Tag Archives: blogging

Writing Out The Storms

This morning, I sat wondering for a few minutes if it’s “bad form” to begin a blog post with an addendum. A quick Google search on addendum placement yielded too many unnecessary bits, so I’ve decided just to go with it.

So here it is: I was supposed to post the following blog over two weeks ago. In the interim, a devastating earthquake ravaged Mexico, Hurricane Maria inundated an already-decimated Puerto Rico, and a gunman slaughtered 58 innocent people in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Some days, I feel so deeply hurt that I hardly know what to do. I certainly don’t always feel like writing. And even when I do, the words don’t necessarily come out the way I’d like.

With all the madness in the world swirling around, I also had a smaller, though personal, issue to deal with, the poison ivy/oak I mention below. Apparently, I’m severely allergic, so I’ve spent almost 3 weeks on steroids and dealing with swollen and blistered arms and a rashy body. The drugs gave me woozy head, and sitting down to write or brainstorm yielded nothing good.

Well, I’m slowly returning to the land of my living, and still processing the incredible events of these past weeks, trying to make sense of what I can and trying to keep going in a positive way. I hope you’ll take a few more minutes to zip through the rest of my original post below. And I truly hope this finds you well and striving to be happy in this crazy world. Thanks for spending some of your time with me! <3

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I’m not sure if Hurricane Irma wiped out all my thoughts and blog ideas in a wild, massive rush of wind, but it sure feels like that tricky witch did something to my brain. Though I can’t say exactly how she managed to do so, since I was about 5000 miles away in Europe when she hit my home in Florida.

As happens more often than not, this isn’t the blog I’d planned to write. But as circumstances change often and quickly, I usually try to go with the flow. When it comes to writing, that feels most natural and hopefully, therefore, is the best writing I can do.

When Irma blasted the Caribbean and the Southeast, my reaction was different this time than with Matthew last year, because I couldn’t return from Europe. I’ve only been home for one week, and it’s been hard to get back into writing.

I want to write again—especially, to work on the edits for Treasure Bound—but I don’t have the words yet. My creative brain has disconnected or something. Not a breaking off, but more like a pulling away to process what’s happened in the world.

Too overwhelmed with reality? No, that’s not it. Reality often overwhelms me ; ) so that’s nothing new. (October note: Hah! If only I’d known how much worse things would get. It all feels so unreal still.)

And maybe I’ll come back tomorrow to reread this before posting and will feel completely different. Tiredness impacts my creativity, and we’ve been tired a lot since we began following Irma’s antics almost three weeks ago.

Let me back up a moment. You see, my husband and I had planned a relatively last-minute visit to his family in the Czech Republic, and we were due to fly home—to Orlando airport—on September 9. The airline, Irma, and MCO all had other ideas, though.

So, we spent many hours on the phone with various people and places and eventually were able to book a flight home on September 15.

But I have to say, not being here—home—to ride out the storm brought me a different sort of anxiety. It felt strange and wrong not to be here, to be too far away to help, to know if family, friends, home were all right.

So, I guess I’m still sorting through the different levels of emotion and tiredness that’ve followed me. Though we did enjoy our extra time away, it was more stressful than you’d think, and the travel home kept us awake for almost 26 hours.

In all, though, we’re immensely grateful that our friends and family are all right. Things are so much worse for so many, and my heart breaks with the latest news from the Caribbean and Mexico. How truly overwhelming.

So from my perspective, the few more downed trees we had, though sad to see and to lose, are merely proof that far greater things than us exist. It’s a process, though, dealing with the changes and problems. I don’t downshift that quickly, unfortunately.

A small segue: I do have to sneak in a photo or two of our yard here, because Lou and I could hardly believe what had happened on the rear of our property. A huge tree with water-logged roots toppled, ripping up a chunk of ground. Check out this mass of dirt and roots!

Tree roots
Downed trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, when he cut the tree apart, the stump rose and the dirt/roots have settled back into position. But I wonder how long that’ll last.

The almost-week’s-worth of jungle clean-up did leave me with one other present: a nasty occurrence of poison something-or-other, worse than last year, it feels. So, just add steroiding myself to the list of “out there” feelings, and I think we’ve got the lack-of-writing issue mostly clarified.

