Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Dec 30 2009

The day before the day before the first day of the year

The final Wednesday of 2009 is here. I suppose that makes it the hump day that trumps all other hump days of 2009. I write that tongue-in-cheek, but it's true. If we had anything we had to get done by the last Wednesday in 2009 we would be in big trouble right now. Fortunately, for anything that needs to be done by the absolute end of 2009, there's always tomorrow. I write that also somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but if we have a lot of things we're always scrambling to get done on the very last day of any given calendar year...well, we might want to think of starting earlier on at least one or two of those things.

That all brings me to the oft-dreaded New Year's Resolutions. I have a few that are mostly umbrella issues that cover a multitude of smaller issues. But the one specific I can tell you about for 2010 is the plan to write more fiction, more often. It's also a plan to finish more fiction, more often.

I'll leave you to your own devices that last day of 2009. Maybe you can mull over your own set of tasks that are either chasing you at the last minute or are ready to be set into motion for next year. I'll see you back here next year. Meanwhile, Happy New Year. May your endings from this year propel you to new beginnings for 2010.

posted at: 18:15 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 29 2009

Years and beginnings

This coming year will begin so much better than the last year began. Part of that is circumstantial, but part of it is a growing freedom of spirit and an acceptance to be thankful for what has passed. We're each going to have some challenges in 2010, but we're each also given the spirit of agape love that teaches us how to persevere no matter what life throws at us. A battle is not the end. A battle is about a particular thing at a particular time and place, involving particular people. A battle is not a whole life. Someone can do battle with you here and now, but no one can take eternity from you. No challenge can take eternity from you. Eternity is yours to choose or not. And if you choose to believe in a gift of eternity you can make it through anything in the here and now. We can make lots of New Year's Resolutions, but we can't cover every individual conflict that will come along in 2010. Faith in any conflict is a bigger resolution that will keep us going in case we don't exercise those 5 days a week or in case we spend too much money or in case we fail that math test. Faithfulness is bigger than all that and I'm thankful for that.

posted at: 10:48 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 22 2009

Wishing you the best of the season

I'll be taking a blog break until Tuesday, December 29. (You can still catch me over on Twitter.) Meanwhile, enjoy the holiday season:

Miracles are born at Christmas.
Even Santa kneels tonight.
Heaven is more than a promise.
Every good gift comes tonight.

posted at: 15:32 | category: /Religious and Spiritual | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 21 2009

(Adjective alert) Fancy words, chosen (adverb alert) deftly

Today I was doing the type of writing that requires the use of few adjectives. It's still done subjectively, but is more of a reporting style than a descriptive style. The whole process reminds me that I need to think about that when I get a chance to write fiction. Sometimes writers are tempted to attach too many adjectives to nouns. This can be useful if done with awareness or when done to let the reader in on some inside information. It's probably redundant to tell the reader that George was so hungry that he feasted on salty crackers and Cheddar cheese, but the reader might really want to read the adjectives if George was so hungry that he feasted on stale crackers and moldy Cheddar cheese. If the adjective is essential to tell the story, keep it in there. Otherwise, the writing might get the point across with fewer adornments. The same holds true for adverbs. Monica may have skipped drunkenly through the dining room, but if Monica skipped across the dining room, stumbled and spilled what little was left of her drink down George's shirt, we might get an even better picture of what's going on with Monica. There are usually several ways to tell a tale. Pick the one that shows the reader what's really going on.

posted at: 23:42 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 18 2009

Thoughts on the Friday before Christmas

The house is filled with the scent of simmering stew and we're waiting for friends to come and enjoy a meal with us. Writing was minimal today, with the only honest words coming in the form of some frustration I shared with a writing buddy. She and I have walked each other down some dark corridors and opened some literary doors together that kept us in both suspense and stitches. So she is often the one I talk to when the rest of the population seems to have a boneheaded attitude about the way writers (and certain others) work, think, negotiate and breathe. Few can keep up with our kind, unless they are our kind. (I should note that engineers are also excellent at keeping pace with writers, particularly the one I married.)

