Shih-Tzu Saturday #10

Happy Saturday! December is finally here and that means Christmas is just weeks away. Is it starting to feel like Christmas where you are? It’s finally getting a little chilly here in Connecticut and we have a snow shower (nothing big) coming Monday morning. Yep, it’s starting to feel like Christmas here. Besides the cold and the snow, you know what else gets me into the Christmas spirit? Christmas cards!

For the past few years I’ve been sending out photo Christmas cards featuring the pups. One of the funnest (is that a word? Not sure) parts of making the Christmas card is the photo shoot and the silly outtakes that won’t be used for the card. Wrangling two pups with short attention spans is hilarious.

This year the pups have donned matching scarves (their Christmas gift last year from my sister-in-law). I love the shot of Billy sticking his tongue out. They move so fast, one minute their looking right at me and it’s the perfect photo and the next moment they’re distracted by something and they’re perched to jump off of the sofa.

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Last year I found the most adorable faux fur shrug at TJ Maxx for Susie (I know, but I couldn’t resist) and I knew she had to wear it for her Christmas photo. Luckily the day of her grooming appointment Teresa put the most beautiful bow in Susie’s hair and it was perfect with the shrug. She did look like a Shih-Tzu princess.

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Wow! What a big mouth the little guy has. He definitely lived up to his nickname of Silly Billy. What an adorable goof ball.

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My Christmas cards are on their way and should be here within a couple of days. What kind of cards to you send? Photo cards? Traditional cards? Handmade cards?

Happy Saturday!

Coffee & Chat # 4 – What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Happy Monday!

Here we are starting a new week and in a few days it will be December. Wow! 2016 flew right by. As we enter the last month of the year I’ve been hearing the question “where has the year gone” a lot and the response is typically “no idea”. It’s a shame that so many people feel that the year has passed by in a blur and that each year it gets faster and faster. Maybe that’s because of our lifestyle today. Everything is immediate, life moves at a warp speed and we’re always connected. I can see how life passes by in a blur. But I don’t think that’s the way we should live our lives. And that leads me into the question of the day – what do you like to do when you’re not writing. I have a full cup of coffee so lets start chatting.

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I love to exercise. Yes, you read correctly. I enjoy a good workout. It clears my mind, sometimes helps me breakthrough a story block and keeps me healthy. Talk about a win-win. As I type this I’m very, very sore from a Cardio Leg Workout by Cathe Friedrich. Ouch would be an understatement and I’m cursing the flight of stairs in our house today. One of the reasons why working out is so important is because I love to cook and bake. When I’m not in my office writing you can usually find me in my kitchen where I can get lost in a recipe.I sometimes will work out a story problem when I’m cooking dinner and that’s why there’s a pad and paper always out on the counter for quick notes.

I enjoy reading and I’m never not in the middle of a book with a stack to-be-read books waiting. I got hooked early on with reading and the library was my second home. I read many genres but mysteries are my favorite. I read both print and e-books.  I’m currently reading a Jenn McKinlay Library Lover’s mystery and my newest purchase is If You Only Knew by Kristan Higgins.

I also enjoy counted cross-stitch and I’m currently working on a sampler and I’ve gotten back into knitting and my current pattern is very frustrating, though I know I will prevail and be wearing that hat someday. 🙂

I love hanging with my pups. Whether it’s getting down on the floor to play tug of war or going on walks, the three of us always have a good time.

I think all the things I do when I’m not writing help me when I am writing. These activities allow me to clear my mind, allow my subconscious to work and refill my creative well so that when I return to my computer and work-in-progress document I have something to write.

I’m going to finish my coffee now and if there is anything you’d like to know about how I spend my non-writing time please feel free to ask or if you’d like to share what you do in your free time please do!  If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!

 

Black Friday and the Writer

Happy Black Friday! What are your plans for the day? Shopping, shopping and some more shopping with a side of Thanksgiving day leftovers? I’m guessing a lot of Americans are spending today exactly that way. Me? I won’t be venturing out to the malls. I’m staying closer to home and to my laptop and the leftovers. This is because I have a word count goal for every day of this great four day weekend.

Welcome to a writer’s Black Friday.

First things first. Breakfast and coffee. Two cups of coffee to start my day along with a couple of scrambled eggs and toast while I watch the morning news. There was an interesting story on this morning about a recovered missing woman. Hmmm…Writers are always working. 🙂

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Next up after getting myself ready for the day is grocery shopping. Exciting, right? But writers need to eat and their families need to eat. It’s also a great place to people watch. Writers do that all the time. Once I’m back home I’ll unpack the groceries and do some cleaning. I tell you, I’m living the dream. All kidding aside, I love to cook and bake so I’m happy to spend an hour at the store.  I think this weekend I’ll bake some pound cakes and make a pan of manicotti along with a big pot of beef stew.

