Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample

Welcome! I have another short sample from my historical novel. Hiro, a former samurai soldier, has come to Hanako's farm in northern Japan and offered to help her for the season. Here, he is fishing in the stream behind her home:

            He found a sturdy old tree with a thick branch overhanging the stream.  Carefully inching out on the branch, he found that it could accommodate his weight, and lay face down along its length.  He waited, his sword poised and ready for his prey.  The rippling water played a calming melody, and the shade from the rest of the tree enveloped him in a blanket of security that he hadn’t experienced in years. 
As a warrior in the elite forces of the bushido, he had not known serenity, only anger and death.  What would it be like to live in peace and beauty, instead of constant pain and needless bloodshed?
            A splash in the water below reminded him of his task.  A school of carp, making its way upstream, swam into his vantage point.  Drawing on his survival training, he lowered his sword, spearing the largest of the group.  Quickly he raised and lowered the sword again and again, until the still-moving fish covered half his blade. 
            The water beneath him turned murky, and his arm froze as the haunting memory of another time, another knife, overtook him.  His stomach churned as he remembered a man he had known all his life, one he loved and revered, dying by his own hand.  Though Hiro had fought nobly and had observed the death of many, this time it had brought him to his knees.  It was then that he knew he could not continue as a warrior. 
            Thanks for stopping by! Find samples from other great authors by going to Sweet Saturday Samples. Please leave a comment!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Just Get it Done!

I've mentioned the piles of unfinished projects that lurk in every corner of my house. Two of them are quilts I should have finished years ago for my daughters. I kept t-shirts from their childhood (t-ball, choir, band, sports, etc) and planned to make a quilt from the fronts of the shirts. I've had all the materials for the quilts and started the process, but never got them done. My older daughter graduated from high school in 2002 and her sister graduated in 2005. But the quilts kept getting set aside for other projects.
A couple of weeks ago the younger daughter decided she'd had enough. In very strong language she announced she wanted her quilt done and said she would find a way to finish it if I didn't have it done by February. I knew it wouldn't take long so I said okay. But then last weekend she decided the time was NOW and I needed to drop everything and finish it. Of course that was when another family crisis popped up. My mom needed some legal forms filled out this week and I had to chase them down and help her fill them out.
My point is that with two family members breathing down my neck I had to plan my time very wisely this week. I still had to show up at both jobs, grade papers, and pay attention to my husband and grandkids. So I had to make adjustments. I skimmed through emails, deleting most and answering only the most pressing. I've spent a lot less time on facebook, although I discovered I'm supposed to create something called a blog button (anybody know anything about these?) for a promotional opportunity. But that can be relegated to the "to be done" pile, like the quilts were.
Anyway, the quilt is out and on its way to being finished. As you can see from the picture, the squares are cut and arranged. I hope to have it done this weekend. I am very tired and will probably fall asleep at my granddaughter's first birthday party this weekend, but I won't have the quilt hanging over my head any more. The shirts would probably still be in the box if she hadn't made an issue of it. It was annoying, but I can't stay annoyed with her for pushing me to finish what should have been done a long time ago.
I think I'm making progress. One project at a time. Now if I can get her to nag me to finish the novel, the papers to be graded, the housework...

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample

            Welcome back! This week I've decided to revisit my historical romance about the adventures of a former samurai soldier during the late 1870s. Here we meet Hiromasa's friend, Ginjiro, who has come to work on Hanako's farm:

            Just outside the doorway, Ginjiro froze in place, listening intently.  He had come to ask for instructions about crops in the west end of the field, but the voice he heard from inside was not Hanako’s.  Caution had him stopping to assess a possible threat to his mistress, but the words spoken in the cultured, melodious voice were not threatening, and he decided Hanako was not in danger.  He allowed himself to listen to the mystery woman’s voice and let himself be drawn in by the soothing tones.  During his years as a warrior, he had been in the presence of noblewomen, but the shrill voices of the pampered, empty-headed ladies had held no appeal for him.  Certainly none had held his attention simply with the sound of her voice.
            He had to see the owner of the voice.   Carefully, he bent his upper body toward the doorway, not wanting to give himself away. Hopefully her attention would be focused on Hanako, who customarily knelt at the table with her back to the door.  That meant the guest would be facing the doorway. 
            His upper body was nearly level with the ground, but he couldn’t quite see far enough into the room to get a glimpse of the voice’s owner.  Perhaps if he just took one more step…
            Carefully, he lifted his left foot and moved it toward the doorway.  Unfortunately, his right foot was in the way, and his eyes widened in horror as he realized that he was falling into the house. He landed face down, his limbs arranged in an inelegant heap on the floor.  Thank goodness he and Hiro had installed the tatami flooring, or his face would be covered with dirt. 
            Perhaps his tumble had gone unnoticed.  Perhaps he could just back out, and the women wouldn’t know …
            “Ginjiro!”  Hanako’s footsteps scurried toward him.  “Are you all right?” 
            Ginjiro nodded, wincing when the motion scraped his face on the dry reeds in the flooring.  Despite the discomfort, he kept his face to the floor, scooting backward, hoping to leave before she-
            “It seems the samurai has injured his head in the fall,”
            Ginjiro groaned, mortified to be caught in such an embarrassing position.  How on earth could he explain his clumsiness?
            His groan of frustration was interpreted as a sign of pain.  “Oh, Ginjiro,” Hanako cried,  “Forgive me, Ginjiro.  You must have tripped in that trench I dug for the plants outside the door.  And now you are hurt!”
            “Perhaps we should move him inside so that we can tend to his wound.”  The warm contralto voice that had mesmerized him before floated into his mind from his other side.  He turned his head toward the voice, and nearly yelped from the pain of the movement. 
            Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to visit Sweet Saturday Samples, where you'll find links to blogs from other authors who are offering excerpts of their work!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Speed Mentoring

Last week our regional writing group met. The program for the day was "speed mentoring" and it went pretty well. The tables were arranged in a circle. The published or nearly published authors in the group sat inside the circle (we were the mentors), and the "waiting to be published" authors (mentees) took chairs on the outside. Our Vice President kept a timer and each pair had five minutes to discuss whatever aspect of writing the mentee wanted to talk about. After five minutes the outside circle rotated to their right and talked to the next mentor. This continued until every mentee had the opportunity to talk to each mentor. 

The exercise was fun. I had the chance to speak with newer members I had seen at meetings but hadn't gotten to know, as well as four guests who had come to check us out. It also got me thinking about the things I'm doing as a writer. What exactly do I do to promote myself? How do I get people to visit my blog? How do I keep myself accountable for writing on a regular basis? How do I decide where to submit my work? All were excellent questions, and they got me looking more closely at myself. Am I doing enough?

My family will cheerfully agree that I'm not the most organized person. I have lots of interests and hobbies as well as two part time jobs, not including my writing. Stuff gets piled up around here. So it's painful for me to think about organizing my time and efforts to promote what I've already spent time writing. Yet, if I want to be sure people are going to read what I write, I have to get over my hesitation and get myself out there. I need to be diligent about promotional opportunities and follow through on them. I may end up being a nuisance, but at least people will know who I am and what I write.

And that reminds me—I have a guest blog to finish...

I wanted to have some toys around for my youngest granddaughter to play with when she's here. I have no shortage of fabric and when I found instructions for these soft blocks I decided to copy them. They're made from scraps of fleece, so they're nice and soft, and I used more fleece scraps to stuff them. Hope she likes them! 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sweet Saturday Sample

Trowel image from

Welcome to my first Saturday Sample of the new year! I've been hard at work revising Aegean Intrigue, which will hopefully be released soon. Here is a short sample from that novella. Francie, a doctoral student in archaeology, is preparing to participate in a dig on the beautiful Greek island of Paros:

A few days before departure, a courier arrived with a packet of final instructions. She was told to ride the early ferry to the island of Paros, and Dimitri would meet the crew at the dock and take them to the dig site. Her ferry ticket was included in the packet, and she danced for joy at another expense she didn’t have to bear.
Carefully, she packed for the trip. She wouldn’t need much in the way of clothing: sturdy work boots, heavy socks, shorts, light tops, a hat, underwear, and sunscreen. Then she packed her tools: her notebook, a camera, and her trowel. The last was polished and wrapped in an old T-shirt. It had been a gift from her father, one of the few items she had ever received from him. He had given it to her after they’d gone on their last dig together. Nothing could have been more precious to her than this verification of his approval of her as an archaeologist. Since then, the beloved trowel had accompanied her on every dig, been cleaned every night, and stored safely in her knapsack.
Maybe someday, her father would ask her to go on another dig with him.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check out samples from other great authors. You can find their links at Sweet Saturday Samples.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Waiting Patiently

Patience has never been my strong suit. I like things to happen right away. I wanted to grow up and be an adult, and then I wanted to be a mom, and then I wanted to retire and travel. So now I've done all those things and I want to have my stories published.

