Tuesday, October 28, 2008



Can't read my title? If you have always wanted to write a novel, NaNoWriMo may be your ticket.

In my Mississippi writing group several years ago a successful writer suggested 50,000 words in one month--ONE MONTH???!! Impossible, I thought. But in further conversation with this fine lady, she reported that you sit at your computer and WRITE. She states that you can't stop and edit, you just write, anything that comes to mind, whether it makes sense or not. The point of the exercise is to empty your brain of all the words stored there. In this way the writer begins to truly write. Winners are those who complete 50,000 within the 30 days Hidden within these millions of words will be a seed of a novel. My writer friend did this and produced her first novel.

Well, I started my own NaNoWriMo novel in September to see how successful I could be without a time constraint. I wrote daily from 4 to 8 hours the entire month ignoring housekeeping, meals for R, appointments, fitness--all for the sake of this novel. By the end of the month I had totaled 25,000 words. I wasn't disappointed, because I had begun with a story in mind, based on a blog entry of my daughter's of something that occurred in the 1950's when I was a teen.

As October waned I finished the novel with 50,700 words. Unbelievable! I found myself --as I left 25,000 words behind-- typing as fast as the words came. My mind had opened up to give me support. I now know that I didn't need NaNoWriMO at all, just a good story line and...imagination. Next, edit, and prevail on friends to read and give me their reaction, and who knows...?

NOTE: NaNoWriMo=National Novel Writing Month

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Book Signings Reward for Authors and Readers

Recently I attended a book signing for a fellow writer. John Floyd of Brandon, MS, has compiled and published his second book of short stories. He is the master of shorts, mysteries that anyone can be read when there’s little time, like on a short bus ride, a bathroom trip, or waiting for the gas tank to fill up.

He once told me, after I had read my version of a short story to a writing group, that magazines and readers were crying for stories that were “short and sweet.” I had labored over one story because I thought it was “too” short. I should have taken his advice ten years ago. He did. And he’s been publishing ever since.

Floyd is a prolific writer. He enjoys spinning yarns that have an unexpected ending. I can see him at his computer wearing a sly grin and chuckling, outwitting his readers as the words flow faster than he can type. His plots are as varied as plants in a nursery. He teaches night classes in creative writing and has a large following. That was evident in the two-hour long line that waited patiently for his signature. But Floyd doesn’t scribble his name; he writes a personal note to each purchaser. That endears him more to us.

This is an unassuming man who is most grateful to those of us who attempt to follow in his footsteps. He’s our cheerleader. With his urging he’s seen several fellow writers go from zero to publishing. He has mastered the technique of writing and fills the mailbox of magazines with an overload of stories. He can be found mostly in “The Strand Magazine” and “Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine“, although he‘s had stories in more than 200 publications. In 2007 he received the Derringer Award.

Floyd walked swiftly into a small auditorium after the signing period to speak to a waiting audience. He told us one story about sitting next to a lady reading the “Ellery Queen Magazine” on an airplane. In that issue was one of his contributions. He watched her out of the corner of his eye to see if she would read his story. She did. After she closed the magazine, he leaned over and said, “I’ve a copy of that magazine. Did you enjoy the stories?” She answered “Yes”. He then asked if she liked the last story she read, and again she said she did. Then he announced “I wrote that story.” She looked at him incredulously and begged to differ with him. He insisted, but only until he identified himself through his driver’s license did she believe him.

John Floyd isn’t a big name--yet. However, his books have been found as far away as Toronto. Nevada Barr and Steve Hamilton, both famous in their own right, have a few words to say on the jacket. If you happen upon Midnight or his first book Rainbow’s End and Other Stories be sure to purchase a copy.

Monday, October 06, 2008

A Weekend of Fortune

Everyone told us, “You’re inviting STRANGERS to stay with you ?” Our local son said, “Do you know what you may be getting into?”.

Everyone told them, “How can you just go that distance (Arkansas to Mississippi) to stay with someone you DON”T know?” “Do you know what you’re doing?”

Yet, two couples-- a fellow genealogist and her husband and my husband and I spent a weekend in our Mississippi home filled with unsuspecting surprises.The weekend resounded with camaraderie, common ancestors, and equal sharing of chores, making for a visit far more worthwhile than any of us expected.

I had met V online at www.ancestry.com where she was researching a family no longer alive. I had known this Jackson family during my high school years and had enough information to share with her. This family’s only son had been my first steady boyfriend. From there the emails flew. When I discovered V’s husband was a descendant from the same old Mississippi family as my husband, R, that sealed the trip. A family reunion was held on Saturday,October 4, an opportunity for V to located two cemeteries (only researchers like to wander among tombs looking for relatives), take snapshots (an important duty) and share stories.

The weekend came to an end and the couples who were complete strangers had become friends.