Anyhoo…maybe writing this blog will help get my head on straight. Though I did write some on vacation, it was without regularity and not often. Me falling off the writing wagon is not pretty, as it takes several ugly attempts before I can claw my way up again. Think I’m finally getting there, though. I hope.  : )

And here’s a nice ending to this post: the birds are coming back. A blue jay streaked by the window and nestled in the pine tree. And a pretty bright-red cardinal just landed on the orange tree outside, perched amid the yellow-lime fruits, which I hope survive till ripeness.

Happiness, seeing that flash of crimson and imperious crown, since I think of angels when I see cardinals. And I have a few special guardians I know are looking out for me and my hub, through all the madness this world can throw at us. <3 Stay strong.

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Writing Forts

Nothing screams “summer blog post” more than a hulking, stone fort, am I right? Suuure. I can see the heads shaking. What you’re probably asking yourselves is: What does a fort have to do with writing? Well, let me tell you about that.

I’m always on the hunt for relevant writing-life ideas to blog about, things both useful and personal. I hope you learn something fun and different after reading my posts, that you engage in your own writing or reading in a new way, become inspired to change something in your writing repertoire or habits. See things from a fresh perspective.

So to find ideas, I check out the holiday calendars to see what’s going on, I read other author blogs (check out this list for some cool ones, but be warned, some links are out of date), I review Writer’s Digest and other online sources for inspiration.

And sometimes I simply walk outside and see what my imagination fires up. In the case of this month’s post, “Writing Forts,” my inspiration was two-fold: calendar spark and walkabout spark.

One of the many things I love about St. Augustine is its history. One big chunk of that history is the Castillo de San Marcos, a National Park, located at the northeastern edge of historic downtown. With July named as National Park and Recreation Month (the calendar spark), and me so enamored of this massive fortress—also a designated National Monument—I knew I had to blog about it.

Which leads me to spark number two, the walkabout. Because I’m fortunate to have this historic fort in my backyard, I’m free to wander the grounds for inspiration whenever I’m able to go downtown (and able to find parking).

Water in the moat of the Castillo de San Marcos
The Castillo at night, with visitors.
Canon fire at the Castillo

Those of you who’ve read my previous posts know how much I love being outdoors, love Florida’s warm, mostly sunny weather. I carry my notebook everywhere, and I love writing longhand outside. Weather permitting, naturally, but also in the rain. As long as I’m covered and my notebook is dry, I’m good.

Sometimes, writing in the rain is actually better, depending on the scene. A moody, rainy day can be perfect for stalking, murder, surprise attack, even simply an eerie feeling or two. I think you get my point. Writing outside or somehow exposed to the elements, exposed to the ambience of a historic space, imbues my writing with a vitality I can’t always capture when sitting at my computer behind a desk and gazing through the window. Kinda like life, you know. Sometimes you have to stop reading and writing about it and go out and live it.

Now, about this fabulous fort. I’m intrigued by history (I’m not a buff, mind you, but forever learning). Those of you who’ve read Emerald Obsession know that while it’s a contemporary mystery, it has its roots in history. The Castillo has survived over 300 years as the oldest masonry fortress in the United States.

Rambling over the fort grounds, reading the educational material the park rangers offer, climbing stone steps to look over the Matanzas River and all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, steeping myself in the environment and knowledge of its age brings the fort’s history to life, helps me imagine what living there centuries ago could’ve been like.

Being able to experience such a unique piece of history firsthand is extraordinary. When I walk through historic places, I feel the weight of time surround me. I feel the lives and deaths of those who passed that way before me. A quiet settles in, respectful and deep. I knew the fort would find its way into my writing somewhere, somehow.

And here’s where I get to tease a little info about Treasure Bound, Book Two in my Found Mystery Series. I’m so excited. This story follows up Emerald Obsession to continue Lexy and Jack’s treasure hunt, and part of the story takes place in St. Augustine. Surprise, there’s also a scene or two set at the fort. Hope I do it justice.

To learn more about the Castillo de San Marcos, click here. It’s one of my favorite places in St. Augustine. And don’t forget to take your writing outside! You may not have a fort at your disposal, but any outdoor spot will offer a new angle and enliven your writing.

As ever, to weigh in on this or any of my posts, please share, share, share in the comments section, or on social media. You can find me in all the usual places. Thanks again. : )

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It’s True, I Do Exist. But TB Is Half Missing.

