Wednesday, March 4, 2015

IWSG Wednesday: No Show, No Go

IWSG BadgeThe Insecure Writers Support Group meets online every first Wednesday of the month. Founded by  
Alex J. Cavanaugh, IWSG was created to support and encourage all writers in every phase of their work, from writing to marketing. Click here to join, and for more information. The website has writing tips and much more. 

Hosted in March by: 
Chemist Ken, Suzanne Sapseed, and Shannon Lawrence!


This month my focus has been on making a public commitment to pursue publishing and all that involves: researching agents and publishers, polishing, polishing, polishing my novel, formatting the manuscript, reassessing if a previous synopsis works (it didn't), and sending out queries. I haven't sent out one query yet! Okay, deep breath, deep breath. Maybe this is normal. You think you're ready, but then you discover half a dozen things you haven't finished. 

The big thing is I've reduced the word count from 96k to 84k. The goal is 80k, which is more in the ball park for this genre (contemporary adventure mystery-YA). I decided that I wasn't following the so-called rules for a first time novelist. No sense shooting myself in the foot with a higher than normal word count. 

In other words, I didn't want an agent to think I didn't do my homework. I saved the original just in case I'm asked to flesh things out more, and I didn't cut any scenes, just a whole lot of flab. One thing that stood out to me, since this is a novel for young adults, is that I had adults dominating scenes too much in spots. I can't write this story without the help of adults, but where kids step up to the plate, I gave them more to say, and adults less. I used contractions more, which also reduced word count.

But the lurking ever present worry is that I will not finish.....and this process will drag on forever. I've had similar starts out the gate, and I don't want this to happen again. I no longer have an outside job and haven't for awhile, or other time-threatening interferences, so no excuses this time. No excuses!  

No Show, No Go, as the saying goes. 

On a brighter note, I'm still at the start gate, digging my toes in the sand, trying to ignore the phenomenal talent on my right and left (focus, focus, focus), and waiting for the gun to go off. I haven't given up (another pattern in my past), and God willing, I would really like to believe that this time is different.  

Also, I like what editor Cheryl B. Klein (who was continuity editor for two Harry Potter books) has to say about the submission process. (Anyone else read her book?). It's really about finding "the right match," she explains. "It's like dating."

"But in fact we editors are just people, readers, like you, looking to make connections just like you. And that led me to the comparison I'm going to make today: The submissions process is like dating--an intensely personal endeavor where everyone is looking for the right match."  
(Cheryl B. Klein, Second Sight, 2009)
And again, my thanks to the IWSG community. I know it takes great effort and time on your part to pull away from your desk and busy life to share your writing journey, whether it's to seek encouragement and answers or to offer some yourself. I hope others debating the merits of this group will stop hesitating. But mostly, I wish everyone well.....Stay the Course _/)

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Classics - Opening Lines: Moby-Dick by Herman Melville"Call me Ishmael. Some years ago--never mind how long precisely--having little or no money in my purse, and nothing in particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world." (Published 1851)

  I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Africa Mercy - Up to Speed at Last: One Nurse's Journey

Surgeries are finally up to speed for the Africa Mercy team in Madagascar, which is good news for Marilyn as she nears the end of her service there. She shares stories and photos, including one tumor surgery miracle. A sixteen pound tumor was removed. -----Sharon 

(This is a running email post written by a volunteer nurse serving on the Africa Mercy, a hospital ship that travels the African coast).

"Up to Speed at Last"
27 February 2015

Can you imagine what life would be like with a 16 pound tumor hanging off your jaw? A benign tumor is only benign if you are able to get medical attention in a timely manner. Years ago, it

Sambany Blood Donors
would have been a simple procedure to remove it. After decades of inexorable growth, this tumor presented quite a challenge.

Sambany after surgery
Surgery was risky, but Sambany said, “I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I'm treated. I choose to have surgery.” Twelve hours of surgery and 14 units of blood later, he was indeed a free man.
I've included before and after photos...and a picture of our local "blood bank." (Yes, we do invest our blood, sweat, and tears into our work around here...) Cataract surgeries are happening, too. Some days are crazy busy, with more bumps in the road than usual. Last Monday was such a day. It was exhausting, but it all became worthwhile the next day when the patches came off. We got some terrific results, and had some very happy patients. 
Sambany before surgery
 The rest of the week seemed more "normal"--most of the surgeries were quick andfree of complications. By Wednesday, I was saying, "Now I remember what it is supposed to feel like around here!" We were on a roll. The good news is, our surgery schedule has filled up. We have patients, finally. The bad news is, we only have two more weeks of surgeons coming to do surgery. Just as we begin to find our rhythm, it is time to wind it down and dismantle the program. The good news, though, is, it looks like we will be able to do surgery on all the patients that we have found in all the screenings we have done, and even to do the second eye for most of the patients who would benefit from that. We will reach the bottom of the barrel just about the same time as we run out of time. How often does that happen?  

