25 Clever Ideas to make your life easier | TheWHOot

25 Clever Ideas to make your life easier | TheWHOot.

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Interviewing, or should that be interrogating characters?

A continuation of Writers Imagination, a land that exists in the minds of my critique partners and my own mind. Hope you enjoy this excerpt. 🙂

Shh!” I’ve been wanting to stalk her for aaages.”

“Who? What?” Elizabeth picked a leaf from her hair and stared up, up, up at the perfect blue and white house. “And what do these people do all day? This house is ridiculously tidy.”

“SHH! Keep your voice down.” Lucy skulked to an open window on the left side of the house. “And keep your head down. Someone might see you.”

She waved Elizabeth across. “The Montgomery’s. Posh people in my story. Jane’s parents.”

“Oh.” Elizabeth nodded, squinting up at the edge of a lace curtain that dared creep out on a breeze.

“Why don’t you just knock on the door?” Susan strode up the path, gravel scrabbling after her black boots. “Here, I’ll do it seeing as you two are cowering under a window.”

“I’m not…we’re not…. Don’t—!” Lucy covered her face as Susan grabbed the brass knocker and gave it a couple of not-so-subtle raps. “Tell me what’s happening, Lizzie. I can’t bear to look.”

Elizabeth’s ruffled shirt tickled her nose as she leaned past. “Hmm, let’s see….. Oh. There’s this older woman. Um, well rounded, dressed in pink. Lots of pink.”

Lucy peeped open one eye. “Is she smiling?”

“Uh huh. Hmm, let’s see…aha.”

“Oh, let me look. I can’t bear the suspense.” Lucy squeezed her head past Elizabeth’s and stickybeaked around the corner.

Susan glanced over and waved. “Come on over!” she called.

Lucy pulled her head back and groaned. “She’s done it again. Talk about push me to greater heights—or is it depths? —in my story.” She levered to her feet and helped Lizzie up. “C’mon then. Oh, but first we need this….” From her pocket she withdrew a vial and shook it over them.

With a sneeze Elizabeth transformed into the perfect Elizabethan lady, complete with bustle, kid gloves and button-up shoes. Lucy smoothed a lilac ruffle on her own outfit and held the vial aloft. “Just wait till I get this near Susan.”

They strolled to the porch and joined Susan.

“I’ve just been telling this delightful—” Susan arched a brow. “—lady here that we’ve travelled quite some distance to get here.” She waved a hand at herself, Lucy and Lizzie. “We are, of course from the W of CIA”

“Yes.” Lizzie held out a gloved hand. “Just here on a short item of business.”

“Mrs. Montgomery. So nice to meet you at last.” Lucy beamed at her and gave a short curtsy. “I’ve read all about you and the great work you’ve accomplished here in town.”

Mrs. M dimpled and flapped a hand. “Pish posh. Nothing that anyone in my place wouldn’t have done.”

“Of course, of course.” Lucy tried to wave the bottle near Susan while keeping her attention on Mrs. M. She gave up and tucked the vial away in a hidden pocket. “If I may, I’d love to have a short audience with your daughter, Jane. Oh, and Tyrone if he is available.”

“Hmmph. You’ve just missed them. I believe they’ve taken an item of furniture and were returning home. You might catch them on the road to their, er, ranch.”

“Thank you. We’ll do that.”

“Goodbye!”

Stepping off the porch, Susan tossed them each a small rolled up rug. “Here, use these. They’ll be quicker.”

“Ooh, goody. Magic carpets.” Elizabeth unrolled hers with a snap and sat on it just like one would at a church picnic. “I’ve always wanted to try one.”

“They’re brilliant. Whoever invented them should be knighted.” Susan stood on hers and leaned forward, captain of her carpet.

“I can’t—get the hang—of it.” Lucy hopped on one foot and tried to clamber onto her green swirled carpet. “Darned thing. Arrgh.” She hopped around the corner of the street, still trying to climb aboard her hovering carpet. “Just go on without me, I’ll catch up in a minute. Jane and Tyrone are headed up the main street and then out to the ranch. We’ve cut in at the end of Chapter 9 so that’s where they’ll be.”

