Home of Ane Ryan Walker, Teller of Tall Tales, Writer of Short Stories

Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 10)

Traveling, Friendship, and Touring America…before it’s too late

It’s been an interesting summer. Fun times catching up with old friends and revisiting favorite places. My DH (darling husband) an I now travel full time in our 5th wheel and are striking off the places we need to see on our bucket list, before–I hesitate to say it, but before someone kicks the proverbial bucket.

So today, in the RV park of iffy wifi, and bad weather I’m resurrecting an old post about friendships and their true values. I’ll keep you posted as I catch up with friends around the country and see the sites.

Women and Friendship

Date: July 22, 2013

Author: Ane

“And life is what we make it. Always has been. Always will be.”

– Grandma Moses

Here’s a thing I know from my heart: value the women who are your friends for they are worth their weight in gold.

Ane Ryan Walker

I do value my women friends. I am still in touch with the girls I grew up with, my best friend from first grade who was still my best friend at high school graduation, and with whom I am still friends today. Ditto for my best friend from college.

I just returned from a long weekend at the beach. It’s an annual event, a three-day weekend cherished by all of us, spent at the beach house of a mutual friend.

Now these ladies and I have been friends for a very long time, sometimes old friends and sometimes new friends. Some 20+ years, and one who just joined us for the very first time. There isn’t a lot of exclusivity to the ”Girls Club” just a few simple rules.

1) Cardinal Rule: Girls Only, no children, no spouses, no boyfriends, no pets. We’ve only violated this rule once, for a two-year old male toddler whose Mom really needed a “girls weekend”.

2) If you get up, you lose your chair, and if you leave the room, we will talk about you. This requires no explanation.

3) No makeup, no bras necessary. (As we age, we make this bra thingy optional. Some of us really need the support.)

4) What happens at the Fish Bowl, stays at the Fish Bowl. We are a little upset that the marketing people stole this for Las Vegas, but we’re not gonna’ press it.

5) No criticism of others situations or behaviors. The truth of it is, everything else in your life may change, but the Girls Weekend is Sacred. We tease, cajole, and tell stories and secrets of our own and others bad behavior over the years, but since those stories never leave the Fish Bowl, the purpose here is to bond with the new, entertain the old, and to put in perspective who we are in this moment. It’s all about how we went from lean, lanky, single, hot girls to the sometimes Grandma’s of today. We know you, and we know your history. This is the place where you come to be your absolute true self. And they keep showing up.

So another year has passed, I took a poll, and if you weren’t in the room, too bad.

No names, the innocent are protected, always.

These are the women I’d trust with my life, share my “bucket list” with, and give my last dime. They are consistent, caring and crazy. They are a reflection of who I really am and I am proud to know them all.

I love you guys!

Thank You Kelli, for the recent visit to Guadalupe River State Park, as always it was great to see you.

It breaks my heart that I will miss Girls Weekend, but I will catch up with Y’all as I can while traveling.

 

What’s in a name?

I recently had a visit from a long time friend I had not seen in several years. During the catch-up phase of our conversation, she informed me she had rescued two dogs. Being a dog lover myself, of course, I needed more information. “What breed,” I asked. She replied, “mixed.”

Finally, she got to the point and told me the mix of breeds–Chihuahua, and Yorkie. “Chorkies,” she declared.

I thought about it for a few moments, all the time wondering to myself who chooses how names are combined to determine a mix of breeds. Chorkie is a fine choice, but what’s wrong with Yohuahua? Isn’t that also an acceptable combination of Yorkie and Chihuahua?

Other options for mixed breeds, such as Labrador retriever and Poodle, are Labradoodle. Let me offer another option; Poodor retriever. After all, the dog is probably still willing to retrieve things.

Some other options I think may need revision.

  • Bogle – Beagle and Boxer. My suggestion, Beaxer, pronounced Beazer. Much more interesting.
  • Bugg – Boston Terrier and Pug. My take is Terrug. Interesting.
  • Cheagle – Chihuahua and Beagle. much like the Yorkie mix, I would go with Behuahua. Sounds like Bwaaahhhaaaa!
  • Golden Dox – Golden Retriever and Dachshund. Or a Golden hund, you pick.
  • Horgi – Husky and Corgi. This is just mean, who would be so mean to a Husky?
  • Jack-A-Ranian – Jack Russell Terrier and Pomeranian. How about PomTerr?
  • Lhaffon – Brussels Griffon and Lhasa Apso. Laff off, just for ridiculousness.
  • Cavachon – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Bichon Frisé. Charles Frise’. It’s a little more personal.