This week's star patient is another relatively young man with diabetes. He came to the screening in Tana, but his blood sugar was way too high for surgery. We sent him away. Undeterred, he got his blood sugar under control, and he and his wife took a bus from Tana to come to one of our local screenings. He was profoundly blind and walked hesitantly, even with his wife on one side and me on the other. The day after surgery, he saw his wife again for the first time in a long time. In one of those funny, poignant moments, he smiled and started to shake her hand.

(Fortunately, it did end up in a hug.) He is returning next week for his second eye--I can't wait to see him in action, walking independently up the gangway and down the stairs.
I leave for home in less than four weeks. I am sure going to miss this place! What a blessing it has been for me to be here. --

Marilyn Neville

[Click here to learn more about the nurses and doctors on board the Africa Mercy.]

Friday, February 27, 2015

Celebrate the Small Things: Daily Pleasures

A long walk down 
by the lake.

A wind-free day 
when fifty-something 
felt like seventy. 


Geese flocking together on the water.

Flying in for the 'honking' convention. 


Killdeer following me as I walk, leading me away from their family. 

Do killdeer really nest this soon? 

Tortilla pizza lunch with friends,
A nurturing talk with my writer bud
Helping another with her new blog. 

My Recipe for Tortilla pizza

1 flour tortilla
Meat topping
1 TB Tomato paste
Vegetable toppings

Spread tomato paste on one tortilla. Sprinkle with oregano and/or other Italian spices. Top with meat (try cooked chicken breast and/or sausage). Add vegetable toppings (I like green & red pepper, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and one green olive, all chopped of course). Sprinkle mozzarella over all.  Place on one lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake in 400 degree oven for 12 minutes. If tortilla isn't crisp, bake longer. It's the crispness that makes this thin crust pizza so delicious. Also, I purchase freshly made tortillas, so try to buy fresh if you can. Enjoy!

 These are the kind of daily pleasures that filled my week. The only thing that sort of went wrong was not entering the Pitch Madness contest on Monday. Since word count was an issue, I spent up to the last minute deleting words in my book, but failed to make the midnight deadline. That EST acronym blew right past me. Yep, that's right, I forgot the Eastern Standard Time zone. But maybe it's just as well. The book was flabby in places, I discovered. ~Sigh~

How was your week? 

Have a nice weekend!

Thank you Lexa Cain for hosting this blog hop!
And co-hosts: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge  
and Katie @ TheCyborgMom

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Native American Tools & Weapons by Rob Staeger: Book Review

Native American Tools & Weapons
“Native American Life” series
Author: Rob Staeger
Publisher: Mason Crest, 2014
Ages: 10 up, Middle Grade
Pages: 63


Long before American inventors Henry Ford, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison changed how we do things, Native Americans had been inventing tools and weapons from natural resources. These included transportation vehicles, clothing, coverings, containers, rope, needles, and other necessities of life needed to survive. Staeger divides the Native American groups into five regions: the Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, Southwest and Central and South America.

The locale of each region determined what kind of tools and weapons were made or needed. In the far north, for example, the Nootka required a thirty-foot dugout and long harpoons with pointed tips for dangerous whale hunts. They used wood and bone, and later iron when it became available. In Central and South America the Mayans needed tools to clear and irrigate the land for farming. Stone was commonly used. For protection in battle, the Aztecs wore “thick armor made of quilted cotton soaked in brine.” Readers learn about these weapons of war in interesting detail and colorful illustrations. They also learn about the tanning of hides in the Southwest, the making of birch bark canoes in the Northeast, and other techniques. 

Over time new resources became available and were also adopted for use by Native Americans, such as the horses, rifles, and metals introduced by white explorers. Native Americans proved to be worthy experts at adaptation and innovation. Native American Tools & Weapons is a good general source for young researchers, complete with photos, illustrations, glossary, chronology and index

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Classics: Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne"MY UNCLE MAKES A GREAT DISCOVERY"

"Looking back to all that has occurred to me since that eventful day, I am scarcely able to believe in the reality of my adventures. They were truly so wonderful that even now I am bewildered when I think of them." (Published 1871)

I love the classics and plan to share some "opening lines" over the coming months. Comment if you like, or read for inspiration. Writing styles were different then, but were they really?