Tuesday, December 14, 2010

What is your favorite Christmas Song and Why?

Ah, Christmas . . . The month of chilly, sometimes cold, days. Hot chocolate. Reflection. Blessing. Gift-giving and receiving. Charity. And, music. What is your favorite Christmas song and why? Before I reveal my favorite I have to say, in full disclosure, I love Christmas. I love everything about it. Well, not the modern day commercialism and tendency to begin the bid for money before children even go trick or treating.

When I was 11 years old my parents, brother, and I lived in Levelland, Texas. A small town in the desert like landscapes of west Texas. Levelland was an old-fashioned town with a town square. The court house sat, large and imposing, in the center. I remember loving it. I remember feeling safe and loved.

One cold, blustery, and gray December morning we dressed and headed to downtown for a special day. Daddy wasn't with us. He must have been at work. I couldn't contain my excitement. Something I still have difficulty doing. Those who know me will tell you they can discern my mood with a simple glance. I, very proudly, wore a dress I had received in a box of wonderful hand-me-downs from my Oklahoma cousins. It was Christmas green and red taffeta with a big red bow on the right hip. I used to have a photo of that day. Alas, it is lost.

My brother, John, and I each had five dollars to buy all of our gifts. That money burned right through my little purse. It still burns through my purse. Mama parked backwards in a space in front of City Cafe where she worked. That was strange but I didn't give it a second thought.

Gosh, it was cold! Our first stop, much to my chagrin, was the old musty department store. Mama wanted to find a shirt for Daddy. I hated that store. It frightened me. The scuffed wood floors creaked. I hated the smell. Most of all, I hated the very large stuffed grizzly bear standing at his full height over the shoe department. He moved, I just knew he moved, when I glanced out of the corner of my eye. His claws seemed to be as big as my head. His teeth were long, sharp, and yellow. His eyes were steely black. I whined wanting to leave. At least, until I spied the large, festively wrapped box of stuffed animals. Gosh, they were soft. There were so many sizes and types. I found a small tiger and carried him all over the store. Begging for him and being turned down, "we don't have the money" Mama said. Finally. Mama found a shirt for Daddy.

We walked two doors down to the cafe. Within minutes the three of us ate hot cheeseburgers, fries, and drank Dr. Peppers. Christmas music seemed to come from the sky. It was magical.

My brother and I were allowed to go to the five and dime stores, Wacker's and Ben Franklin, to do our shopping. My money was gone in one store. That would be Wacker's. I don't remember what I bought except for a small cobalt blue bottle of "Evening in Paris" perfume for Mama and some hot salted peanuts for myself. When we were kids my brother held on to his money with an iron fist.

The highlight of our outing arrived. Rushing back to the cafe where Mama waited we blew in ready for the parade. We sat in the front seat of the car looking at the street. The courthouse decorations suddenly seemed brighter. The Nativity on the square took on an ethereal light. The blinking multi-colored lights on the trees tapped out secret messages. Then, a police car with lights flashing and siren blaring led the parade.Then the first entry in the parade--always my favorite-- came around the corner. The beautifully tacked and groomed horses of the law enforecement members pranced and blew smoke in the cold air. And, it began to sleet. To my young eye the sleet was as beautiful as snow. The high school band marched past playing "Jingle Bells." Special people, like the mayor, slowly drove down the street. I thought the best part would never arrive. Suddenly, Santa Claus in his sleigh full of hidden toys in large bags drawn by eight reindeer being carried on the top of a fire truck came into my view. "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" poured from that invisible place with the music.

I hung out the window. Mama tried to keep me inside because she was afraid I would get sick. I repeatedly disobeyed but I couldn't help it. Santa even waved at me.

Just as the parade ended that music turned into bells chiming from the court house. They played "Silver Bells." That song, in every form, has been my favorite Christmas song for 48 years now. I often wonder why it became my very favorite. I think it's because of the magic and memory of that day. Looking back I think everything that day fell into perfect place. Even though the weather was very cold, it was appropriate.

That little stuffed tiger actually showed up under the tree that year. And, Mama bought a record of Christmas music which included "Silver Bells" on it. Christmas remains magical to me. I am childlike in my enthusiam. I hope I never lose my sense of wonder and awe.

