My Five Things

Northern Cardinal

This week’s podcast “What Should I Read Next” hosted by Anne Bogel was extremely thought provoking. Anne had Tara Anderson as her guest. Tara hosts the NPR podcast Five Things. Here is the description from the NPR site: “How do the objects we love define us? What can we learn from the things we treasure? And how can we discover a life story through those objects? Five Things, from 89.3 WFPL and Louisville Public Media, explores those questions and more.” As you might guess, I subscribed to that podcast right away.

I was grasped by the idea and began thinking about what five things I cherish. It was a little hard to identify things that I would be sad to live without. Years ago, when we were in the midst of the Monument Fire, I came to the conclusion that if the fire took everything we owned, I’d be okay even though there are things I would miss.

The first thing that came to my mind was my wedding ring set. Barry and I were poor college kids when we got engaged. We decided to go to Des Moines, Iowa, the closest big city, to select our rings. We put all three rings on lay-a-way. Each month we’d pool our money for the payment and I feel like that says a lot about our relationship. I love my ring. We selected a pear shaped diamond for the engagement ring and the wedding ring has two rubies and a diamond hugging the big stone. The only thing I wish now is that I’d chosen emeralds instead of rubies. Emerald is Barry’s birthstone. Maybe one day I’ll switch them out.

The second thing that came to mind was my autographed photo of Gregory Peck that I won in a silent auction at an International Thespian Festival. The photo hangs in my office right above a photo of my father. Gregory Peck is one of my favorite actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Part of the reason I love him so much is because there is a kind of goodness that shines through from his real personality to almost all the roles he played. And I love him because his most famous role, Atticus Finch, was very much like my own father.

The third thing is not just one item but a whole raft of original artwork on our walls and shelves by friends and acquaintances. None of the artwork is by anyone famous, but it gives me pleasure every time I look at each one. Two of the works are by Barry. One, “Toucan Snail”, we’ve tried to give to various family members at various times, but it always comes back to us. This makes me happy, because I love that painting. The other is a pointillist drawing called “Elepot”. It’s a coffee pot with an Elephant trunk for the spout and hoof foot, a human ear for the handle and an eye as the nob on the lid. I told Barry some years back that I was claiming it and he didn’t object.

The fourth thing, again, is not just one item, but all of the books we possess. Okay that includes all our movies and music we own as well. I know that one day soon I’ll have to go through and weed out books to get rid of, but that thought pains me. Even though I haven’t read all of the books we possess, The Great Ideas series for example, it’s somehow comforting and maybe a little weird that I feel the accumulated knowledge and experiences they hold enhances my daily life. It’s as if I’m supported by all the wisdom gained throughout the ages.

The final thing took a while for me to come up with. Again this is not one thing, and it’s not even mine. It’s nature and it belongs to everyone. We live in the country and I love going out to feed the birds every morning, then watching them out our back windows. I love watching all the wildlife, the deer, bobcats, javelina, and hearing the coyotes howl at night. There are times when I wish I was a great hiker and nature enthusiast, but just living in the country and watching the wildlife from my front or back porch is so nurturing that for now that is enough for me.

What are your five precious things? Are they items, or something more etherial or not tangible?

Welcome to my new followers. Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. I appreciate them. Have a fantastic weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

To Redo or Not to Redo

Stressed Out.

“Learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now.” ~ Denis Waitley

This summer I’ve gone back to a project I started last summer. It’s the audiobook for my first novel, The Space Between Time. Over the intervening year I’ve learned a lot about audiobook production. I stopped working on my book to record one for a friend of mine, The Dragon’s Gold, by Debrah Strait.

But now that I’m back to recording my book, I realized I needed to begin again and apply my new knowledge. I’m grateful I did my friend’s book first and I’m still learning. After recording about six chapters, I realized I needed to save recordings of the various voices so I can replicate them in later chapters. Doing the different voices is a challenge for me. As an actor, I was never good at impressions or mimicry. And yet, it’s fun to make up different voices because the quality of a character’s voice can tell the listener something about his or her personality.

Something else has happened as I make the recordings. I find there are mistakes in the manuscript, or the writing is a bit clumsy. Part of me wants to go back and clean up the writing. I mean, my name is on it and I want it to be the best it can be. When I mentioned that I might want to make corrections to the book, Barry said, “We can do a second edition.” Wow! I loved that idea, but now I’m thinking that I should leave that project for another day. Perhaps after I finish the sequel, Time’s Echo. There is such a thing as overworking a piece.

This situation has me thinking about do overs and wondering if they are worth the time and effort. George Lucas did rereleases the first Star Wars movies he produced with upgraded special effects. As I recall, there was a lot of controversy about that. Some critics said the movies were like time capsules, they reflected the technology of the time in which they were made and that he should have left them alone.

I know that first books are, in general, not always the best work of an author. I freely admit I’m learning to be a good writer as I go along. But The Space Between Time has not been read by millions of people. If I improve it now, maybe years down the road after I’ve written many more books, I might have enough fans who will want to go back to read this first one. I want those people to enjoy it. Is that crazy?

