Thursday, August 18, 2011


I went for a hike yesterday - 1.3 miles of woods in the nature center in town - and I brought my camera. When I look through the lens of my camera, I see differently. I pay more attention to details, I look for light and shadow. I try to find something interesting to show.

I do the same when I write.

This is a standard picture, kind of boring - a little critter on a big path through the woods.

Of course, I'm not done. I take it home, load it onto my computer and fiddle with it. I zoom in on some detail and I get this:

Kind of sinister, isn't he?

By zooming in, I can emphasize details - the odd light in his eye, the way he's poised to run.

And for me, this is like editing a story. Deciding what I want to emphasize and what tension I want in the image I'm describing.

I think what I'm saying is that writing and editing have two different kinds of perspective - one is the overall "what the story is about" and the other is honing in on the details.

How do you look at a story?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Monday Update on a Tuesday

I'm taking a few days off, so I put off blogging my update until I was actually on vacation.

Shake Down is read through - it's going to need a large chunk of time and a flow chart to work on the plot. I've got it penciled in for tomorrow afternoon. I need to introduce at least one villain much earlier than he is currently introduced, among other things. And one other villain is going to be much less villainous and more mysterious.

A couple of my beta readers came back with some really good points, so I'm tweaking Lawgiver some more.

I've done a bunch of cooking - committed paella last week - and I need to clean my bedroom and do some painting during this bit of vacation.

And that's the update, delayed though it might be :D

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Small Stones

My friend, Lisa Cohen (ljcblue) is a poet and, thanks to her, I've been thinking more about poetry than before. With that in mind, I bought a book Lisa recommended: Writing the Life Poetic by Sage Cohen.

It's slow going, but I've been reading it bit by bit, working it out in my mind as I go. And I finally happened on Chapter 26: Small Stones. Note: I do not read or write in order. I just can't.

Small stones are little nuggets of specific observation jotted down during the day. The idea, as I understand it, is to keep aware of details throughout the day and hone the skill. Then use the skill in your writing.

To that end, I've been tweeting small stones - @suelder and using the hashtag #smallstones

Here are some examples:

  • The whisper of rain on the trees.
  • The scent of garlic and basil in my brother's kitchen.
  • Spider webs sparkling with crystal raindrops in summer sun.
  • Cotton clouds sailing through a deep blue sky.
  • Deep forests, dripping with fog. / Insects calling in lust. / A fawn walks onto our front lawn, his tail twitching at flies.
What kinds of small stones do you see during your day?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Blue Mosque

My sister and I visited Greece and Turkey in 1992. This picture was taken by my sister of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey.

I use pictures as writing prompts, sometimes, and this one lead to this passage from Lawgiver:

The guard led us into a vast hall. Great pillars rose from the floor to the ceiling, but the garden remained in islands of green. Light spilled everywhere, through windows in the ceiling high over our heads. "Is this the temple?" Daman whispered to Talleth.

"No," he hissed. "This is Grishon's court. The temple is half this size, but filled with windows. It fits Anath, but Grishon is ridiculously proud of his cavern."

I smiled slightly. "Is that what they call it?"

Have a good week all.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Update

Happy Monday.

With Lawgiver out to beta readers, I've picked up Shake Down again. That's the paranormal thriller with the young woman who feels earthquakes before they happen.

I like what I've got so far (about 35K), but there's a whole subplot thread that I've avoided working on. And the story really needs it.

I think the paranormal part is pretty good and I'm liking the romantic subplot. The MC, Lani Martin, works for the army, even though she's a civilian. The base is on a list of potential closures and she's working with the Colonel to create a Rapid Response Team to get to Natural disasters as quickly as possible.

The base-closing thread is what I need to work on. It's just really strange to pull off the editing/revising hat and put back on the plotting, story-thread hat. But you've got to start somewhere.

The picture above is from a trip I took to Alaska with my family three years ago. The flower is fireweed and it got its name because its the first plant to grow after a forest fire clears out an area. 'Cause that sort of what it feels like to pick Shake Down up again - like I'm starting fresh.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Progress in WiP (Work in Progress)

There are times when I want to get better. Now.

And I'm not alone. A lot of people get frustrated when they don't improve as quickly as they want to. Part of the problem is that once we start to improve, we can see how much we need to improve. (Okay, how much I need to improve.) The mountain looks taller, harder to climb. And I didn't even think to look up.

But that's looking forward, and it can be daunting, especially if we've got ambitions to be really good/ great writers.

But when you're on the mountain, you can also look down, to see how far you've come. This week, I finished one project and sent it to my beta readers. So, I opened up another project I wanted to work on – Shake Down, my paranormal thriller.

And I can see where I've grown as a writer, from editing Lawgiver. I want to totally rewrite Shake Down, or parts of it. And I will.

The point is that I've progressed, through work and practice and I've climbed further up the mountain. So often, it's a matter of putting one foot in front of the other, making small steps of progress.

Every once in a while, look down the mountain and see how far you've come. It makes the summit seem a little closer.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Sometimes, you do the unexpected when you are writing a novel. Last week, as I was working on the latest iteration of Lawgiver, I realized that I needed to write a poem. I don't usually write poems.

But that's what the character needed to translate, so that's what I had to write.

This is a picture of a sunset taken at the door to my condo - run through Photoshop.

So, here's the snippet from Lawgiver:

"It's a poem, probably for the person in the crypt. And I'm also a translator, so I figured that I'd take an hour or two to work on it." With a smile, she settled at the table and lifted the parchment out, carefully.

The sun has set for me.

The last light has graced the world

And you are gone.

The breeze whispers through the trees,

The river rushes past.

And you are gone.

Our children cry

Their children sleep in peace

The stars wink into the dark.

And you are gone.

Su had to stop there, putting the parchment back into the box and closing the lid. She blinked back the tears and blew her nose.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Update

Because at least one friend has complained that I have abandoned blogging, I'm going to try to blog more. Monday updates, Wednesday images, Friday/weekend Writerly musings.

And being that this is a Monday - an update.

Over the weekend, I finally finished this draft of Lawgiver and formatted it for beta readers. Part of the motivation was a coupon for a free proof copy from that expired last night - so I got to play with cover art as well. I had fun with the art stuff.

I also formatted it for Nook - ePub format - to send to at least some of my betas. Took a little doing and getting familiar with Calibre. But I'm convinced that it's legible.

That's the monday update - Hope everyone has a good week.

What have you been up to?

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