I would love to know what your favorite Christmas song or memory is and why. I look forward to hearing from my dear readers.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Self Promotion and New Publication

I am, once again, humbled and proud to tell you that I have a story in the new anthology Patchwork Path: Christmas Stocking. It is available through me, Choice Publishing, www.patchworkpath.com or Amazon. I can be reached at nona143writer@yahoo.com

My story "Tea Set for an Angel" is a true story of hope. "Rosalie's Best Christmas" by Paul Atreides touched me in a way so profound I can't find the words to describe it. Judy Callarman's "Konawa in Time for Christmas 1928" shares a family story of hardship and answered prayer. "First Christmas on My Own" by Gregory A. Kompes will have every reader remembering their first Christmas away from home. Stephen D. Rogers makes his future holiday plans explicit in "To the Future Mother of My Children." "The Gift of Normandy Beach" by Sheila S. Hudson will instill gratitude for the military men and women protecting each of us. Every little girl dreams of owning a pony, "A Christmas Pony" by John M. Koelsch became one of my favorites because the girl in this woman still dreams of that Christmas pony.

There are more stories in this compact anthology. I believe that this book will make a memorable Christmas gift for anyone.

The title, again, is "Patchwork Path: Christmas Stocking" edited by Tena Beth Thompson and Gregory A. Kompes. The publisher is Choice Publishing Group. I hope readers will consider purchasing this special Christmas anthology.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Simple Appreciation

Appreciation. Such a simple word. Such a meaningful word. I've been thinking of that a lot lately. What, who, and why do I appreciate. Once my brain cells started on this journey I was bombarded with more samples of things I appreciate than I can comprehend. This knowledge has placed a new emphasis on my life. Some of the people I appreciate . . .

My husband, Frank, for 39 years of marriage through many ups and downs. My sons, Erick and Bill, for loving this Mama. All three for understanding when I was in nursing school and when I was able to work. I think sometimes I tended to put my career ahead of them. For that, I am sorry. My two daughters-in-law, Sierra and Sarah, for accepting this looney mother-in-law and for loving me. And, my two beautiful granddaughters, Rosalyn and Bailey. Now, I know what it means to have love come full circle.

My parents, now deceased, for loving, understanding, and supporting. My brother for the same. My extended family and the friends who have impacted my life over nearly 60 years.

I appreciate these people. I also hold a great deal of appreciation and admiration for the members of this crazy group of people called authors I am associated with--writers across the world. Writers at so many levels of success it's difficult to fathom. Mostly, I appreciate those who have known me since I first began writing. Writers Village University, Bayou Writers Group, and other on-line groups. Some I have the pleasure of knowing in person. Most I do not know personally. But, I know them. And, they know me. Writers are a most supportive group. They do not tend to eat their young as many other professions do.

Nowadays, I appreciate critiques. In the beginning, however, I took great offense and cried buckets of tears. They helped me. Thanks, Pamela Thibodeaux and Judith Leger. These ladies are now multi-published authors. I'm minimally published but work diligently at having more publishing credits.

I appreciate it when my dear muse visits me with new ideas. I just wish she would sleep at night.

I appreciate the Wild Okie Writers for allowing me to be a part of a series project. I'm not sure but I think I'm the only member of the group is not multi-published. What a great opportunity to learn.

Blogs. Such a new phenomenon. I have made many friends via blogs. I have learned much from blogs. Thank you, Christi Corbett, for sharing your love of the Oregon Trail.

Online workshops. I love them. Sometimes I tend to overload myself with them. I tend to go through reams of paper and many ink cartridges when I'm in the midst of a workshop. Thank you to all presenters and facilitators.

Conferences are the blood of opportunity for writers. The Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, LA holds a spectacular one day conference in November each year. I was privileged to attend and help with the first one. The Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. (OWFI) offers a sensational two and a half day conference each year in May. This conference is attended by publishers, agents, and editors from all over the nation. The workshops are informative and full of life. Membership in writing groups and fellowship with other writers is what keeps most of us going. Writing is a solitary life. Often, when we're working it seems to others that we are daydreaming or just doodling.

All writers find inspiration in something. The "thing" that gives me the greatest inspiration is the beauty of creation. Life returning in spring, the heat of summer, the colors of fall, and the bleakness of winter.

