Yes, I missed my regular blog post on Tuesday. Sorry about that. However, I'm back on track for Friday's entry in the #MFRWAuthor 52-week blog challenge. This week's prompt asks about participant's dream weddings.
I admit that when I was a little girl playing with Barbie dolls, I didn't act out wedding scenes. I can't remember playing or pretending wedding scenes with friends. In my own books, weddings don't figure prominently, except as conditions to be met so that my heroes and heroines can get their grooves on without me feeling like I'm breaking moral rules.
When it came to planning my own wedding, I don't necessarily think I had a lot of expectations. It was harrowing. My mother and I clashed. Frequently. I clashed with my fiance. I pretty much just clashed. Budgetary constraints annihilated any ambition of the dress I just fell in love with and desperately wanted. Not that I would have worn it again anyway, but I believed that a bride should have the dress of her dreams. I got the dress we could afford and Mom worked on it for days to embellish it with sequins and faux pearls. She put a lot of work into that dress and I wasn't properly grateful.
After graduating college, I worked in a bridal salon for a year. That was an ugly, ugly experience. Not because of the brides, but because of the boss. 'Nuff said there. I handled oodles of wedding dresses, some that made me want to wear and others that made me cringe in distaste. I had--and still have--expensive tastes. To a one, however, bridesmaids dresses tend to be awful.
I've been in weddings as a bridesmaid. Each had its good points and bad points, some things I'd incorporate into my own if I could do it over and others I'd shun.
Nope, I'm still not sure about my dream wedding.
As of June 25, I will have been married for 31 years. It's not likely that I will ever have the opportunity or obligation of planning my own wedding again. I have two children--both boys--and my contribution to their weddings will be minimal. I know enough to keep my mouth shut about the bride's preferences, even if I don't approve. I know enough to give my future daughter-in-law advice only if she asks for it. When the time comes, I'll have to follow through on what I know.
Sometimes I'm slow on the uptake, but I do eventually learn.
In other news, The Eagle at Dawn will go live on July 1. This is the fourth book in the Immortal Shifters series and can be read as a standalone novel. Preorder now at the discounted launch price of $0.99.
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This week's blog prompt concerns gardening: Is it a pain or a pleasure?
First, let's get this out of the way: I hate gardening, but I love gardens.
When I was a kid, my mother kept large vegetable gardens (yes, plural) and several large flowerbeds. She loved gardening. Only arthritis stops her from doing it now. I grew up eating produce from Mom's garden, whether fresh, canned, frozen, pickled, or jellied. With a large family, a vegetable garden made good sense, being a frugal use of limited funds to serve voracious appetites. What I remember about the vegetable garden was absolutely hating being told to weed (and, frankly, I did little weeding at all). I didn't like digging, picking vegetables, or anything about the garden except what it produced to suit my finicky taste. The garden represented a lot of hot, sweaty, backbreaking work for what I childishly perceived as grossly inadequate reward.
Mom must have felt much the same, because after she and Dad moved south, she focused on flowers instead of vegetables. She took a lot of pride in her vegetables and flowers, entering open competitions at the county fair and doing quite well. She established a tradition among the equestrian 4-H groups using hanging plants to decorate the portions of the horse barns the clubs occupy. Truly, no one thought to do that until she brought basket after basket of flowering plants and hung them from the rafters above the aisle between the rows of stalls. Thirty-five years later, 4-H clubs are still doing that.
I grew up with flowers everywhere: snapdragons, daisies, roses, baby's breath, petunias, salvia, irises, lilies, tulips, crocuses, daffodils, jonquils, and a whole host of others I can't remember or name. (Strangely enough, I can't remember Mom ever planting columbine, which is one of my favorites.) However, I still loathe weeding and regard gardening as hot, dirty, sweaty, backbreaking work.
I'd rather muck stalls. (Which, yes, is hot, dirty, sweaty, backbreaking work.)
I enjoy strolling among public gardens, not that I actually do that much at all. But on the rare occasion that I do go, I enjoy it. I like the smell of verdant growth and damp soil, the fragrance of flowers. That reminds me that I need to spend a lot less time hunched over my computer and more time outside.