The pinned post on my Twitter page is a photo of my first printed copies of Emerald Obsession with the comment: “It’s true, they do exist!”

That sentiment feels applicable to me today as I sit at my computer and—once again—attempt to finish my (one and only) June Blog. I started this post earlier in the month, and it had an entirely different vibe. I’m a little sad to say it was a better vibe then than now, though the change in vibration is not permanent nor completely overwhelming.

Here’s the gist: my original plan for this post was a progress update on Book Two of my series. I had completed the first draft of Treasure Bound, TB, as I still call it, and had in mind to scoop you on a few of the next steps: first-round edits, adding in a few transition scenes, prelim brainstorming for cover design and final title. Yeah, I was being optimistic; I liked how TB had wrapped up.

But no. That is not happening.

I began writing the blog while still organizing my electronic files and before I finished my critique-group edits. For your laughter and entertainment, check out these photos of my initial pile of work:

Once I made those edits, I printed the hardcopy files again and did a word count. That’s when I had a minor (okay, not-so-minor) cow.

Turns out, my much-loved (by me) sequel is not nearly as long as I thought it was. More to the point, it’s only about half the length of Emerald Obsession. OMG. I’m still uncertain as to how that happened, since the story feels much fuller even now. But I digress.

Now, since this is a sequel, and there’s a third (and final) book still to come, it’s not a problem that TB is shorter, but that was quite a helluva lot shorter than I’d expected. My plan for the editing stage had always been to write additional scenes to smooth out a couple of plot points, but this will require a chunk more writing. Ugh.

Well, not necessarily “ugh.” I do love writing, after all, and really, this is just more writing on a story I already really enjoy. The “ugh” comes into play because I’d anticipated publishing either end of this year or early next. See this photo? Notice the deadline I’d given myself?

Now that’s questionable. Not impossible, but questionable.

So, dear readers and friends, there you have it. Partly I’ve been MIA as I’ve tried to cope with this writing setback, partly because I’ve already begun work to flush out certain aspects of the storyline (yay), and partly because I’m still working ri-donk-ulous shifts at the “day” job, which severely interferes with my creative brain power and awakeness. Ah, the joy. Wink, wink. But I do exist!

To think, this month started with so much promise. I’d just held my first book signing for Emerald Obsession, courtesy of the fab folks at The Starving Artist Gallery, and was high as a kite over the response—I sold all but two books! Their best signing!!

And now this. Guess it’s back to reality and back to work for me.

Thanks for sticking by me through the mayhem. Oh, did I mention that in between, the hub and I managed to buy a couch and a bedroom set and mattress? Yay!! We’re finally living in almost-adulthood, like the real people do! So, it’s been a wild ride these past two months, as per usual. Guess some things don’t change.

Thoughts? Share a laugh? Cringe at the delay in TB? Please feel free to share your comments below or by email. I really do like to hear from you. Thanks and wish me luck on the additions. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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Stability in a Whirlwind

I’m not one of those bloggers who writes articles in advance and has a stash ready to go at a moment’s notice, aided into the etherworld with the assistance of some tech-savvy social-media-managing app like Hootsuite. I’m one of those think-of-an-idea-then-write-it-when-I-make-time bloggers. Which is why—when generalized mayhem strikes as it did this lovely month of March (some good, some bad)—I found myself ill-prepared to post either of my two blogs-to-be this month.

Well, sort of, since—if luck/determination/the internet all cooperate with me—this post will hopefully go live on my website on March 31. Thereby letting me say at least one of my March blogs posted this month.

I’ve mentioned before how blogging doesn’t come easily to me, but that I enjoy it for the most part (best of all when I feel I have something fun and/or useful to share). But I like to take time to think over what I’m blogging about, make sure I feel it’s relevant to my readers.

So, why did I choose to add yet another serving to my already-full plate? Because that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In the form of starting a new part-time job in February. Man alive, I’m still shaking my head at myself, wondering whether adding such time-consuming madness to my life was smart to do.

So here I am, one(ish) month later, and going strong. For the most part. I’ll share a little bit about the decision without naming names because I’m still in the trial phase as far as I’m concerned.