Readers, think on the things and people in your life. What do you appreciate most? Why do you appreciate those things? When does the feeling of appreciation strike? Where does appreciation affect you most? How do you respond?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

End of Summer Potpourri

The Cavalier Hotel, Virginia Beach, VA

This summer has flown by and it has been full. Full of love mostly. Early in June I flew to Chesapeake, Virginia to spend almost eight weeks with my beautiful daughter-in-law, Sierra and two extremely special granddaughters, Rosalyn and Bailey. Living so far from those girls makes me so very sad at times. On August 5th by Sailor son, Bill, came home to his young family. He had been away serving on the USS Carl Vinson for 7 months. He is on shore duty for the remaining four years of his service. When he retires in 2014 he and his family are moving to Durant. I'll have both sons and their families in the same town I live in. That, dear friends, is an answered prayer and a dream come true.

While I was in Virginia I finally got to visit the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. I wasn't able to stay as long as I wished. Maybe next time. The Cavalier is beautiful and historic. My desire to see it stemmed from the knowledge that Ernest Hemingway spent some time there. He wrote there. I think when I get the chance to return I'll take my laptop, my muse, and some money to sit in the bar and have a. drink with old Ernest. Can't you just imagine walking up those old steps and onto the marbled floors gleaming beneath crystal chandelier? Oriental rugs cushion tired feet. A large sunroom with white wicker furniture welcomes any person of any age. I must say my favorite area was probably an afterthought by the Cavalier designers. It is a very small library tucked into a corner. The shape is narrow and triangular. Dark mahogany shelves line the two walls. There is no room for a chair. The seclusion of the tiny space wraps visitors like a Pashmina shawl. Very nice.

When I returned home I took a day to attend a meeting of the Oklahoma RWA group in Oklahoma City. I had the honor and privilege of meeting several impressive writers. I felt welcomed and respected. An opportunity fell into my newbie lap within this group. Several members are writing a series of stories geared to The Wild Rose Press. I am writing a contemporary for the series. If my story is chosen /published I will jump and shout for days. At the very least I will learn a great deal. I'll keep you informed.

On a personal note I have to share the exciting news that my oldest son, Erick got married to a beautiful woman on September 3. So, I now have two sons, two daughters-in-law I call daughters, and two granddaughters.

Let the fall begin. Let my writing projects take off. Let my writing groups teach and nurture me. Let life continue with great happiness and opportunity.

I am adding several new links to the blog. Check them out when you have time. Until next time, writer friends, may the muse be with you.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


I recently met the most wonderful woman at the Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. (OWFI) conference in Oklahoma City, OK. Her name is Paula Bruno. She's from Wichita Falls, Texas and has written a great entertaining read. The title of what I believe is Paula's debut novel is
"Come Hell or High Water." I bought this book at the conference bookstore before I met Paula because I loved the cover even more than the blurb. Ah, the cover, a cowboy riding a large horse in silhouette against the backdrop of and orange sunset. Breathtaking!

Paula is a member of OWFI and the Wichita Falls Creative Writing Group. She can be reached at pewwriter@aol.com or www.kirklandschoice.blogspot.com Check it out. Buy this book and enjoy. I read it in one day.

"Come Hell or High Water," or CHHW as Paula Bruno calls it, tells the tale of the Kirkland Rance near Burkburnett, Texas in the early 1950's. The ranch is currently owned by Revis Kirkland and has been in his family for two generations before him. Revis suddenly finds himself in custody of his young son, Toby, from a previous relationship. His better-than-any-one-else wife, Holly, tells him it's the kid or her. I won't tell how he comes to his decision.

Young Toby is hiding an evil secret of his own. Something that almost kills him. He is allowed to be a kid on the ranch and proves himself to be intelligent and lovable.

It's winter in Burkburnett and the area is in the grips of a longstanding drought. All of the farmers and ranchers worry. Including Revis. Paula Bruno paints vivid pictures of the ranch house, the land, the livestock, the larger than life cowboys working for the ranch, prarie fires, and the weather.

Revis Kirkland is involved in a longstanding feud with a mean, very nasty, neighbor named Ken Logan. Ken Logan will stir a visceral response in every reader. I wanted him D-E-A-D!

Revis struggles with his heart as well. His marriage is in trouble. He can't forget the girl who grew up with him. And, he's a confused man with a lot on his plate. I loved Revis Kirkland.