I have to remember what I tell my students, you didn’t learn to walk in one day. It takes babies lots of practice to be able to walk without falling down. In terms of writing and producing a book and audiobook, the same principle applies. In a way, I’m a perfectionist, but it might be nice for people to see the progression of my work.

There is another thing that has been nagging at the back of my mind.My characters have been called too perfect by some fellow writers, and maybe they have that point of view because most of my characters reflect the people I was surrounded by as I grew up. Our family social life revolved around our church friends. And though no one is perfect, I saw my parents friends as kind, compassionate, and caring. There were, of course, conflicts but until I was a teenager, I was unaware of them. Those early years of feeling nurtured by my church family had a big affect on my outlook on life.

I’ve mentioned Anne Bogel’s podcast, “What Should I Read Next”, in previous posts. She has a new short podcast called “One Great Book” in which she pulls a book she enjoyed off her own book shelves and tells the listeners about it. I was catching up on this podcast this week and listened to one about Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos. Anne quoted Jane Austen from her book Mansfield Park, as an example of Marisa de los Santos’ work. “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery,” and Marisa takes that same view. Anne said, Marisa believes her role is to tell stories with happy endings. That resonated with me. That’s the kind of novels I write.

Since we writers create from our biographies, I can’t do anything but write what I know. But even good people face challenges and tragedies both external and internal. I certainly have. And though my characters experience dark events and feelings, they don’t wallow in them. At the end of each book I want my characters to have learned something about themselves and human nature.

Some people may say I write the kind of books Hallmark could produce. That’s okay with me. Right now, I’m into feel good entertainment. So, I’ll continue to write books with happy or hopeful endings. But my goal is to improve my writing skills, to be less wordy, and to create interesting characters and situations that give insights into what it means to be a human being.

Thanks for putting up with my recent political posts. One of the things I’m attempting to do is to be vulnerable and truthful about my feelings and point of view. That’s always a struggle for a devout introvert like me.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and for Kindle at Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

The Writing Life

“If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act – truth is always subversive.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

I don’t often post about what it’s like for me to be a writer, but today Anne Bogel’s blog was about her writing life. I love her podcast, “What Should I Read Next,” and have mentioned it before. But I’ve never mentioned that she not only has two podcasts, but a blog as well. I don’t know how she keeps up with those endeavors along with social media, writing books, and being a mom all at the same time. I have a hard enough time teaching one or two classes, writing this blog once a week and working on my books. I admire people who are organized.

It’s not that I’m not organized, it’s that I’m not the spread-sheet-making-lists-ticking-every-item-off-the-list kind of organized. My organization is more in the keeping-a-notebook-with-all the-jumble-of information-in-it kind.

Many articles and books have been produced about the different types of writers. Some writers create outlines and once they’ve plotted everything out to their satisfaction they then sit down and follow that outline to the letter. There are those who do a little bit of plotting, but leave it flexible in case inspiration strikes. Other writers get ideas for individual scenes write them and then organize them later into a viable story. Then there are writers at the opposite end of the spectrum from the plotters who sit down with an idea and begin to write. They may have only a starting and maybe an endpoint but they trust that the story will appear as they write. These writers are called “pantsers,” because they write by the seat of their pants.

I’m a little bit of a “get an idea for a scene” type, and a “pantser.” Oh, I do write a brief timeline for my characters at the beginning of the process, but often inspiration leads me in other directions and the original timeline is left behind.

For me, the hardest part of writing is the initial getting the story down on paper stage. It’s a little bit like listening to a voice on a mistuned radio. I know the voice has great ideas, I just can’t hear them clearly. So, I write in starts and stops to begin with. Once I get about 15,000 words in, the story begins to take shape in my mind. That’s when I wake up with more scene ideas to add to the story.

Once I get to a certain point, which I feel in my gut, I know it’s time to revise. I love revising the various drafts, because I get more ideas in that netherworld between sleeping and waking, or when I’m doing some tedious household chore. The feeling such inspiration gives me is exhilarating. It’s that feeling that keeps me writing.

Okay, I admit the final line editing process is tedious. When we were editing The Space Between Time, it seemed as if the process would never end. Even after printing out the entire book and going over it more than once, with what I thought was great care, we still had to order more than one proof because we found so many errors in each one. That kind of detail work is just not for me.

Having written all that, I have to say that no matter what method a writer uses, to make any progress, we have to sit down and write almost everyday. If we don’t the creativity well dries up.

Also, the environment might be important. Some people can write no matter where they find themselves. As a highly sensitive person, I need quiet to be able to concentrate so I can hear the subtle guidance that comes when I’m working. If there is too much noise, I can’t concentrate.

When the fire was lit under me to commit to being a writer, I realized what had been holding me back. It was self-doubt and believing that there were too many obstacles in the way to accomplish my goal. Those are difficult hurdles to overcome. I do not blame anyone for having self-doubt staring them in the face. It takes a great deal of personal work to overcome our demons to start whatever creative project we feel compelled to begin. At least, it did for me. But now that I’ve been writing for several years, I’ve found such fulfillment that I’m grateful I ignored those nasty little voices in my head and jumped in.