I hope each of you is enjoying this weekend before Christmas. It all got here in a hurry, didn't it?

posted at: 17:26 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 17 2009

All in a day's work

If you are a writer, you won't flinch at what I'm about to tell you. Today I ended up needing to write about what I was writing about, to make notes about making notes. It's just the way the work goes sometimes.

posted at: 21:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 16 2009

Writing with Julie and Julia

I've been talking lately about how observing everyday events can lead to better writing. Julie Isaac tells us on her Writing Spirit Blog how she learned more about writing by watching Julie Child in her version of Julie and Julia.

I recall watching Ms. Child cook on TV one particular time when I lost myself in laughter. She picked up a bottle of red wine and, as nearly as I can recall, instructed us to add "exactly one-quarter cup" as she cheerfully glugged half the bottle's contents into the pot, with no apologizes. That's another good writing lesson from Julia. Know the rules and then learn which ones you can break and still be magnificent.

posted at: 13:29 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 15 2009

Ka-ching, if they can keep the goods coming

I didn't skip blogging yesterday. I intended to post something in the late afternoon. Then My spouse came home and told me about a failed attempt to find some flameless candles for his work. He told everyone about a set we had found at Costco that included a timer feature. Everybody must have really wanted them because they made a special group trip to Costco at lunchtime. Sad to say, the candles have been selling out and they found none. So we traveled to another Costco location last night to see if we could find any. We found none. (You can apparently still order them online, for about twice the price we originally paid.) While we were roaming around the Costco neighborhood we stopped and got a bite at Arby's and took a quick look in Target, Kohl's, Walmart and even Bed, Bath and Beyond. We even made a stop at Pier 1 Imports, which I'm happy to report has returned to its roots with friendlier merchandise. One of the women who worked at that store told us that sales this holiday season are the best they've been in over three years. The down side is that stores could have sold a lot more holiday merchandise if manufacturers had made more. Demand has been too high for the lower inventories of this season. Shortages create hype (and vice versa), but if the bottom line is sales volume, they also create lower profits. This has been a tough transition year for manufacturers, distributors and retail stores. But people are out there, spending. If this mood holds, next holiday season is going to be a good one. As far as this year is concerned, if you don't have what you want in your hands right now you'd better hustle. Things are flying off the shelves in a hurry.

posted at: 08:30 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 11 2009


The writing muse has been busy this week behind the scenes, but today even that work has been sketchy. I'm preparing for two holiday functions, plus I've been busy updating the holiday light display listings. I hope your week has been a good one, especially fellow writers who struggle with time constraints this time of year.

I wish those celebrating tonight a very Happy Hanukkah. May all your celebration be rich and sweet and filled with light and love.

posted at: 15:18 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 10 2009

Responsible characters

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny. --Albert Ellis

I've had that quote as one of the random quotes on this blog for some time. There's a lot I like about Mr. Ellis' comment. It is important to take responsibility for our reactions to situations. Where Mr. Ellis and I part company is on the idea of the problems themselves. The truth is that none of us chooses the whole of every situation we face in life. And we rarely get ourselves out of, or through, any situation without the help of at least one other being. Still, I liked Mr. Ellis' grown-up approach of not pointing fingers at everyone else every time we get into hot water.

Do the characters in our stories take responsibility for their problems? Do things just happen to them and then do things just happen to get them out of a mess? Is there a bit of magical thinking to their problem solving? That sort of thing can leave readers feeling a bit cheated, since most of us don't ever get to solve our own problems with magical thinking. Oh, there might be that occasional miracle or other intervention in real or fictional lives. But most of the time it's character and moment-to-moment choices that shape our destiny in life. It's something to think about as we pull together a believable cast of characters for our stories.

posted at: 21:47 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Wed, Dec 09 2009

