Writing With the Group


writing at the coffee shopI found a new writing group.  I’ve gone three times, and with the exception of the last time, when there was entirely too much talking from one of the members, it has been a good thing.  As I struggle and struggle with trying to get that second book written, I am using anything and everything to try to push my writing forward.  That’s the way most of us do it, right?  When the first thing doesn’t work, you try the second thing, the third thing, the millionth thing. This is one of those things.

I like writing groups, for the most part.  Getting out of the house to write does make a difference in how my brain works.  I have a lovely home office with a lovely view of my shade garden in the back yard, and a happy cat who is more than willing to sit nearby and offer me her silent judgment moral support. The problem is the home office is in the home.  There is wash to be washed, dishes to make their way into the dishwasher or dish drainer (yes, I live with people that are not so fastidious), weeds to be pulled from the garden beds or water to be put on garden beds, a basket of peaches on the counter ready to turn into jam, a baby quilt needing to be stitched, or that Ted Talk I want to listen to.

The coffee shop has terrible wi-fi but great coffee.  And in a group, there are other people trying to make their goals.  Listening to what they are working on is inspiring sometimes.  “The first thing I noticed was the blood,” one of the writers tells me.  That is his opening line.  He is his mother’s sole caregiver – she has dementia.  Getting out to write helps him to not go insane.  “Let me tell you about the iron bird,” another writer tells me. She’s 70-ish, retired, and hand-writes in the most beautiful handwriting.  She reads a short passage from her WIP, about a wadi in the dessert, that is surrounded by surreal and amazing creatures, including the iron bird.  She describes the sound of the iron bird’s movements in wonderful, lyrical language.

And me?  I’m writing a scene about a car crash and redemption.  My words are not as beautiful, but I’m getting thee story down, and I will go back and make it more beautiful.  At least, I hope so.

But sitting with writers with such talent makes me want to go back to my back-burner project, the story about Bernice.  She is on the Spectrum, and she is amazing. Bernice has a story to tell, if I ever have time to devote to her.  I have a kind of long bit of her story, if you’re wanting something different to read.  You can read it here.

Do you like writing groups?  Are you part of one or do you have a group of people you regularly write with?  Tell me about it in the comments!

The Oxford Comma


I have been reading Berkeley Breathed’s “Bloom County” comic for many years.  When he stopped drawing and publishing, there was a huge void in my daily comic section of the paper.  But he’s back to drawing and making pithy pronouncements about our crazy politicized world, and I’m a happy reader.  Part of his return to publication and syndication included an ongoing storyline about Opus and Bill the Cat running for president.  Their platform?  The importance of the two spaces after a period.  It reminds me of another ongoing formatting and grammatical argument: The Oxford Comma.

The Oxford Comma: Just use it!Some people may not even know what the Oxford comma is, but others, like myself, know what it is and further, insist upon its use.  While journalists and some other standard-makers insist the Oxford comma is not necessary anymore, I would posit that it should be used at all times.  Yes, it saves a little ink and one typespace, to not use it.  But nothing is clearer than using that little comma to separate things in a list.

If you don’t know what the Oxford comma is, it is the use of a final comma before the last item in a comma-deliniated list.  I had toast, eggs, and orange juice for breakfast.  I had to choose between a black dress, a purple pantsuit, and a yellow mumu.  Of course all of these sentences can be written without that final comma.  But there are times that final comma is really necessary.  And if you are writing a lot, it is best to keep in the habit of using that third comma.  That way you never leave it out when you should have left it in, because your habit was not to use it.

I know there are arguments on either side of the issue.  People can have strong feelings about it, and can have loud arguments about it.  Like most things where there are two potential answers that are both correct (Does the toilet paper roll go over or under?  Is that dress black and blue, or gold and white?), people can come down pretty hard on “their side” and be unable to see the other side.  I am no different.  I am going to insist on the Oxford comma, no matter what.  And when I was still teaching English (before the Internet), I insisted on the Oxford comma.  I think it makes things very clear, with no ambiguity, to use it.  And I’m close to militant about it, no matter what style guides are trying to tell me to do.

