Top Ten Writing Interuptions.

Interruptions can be a relief or devastating to a writer.

The biggest lesson* I learned from working on a couple of novels over three years is the secret to writing is putting words to “paper” (computer screen) even when the muse is not with you or else your novel will never get finished.  Zen Zones are rare, the words flowing from your mind, the characters driving themselves, and your hands trying to keep up on the keyboard.

When zen zones are interrupted it’s a horrible thing. You might refocus your mind and keep telling the tale but you will NEVER get that steaming train back.  The problem is, the casual observer can’t tell you’re in that zone until you finally look up and they see that utterly blank where am I look. And then it’s too late. One exception: I truly believe my cats know when I’m in that zone and it fills them with the urge to demand my attention. Brats.

Fortunately most of my writing sessions can weather interruptions—if I don’t allow myself to get side-railed into doing something else.
My personal list of interruptions are loosely ordered by the frequency of occurrence.

Top Ten Writing Interruptions

Darkness

This usually only happens when I’m in the Zen Zone. Suddenly I realize I’m sitting in darkness straining to see by the light of my laptop screen. When I get up to turn on the light, interruption 8, 7, 6, and/or 1 often follow.

Stuck.

I finish a chapter or scene and I just don’t know how to get where I want the story to go, or I can’t even decide where the story should go next. I just have to walk away and do something else.

Guilt

I decide I’ve been in my office too long, I ought to clean house, cook dinner, or something.

Legs Go to Sleep

Eventually the tingling will pull me out of my writing and I have to walk and stomp the circulation back. Sometimes I can often get right back to writing since I don’t have to leave the room.

Coffee

The need for a refill. Getting hungry is the same problem. There’s always a risk that once I go downstairs I won’t go back up. I’ll end up cleaning or putting in a load of laundry.

The Cats

One of the cat will walk across my keyboard or just stand on it.  I’m certain that they do this on purpose to get my attention. I’ve learned to save often!

The Phone

I don’t usually bring either cell or land line to my office so I can often ignore the ringing.

My Husband

He’ll see me sitting  quietly and decides it’s a good time to start talking. He claims that if I’m really deeply engrossed I won’t look up and I even answer him without stopping my typing. Skills of a long marriage!

Research

I’ll switch windows to Google something, or search Thesaurus.com for a word that is eluding me. The problem is too often I’ll get too involved in the research and won’t get back to the writing.

Bathroom Break

The bane of the middle aged woman. There are some mornings I’ve had fleeting thoughts of putting a laptop desk in the bathroom. I can usually get right back to the writing and sometimes that little bit of brainstorming time helps the writing process. Sometimes I don’t get back to the computer but go of to do the things I’ve been neglecting.

* The second lesson is when you find yourself beating a dead horse-put it out of it’s misery and get a new one. Authors call it killing your darlings. Laying them to rest in a bottom drawer (archived file.)

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Ten Novels of Thanksgiving

Psychology Today provided this list of Thanksgiving Novels. This might seem like a strange source until you consider that whenever extended family members are invited together for a holiday meal, a bounty of emotions join in like uninvited guests. That and the fact that most families are more than a little…well crazy! Novel are not in top ten order.

Ten Novels of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Night, Richard Bausch

Bausch describes the novel as “a love comedy with sorrows.”  The book centers around two elderly aunts that the family calls “The Crazies” and the dramas of assorted family members.

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The Ghost at the Table, by Suzanne Berne

A story of the Thanksgiving reunion of estranged and dysfunctional family.

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Bitter Harvest, Susan Bowden

A suspenseful novel of another reunion of estranged family members but this one has family members of danger.

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A Secret Affair by Barbara Taylor Bradford

Romance grows from American strangers in Venice who decide to celebrate Thanksgiving together.

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The Thanksgiving Visitor, Truman Capote

This tale based on Capote’s youth is not available on Kindle or I would order it. I’ll have to settle for the TV adaptation on YouTube in several parts. The short story is a sequel to “A Christmas Memory”  which I’ve read and loved. (I also loved  the TV adaptation with the funny fruitcake production.)

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Courting Disaster, Julie Edelson

A funny and sad southern Thanksgiving novel that actually has a Psychiatrist in attendance at the holiday meal. Sounds efficient. Not available on Kindle.

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The Lay of the Land  Richard Ford

This novels chronicles a Thanksgiving with Frank Bascombe the popular character from Ford’s Independence Day and The Sportswriter.

