Childhood Joys – Writing for Readers

Photo by Yan on Pexels.com

It is true, everything in my childhood is not pleasant to talk about but that is not the focus of this post. On the contrary, let me tell you about the joys of my childhood.

The joy of swimming for hours on end in the neighbor’s pool. They didn’t have any kids which makes sense since they were two men. They maintained that pool just for us. We pestered Mom into bringing us to the pool after working the night shift. She sat there baking in the sun, watching us. When our fingers were pickled by chlorine water and our lips turned blue, she had to make us landlubbers again though we thought we could turn into dolphins and swim away.

The joy of sleigh riding down the neighbor’s hill (different neighbor). Every kid in the neighborhood slid down that hill. A retired couple lived there. I have no idea if they cared or not. They never yelled at us. We would stay out until our feet were frost bit and could only warm up in cold water.

The joy of neighborhood games like the Little Rascals, no adults supervising, we organized and played with not one parent in sight.
Buildings forts in the woods. Scrap lumber and sheets of siding were never hanging around for long because some kid was going to haul it off and create a fort. We used to spend all day building, ‘furnishing’ and then sitting in our forts.
Wild strawberries from the field, and gooseberries, blackberries, apples, frost plums plucked from trees.
Ice skating on the frozen pond a couple of miles away and yes, we walked there alone, as children and joined the mob of kids already there. Everyone knew if there was water in sight, don’t go on the ice, stay on the edge where the ice was white. No one died.
Bushels of peaches that my mother bought from the farmer’s market and we could feast on as we liked, we liked them a lot! Can’t forget all things Christmas; decorating, Christmas songs blasting through the house, all the glittery, shiny decorations, the lights, the crafts at school (phone book angels that were spray painted gold!), Christmas Eve, stockings stuffed with goodies. Cookies, cookies, did I mention the cookies?

I could go on and on. With all this good, you would think I could say, I had a great childhood. But that’s not my story, only part of it and I’m deeply grateful for that part.
So what’s the writing connection? Writers are always counseled to keep the action, conflict, tension and terror coming on in good measure. It makes for a page turner or what I like to call ‘a book devour’. Even so, in the midst of the trauma and constant impending doom, there needs to be some moments of good. A quick thought of love, enjoyment of a favorite food, cup of coffee, blue sky, something that gives character and reader an endorphin break. The key is to keep it short and sweet so it is only a pause in the momentum instead of a bunny snooze trail.
Write on people!


Did you see the latest post on EnTylerywords.com? Click the link below and read who Tyler left behind.

https://entylerywords.wordpress.com/2021/01/31/dont-miss-her/

Is

I don’t recognize the sound,

Of my own breathing.

I’m in a vacuum.

Don’t ask me how I feel.

I feel nothing.

I feel everything.

It cancels out,

To silence.

“I think therefore I am”,

I exist,

Hung in space,

And time,

In someone’s mind,

no substance.

No that’s not it,

Filling a void,

With my name on it,

A vapor,

A whisper,

A secret,

Spoken about,

Concealed,

But exposed to each and every,

day.

“I Sent You a Letter”- thoughts on query letters

Sent out a query letter yesterday. Have you ever done that? After months of relentless writing and editing, refining, cutting swaths of thousands of words, it all comes down to a one page letter.
It is easy to do the actual submitting these days with e-forms and email but without having a referral from a conference and delete being as simple as pressing a picture of a trash can, the work and tension of preparing a query submission hardly seems worth it.
Therein lies the dilemma. What’s the point of writing a novel, putting heart and soul in it if it doesn’t have the joy of lighting up on a Kindle Paper White or being bound in a book that cracks when you open it? As hard and hopeless as it is there is really no choice but to press on.
The march to publication is fraught with trials and tribulations of the worst kind: doubt, weariness, despair, gym class inferiority, running on empty promises to myself, okay so maybe it’s not that terrible. There is the thrill of creating an adventure for characters, the satisfaction of editing and knowing its better with each draft, and really if you’re not a diehard optimist, you better give up now.
I’m not giving up. I don’t expect this first query to result in a bite. Yes, I’m setting my expectations low to insulate against rejection but hey, I got the first letter out! Small steps, small rewards. I’ll take it.