In other words, you can have my Oxford comma when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.  Also, those two spaces after the period?  Yup, those need to stay, too. Naturally.

How do you feel about the Oxford comma?  Do you use it religiously, or only when a list wouldn’t make sense without it?  What arguments have you heard either way for its use or abandonment?  Let me know in the comments!

 

Fairest of the Faire – available now!

Fairest of the Faire book coverBlurb:

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Youngblood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Available NOW!

Buy at Wild Rose Press:  (eBook and paperback)

Buy at Amazon (Kindle and paperback)

Buy at Barnes and Noble (Nook)

Writing Spaces


As a writer, I’m always curious about other writer’s writing spaces.  For years, my “writing space” was the end of the dining room table, where I was constantly being interrupted and distracted.  It was the best we could do, and I dealt with it as best I could.  Then we moved to Colorado (where I came for work during the worst part of the recession back in St. Louis, my hometown).  We have lived in a series of rentals over the last four years, as housing prices are beyond us.  But sometimes, that is a good thing.  Each of the three rentals gave me some really nice writing space that wasn’t the dining room.

The current house has an entire garden-level suite.  This was an add-on to the house, and features heated floors (unless you’ve ever experienced those, you don’t know what you’re missing!), a kitchenette, a separate bedroom, a full bath, and a “living area.”  This 850 square foot space is my getaway, my writing retreat, the place where I do most of my creating.  Allow me to share it with you!

My desk

My desk is a sturdy 4 foot by 3 foot trestle table.  I like the extra depth, because I have an extra monitor in addition to my laptop.  I need room for my ergonomic keyboard, and my various notes and notebooks.  I had a smaller desk, but it was just annoying.  I need room to spread.  My bulletin board holds all kinds of things – buttons with funny sayings, pictures of people I will use for inspiration for other stories, comic strips my mother sends me, postcards from my student staff at my day job.The window looks out onto my back yard, which has a huge tree and lots of green grass.  When I don’t feel like writing, I can sit and stare at squirrels.

Write Your Story coffee mug

This is a prized possession on my desk.  The cup was made for me by a fellow writer in a writing group I was part of in Missouri, who was also being published by The Wild Rose Press.  The other side says “your story.”  It is perfect.

Book cases

No writer’s office would be complete without book cases.  These are filled with books, but also with memories, wind-up toys (a great distraction!) and materials from having been the Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month in Boulder County, Colorado.  Many of the books are reference materials; things I use regularly in writing my books.

Gracie the Cat

My highly-ineffective writing companion, Gracie.  She is two years old and really belongs to my daughter, but she spends a lot of her time in my office, enjoying the heated floors.

My betta, FishyFishy

FishyFishy (yes, that’s his name) is a much better writing companion than Gracie.  He swims along soothingly, waiting for dinner every night.

Editing Chair

The editing nook.  This chair is in the guest bedroom, but makes a good, distraction-free environment to sit and read through hard copies of my edits.

The suite is a wonderful space to disappear into.  It is not all mine, all the time, though.  We do open it up to guests several times during the year.  After all, I live in one of the prettiest places on the planet, mere minutes from the Rocky Mountains.  Who wouldn’t want to visit such a comfortable space?  They just have to remember that this guest space comes complete with a novelist!

Coming Soon!  Fairest of the Faire by Susabelle Kelmer

Fairest of the FaireThe renaissance fair is filled with characters and romance, but will it end in storybook love?

Schoolteacher Connie Meyers is suddenly a young widow, her husband killed in a horrific car accident. Heartbroken to find out he had gambled away everything they had, she moves to her sister-in-law’s Midwest home to rebuild her life. A trip to the local Renaissance Faire with her nieces leads to a summer job as a costumed storyteller.

Avowed bad boy and fair performer Gage Younglood is infatuated with Connie at first sight. Despite his deliberately commitment-free life, and Connie’s don’t-touch-me attitude, he soon has her in his arms, realizing quickly she is also in his heart.

When she is threatened by her late husband’s bookie, he steps into the role of protector, his fate forever sealed with hers.

Twitter me!

Follow me on Facebook!