Can it be? Can it really, truly be?
Yes! It is! I believe it really, truly is!
February...I hear February approaching...and my heart sings. Warms. Is hopeful.
In case you don't regularly read this blog, you won't know that January has stunk. Big time. Well now you know. As I used to say when I was a kid, "It rots." Or, in this case, rotted. Because hey, it's almost over and that is cause enough for celebration!
Me? I'm baking a cake today. A big chocolate cake with lots of candy flowers on top. There's even going to be candles to blow out before we cut the cake. Oh yes, today's a day for celebrating! January may have cut the cheese but February? It's a whole new ball game.
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Can it be? Can it really, truly be?
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
One of the oft-discussed topics in writers' groups is the Pants vs. Plot Theory. Never heard of it? Well, to some it's right up there with Big Bang, Oedipus and Einstein's musings on relativity.
The Pants/Plot Theory infers there are basically two types of writers.
Plotters are calculated, focusing on details, character arcs, dialogue and, most importantly, plot. They map everything out, even if only in their minds. They know the beginning, middle and ending of a story before actually sitting down to write. They have focus, and follow their calculated writing agenda closely.
The term "pantsers" is derived from the other side of the Pants/Plot Theory coin. Those who adhere to this method of writing do so "by the seat of their pants"-- choosing to simply sit down and put fingers to keyboard, follow their characters' leads and let the story take them where it will. They generally have no set agenda other than telling the story, no focus other than that given to them each day by the unraveling plot.
Plotter? Focused and driven? Or pantser? Carefree and spontaneous?
I generally keep mum when the whole P/P Theory comes up. My lips lock tighter than Scrooge's pursestrings and feel more determined than Sisyphus with his stone. Why? Good God, isn't it obvious? In my mind I hear gales of laughter over the admission that I don't know which side of the theory best describes me, my writing. I mean, really, how can I let on I don't know whether I'm a Pantser or a Plotter? It almost seems sacrilegious, doesn't it? So I keep quiet, something that doesn't, I assure you, come naturally to me.
When it comes right down to it I suppose I'm a little bit of both. The panster side has written a number of stories with little more than a hazy idea of where the characters are heading. I usually have an ending in mind, but how to get there? Open for discussion, if only between me and my characters. There have been many times, however, when I've carefully, chapter by chapter and scene by scene, outlined an entire book. Right now, in fact, I've got all 30 chapters of a chick lit novel on file. I've even got bits of dialogue, character traits and notes on settings. There's also a mainstream novel outline languishing in my files. It's about a mail-order bride finding her way in a new culture. That one just needs fleshing out before it can (almost) be called ready for submission. Yes, the notes are so substantial they're nearly a novel.
Hmm... Pantser? Plotter? It might be easier to discuss the Kepler Conjecture than to take a definite stand on this one. Pardon? The Kepler Conjecture? Oh, it's got to do with sphere packing. Kepler's just about proven, nearly a theorum, which is a lot more than I can say about my own Pants/Plot conundrum.
I think I'm going to have to stay on the fence about this one. No, I just can't take a stand on which side of the theory best describes my writing methods. Stand...hmm? I wonder which method Steve (Mr. King) ascribes to? I'll have to take out my dog-eared copy of On Writing and refresh my memory.
What about you?
If you're a writer, which best describes your writing style? Pantser? Plotter? Or do you have your own theory?
And if you're not a writer, what's your plot for getting through a rainy Wednesday? And, are you planning to keep your pants on? Because, really, about the pants? We writers want to know!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008
I am so amused by this story! A library book turned up in a Wisconsin book drop box last month--after being gone for 57 years. The book? Northern Lights by Roger Vercei. Published in 1948, the last checkout date stamped in the book is from 1950.
Don't you wonder where it's been?
I'd love it if one of my books was checked out and not returned for nearly six decades! Of course I'd like to believe Northern Lights was so well loved the borrower couldn't bear to part with it.
The whole story is here.
Posted by Sarita at 8:48 AM
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Almost over! January is nearly at an end and you know what that means, don't you? We're coming down to the last few days to enter my January Contest!
Just leave a comment on this blog site during the month of January and you'll be entered in a drawing to be held February 1st. The prize? An autographed copy of Vineyard Mambo, my upcoming mystery release. Vineyard Mambo will be out on March 1st and one lucky blog commenter, picked completely at random, will receive their copy of this book as soon as I get my first shipment of books.