I encourage anyone with an interest in historical romance having a western slant and filled with sensory details to order a copy from Paula Bruno. By the way, Paula has a series in mind for Revis Kirkland and his ranch. I can not wait for the second book to be bound and available for purchase.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Nursing and me

Today I was playing around on the computer and found a web site for nurses. It includes educational opportunities, discussion forums, questions and answers, and other great information. I have to say it caught my attention. I joined the site and quickly found myself responding to the posts of others. Once a nurse always a nurse I guess.

One discussion was from a student nurse working the summer on an OB unit. She was disenchanted and saddened because the hospital didn't have a program in place for families experiencing miscarriage or fetal demise. As a perinatal bereavement counselor and former OB nurse this made me sad. The hospitals I worked at all had some sort of plan for these families. The last one I was at had the best program including handmade clothes in every size to dress the babies in. The clothes were made and provided by a women's group from a church in Lake Arthur, Louisiana. I think every hospital should make certain every need of a patient and family should be met. This student is in a unique position to make a difference at the hospital. She can work up a bereavement plan and help institute it.

This post reminded of a young couple I cared for 22 years ago. I recently found this young mother on facebook. For several months I was her nurse when she was experiencing pre-term labor. She made it to term and delivered a beautiful baby girl named Robin. After Robin was born I took her to the nursery for her assessment. She couldn't stabilize her temperature. She went downhill by the minute. We worked so hard to save Robin, but she only lived for 16 hours. Beta Strep took that baby. I remember that baby girl like it was yesterday. It is good to be back in touch with Robin's mother.

Another discussion was from a student having difficulty concentrating on studying for her finals. I sent some words of wisdom as a former student and instructor. I hope this student is able to get past her anxiety and fear.

I identified closely with a question from an inactive nurse wanting to know how to get back in the field. I'm facing that decision. I allowed my license to go to inactive status when I was hurt. Big mistake. I am trying to decide now if I should take the lengthy refresher courses to reactivate my license knowing I can't work in a hospital setting anymore. I would like to do something. But, what?

Reading those posts reminded me so much of what I lost when I had to stop working. I loved being a nurse. It was a dream since childhood to become a nurse. I walked across the stage when I was 34 years old. I worked every year of my career in OB, Postpartum, Well Baby, Neonatal ICU and in community, staff, and student education. I served as a perinatal bereavement counselor. It was, and remains, one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

I hope that most of my friends reading this blog have found professions they love. Dreams should never die. Sometimes they change, though. I began writing not long after I got hurt. It has become my new dream. It's almost as difficult as nursing school. I'm working on it.

I will go to my grave being proud of my nursing career. I will go to my grave loving being a nurse.

Spend some time doing what you love. Dream big and aim for that dream one step at a time.

Blessings to all.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Half Hour of Senses

The view of the creek bank from the deck. Salado, Texas

The senses. Most of us learn about them in elementary school. We learn about sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching. Few of us know what it is like to live without these five senses. Wearing glasses is the closest I come to having a weak sense of sight.
Writers learn quickly to utilize the five senses in every scene plus the addition of the senses of time and space. I've used what I call the "sense of gravity" in scenes.
Recently I had an opportunity to experience the senses in vivid reality during a visit to my uncle's home in Salado, Texas. Salado is one of the most beautiful places on earth in my humble opinion. It is hot this time of year.
Early on the morning of May 29th I slipped out with my first cup of coffee. It was still cool and a soft breeze touched me. I settled on a glider overlooking the swimming pool, the sloping manicured lawn leading to a creek, and a wooded area beyond. It was in those first moments I realized my senses were working.
I tasted my coffee. Sweet and light. The mug was warm in my hands.
I looked at several pots of blooms surrounding the deck and pool. Pansies with smiling faces, red geraniums, pink Vinca, and others I couldn't name enhanced the scene.The scent of roses, buffetted by the breeze, came from somewhere nearby. The surface of the water in the pool reflected the sun and looked like jewels glimmering in the motion.
Roosters crowed from a home down the road. It was morning. The sun was up. I heard my Uncle LeeRoy and his wife, Jeanelle, laughing like kids as they came around the corner hauling a yellow water hose. They were watering the shrubs and potted plants. Their laughter was greater than any song. I suddenly heard a cacophony of chattering. It was a group of cardinals announcing that two bright red males were flying and fighting. I watched as they flew past me and into another tree. I wondered if they were fighting over a female or breakfast.
Closing my eyes I felt the cool metal of the glider on my back. I heard the rushing of the water in the creek. For a few moments I was lost in a feeling where time was of no consequence. I wasn't concerned about helping my aunt prepare for the 60 family members due to arrive at noon. My world was contained in the area immediately surrounding me.
For half an hour I experienced genuine peace. I became aware of the beauty reflected by the senses around me. I prayed "Thank you, Lord, for this special time."