Even though I’ve published a novel and a children’s book, I still feel vulnerable about whether or not they are good. But here’s another thing about engaging in any creative endeavor, you get better the more you practice. I’m a much better writer than I was when I began eleven years ago. I may never be as good as the great authors, but there’s a part of me that knows it doesn’t matter. There is something about creating a work of art that has never existed before that is important. Figuring out myself, and making my contribution, no matter how humble, is why I write.

Oh, and by the way, I will begin the audiobook for The Space Between Time, on Monday. My husband and I are uploading the ebook version to Amazon this weekend.

Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. Welcome to my new followers. I hope you get to enjoy your weekend.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2019

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a little bit like Outlander in that it’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, novel. Except that Jenna’s life is shattered. When she finds old journals, she joins consciousness with her three-times great-grandmother, Morgan, rather than traveling physically. She is able to come back at intervals and apply what she’s learned to her own life situations.

The Space Between Time is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords and Amazon, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand copy at Amazon. Stay tuned for news when the audiobook version is published. You can follow her on Facebook or Goodreads. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.

Louis L’Amour and Omega Men

“I think of myself … as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.” ~ Louis L’Amour

“If you write a book about a bygone period that lies east of the Mississippi River, then it’s a historical novel. If it’s west of the Mississippi, it’s a western, a different category. There’s no sense to it.” ~ Louis L’Amour

The first quote above sums up most of Louis L’Amour’s characters, which is one of the things I like about his books. They are what psychologists would call omega males. An omega male is most often an introvert. He’s confident in his skills, but doesn’t need to boast about them. He only fights when pushed into it, but not to prove himself. He doesn’t countenance ineptitude, or dishonesty. He’s loyal, honest, and honorable. And he protects people who need it. His emotions run deep, but he shows them only when he thinks it’s appropriate. As I was thinking about what it is I love about L’Amour’s characters, I couldn’t help thinking about my dad. He would have made a great character in one of L’Amour’s books.

What started this train of thought was an episode of my favorite podcast, “What Should I Read Next?” with Anne Bogel. A couple of weeks ago Anne’s guest, Chatti Phal-Brown said that she would like to try reading some westerns. As Anne does when a guest says that, she suggested Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. It’s great that Anne loves that book. It’s on my TBR list because I loved the mini-series. However, when Anne suggested it, I wanted to get in on the conversation and suggest that Chatti try reading some Louis L’Amour too.

My dad loved the western movie genre. I can’t say whether he read any of the novels the movies were based upon, but dad and I would watch the movies together and then discuss them. Our favorites were the ones with characters and stories much like those Louis L’Amour wrote, where the main male character isn’t a carousing gunfighter, but a humble, hard working cowboy or lawman. I think we loved them because our ancestors traveled west and had to carve out a living much as the characters in the movies did.

The first story I read by Louis L’Amour was “The Gift of Cochise” which he later turned into the novel, Hondo which at the same time became the movie of the same name with John Wayne in the lead. I was teaching alternative school and that was one of the stories my students were required to read. I was captivated by the story partly because it takes place in the region of Arizona where I live. I could see the countryside, L’Amour described. But mostly I was impressed with the characters and the mostly gentle way the story unfolds. I liked the story so much that I sought out other of L’Amour’s books. In every one I’ve read, the women are strong and capable, the men are the “strong, silent,” omega male types.

One of my favorite Louis L’Amour book/movie connections, and there have been a lot of them, is Conagher. It’s a story about a family who have moved west to become ranchers. When the husband dies on his way to buy the herd, the widow, Evie, and her children must try to make their own way. They have an extremely difficult time of it. Along comes Conagher, a local cowboy who, until he meets this family, has drifted from job to job. He’s a bit of a legend since he’s loyal to the brand he rides for, and doesn’t make any bones about disliking men who are out for what they can get. This makes him a bit of a target for the insecure cowboys he meets.

Of course Conagher, like all Louis L’Amour’s books, is a romantic story too, in more than one way. The countryside is gorgeous, there are cattle rustlers, and, fist fights. And, of course, Conagher falls in love with Evie and her children and they with him. It’s a story that makes you feel good about human nature. That’s probably the thing I like best about Louis L’Amour’s books, they make you feel good.

So, if you’re into trying something new, you might want to check out Louis L’Amour’s books and the movies based on them.

Have a fabulous weekend. Thanks for reading, liking and commenting. I appreciate it.

Lucinda Sage-Midgorden © 2018

Lucinda is the author of The Space Between Time, an award finalist in the “Fiction: Fantasy” category of the 2017 Best Book Awards. It’s a historical, time-travel, magical realism, women’s novel, and is available in all ebook formats at Smashwords, or you can find the ebook at iBooks or Barnes and Noble. If you prefer a physical copy, you can find a print-on-demand version at Amazon. Stay tuned for news on the audiobook version Lucinda is working on. To join her email list, click here. She will never sell the names on her list.