How Do You Choose What To Read?

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RLKC profile picI mentioned in a recent post that I’m a part of Read Local Kansas City. I am also a part of another “read local” organization—Hometown Reads, which lists books by local authors in many cities across the U.S. Go check out this site and see what books have been written by your hometown authors—you might find a gem.

Hometown Reads wants to learn more about people’s reading habits, and they have a few questions for readers. These questions include:

  1. When do you read books?
  2. How do you choose the books you want to read?
  3. Do you read print books or ebooks?

As I’ve noted in earlier posts, I’ve been a life-long reader. While there were periods in my life when I didn’t read for pleasure, it has been my first source for entertainment since I was four or five years old, and even earlier when my parents read to me.

When do I read? Any time I can. As a child, I read in the afternoons during the school year when my homework was done. And I read all summer long, devouring six to ten books a week.

During the years I was in college, law school, and employed full-time, I had little time for reading. But it was my guilty pleasure to curl up with a book on an occasional weekend afternoon, though I had work to do, kids to feed, and laundry to fold. On weekends when my husband was away on Naval Reserve training, I could get through a book or two, and I often did.

Now that I’m retired, reading is no longer a guilty pleasure, just a pleasure. Though at times I feel guilty, because I have a blog post to write or a critique partner’s chapter to edit or groceries to buy. Daily life continues to intrude on time I’d like to spend reading. Or writing.

How do I choose what to read? I’ll read whatever books come into my hands. I frequently receive books as gifts. Some family members give me books they think I’ll like. Others give me books they think would be “good for me.” One nephew works in an independent bookstore, and he finds unusual books that suit my interests, like this year’s gift, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776, by Claudio Saunt, which is awaiting my attention.

I read literary bestsellers. I read books that friends recommend (which have led to some very good finds, like Lilac Girls, by Martha Hall Kelly, and The Last Days of Night, by Graham Moore). I read books for my book club, and I read books that other book clubs are reading. I read books that our local library selects for community-wide “Big Reads.”

I read them all, or put them in a stack “to be read.” Most of the books in my stack I eventually read. Others I don’t, which makes me sad.

When I’m browsing, whether in a bookstore or library or online, I often look for books by authors I love. Those tend to be genre books in series, whether they be thrillers or mysteries or romances. But any book with an intriguing cover, or one I’ve read a review of, might get picked off the shelf and find its way into my stack.

The problem isn’t finding books to read, it’s making the choice between books.

Print or ebooks? I’ve addressed this question in earlier posts. I’ll read both, but I’ve switched largely to ebooks, except for books I’m given, books I can’t find in ebook format, and occasional forays to the library. The reason? My budget and my bulging purse. I can carry a tablet with Kindle, Nook and Overdrive apps loaded on it, each giving me access to dozens of books, or I can carry a single paperback, which gives me no choice of reading material when I’m stuck waiting in line or for an appointment. The Overdrive books from the libraries I belong to are all free, as are many Kindle and Nook books. Otherwise, my reading habit would break the bank.

And I can read on my tablet in the dark. That’s my new guilty pleasure. Waking in the middle of the night gives me the opportunity to read a chapter or two before I fall asleep again. I put on the blue light filter and read without bothering my husband.

What about you? What’s your answer to the questions posed above?

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On Strings and Things

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I’ve written before about what a picky eater I was. Cooked carrots were my worst nemesis, but I also hated all foods with strings. You’d be surprised how many foods have strings.

Bananas, for one. Kids are supposed to like bananas, and I did like the taste. But before a banana was placed on my plate, I insisted that it be peeled and all of the stringy fibers removed. I preferred them sliced, so any remaining strings were only a quarter inch long.

Corn on the cob, of course, has lots of strings. Seeing corn silks on my plate could make me retch. We usually had canned corn, which I ate no problem, though sometimes an errant string found its way into the can. I made my mother pick the strings off any fresh corn carefully before she cooked it. Even then, I usually did my own second combing to pick off the silks before I would butter the corn. And today, when I’m in charge of cooking corn on the cob, I am still as careful as I wanted my mother to be, though my tolerance has improved a little bit.

Then there are sweet potatoes, a very fibrous food. Mealy, milky mashed potatoes are much better than those orange tubers.

And string beans—they’re even called string beans. Like with corn, the canned ones were acceptable, but when fresh green beans are snapped into bite-size pieces, sometimes the string doesn’t snap cleanly and remains clinging off of one piece. Not going to eat it.

