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No Shots Fired…

MSN-gun-firing

No Shots Fired…   Final conflict scene of the WhiteHaired Shooter is set.

The first draft of the book, still filled with plot holes and partial scenes, is almost complete. I played around with possible alternate endings, and decided the final conflict scene that worked best for this novel — has no shots fired.

That might sound counter intuitive, as the book, in large part, revolves around an older woman making the decision to own and learn how to shoot a gun for self protection. And while I’m working to ramp up  conflict in every scene, I’m also committed to showcase what it takes for responsible gun ownership and handling.

Question:  Can the truth — that the best to be hoped for outcome of a real life self defense situation is use of minimal force and hopefully result in no lethal action taken — be interesting?

In the vast majority of the fictional world, lead seems to fly at any provocation. Blood and gore is the accepted highest form of conflict in most action scenes. And I’m going to end my book without a shot being fired during the “fight scene.”  It’ll be an interesting ride, and feels a little risky. Time will tell if this novel I’m penning is accepted as entertaining and thrilling anyway!

This book is not meant to glamorize firearms, or show how a gun bestows next-to-superpowers on the gun owner.  Hopefully it shows the responsibility each of us has to protect ourselves and our loved ones. And in this case, a firearm will be part of that choice.

Now, to tie up a few loose ends and start in on the hardest and most important part of writing – revision.

 

 

 

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Synchronicity…

Yesterday I pondered a quote in the “real world” on Show vs Tell, and this morning, reading my feeds over coffee, I find this:

IHearISeeIDo

How many times do you find that ideas proliferate like wild fire, something catches your eye (or ear or fancy) and then you find you are experiencing a part of a tsunami that affects so many other minds and thoughts and lives?

Are we reacting — but not conscious of – to that which is already present all around us?

Are we feeling the “force” before it manifests fully?

Or is it simply a sensitivity to noticing what is always there, akin to being pregnant and noticing how many other pregnant women are around that you previously ignored.

Humbling and exhilarating at the same time!

 

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2016 in General Discussion

 

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Show Don’t Tell – real world lesson

Show Don’t Tell – real world lesson

One of the most frequently given reminders to the new-to-the-craft of fiction is “Show Don’t Tell.”

After hearing that over and over, and often without any substantial guidance on how to improve, the fledgling writer can glaze over hearing that phrase. I did for quite awhile, anyway.

It was surprising and refreshing to see the following in the “signature” yesterday in an email from one of our real-life customers, a Safety Engineer:

Tell them-They will forget

Show them-They will remember

Involve them-They will be committed

I was intrigued, and of course, googled it. References from Chinese Proverbs, to Maya Angelou, and MHSA (Mine Health and Safety Act) led the results.

I gained an added level of appreciation for the “Show don’t tell” rule. I hadn’t “connected the dots.”

From my own experience in training employees in computer programs, it dawned on me: writing rules come from practical, commonsense, “universal truths” we already know. Another mandate for writing well – to “Tell the truth” in your writing, just became a little more digestible as well. Art mimics nature. What we write, even though it’s a made up story, should resonate with the real world, stay true to human nature, and be something that our reader can become a part of, because it is believable.

Imagine that!

 

I’m adding this to my “Lessons learned” list!

15.  Show don’t Tell and other writing rules come from the “real world.” Realistic, relatable fiction writers know that. These “rules”  help to build a more human world for the reader. Instead of fighting them or feeling being bound by them, respect and understand them. They are there for a reason.

To see all the lessons to date, click here:   Go to Lessons I’m Learning….

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2016 in Writing the Book

 

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LESSONS I’m learning on my Journey to becoming an author.

In today’s world, anyone can be published, whether their work is good, not so good, or just plain bad. If I can’t convince an agent or publisher my writing is fantastic and saleable, I can always and easily publish independently.

I’ve got books inside me, just waiting to be written. But I like to do things well, and I want to succeed.  I’ve got a long history of starting books that stall out after a few chapters. They still call out to me to be finished, but I have not known how to translate my thoughts and ideas into a finished project that, with just a bit of tweaking, will become that perfect novel or story. Each story attempted began to wander and finally peter out at some point.  And I found convenient excuses for letting them languish, the most common being:

I don’t have time, because I have responsibilities… there’s the kids, … the job, … the {insert here whatever else is a regular part of living}.

There’s something alive inside me that tells me I have to write. I have always seen stories around me, just begging to be written. When I was much younger, I spent a few years writing weekend features for a small newspaper. Those were easy. Always a well defined amount of space to fill,  a few pictures to snap for illustration, and guaranteed publication. So it’s not surprising, with my background, that the first serious book attempt – with no excuses – would be a “how to” book. This blog was born as a place to collect my thoughts. The process was clear to me:

I know I can write non-fiction.  I have a grasp of language, and this is a subject I am passionate about.

But as anyone who has followed my journey has seen, there was that STORY waiting to be told —  and it demanded my attention and let me know it needed to be written. I am still writing a much shorter “how-to” non fiction book to accompany my novel that  “shows and not tells” the experiences of mature women including choosing, and learning to shoot a firearm safely.

