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.

The Healer is the Last of The Wilderness Women Series

The Healer is the last of the Wilderness Women series and is my favorite of the moment. Of course, every book I write is my favorite until the next one is finished.

Still, there’s something special about this book, or so I’ve been told by several readers. (Okay, after I realized how many typos it contained because I edited it during the peak of the Covid 19 scare and my mind was elsewhere. But I re-edited it and the typos are gone. I hope.)

It’s been suggested that the ‘something’ is that I’m writing about things I know intimately, namely the North Woods and precocious kids. The North Woods because I’ve lived here a good number of years. Precocious kids because my family specializes in them.

Started with my mom who was tied to a tree like a puppy when she was a toddler because my grandmother didn’t know how else to contain her while hanging laundry. It should be noted that my mother ended up in Who’s Who in Education.

My oldest son didn’t need as much sleep as I did even when he was an infant. My doctor said he’d outgrow it by the time he was twelve. The doctor lied! He’s still going strong and is a gust of energy in every situation!

One granddaughter, one grandson, three great-granddaughters and who knows how many others have inherited that trait. Energy plus, IQs off the chart, creativity, and caring personalities. Every one of them.

So, like the main character in The Healer, I learned to let them go wherever they chose because it wasn’t possible to stop them and to just hang on and enjoy the ride.

If you’re interested, here’s the link: http://www.Amazon.com/dp/B08B1QTYJK

Making the Bed

Who knew that a simple task such as making a bed could be so complicated. Of course it isn’t for many people. Those who don’t have cats. If you do have a cat, you know what I mean when I say that they complicate a lot of things. Like working on a computer. And making up a bed.

Cats think computers are their personal play space. Once I had to take my computer to be fixed because somehow Smoke made everything on the screen upside down. When I explained that my cat had played on the keyboard, I was told that it’s a known fact that all cats in this area are focused on creating havoc on all computers in this area.

I believe it.

Not beds, though. As far as beds are concerned, cats don’t destroy anything. Instead, they are as helpful as can be. They do everything in their power to help make it up. Like scooting beneath the sheets as I spread it over the bed. And burrowing into the blankets when they are laid over the sheets when said sheets are finally, eventually where they belong.

And then, when everything is approximately where it belongs, cats take possession of the entire bed.

If I’m lucky, there’s space for me to sleep.

If I’m lucky —

A Day At The Beach 2020

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Lovely beach. Lovely day. I enjoyed it totally.

Of course, this is 2020, the year of the Covid 19 pandemic. Because of that minor fact, my day at the beach was somewhat different than previous summer beach days.

This beach was my son’s backyard. He lives on a lake, thank goodness, because that meant I could visit and experience the full benefits of a beach vacation without worrying about masks, infection, social distancing or any of the other things that are part of our daily lives this year.

It was wonderful!

Coffee Makers

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Who knew coffee makers could be dangerous? I didn’t.

The other morning, our smoke alarm went off. You know how it goes, there’s no smoke so we shut it off. It went off again. We shut it off again. It went on still again. And so on and on and on until we were irritated and figured the smoke alarm was malfunctioning.

We checked the house just in case, of course, and there was no smoke anywhere. We checked the electrical outlets and they were all fine. So it had to be the smoke alarm malfunctioning and to prove it, we removed it from the ceiling and took it outside where we thought it would continue screaming at us in the clean, fresh, clear air.

It didn’t continue. It stopped. So we took it back inside and it started screaming again, which meant that there truly must be smoke somewhere that we couldn’t smell but the smoke alarm could.

So we checked the entire house again. Nothing. Finally my daughter said that we might as well enjoy a cup of coffee during our search and went to pour herself a cup from the pot she’d already started. And discovered that the coffee maker was so hot that it was about to burst into flames.

We now have a new coffee maker, a house that didn’t burn down, and a very healthy respect for smoke alarms.

From My Living Room

As I sit and contemplate life in my oh-so-comfortable recliner with the blinds closed against the sun, I can’t help but notice the silhouette of the desert plants that are now in the planter that used to contain basil that my daughter put there when the basil outgrew them.

So now I’m contemplating the silhouette as well as life and enjoying the unexpected art that is my window and will suffice until the sun reaches the other side of the house and I once again open the blinds.

Such is life this summer, with horizons less wide and smaller things than usual catching my attention.

I Went Against My Own Rule

I have a rule about charging for my books. I never put them on sale. Never. Ever.

There’s a reason for my decision and it’s mostly economic and, no, the economic reason isn’t based on how much money I make from book sales because if it was I’d probably put them on sale often.

Instead I decided that Warren Buffett was right when he said that if something is put on sale, then people will not only expect it to be on sale often, they’ll consider it worth only the sale price. Plus they’ll never, ever, pay full price again because they’ll wait for the sale that they’ll expect because it was on sale before.

Well, though that makes sense to me and is a good reason never to put my books on sale, I recently kind of forgot my own rule and put The Christmas House on sale for 99 cents for the rest of July as part of the Winged Publications celebration of Christmas In July. Their enthusiasm did that to me. Made me forget my own rule.

Soooo — The Christmas House is on sale now and for the rest of the month, after which it’ll go back to it’s original price and will never, ever again be on sale.

So if you happen to want to read it and are watching your pennies, this might be a good time to buy it.

Just saying —-

Big words or simple ones?

I’ve been asked a writer question: To write a fiction or non-fiction story, which is more preferred, simple and straightforward words or big vocabulary words with a lot of twists and hidden meanings like literature, poetry, and such?

Hmmmmm. Whether to use big vocabulary words or simple, straightforward ones?

Think about it. Writing is communication. Communication is the act of getting an idea from your brain into the brain of another person.

Which will do the job best? Big vocabulary words that some people think make them look intelligent —- or simple, straightforward words that actually convey meaning?

Simple, straightforward words, of course.

Add to that answer the fact that simple, straightforward words are known by more people than big vocabulary words and your answer is reinforced because there are many reasons for not having a large vocabulary and many — perhaps most — of them have nothing to do with intelligence, such as reading in a language other than your native one, having had a less than advantageous upbringing, having a mental glitch (from birth or accident) that makes language difficult, and so on. There are lots of reasons. But most people know enough simple, straightforward words to get the gist of what’s being said. If not, they wouldn’t be reading.

The trick is to take those simple, straightforward words and put them together in such a way as to truly communicate. To touch someone’s heart. To show them truth in a way they’ve never considered before. To write awesomely.

I have basil!

My oldest son gave me this planter for Mother’s Day. I thought it was cute and that I’d find things to put in it. You know the kind of things I mean. Safety pins. Car keys. Anything small that I didn’t know what to do with.

I didn’t take my daughter into consideration. I have no green thumb at all. I can kill a plant just by looking at it. But Sharon is different. She gardens. And plants. And finds all kinds of pretty containers to grow things in.

She took one look at that triple planter and decided it was perfect for growing basil. So she planted it and now we have fresh basil for spaghetti and anything else that it makes taste better.

Plus, it looks great in the window.

Only thing is, it’s growing. And growing. And growing. I wonder if we’ll have to find a larger pot to grow basil in. If that happens, maybe I’ll have a place to put safety pins, car keys and anything else I don’t know what to do with.