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A big chunk of my day will be spent at my laptop working on my current manuscript, which is book two is my mystery series. I’m finding writing a series a little challenging with my recurring characters. It’s taking me longer than I expected to get back into their heads. But the fun part has been the new scenes that have popped up that weren’t in my outline. There’s one scene with a hoarder that the guys on American Pickers would love, that was a blast to write. That’s the magical part of writing, when you’re surprised as the writer.

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When my writing session is finished and I’ve reached my word count I’ll out head to a great spot in town for a walk with Susie. There is a trail along with other paths that wind around the old medical facility. Billy will stay home because I’m planning on a long walk for Susie (she can go for miles) and it’s too much for the little guy since his vision is so poor. He’ll go out for a walk around our street later.

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At the end of the day we’ll dive into those leftovers, my favorite is the stuffing, and curl up to watch a holiday movie on the Hallmark channel. I hope you have a great Friday and if you’ve ventured out to shop please share your best score. If you decided to hang around the house instead, what did you do? Did you start your Christmas decorating? Or, did you indulge in a Christmas movie marathon?

Wellness Wednesday

Happy Wednesday!

This week has been all about getting back on the fitness wagon. I got hit with a cold or something that knocked me down for a few days and then took several days to fully recover. Of course during those days I didn’t workout. Ugh. I felt like such a slug. But now, I’m back in my sneakers.

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Coming back after several days of not working out I have to tamp down the urge to hit it hard since I’m dying to workout. Yes, I’m one of those who enjoys exercising. It’s hard to go days without working out for me, just like it’s hard to go days without writing. Exercising clears my mind, which is very good for a writer. I’m always surprised when I talk to another writer and they tell me that they don’t exercise. Ever! I can’t imagine that. But, to each their own. Right?

This week is all about easing back into my workouts so I’ll be taking it easy with the weights and intensity on the treadmill. I’ll also be getting back on track with my eating. Poor choices are made when you barely have to energy to get out of bed so I need to re-group on my meal planning this week. 🙂 What’s your fitness plans for this week? Trying a new workout? I am actually. I’m adding a short session on our rowing machine after each treadmill workout. I’m really excited about that. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Don’t be shy. Say “hi” in the comment section if you have the time. And if you feel like it, tell me what your favorite workout is. Or, what your least favorite workout is.

 

 

Coffee & Chat #3 – Do you listen to music when you write?

Happy Monday!

With my manuscript back with my agent and the submission process in progress I’ve dove back into the second book of my series. I did hit a wall last week because I was sick so there wasn’t much writing done. However, I did manage to write about 6,000 words. So I think I did pretty good considering all I wanted to do was sleep. Today’s question is do I listen to music when I write.  I have a full cup of coffee, so lets start chatting.

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The answer is a simple “no”. I cannot listen to music and write. Music distracts me so I never have it on when I’m writing or doing any other work. I know some of my co-workers at my day job listen to music but I can’t do it. There’s something about the lyrics, the rhythm, I don’t know. And I don’t have a play list for my manuscripts. I really don’t have the time to pick out songs that represent the story or the characters. I do sometimes use a song as inspiration for a story idea or character or even a scene.

I do usually have a television on in the background turned to a cable news program. Hearing the reporter’s voices in the background doesn’t distract me. I guess spending so many years working at the day job I’ve gotten used to background chatter and having the television on provides tat for me at home. There are some mornings when I get up very early and I go into my study to sit and write for a few minutes and there’s no noise at all. I can’t say that my final product is any better, I don’t know. It’s just a different experience.

I did receive a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones this year for my birthday and I used them when there was a lot of noise outside when neighbors were mowing their lawns or when I needed to write and my husband was home watching television. I love the headphones. Every writer should have a pair.

Each writer has her own routine that works for them. It’s good to try something different, if another writer does XYZ and it sounds like it may work then give it a go. What’s the worse that can happen? The one thing writers must always do is to be true to themselves and their creative process.

I’m going to finish my coffee now and if there is anything else you’d like to know about how I name or create my characters please ask. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!

Chat & Coffee #2 – What made you interested in writing this particular story?

It’s so hard to believe that it’s November. Where did October go? I feel like I was just buying pumpkins and mums and now I’m preparing for Thanksgiving. I’m also hip deep into the second book of my cozy, culinary series. Which leads me to today’s question – what made you interested in writing this particular story? I have a full cup of coffee, so lets start chatting.

