Random Takes: Pens

~I’m amazed how many times I write something on paper, set my pen down, and then two seconds later it disappears—nowhere to be seen. I usually have to find another pen in my holder to write with until I can find the other one again. Of course, I’ll find it underneath my leg (if I’m sitting on the floor) or under papers on my desk when I do finally find it.

~I always write my first draft of a story on paper. There’s something about pen and paper that makes a story personable. This is the same for my blogs. I first write them out by hand and then type into Word on my computer.

~I love finding super good pens. I love a smooth, fluid pen that takes little effort to use. If the ink fails so the words are hard to read or if the ballpoint scratches against the paper, I’ll get rid of it.

~I like to collect pens at the different writing/author conferences that I’ve attended. I’ll keep the ones that flow like satin ribbon (see above). The others I’ll pass on to family and friends, or I’ll leave them behind when I have to use one while out (restaurants, dentist offices, etc.). The pens may not be keepers for me, but I will pass them on to help other authors spread their word. By the way, don’t put inappropriate words on a pink pencil. Kids use pencils.

~Sometimes I’ll bring a few pens into work so I have something better to write with instead of the normal supplies available in the stockroom. I do have to be careful on what I bring in to work…just in case I forget to take it with me after a meeting. Anything with hot romance, steamy sex, or erotic threesomes written on the side of the pen wouldn’t be an appropriate for the workplace. One year I brought in sticky notes to use at my desk. I didn’t think anything of it until a month later when I really looked at the picture printed at the bottom corner of the notes. I had to laugh. I put the rest in my bag for home. Even though the picture was small, I could tell it was a half-naked man and a woman in cheeky underwear.

Lessons Learned: American Sniper

Wow. The movie “American Sniper” was intense.

I went to see the movie yesterday with my husband. I knew that I’d have a hard time watching parts of it. I knew that I’d get emotional. This movie gave me a different perspective of what our men and women experienced when deployed (on tour) to Iraq (or to Afghanistan as well). This movie had me think about my son’s experience when he was deployed. Even as I write this, I can feel my chest tighten with emotion. For me, the movie was powerful.

“American Sniper” is about Chris Kyle and his experience as a Navy Seal and being one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history. The movie showed us what duty, honor, and to protect meant through his eyes. The story is also about the adjustment back home, Chris’s struggles between duty and family. How he had to learn to be with family again.

As I watched the movie, I thought about my son and wondered how he felt when deployed to Iraq (once) and Afghanistan (twice). What did he see? What did he go through? I remember his attitude after Iraq. How he was impatient, more angry, and distant when he returned home. I know war changes people. I understood my son would change. “The Hurt Locker” was another movie that showed us what war was like for EODs (those disarming bombs). My son, an EOD, watched the movie with us and explained what was “Hollywood” and what was real. The movie was intense as well. The “Hurt Locker” scared the crap out of me because I realized that this is what my son actually does for a living. However, I think “American Sniper” gave me a better understanding of the whole picture (the commitment through readjustment).

I would recommend seeing “American Sniper.” The movie reminded me of the sacrifices our men and women have given. How committed they are to serving our country. Very intense.

To Edit or Not to Edit

I belong to an email group for indie writers. Recently the group had a discussion about professional editing and whether or not it is important to hire an editor to review your story. With the changes taking place in how we write (no more cursive, text abbreviations), will it matter if our stories aren’t perfect?

Books have been professionally content and copy edited for many years. The goal is to have a polished book that is clean of errors. But how many times have you read a book and found one or two errors? If you do find one, you’re caught off guard for a second, and then you get right back into the story. And for those readers who finish reading a book in a day, do they really “read” the book or skim through it? Would they even find the errors?

Many of the members in the indie group thought that errors are acceptable based on today’s standards. In a new generation of abbreviations and less focus on proper English, the grammatical errors aren’t as noticeable. Of course, other members responded, as I expected, that if you want to be a serious published author then you must professional edit your work. What surprised me is that the majority, even a bestselling author, leaned toward the side that standards are changing.

So what is right? I think it’ll be interesting how books will be edited in the future. Look at how writing has changed from the old form of English to our current version. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Say what? If proper English is turning less than proper, what will become the acceptable norm? The English language continually changes, including how we write it.

When I finished writing “Gitana – Life Plan,” I had a few friends read through the manuscript for errors before I even sent it to a professional editor. I loved getting feedback and their suggested changes, because I wanted a polished book. For my blog, I don’t have anyone proofread my work. I probably should, having found a misspelled word in last week’s blog, but I’m not a stickler because I consider my blog normal, personal writing. I will do my best to catch errors. I know my grammar isn’t perfect. I will misspell words and not catch them. I hope my readers are forgiving.

So is it safe to say that there are different levels of published writing? Will we become more relaxed in how we publish books? Less formality? I’m curious to how the next few years play out.

Lessons Learned: A Chance to Get It Right

January 1 is the day for new beginnings. The day provides a brand new year of hope and a chance to get it right. What is “it?” Whatever is important to you.

Most people make New Year’s resolutions. Some are diehard fans who’ll stick to their list, while others do it more as a joke. As the saying goes, “Don’t make a New Year’s resolution because you’ll never see it through” or “New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken.”

Some resolutions we make and then forgot about them within a week. Others we try really hard to follow but then change them. A few we actually make. Resolutions are a way for us to think about what we want in life. Whether it’s to exercise more, eat healthier, volunteer, or update a resume, the resolution helps us to move forward and try again.

One of my resolutions for last year was to publish my next novel. I was optimistic of having it published by the end of August, 2014. My energy was high and my focus strong. And then my dad passed away. I still wrote, but I had other things to focus on. I slowly saw that goal of August diminish. And then came summer. Again I wrote but I struggled with the structure of the story. I was also busy at my day job, helping my daughter plan her wedding, and taking care of my family. I started feeling deflated because finishing the story was taking longer than expected. My New Year’s resolution became “as the saying goes…”

Now 2015 has opened its doors. I knew my first resolution for the year would be and is to publish my next novel, “The Calling.” The story is finished and now I can focus on editing. I am closer to my goal. I’m heading into the new year with optimism and energy. This is my chance to try again and get it right.

Even if last year’s resolutions aren’t met, let them become this year’s or make some changes if they need to be more realistic. But don’t lose hope. Stay optimistic. Continue on, try again. Let’s continue to move forward.