Six on Saturday – March 30, 2018

The garden is popping after two days in a row of temperatures that hit 70 degrees. Here are my Six on Saturday.

  1. My hyacinths are not large as they are older bulbs, but I have purple, white and cherry red.

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2. Despite the ground still being too soggy to do much, my garden knows spring has finally arrived. Peonies are poking up.

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3. The grape holly (Mahonia) is getting ready to bloom. The shades of purple against the creamy green are gorgeous.

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4. Bok Choy that wintered over in one of my raised beds is blooming. I’m going to pick some for a salad for dinner.

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5. I bought a tray of sedum varieties at Lowes which I’ll put in the three new hypertufa containers I made last fall.

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6. Rain is expected tonight, so I put on my boots and cut back the red twig dogwood this morning. The bed it is planted in is still very wet although the reblooming daylilies are coming up. Most of the cut twigs are in a bucket which I’ll fill with water (and some mosquito dunks so I won’t breed those pests) and set in a corner for several months. Dogwood roots easily.

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Finally, a shout out to Fred in France for giving me information about getting a macro lens for my iPhone. Now I know how those food bloggers get such great close-ups of  the brownies that force me to root in my cupboard for a cookie. I don’t bake much anymore. The husband is gluten intolerant and I have no will power. Working in the garden is better for my waistline.

And thanks to The Propogator for hosting this meme.

 

Write on Wednesday – March 28, 2018

Building Characters Using “Rooting Interests”

This interesting suggestion also came from Jeanne Adams workshop at the recent Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. She credited writer Donna MacMeans with the idea which is explained in a longer form on Donna’s website. By the way, Donna MacMeans writes “seductively, witty historical romance.”

On her website, Donna has a section for writers. On the page referenced by Jeanne Adams, Donna talks about Rooting Interests. (Since I’m a gardener I had to shift my perspective from propagation to writing.) I think by rooting Donna means that readers needs to “root for” a character. She describes the three rooting interests as empathy, humanistic traits, and admiration traits and says readers like characters with a mix from all three categories. The webpage referenced above gives lists of these characteristics.

The lists are a way to think about how to make your characters more interesting. Donna says you should have at least three “rooting interests” to make a character relatable. When readers relate, they turn the page. Check out Donna’s website for more information about this helpful writing technique.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – March 24, 2018

Six on Saturday are blogs about what’s going on in my garden. The idea came from a blog called The Propagator written by a guy in the UK. He invited people to snap 6 garden photos and post them on Saturday. If you want to jump in, he has guidelines on his blog.

This was the garden on Wednesday this week. We had about five inches of snow. I am hopeful the daffodils will be upright again in a few days.

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Write on Wednesday – March 21, 2018

How to Get to the End – a New Writing Tool

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One of the workshops I attended at Bay to Ocean Writers Conference (sponsored by Eastern Shore Writers Association) was presented by Jeanne Adams. The session was about plotting. I thought I was one of those people who didn’t always know the end of the book I was writing. Jeanne put that notion to rest.

I write Romantic Suspense with a paranormal twist. If you write Romance the ending has the couple getting together. Enough of the impediments to the relationship (that create conflict in the story) are ironed out so the couple has a future. I realized as Jeanne was talking that because I write a specific genre I already had the end of my book, I just didn’t know how to get there when I began plotting. Phew!

Seriously. A big Phew. When I started writing this third novel I knew that Yvie and Marc would get together. I just didn’t know how. But I equated the plot points with the ending. I could have saved myself alot of angst.

This is where the W Plot schematic comes in. It’s based on Michael Hauge’s Six Stage Plot Structure.  Originally used for scripts, the W works for ficiton as well. I’ve used Dara Mark’s plot arc as a tool in the past, but there was something about it that didn’t quite make sense. The W plot clicked for me. Because my novel has twins who each have a love interest I need to use two W plot devices and see how they intersect. My novel is so close to being finished, but I’m going to put the plot points on the W and see how I did. I keep feeling that there are a couple of small scenes missing. This might tell me what they need to be and where they should go.

For me, writing is primarily an intuitive process. And I love that about it. Having characters show up or go off in some weird direction is part of the fun. But having something concrete to hang things on will help me get over some rough patches.