Friends and readers, you know I like to learn new things. Pretty much all the time. So when I heard of the opportunity of a part-time job at a company I like, whose products I use often, and where I stood to learn a great deal about subjects of interest to me, I jumped. And by that I mean I applied, talked things over with my hub, aced the interview and was hired in a matter of a few days. Hello, whirlwind.

Whirlwind!

There are other layers of logic to my decision besides wanting to learn, though, not the least of which is dropping a few extra bucks in the bank. Having worked from home for the past four years, I also looked forward to a different job environment and new people. And I relished the idea of committing to a real schedule again, something that often proves difficult to maintain in the home-office world.

And that, dear readers, is proving the most challenging part of this. I enjoy the job, all that I’m learning, the people (most of them, let’s be honest), the environment. But the schedule … that leaves much to be desired. To say it’s random is an understatement. Erratic and changeable are better words by far.

Which leaves me with a potential problem. Those who follow my blogs and Facebook and Twitter posts know I’m struggling to complete the sequel to Emerald Obsession. I’m near the end of writing the first draft of Treasure Bound, but after that I have months of editing and other work.

Well, I’m someone who often reacts better to exterior deadlines than self-induced ones. My thought process behind starting a new part-time job included the belief a more structured daily routine would benefit my writing; it would super-charge my daily habits and keep my writing time regimented and productive.

Sadly, I’m not sure that’ll prove true. Though I’m game to keep working for a while longer. Five weeks isn’t enough time for me to feel I’ve gotten the entire job/schedule picture, so I’ll continue to test the waters. But I fear the inconsistent nature of the company’s scheduling, which I wasn’t clear on at the onset, won’t jive with what I need from a part-time job right now.

Either way, readers and friends, I’ll keep you posted on how things go. March had so many other things happening concurrent with starting the new job that maybe April will bring a settling down to life.

Either way, I’m a blessed person. My mom just left after a fun visit, today would’ve been Fodda’s 86th birthday; the sun shines bright in the morning sky, the hub smiles and things are right in my world. I hope they are in yours, too. Keep on, right? I’ll just keep on, keeping on. See you again soon.

Mellow rocks
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Resolutions and Revisions—A Writer’s Reality

With another flip of the calendar, I find myself staring at a relatively clean slate. And so I decided to jump on the January-resolution bandwagon this year. Why not? The fact is, the changing of the year is a great time for people to reexamine goals, and I’m no exception.

A clean, snowy slate in NY

Since this blog is about my writing life, I’ll let you in on my writing resolution for this year. I made a small-yet-large-for-me pledge that pertains to you, dear readers and fans: My objective for 2017 is to blog more often and about more writing topics of interest to you.

To that end, I plan to blog twice a month. Yeah, no great shakes in the world of blogging, but in my world of chaos and distraction, doubling my monthly output is a major thing. Especially now, when I’m trying to power through the first draft of my second novel in the Found Mystery Series, still lovingly referred to as TB. ; )

As you may know, I believe life should be a continual learning experience, and I feel the same way about writing. I always want to learn more, become better at the craft, and I enjoy passing on what I learn.

Blogging isn’t my passion the way storytelling is, but the more I write in all formats, the better writer I become (hopefully). So, increasing my post output helps two ways: to give the readers what they want, and to sharpen my skills doing what I love.

In this first post of 2017, I’d like to share a link about one author’s editing process. I found this courtesy of Mary Ann de Stefano on the Florida Writers Association Facebook page, and I think it’s fantastic.

People often ask what it’s like to be a writer. Well, there are as many different answers as there are scribblers, but there’s a common thread: to write is to edit. And so, to learn to write is to understand you must edit.

This author, Patrick Rothfuss, was asked what it’s like to revise his own work. I think his answer is spot-on as he details the challenges we face, large and small, to make our manuscripts the best we can. Please take a look and let me know what you think.

As with writing, there are aspects of editing and revising that I love and those that I can hardly stand. But they go hand-in-hand. To be a better writer, I need to become a better editor. I’m working on it. 😉

Happy New Year to you all. Here’s hoping your resolutions are both fun and productive. Otherwise, they’ll be a pain to stick with. 😛

And with respect to my goal of blogging about your writing interests, please share what you’d like to hear about, either in the comments section, or by email: carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Thanks and looking forward to your input.

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