The list goes on.

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Me, wearing one of the jackets I chewed, 1959

My mother never really understood my abhorrence of strings. “Why can’t you eat the fibers, Theresa?” she asked. “You’re always chewing the strings on your jacket.”

And I did.

As a child, the winter coats I played in usually had hoods. The hoods had strings to tie under the chin. The strings frequently came undone and hung down my chest. I put the ties in my mouth and chewed the ends. I chewed them until they were frayed and disgusting. The taste improved the more I chewed.

Why were those strings different than food fibers?

Because I was a kid. I have no better answer.

Other strings didn’t bother me either. For most of my childhood, my parents had one of those white cotton bedspreads with the pulled loops that created a pretty design on the top of the bed. The loops fascinated me.

When I was three years old, I took my naps on my parents’ bed, while my brother slept in his crib. He and I shared a bedroom, and if we were both in our room, neither of us slept during nap time. I was growing out of naps, and many afternoons I couldn’t sleep. I got bored lying on my parents’ bed, and sometimes I pulled the loops on the bedspread. I knew I wasn’t supposed to, but they were so tempting.

One weekend afternoon, I pulled a very long loop out of the pattern on the spread, and then another, and another. When nap time was over, my mother came into the room, took one look, and asked if I had pulled the loops.

I shook my head. “No.”

She asked again. Again I lied. I didn’t want to get into trouble.

My father was home, and she sent him into the bedroom. “Your mother says you pulled the loops on the bedspread.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Here’s the thing,” he said. “It’s naughty to pull those loops because it wrecks the bedspread. But it’s worse because you lied about it. You have to tell the truth. Because you lied, I’m going to spank you.”

And he did.

My dad was in graduate school at the time, and my parents had to live with that bedspread for several years. My mother tried to repair it, but they couldn’t spend their scarce money on a new one. And every time I looked at the damaged spread, I remembered the lie. And the spanking.

I won’t say I never lied to my parents again, but I didn’t do it often. And not about matters where I could be so easily caught.

When did you get in trouble as a kid?

Where Am I on Social Media? And Where Are You?

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stocksnap_3czq87f245-computer-womanUsing social media takes a lot of time. Some of it is wasted time, some of it is productive—at least in terms of learning what our friends are doing and thinking. Now that the election is over, I can read most people’s posts without my blood pressure rising.

Authors are told to be active on social media, though most marketing gurus now say you don’t have to be everywhere—choose a couple of platforms where your audience is, and emphasize those. I’ve tried to focus my attention to a few sites, using passive links to provide content to the rest.

So where am I on social media?

I post most of my “new” content on this blog. I write about my life and my writing and share it with readers on Monday and Wednesday each week. For the most direct connection with me, you should subscribe to this blog.

I link most of my blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. I almost always link to my Facebook author page, and I post some new content about writing there also.

If I think my posts are of interest to my “real” friends, I post to my personal Facebook page as well. I also put passive links to my blog posts on my Amazon Author Page and on my Goodreads Author Page, but I rarely update those pages directly.

I’m fairly active on Facebook, so if you want to start a conversation with me and don’t want to comment on a post here on WordPress, my Facebook author page is the best place to find me. I have made several new friends this way and also reconnected with old friends and acquaintances—which is one of the prime benefits of social media.

I’m on Twitter, but I don’t do much with my personal handle (@MTHupp). I joined Twitter to follow my son, though I admit I have more followers than close friends and family now.

My son moved on to Instagram, so I created an Instagram account, but I don’t do much with it. Other than to look at pictures of my son’s dog and my niece’s kids. It’s the best way I’ve found to stay connected with them.

I wonder what the next new thing will be? I’ll have to follow where the younger generation leads me.

I have a Pinterest page, and I’ve linked some of my blog posts to my Pinterest boards (check out my Story & History board, and I also have Oregon Trail and California Gold Rush boards). Unfortunately, I find Pinterest even more addictive than Facebook, so I don’t go there very frequently—if I did, I would waste hours.

WBT Impact ArchI’m also active as part of the Write Brain Trust group for self-published authors. We maintain a public presence on Facebook and Twitter. I curate many of the posts on those sites. What I try to do is to post the best of what I read about writing and publishing on the Write Brain Trust sites for the benefit of other writers.

