Jennifer's Journal


Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I was reading another author's blog this morning.  Frankly, I wish I hadn't--since she expressed such definite ideas about what should and shouldn't go into one.  Hers was directed toward dispensing information, but since the information was mainly of interest to the writing community, it seemed more on the order of an online magazine.  Which is fine, but very different from my idea of what someone interested in an author's books might care to read. 


So what should go into a blog?  I see it as a window into the lifestyle and thought processes of a particular creative person.  It's a little like allowing someone to read your journal, therefore the name I've given to mine.  I agree that it should not be solely an advertising vehicle for a writer's books, and shouldn't be totally self-absorbed, but after that, what?  If it doesn't contain odd thoughts, ramblings, musings, descriptions of every day life, work progress and problems, what else is there?  Well, I suppose I could do like Charles Dickens in the old days and creative a serial story, but then it would become something else again...


What would you like to see?  Leave me a comment and let me know?


Saturday, June 25, 2005

On Writing

There seems to be a feeling among non-writers that using a thesaurus in the creative process is cheating.  It smacks to their minds of either a lack of know-how or else an attempt to add “big” words to make the author look more intelligent than he/she is in reality.  No such thing!  A thesaurus acts mainly as a memory prompt.  It isn’t that the writer doesn’t know a half dozen ways to say “he jumped” but that she/he can’t think of them “right this second.”  Looking at all the possibilities only speeds a process that would have happened anyway.  Why would we need a dozen ways to say “jumped?”  Well, first of all, the action we’re showing may be more dramatic, smoother, less abrupt, or a dozen other variable.  Then, using it too many times in a paragraph or on a page may bring it to the reader’s attention.  He or she could stop and think, “Hmm, “jumped” again; this writer’s characters are just “jumping” all over the place.”  Anything that stops the reader, taking them out of the story, is automatically bad.


Microsoft Word, the word processing program preferred by many writers, has a built-in thesaurus, one which can be accessed under the Tools command.  However, a quick check of any word can be done by placing the cursor on the word, then right clicking the mouse and pulling it down to the word “Synonyms.”  This automatic thesaurus is designed for the average user, however, and often isn’t comprehensive enough for writers.  I also use a program called WordWeb Thesaurus and Dictionary.  A free copy of this program may be downloaded at:

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Lake Happenings

The hawks are calling here on the lake, their cries echoing from the woods below the house.  They are young red-tailed hawks not long out of the nest, hoping their mother will provide a meal for them.  Hawks nest here every year, coming in late January, circling over the house and the lake while their glad calls, and later mating calls, salute the winter sky.  Through the spring, we see the female hawk--or maybe it's both male and female--carrying snakes, mice and fish to the nest hid among the tallest trees.  Now the young are on the wing, and their prey is sometimes other birds, other nestlings.  I hate that part, though I appreciate the elimination of the vermin species.  It's nature's way so must be accepted.  In the meantime, there's something timeless about their cries, something wild and untamed that makes me glad they always return to us.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Back to Work

I've been jotting down ideas for the next book (Book #4 of my Masters at Arms series, Gavin's story) now and then over the last couple of weeks.  The basic story premise was set in my mind, but I couldn't quite decide on the dramatic events that would move the story forward.  Yesterday, I sat down at my computer in a fairly casual attempt to brainstorm ideas--and suddenly the whole story jelled into a series of seven or eight events and character interactions.  I captured them, put them into synopsis form, and the proposal is now almost written.  What fun, when this happens!  Picture me doing a Snoopy dance.  This proposal isn't due on my editor's desk until August 1, so I'm well ahead of schedule.  Since it's getting really hot here now in Louisiana--soon will be July when it's time to stay inside where it's cool--I'll probably go ahead and start the book, see how much I can get done before our annual August escape to the mountains.  Can you tell I'm excited about this story?      
Monday, June 13, 2005

Reading Again

Over the weekend, I read Hot Flash Club by Nancy Thayer.  It was a fast and funny read, highly entertaining even if it did remind me of First Wives Club. The most interesting thing about it from a writer's point of view, however, is that someone in the publishing industry has been paying attention to population demographics which show that there are lots of ladies with hot flashes these days, ladies who buy books.  The publisher not only contracted for the story but brought it out with enough fanfare to make it a best seller.  That speaks well for the industry.
I also read Puttin' on the Grits (Girls Raised in the South,) a primer about the Southern way of entertaining.  What a hoot!  So many rules, customs and half-forgotten habits that are stunningly recognizable to those of us brought up in the South.  But beneath the frou-frou, funnies and nostalgia, the book carries lots of great ideas for saving your sanity while making people comfortable in your home--and a really serious look at why Southern hospitality is so famous the world over.  It goes on my keeper shelf.
Thursday, June 02, 2005

Time Passing

It's been several days now since I sent off the manuscript for Rogue's Salute, the third book in my Masters at Arms series.  So far, I've only thought of two problems in the thing that I should have fixed before shipping it...  Sigh.  Just no way to make everything perfect, I suppose.  But I've now completed many of the chores that I had put off during the deadline crunch.  Not all--the time seems to slip away much faster when I'm not working than when I am; I start a project in the morning, and it's noon before I can turn around.  I do find that I've almost chilled out from my deadline angst, however.  Most writers are stressed during the final pages of a book; it's just part of the process.  Some of it is the time constraint, but it's also the need to keep all the story details in order while bringing the book to a satisfying conclusion.  Then there's the niggling fear that the story may not live up to it's original promise; the writer is never the best judge of a work in progress.  After a few days with no book to work on, however, you begin to relax and kinks in your brain unwind.  Whatever may be wrong with the story will have to be fixed later; there's nothing you can do about it now.  So you mellow out, relax with other people's books, visits to friends, crafts, gardening and other fun things.  Then the next story starts taking shape in the back of your mind--and the whole process begins again.   
Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Memorial Day Adventure

It's isn't Memorial Day here in the South--or maybe anywhere else these days--unless you burn some meat.  My meal for the day included baby back ribs and polish sausage cooked on the grill and served with baked beans and--salmon-pink potato salad.  No, it’s not a new recipe exactly.  What happened was, when it came time to add my usual sweet pickles to the salad, I had none.  Disaster!  What to do?  I had in the refrigerator some "Red Hot Pickles," cucumber pickles that had been a gift.  These are apple-red pickles made with bread and butter spices but with Red Hot candies added to give them extra zing and the red shade.  Voila!  Chopped together with dill pickles, onion and boiled egg and stirred into the potatoes, the result was pink potato salad.  Then I added the usual mustard for yellow color and the dish turned salmon pink.  Well, it tasted okay, pretty much as usual, once you got over the look of it.  A new tradition at my house for Memorial Day, perhaps?  I don't think so!