Tidbits and Nuggets for Writers

The blogosphere holds a wealth of information available to writers at all levels. If you’re like me, half of the GB’s on your computer are taken up by saved bookmarks and links.

Whether it’s an article, book, or a single sentence, finding the answer to that one nagging question feels like gold. I call these treasured finds – tidbits and nuggets – a quick and dirty reference source for writing.

 Here are a few of my favorites:

K.M. Weiland on the Most Common Writing Mistakes: Are Your Verbs Showing or Telling?

Telling is summarizing. Telling gives the readers the bare facts, with little to no illustration.”

Showing is elaborating. Showing gives the readers the details of a scene, including what the character(s) are seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, thinking, and feeling emotionally.”

Slushpile Avalanche on Denoting Scene Breaks:

“In fiction, scene breaks should never be subtle… When it comes time to make that break, simply insert a # or a *.”

 Deena Nataf on being – Scared to Write What You Really Think? Why it Will Make You a Better Writer – Write to Done

“Staying neutral to avoid offending anyone will result in words without substance. Not being neutral doesn’t mean you have to be controversial; it means having your own opinion and expressing it.”

Writer’s Path: Ryan Lantz and guest author Jacqui Murray – How To Characterize Love In Your Writing:

“Love is about emotion. That’s where you write it…The reaction of your characters must be in-character.”

Allison Beckert from her blog, Art of Stories on The Relationship Arc

“Writing a relationship functions the same way as any story; it requires its own rising action, climax, and resolution.”

John J Kelley from Writer Unboxed:  The Care and Feeding of Relationships.

“For each relationship of my protagonist, I stripped out each scene in which he engaged the other character and then read them independently, isolated from the distracting swirl of the rest of the story. In doing so, I could see gaps clearly, places where emotional leaps felt too broad or moved too fast.”

I use physical notebooks and desktops apps like the ones below. Whichever method you choose, having these at my fingertips makes writing easier.

5 Ways to Create a Reference Library to Have at Your Fingertips.
  1.   WORD– Open a document and each time you come across a tidbit or nugget, add the topic and link to the document.
  2.  ONE NOTE – in the same way.
  3.  EXCEL – make a spreadsheet of the author, topic, link, and tidbit.
  4.  POCKET – and create a list of favorite articles.
  5.  EVERNOTE – a central collection of notes.

Do you have something similar? How do you collect your favorite tidbits and nuggets on writing?  I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

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Looks Like a Princess to Me

This was a draft from an old prompt. Don’t remember why I didn’t get around to posting this, but here it is. Enjoy.

Panicked, the man ran from rack to rack.
“Can I help you, Sir?” The clerk asked.
“I only looked away for a minute.”
“You’ve lost something?”
The man frantically wiped aside clothes on the nearby racks, looking underneath one. “Jackson!”
The clerk’s hands fluttered against her chest. “Oh my; shall I call security?”
“Jackson, I swear to God, when I get my hands on you.”
“I’m sure he’s close by, but threatening him won’t make him come out of hiding,” the clerk said, in a strained, high voice.
“Him?”
A look of confusion crossed the clerk’s face. “You said, Jackson. Aren’t we looking for a boy?”
The man rolled his eyes. “It’s a gender neutral name,” he said, moving to the next rack. “Haven’t you heard the latest, gender terms are offensive.”
“Offensive?” The clerk moved with him, scanning the area for a wandering child. “To whom?”
“Not to me,” he said, stopping abruptly, “It’s a family name.” A smile spread across his face. The clerk followed his gaze.
The child stood on the dressing stage in front of a large mirror. Tiny hands clutched her frilly pink dress, and dark brown curls bounced with each twirl.images
“She looks like a princess to me; all girl,” he said.

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Platitudes on Aging and Other Annoying Things

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I hate platitudes. You know those annoying statements people say to make you feel better about a situation. I come from a line of women who live long lives, into their eighties and nineties. Based on that kind of lineage, I anticipate a long life too. I’d prefer to be one of those women who age gracefully (whatever the heck that means).

