About K.J.

Dust bunnies are prolific throughout our lives and in the world. They hide in dark places, and when least expected they roll across the floor in silence.

What’s on Your Desk?

Every month I join with a group of writers to answer a question. These monthly writing questions are a fun way for me to let you into my writing life taking a look at the frustrations, successes, and, sometimes, the everyday.

Today’s question from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is: What are five objects we’d find on your writing desk?

My desk

Sitting at my desk there is a general clutter of a lot of stuff, most of which is paper. Paper is the bane of my life. Worse yet, it’s self-inflicted. I am old school from the days when everything was done on paper. Computers and smart phones were straight out of black and white sci-fi movies, and calculators were owned by the rich. Today, in our paperless society, I still think it’s important to get a paper receipt, solve simple math problems with pencil and paper, and scratch notes on a pad. The process of writing things out helps my creative process and keeps my brain from turning to mush.

What else do I have on my desk? There are usually one or two coffee cups, sometimes three. One cup I am actively drinking from, the second is the cold cup of coffee forgotten from the day before and the third is if I throw in a cup of tea during a late-night writing session.

Reference books are within reach. Which include Roget’s Thesaurus (4th Edition), a very old dictionary, 20,000 Words (yes, that’s a real book that is a simple listing of 20,000 words in alphabetical order), The Phrase Finder, and The Emotional Thesaurus. I have been asked why I don’t just use the reference materials found on the internet? It is, again, that creative process. I find that by using my hands to turn pages, the feel of the paper, and the search in a book is more stimulating than staring at the computer screen. It creates an ebb and flow in my mind that sometimes picks up an idea that would otherwise never find its way to the surface.

Of course, I have a computer on my desk (go figure!). This is my central station for writing. With all of my tools in the physical world, the final steps in creative writing happen on the computer. Inside this electronic notebook sized piece of technology is the entire world. Not only do I keep all my writing here (I do keep backups too), but my business, bills, and grocery lists exist here. I have had computers crash and for a horrifying moment I think I’ve lost everything, but guess what? Yep, you guessed it- I have a paper copy of everything I’m writing.

Hand colored print of my daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth thing? Well, it’s a group of things. Portraits of my family to be precise. There is a hand-colored photograph of my daughter that I created back when I was a photographer, along with two oil paintings of my son and husband created by my talented sister-in-law, Mary Scrimgeour. My family is my inspiration for life and these pieces of art remind me why I do what I do every day.

What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

 


This post was inspired by:

Who’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the December 5 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

~~~CHECK OUT ALL THESE GREAT WRITERS ON IWSG~~~

It’s a blog hop Powered by Linky Tools… Click here to enter

Writing Through It

One of my favorite days of the year is October first. Not only is it my husband’s birthday, but it is the day I mark to bring the Halloween decorations up from the basement. Halloween is at the top of my list for fun holidays. I dress for the Trick-or-Treaters and we pipe spooky music out of the upstairs window. My outdoor decorations are on the fun side rather than the creepy. I love the tiny tykes who are out for the first time in their princess crowns, ninjas, or ghost costumes.

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It doesn’t score high on my “fun holiday” list but, being a survivor it has risen to an important level for me. I went through treatment in 2015 and three years later I am thrilled that I am still cancer free.

A couple of questions were posed to me (Insecure Writers Support Group) about major life events and writing. The exact questions were: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Breast Cancer was definitely a major life event, and here is how it effected my writing – Cancer crushed it.

Early in 2014 I had changed my focus to writing. I attended Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference starting my uphill learning curve to write and publish a book. My brain was overloaded with the amount of information I had to absorb, but I was in for the long haul and I was happy.

Then late in November 2014 I found the lump. My entire life crumbled around me as I collapsed on the floor weeping. Cancer? Me? How? Why? Treatment began in earnest on Christmas Eve.

Did this event affect my writing? I’d say a very loud YES. Did writing help me through it? Again, I yell, YES. But, it helped me through it in a way most people aren’t expecting. When I am emotionally raw I do not write about it. I don’t keep a journal. More often than not I collapse inward curled in a ball. Once the pain subsides I will reawaken moving on in my life.

Cancer was a big blow not only to my emotional well-being, but my physical as well. One of the big side effects that many non-cancer people are unaware of is “chemo-brain”. When a patient receives chemotherapy not only is the entire body decimated, the brain is too. Sometimes the damage lasts for years afterward.

Chemo-brain effects memory, cognition, problem solving, logic, and an array of other things that happen in the old noggin. Trying to write while impaired was an immense challenge for me. The harder I tried to think of a word the further out of reach that word went. My brain was thick slog. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, sentence structure, and spelling were not just elusive at times, but completely gone. I remember many days not being able to remember enough about sentence structure to make much more than babble.

This highly frustrating process of writing babble is what helped my brain begin healing. I forced myself to write a little bit here and there no matter how awful the story progressed. I wrote short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and all sorts of other garbage just to find the words again – making mental connections.

Three years later the struggle to write has lessened. When I need a word I can more easily find it. There are still residual mis-connections up there, but my doctor assures me that this will eventually pass. Keep writing and keep healing.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I ask you to take the time and make a contribution to the organization of your choice. My personal favorite is the American Cancer Society. If you would like to read my cancer story you can link to part one, Dread in the Dark, here.

I also hope that you have a very Spook-tacular Halloween!!

Until next time….


This post inspired by The Insecure Writers Support Group. Our awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

 

This is also a BLOG HOP! Click here to enter.

Traditional or Self Publishing?

It is already September and I haven’t written a post since early August. Last month was beyond busy so this blog was set aside, until now. It is time to turn over a new leaf and begin posting at least once per week. It is a simple goal and I am excited to get started with this post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The question for September?

What publishing path are you considering to take, and why?

Each day I get closer and closer to completing The Manx and I have just started to scratch the surface of how to publish it. There are two ways to go:

  1. Self Publish
  2. Traditionally Publish

Both are beneficial.

Self publishing gives the author the freedom and flexibility to make all of the decisions regarding publication. The author, alone, takes on the role of publisher (and the costs involved) by doing the marketing, setting prices, securing an editor and agent. By doing this the author keeps all the profits – if any – to themselves. There is no publisher who wants a piece of the pie. Yet, all of the work falls on the writer which takes away from the writing itself.

Traditional publishing is, as it sounds, done through traditional process of finding a publisher who will coordinate many aspects of getting your book from your computer to print. The financial responsibility is shifted away from the author, but the publisher collects all profits and shares them with the author through royalty checks. On average an author can expect 10% on a hardcover which increases as sales increase.

Both have benefits. It is up to the individual author to choose which method they want to pursue. For me, I am leaning toward traditional. I know myself. I’m not very good at tooting my own horn so my marketing would fail if I self published. My skin isn’t very thick either and I have a hard time saying ,”No”. A traditional publishing house will, I hope, be strong in the areas I am not resulting in better sales.

Now What?

For now, I will keep writing and working toward the day I type, The End. 

What’s New?

In the mix of working on The Manx, I found the need to write something else. It happens to me on a regular basis. So I started something VERY different for me; a cozy mystery. Murder in Sulfur Gulch  is turning out to be quite fun to write. It is funny, light, and has started to twist and turn. It is slowly turning into a prequel to The Manx so I hope they will organically turn into books #1 and 2. I’ll let you know as I progress.

It’s a Blog Hop!!

As with all posts for IWSG posts this is a blog hop. Check out the other writers who take part in this monthly post.

Click here to start hopping!

This post inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

Changes

The first Wednesday of the month I normally dedicate to a post from #IWSG. This month the question posed is, “What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?” I have not gone through publication so I am looking forward to learning from others. Click here to join the blog hop.

 