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Gift of Enchantment

Leaving Cimarron, NM
Eagle Nest, NM (from the moon roof of the car)
Winona on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, near Angel Fire

Rio Grande Gorge near Angel Fire

Winona and Mary at Ore House in Santa Fe

San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe circa 1610

Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe

Santa Fe Gallery

Mother's Day 2010 found me on the road with my dear friend, Mary, from Wichita Falls, Texas. She gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received for my coming birthday. She gave me the gift of home in the form of a trip to New Mexico,the home of my heart and where I was raised. I graduated from high school in Lovington in 1969.

Crossing the state line brought tears to my eyes. I have always found the diverse beauty, culture, and attitude of New Mexico to be more than I can bear at times. The sky was as blue as I remember. The wildflowers dotting acres of sage, mesquite, and cacti splash the roadside and life with color. We spent our first night in Tucumcari. I stood at the hotel window entranced by mesas in the distance. The next morning I had breakfast with two friends from high school, Dianne and Sam. Forty years dropped away like nothing.

Then, on to Santa Fe one of the oldest cities in the nation. Santa Fe is rich with art, culture, a careful bridging of the past with the present, and natural beauty. Adobe buildings, old and new, dot the countryside before giving way to a city rich with history. Before Santa Fe became a city of artists it was a city of faith. Cathedrals, missions, chapels, and the importance of faith are evident in every area. I was especially enthralled with the Loretto Chapel and its mystery of a spiral staircase built in the 1800's by an unnamed carpenter using only three tools and no nails. The carpenter disappeared as soon as the staircase was completed. The San Miguel Mission was built in 1610. It has witnessed revolts, peace, and unscrupulous overseers in its time. The Mission contains the oldest bell in the nation, forged in 1392.

Santa Feans are proud, and rightfully so, of the Native Americans, paintings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, buildings, food, flora and fauna in the area. Creativity abounds and seems to be a prerequisite for living there. As a writer my creativity focused on the history and story imaginings. I have a tote bag still full of ideas, thoughts, and postcards. I'm not enough of a photographer to do New Mexico justice.

Undulating mountainsides with boulders trapped in some long ago free fall amaze even the most skeptical. Arroyos, gorges, and small washes meander as testimony to the presence of rushing and deep waters covering the desert and mountains eons ago. Crevices carved in the sides boast colors not found in a crayon box. The Rio Grande Gorge near Angel Fire rivals the Grand Canyon, not in size but in beauty.

Taos, a community of laid-back artisans and shopkeepers invites New Mexicans and tourists with selections as unique as their owners. Near Angel Fire naked ski slopes glare from the mountain. It is easy to see that winter brings activity and joy to visitors and locals.
Horses, cattle, sheep, and antelope share large ranches with snakes, coyotes, mountain lions, and other wildlife. New Mexico is a harsh land. Perhaps that is one of her greatest treasures.

I have tried, without great success, to convey to the readers the beauty of New Mexico as well as my love for her. Georgia O'Keefe, famous New Mexico artist, once said, "If you ever go to New Mexico, it will itch you for the rest of your life." She was right, indeed, she was right. New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment . . .
Again, I cried crossing the state line. I will return "home" again one day. If I can't return in body I'll return in spirit and, perhaps, in a story.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A new maneuver--Marketing for the first time!

And, away we go . . . I think. I hope.

I am happy, and a bit frightened, to tell you that I will be marketing my first publication. I have a memoir titled "Marryin' Sam's Card" in Patchwork Path: Wedding Bouquet Anthology. The memoir describes my wedding day complete with everything that went hilariously wrong. We eloped, but everyone knew where and why. In the days of the Keystone Kop Kapers my wedding day to Frank would have made a great skit. We were married on August 12, 1971. Soon to be 39 years ago. It will available in May, 2010.