So thinking further on the subject I began to wonder, what’s in a name?

Romance authors choose Hero names with a sharp sound, Brick, Dirk, Clint, or Zack, no Tommies for us. We like real men with hard-sounding names who are durable and dependable.

And for Heroines, we choose languorous, sleep-inducing, sloe-eyed names with a musical lilt, Harmony, Cherie, Susannah. The more ladylike and sultry the name, the better for our heroines. Sexy, huh?

Anewyn, Gaelic for the blithe spirit, gets shortened to Ane and many people spend years pointing out your name is spelled wrong. Over the years I respond, my parents needed the second “N” for another child. Because of obvious criticisms from people you don’t really know, who are not in possession of all the facts, this is annoying at best. You should try to meet these situations with humor.

Generally, I do.

See the list of mixed breed names, revised.

 

 

Courage

  “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

― Anais Nin

Seriously, do you know what constitutes courage? Some people think of it as the absence of fear. Some people say it is the ability to face the very thing you fear. But I often wonder if the ability to face fears can sometimes be a foolish pursuit.

When it is not in your best interest to buck the system, fear can become embedded in the operational psyche.

I don’t believe this. I am of the school of thinking where facing your fears reduces them, allowing you to overcome obstacles in your path enabling you to eventually move on.

Assuming this take on the things you fear is the expansion Anais Nin is referring to, then the inability to face our fears must cause our personal universe to contract. Not good.

Sometimes fears are not meant to be dealt with in so cavalier a fashion.

Who will decide which fears are worth facing, and which should be circumvented?

Like most writers, if you are introverted, you avoid walking into a room of people you do not know, it’s too scary. Even when you seek a group of like-minded people, you can still find a situation like this paralyzing.  Seeking out other aspiring writers, or accomplished writers in pursuit of a mentor is a challenging task. If shyness (fear) prevents you from joining such groups or even seeking them out, how your attempts to join such a group are received are critical to how you deal with these situations in the future.

Most of us, as members of RWA, are often assured a welcome in each chapter of the overall parent group. But that is not necessarily the case. Even chapters which claim to promote aspiring writers by mentoring, and use that as their basis for excellence, often forget that common courtesy is everything.

Recently I attended a chapter meeting for an RWA chapter where I am not a member. I have been a member of RWA since 1993, and I do know the “rules.” You should greet new people and make them feel welcome. This is a hallmark of a chapter that aspires to excellence. It certainly should be a given for a chapter that RWA claims are “excellent.”

But no matter, I attended with notice by emailing and letting them know I planned to attend. I confirmed the date, place and time. When I arrived on site, I made myself known by introducing myself to the first two people I met. They gave me their names and shook hands. Then turned away to speak with friends and others they knew in the arriving group. In the meeting, a woman I’ve known for many years, who belonged to another chapter and who I had hosted numerous times in my home was present. She did not speak or acknowledge me until I was on my way out of the meeting.

Now, I could be wrong, but this behavior does not constitute either the principle of RWA’s inclusion or excellence. Sound like they pissed me off? They did. I have belonged to numerous chapters. I have gone out of my way to welcome those not known to the group or still new enough to not be recognized by other members. Making it my business to make time to answer questions, help the newcomers find a seat and get comfortable. At the very least, introducing them to at least two additional people.

This type of isolation and poor reception by a “peer” group could be enough to keep some writers from joining, or even encouraging them to leave RWA. Me, I’m not that dainty. But I will never forget the shabby treatment by this group and I will not recommend them to any writer, aspiring or otherwise. I will not attend any meeting or presentation for or by them in the future. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Something we should never forget.

 

Memories

   “Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”

― Dr. Seuss

The other day I was asked about my fondest memory as a child.

Tough question. I have so many memories of a wonderful childhood with loving, interesting, adventurous, extended family that I knew I would need plenty of time to think about it.

During the Christmas Holidays, we sometimes visited my mother’s family in Florida. When a white Christmas means sand between your toes, rather than a fluffy blanket of frozen moisture you can sled or ski on, the memories are very different.

