Archive for February, 2014|Monthly archive page

Words on Wednesday- When the Words Won’t Come

In books, writing on February 12, 2014 at 8:58 am

Today’s post was inspired by a question asked on the facebook page of O.C. Writers. Yesterday, Ryan Stansifer asked the group, “When the rest of your life has drained you so badly the mere thought of writing is exhausting, what do you do to get those word counts done?”

It’s a simple question, but I had to seriously think about it. Not being able to get words on paper isn’t usually a problem for me, but as I told you a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been separated from my manuscript for so long, that I’ve had trouble getting back in touch with my characters.

Some writer’s take a break from their manuscript, and when you have been living in your book for too long, a break from your work can give you a fresh perspective. I’ve done this before, but this time…..a break is what caused the problem.

Writer’s with a deadline (or very disciplined writers) often force themselves to put their butt in their chair and put down a certain number of words. This is a great technique, sometimes it results in pages of ‘junk’, but even that can get you back in the flow, and you can always go back and cut or edit what you don’t like later.

One writer suggested working on a new project, a short story to get your creative juices flowing again and give you the satisfaction of completing something. I haven’t tried this technique yet, I never let myself stray from the project I’m on until it’s completed. I’m always afraid I won’t come back to finish. This could be the best advice for me, just because I’ve resisted it. You guys will make sure I finish my current novel if I go this way won’t you?

What I usually do, and this was the advice I shared with O.C. Writers, is read a good book. Preferably, one written by an author that I know personally. A good book always inspires me and makes me want to write. When it’s someone I know, it makes the possibility of having my own book published more real, more attainable, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have met some inspiring writers and have some great mentors on this journey.

But there is one thing I haven’t done, that just makes sense. I haven’t read my own manuscript through from cover to cover like a reader. I

thought this would be the first thing I did when I got back to work on my book, but the minute I picked up the manuscript I started line editing. Not my intent, but my reflex, I had to edit.

So, my goal today and tomorrow is to read my manuscript like a reader, not a writer. I’m going to download it to my kindle, so that I’m not tempted to edit, and read what I’ve written from cover to cover. I’ll let you know next Wednesday how this worked out.

Thank you Ryan Stansifer for asking the question, and O.C. Writers for all of the inspiration.


What do you do when you need a gentle push….or swift kick….to get yourself back on track?


Words on Wednesday-Hunky Hubby & Tari’s Excellent (but Soggy) Adventure

In Life Essays, quirks, writing on February 5, 2014 at 7:37 am

“It Never Rains in Southern California…it pours, man it pours.” Albert Hammond


On Sunday there was a torrential downpour here in Los Angeles. No I don’t mean a wimpy little California sprinkle. I mean a heavy rain, the kind that floods roads and causes landslides (it’s true, part of California on the little peninsula we live on slipped into the ocean on Sunday!) yep, a real winter rainstorm. But I wanted to go to the Los Angeles Romance Authors Chapter of RWA’s monthly meeting to hear Jennifer Miller, a.k.a. Jennifer Haymore of the not just your typical author pseudonym split personality, but editor/author split personality…speak. Now, as I said, I live on a peninsula on the farthest south side of Los Angeles, and LARARWA meets in ‘like ya know’ The Valley. Which you may or may not know is north of Los Angeles.

So, my hunky husband, Paul doesn’t even hesitate, just says “Let’s go!” and ushers me to the car. The rain starts out as a ‘wimpy little California sprinkle,’ but as we hit the 110 Freeway, just minutes from our house it grows heavy…and everyone knows that we California drivers (hunky husband excluded) don’t know how to drive in the rain. Additionally, anyone who knows me well, okay who knows me for even a few minutes, is likely to know that not only am I a defensive (read paranoid) driver, but I also am a defensive (still read paranoid) passenger, and I’m not fun to be with in a car…not on surface streets, worse on the freeway, and even worse on a freeway driving through Los Angeles in a TORRENTIAL DOWNPOUR. Did I mention it was raining heavily?

Since we haven’t gotten very far yet I tell my wonderful hunky hubby, who is willing to risk life and limb, not to mention 45+ minutes in a car in a Torrential Downpour (really, I’m not exaggerating a bit) on the 110 Freeway with his slightly (read massively) paranoid wife, just to get me to a romance writer’s meeting…hmm, I forget what I was saying…oh yeah! I tell my hunky husband, “Maybe we should just turn around, go home and curl up on the sofa and watch old movies.”