“Good. We’ll do that.” Susan settled her Akubra more firmly on her head and clicked to her carpet.

“Wait up!” Lucy yelled. “Before you go…. What does ‘W of CIA’ stand for?”

Elizabeth spun her carpet on a dime and grinned. “Writers of Character Investigation Association, of course.” She leaned down, picked up the dime and then shot off after Susan.

“Character Investigation. I knew that,” Lucy muttered as she worked her lariat between her fingers. “Must have missed that online course. Oh well. Maybe Lizzie will lend me her notes.” She spun a perfect loop above her head and snagged the corner of her carpet. With a tug, it held. “Good. Now hi-ho, off we go. I’ve got a character to interrogate.”

The Rockies spun past in a grey-green blur as her carpet ticked off the few miles separating them from the Montgomery’s and her target.

A sparkle lit her eyes and a giant grin slipped over her face. “Oh, yes, my pretty. Now you’ll talk. Oh, yes, you will.”

***

“Oh, no I won’t.” Tyrone thrashed against his bonds. The lariat as effective as keeping him in the ladder backed chair as it had been in towing her behind her magic carpet. “I don’t know who you are, but you’ll get nothing from me.”

“I’m hurt.” Lucy glanced up at Susan, sitting on a rock and playing fetch with her flying Aussie. “Did you hear that? He doesn’t recognize my voice. I thought I had a distinct voice.”

“You do. Now hurry up. We’ve got to meet Braden yet. It’ll be darkfall soon.”

“What are you on about? That’s crazy talk. And where’s my wife?”

“Don’t you worry…Tyrone. She’s safe—as long as you answer my questions.”

“I already told you, lady. I aint telling you nuthin’.” Tyrone kicked the leg of his chair.

Lucy circled him, hands on her hips. “I’ve been watching you for some time now. Observing you. Taking notes even.”

He scowled, thick eyebrows drawing together over the bandana Elizabeth had tied over his eyes.

“Oh, yes. I’ve got all the superficial stuff.” Lucy stood in front of him and crossed her arms. “But I want the juicy stuff. The secrets.”

“I aint got any secrets. I’m a plain, hardworking rancher who’s more than a lil riled right now.”

“Really?” Lucy raised a brow. “So what about the book?”

“What book?”

She pulled a small notebook from her pocket and flipped open it’s brown cover. “I’ll read an except shall I? See if that jogs your memory. “Day Ten. Just so yer know, Ethan. I hate this stupid dare book. Romantic thing I done: I’m not going hunting. And before you mouth off about this not being romantic—it was important to Jane, so it counts.

With a growl, Tyrone threw himself forward. Elizabeth caught the back of his chair with a catching spell and lowered him back to safety.

“Ah. So you do remember it. I know you keep secrets.” Lucy shut the book with a snap. “Tell me about your father.”

He blanched white. “No.”

“Why not?”

“He’s dead. That’s all that matters.”

“Is he? I was under the impression he’d left to go gold hunting in California.”

“He’s dead to me,” Tyrone yelled. “Just leave it alone. Leave me alone.”

Susan glanced up and shook her head. “Squishy feelings.”

“I noticed,” Lucy mouthed back.

“So, Tyrone. What about Miss Jane? What are you going to do about her?”

“None of your business. And if you’ve hurt her,” he growled. “Lady or no, you’ll have me to deal with.”

“Oh? So you’d defend her?”

“Yes.”

“Die for her?”

He gave a slow nod. “Aye. If it came to that, yes.”

Lucy leaned back against a pine tree. “But will you live for her, that is the question?”

“What are you on about? I am living.”

“No, no.” Lucy uncrossed her arms. “I mean will you lay your own life down, you expectations of her, will you let her live her life-her way. Will you live your life in a way that gives her complete, loving freedom?”

“Who said anything about love?”