RLKC profile picThrough Write Brain Trust, we’ve also launched a Facebook page for readers, Read Local Kansas City. A group of Kansas City authors finds people of interest to Kansas City area readers to spotlight each week, and we also post information about literary events and library happenings in the region. We’d love to add more Kansas City area readers—so please like this page, if you’re interested. Read Local Kansas City is also present on Twitter (@ReadLocalKC).

Take a moment to explore all the links in this post. Writers want their work to be accessible to readers, wherever readers are. I hope each of you will follow me wherever you like to hang out. And I’m always open to feedback.

Readers, what social media platform is your favorite? Why? Or do you avoid it all?

Broadway Tunes and the Game of Life

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I grew up listening to Broadway show tunes on my father’s stereo system. Actually, not to all Broadway show tunes, but only to those for which my parents had record albums—My Fair Lady, Camelot, South Pacific, and The Sound of Music.

I think it was an easy way for my mother to keep the children quiet on a winter weekend afternoon. Dad would be off somewhere—probably working—and my mother would get out these records and put them on the stereo. My brother and I lolled on the living room floor and listened while we played cards or board games.

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1960s version of The Game of Life

We played The Game of Life, which taught us the importance of staying in school and getting a good-paying job in order to stay out of the poor house. (I’m told a newer version rewards players for recycling and helping the homeless, but in the version we played, the point was to avoid homelessness one’s self.)

“All I want is a room somewhere, far away from the cold night air . . .”

We played chess: “Checkmate.”

“So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye . . .”

We played Clue: “Miss Scarlett in the hall with the knife.”

“Early dawn was the time, she would pay for her crime . . .”

For every game, it seemed, there was a song in the background. And a lesson to be learned.

As a result of these lazy afternoons, by the end of my grade school years, I could recite all the lyrics to all the songs from these shows. I probably got a few of the lyrics wrong, because I didn’t quite understand the words, but I was close enough.

But my parents’ records were not without flaws. On the Camelot recording, when we got to Side B’s “I Loved You Once in Silence,” the record skipped. We’d get to “twice the despair” and if someone wasn’t right there to lift the needle and move it on, we heard “twice the despair . . . twice the despair . . . twice the despair.” Endlessly.

Not exactly what a couple of pre-teen kids wanted to hear on a Saturday afternoon. And there was no way to stop it, at least not until I was deemed old enough to touch the needle myself. As a result, I hated that song.

Speaking of “No Way To Stop It,” that was one of my favorite songs in The Sound of Music. As a future writer, I loved the alliteration in the first line, “You dear attractive dewy-eyed idealist.” In fact, I loved every line in that song, all the way until the final, “Nothing else as wonderful as I”—another sentiment bound to appeal to a kid.

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Theater release poster for The Sound of Music movie

The movie, The Sound of Music, came to my hometown when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. My birthday party that year was to take a group of friends see the movie, then return to our house for cake and ice cream. I was so surprised to discover that the movie didn’t include the song “No Way To Stop It.” The movie also left out “How Can Love Survive,” another song from the record that I loved. Despite my disappointment, I did like the movie.

When The Sound of Music movie came out, I’d been taking piano lessons for about three years and I was given a book of the sheet music. I learned to play most of the songs. (I still have the sheet music, though I rarely play the piano any more, and when I do, I play badly.) But I still miss the songs from the Broadway show that were left out.

I later saw the movie version of My Fair Lady when I was in college. It was loverly, but by that stage in my life I recognized how unrealistic it was. I went to the library and checked out George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion. I decided his ending—though decidedly less romantic—was much more likely, given the characters he depicted.

South Pacific, on the other hand, was a wonderful movie, though so sad. When I read James Michener’s Tales of the South Pacific, I realized what a great job the authors and songwriters of the musical did in converting his short stories into an epic story about the Pacific theater in World War II.

I haven’t followed Broadway musicals much since my childhood. There have been some remarkable ones in the last several decades, but nostalgia keeps these old Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lerner & Loewe musicals my favorites. They taught me many lessons, as did The Game of Life.

What songs do you remember from childhood?

The Second Anniversary of Loss

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Tomorrow marks the second anniversary of my father’s death, which happened just six months after my mother’s death. I find myself in a much better place than I was on the first anniversary. I wrote a year ago today that I was melancholic—past the immediacy of loss, but still mourning. Now, a year further into being an adult orphan, the reminders of loss are far less frequent, and when they hit, the pain is less intense.

