Sunday, May 25, 2008

Cats, Tornadoes, Gardening & Writer's Block

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and one of my cats, Alvin, has hurt his back leg and is hobbling around on 3. Doesn’t it always happen on a holiday?

Also we are, once again, under a tornado watch, but to look outside you wouldn’t know it. The sky is blue, a few fluffy white clouds hanging about, and it’s hot, 90°F. But you don’t need to live in Oklahoma very long to know that can all change in a heartbeat.

Before we moved out here I read a book about this state, and, of course, it talked about the vagaries of the weather. By way of an example it told of a guy plowing a field with two horses, the weather is so hot that one of the horses keels over from heat exhaustion. In the time it takes him to unhitch the horse, the wind changes to the a northerly, and the other horse freezes to death. At the time, I laughed, I now realize it was a pretty much on the money.

Last Sunday, Mick and I went to the local garden center and picked up a few flowers for the front garden. Amazingly, most of my perennials survived last winter’s ice storms, they must be a hardy bunch. So we picked up a few more perennials, and some colorful annuals, hopefully things will look pretty nice once they get established.

While we were there, I was admiring their beautiful hanging baskets of petunias, but didn’t buy one as I thought we had spent enough. The following day Mick picked one up for me on his way home from work. Our veggie garden is doing well too, you can check that out on Mick’s blog at:

Okay, back to some more writerly advice for my granddaughter, recently she asked me what she could do about writer’s block. All writers have their own way of dealing with this phenomenon, some even claim not to suffer from it, I am not one of them. These are just a few things that work for me.

  • I try to have several projects on the go at any one time. That way if I get stuck, or fed up of one, I leave it alone for a while and work on something else. Sometimes when you try to force your conscious mind to come up with something it refuses to cooperate. But when I’m not consciously thinking about a story, a resolution to whatever it was that got me stuck will come to me.
  • If that doesn’t work, sometimes free writing can help. I set myself a time limit of 10-15 minutes and just write about anything that comes into my head. I don't worry about spelling, punctuation, grammar or anything like that, I just write. I also find this works best with pen and paper, rather than the computer. If at the end of the 15 minutes I want to carry on, I do so. Doing this helps to get some of the clutter out of my mind.
  • Sometimes I use a writing prompt to get my brain kick started. There are any number available on the Internet, and I have books that contain some.
  • Or I’ll write a blog post.

I find that the only way to get past writer’s block is to write something, anything.

By the way, yesterday was the thirteenth anniversary of my arrival in the US.

Thought for the Week

"Keep writing. Keep doing it and doing it. Even in the moments when it’s so hurtful to think about writing." – H.G. Wells.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Some links to my writing

American White Pelicans preparing for
take-off on Grand Lake

Pam in OK city was asking if I had links to any of my articles, thanks for the interest, Pam. I can't post details about any of my contest successes as I do hope to get them published one day. The links listed below are to a few of my articles in Oklahoma Living Magazine. Sorry I can't give you a more direct link, but these are all now in the archives.

The article is about the Grand River Dam Authority, and can be found on page 34.

This is about the annual Pelican Festival, held in Grove, Oklahoma, and can be found on page 32.

This one is about the Oklahoma wine industry, and can be found on page 16

A more recent piece will appear on their web site at in July.

I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Circus Peanuts, Goldfish, and Virgil Ran Off With The Cleaning Lady

More exciting news this week. My good friend and fellow writer, Dorothy Scearcy, has published a book of short stories entitled, Circus Peanuts, Goldfish, and Virgil Ran Off With the Cleaning Lady. I purchased a copy from her on Wednesday morning, and once I got my nose in it, I didn’t stop reading until I’d finished it.

Dorothy’s stories are all slice-of-life vignettes, some are witty, some charming, others are poignant and give you pause for thought, but most are laugh out loud funny. In this book you will discover how Dorothy almost joined a sex club at age eight, how as a young mom she was kicked out of the PTA, and how a dead body in the barn turned out to be not so dead. And because Dorothy has lived her whole life in Oklahoma and Missouri, these two states provide the backdrop for all her tales.
You can read a sample story on her web site at:

Check it out, you’re sure to come back for more.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Contest and Tornado Update

I got my contest submissions back yesterday, and as well as the win, I got a 3rd place for an inspirational article (non-religious), and an honorable mention for a young adult short story. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, that I was over the bloody moon, still am, in fact.

The celebrations were somewhat dampened, however, by all the tornadoes that swept through this area last night. It was very scary. We were extremely lucky, others were not. Let’s all spare a thought today for all the people who lost their lives, for the families they left behind, and for all those who lost everything they own.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Amazing News!

The Brits have claimed this little piece of Oklahoma

This morning, I received an e-mail from the editor of The Report, a magazine that goes out to members of the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation Inc. He wanted to know how I felt about winning a 1st place in the OWFI annual writing contest. Well, I didn’t even know I’d won, did I? Also there are about 30 different categories, and I’d entered 8 of them, so, which one had won? The winners are only announced at the OWFI writer’s conference, and I hadn’t gone this year, and nor had anyone else from my writer’s group.
Naturally, I was absolutely delighted to know I’d won something, but I was dying to know which category it was. So, I e-mailed him. When he hadn’t replied after ten minutes, I e-mailed the Prez of OWFI, begging her to put me out of my misery. She e-mailed me right back, thank god! I won the non-fiction book category. Yippee!!! :-0
Funnily enough, I had just finished putting together a non-fiction book proposal to send out to publishers. Is this win a good omen, or what? I haven’t stopped grinning since I found out. Needless to say, there will be mucho celebrating at our house tonight, (in between dodging tornadoes. Yes, we have yet another warning in effect).
Cheers, make mine a large one.
P.S. Sorry about this format but blogger is refusing to leave any gaps between my paragraphs. Bloody thing!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Balti and Chicken Tikka Masala

A little piece of The Grand Lake O' The Cherokees

I had hoped to try making a balti this weekend, but I couldn’t find all the necessary ingredients at Wally-Mart, and as they are the only show in town, (well 16 miles away to be exact), I had a change of plan.

As Pam in OK City requested a Chicken Tikka Masala, that’s what I made instead. So, just follow me to the kitchen. Take a right at the office door, along the corridor, through the dining room, and here we are.

I will post more writerly advice later in the week, as I need to actually get writerly and prepare for an interview tomorrow for my next article for Oklahoma Living Magazine.