My mother, a proud woman, wore her crown of white hair and the wrinkles on her face with pride. Coloring her hair would have been an insult. “I earned every one of these gray hairs raising six kids, ” she said, more times than I can count. Never at a loss for words, Mother had quite a few trite statements and tiresome clichés in her repertoire of advice. None of which prepared me for the grim reality of aging. I would’ve preferred the truth.

In honor of all aging women, I want to share a few of my mother’s favorite platitudes, sprinkled with a bit of honesty. So, grab a bottle of wine or two and brace yourself, ladies. You’re in for a bumpy ride.

Those aren’t wrinkles; they’re lines of wisdom.

No, they’re wrinkles. Your face is just the beginning. Those suckers spread faster than lines on a Google map and it ain’t pretty. You’ll wake one morning to find perky boobs that once pushed lace-trimmed bras out in nose snuggling cleavage deflated like helium filled balloon gone bad. Sexy bras get shoved to the back of the drawer and replaced with thick strapped, hard-wired versions. Once upon a time, I could slip into a sexy little lace number as quickly as it came off. Now, it’s like gymnastics — shaking, pulling, and tucking those girls into their rightful place and praying to God, they’ll stay.

Those aren’t hot flashes, they’re power surges.

Yeah right; slap CEO on my nametag and call-it-a-day. Panting, turning red in the face, and wiggling out of one’s clothes at an alarming rate, is not offering sexual favors or a lap dance. It’s a damn hot flash, and on those occasions, rest assured, I can kick ass and take names.

Your best days are in front of you. (What a crock.)

My best days were when I had the energy to work ten-hour days, enjoy happy hour with friends, make dinner, help the kids with homework, and have wild sex on the dining room table (or other impulsive places). Wild sex these days is watching the movie version and reminiscing. My body doesn’t bend that way anymore and this ain’t Hollywood. Those grunting and moaning sounds ricocheting off the walls have more to do with the pain in my hips and knees than pleasure.

Age is just a number.

No, it’s a flagrant reminder you’ve been usurped. Younger, thinner, more beautiful women are the ones turning the heads. The only heads I seem to turn these days are old men at Target. And trust me nothing brings the truth home more than an old man at Target, making a move on you.

The trick to aging gracefully is to enjoy it.

Seriously? I don’t think so. Aging is taking me kicking and screaming. I’m a proud woman (got that from mom) and vain. I never leave the house without makeup, earrings, or perfume. Penciling in the lines takes longer, but I refuse to be one of those women with lipstick half way to her nostrils. Did I mention you’ll need a magnifying mirror in your bathroom and reading glasses in every room of the house?

Forgetfulness is a form of freedom.

Freedom to roam around in circles, parking lots, highways, and room-to-room because you’ve forgotten where you are or what you’re doing. Some call this sightseeing, strolling, being disorganized, missing a turn. I call it, “Where the hell is my car? What did I come into this room for and where am I going?”

You haven’t changed at all.

Yes, I have. My face sags, my ass sags, my boobs are hard-wired, I get lost in the driveway, and can’t remember what I did yesterday, much less the last time I had spontaneous sex. My gnarled hands couldn’t open a jar or pick up a penny if you held a gun to my head. The pain of getting up and down makes me hesitant to sit. I don’t sashay, I waddle on legs stiff as iron pegs with feet, and the popping sound is not my gum, it’s my knees. Sedans (too low) are history. Give me an SUV with GPS; my sense of direction went south with my looks. And, driving at night might as well put Stevie Wonder behind the wheel. I can’t see shit.

My husband in a moment of great wisdom told me, “Honey, God made our eyes so vision would fade as we age.” He removed his glasses. “I can’t see a thing. You’re as beautiful as the first time I saw you.” He’s such a sweet talker; I’m swooning.

Gray hair is beautiful.