“Not a chance,” he says in his deepest, ‘trust me, I’m a man’ voice. And so we continue to Studio City…where as we arrive at our destination in the Torrential Downpour (I know, but really it was…it made the news!) the car starts giving us trouble. We park the car to attend the meeting, hoping the rain will let up by the time the meeting is over…and my loving, supportive and of course hunky hubby sits through the entire meeting with me.

Luckily, Jennifer Miller a.k.a. Jennifer Haymore was fabulous. The topic was deep editing, something I’m heavily into right now, and I can’t tell you how much I learned on Sunday…well, I would, but I’ve spent so much time writing about the trip there that I’ll have to tell you more about deep editing next week. I will tell you that it was more than worth every minute of the trip. I can say that, now that I’m safely home sitting at my computer!

So we leave the meeting, the one I’ll tell you about next week, and the car starts up fine. The Torrential Downpour has yet to let up, and we decide to drive a little way down Ventura Boulevard to see how it will run. It doesn’t get too far before it starts acting up again, so we pull into the parking lot of the World Famous Carney’s Restaurant, and if they weren’t world famous before I’m sure they will be now, because I just blogged about them. Did I mention they’re in a train? So, I suggest we call AAA. After all, that’s why we pay for the card every year and pay extra so that they will tow us all the way from Studio City to San Pedro…which is currently falling into the ocean…. But, of course, my hunky husband says, “No. Let’s have some lunch and if the rain slows down, I’ll take a look under the hood.”

Now, hunky hubby really is an ace mechanic, but we aren’t in his garage. We are in The Valley during a Torrential Downpour (I’m not kidding, Torrential Downpour just like in a story!) and I am now not only massively paranoid (read certifiably paranoid), but I’m hungry, so I simply say, “Okay.”

After a burger, chili fries and soda…look, I know they’re famous for their hot dogs, but I wanted a burger…it is still raining heavily (Torrential Downpour I’m telling you) but hunky hubby still vetos AAA. So we spend a little time shopping in the nearby strip mall. An hour or so and a couple of credit card transactions later, the Torrential Downpour decides to let up, momentarily. The car starts and runs fine, so hunky hubby decides to try driving home. Paranoid wife, much to hunky hubby’s dismay, refuses to be on the freeway in Los Angeles in a potential Torrential Downpour in a car that isn’t running properly, so hunky hubby sucks it up and takes surface streets home…from The Valley all the way to San Pedro…which is still sliding into the ocean!

We don’t get far before the car starts acting up again, which hunky hubby maintains is due to driving too slowly on surface streets…and of course the Torrential Downpour returns. As we get closer to home…and out of some ‘not so nice’ areas of Los Angeles, we decide to give the car a break and stop at a grocery store to buy Thanksgiving groceries, because clearly I won’t be driving anywhere to shop after this. I start to fill my cart with groceries and the power goes out in the store. We continue shopping, and just as a store employee approaches us to tell us that we must leave the warm dry store, the power is restored. Phew! We finish the shopping, but the car still isn’t running right. Imagine that. But of course, we are nearly home now, so AAA just isn’t going to happen.

Wait, what does this have to do with writing? Oh, yeah, I went to the wonderful LARARWA meeting and heard the very entertaining and truly informative speaker Jennifer Miller a.k.a Jennifer Haymore, who you really deserve to hear about but will now have to wait until next week. Really, I promise to share some of her tips on deep editing.

(This column was previously published at Fact to Fiction, but it’s one of my favorite posts, so I thought I’d share it here as well. Coincidentally, Jennifer Haymore will be speaking again at LARA February 16th. I think I need to go…..as long as there is no rain in the forecast!)

Just Me on Monday – Fear of Driving, Or Tari’s Three Mile Radius

In habits, quirks on February 3, 2014 at 2:26 pm

DSCI0199 - CopyTrains, planes or automobiles, it doesn’t really matter, I’m not a great traveler. It’s not that I don’t like to go places, it’s the getting there and getting back that’s a problem for me. I hate being in a car, I don’t like the take-off or landing in a plane….and strangely, I do better in small planes…. Trains, well, they just don’t seem to be that convenient.