I survived another Christmas without my parents. I thought of them often through the holidays, but not with the same level of “I’ll never see them again” grief that I had in the first year. My parents came to mind when I called my sister and brother—I used to call my parents on major holidays (not my siblings), unless my parents called me first. But I didn’t feel loss this year over memories of particular Christmases past that will never be repeated.

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My parents’ empty house

I recently looked through some photos of my parents’ last home while searching for a picture to use on another blog post. I felt a few pangs at seeing these photos. Some pictures were taken when the house was still furnished with all their belongings—now mostly sold or given to charity. Other pictures showed the empty rooms taken after the estate sale while the house was on the market. These later pictures remind me their lives have vanished, except in memory. All their earthly detritus is gone, except for a few mementos my siblings and I kept.

And I can accept the passing of their earthly presence. Most days. The waters have smoothed over my emotions, and the current once more runs far beneath the surface.

Still, every once in awhile something triggers my tears. The sight of one of my mother’s Hummel figurines. A Christmas ornament I gave my parents that I now put on my own tree. “Ave Maria,” a song my father loved.

These triggers will probably always happen. But the sense of overwhelming loss is gone. It’s a few tears, not a breakdown.

Mostly what I’m left with is two boxes of photographs and two boxes of files from my parents’ estates. I need to sort through both. I’ll have to keep some of the files for a few years. The photographs I’ll keep forever . . . or at least until I digitize them or my husband makes me throw them out.

And the memories. I still have the memories. Those, too, will last forever, even if new memories are added and the intensity of the past slips further beneath the surface.

What losses have you suffered that you find diminishing with time?

My Earliest Memories: What Is Real and What Isn’t?

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As we begin the new year, I’ve been looking back at my life. From time to time I try to decide what my earliest memory is. I recently wrote about the first Thanksgiving I remember, in November 1958 when I was two-and-a-half. But I have earlier memories yet.

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Me at 17 months, and my newborn brother

I might remember my brother’s birth when I was seventeen months old, but I may only be remembering the stories that were told later of what a good big sister I was.

I remember my mother having to feed the furnace in the house we lived in from mid-1957 until August or September 1959. But I can’t pinpoint exactly when those memories took place in that timeframe.

I’m pretty sure I do actually remember many things that happened between December and March 1958, when my mother, brother and I lived with my maternal grandparents in Klamath Falls, Oregon, while my father was taking courses in Corvallis, Oregon, for his master’s degree. I was not yet two during these months.

I have fleeting memories of my great-grandfather visiting during that time, though it might have been a later visit, and I don’t remember the most famous family event of that visit, which was when I pushed my baby brother over—caught on an early home movie for all to see.

I’m fairly certain I remember chasing Kitty, my grandparents’ cat, under the couch. I so wanted to pet Kitty, and Kitty so did not want to be petted. She was a grumpy old thing. But again, that memory could have come from a later visit.

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My grandparents’ house in Klamath Falls (you can see the Oldenburgs’ house beyond). My bedroom was on the back of the house, which was over the basement garage.

I remember locking myself in the bedroom during naptime. I was fascinated by the lock in the doorknob—we didn’t have those at our house—and I loved to push the button. The bedroom windows were on the second story above the garage in the back of the house. On a couple of occasions, someone had to climb a ladder to get in through the window to rescue me. I didn’t know I needed rescuing, but I was not able to understand how to unlock the door—or maybe I just didn’t want to. After the second or third “rescue,” my grandmother tied a dishtowel around the knob so I couldn’t push the button anymore. But again, this could have happened on a later trip to Klamath Falls.

However, I have one memory from that winter that is confirmed by newspaper accounts. I researched it online and found references to what happened in the Klamath Falls newspaper for February 10 and 11, 1958, though I’m not certain of the exact date.

In the middle of one night in early February 1858, I woke up in that bedroom in my grandparents’ home where I liked to lock the door. What woke me were bright red lights flashing through the bedroom windows. My mother slept with me, and she was also awake. (I can’t remember if my brother’s crib was there also, but he slept through the whole thing.)

My mother was crying. “Shhh,” she said, when she saw I was awake. “Go back to sleep.”

“What are those lights?” I asked.

“Fire trucks.”

I knew what fire trucks were. But I’d never seen their lights flashing. “Why are the lights blinking?”

“There’s been a fire. At the Oldenburgs’ house. Now go back to sleep.”

I knew Dr. and Mrs. Oldenburg. They lived next door. They were old, even older than my grandparents. Their daughter had been one of my mother’s best friends growing up. I watched the lights for awhile, then slept again.