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Dear James, Jon Hassler

A moving novel about friendship and an elderly woman celebrating Thanksgiving with friends. Not available on Kindle.

Model Behavior, Jay McInerney

This novel is about a Thanksgiving dinner in a classy restaurant with glamorous people who are not the happy (or classy) people they seem to be on the surface. The story is a drama although the holiday meal scene is supposed to be hilarious.

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The Harrowing, Alexandra Sokoloff

This novels is a scary ghost story about college students spending Thanksgiving on campus.

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Adapted from Psychology today article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-literary-life/201011/harvest-thanksgiving-novels

Top Ten Comments to: Naked Man on Kindle!

Amazon has a Kindle forum where people can discuss their Kindle with other owners. I occasionally peruse the forum for blog posts ideas and this thread’s heading piqued my curiosity.

My Kindle is so Embarrassing

The actual question was not what I expected and I found it delightfully amusing. Hopefully it will bring laughter to your day too. To read this forum post, comments, and find serious solutions to this (snicker) dilemma  (Link here.)

J.C. wrote:  “I have my Bible on my kindle because it is so much easier to read than a big thick book with small print. I was in church reading it and when I turned it off up pops a naked man wrapped in a snake. Is there some way to get this picture off of my kindle?”

Note: Kindle has several “screensaver” pictures that appear in a random order when unit is turned off.  The “naked man image” is Atlas Coelestis, John Flamsteed’s 1728  illustration of the constellation Ophiuchus.

My Top Ten Comments to J.C.’s Question

MLH says:

Also that is classic art. Not just a “naked man wrapped in a snake”.

DR says:

[JC] not to be judgmental or anything, but I think that the fact that the classical illustration of Ophiuchus embarrasses you is a bit, um, embarrassing. ;o
(Or, perhaps, as someone suggested, you are pulling our leg; it that case, well done! :o)

PB says:

Dang, can’t take a Kindle anywhere without it misbehaving 😉

AGC says:

Shouldn’t your fellow church-goers be looking at their own Bibles, and not at your Kindle?

C. says:

Dang it, I was sipping my coffee when I read that; now I need to change my shirt.

JA says:

I don’t think I have ever seen this one on my kindle. Where is my naked man? Where is my snake? Amazon is cheating me.

EO says:

Seems like an appropriate image for church, anyway. It’s been quite a few years since I read the bible, but I seem to remember one chapter did star a naked guy and a snake…

LLsays:

That image ONLY appears in the presence of Satan.
I would look under the pew. JN says:

Ah, science. Embarrassing Christians for 2000 years. P says:

Naked man has a cloth across his privates. But dang that snake looks big.

To which QL replied:

That’s not the snake 😉

Readers, share your thoughts.

To JC out there in the Kindle forumsphere,
Please forgive my joking at your expense for this post. I hope you found the help you needed out of the handful of serious answers hidden in six pages of teasing.

Top Ten Scariest Horror Books I’ve read

Halloween is the perfect time for a
Horror Genre Top Ten List.

Although Horror has never been one of my favored genre I’ve read many of them anyways, predominately Stephen King.  Looking at my top ten list it becomes obvious I was scared easier in my youth. People get jaded and harder to spook as we get older.  All but 2 of these stories have been adapted to film, some twice. I believe a horror book is better if read before seeing the movie  but I saw 2 of the movie first so I can’t be sure.
One outcome of making this list is I’m going to try to find the 1963 movie adaptation of my #1 scariest book and see if it still scares me decades later.

Ratman’s Notebooks by Stephen Gilbert (1969)

Rereleased as Willard in 1971 after the movie based on the novel. Ratman’s Notebook is a story of an outcast who befriends rats and come to love one special rat. Eventually the rats turn on him. The book is touching as well as terrifying.

Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin (1967)

I accidentally saw the 1968 movie adaptation when I was 11. Keep in mind back in that day 11 year olds were pretty innocent compared with today’s kids exposed to so much more. I come from a family of 7 kids. My parents would take us to the drive in our PJs. Before the movie started they would let us run in the play area, and fill us up with popcorn and Kool-Aid brought from home. We were guaranteed to be asleep in the back of the station wagon by the second feature, especially if it was a boring grown-up movie. This time I woke up and sat quietly watching the movie until I freaked my parents out by asking what the devil was doing to Rosemary! They made me promise not to tell anyone I watched that movie! Anyway I read the book several years later and finally found out what the devil was doing. It was a pretty good book, frightening and satanic.

Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City, by Ursula Bielski (1998)

Chicago is wrought with ghost stories and strange phenomena. In 2005 I went on a guided bus tour of haunted places in Chicago. I actually witnessed strange phenomena such as strange lights in the photos friends took, instantly available thanks to digital cameras, without time to doctor them. And, to my dismay, I discovered I get painful pressure in my solar plexus when I get near some of the alleged haunted sights. I later read Bielski’s fascinating but chilling book. After the tour and reading of the book, I’m glad I live far from Chicago and my family is the first occupants in our home.

The Stand, by Stephen King (1978)

This novel is not your typical jump out and say boo horror novel. This post-apocalyptic story depicts the horror of the worse (and best) things that can happen to mankind and individual humanity. “The best” I referred is the only thing that kept that book from being too depressingly horrible to read. The book is a page turner, masterfully written, but at the same time I did not like it. Depictions of stark reality are not my thing, as illustrated by Urban Fantasy being my favorite genre.

The Amityville Horror: A True Story, by Jay Anson (1977)

The truthfulness of the “real-life” happenings claim has not been substantiated and I frankly do not believe Anson. FYI, In 1977, James & Barbara Cromarty bought and lived in the house ten years but reported the only weird happenings in the house were all the people coming to gape at it.
I read the book but halfway through I became so scared I quit reading. I slept with the lights on and was afraid to be alone in my apartment. Some time later I finished the book and realized I’d stopped reading just before the story got so ridicules the believability was lost. I would have slept just fine had I continued.

The Shining, by Stephen King (1977)

This horror novel is so excellently written it doesn’t even need the scary scenes to be a great story. For me, the book “creeped me out” more than induced “sheer fear” but it definitely left me a skittish for a while. I saw the movie years later and loved it as well. Jack Nicolson with ax limping down the hall, the wind howled is forever engraved in my mind.

The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty (1971)

I read this book just before I saw the movie. I found the book chilling and gave me serious “willies”. This is one of those books that are full of the depth, details, and background that breathes life into a story and later served to increase the depth and enjoyment of the movie. They complement each other well.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders, by Vincent Bugliosi, Curt Gentry (1974)

This book is an authentic true story. I worked in a photography darkroom during this time and this book made me afraid to be in there alone but couldn’t admit it to coworkers. To me the most horrifying part of this book was not the murder but the practice sessions for the murders. Mansion members would quietly break into homes while the vulnerable occupants slept and creepy crawl through the rooms touching and moving little things, and look at the people! Then they would creep out and leave. To me that is horrifying!

Survivor Type from Skeleton Crew, a short story collection by Stephen King (1985)

This is hands down the most sickly horrific book I’ve ever read. Survivor Type is also the story that made me stop reading Steven King. For me he crossed the line between horror and sick. I spent years getting the book’s appalling words and images out of my soul. This book hit a nerve I never want touched again. I’ve met people who don’t understand my issue but I can’t even go there to explain what the book was about. More than enough said.

The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (1959)

I read the novel more than a decade after I saw the 1963 movie adaptation. The book was okay but once you’ve seen the movie much of the fear factor is lost. The Haunting 1963 movie rated #18 on Bravo network’s 100 Scariest Movie Moments. I was 10-12 years old when I saw this movie on TV. Never since have I screamed in such terror and jumped so high as I did during the tower/trap door scene. The whole movie scared the daylights out of me. I think my dislike of the horror genre stems from this movie and that scene. If you’ve seen the 1963 version the 1999 remake falls flat.

Top Ten Kindle Titles that Grabbed Attention

How do you choose your next book to read?

Do you cruise lists of books looking for titles that catch your eye?
Do you ever buy based on title alone?
What about a title might make you buy the book?

As mentioned in many posts, Kindle Store is hard to search by criteria. They do have several lists like the one I used to create this list. The lists are hard to locate in Kindle Store. I searched “Best Kindle Books so far” which yielded this heading:

The Best Kindle Books of 2011… So Far Looking for a great read? Check out our favorite new books in fiction, nonfiction, biography and memoir, business books, mysteries and thrillers, romance, science fiction, and more

Click a category and you’ll get a menu of lists to choose from. I clicked more. If there is a better way to search I couldn’t find it. So on with my list: (Listed in order of likelihood I’d ever buy it base on title alone.)

If you decide to read any of these please share your thoughts.

Top Ten Titles that Grabbed My Attention

from the list: 100 Kindle Books for$3.99 or less- Hand-Selected by our Editors