Catching attention

The Inbox for my email program is crammed full with sales and commercial offerings this time of year. Sometimes I read them, but often I delete them unread, even though I may have asked to be on their email list. The flood of offers for one-cost shipping and 2-days-only sales shows me that none of them realizes that most of us get hundreds of these types of communications in November and December. The feeling of being overwhelmed by taunts to buy more "stuff" gives me new appreciation for those tired souls who have to wade through pile after pile of queries in the publishing world. It also makes me think about what leads me to open a commercial email instead of marking it for deletion in a big group of other sales letters. Maybe I can learn something valuable for presenting the highlights of my own writing. I do know that I'd like this whole frantic scene to be lengthened a bit. It would take me an extra two weeks each year just to read and click through all those commercial emails, much less actually order anything once I get to their merchandise-laden web sites.

posted at: 10:14 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 08 2009

Drive through, walk through, enjoy the lights

If you enjoy looking at the holiday lights you should visit the Lightpatch listings of places to see Christmas lights. Many are public displays, but as the season progresses there will be some spots in residential neighborhoods that turn up as sweet spots for lights. If you go looking you should know that some charge a fee and some ask for food or toy donations for charity. Please be prepared to share as you're able.

posted at: 22:48 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

Mon, Dec 07 2009

Write, cook, eat, write, repeat

A dear family member is also a writer, which means we often compare projects and writing issues. We also exchange recipe ideas from time to time, particularly ones recipes that seem to free time for other pursuits, such as talking about writing. She recently started to share an old family recipe with me and realized she had drawn a blank on some of the ingredients. I'm sure it will all come back to her when she cooks, but it made me wonder about recipes in relation to other writing. Many of us, both writers and non-writers, recall whole real-life dramas surrounding food and the sharing of recipes and cooking techniques. Almost everyone has some wild story to tell about something such as the family dog dragging the Thanksgiving turkey off the table. Our most vivid memories are often wrapped in the aroma of baking bread or other favorite scents.

When that other writer from my family couldn't recall that old recipe I wondered how many good writings from the kitchen are lost in family history. Commercial cookbooks are great fun, but many of us still have a few old stained index cards with our grandmother's best potato rolls or killer chocolate cake scrawled in her writing. But some recipes are never written down and unless the offspring of great cooks are let in on the family secrets through mentoring or verbal instruction, some family recipes are in danger of disappearing forever.

Some authors have taken this whole recipe thing a step further. There are whole tales written surrounding the allure of food and preparation. Joanna Fluke and Nancy Fairbanks are among those who have managed to pepper (pun intended) their tales with recipes and food descriptions that have led more than one avid readers to the kitchen for a mid-book snack.

So if you're a writer of stories or articles, don't forget to write down that cherished family recipe for lemon meringue pie or your tricks for making last-minute freezer-to-oven French fries seem more exotic (and more French) by smothering them in canned, condensed French onion soup. Otherwise, your family may see you like they would the plumber who takes care of everyone else's troubles while the family homestead leaks like a sieve.

Note: A sprinkle of gruyere atop the French fries should complete that illusion nicely.

posted at: 14:18 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Fri, Dec 04 2009

He said, then he said, then she said, then...

I had occasion to run across someone writing under more than one name and was surprised at how easy it was to pick up hints of their favorite writing voice. This was not a formal writing setting, but some casual comments. Now, there's a lot of difference between pseudonyms and fictional characters, but this all made me wonder if we make our characters too alike in their voice at times. It would be great if readers could read through a passage of dialogue from a writer and be able to tell which character spoke without the writer having to attribute every line of dialogue to a certain character. If two of my characters argued, would a reader know which character was which, just from their speech?

posted at: 15:19 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Thu, Dec 03 2009


I'm not literally running (yet) today, but am putting finishing touches on a holiday party. On days like this it's difficult to even make quick notes for writing projects. I'm trying to hold thoughts by creating visual cues that will remind me later. It's at least keeping me in the writing frame of mind.

posted at: 09:54 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

Tue, Dec 01 2009

December festivals

The December 2009 issue of Deb's Monthly Review has been uploaded. Many festivals this month are holiday-centric and most of those are Christmas-related. And I don't cover every event, so be sure to look around your own county for concerts, park lightings, gingerbread house competitions and more holiday fun.

posted at: 13:03 | category: /Arts and Entertainment | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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