The anthology will be available on Amazon or through me at nona143writer@yahoo.com I'm unsure how to go about this and I've asked for, and received, some excellent suggestions from friends in the writing world. So, let me share some of those marketing suggestions and my plans.

--Make it known that I have copies of the book and that it will be availble on Amazon. I'm doing that, but still feel like I should just be giving the books away. Can't do that though, can I, not if I want to make my writing worthwhile and get it out there?

--Blog, e-mail friends and family, send messages to my loops and groups, contact the local newspaper, book store, and my church. So, I'm blogging. I'm going to be sending out messages and contacting places in my community, including a quilting shop and bridal shop (thanks, Jess, for that suggestion). Question to those of you who do this frequently--how do you handle family and friends?

--The local used bookstore carries the works of local authors. They will carry mine.

--Carry copies in the trunk of my car. Make myself visible reading Patchwork Path: Wedding Bouquet.

--Offer bookmarks and arrange a book signing at the local book store and library.

--Enlist the help of others to sell the book. Good friends have other friends. Be brave. Don't be shy. Talk it up.

So, readers, wish me luck. Send me ideas.

Patchwork Path has accepted another memoir I wrote for the Christmas Stocking Anthology to be out in October, 2010. It is titled "Tea Set for an Angel." Maybe I'll be ready with marketing skills at that time.

On another note, I'm going to be adding some new blog sites to my list. Please check them out and support other writers. I've been away from the blog and writing for several weeks due to some family problems, but things are looking up.

Conferences are important. I'll be attending the Oklahoma Writers Federation (OWFI) conference next week in Oklahoma City. It sounds like an exciting conference with many learning and networking opportunities.
So, happy spring. Awake and rejoice! I hope all of you are well and happily writing.
Winona B. Cross
Patchwork Path: Wedding Bouquet "Marryin' Sam's Card" May 2010
Patchwork Path: A Christmas Stocking "Tea Set for an Angel" October 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

CONTRASTS--in writing and in life

The basic value of contrast in writing hit me in the gut several days ago. My sister-in-law and I were visiting in my den. She suddenly chuckled, at an inappropriate time in the conversation, to tell me "that's a perfect example of you and Frank (my dear husband)." I asked what and she broke into giggles and pointed at a corner of the room. "What?" I questioned.

"The contrast in that display of your shelf."

"What?" I demanded.

"It's just perfect. Your corner shelf filled with Seraphim angels and my grandfather's anvil sitting on the floor in front of it. Frank wants everyone to think he's tough and inflexible, but we know better. You have beautiful angels everywhere that accent your love of animals and life. But, you can be pretty tough."

"Anvils and Angels," I mused. The wheels of creativity began to turn. But, I put the thoughts on the back burner.

By the way, Frank and I have been married for almost 39 years. Despite the contrasts in our personalities.

It's the Contrast that makes the anvil and angels visually interesting.

On my way to see a friend in Wichita Falls, Texas this past weekend I witnessed another beautiful example of contrast. My drive occurred over semi-icy roads and six inches of new snow on the ground. The drive is rural, there are many cattle and horse ranches along the way. It was breathtaking to come to the top of a hill and see a herd of livestock pawing the ground in search of dry grass.

However, the contrasting sight for me, coming over one of those Oklahoma hills was a herd of black Angus grazing and searching for food in a snowy pasture. It had an impact on me.

Black on White. That's contrast.

Another example, seeing six or seven horses galloping in a snowy pasture is beautiful. Horses are graceful and full of soul. Horses stir something in me that I have difficulty describing. It is akin to seeing God.

However, on the way home from my weekend excursion, I saw a herd of about twenty full size goats galloping in a pasture. Not so graceful or soulful. As a matter-of-fact, it was humorous. I don't know why the group was galloping. They most likely sensed danger or saw their owner going to the barn with a bag of feed.

Another contrast, the grace of horses versus the frantic, lumbering, gallop of goats.

What sort of contrasts are you including in your writing? Do your characters have traits that cause turmoil in their life or in the lives of others? Does your hero and heroine have personality characteristics that cause friction in their relationship or that may cause your readers to keep reading to figure out if the contrasting traits cause a demise of their relationship.

Thinking of contrasts in my own writing these past days has led me to make several changes in my own works in progress. I'm showing contrast--in emotions, personality, events, geography, food, coping mechanisms, and other important writing tools we all try to have in the hope chests for our words and work.

