for Young Adults.

In the past four years, while working full time and being constantly on the go, I completed two young adult manuscripts. I love the inventiveness of young adult fiction. I love the issues of that stage of life. I intend to keep writing manuscripts targeted for young adults ... unless ... life steers me in yet another direction.

Recently when I attended the Emerald City Romance Writers conference, I saw to my great disappointment that romance had apparently swung so far in the direction of sensual romance that sweet romances appeared not to be on the market at all anymore.

Was I ever wrong! Further inquiry showed me that there is an enormous market for sweet romances, or what I like to call love stories (as opposed to lust stories). They're called Inspirational Romance. It's the bread and butter of Christian fiction publishers. Harlequin's Love Inspired line alone puts out around 140 romances each year.

The focus of my writing has always been on the relationships between characters, not elaborate external plots. I like to contemplate personalities, and how different types would create sparks in a given situation.

That, for me, spells FUN.

My new project is an inspirational romance. The characters, broadly speaking, represent fire and ice. Generally it's the woman who is "ice," and the man who is "fire." I am more intrigued to see how a fiery woman will melt an icy man. And also win over his prideful, overly controlling mother.

It's a Mail Order Bride story set in Spokane, Washington somewhere around 1900-1916--haven't worked out the details yet. Or it could be a contemporary E-mail Order Bride story. Either way, it should provide me with many hundred hours' worth of intriguing thoughts and outright laughter as I write it.

Are you tied to writing only one type of fiction? Or do you like to sample it all--mystery, romance, speculative, and so on?




1/07/2012

Need a Helping Hand to Jump Start Your Next Idea? Look no Farther than The 90-day Novel by Alan Watt

I LOVE books on writing. Some writers couldn't be bothered with them. They need, come hell or high water, to forge ahead in their own way, in their own time. Me, I guess I'm a wimp. I love having a professional, published author in my life (so to speak), looking over my shoulder, giving me tips, encouraging me, helping me to pull my dream toward me. In this case, to begin to discover the next story I want to tell myself. The next novel I want to write.

Alan Watt helped me to do this--sketch out the possible scenes for an entire novel--in 40 hrs' time. He claims writers can plan and finish writing a rough draft of an entire novel in 90 days. He takes you through the process day-by-day.

The first 30 days are planning days, in which he expects you to spend two hours each day planning your novel, based on questions to ask your hero and your antagonist. I busted through the first 30 days last week. Good lord, I was so inspired, I managed to write up 13,000 words of notes about my characters, possible scenes, and where those scenes might appear in the novel. I have never in my whole life written so many words in a week. It helped that it was a three-day work week at the library, with a four-day weekend on one end and now, with my Fridays off, a three-day weekend on the other.

I have just printed up my notes--24 pages' worth, and am going to do some further scene-building, this time using tips learned from Holly Lisle, before launching into the rough draft. But in one week, using Watt's book, I sketched out my entire story. Seriously. Not only that, but I cannot wait to begin writing it. Do I sound dazed? I am. Dazed and delighted.

What methods do you use to jump start your imagination? How do you go about planning a new book?
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