Weeding Through It

This past week I was struck with plot problems, which coincided with both a beta reader critique as well as a Revise and Resubmit from a publishing company. One major issue was pacing and the other was that I missed the mark on a key turning point for two main characters, which in turn reflected on other issues needing to be strengthened. Yes, this is for book one in the Gothic family saga that’s possessed my time, energy, and effort the past two years. And since this issue was pointed out in the first manuscript the effects will ripple through the seven other stories in the series.

After my initial freak out—which I let simmer over night—I read through the critique/suggestions again and decided to turn to the place I go when I need to plot: the yard. Yes, it’s January but on the Gulf Coast there’s always yardwork to be done. After the last freeze, the remainder of the lantana plants were ready to be pruned for the season and the flower bed was in need of weeding.

So I took my pensive thoughts, grabbed the wheelbarrow and pruners, pulled on my gloves, and set to work. By the first half-hour I knew the problem wasn’t as big as I feared. The situations, people, and history were there already, I just hadn’t dug into that corner of the character’s past thoroughly because I didn’t want to wallow in that part of his dark life. As I worked, I allowed my mind to wander and focused on two despicable people associated with the character in question that I knew could be involved. It was easy to narrow down the right one once I gave myself permission to dig deeper.

After about an hour, I knew which minor character would be the catalyst and began forming the outline of a new character from the shadows of the past I’d kept locked away. The new character was always there, just not named or explored.

With the situation, characters, and history mapped, I processed where in the manuscript the information could be placed. As organically as the history came to me, it was clear to see that there were natural places to insert the backstory into the manuscript without jarring or taking away what was already there. Looking at the coming manuscripts, the revelation only solidifies the anguish and choices he will make in the stories as the saga unfolds. The history was there all along, I only needed to prune away the unnecessary layers hiding the base of the character’s life.

When all else fails, go to the garden.

Where do you go to think?

Happy Autumn

Yes, it’s that magical time of the year when the weather cools and spirits invigorate from the break of summer heat! Though months have passed since I last posted, I’ve been productive in other avenues, like writing a new manuscript and working on edits on the multi-book Gothic Horror.

Now that I’m in between projects, I’m taking a week or two to catch up on long over-due things like blogging, cleaning, and organizing. This year has been one of creativity and my living spaces showcase that artistic chaos. The next few posts will feature some highlights from this past year, like new tidbits about Fortitude and Corroded. To start things off, here’s the newest item: a photo from my recent book signing at Christmas Jubilee market hosted by Mobile’s Junior League at the Mobile Convention Center.

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March Madness

There’s some catching up to do! This month’s been a productive time, and I still haven’t shared some fun news from February. Seeing how I labeled this post with the current month’s name, I’ll stick with the newest information this time around.

Last Saturday I crossed Mobile Bay and did a presentation for Baldwin Writers Group titled “Kid Lit 101”, in which I discussed what differentiates children book categories including board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, middle grade, and young adult novels. It was my second time doing the presentation (the first was in December 2015 with my “home” crew at Mobile Writers Guild) and I enjoyed it just as much. If there’s one thing I can geek out about (other than my favorite musicians) it’s children’s literature. I converted at least one person to the Kid Lit side, so hooray!

Kid Lit 101

The first slide on my KID LIT 101 Power Point.

Then, on Monday four of my fabulously creative friends and I held a panel discussion on writing and illustrating with a local 4-H Arts group in an amazing meeting room in a contemporary art gallery downtown.

 

4-H presentation

Thanks to Candice and Robina for the picture.

After a short introduction we fielded questions ranging from research to plotting. It was energetic and fun, just like the original work created by Steven Moore for the event: The Inscribables. (Can you guess which one is me?)

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Original art by Steven Moore. Find him at http://www.grimtrojan.com

The past several days have been a great transition for me in my roll change from writer to author. I can’t imagine more supportive people to start my journey with than these two welcoming groups and my friends.

Bonus: I’ve kept my writing cap on, managing to add well over seven thousand words to my current project, plus completing final line edits on Corroded, out April 12, 2016. March/Spring is definitely going great here—I hope it’s shiny for you as well.

 

Next Month

2015 has been an exciting year for me and it’s becoming more so by the week. First, after waiting over two decades, I experienced my favorite band in concert (front row, center!) in the spring.
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Then I visited the largest home in America late summer. https://carriedalby.com/2015/09/01/adventure-ahead/

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But the year isn’t done with me yet. 2015 will afford the experience of my third bucket list item: the publishing of my first book.

Yes, the release date for Fortitude (Surge imprint, Anaiah Press) has been moved from January 2016 to December 8, 2015. Thirty-four days to go! I’ll be posting more about this historical novel in the days ahead.

Also, last month Europe (favorite band, as linked above) announced the second half of their U.S.A. tour to promote their newest album “War of Kings” and they are coming to one of my favorite venues on the Gulf Coast. I bought my tickets and will be seeing them for the second time in less than a year in 93 days!

One of the best years ever! How are things looking from your perspective?

Summer Whimsy

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned Fernando, so here’s a mini health check:

My wild fern is doing well. Continued growth–both on the trunk and on the ground. There are hot, rain-free days ahead, so I’ll need to keep a close eye on Fernando, to make sure it stays hydrated.

Fernando

Fernando


As you can see from the photo, my daughter is adding a fairy garden to the area. I think Fernando approves.

How is your creative inspiration holding up in the summer heat?

Inspired by Setting

While visiting with family a few weeks ago, I was blessed to experience several days of spring in the Midwest. I’ve been to central Illinois in the summer and winter, but this was our first trip this time of year. Many of the trees that were in full-bloom in the deep-south over a month ago were in their glory up north.
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Farmers and gardeners down south have their crops in the ground, but the Amish farmers were beginning to plow their fields—with horse power, of course.
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Trees that are fully green at home are just coming into their foliage there.
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Beauty can be found wherever you look.
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And so can corrosion.
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When possible, take time to visit new places. If that’s not an option, try viewing your regular piece of the world through new eyes. What details have you never noticed before?

What Grows in Family Trees?

We are being watched and someone will want to model us—especially if there are children in our home.
Fortunately, the most recent habit of mine that has been chosen by one of my kids is harmless. At least, I like to think it is. Returning readers will recognize the following image:

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For those unfamiliar, that is Fernando, my literary muse of sorts. While growing wild on the water oak in my backyard, it still needs regular watering during dry spells to stay fresh. Living in the south, I see hundreds of live oaks with branches blanketed by ferns and moss, but this little guy I’ve watched from birth, so to speak. With each passing month, even during the ice storm this winter, he’s managed to thrive and grow.

Yes, the correlations between Fernando and my literary endeavors are endless, but I didn’t know my watering and regular picture taking have been noticed, but then my youngest drew this:

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She proudly pointed out the fern growing near the base of the tree, just like “Mommy’s fern.” I was touched, and humbled by the reminder that whatever I do, my kids will take it to heart. Here’s to the hope of inspiring nature and creativity!

What’s the oddest thing a child has copied from you?