“Come on.” Susan brushed off her jeans and stood. “You’ll be there all day on that subject. We’ll reconvene another time and try again. We need to go.”

“Not me.” Elizabeth glanced at the sundial on her wrist. “I’ve got a prior appointment.”

“Oh?” Susan and Lucy raised their eyebrows at each other. “Big enough to miss Braeden’s deep, dark, dreadfully—”

“Don’t you dare say dull!” Susan cut in.

“Wouldn’t dream of it. I was going to say dastardly.”

“Sure you were.” Susan rolled her eyes.

“Excuse me? Can I go now, or are you going to leave me tied up forever?”

“Oops. Sorry.” With a flick of her Bowie knife, Lucy released him. Elizabeth held him in place with a tethering spell until they were all safely aboard their respective carpets. “There you go. Until next time.”

“There aint gonna be a—” His words grew fainter as they zoomed away.

“Now. Lizzie, dear. What can be so dreadfully important that you’d want to ditch us? Can we come? Please, please?”

The Old, the New and the Thankful

Hi! I finally feel like I can take a breath after the rush of Christmas, holidaying and visiting my niece and sister in hospital (see prev blog post for more details).

Some reflections:

The Old

The year is nearly over, so what memories, what attitudes, what hurts do I want to take with me into the new year… What lessons–whether they be life lessons, writing/craft lessons, or lessons from God do I want to make sure to carry with me into 2013? Also what stinky attitudes, judgements, or mistakes will I make sure to leave behind? It’s worth pondering. Sometimes what we think or carry with us needs a spring clean as much as the hallway cupboard.1930564_8c2f_625x1000

The New

What new thing do I want to learn? Goals to set? Writing goal I want to achieve?? Which relationships do I want to put more time into? Which friends do I want to encourage? What skill/character trait do I want to see developed in my children? What about you? Any ideas/thoughts ticking over along these lines?

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The Thankful

2012 has been a wonderful year for me. I have learned so much, experienced so much beyond my wildest dreams. God has taken me on a grace-filled journey to bless, encourage and strengthen me. He’s pretty cool. 🙂 Thank you to my fellow bloggers, faithful readers and dear friends. I’ve enjoyed your comments, your support and your friendship.

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Here’s to another year with God at the helm. 🙂

That new car smell :)

Hi! Today I’m both tired and excited.

I picked up my brand-spanking new car!

New car

Yes–the bow is for me. 🙂 Made me feel pretty special.

Certificate

This is my first new car ever, so I’m super excited.

Had a couple of interesting moments today in it. It’s a manual transmission and my old car is an automatic…so I did a little bit of stalling and bunny hopping through some gears. Stalled twice at the main set of traffic lights in Bendigo and I missed the green light. So embarrassing! Also, I forgot to fuel it up…made it home with 4kms to spare. Had to nurse the car the last 20kms to make sure I’d make it. Serves me right for being distracted!

My first drive!

Left town this morning at 6:30am to pick it up in Melbourne. Arrived home tonight about 7:30pm. Hence the tiredness and the headache.

A big thank you to my friends in town who minded my children so I could pick up the car. Couldn’t have done it without you!

Anybody have a 1st new car story to share? Or a funny car story? I’d love to hear it. 🙂

Children’s Capers and Writing

“Mummy, mummy!”

The soft cloud I’m sleeping on bounces up and down, jolting me out of the Land of Nod. I crack open one eye and peer at the cherub perched on the edge of my bed. “Wha?” I mumble then close my eye and hope she takes the hint to go away.

The bouncing continues. “Is it my turn to get the mail? Rebekah says it’s her turn to get the mail. Why don’t I get a turn?”

Rebekah thinks every day is her turn. I crack open my eye again peer out the window behind my bed. There is daylight, the kind that has just fought a valiant battle with night and is leading its way across the sky. Our postie is punctual and enthusiastic, but I doubt even he is up this early. My mind shrugs off sleep and I blink, trying to remember what day it is. Wednesday I think. Maybe Thursday. No, it is Thursday I need to do my bible study. “Yes, today is your turn. But I don’t think the mail has been yet, Rachel.”