It's an easy-entry contest. Come on, won't you talk to me? Fast, painless and you just might be one of the first to read Vineyard Mambo!
I've already answered business emails, "chatted" on readers' loops, contributed to authors' loops and am now here with you, sharing a blog post. The list is tiresome enough to make me want to turn and head for the bedroom! The warmth of our down comforter calls me, but I resist. After all, I've still got work to do and precious few hours to do it. I'm finishing up a cookbook I'm writing, hoping to get it done by tomorrow at the latest. I anticipate a flurry of activity connected to the release of Vineyard Mambo, my second novel, so this cookbook has got to be done. Soon. So, I push on.
I'm reminded of a line from Ann Landers. I read it a long time ago and jotted it in a small leather notebook I keep in my desk drawer. That book is filled with little reminders of things that made an impression on me. The line?
Opportunities are disguised by hard work, so most people don't recognize them.
I love being a published author. But don't kid yourself. This is an opportunity disguised, like Ms. Landers said, by hard work.
Now, a cookbook calls...more loudly than the warmth of my bed.
Have a great day!
Posted by Sarita at 5:41 AM
Saturday, January 26, 2008
It's Saturday and I don't much feel like blogging about anything serious. I mean, it's the weekend, right? Shouldn't we all kick back and relax a bit on the weekend? If we lived in Australia we'd be enjoying the luxury of a three-day weekend right now, but since Monday's not a holiday in the US we've got to eek out every moment of enjoyment from the weekend we can.
So...nothing hot, heavy or serious this morning, all right?
There is, however, a topic I'd like to discuss with you. Something that's been bugging for me for quite some time. Who knows? Maybe it's been bothering you, too.
What's on my mind?
Pockets. That's it--pockets. In particular, the pocket on women's winter pajamas. I just want to know why that left breast pocket is there, on every pair of ladies' pajamas I buy. Every single pair. I've looked for nightwear without that dratted pocket but they're nearly impossible to find.
Why is that, I wonder? Is this some sort of garment maker conspiracy? A pocket plot? An attempt to drive women everywhere mad trying to find a pair of pocketless jammies?
Or, a thought that troubles me even further...is there a purpose to the breast pocket? One that I'm missing completely? And if there is actually a reason for a pocket on pajamas, why hasn't anyone told me about it? Am I the only one who's clueless about this issue?
Now that's even more disturbing! I don't want to be clueless about anything! Why haven't I been informed on the nighttime pocket protocol? Why? I pay my taxes. I'm a good, upstanding citizen. I assist the elderly, children and small animals across the street when the need arises. Why, then, am I being kept in the dark about pajama pockets?
What am I supposed to be putting in that pesky pocket? My cell phone? A pair of reading glasses? A peanut butter and jelly sandwich in case I feel a hunger pang sometime around 2am? What? Won't someone please take mercy on me and clue me in on what's supposed to fill my pajama pocket? Please?
And this was supposed to be a stress-free, easygoing blog post, wasn't it? Why, then, do I wish I'd tucked a small--
Aha! I think I might know what's supposed to go in that pajama pocket!
Friday, January 25, 2008
Ah, the 25th.
Finally, January's winding down. I'm not one to typically wish time away. Quite the contrary, in fact. I usually long to freeze time, hold it captive, keep it from slipping away. I treasure moments spent with family and friends, love the time I spend on ordinary stuff--writing, gardening, shopping. Even doing the dishes and laundry amuse me. As I said, I never wish time away. It is too precious. There is no retrieving a moment once it's lost.
But between us? I'm thrilled January is winding down. Honestly, this month has been so lousy I'll gladly fling open the door for February, hold it wide so this jarring January can make a grand exit. I'll have to resist the urge to kick the waning month in the behind as it leaves. Just doesn't seem sporting, does it? To slam a bedraggled month in the tail? No, I'll just wait for it to leave on its own--with a whimper or wail, I don't much care. Just so long as it leaves.
The 25th, huh? Only a few more days to go before The Love Month arrives. Hearts. Flowers. Cupid.
Who knows? Maybe we'll have heat by then.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
If they say it's going to be delivered in 2-3 days, don't believe them.
They really mean 5 days. Or more.
I won't go into detail about the events of the past four weeks. Not the personal ones, anyway. I'll spare you any sadness on this cold, windy, snowy northeast morning. Instead I'll give a brief glimpse into the mechanical details of what's been going on here.