This is not the first time I’ve sent out query letters but the first time for this novel that I think is highly marketable. Past experience has been that despite the ease of ‘delete’ all the queries I sent out came back with a polite, supportive response except the one that said no answer should be considered no interest.


Here’s my opening lines to my query for Kill Words :

Kill Words is a fiction, New Adult novel of 77K words that follows Maisey from her innocent action of blog chatting with Tyler Rowan to fighting off those who are ready to sell her naivety as a commodity.

I welcome comments and suggestions!

Thank you! Write on!

50 Followers

Hi Everyone, just noting a milestone for this blog. In just about four months, fifty bloggers/people have become official followers of ClareGraith.com. I am thankful for each and every one of you. I appreciate also those of you who have chosen not to ‘follow’ but are loyal viewers and ‘likers’.

The blogging community is so diverse and creative, and I’m honored to be part of it and without followers, I would just be writing to myself!

Thanks everyone! Write on!

Storm Weaver Part 4

See previous Storm Weaver 100 word story posts for part 1, 2 & 3.

The pouch sits on a shelf,

in my house,

that is tucked in the hillside.

I stare at it for an hour.

Expecting it to shake, rumble, spill out its contents,

aglow and crackling with energy.

My patience is not rewarded.

The bag just sits there,

as any inanimate object does.

I take it down, pour out the stones.

roll them in my palm.

and swear I feel heat,

wind, the smell of fresh rain,

plants, coolness, and heavy solidness.

I slide them back in,

Return the pouch to the shelf.

Stare some more.

Until the cat knocks it down.

Counting on Success

Repost due to yesterday’s glitch

I’m a numbers person. Not math, strings of numbers. It gives me pleasure when a number is assigned to a record by the system and it has order like, 828928, or if I look at the clock and it says:11:11. Don’t get me started on dates. Every month last year, the month plus 20/20 made me want to check a box. I don’t make much of this wacky joy. There are so many things to bring worry and anxiety, why look too deeply into something that puffs a little positivity my way?
It’s easy though to get caught up in the numbers game with blogging. How many ‘likes’ on a post, how many followers, how many posts in a month? Keep it light, keep it fun, that’s what I say.
I’m preparing a query letter for my current WIP and I really want to get it right. Writing query letters is as strenuous as writing beginnings of novels for me. I revise a thousand times and still go back and read it a week later and want to spit for how terrible it sounds. I can’t even get out of the gate with a few sentences that show case how great the story is if someone reads to at least page fifteen. I’ve tried cutting straight to page fifteen with marginal success. Anyway, off topic.
Numbers. In my study on a better query I came across a chart of expected word count for the type of novel I’m pitching. This particular article said it should be 80-90K. Forget the query, I need another fifteen thousand words! If I don’t have the word count right, that could be the end of my query even if I manage to nail the three sentence summary.
Adding fifteen thousand words does not make me sick, not at all. I’ve learned that if I carefully read through my story, I will find great big gaps that in my haste to get through to the next scene, I’ve summarized without realizing it. It’s happened so many times that even though I was sure I had the best final draft (before a professional editor gets ahold of it), there are pockets of story missing.
Did Tyler and Maisey really just walk up to the car and boom someone came behind them with chloroform saturated clothes? So quick, so easy to get them in the clutches of their enemies. There’s a nugget of five thousand words to push in there. Now if I could just stop cutting words from the beginning, I might one day get it right!

Anyone notice yesterday’s wonderful date? 012121. So nice.

Did you see yesterday’s post at Entylerywords?