A few gray hairs, I can abide, but when I wake up and look as if someone dumped fertilizer on my head while I slept, enough is enough. My hairdresser is on retainer, and if my husband has to skip a meal or two for me to afford a cut and color, well all I can say is, “I’m watching his health.”

It’s better than the alternative (my all time favorite).

Ok, there’s some truth to that statement, but not much. Still, it gives me hope. They say all will be made whole in Heaven and I’m counting on it. Is sex included?

The truth

Aging sucks and someone (my mother) should have warned me. So here are a few words of wisdom from my hard-knock school of aging.

1- Repeat after me Botox is my friend. Your husband won’t notice, remember he can’t see.

2- Put your hairdresser on retainer, Clairol says, “You’re worth it.”

3- Sweating the small stuff will give you wrinkles, so don’t.

4- Invest time and money in yourself. Your husband won’t miss the groceries you’re not buying, and besides, you’ve paid your dues.

5- Enjoy the moments and laugh a lot. If we gotta go, go out with a smile on your face. How you get that smile is up to you.

To be fair.

Aging isn’t all dome and gloom. There are advantages. Life experiences have taught me about people and trust. Trivial things matter less, and I’ve figured out the important things in life. The best thing about growing older, however, is letting go of all the nonsense. Whiners and stupid people best stay back, I’ve lost my tolerance. Grow up, life isn’t fair, and there are no guarantees. Political correctness, I flushed it down the toilet where it belongs. I feel a freedom to say exactly what’s on my mind and without apology, and if someone doesn’t like this old lady, tough shit.

Your turn is coming.

Books That Stay With You

Usually, I post my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. You can find them easy enough by clicking on the tab at the top of this page. However, once in a while a book comes along that deserves a stand-out review.

41Rgnm19FlL._AC_US320_QL65_ Kill Someone by Luke Smitherd, is one of those books. Although, typically not her genre,  my sister, Jean Cogdell @ Jeanswriting.com, recommended and shared her copy. “You have to read this book,” she said.

It wasn’t a hard sell, for those of you who’ve read many of my stories, the title grabbed me immediately.

This book captured my attention from the first page. I couldn’t put it down. I often said rhetoric is easy, “I’d never….” You fill in the blank. The truth is no one knows what they would do in any given circumstance. When the rubber meets the road, things take on a whole new meaning. Now, imagine being presented with two options, one horrifying and the other worse. What would you do if you, plain, old ordinary you had to kill a random stranger in order to save the lives of five others? Of course, the choice is never that simple. There are always caveats.

This is the predicament the protagonist, Chris Summer faces when two strangers show up on his doorstep in the wee hours of the morning. The minute he opened the door, his life changed. You’ve heard the old saying, “nothing is free.” Well, nothing means nothing, including our decisions. Chris discovers this the hard way.

The author takes us on the journey with Chris and, I gotta tell you, I felt the struggle Chris felt. You cannot read this book without asking every other page, “What would I do? Could I?”

The characters are extremely well-developed. The sinister man in white, the scary, silent man in black, and Chris. With each sentence, you feel his breathless sense of hopelessness, panic, the sweat on his brow and the sleepless nights. You feel his struggles in every one of his decisions, and you don’t know which way you want him to go – either option sends a chill down your spine.

I didn’t see the ending coming As the author tied up loose ends, I found myself, once again, saying – “Well, damn.”

If you like psychological thrillers, Kill Someone is the book that will stay with you for a long time. It’s worth noting, this story has gotten the author noticed. Huffington Post said, “Luke Smitherd: A Writer To Look Out For In 2017.”

I give this book five stars.

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

April Fools’ Day

Happy April Fools’ Day! This day in history and a few fun quotes.

“Here cometh April again, and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever. – Charles Lamb, cited in Wordsworth Book of Humorous Quotations.”

I’d love to hear your comments. Talk to me. Tell me your story and look for me on Facebook at SheilaMGood,  PinterestBloglovinTwitter@sheilamgood, Contently, and Instagram. You can follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.