I have few publishing credits, but I do have some. I am writing with a renewed focus. Because of that, I'm noticing things around me. Becoming more observant. I wonder if I would have been in tune with contrasts in life and in writing a few months ago?

Monday, February 8, 2010

fine tuning

Just an update--I've fine tuned a story and plan to submit it to a contest tomorrow. I have written two more chapters for "Rebecca's Journey." It is happening, folks.

Workshops and Writing

Good morning, Readers--I am taking an online workshop titled "The Xtremely Productive Writer" facilitated by Kara Lennox and sponsored by The Red River Romance Writer's Group of Wichita Falls, Texas. Kara has presented those involved in the workshop with much food for thought in only four lessons. We've discussed procrastination, more on procrastination, fear, and writer's block. I'm sure every writer can relate to these topics at some level.

I knew procrastination often paralyzed me as far as writing is concerned, but the lessons have awakened in me the reasons for my procrastination. I have little self-confidence regarding my own writing, I compare myself to others, I fear rejection, therefore not writing or submitting keeps rejection at bay. I allow life to get in the way.

Making a list of priorities in my life forced me to admit that writing is indeed very important to me. Not far behind God and family. I enjoy writing and when I allow myself to sit down and do it I retreat into the world of my story, my characters, and my scenes. When I am on the Oregon Trail in 1845 this world fades away. I taste the strong coffee, I feel the fatigue, my heart beats with fear and with love, I work hard to keep the wagon teams and the horses healthy, I rejoice with each day finished on the trail. And, I will shout "Eureka!" when my characters reach the end of the trail and I type "The End."

I have been writing more lately. Encouraged by monthly goals and writing challenges I find myself with pencil and notebook in hand. Writers, and everyone else, need goals to achieve their dream. My dream is, and has been, to publish "Rebecca's Journey," my short stories, and the two other novels I have outlined.

Self sabotage is a thing of the past for me. It really is, I'm not sure exactly when, what, or how that came to pass but it did and I'm thankful for it.

I would encourage writers of every level and genre to set goals, find inexpensive workshops through writing groups, attend conferences, and read books and magazines about the writing craft.

On a final, and sad, note I want to let everyone who has followed my blog know that my cousin Ron Cross died on January 29th. The cancer made his death quite painful. The nurse in me felt quite helpless because I couldn't fix it. He was a man of honor. He was a very successful business man and the Vice Mayor of my hometown. He was a loving family man leaving a wife and three children. Ron made sure he was doing anything he could to help our community and those in need. I will miss him greatly.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Energizing and writing

You know, life sometimes gets in the way of what we writers want to do. Such has been true in my life for a year. Family illness, a major move, and other life changes spun my writing and my mind into a feeling of paralysis. As I said in my previous blog post, that paralysis is coming to an end.

Saturday, January 10, I went to Wichita Falls, Texas for the monthly meeting of the Red River Romance Writers Group (RRRW). What a way to start a new year. Janet Brown spoke about setting up our DREAM for writing. Each suggestion she made had me nodding my head and taking rapid notes. RRRW is a small group with boundless potential and I am proud to become a member.

A friend, Pamela S. Thobodeaux, from my beloved writers group in Louisiana, the Bayou Writer's Group (BWG), has finally realized her dream of being able to stay home and work full time as an author. A very talented woman. She is now associated with Premium Promotional Services. If you need or want help with editing, marketing, or any other aspect of our writing world contact Pam through them at http://premiumpromotions.biz She can also be reached at pthib-7@centurytel.net or http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

I rarely suggest a service such as this, but I am pleased that Pam is assisting me with the editing and completion of my novel "Rebecca's Journey."

So, writer friends, look up and visit the sites for some of the smaller groups. There is much to offer. Red River Romance Writers Group is offering four inexpensive on line workshops in 2010. Bayou Writers Group offers an annual conference in November. A great conference! Both groups offer unlimited education, camraderie, and sharing each month.

Spend a few moments searching such names as Jessica Ferguson, Judith Leger, Peggy Borel, Jan Newman, Janet Brown, Julie Mozingo, Sharon Sala, and others you'll find at Red River Romance Writers and the Bayou Writers Group.

Be a cheerleader for your own writing and that of others.