Really, it's all true. Every last word of it. And remember, this isn't a plot for a Stephen King wannabe novel. It's real life.
Let's start at the beginning...
Imagine, if you will, a New Year's kiss. Two hearts, two souls, in love. The touch of lips, an exchange of smiles, murmured words. A pair toasting the passing of another year spent together and the hope of a new one looming before them.
But before the last of the bubbly is drained there is a sound. It isn't the popping of another cork or the strains of Auld Lang Syne. No, it's something sinister. Ominous. A sound that makes the blood in our romantic duo's collective veins run cold.
The furnace. It rumbles. Belches smoke. It fills the house with a foul, burning smell. The champagne flutes slam down on the coffee table as the woman runs to open windows and the man flies down basement stairs to hit the emergency shut-off button.
Several service calls and eight days later, the furnace rumbles, snorts, spews smoke and stench one last time. Then, it is silent. Forever.
But by now our couple has suffereed a personal tragedy. They hardly notice the furnace's demise. It seems inconsequential compared to their personal grief. The furnace is, after all, just a thing.
Too, they have a pellet stove, as well as a woodstove. Those, they figure, will get them through the cold weeks ahead. They take their time choosing a new heating system. An upgrade is planned, researched and calculated. Things begin to look up for our couple.
Then the unthinkable happens. The second week into the new year, on Sunday morning no less, the pellet stove groans. Grinds. Sends a noxious odor into the cooler-than-usual house. Again, hearts seize as the couple investigates. Doesn't this little pellet stove realize it's Sunday? A day when all is holy?
Apparently the pellet stove is not a devout soul.
It gives up the ghost and the couple is left huddled around the woodstove. They stare anxiously at the dwindling firewood supply. The wind howls and snow flies. The house cools still further.
Motors--the cause of the current crisis, it seems. The pellet stove has motors. And motors wear. Die. But motors can be replaced. Ah! A bright spot in the couple's otherwise-dim January!
Monday morning, new motors are ordered. They are scheduled to arrive within 2-3 days. The couple believes it will happen. After all, they've had such a run of terrible luck in the new year it seems only right something should go their way. Wouldn't you think?
Day four arrives. This morning, the woman who feels by now as if Cujo is hiding behind her withered rose bush and Christine has replaced the trusty Toyota in the garage, dials the number of the people who supposedly sent the replacement motors--the ones that should have arrived yesterday. Or the day before, even.
The voice on the other end of the line says the motors may arrive tomorrow. Maybe. Or the day after. Probably. But no, they won't arrive today. Day four. Even though they were only supposed to take 2-3 days to get here to freezing cold upstate New York--where the couple is no longer drinking champagne, no longer toasting the New Year!
Just a word to the wise. When they say whatever you need will take 2-3 days to arrive, don't believe them.
They aren't telling the truth. It will take longer than 2-3 days, no matter what they say. How friendly they sound. No matter how much you want to believe them.
Don't believe them. And be on the lookout for whatever headed your way next. A clown, maybe, with a big red nose. Big clown feet. Me? I'm keeping my eyes open.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have a new novel coming out on March 1st. It is a mystery called Vineyard Mambo. Not a hard core, blood-and-guts, gory and grisly story, but a cozy. I am so jazzed to see this story in print.
What is Vineyard Mambo about? Well, I'm so glad you asked...
Anna Romeo and her hunky Italian husband, Tony, are pulled into the mystery surrounding the death of one of their small town's least-liked residents. Arson, home invasions and more bring everyone living in Milton Falls deeper into the mystery. But with the help of Tony's grandfather and Anna's uber-intellignet cat, Anna and Tony just might be able to figure things out in time for the annual Zucchini Festival to take place. Then again, maybe they won't...
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
To say I'm a Stephen King fan is an understatement. Don't get me wrong. I'm not one of those nutty, weird fans who want to sit at his feet and tie his shoes or anything like that. No, I'm a fan who has read almost everything that's hit the bookshelves with his name in the spot reserved for the author. Like a private parking spot, that little spot on a book jacket reserved for the author's name is the place my gaze first seeks when I hit the bookstore. Or, in this man's case, the big spot in the center of the book jacket, where passersby can see it, gasp and reach for his latest work.