This particular year my Irish grandfather traveled with us. A car trip with four kids, a recently widowed senior, and stressed out parents in a single station wagon was in itself an adventure. But things got even better after we arrived at my Aunt and Uncle’s house for the Holidays.

The baking began almost immediately if you can imagine three southern sisters attempting to outdo each other with traditional, amended, and the most current contemporary cookie recipes.  The aroma of cinnamon, sugar, and other exotic spices filled the morning air, every morning. The cookies were frosted, decorated and trimmed within an inch of their little cookie lives. Silver beads, peppermint chips, glazed fruit, and royal icing joined warm gooey chocolate on every tray of delectable treats.

These cooking competitions continued throughout the day until dinner, where one grandfather and three happy husbands, basked in the glory of specialty potato dishes, rich gravy, fresh salads and innumerable vegetable casseroles graced the table.

With a sideboard of fancy dessert, cakes of every kind and sometimes even homemade ice cream, this was a very happy crowd. Even the children, pacified with innumerable homemade cupcakes throughout the day found themselves overwhelmed at dinner.

But one fortunate morning my Irish grandfather, known to all of us kids as “Ryany” woke us before the break of dawn and ushered us as quietly as possible to the bed of my cousins’ paternal grandmothers truck. Now some of the cousins were too little to be trusted with riding in the open bed of a farm truck. Those cousins got to sleep in that morning. Some siblings, bordering on teen-aged, chose to forego this trip. Huge mistake. Just my humble opinion.

We rattled, bumped, jolted and tossed around all the way out-of-town. From the paved interstate to the county road to the hard packed gravel of back roads, we finally bounced off the grid onto granny’s farm. She’d told us many times it was a magical place. I knew it would be, not because she told us, but because Ryany was with us, and he knew where to find magic of all kinds.

Finally, the grownups parked the truck, not too far from an enormous live oak. Ryany ushered us from the bed of the truck, still in our PJ’s to the dew-soaked grass. We climbed up the side of the small hill to peer over the top just as the sky began to lighten towards daybreak.

As the sun rose, the light of day revealed sparkling lights on a gargantuan spider web at the base of the ancient live oak tree. I knew it for what it was immediately.

The home of the Faeries.

Irish granddads know everything about magic and magical creatures. They’re Irish. He’d explained to me before, and I remembered it then in a rush, the same as I did this morning. Holes found at the base of ancient oaks or elms, oversized spider webs and rings of mushrooms were always magical doorways for the Fae folk. Always had been, always would be.

Sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, I forgot how whimsical life could be for children before the internet, Facebook, Instagram and snapchat. Recently I remembered.

I went to visit the site of the fae entryway, and the giant old oak was still there. I placed a small door, a tiny bundle of dried flowers, and some loose charms at the site. My hope is that my humble offering will alert the fae that humans still honor their traditions, and respect their space. Also, that we do not believe it’s wise to keep their magic out of the ordinary world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A day late, but not short.

Sometimes you have to know when to retreat, regroup and let go.

The next thing is moving forward. What doesn’t destroy us only makes us stronger. I find this to be so true. So much for writing horror novels. Although I do love a good horror story, and will continue to write them, I know Romance.

The advantages of a good romance novel are: everyone falls in love, sooner or later. So that’s something with which we can all identify. Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day , I know many of my friends celebrated with candy, flowers, wine, and romantic dining experiences.

Sometimes I feel like an old stick in the mud, because I don’t want to eat out on specific holidays, i.e., Mother’s Day or Valentines Day. No reservations? No problem.

Truth be told, I am one of the luckiest women on the planet. My husband brings me flowers for pretty much no reason, throughout the year. He sees flowers, thinks I might like them, and then just brings them home. We often find it’s scary how we think alike.

So yesterday–one of the most romantic days of the year–we stayed in, made dinner together, and  chowed down on delicious chewy brownies with walnuts, while watching TV.

Romantic? It was for us. We enjoy spending time together. Even when we avoid the hype of commercialism. Was the evening totally without surprises? No. I bought him a snickers bar. Happy Valentines Day to the best husband on the planet.

Moving

Yes, it is time.

This week I started submitting a completed, edited, novel to agents. I am actively looking for representation of my manuscript, The Dybbuk Box.