WizardOfOz

Courtesy of pamela-p.deviantart.com

 

 

While it’s easy to be witty, easy to amuse and even amaze your friends and family with short spurts of original writing, a novel is a horse of a different color, and it doesn’t take long to realize  you’re “not in Kansas any more.” No yellow brick road or wonderful wizard behind a curtain is going to provide you with the heart, the mind and the courage this process is going to take.  It’s work. Amazingly difficult at times, but filled with joyful growth if you persevere. It will require adjustment of your self image and development of a “thick skin.”

I’ve shared the first lessons of my journey in the “Writing the Book” category of this blog, and may include a few of them here. My intent with this page is to summarize and share the resources and lessons I am learning along my way as they happen, rather than trying to categorize them.  My plan is to add to this with the newest discovery, lesson or resource entered at the top of the list.

If you have discovered things and resources on your own journey, I would love to hear about them. Sharing what we learn is important!

 

 

Here are the first lessons I’ve learned from the new page on this BLOG, just launched: LESSONS I’m learning on my Journey to becoming an author.  


4.  Find a group of other writers to discuss, review and critique your work. If you have a writer’s group close to where you live (I don’t) – go meet with them regularly.  If you don’t, online help is available.  I discovered the  “Critique Circle” through a comment here on WordPress.  Good, solid, constructive critiques and sharing of technique happens in this environment. The “cost” of these groups is typically giving critiques to other writers.  It’s writers helping writers and sharing what they have learned. I was very surprised that reviewing and giving help to others is one of the best ways to grow in your own writing and self editing!

3.  First drafts are meant to suck.  Go ahead and finish them, even if your chapter/writing is flat or just plain bad. This is you getting your story out, you’ll work with later to polish it and make it shine. Nothing springs forth fully edited and complete. That’s what revisions and drafts #2 – #9999 are for.

2. Study fiction writing from successful authors. I have found these resources here on WordPress and other Blogs, browsing through amazon.com, Goodreads. Start following and forming a community- of other authors on Twitter.  Look at the “creds” of those supplying lessons.  I am wary of those wanting to “sell” me lessons, many of the truly great authors have written books generously sharing the craft, and many blog freely.

1. Read a lot and constantly.  You’ve got to have a rich background and love of reading: the classics, and particularly in the genre you want to write.

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2015 in Writing the Book

 

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2014 – What a Year for Change

When the days are short and the weather cold, it is a our tradition to reflect on changes the year about to pass has brought, and to give thanks.

As each year closes, we have been amazed at blessings that have continued to shower on us, and we give praise to the Lord who has made each of our years better than the last.

This is not to say  there aren’t challenges and setbacks. This year has blown by in most respects. Amidst health issues and inevitable and unplanned expenses,  I was able to retire from my “day job” in mid October and joined my husband in his leather business full time. While only a couple months into that transition,  we are extremely happy with it.

I had two major plans for 2014: retiring, and my book writing project, “The White Haired Shooter.”

Both these plans underwent a multitude of twists and turns during the year, and a quote attributed to Woody Allen really fits:

 “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”

I started blogging in January of 2014, with articles that form the information base for the book,  and by early summer had established a fairly solid direction and felt ready to start putting the book together.

To better prepare myself, I began studying the process of writing, publishing, and marketing. Part of my studies involved taking part in “flash fiction” events and contests, and I got hooked on learning the dynamics of story writing.  That process rekindled  a bookworm’s childhood dream of writing books myself – and I suppose, on the brink of second childhood, that’s poetic timing!

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I am still writing.  I have down-sized the scope of the original how-to book, and began writing a novel that illustrates the challenges, progress, and integration of self defense – in particular guns- in the lives of three mature women.  One of the women just happens to have a how-to book designed to help the mature woman learn to shoot, and, da da da daaaaa, it is written by yours truly, the White Haired Shooter. (Funny how that worked out, eh?)

Haven’t figured out how to market the how-to book part yet, but entertaining a few ideas, and having a blast doing it.

Quite a change from my original intent. But I like to think, a better approach.  There are many training manuals, videos and classes available for women these days, to just write one without any “real” credentials – other than I am a mature woman, I shoot, and have assisted in training others – isn’t much of a platform to launch from.

The audience I am targeting (all right, I’ll try to control the puns) is the mature woman, and her decision whether or not to learn to shoot a gun as part of self defense. That is so much more than just the basics of pulling a trigger and learning proper grip, and is the primary aim  (okay, I promise that’s the last one) of the White Haired Shooter.  I had an epiphany, taken straight from my study of fiction:

 SHOW don’t TELL

And that’s what Sylvia, Laura and Pat, the main characters of the novel, are doing.  I believe it’s got the potential to entertain while informing, and be far better than trying to integrate that theme into a how-to manual alone.

This project will take longer than I ever imagined, but I am excited about the different levels and opportunities  opened up by basing the mature woman’s experiences and challenges in a work of fiction.

As a major part of  “getting schooled,” I am once again side-tracking, this time by writing a couple of novels based on short stories I wrote during the summer.  I feel better “practicing”  with them, and then bringing new skills to the main book(s).

Blogging, unfortunately, will be inconsistent for some time. With the changes retirement has brought, and working our own business, I have a lot of adjusting to do.  Old schedules have been tossed, and new ones haven’t yet – if ever – been formed.  God only put so many hours into a day, and they do fly by when we’re having so much fun!

Finally, and from the heart, here’s wishing you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and a blessed New Year!

 

~~  Peggy

The White haired Shooter

The White haired Shooter

 
 

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