#MondayBlogs

BLOG POST: 10 Things I Learned from My Mom

I realize that I’ve been quiet for a long while. Last year was hard for me. Amid the hustle and bustle of teaching full-time, raising two elementary kids, being a partner to my husband, running a household, and sneaking in writing, I was stopped in my tracks—my mom took a turn for the worse.

My mom had suffered for a long time with PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy), think Parkinson’s disease on crack. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to watch an independent person be robbed of the things that they love most. My mother was an artist who made everything she touched more beautiful. This disease stole the use of her hands, then all motor function, followed by her ability to speak, and ultimately her life.

My multiple trips north to Oregon were to help my dad and see my mom as much as possible. In July, I flew up to help transition my mom to hospice care. They said she had a few months, but after I flew home, it was only a few days. My dad had tirelessly taken care of her. He meant it when he said “for better or worse, in sickness or in health.” This month would have been their 50th wedding anniversary.

It has been five months, and it has taken me this long to process enough to write about…well, much of anything. It is hard for me to be this open in public. By nature, I am very optimistic and upbeat, but I tend to keep my pain private. So, instead of not saying anything, I wanted to honor my mom and share a glimpse of her wisdom.

What I learned from my mom.
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Photo Writing Prompt: Moonlight Magic

We finally had a break in the torrential California rain, so I took my daughter out for a photo shoot. We have been safe, but there has been flooding not too far away.

I’ve had this scene in my head for weeks.

photo-writing-prompt

 

Here is a printable journal page with a smaller version of the picture: No one noticed when she melted into the backdrop of trees until… (more…)

Writing Resource: 188 Words for Sounds

When writing or editing, sometimes it’s nice to have a cheat sheet next to you to save time. As William Cowper once said:

“Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.”

Mix it up and have fun. As usual, a printer friendly PDF is at the bottom. Do you have any sound words you love to use?

words-for-sounds

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Resource: 2 Photo Writing Prompts

A little writing inspiration for you:
1

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Resource: Realistic Travel Times

Realistic Travel

 

People who don’t live in California seem to think that everyone is within an hour from Disneyland. More than once I’ve had people contact me, telling me that they were going to be in LA, so maybe we can meet up for dinner. Now, depending on where this person is in the LA Basin, drive times from San Jose (40 minutes south of San Francisco) can range from 5 1/2 hours to 6 1/2 hours.  People always seem to be shocked to learn how large California actually is.  In fact, if you were to drive from the most southern large city, San Diego, north to the Oregon border, it would take you over 11 hours.

Google Can Be Your Friend

The point I am making, is that you need to research your travel times.  It is so easy to simply Google the directions from place to place. Google will even given you travel times for car, bus, bicycle, and walking.

Google Maps

But Google Won’t Tell Me

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Resource: Oregon Backgrounds & Textures

FREE Background Oregon (1)

Escape to the Oregon Coast

Each year we hop in the car and head north to Oregon. We have relatives in several cities, and get to take in the breathtaking landscapes and partake in all sorts of outdoor activities. All of these photos were taken within a 20 minute drive of Florence, Oregon. This town is a favorite for those that live in Oregon. It offers an adorable downtown to hang out in, as well as, beaches, dunes, rivers, lakes, and forest. We try to fit in a couple of trips to the dunes on ATV’s, where several of these pictures are taken.

Sample quote using one of the backgrounds

“I alone cannot change the world

Photos are free for use with credit

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Resource: Free Backgrounds & Textures

Resource Textures and Backgrounds

Pictures of Nothing?

When I travel, I am often seen taking pictures of what must seem like random things to other people. I stand six inches from wallpaper or get down on my knees to catch the perfect angle of a fallen leaf. This summer, I visited Nevada a couple of times.  These pictures were taken in The Silver Legacy Hotel & Casino. The Starbucks barista did look at me a little funny when I took a picture of the cup sleeves, but I’m glad I did.

Here  is a sample of what you can do with these photos:

Gandhi Quote

I used a fabulous website called Canva to add the text.

Photos are free for use with credit

These pictures are free to use as long as you credit me and link to my site:
Photo by Robin Woods www.RobinWoodsFiction.com

Metal Petina 1

Metal Patina 3

Wallpaper 1 (more…)

Writing Resource: 8 Tips on Dialogue

Dialogue is an integral part of any novel. Here are eight ways to upgrade your dialogue and avoid some newbie pitfalls.

Improving Dialogue

  1. Every conversation should move the plot forward. No empty fillers, please.
  2. Pick a punctuation style and stick to it. If you are going to query a major publisher, you may want to use Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Regardless of what you choose to use, consistency is key. For example: if you use an en-dash when a character is cut off in a conversation, do it every time. 
  3. People rarely use each others’ names in conversation after an initial greeting.

    Here is an example of overuse:
    “Heya, Eric.”
    “Hello, Nora.”

    “Eric, how has your summer been so far?”
    “Well, Nora, it has been rather busy. I’m ready to slow down for a bit.”
    “I totally understand, Eric. I have been busy too.”

    Besides the fact that the dialogue is a yawn fest, people don’t naturally use one another’s names that much when talking. I makes your characters sound like game show hosts. “Yes, Vanna.” (more…)

Word Count 101: Novel? Novella? Novelette?

Word Count

Many writers stress about word count while they are creating a book. My advice is actually not to worry about it during the first draft—just be true to your story and characters. Then, during the editing process, become the crazed axe murderer—okay, maybe more of a surgeon. But regardless, you need to be brutal.

In general, the count for most novels should fall between 80,000-100,000 words for almost any genre. Any debut novel over 100,000 words risks rejection from agents and publishers.  But again, don’t worry about this until you get there.  An interesting tidbit: the average length for all books on Amazon is 64,000 words.

One Step at a Timewriting novella w cat

Now, depending on the font you use, the average word count on a page is about 300 words.  Writing takes consistency, so instead of getting overwhelmed, celebrate the small things.

Write 300 words, you have a page.
Write 3000 words, you have a chapter.
Write 16 chapters, you have a book.

General Word Count Lengths

What category does your manuscript fall into?  Here is a general guideline:

Micro-Fiction: Up to 100 words

Flash Fiction: 100-500 words

Short Story:  1,000-8,000 words

Novelette: 7,500-20,000

Novella: 20,000-40,000 words

Novel:  40,000-110,000 (see genre notes below)

Epic: 110,000+

The novel isn’t cut and dry. Each genre has its own average. For example, Science Fiction tends to be longer than a Western, and so on.

Book Type Cloud

Created by Robin Woods on http://www.tagxedo.com

Book Lengths for Different Genres

Picture Books: 500-700 words (with an average length of 32 pages). (more…)