Tip: You probably already know about PrintFriendly, but if you don’t…. Pull up PrintFriendly on your browser. Copy the URL from the Michael Hauge’s link and insert it in PrintFriendly to create a printable document. I like having that piece of paper in front of me.

 

 

 

 

 

Six on Saturday – March 17, 2018

1. I took this photo in the parking lot of the Harris Teeter grocery store where I was shopping for the weekend. It was really windy, but a woman from my yoga class pulled up and held the branch for me. Her gloves, which matched the unfurled buds, were a serendipitous addition to the photo.

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Write on Wednesday

I’m going to do a short post each Wednesday with a writing tip or link to a writing subject I’ve found helpful. I’m inviting all writers to join me on Wednesdays with a post or link in the comment section of my blog.

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Last Saturday was the 21st annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference. The first one in ten years in which I was not involved in the planning. I am thrilled to say it the new coordinators planned a terrific conference. In the past I was too whacked by conference day to attend anything. This year I actually attended sessions.

My Write on Wednesday tip is from a session led by Robert Bidinotto titled “Target Your Readers for Maximize Sales.”  Those of us who publish would really like to sell our books, but it’s the part that most of us hate, drag our heels or (like me) just ignore. Bidinotto had lots of good things to say, but the thing that made my head explode was about finding your niche of core readers by letting them know WHY you write what you write. It’s the WHY that will sell books.

He gave us a link to a Ted talk by Simon Sinek which talks about why people buy things. Sinek used examples of computers and cars, but it all applies to books. Here is the link if the video doesn’t show up. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4ZoJKF_VuA

 

Bidinotto invited us to think about the category we write and why we write that. Usually it’s because it’s what we believe. That knowledge should inform your marketing. The look of your book covers, the tag lines, your author website and bio. Market to the WHY not the WHAT.

I have a lot of work to do.

 

 

Six on Saturday – March 10, 2018

It’s a never ending miracle that things in the garden that should, by all rights, be dead, come to life in the Spring.

Usually the forsythia blooms before anything else in mid February. This year it is popping at the same time as the daffodils.

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Below is fennel that I grew last year from seed. When mature it has beautiful bronze foliage. In the fall it finally succumbed (I thought) to killing frosts and then weeks of bitter cold. But it is coming back. It creates something of a problem in terms of my being able to dig that raised bed.  The nearby trees send roots into the beds and if I don’t dig them every spring they become rootbound. The fennel will get set aside while I dig and then replanted.

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I have no idea how this hyacinth got into this particular bed near the hellebores. But it is blooming. You can see chrysanthemums sprouting below the flower.

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A bed of irises. These are a dark blue variety that a friend gave me. I mow my iris beds in the fall with the lawn mower and they don’t seem to mind at all. I do the same thing in the spring with lariope. I occasionally see signs of borers in my iris, but I only keep the ones that don’t seem too bothered. I am a lazy gardener.

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The pink metal birds below mark one edge of two septic tanks that I found when I was putting in garden beds. You can see the little pieces of rebar next to the bird stakes. I used those at first but kept tripping on them. Then I put acid green tennis balls on them. I kind of liked them, but they eventually faded in the sun. Having a stake in the middle of a path is something of a problem. Eventually I’ll get around to moving the stones. I need to know where the septic tank is because there’s not much soil on top of it which is how I found it in the first place when I tried to plant that flowering cherry tree.

Now that I see this photo I realize I need to move the start of the path between the birds. Duh! The sedums are easy to move.

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Another spring miracle. I was repotting agapanthas last fall and had leftovers. A friend had told me that hers were planted outside and usually made it through the winter, so I stuck some in the ground. And they are putting out new growth. The pot I brought inside didn’t bloom this winter. If these bloom this summer, all the agapanthas will get moved outside.

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That’s my six this week. We had more rain so the back garden is still flooded and I can’t work there yet. But this week the rest of the roses in the front of the house were cut back. I’m making progress.

On the Writing Front

The first draft of the play was emailed to the director.  Now I have to get back to my novel which was put on hold for a little while. I couldn’t manage to keep two sets of characters separate. Characters have a way of popping up where you least expect them.  A Hot Dish lady from a Christmas themed play doesn’t belong in a novel set in the Caribbean. Sort of like that pink hyacinth, except it is much more welcome.