The man can tell a story. No one can tell a story the way he can. I love to read his words, to be pulled into the scary worlds he creates--worlds so close to the realities most of us know that what happens in them is horrifingly plausible. In short, the guy scares the crap out of me and I love it. But that isn't why I read Stephen King's books and stories. I read them for the stories. As I said, the man can tell a story. And isn't that what it's all about? Tellling the story?
My cupcake just got iced. And sprinkled. The man himself was just interviewed on the Today show. Matt Lauer did a great job of asking his questions fast, then letting Steve (I can call him Steve, can't I? I mean, I've had his words inside my head often enough that we should be able to be on a first name basis, I think. Hell, I won't object if he wants to call me Sarita.) have enough time to answer fully. He wasn't forced to give rapid-fire, one word answers. I love it.
The cherry on top of my cupcake?
"You can scare the American people but it's really hard to gross them out."
Now that's going to stick in my head for a long, long time.
Monday, January 21, 2008
All right, I'm going to admit something here. I am consumed, absolutely consumed, by the book I"m currently reading. I've been sucked right into the past. The 1600s, to be exact. Oh? What am I reading? The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto. It was a Christmas gift from my aunt and I'm loving it! My aunt is a pro at choosing the most excellent books. She's definitely made a hit with this historical account.
Um, if you'll excuse me... There's a book that just won't quit calling me...
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Happy Sunday, everyone!
By now you've noticed that this blog looks different. At least I hope you've noticed. If you haven't noticed anything different going on here, maybe you'd best email me privately and we'll see if we can't get you some help. Or, better yet, maybe you'd best call the doctor because something may be wrong. I'm not saying it's anything big and scary...just something.
Anyhow, now that we all agree this blog is not what it was last week, I want to point out some of the new features here. In the upper right-hand corner you'll see some links. The first is the one to my website, and that's nothing new. It used to be in the upper left, but still, it's my website. Just moved. Below the website address there are some new links. They're additional pages to this blog. They go to ... From the Kitchen, where I will share all the cooking ideas and recipes formerly posted here ... From the Garden, where I'll post about this old farm, gardening and mostly about living in the middle of nowhere ... and From the Pages, which is a blog page for my characters. Yes, I'm giving the characters from my novels and short stories a place to visit with readers, tell tales not in the books and give a behind-the-scenes look at what it's like to be a character in a novel. So far Elinor, the heroine from Snowdance, has posted a welcome message. I do hope you'll go visit with her, and the other characters as well. Lord knows I don't want them getting lonely or getting their noses bent out of joint. Who knows what sort of mischief they could get into over there?
So there you have it. The revamped, overhauled, updated blog. Why did I go to the trouble of making this a layered blogsite? Honestly, I figured it was time for a change. An evolution of sorts.
I hope you like the new look. And I hope you'll poke around and tell me what you think. Remember, I love hearing from readers. :)
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Yes, I know it's winter. Believe me, I know. Actually there's no way to forget Old Man Winter as I do the daily bundle: coat, gloves, scarf, boots. And all just to go from the house to the garage! So believe me, I'm aware that it's cold outside.
But inside my mind's eye, it's summer. Or spring at least. The sky is blue and clear, grass grows beneath my sandaled feet and my winter bundling clothing is packed neatly in the coat closet. Birdsong wakes me and the sweet scent of peonies, moonflowers and lilies wafts through my open windows, lulling me to sleep at night.
Ah, the glorious worlds we can create when we let ourselves! Even in winter's icy grip, sun shines in one small blot on the northeast's otherwise-desolate landscape.
Just thought I'd share it with you. Enjoy!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Today is Friday, and that means it's my day to blog over at The Lark Journals. Have you checked out the Larks yet? You can find us here.
Have a great weekend!
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
From time to time we all need a little bit of space, a measure of breathing room. The past days have been an unscheduled, but very necessary, break for me. I won't go into details about where I've been or what I've been doing but I will say it feels good to be back here with all of you. I plan to ease back into my routine but if the way I feel right now is any indication of how it's going to work out, the transition back to "real life" is going to be a welcome one. :)
I hope you've all settled into the new year by now. Have you all kept up with your resolutions? Me? I'm still sticking to mine but the year is young, isn't it? Anything could happen in the next 350 days!
Friday, January 04, 2008
Since I've gotten such positive response from my "Reading?" posts, I'm going to continue to share with you about what I've been reading. Not everything, mind you. That would probably bore the pants off you. No, I'll just let you know when I've read something that's really made me take note. Something I think some of you may enjoy.