In the morning I found out both Dr. and Mrs. Oldenburg had died in the fire. My mother and grandparents didn’t want to talk about it when I was around, but I heard them whispering.

From that time on, I didn’t like to look at the Oldenburgs’ house. I could see it was burned for awhile, then it got fixed. Another family moved in, and I played with grandchildren who visited them when I was also visiting. But the memory that someone had died in that house always stayed with me. And that night in February 1958 might be my earliest verifiable memory.

What is your earliest memory?

A Christmas Scene in 1849

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NIF front cover 9-2-16Here’s a brief Christmas scene from Now I’m Found that takes place on Christmas Day 1849.

By this point in the novel, my protagonist Mac owns a store in Sacramento. Two other characters, Consuela and Huntington, live there with him. I’ll let you read the book to find out how all this came to pass.

     . . . [A] quiet group sat down to a beef roast Consuela prepared—just Mac, Consuela, and Huntington. After they ate, Mac read the Christmas story from the Bible, and Consuela sang a Spanish hymn. Mac didn’t understand the words, but the tune haunted him. He remembered Jenny’s clear voice singing “Amazing Grace” and other hymns at services along the trail, and in the church in Oregon City once they were settled.
     “Why so sad, Mac?” Consuela asked, tears in her eyes.
     “Thinking of home,” Mac said, then realized the trail and Oregon, where his thoughts had led, were not his home. “And you? Why do you cry?”
     “The same.”

I hope your holiday season has been happier than Mac’s and Consuela’s, and that you have spent it at home or with people you love from home.

And I wish you all the best for 2017.

My 500th Post

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post-milestone-500-2xBy WordPress’s calculations, this is my 500th post. I’ve been blogging on this site for just under five years.

I really don’t know whether I thought this blog would last five years. It’s seen me through a lot. My mother’s decline into Alzheimer’s and move into assisted living. A daughter’s broken leg and surgery. My parents’ deaths. The launch of a really helpful critique group. Publication of a short anthology and three novels (one under a pseudonym, but the labor pains were just as great as for the books published under my own name). My husband’s retirement.

I’ve written about many of these topics, and about much more as well. Writing the posts is time-consuming and takes away from the time I can spend writing novels. But I like reflecting on where I’ve been in life and where I’m going. I don’t know how long I’ll keep blogging. Will it be another 500 posts? It will depend on where life takes me in the next approximately five years.

As the tag line to the blog says, this is one writer’s journey through life and time.

Thank you for making the journey with me.

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O Christmas Tree . . . and Keepsakes Ornaments

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This year’s Fraser fir

My husband and I are fans of live Christmas trees. Actually, I’d be tempted to have an artificial tree, but I love the evergreen scent of a real tree. So I put up with the messy needles every year.

For the past several years, we’ve purchased Fraser firs, an evergreen native to the Appalachian region. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was not familiar with Fraser firs. In fact, when I was a child, we usually had pine trees or Douglas firs, which are actually members of the pine tree family, despite their name.

I remember a park ranger teaching a group of kids one time to identify trees using the saying “prickly pine and friendly fir.” The Douglas firs I knew had prickly needles (thus confirming they are really pines). By contrast, the Fraser firs we’ve bought have been very easy to move and decorate, though they drink more water than a marathon runner.

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Crayola and backpacking ornaments

Because I worked for Hallmark, I have purchased Hallmark Keepsakes ornaments for the past thirty-five (or more) years. I started work for Hallmark in 1979, and I know I bought my first ones in or before 1982, because I have an ornament for “Baby’s First Christmas” dated in 1982—the year my son was born.

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One of our many puppy ornaments

Over the years, I tried to buy ornaments that related to things my kids were doing. So during their grade school years, I bought Crayola ornaments. When we had dogs, I bought puppy ornaments. In 1994, when my son was twelve and started mowing our lawn, I bought Santa with a mower. (I don’t think my son appreciated that one.) I’ve bought Boy Scout ornaments, a baseball Santa, a football Santa, a moose on snow skis, and a reindeer on a jet ski.

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An embroidered ornament and Santa with a mower

Not all my ornaments are Hallmark Keepsakes. I have a set of embroidered ornaments I started when my husband and I rode the bus to our offices. That was not a successful experiment (I couldn’t work on them without motion sickness), but I later finished them and still have the set of six ornaments.

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Santa playing baseball

I’ve kept all these ornaments for over thirty-five years now. My kids have only recently become stable enough in their living arrangements to trust with keepsakes. (At least, I consider the ornaments to be keepsakes, as the Hallmark trademark says they are.)