Instead, I am sharing some good news! Over the past few years I have been a Contributing Editor for the Pikes Peak Writers blog, Writing From the Peak. My main contributions were posts celebrating the successes of our members through Sweet Success. I still have the pleasure of sharing the good news when a member publishes a book, has a short story picked up by an anthology, has a book signing, or been honored with an award. Now I have accepted to step up to Managing Editor.

 

Deadlines are best met early.

 

It has only been a week since I jumped into the hot seat, and it has been great. Thankfully my learning curve is not the size of the Grand Canyon. I already have two blogs I keep up with. Both are WordPress –PPW’s as well–so I have that part pretty well figured out. Scheduling has been a little bit of a trick, but the further ahead I schedule the less stress I have. Deadlines are best met early.

 

My favorite part, so far, is getting to know everyone. I have met several contributors in person, and have virtually met others. Reading their submissions has been wonderful. There are so many ways a single subject can be presented. Just take a look at the different posts that are generated through #IWSG’s blog hop. Fantastic!

 

After adventuring through #IWSG’s blogs, hop over to PPW’s site too. There is a plethora of posts on everything writing.

 

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Today’s post inspired by :

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the August 1 posting of the IWSG are Erika Beebe,Sandra Hoover, Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!
….and by:

Writing Goals

Over the past few years I have read a lot about the importance of setting goals. Not just personal goals, but for writing as well. One challenge many writers face (including myself) is procrastination. Goal setting helps stave this off which allows us to postpone those things in life that can wait a few hours while we write.

There are two kinds of goals: long term and short term.  It is through many sets of short term goals that the long term goals are reached. Take writing for example. I my case, in order to write a book (my ultimate goal) I had to set about achieving some smaller goals first. In order to show you my process let’s go back a few years.

It was about five or six years ago I decided my career needed a change from MLMs to something that, at the very least, wouldn’t cost me any money. My MLM businesses were resounding failures and I wasn’t getting any younger. Back then, my daughter was talking non-stop about writing and studying creative writing in college so I thought that I could too. Well, not study in college, but to find other avenues that would achieve the same thing.

My first small goal was to learn everything I could about writing fiction, specifically fantasy/sci-fi. A friend recommended I attend a writer’s conference (Pikes Peak Writers) to get started. It was also recommended to read what I wanted to write. I already read a lot (I still go through about 80-90 books a year), but now I read as writer. Today, I am still learning to write. I don’t think anyone who writes ever stops learning, but I think I have taken a major chunk out of the beast. 

My next smallish goal was to start writing. I knew I could write, after all I did write for a local mountain newspaper and a few articles were accepted online that actually paid real money. Even though they were short, journalistic pieces, I was still a published writer. Someone liked what I wrote, so I should be able to write a book too (my ultimate goal).

Another small goal I set was to write on a regular basis. This one has been a little hit or miss, but I do work at it. Every February I do the 28 Days of Writing Challenge and in April I started the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Both of these challenges fit my relaxed style. I also do a monthly post with the #IWSG. I did try NaNoWriMo once and I was so stressed out it nearly made me sick. I work on my book, at the very least, once per week, write book reviews as I finish a book (I don’t have time to write a review on every book, but some do get written), and poke a stick at around writing short stories. One day I’ll write everyday (another ultimate goal), but for now I am happy where I’m at.

My ultimate writing goal has not changed over the past five or six years: finish writing a novel of at least 80,000 words. I don’t have a specific time frame, but if it is done before I die then that will be a good thing. It is through the accomplishment of many smaller goals, done over and over again, that it will be written. I look forward to writing, THE END.

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Today’s blog post is inspired by:

 

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

 

July 3 question of the month- What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

The awesome co-hosts for the July 3 posting of the IWSG are Nicki Elson, Juneta Key, Tamara Narayan, and Patricia Lynne!

 

****IT’S A BLOG HOP!!****
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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

 

Write Like a Photographer

I am a writer with a background in photography.  In creating a photograph, I consider every corner of the frame, along with every item within that frame. I look to see if there are any annoying objects, or things that detract from my final product. Is there a tossed away cup in the background? If so, does it contribute to the whole, or is it just a trashy distraction? If it is just a distraction, then the cup is removed, the shot tossed, and the scene re-photographed.

When you write a scene, visualize it like a photograph. Be sure all the pieces contribute to the whole. Look at every character, smell, and sound. Let’s say your protagonist is walking through a village square where there is a cacophony of activity. A mason toils over a piece of granite. You might be tempted to go into great detail. After all, this mason is sweaty, dirty, and a detailed description of him is a metaphor of the square. Ask yourself why is the mason there? Does the mason support the scene by adding to the mood or is the hammering just an annoyance like the discarded cup in the background?

Now, take the mason and widen the scene out and up. There is a window above him. What do you see? On your first draft you may have missed the window because you distracted by the mason. Is there a shadowed figure at the window? The mason is a good tool to help your reader visualize the scene as a whole, but don’t spend too much time on him. After all, the mason was a small tool to add flavor to a scene and draw the reader to the point that is most important, the figure in the window. A scene should have color that brings your story to life, but don’t over paint it.

View your book in a series of still photographs. Check each one to be sure there are no discarded cups hiding in the background. Look for anything that doesn’t fit and crop it out. These small (and sometimes large) changes will make the difference between a so-so manuscript and a dynamic one. When a photographer shoots, there are thousands of images that fall into a scrap heap. The same is true in writing. Thousands of words will spill into the trash and overflow onto the floor. That is OK. Keep taking words out, and putting words in. Write and re-write until you get that feeling; that giddy feeling when you know that you have written something amazing.