Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bits and Pieces on Today's House Retreat

I promised short introspective posts for the next four days. Today's will be in bits and pieces.

Story Breakthrough

Last night I settled in to read a half hour or so of The Fire in Fiction by agent Donald Maass before going to sleep. It's a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. I was engrossed in a section on ordinary protagonists and secondary characters and how unexpected character traits or behavior can bring a plot alive. I thought about my characters for a moment, and BOOM!, the next half dozen scenes flashed through my mind like a movie on fast forward. I grabbed the pad and pen that resides in the drawer of my bedside paper, and I scribbled it all down. I regularly have fantastic ideas that disappear from my mind as fast as they appear. As a result, I have pads and pens all over the house and notes stacked on my desk.

Today's writing has gone well. I'm in the zone, which is probably why the pounding of workers' hammers on the neighbor's roof did not drive me insane.


I took a little break when my daughter and granddaughter Skyped in. This is the greatest communication tool in the world for distantly located parents, kids, and grandparents. I'm wondering why I don't reach out to my blogger friends this way. It would be kind of cool to see real faces and hear real voices.

First, however, I have to go on a diet and get my hair cut.

Oline Cogdill's best mystery novels of 2009

Oline read over 200 novels in 2009 and has listed her favorites in an article from The Olympian. The Desert Hedge Murders was not on her list. However, after looking over Oline's awesome choices, I have to admit I'm not very upset. Two of the debut authors are ones I've mentioned here and on Facebook and Twitter: Stuart Neville's The Ghosts of Belfast and Sophie Littlefield's A Bad Day for Sorry. If you want to work your way through Oline's list, take my advice and start with these two.

The Soup

The timer just went off to let me know it's time to add the canned tomatoes to my vegetable beef barley soup that's going to sustain us for the next three days so I don't have to cook real meals. After that, it's back to the book.

My bad guy just took two pain pills and fell asleep in the waiting room of a hospital trauma center. Serves him right.


Karen Walker said...

Feellike I'm right there with you, Patricia. Glad you were in "the zone" today.

Jemi Fraser said...

Sounds like your retreat is off to a great start! My family lives in town, so I haven't tried Skype yet, but it's such a great tool!

Anonymous said...

I'm reading Donald's first book for ReBooWee!
I've got the other one too, and I hope to get to it soon.

Sophie Littlefield said...

Thank you for the kind mention, Patricia! My mouth is watering at the thought of beef barley soup. My mom used to make it in the winter...I just made a giant pot of spaghetti sauce hoping it would keep the kids fed so I could do my Christmas preparations - I put them off so I could finish writing - but so far the kids are not at all impressed. One wants to know why "there's nothing to eat in this house" and the other one wonders if "anyone ever does laundry around here"...

Patricia Stoltey said...

Karen, it was definitely a good writing day. I'm looking forward to three more in a row.

Jemi, I'm about to install Skype on my own computer (why should the dear husband have all the fun?).

Hey, Carolyn. If you ever get a chance to take one of Donald Maass's workshops, you'll enjoy it even more than the books.

Sophie, Mmmm, homemade spaghetti sauce? I'm impressed, if if your little darlings aren't. Their comments make me chuckle. Our children have a wonderful way of keeping us grounded.

Anonymous said...

hi Patricia,

I just ordered your book Desert Hedge Murders from B&N this morning. I look forward to reading it. I'll be happy to do a review on my blog. Best wishes for your continued success.

Stephen Tremp

Patricia Stoltey said...

Thanks, Stephen. I keep thinking about writing real book reviews instead of just throwing out names and authors as I read them, but book reviewing is a lot more difficult and time-consuming than people realize. I admire and appreciate those who are willing and who do it so well.

Galen Kindley--Author said...

Tell you what, next time you have one of those insightful flashes?...write them all down, use what you need, and send the leftovers to me...along with some of that barley soup. I can use them both.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I have plenty of ideas to spare, Galen, and not nearly enough years left to use them all. I'll gladly share.

And the soup is really yummy. I use ground rosemary, Herbes de Provence, and chili powder to enhance the flavor.

Kerrie said...

All this talk about soup is making me hungry. Pat you are in inspiration with your house retreat. You go girl!