“Okay!” She half falls off my bed and I hear her footsteps pound the wood floor. The screen door slams then I hear the click of the front gate followed by the slam of the mailbox. My children have an over-enthusiasm for collecting the mail. So much so I’ve had to put them on a roster to collect it. Eldest on Monday, 2nd child on Tuesday and so forth. Having 4 children means Friday ends up a day for someone who has missed a turn or I have a turn and spend 10 minutes chatting with the postie and swapping yarns. Ah. This sort of thing will have to make it into a book someday. I’m sure. 🙂

Fast forward a few hours…

Schoolwork around the kitchen table.

I listen to one child read, prod another to

‘Do your math! Please, build the next question!’

Explain why Australia went to war (is there any comfortable or rational explanation for that?).

And.. wait… back! I glance over at child no. 2 as he reads. A word catches my eye. It sounded fine as he read it, but…

“That’s the wrong spelling!” I exclaim. “Give me that book!” He grins, happy to get out of reading and hands the book over. All the other children gather around and I re-read the sentence, poking the offending word with a finger. Then follows a discussion as I scribble the different ways that word can be spelled on paper and what they mean. Of course they then chime in with examples in movies they’ve seen or how so-and-so did this (which is now hopelessly off track topic-wise, but nonetheless interesting). I shoo them back to their work and we carry on with work.

A picture tells a thousand words…

Image

My two youngest on the left, a cousin on the right and my eldest forehead in the bottom right in our 8 seater Ford stationwagon. That day was fun. Sort of. Now when I look back on it… We spent the whole day cleaning a house and packing up my sister to move. So all the last minute things got shoved in my car (no room in hers. We were running out of room to put plates near the end of the day and both of us pack really well!) Then we realised.. oh, 8 seats and we had 7 children between us and 2 adults. Those of us who can add will realise that someone has to run behind. Only thing is… my house is over 50kms away. No problem. Two children can share a seatbelt. Then we realised that mum had deposited some money in my account. And seeing as we were in a town that has a Woolies….That means food shopping! So $200 in food later we head out to the car. Pack the children in first, seatbelts on, then start packing shopping around them. That was interesting! When we drove off we had: 2 adults in the front seats (I had room at my feet and that’s only cos I needed to use the pedals), 4 in the backseat–that’s including the baby seat, no feet space, at least 2-3 mops and brooms next to them and a mower and catcher. (yes, you read that right.), the boot seat had 3 children and the rest of the $200 bucks worth of shopping. Oh, and tucked somewhere in all of that was a maltese terrier dog. 🙂 Good thing there wasn’t many bumps on the way home, I’m sure I would have felt the car bottom out on every bump otherwise. 🙂

Very happy to not repeat that experience. However some poor unsuspecting character might. Not sure how in a historical setting… but I’m sure I’ll find a way!

After dinner I’m knee deep in editing and critiques. Add in more detail of storefronts of buildings. I squint at the comment again and sigh. I mean, can’t the characters just walk on into the shop without noticing the surroundings… No? Well, that means some research then of 1881 mercantile storefronts. I’ll start by googling… My fingers hesitate above my laptop keys. Or, will I? I smile and lean over to my oldest daughter is sitting cross legged on my bed next to me.

I nudge her with my elbow. “Hey, what do store front’s on old streets look like?”

She pulls a headphone out of her ear and looks at me. “What?”

I refrain from rolling my eyes. This is an expert at old movies. If it’s an old movie and suitable for under 13’s then she’s probably seen it. A picture tells a thousand words… “I said, what do the store front’s on shops in old movies look like?”

“Ah!” Her eyes light up and she launches into descriptions of buildings, people and most importantly–mercantile stores.

My fingers speed across the keyboard, trying to keep up. Eventually she runs out of breath and quiets. I finish typing my sentence and look at her. “Thanks!”

She nods. “No problem. I like movies.”

This time I do roll my eyes. “I know.”