I haven’t always been like this. When my oldest son was little, I would put him in the car, pack a picnic, and scrape up all the change I could for gasoline, and we’d go ‘exploring’. I really didn’t care where we went. Sometimes I’d ask my four year old son, “Which way should we go?” “Tell me when to turn.” It was just an adventure. In fact, that was pretty much the way we met Hunky Hubby. We had a destination, but we got lost and it didn’t really matter…because we were exploring.

After Hunky Hubby and I were married, I was pregnant with middle son, oldest son was in the passenger seat of my, oh so adorable Mustang Cobra with the sunroof, and we were crossing a major street, when a lady driving a VW Rabbit speeding, in the bus lane hit the passenger side of the car. I instinctively turned to protect my six year old, not that I could protect him from an oncoming car, but by doing so, may have protected my unborn middle son. When I turned to the side, I moved my belly away as the steering wheel collapsed into my thigh. I still have a dent in my thigh, although not noticeable, from the steering wheel. Although my cute Mustang was totaled, no one was hurt, and that was what really mattered. I have to admit that before this accident I didn’t always wear a seatbelt, but since this accident I have never started the engine of a car without my seatbelt on.

A few years later, we were living out in the high desert, I had all three of our sons in our Hyundai. We had just had a special treat, lunch out at Sizzler and were on our way home. We were on a two lane road with sandy shoulders. Another car was coming in the opposite direction when the driver bent down and disappeared from sight and drifted into our lane. I swerved off the road to avoid a head-on collision. Our car spun in a circle ending up facing the opposite direction as it rolled onto a dirt berm all the way onto the roof, then back down to land on all four wheels. For a moment as the car came to a stop there was complete silence, and I was terrified. Then the two younger kids began crying from the backseat, and I could see my oldest, in front with me, was fine. The other car took off, not even stopping to see if we were okay.

This was before cell phones, and the road we were on was not heavily traveled, so I was thankful when a garbage truck came by and called the police from their CB.  When the police officer arrived, the boys and I were standing by the car waiting. The officer got out of his vehicle, looked at ours, and asked where the bodies had been transported. That’s how bad the car looked. I don’t think I realized how bad it was until a few days later when Hunky Hubby took me grocery shopping. For some reason he had had the Hyundai towed to our house. When we got back from the grocery store I saw the remains of our car sitting there in the driveway and broke down in tears, thankful that we all made it out of that car alive.

I was told that with time I’d get over these experiences, but nearly twenty years since the second accident, I haven’t. I do drive, I never stopped, but I don’t go very far on my own…..unless I have to. I have driven  between Wyoming and California several times. On occasion I have driven to my OCC RWA meeting, thirty miles away. I can stretch my radius if I need to, but I’m not comfortable doing it, and I have to admit that on a couple of occasions I’ve gotten to my destination so shaken up that I haven’t been sure I could get myself back home.

We lived in the high desert for five years, and I never once drove out of that valley by myself. I probably only left the valley with someone a handful of times during those years. We moved to Casper, Wyoming, lived there for six years, and I never left Casper by myself. Someone else always had to take me.

A friend of mine once questioned my life, not going places very often. To be honest, it rarely bothers me. I’m quite content wherever I am. I like to do and see other things, and will occasionally push myself beyond my comfort level, but generally, I’m happiest at home. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on much.

Ray Bradbury, one of my favorite authors, didn’t drive, he had a chauffeur, and if I had the money, I would too. Maybe I would go more places, but it’s not as though I’m a great passenger either. When someone else is driving I sit on my hands to keep from reaching for the dashboard, and sometimes I find my foot pushing on a non-existent brake pedal. I’m a terrified passenger.

I couldn’t teach my boys to drive because I was afraid that my reactions to other cars would cause them to have an accident, or undermine their confidence. I don’t think they always understood. It wasn’t about my confidence in them, it was about my confidence in other drivers. This bothered me much more than limiting how far I drive.

Luckily for me, Hunky Hubby is a little bit of a male chauvinist (I think I’ve said this before) and he prefers to drive. He also has no problem dealing with my paranoia. He takes me anywhere I need to go, and pretty much anywhere I want to go….if I want to go badly enough.

I know some people who would have a problem living like this, and some who have a problem with the fact that I live like this, but I’ve learned that we all have our challenges. For me driving is a huge problem, for others hypochondria, fidelity, alcoholism, drugs, there are so many challenges we can struggle with in this life.

Anyone else out there afraid of driving? Anyone overcome this fear? What are your biggest challenges?