The time has come, I believe to move forward and pursue with vigor the path to publication. I googled a list of Agents , (reputable, I know because I checked) who have an active interest in representing Horror novels.  They state the preference in multiple publications.

I’ve written quite a lot in the past two years about taking a writing career seriously, and now I’m doing that very thing.

I hired a professional editor, to look for story holes. Some were found and corrected. I acquired beta reads from multiple published authors, both those who write paranormal, and those who don’t, but do read horror.

It’s time.

I’ve spent time learning the craft, understanding the drill, and now I know the way forward is submitting the work.

So I built myself a website, opened a Facebook author page and I am officially taking a leap of faith.

Stop by. Maybe I’ll have new ghost stories to tell this fall. And Thanks for following.

 

Writing from the heart

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

― Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This advice comes under the admonition of “write what you know”. Some of the best and worst advice aspiring writers ever receive.

When you are told to “write what you know” it is always difficult to discern what exactly that means.

Perhaps you need to engage the reader with more emphasis on relating your personal experience with emotional issues. Sadness, joy, anger, revulsion. Any of these emotions are felt in the core and should be transferable to the page.

For Example: anger,

Jolie’s shoulders tensed, apprehension ripping through her. Her clenched hands dropped to her sides, the fists so tight her nails in the palms almost drew blood. Why didn’t people listen to her?

Can you see it in your mind’s eye how angry she is? Have you ever been there? Standing in front of someone you disagree with, and who is not listening to your input, and your anger takes on this physical aspect?

Or how about revulsion, ending in physical pain

Her fingers, twisted and arthritic, removed the cloth from the box. Mesmerized, the memory fleeting beyond her grasp, she pulled the drawer open at the base of the cabinet and memory flooded her like a landslide.

She groaned.

The horrific cold of a thousand dead hands assaulted her, astounding her, stealing her breath. For a moment, she thought she simply forgot to breathe. Then the pain exploded in her chest. A hundred blades of precision surgical steel knifing into her heart and radiating out to her shoulder and jaw. She struggled to take in air. Clutching, reaching for her son, she toppled the tea-table.

I’ll bet you have. I’m going to go out on a limb and bet you know exactly what the author means, when they write she was angry. That’s telling, and when the author shows you the characters physical reaction to something that happens “on stage” in the story, that’s writing what you know.

Translating your emotion into words on the page, sadness, desire, longing, and any other emotions we are all privy to, is the essence of writing what you know.

It’s All in Your Head

“The greatest discovery of any generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering the attitudes of their minds.”

― Albert Schweitzer

Yes, it is often a case of mind over matter, except when our actions do not reflect the intentions of the words we send out into the world.

Make a promise to yourself? Hasn’t everyone you know, and if you’re truthful, haven’t you even made a promise to yourself that went unfulfilled? We do it all the time, with toss-offs like, “I’ll take care of it,” “Leave this to me,” and “Consider it done.”

Until it isn’t taken care of, it got left, it’s not finished, and considering it done didn’t necessarily get it done.

What happens when our actions and our words don’t match? We are lying to ourselves. This is the worst thing that can happen. When we make promises we need to keep them. When we state intentions with the force of resolution behind them, we need to ensure the intentions become fact.

Writer’s block is just that kind of a thing. Promises unfulfilled. Basically, it’s the road to hell, paved with all our good intentions. We tell ourselves “I’ll write more tomorrow”, or “I’ll make up for taking today day off by writing twice as much tomorrow.” It is true, I’ve done it myself. There is only one problem. Tomorrow never comes, it’s always today, and with each passing day, it becomes easier to give up writing.

This, my friends, is the true nature of Writers Block.

So, I bet you’re asking if there’s a cure. Not that I know of unless you simply avoid it in the first place.

I have not suffered recently, but in the past, I used NaNoWriMo to eliminate Writers Block.

What? Yes, it’s all about establishing a good writing habit and not breaking a writing streak. Do you know it takes twenty-one days to develop a habit? And a mere two days to destroy a one?

This might be why NaNoWriMo is so popular. It affords aspiring writers the opportunity to establish good (consistent) writing habits.

The goal is to write 1,666 words daily for a stretch of thirty days. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Does it also sound too good to be true? Many think it is, but the truth of the matter here is writing consists of multiple things besides putting the words on the page. Planning, plotting, organizing, outlining, research, character sketches, background examination, etc.