She sticks her headphones back in and goes back to her ipod. I review what I’ve typed up and smile. Perfect. And better yet, I can imagine what they look like thanks to the memory jog of the different movies these are set in. I begin rewording and adjusting what I’ve written, a sappy smile I’m sure plastered on my face.

I love research.

I love writing… and

I love my children. They help me write–and yes, sometimes they don’t help me write. They help with research and they listen when I ramble on about my ‘cool’ idea for a character. They provide oodles of examples of how people react to each other, and the funny stuff they do provide lots of examples for my writing.

How about you? Do you have children? Nieces, nephews? Some random child who walks past at 3pm every day with his blue cap on backwards and a butterfly on a string. Do they provide inspiration for you stories? Quirks for characters? A giggle for levity?

I know mine do. 🙂

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Sumo wrestling next to our lake. They were so hilarious as they attempted to swat each other. Then they’d totter on their matchlike legs. Teeter…then… timberrrrr! Splat. They’d hit the mat. Usually face first. Far too much padding to get hurt. But my goodness they were so funny I could barely keep the camera straight. I had to take pictures, that way I can giggle later at inopportune times in memory. Don’t worry, they loved it. 🙂

12 Funny Sayings about Authors

Hi! I thought I’d share a few smiles with some funny quotes I found on the internet. Have a great day!

Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure. Oliver Herford.

Writing is learning to say nothing, more cleverly every day. William Allingham.

The profession of book-writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business. John Steinbeck.

I love being a writer. What I can’t stand is the paperwork. Peter De Vries.

Copy from one, it’s plagiarism; copy from two, it’s research. Wilson Mizner.

“Paradise Lost is a book that, once put down, is very hard to pick up again.” Samuel Johnson I had to read this twice, and laughed both times! I’ve never read “Paradise Lost” and am now not sure I should! 🙂

I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.  ~English Professor (Name Unknown), Ohio University

Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don’t start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
~William Safire, “Great Rules of Writing”

Being an author is being in charge of your own personal insane asylum.  ~Terri Guillemets

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end… but not necessarily in that order.  ~Jean Luc Godard

It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.  ~Robert Benchley Oh dear! May I never say this!

Publication is a self-invasion of privacy.  Marshall McLuhan

Quotes found on:
http://www.quotegarden.com/writing.html
http://www.basicjokes.com/dquotes.php?cid=319

What about you? Have you heard any rip-snorters lately that beg telling? Share the giggles. 🙂

The Land of Writers Imagination.

Writers Imagination.

A friend and I are creating an epic fantasy story as we email back and forth based on a land I made up called “Writers Imagination”.

It is so much fun. Each email raises the bar in imagination and alliteration.

So far, we have all sorts of creatures and countryside that can only be identifiable if you are an author.

I’ll share a paragraph I wrote the other day, and then it’s your turn…

A myriad other stories bubbled in that dark, dank, corner of Writers Imagination called ‘Ideas Cauldron’. Quite a queer place, actually. Smells funny and the weirdest ideas pop out of the soupy, boggy ground to dance before you. Don’t visit that part of the land unless you have already exhausted the last lot of ideas you took home and got all the work you can out of them. They can be quite lazy you know, ideas that is. In Ideas Cauldron they speak quite convincingly of what they can do, and the things they know. So, arm in arm you skip home with them. Then they whine ‘oh, I don’t know anything else, that’s all I can think of,’ and ‘what do you mean you only got one sentence worth of work out of me?’ They seem quite content to sit and pout in a comfy chair in the corner and consume all the tea and biscuits in the house while you wait for them to start work again. Sigh.

What about you? What sort of characters/writers could you see living in this land? An older gentleman dressed in a tan waistcoat and a cheery face who, whenever I (briefly) visit Writers Imagination, he pops his head out of his door, with a tea cup and saucer and says, “More tea please, love.”

And just for the record—I am a Historical Romance writer—not a fantasy writer. I swear, and on a pile of tea cups and biscuits. 

I’d love to hear what sort things live in your Writers Imagination 🙂