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Reindeer on a jet ski

My son is still an apartment dweller, but he bought a Christmas tree for the first time this year. We’ve discussed my sending him “his” ornaments after this holiday season, so he’ll have them for his tree next year. So this might be the last year some of these ornaments will grace our tree.

My daughter owns her home, but professes not to like my taste in ornaments. She has yet to buy a tree of her own at Christmas, and she has a dog who attacks Christmas tree lights. I think I’ll keep her ornaments for a few more years.

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The angel at the top (not a Hallmark ornament), another embroidered ornament, a daughter’s First Christmas, and Santa playing football . . . and more

 

Merry Christmas to all of you, and may your holiday lights shine bright!

Back to Square One: My New Work in Progress and Scrivener

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NIF front cover 9-2-16After I published Now I’m Found in late September 2016, I found myself at loose ends with my writing. I still had to draft regular posts for this blog and for another blog I author, but for the first time in ten years, I didn’t have a novel that I was in the process of writing.

On each of the three novels I’ve published (the two historical fiction I’ve written under my own name and the contemporary thriller I wrote under a pseudonym), I wrote a draft, put it aside, started another book, put it aside, went back to an earlier book for another edit . . . and the cycle continued until each book felt ready to publish. And finally, all three novels were published.

I learned as I went—how to craft a story arc, how to deepen emotions through dialogue, internal monologues, and even descriptions of the setting, how to foreshadow later developments in the plot. I also learned about self-publishing—how to format both print-on-demand paperbacks and e-books.

But as of October 2016, I was back to square one. A blank page.

I decided to write another book about the Oregon Trail. In fact, I am using some of the minor characters from Lead Me Home as the protagonists in this novel. Mac and Jenny, the protagonists in the earlier two historical novels, are the minor characters in this new story.

This work-in-progress is both easy and difficult. It’s easy, because I know the timeline—the overall plot was set in Lead Me Home, though the focus in this story is much different. And I’ve done most of the historical research that I need for this novel. For the most part, I’m having fun confronting the blank page—I know where I’m going, even if my characters don’t.

But I am seeing the trek to Oregon through an entirely different lens. Actually, I’m seeing it through six lenses. I have (at the moment—this might change) six point-of-view characters. In Lead Me Home, Mac and Jenny were the only POV characters, so this new story is more complicated. Who should have the POV in each scene? Do I have to rotate consistently? Have I forgotten to let one of them have a voice? I’m still working on the answers to these questions, but I had many POV characters in my thriller, so I have some experience with the technique.

scrivener-logoI am also trying to work almost entirely in Scrivener. I’ve drafted my blogs in Scrivener for over two years now, and I used Scrivener to convert Lead Me Home and Now I’m Found into MOBI and EPUB formats for e-books. I know the basics of the program. But I am determined to learn more about Scrivener’s capabilities as I write this new work-in-progress—that’s part of my motivation in taking on a project that doesn’t require a lot of new research.

I want to do a better job of outlining my story arc in this book, rather than having to sculpt the story into an arc after I’ve written a draft or two, as I’ve had to do with my prior novels. Scrivener’s outlining and corkboard features are a big help. I already have the major turning points in the novel set, and I’m filling in each section ahead of my drafting.

Scrivener is also helping with the POV tracking. I can use different colors and labels for scenes in each POV.

I’m also learning a lot about Scrivener’s compile feature, because each week I have to export a chapter from Scrivener into Word to send to my critique partners. I don’t have it down pat yet, mostly because of my carelessness. But my group isn’t complaining too much, and I am at the point where I can compile a decent product to Word with a few clicks. Then I just need a little clean-up before emailing it to my colleagues.

When I get to the point of formatting for print-on-demand, I will probably switch to Word for the detailed work. I know many authors export from Scrivener directly to a PDF for CreateSpace, but I am not confident enough of my formatting knowledge in Scrivener, and I know Word very well.

But then, formatting to publish is a long way down the road—I’ve only drafted the story from Independence, Missouri, to around Grand Island, Nebraska, on the Platte River at this point. That’s about 25% of the book. And I know how far along I am, because so far I’ve stuck to my outline pretty well. I’ve just passed the first turning point in the story.

I guess I have learned something about story arc in the last ten years, if I can recognize a turning point on the first draft.

Writers, do you use Scrivener, and what do you think of it?