This week's writing prompt asks whether participating authors are plotters or pantsers--and why.
There's no doubt about it: I'm a pantser. The thought of outlining my own stories and writing character descriptions and backgrounds gives me hives. Make no mistake, when I ghostwrite, I expect my clients to provide me with that information. I don't read minds. But for my own work, I begin with an idea or, perhaps, just a scene in my head and it's all systems GO. When it comes to telling stories, I like the advice given in Beauty by Robin McKinley: "Begin in the middle and work outwards. Don't be stuffy."
It shouldn't surprise anyone that I take writing advice from a book based on a fairy tale. (What may surprise folks is that I am not spontaneous person. It's a family joke that I plan my spontaneity.)
I couldn't exactly say why I write as a pantser other that I always have. Even when writing nonfiction or ghostwriting, much of it is seat-of-the-pants production. I "hear" the characters and "feel" their personalities, then try to convey that in print. When writing nonfiction, I do rely more on plotting, but that's because it's necessary to get my thoughts in order to flow in logical fashion so that the reader understands where I'm going and how I got there. That's not so crucial in fiction, although it often works out that way. When writing my own fiction, the characters carry me along on their adventures.
Someone once said, "No plot survives contact with the characters." In my experience, that's absolutely true. So why bother planning?
This week's blog prompt concerns apps: do they maximize one's time or waste it?
An "app" for those under 30 years old is an abbreviation for "application." Every computer uses applications. "Computer" doesn't just refer to the big, clunky machine on your desk. Yes, Virginia, your smartphone is a computer.
(If you didn't catch that reference, go back to school.)
I remember writing longhand. There are advantages to that, the main one being that the slow pace of writing by hand forces the writer to write with intent and be thoughtful about the words she scribes. Typewriters sped up the process as well as eliminated the need for people to try to decipher someone's poor penmanship. Then came computers with their miraculous ability to delete and add words without the use of erasers or Liquid Paper. For touch-typists, computers heralded the advent of mental diarrhea made public.
Apps as applicable to mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) don't apply to me. I seldom used a cell phone and I certainly don't write stories on my Kindle Fire. I've come across excerpts of stories written on a cell phone and every single one of them was awful, not only in terms of being poorly conceived and badly written, but also in terms of spelling, punctuation, grammar, etc.
Apps, in the common parlance and current understanding, don't really add anything to writing. Instead of fomenting creativity, I think they encourage laziness and sloppiness.
Authors need not resist temptation, which makes writing stories so uniquely satisfying. That satisfaction includes the use of "real" people in fiction. Many authors gleefully kill off their schoolyard or office bullies in villains modeled after the people who make their lives miserable. Change the names to protect the guilty, but leave the rest the same and, voilà, one more demon vanquished. Of course that little bit in the front matter of the book that states, "This is a work of fiction," helps to mitigate the author's culpability should the real person upon which that villain is modeled recognize himself (or herself) in the story and take offense.
Real people appear in fiction all the time. Anyone familiar with Regency romances recognizes the name of Beau Brummell, once a friend to Prince Regent George who would become King George IV of England. Brummell rose to fame as an arbiter of men's fashion and held considerable influence over the fickle haute ton until he fled England in debt and disgrace. Royal and influential personages often feature in fiction, from France's Cardinal Richelieu who appeared in Alexandre Dumas' The Three Muskateers to English Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the USA's Daniel Boone.
The trick to using real people in fiction is to either disguise them or to ensure they have no descendants who care about that person's good name. By that measure, anyone who's been dead for at least four generations is probably fair game. Less than that, and you may face litigation from offended relatives who object to their ancestor being maligned or ridiculed. Relatives whose motive may be more greed than affront may seek to acquire a share of royalties earned from fiction that profits from the inclusion of their ancestor as a character.
Get your revenge. Off with their heads! But don't be too blatant.
Hard boiled, scrambled, over easy, and sunny side up: eggs are the musings of Holly Bargo, the pseudonym for the author.
Looking for a place to swap blogs? Holly Bargo at Hen House Publishing is happy to reciprocate Blog Swaps in 2019.
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