I've had two novellas published now, and after hearing about how long other people have to wait to see their books available, even in ebook form, I've been blown away by how quickly my novellas were put out. So it's been a puzzle as to why my third novella is taking so much longer.

I submitted the story in September and it was accepted right away. But I didn't get a cover design until December, and then the content edits finally arrived just before Christmas. I sent my revisions in a week ago, and am back to waiting. My head knows that this is not an unreasonable time line, but I'm still checking my email to see when the story is going to be finalized. My bookmarks and magnets have been ordered and I want to start handing them out!

In the meantime, I should be working on new projects. If I could get immersed in something else I wouldn't be obsessing over how long this other project is taking, right? Plus I'd have something else to submit. After three short stories, I should be polishing off my full-length novel. I should have an outline fleshed out for my local writing group's winter writing challenge. I should...well, you get the picture.

My point is the story will come out eventually. The bookmarks and magnets will keep until it's time to pass them out. I can't let the worry keep me from being productive. It's just not going to do me any good.

But I can't stop checking my email, just in case.

My daughter and my mom love to wear scarves. I found some filmy scarf-like fabric in my stash that I originally planned to make some skirts out of. But I don't wear skirts that often, and I have trouble finding patterns for skirts that don't make me look like I'm as wide as I am tall. So I decided to cut the fabric into long scarves. All I had to do was stitch around the edges and I now have a set of three scarves for each of them! I'm thinking they'll make nice Mother's Day gifts. If I wrap them up now, hopefully I won't forget about them in May.

Today I'm participating in a Friday the 13th Blog Hop! There are prizes at each stop, and the prize for going through all the blogs is a brand new Kindle! Begin the hop by clicking here:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Let's Try This...

Last week I decided I needed a new way to stay accountable for my goals for three areas of my life. I've given it a lot of thought and I have a few ideas. So here is my plan for 2012:

Weight loss, lifestyle healthy choices, etc: These goals will be outlined more specifically, but not here. I want to keep this blog for my creative outlets. So I started another blog, dedicated entirely to my pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. It's at my new Time for a Change blog. I'll publish my plans, as well as my successes and failure there. If you have an inclination to see how my progress is coming, you're welcome to watch by clicking here. My end goal is to be at least a size smaller for my trip to Paris this summer, and healthy enough to walk on all the tours!

Writing: I am going to continue writing a minimum of 750 words per day. This website doesn't sound like much but it has really done wonders for me. I know that I have to type a certain number of words every day, and I usually try to do it first thing in the morning, even when I have to be at work at 5 am! Sometimes I add to a manuscript, other times I write blog posts, or reminder lists, or whatever else I know I need to work on. It's helped me fill out at least three manuscripts and I believe this is what motivated me to finish them. If I haven't written by 9 am I get an email reminder. It's amazing what I'll do to avoid getting that email message! And my end goal is to complete two historical novels and at least two contemporary novellas this year.

Creativity/crafts/sewing: I need to use up the things piling up all over the house. So at the risk of boring you, my plan is complete at least one project each week and post a picture here. If I don't post a picture, you and I and everyone on the planet will know that my junk is still in the same place as last week! My end goal is to have a basement my grandkids can play in. Happily, I completed something already this week. Here is a quilt top I made from some fabric my friend Cheryl gave me. She's apparently a lot better at getting rid of stuff than I am. Anyway, she had a bunch of squares already cut out, so I put them together and added a few borders. The ladies of the quilt guild at church will put it together and give it to someone who needs a little comfort.

So there's my plan. Now I know what I want to accomplish and I've got a plan for keeping myself accountable. The methods will probably change as the year progresses, but the goals will remain the same. Let's hope this works!