Is Writing a Natural Gift?

I’ve been asked if writing is a natural gift or if it can be acquired or learned.

Of course it always helps to have a bit of natural skill but that’s true of everything, not just writing. People born with the skill needed to throw a ball toss it with more ease than those who had to practice. But both can do it well. The same thing applies to writing.

With this one caveat:

Even if you are a born storyteller, styles change. The kind of stories people enjoyed reading a hundred years ago may not be the kind most people enjoy reading today. Life is now faster and stories had better not take too long to get to the point or readers will stop reading.

So even if you were born with the gift of storytelling, craft is important and so is practice. And more practice. And still more practice.

Flowers As Messengers

I love when my sister sends on the ads she gets from the place in Missouri where she buys quilting material. I asked the company (can’t remember the name. Sorry) if I could use their ads and they said ‘yes’ as long as I give them credit. So when I remember their name, I’ll pass it along. In the meantime, this is great:

You know how different flowers have different meanings? Like yellow roses represent friendship and light red carnations represent admiration. When I saw today’s Deal I looked up hydrangeas and guess what? White hydrangeas (such a gorgeous flower) represent vanity and boasting. Well ok! Why in the world is there a flower to represent vanity and boasting? What are you supposed to do with it? Give it to someone you think is stuck-up? Only plant it in your garden if you want to be a show off? I guess you could do that. Or you could add a little blue hydrangea, which is conveniently a symbol for understanding, and just embrace it as the sweet and beautiful flower it is!

Ghosts and Other Story Starters

You might recognize this image because once I found it I saved it to use again when appropriate. Like now.

I’m finally, finally, finally getting the hang of writing about ghosts. Never thought changing just one little thing in the stories I’m telling would create such angst. But it did. Had to research ghosts and the paranormal, which was both interesting and laughable. Then had to decide how my particular ghost would fit in the story. Then had to rewrite a lot because I forgot my own ‘ghost’ rules and went astray.

But it’s all done now and I’m rather pleased with the result. A ghost who simply wants to ‘cross over’ and needs help to do so.

And, of course, having done all that research and figured out how ghosts can fit in my stories, the book after this first ‘ghost’ book will also be a ‘ghost’ story.Is this where I should say ‘boo?’Maybe.

Anyway, Happy Halloween a little early because I’m thinking about ghosts and they are a Halloween staple.

Autumn Campfires and S’mores

I think of autumn as campfire season because the weather is cool enough to enjoy the heat of the fire and too warm for there to be snow. A plus is that the summer mosquitoes are pretty much gone.

Of course marshmallows, Hershey bars, and graham crackers that become S’mores when the marshmallows are roasted just make the campfire that much better.

I learned to my surprise that everyone has their own version of S’mores. Ours is using the chocolate fudge that we make and sell instead of Hershey bars. It’s great! The other day I wondered how many versions of S’mores there are. I suspect there are a great many!

Below is our campfire in all its glory.

The Vortex

Here’s the cover for my next book, THE VORTEX, to be published soon by Winged Publications.

It’s a time travel romance. It shows how disrupting traveling in time can be even if the time jump isn’t huge. Just 10 years. But that’s enough. More than enough.

If you want to find out what I’m talking about, you’ll have to wait for publication. But that won’t be too long. A week or so if Winged Publications follows their usual schedule, which is pretty much breakneck speed.

Welcome Autumn

Autumn is here. Not everywhere yet, the landscape isn’t entirely red and gold and yellow and purple and all the other more subtle colors that come with this season. But they are coming.

I love autumn. I feel sorry for people who live where there is no change of seasons. No autumn.

Come for a visit, autumn-deprived people, and I’ll put the coffee on.

The Time Vortex — Maybe

I’m close to the end of my new manuscript, a novella to become part of a boxed set of clean, time travel romances. It’s about a woman who goes swimming in a pond with signs that clearly say ‘no swimming’ because she doesn’t believe the undertow exists that the sign warns against.

Of course she doesn’t it’s a tiny pond in the Midwest, not a beach on the ocean. But the sign was right and she’s pulled into the depths of the pond — and into a time warp.

Guess that says whether we should obey signs or not!

Anyway, the boxed set will be published probably in February of 2021 so you’ll have to wait until then to read the complete story.

And it might be named The Time Vortex. Or it might not. That’s the working title but I’m still thinking there might be a better title. Any ideas?

I’ve Been Asked: What’s a Pantser

What’s a pantser?

A pantser is one of the two types of writers. The other type is the ‘plotter.’

Let’s start with plotters. They plan the story in detail before putting a single word on the page. How much detail depends on the author. Some create elaborate graphs, page-long descriptions of every character and every situation and every setting. Others write outlines that aren’t so detailed but that do show where the story is going and how it will get there.

Pantsers, on the other hand, get the flash of an idea, run to their computer before they lose it, plop the seat of their pants to the seat of the chair and start writing and don’t stop until their imagination runs dry, their kids need food, or they are about to die of thirst themselves.

Both have their good points and their bad points.

I started out as a pantser but switched to plotting when I realized that, like most pantsers, I ended up rewriting an entire manuscript many, many times before it became a cohesive story. That’s the problem with pantser writing. If you don’t have the entire story in your mind before you start writing — and keep it there during the process — you can end up going down a lot of wrong paths.

So I became a plotter but I don’t like spending more time plotting than writing, so my ‘plot’ is what’s usually called a synopsis. I write a brief — 2 or 3 sentences at the most for each — description of my characters, story, and the problem the story faces. Then I write another 1 or 2 sentences describing each chapter. More and it’s too detailed to be useful to me because sometimes changes must happen, but, with a synopsis, I at least know how I planned the story and can adapt the changes to fit the story or change the story to fit the changes without too much effort because nothing was so detailed to begin with that it can’t be changed.

So there you have it. Pantseers versus plotters. Choose whichever works for you and feel free to change your way of writing at any time.