Magic Monday & WFMAD 21

My weekend was a quick research trip, lots of library time, weeding the garden when the rain stopped, and – last night while hanging out with the family – cracking open dried cherry pits so the meat inside the pit could be added to the dark cherry liqueur I am brewing up for Christmas time.

This dog was the funniest thing I saw while researching.

I think his owner was reenacting a soldier from the British 24th Regiment of Foot. Which means the dog belongs to the 24th Regiment of Paw, of course.

WFMAD Day 21

The headshrinkers say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. If you have written every day for the last 21 days, then congratulations. Poof! You made it. You have a new writing habit! Like all habits, this one needs constant watering and attention, so please remember to write tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that, etc., etc.

If you haven’t been able to write for 21 days in a row, write down the reasons why – what interfered? I know for a lot of you the answer is “vacation.” Nothing wrong with that. But if you couldn’t make the time to write when your time was truly your own, what’s it going to be like when you’re back in your work routine?

I’m not scolding here. This is all about helping you reprioritize a little so you can make the time to follow your writing dream. We have ten days left in the Challenge. Imagine that from now until the end of the month, each one of your waking hours represents $1,000. Think of your choices about spending your time as money-spending choices. Be mindful where you spend your everything.

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: fresh-start

Today’s prompt: if you fall off a horse, you have to get back on again or else, what’s the point? Start fresh today by choosing a different place to write in. Putting your body in a different space to write can help your mind be open to new ideas and perspectives.

Today I’d like you to write about your writing dream – what are you trying to accomplish? Be specific and detailed. If you are a calender-based person, what do you want to accomplish by January 1st? If you are a season-based person (like me), what do you want to have done by the Winter Solstice (December 21st)?


The Fog of Research & WFMAD Day 13

My head hurts. I overstuffed it with facts and dead bodies and ghosts yesterday.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

BH and I drove out to a couple of Revolutionary War sites and met with a man who has been studied the events that happened there his entire life. I took a million photos and asked half a million questions.

I’ve already done the background research for this novel and I have a pretty good sense of how the events in the character’s life unfold in conjunction with the historical events he’s caught up in. Now I’m doing the “boots on the ground” research: visiting sites and bugging the experts for the small details; the real-life stuff that many academic historians don’t put in their books, but that make scenes come to life for readers.

As always, going on location helped me see my story with new focus. We stood on the site of a ferocious battle. Cattails and grape vines are growing out of the dirt that was soaked with blood 231 years ago. Despite the heat, I shivered and had to fight back the tears.

The sense of time evaporates in places like that. It feels like the battle happened yesterday, or it’s about to happen in the next hour, or in the next five minutes. The enemy is ready to explode out of the woods without warning, tearing across the cattails and marsh grass. Musket balls will rain across the field, dropping horse and ox, biting into the trunks of the beech and ash trees that line the road. We and They will fight hand-to hand with bayonet blades and hunting knives and axes. Our muskets are used as clubs because there isn’t enough time to load and shoot. Fathers and sons and husbands and brothers will die in this forgotten bit of woods. The survivors will weep and dig shallow graves for the dead before hurrying away, knowing that the enemy is hiding in the shadows.

Then the cattails will start to grow again.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Right now it feels so close to me, I can feel the weight of this coat on my shoulders.

I’ll spend today putting my notes from the trip into the proper scenes. But if you’re looking for a WFMAD prompt, here it comes.

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: daring.

Today’s prompt: I’m calling this one Fork in the Road. List three significant choices you’ve made in your life, then list the alternative to that choice. Choose one of the paths you didn’t take, and write abut what might have happened if you had chosen that instead.

OR! List some of the life choices your character makes and change one of them. Write out how it affects the rest of the story; what are the unfolding series of consequences from that decision?


Write 15 Minutes a Day Challenge (WFMAD) – Day Ten: Basil & Cherry Edition

I am deep in 18th-century research and writing again, but it’s summer, which means other things are calling my name.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Like basil.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And cherries.

I’ve been getting up wicked early (5ish), working in the garden, and then sitting down at my desk by 6:30 am most days. I work until the late afternoon, then turn my attention to things like

Image and video hosting by TinyPic basil. This was my experiment with freezing basil. It was very simple; pick basil, trim stems,

Image and video hosting by TinyPic chop up with olive oil,

Image and video hosting by TinyPic and freeze. In a couple weeks, the late planting of the basil crop should give me enough leaves to make a big batch of pesto.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic And now the cherries are ripe, too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic BH and I (that’s him on the ladder) picked 15 pounds of cherries late yesterday. There was an Amish family at the farm doing the same thing. They picked waaaaaaay more than we did. I’ll make a couple of batches of jam when it cools down tonight. By this time next year, I’d love to have a solar dehydrator – dried cherries are loverly.

On nights I’m not canning or gardening after dinner, I crawl back inside my book until bedtime.

Today’s goal: Write for 15 minutes.

Today’s mindset: yummy.

Today’s prompt: focus on taste; anticipating it, describing it, watching how it affects behavior. Write about a taste that represents love to you. If nothing comes to mind, write about a taste that represents anger. If that doesn’t work, freewrite about a breakfast in an exotic location.


Garden Update

Lest you think I’m only going to blog about writing this month, I thought I’d give you a peek in the garden, my other summer passion.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The hollyhocks have started to bloom.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic I wish I could crawl inside one.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Here is one of the stone planters, filled with a combination of vegetables and flowers. The broccoli are done for the season, though I might try a late crop this fall. The lettuce hasn’t bolted yet, which I appreciate. The tomatoes are insane – no other word for it. (Yes, they are the crazy monster plants in the middle.) I am experimenting with two sweet potato plants and cabbages in these beds, too. So far, so good.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic This is what we call the corner garden. It’s planted with Roma tomatoes, hot peppers, marigolds, zinnias, and out of range of this camera, green beans.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic It is snow pea season; we’re eating them every day.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic They are so yummy that next year I think I’ll plant three times as many.

I also picked a bunch of basil today that I’m about to mush up and freeze. Photos tomorrow maybe.

ALA Photos, Round Three and A Hero

We’ll start tonight’s picture show with the gorgeous smiles of Kevin Lewis and Holly Black.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Yes, he’s Holly’s editor, too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic If you’re a teacher or librarian, you want to know the good people of TeachingBooks ” is a time-saving portal to thousands of online resources you can use to explore children’s and young adult books and their authors.” It has loads of terrific material about authors and their books. I particularly adore the Author Name Pronunciation Guide.

But the absolute highlight of the conference was an unexpected, serendipitous meeting with an author whose books are among my very favorites. As I walked on the conference floor, the loud speaker announced that this Incredible Author was about to give a reading from her new book. I sprinted, sending librarians and publicists scattering like bowling pins. (I do apologize for an injury or loss of dignity I may have caused.)

The new book?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Quakeland (for grown-ups, this time).

That’s right folks, I met Francesca Lia Block!