I've just finished reading The Golden Tulip by Rosalind Laker. First off, let me say I love historical fiction. Being transported to another time and place, hearing the sounds of the day, catching a whiff of the scents and feeling as if I can actually see everything ... it doesn't get much better than that. And if you enjoy those types of novels, it really doesn't get much better than Rosalind Laker.
Want to feel like you're a part of the seventeenth-century Amsterdam artists' scene? Read The Golden Tulip. Ms. Laker makes the world come alive so vividly I feel as if I've supped at the table with Vermeer, helped him chose watercolors for his tulips and felt the political and social turmoil of the day.
Like I said, it doesn't get much better.
Now, what are you reading?
Thursday, January 03, 2008
Lately I've been lucky enough to have been exposed to lots of new things. Music. Authors. Films. Even relatives I haven't met before! It's all been great, but it's given me a lot to think about. In the coming weeks I'll share some of what's been going on. Hopefully you'll get as much pleasure out of at least some of it as I have.
Oh, but I'm keeping the "new" relations to myself. Sorry, they're just too good to share!
So I've been doing a lot of thinking recently. Ever have a time like that, when you're just preoccupied? A constant stream of new, unusual, interesting (if only to you!) thoughts? And then, without warning, someone will say something in passing that sticks. Blam! The words slap you in the back of the head and there's just no getting away from them. They're stuck. Hard and fast, like glue on your fingers or gum on a handrail.
Happened to me this morning. My friend Wendy said in passing, "2008 is the year we create." Now doesn't that give you something to think about? Wendy is good that way, always insightful and thought-provoking. Just one of the many reasons I'm glad to be her friend. :)
But now I can't get it out of my head. It just keeps playing over and over, echoing off my skull's walls ... the year we create ... year we create ... we create ...
What kind of year will you create?
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Have you read The Lark Journals yet? It is a blog written by four Whiskey Creek Press authors. Kathleen O'Connor, Debbie Wallace, Margaret Blake and I each take turns writing the posts. We are four women coming from very different points in life (and on the globe!) but with one thing in common: we all love to write. We're each committed to the art of telling a story.
I love hearing what the other women have to say. Debbie is down to earth and funny and is as likely to share a photo of her kitty as a humorous story. Kathy is an expert short story teller, as well as an accomplished mystery novelist. Margaret, who lives in England but has done quite a bit of living in different parts of the world, writes with an ease that simply amazes me. And me...well, you know me. I'm just along for the adventure! I am in awe of the talents of these three women who surround me. Each day is a new adventure for me as I read their posts, sharing a smile or gaining an insight. My day is Friday and I ramble on, just happy to be part of the gang!
If you haven't visited The Lark Journals yet maybe you should stop on by. You might be glad you did! Me? I'm thrilled to be a lark! :)
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Of course New Year's is the time when we all look both ways, back at the year that's just passed and ahead to the one looming before us. I'm no different. I do it too, swivel my mental gaze in both directions. Here's some of what I see as 2007 fades and '08 begins...
Both personally and professionally 2007 was a banner year for me. I figure any year that opens and closes with those I hold nearest and dearest happy and healthy is a success. So '07 was a personal success story.
On the professional front, it's almost impossible to consider '07 without shaking my head in utter amazement. I am awed, humbled and thankful. 2007 saw the realization of a dream, one I've held close for as long as I can remember. I'm just glad my childhood fantasy wasn't to become a ballerina, astronaut or circus clown. Somehow I don't see my husband being as supportive of my pursuing those careers. Although circus clown does have a certain pull to it...
Looking forward, I see 2008 like the wide, open ranges of the Old Wild West. Can you see it? Endless expanses stretching toward the horizon? That's what I see for the coming year--possibilities galore, with nothing to impede progress. Who knows where the New Year will take us? As long as my personal goals of family and friends staying healthy and happy is met, the rest will all fall into place. I'm sure of it.
What do you see when you look both ways? Whatever it is, I hope it makes you smile. Me? I'm grinning so broadly my cheeks hurt, but it's good. Very good.
Posted by Sarita at 10:11 AM
Okay, if you know me personally, you'll know I'm grinning right now. Just have to share this, ahem, inspirational quote on the day with you...
Posted by Sarita at 9:56 AM