It does not consist of cleaning your office, stacking your notepads, sharpening your pencils and uselessly surfing the internet. In fact, I recommend not turning the internet on until you have completed the 1,666-word count for the day. Some call this mean, I call it motivation.

Of course, this is not written in stone. What is today? Nothing I can think of since Moses came down from the mountain.

I personally invest in the 2,500 per day theory, since I like to have weekends off. It’s a little harder to meet the word count, but it works for me. At the end of the month, the complete 50,000 first draft allows me to spend my time working on other writing skills, like editing.

If you think it’s not doable, remember what you believe is what’s true. So if you believe in writer’s block. . . Well, I believe it’s all in your head.

NanoWriMo.org

Knowing When to Say No

 “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

― Thomas Jefferson

As a middle child I’ve always been one to “go along to get along”. For middle children where I grew up, this was the way of doing things. You acquiesced. You were considered the peacemaker, which mostly meant you gave in to the wishes or demands of others. The older kids, were…well, older and therefore deserved to have a say. The younger kids were…younger, and therefore deserved some type of special treatment.

I never understood it, but being a middle child, I went along with the practice.

Today, things are different. Everyone wants to have a say.

Sometimes I view this attitude as entitlement. Sometimes I perceive the the attitude to be immature, selfish or spoiled. But today, I am less likely to go along to get along.

When it comes to my writing I understand that if I am not willing to go along to get along, in other words to write what they ask for, that I may be unable to sell what I write.

Of all the advice that writers receive, write what you know is most certainly the best advice. But I have to tell you “write what you love” is the advice that will serve you over the long term.

When we write what we know, and what inspires us we take our writing to a whole new level. This is the essence of “voice”, where a writers passion shines through. It is sometimes this little spark–writing what we love–that brings our talent to the forefront, allows us to reach a broader audience.

When writers combine writing what they know with writing what they love, the end result is success. For example, Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that inspired HBO’s True Blood Series, wrote what she knew (Southern Louisiana)combined with something she loved (Vampires with human failings).

You cannot fault this recipe for success. Enthusiasm for a beloved event or period of time influences the most mediocre situation. Passion always shines through the storytelling.

Do not, of course ignore the essentials of good storytelling: Memorable characters, good grammar, engaging setting, good story structure, and a well developed plot line. Harris combined what she knew on multiple levels, Ten years of publishing experience with familiar setting and quirky characters. The timeless themes of looking for love and acceptance brought millions of viewers to the series and expanded the books sales.

Success comes from writing what you know mixed with something you are passionate about.

Where does your story start?

There’s the sixty-four thousand dollar question.

I know many authors in various stages of their careers, and not a single one willing to say, “I know exactly where my story begins.”

Once in a rare while we know where to start the story, but not often, and certainly, not always.

As writers we have so many things to agonize over, such as “who does the story belong to?”, and “who will be the primary character?”

We need to decide so many things when we start a new story that we often overlook the obvious when we decide who will tell the story. For Romance writers, we know the story must be told by both sides, the “he said, she said” that keeps romance readers coming back. They love (no pun intended) a gripping story and so of course, they want to know why she behaved that way, and what he thought about it, and why he put the time and energy into winning her back. Did she make it worth his time?

If you have an audience that comes back again and again, you know you’re probably telling the story correctly. But how much do you agonize over the very beginning of the story? How do you decide when you’re just starting out who the story belongs to and how it should be told.

A general rule of thumb is when things change, the story begins. Always a good place to start. Change brings conflict. Conflict and its resolution or lack thereof, is often what keeps readers reading. But, unless we can identify and sympathize with the primary character, then you, as the reader are not likely to buy in for the long haul. And believe me, 400 pages is the long haul.

You must create and open with a character we love, or at least can identify with for the duration of the story. This simple direction is indeed a tall order.
How do I make you love my character? Or at the very least, how do I get you to accept him for who he is, like you but not like you, and still make him interesting.

In a word, backstory.

All of the things I, as the writer know, about the character, who he or she is, how they came to be in the moment fraught with conflict and change, and I must make you care about him and want to know why that happened.

You can love him or hate him, but he must arouse your curiosity, make you ask why? and also wonder, what happened next?

If you fail to incite this interest, you haven’t found the the right character, or the true beginning of your story.

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021 Her Story Called

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