Press Pause Please

My home office came into existence March 16, 2020. Before that date, the dining room table worked just fine for the occasional stay at home days. I bought the cheapest monitor from Walmart since a laptop screen is too small for continuous work. I set up a “desk” using two folding camp tables. But work doesn’t go on pause just because a setup is make shift. It was full steam ahead, trying to keep track of files, documents, take video calls, eat lunch, with a crazy set-up.
Since I go into work a few times a week, I had to pack my notebooks and files in my backpack and then take them back and forth. In a very short time I was surrounded by chaos, but still to stop and organize, get the equipment and strategy that would make work easier, wasn’t an option. At the end of every extended day, there isn’t anything left to continue another fifteen or thirty minutes to improve the work environment. Until, my brain said, “stop!” and so I did.
One morning when there were no meetings scheduled I took an hour to clear out everything and start over. I used a vanity desk with drawers and a folding table. I positioned my monitors (added another compliments of the company) toward the window so my view was a tree and the garden instead of the neighbor’s deck. I consolidated files and tossed stuff that I no longer needed. I vacuumed and cleaned and made the bed that crowds the space (it’s a guest room) when all was said and done, I started back to work, behind thirty emails but feeling a lot more sane.
Why am I saying all this? Because there is a parallel with my writing projects. I’m so driven to write that even though I know I really should stop, take some time to plot out where I’m headed or listen to that inner editor that asks if a character really needs to be in a scene, I don’t slow down. Take a break? Spend some time researching if the setting is accurate? Not a chance, I’m red hot I can’t stop or else I’ll never get done. That’s the way it feels, always this sense of urgency. But if I take a lesson from my ‘work at home’ situation, I might realize taking time to employ the tools (books on how to write better), or even find the right tools (software for plotting) or just get my workspace and files organized, will result in better quality the first time. If your project is starting to be a cloud of ‘things I’ll fix later’, it might be time to take a morning off, do some planning, tidying up files, taking advantage of tools and finding out, a short pause is not a waste of time but can turn into the energy and drive to finish well.
Write on!

Word Puzzle Blog Launched

EnTyleryWords goes live!

Announcing the launch of EnTyleryWords.com (https://entylerywords.wordpress.com/) a Word Puzzle blog based on a character Tyler Rowan created as part of my WIP “Kill Words”.

Each blog post from fictional character Tyler provides entertainment as he shares his trials, wisdom and complaints while at the same time a word puzzle is weaved within the post. The first round of puzzles are simple. The reader is challenged to find the three words that are related, not synonyms but connected, typically progressive i.e. one thing leads to another.

Example- Clothing, hanger, closet or Paint, brush, masterpiece.


If you think you know the answer, go ahead and comment. I will highlight the blogger who is first to get the correct words.

Future developments planned – more complicated puzzles; guest bloggers.

It’s all for fun so join me at EnTyleryWords.com!

Getting to Know You

Character building through conversations

Tyler Rowan of “EnTyleryWords.com”

This fictitious conversation is between Andrea Mann a journalist researching for an article about patrons of “Feed Our Souls” (FOS) homeless shelter in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Andrea: Tyler, tell me about the circumstances that brought you to FOS. How old were you? What happened that you came to FOS?

Tyler: I was twenty-two, living in my car at the time. FOS had good food and I was starving.

Andrea: Were you working?

Tyler: Lost my job. Then I couldn’t pay my part of the rent, so my roommates kicked me out. Well actually I left. I wasn’t going to let them pay for my place. None of us were doing that well.

Andrea: So FOS was there for you when you were between jobs. What happened that you lost your job?

Tyler: I screwed up. Worked for a builder. I was learning a trade; you know how to put up walls, windows, a roof. But I partied too much. Came to work hung over, still drunk and almost got one of my co-workers killed. I was fired which I totally deserved.

Andrea: Not easy to admit.

Tyler: Took me a long while to get over, you know, almost killing someone. Sobered up fast but my references were shot.

Andrea: Hard to find a job without a good word from someone.

Tyler: Damn near impossible and it didn’t help that I’m not cut out for working at a fast food place or the dollar store.

Andrea: What about family?

Tyler (sarcastic laugh) Don’t have any.

Andrea: No family? You’re an orphan then?

Tyler: Not exactly. My dad died when I was eight, but mom remarried.

Andrea: And…

Tyler: Stan doesn’t want reminders of mom’s old life, tried to drive me out before I was eighteen but I had to finish high school at least, wanted to go to college. Yeah, that was a childhood dream. And I have a sister but she’s in jail.

Andrea: No aunts, uncles, grandparents?

Tyler: I thought this interview was about FOS.

Andrea: Yes, right. Sorry. It is but the background of FOS patrons helps us understand the support that might be needed beyond a bed and a meal.

Tyler: I don’t need support. I just need something to eat now and again.

Andrea: Of course. That is our main purpose.


Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction based on the character in “Kill Words” by Clare Graith. Tyler’s blog can be found at EnTyleryWords.com (launching soon). FOS is a fictional homeless shelter. Andrea Mann is a fictional journalist. Any resemblance to real people and places is coincidental.