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Because I’m not revealing the occupation of my sleuth, I will not be entirely free to discuss the plot for book 2. So if I seem a bit cryptic please forgive me.

What made me interested in writing this story?

First, I love exploring the age-old question about how well do we really know someone. The desire to achieve success at any cost. And the bonding of four strangers despite secrets kept.

Hope, my amateur sleuth, must insert herself into a murder investigation at great risk to her own safety because she believes a person she knows is suspected of the murder. But the fact is Hope doesn’t know that person very well and she’s warned by the people around her to be careful. Why is Hope doing this? She has a tendency to believe in the good in people and she has a hard time fathoming someone she knows, even if the person is just an acquaintance, could be guilty of murder.

There is a subplot of two professional rivals vying for bylines at a local newspaper. I’m curious to see how far they will go to get the story. Both will try to use Hope for information and since one of them is a close friend to Hope I wonder if he is willing to jeopardize a lifelong friendship for career success.

Hope is apart of a workshop where three other people are in attendance and since this is a murder mystery there are some secrets upon the workshop participants but they do share a common interest that bonds them. The dynamics of the group is interesting to me and while I have the book plotted, I feel that there will be some surprises for me as I continue to write the manuscript.

So these are a few reasons why I’m interested in writing this story. I’m going to finish my coffee now and if there is anything else you’d like to know about how I name or create my characters please ask. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!

 

 

 

Friday Faves #7

Happy Friday!

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We’ve survived another week. I think a round of high-fives are in order. This week I got back to writing the first draft of the second book in my cozy series. I had to put it aside to do a final proofreading on the first manuscript so that it could be sent out for submission. That’s right, my baby has been tossed out into the big, crazy world of publishing. Since I have no control over what happens now I’m focusing on the second book. What happens happens.

Elaine Will Sparber shares her process of writing over at the Club Henhouse blog. You know, how it all begins and for every writer it’s different. We all have our own process so it’s nice to see how someone else does it.

The end of this week has me battling a cold. Ugh. So one of my faves is homemade chicken soup. Yes!

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And since this cold is kicking my butt, this week’s Friday Faves is very short. But before I go let me share with you what I will be doing for the rest of the day. Reading.

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Have a great day!

D

Coffee & Chat #1 How Do I Name My Characters?

Last week my sister-in-law asked me a question. She wanted to know how I named my characters and I told her. Then I got to thinking about some of the other questions I’ve been asked recently about writing and decided to create a regular feature on my blog. Coffee & Chat. I got my coffee so lets start chatting.

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How do I name my characters?

It depends. 🙂 You didn’t think there would be a straight cut answer, did you? To be honest, I never really thought about how I go about naming my characters. I just do. Let me use a heroine in a romantic suspense story I began writing.

She began as Sunny Palmer. I loved the name Sunny for her. I’ve wanted to name a character Sunny for some time and when I was developing that story I seemed to find the perfect character for the name. Her background was she had a bright, positive attitude and she lived in the moment not really thinking about tomorrow or the consequences of her actions. In high school she liked to have a good time and she was in love with one of the Leighton brothers. She and Tucker got engaged and they were going to spend the rest of their lives together. That was until she got cold feet and took off. She eventually returned to her hometown a culinary school graduate and the owner of a bistro on Main Street. She’d gotten her act together but there were so many burned bridges she had a hard time settling back in. You see, everyone still thought of her as the young, irresponsible Sunny and not as a businesswoman. I wrote several chapters and my critique partner mentioned that the character I was writing didn’t come across as a “Sunny”. She wasn’t perky or outgoing, instead she was organized, disciplined and focused on defeating a big box store that threatened Main Street businesses. The more I thought about Ellie’s comment the more I thought about a new name for Sunny. I wanted a name that could be transformed from wild child to mature adult. A name that she feels she’s outgrown but many people still call her because they still feel she’s that person.

The name I settled on is Danielle/Dani. She used to be Dani and now she goes by Danielle. Now, she only has to convince everyone from her past to go along with the change.

There are times when I have a character that I have no idea of what his/her name should be. That’s when I used baby name directories online until I find just the right name. Sometimes I come across a name that intrigues me and I want to create a character for that name. There are a couple of things I keep in mind when I do name a character.

I prefer to use shorter names because it makes typing the names easier. I don’t choose names that start with the same letter for more than 2 characters because it can confuse a reader. I like to choose names that are easily pronounced because I want readers to talk my books up and they should be able to pronounce each character’s name.

So that’s how I name my characters. I’m going to finish my coffee now and if there is anything else you’d like to know about how I name or create my characters please ask. If you don’t have a question, don’t be shy – say “hi” in the comments section!