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Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Karen Borelli.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

WHAT MY BUDDY STEELER TAUGHT ME



Photo by proud grandmother Susan F. Craft

Being in a writing zone is a wonderful thing. The thoughts come so fast, it's hard for your writing hand or typing fingers to put them into coherent words. You feel as if you are flying above the earth, taking the most fantastic journey imaginable. A high so incredible, you never want to descend.

Sometimes the ideas and words don't flow. You have a notion, maybe even an outline, but you can't find the end, or the twist, or the dialogue you're seeking. You may even begin to question the concept, the characters, or whether or not you're a mystery writer or any kind of writer at all.

These times can be caused by a lot of things. Personal preoccupations, work, stress. Writers are often counseled to "write through" these dilemmas, but sometimes you feel "all written out" from your job and other obligations. You decide every fictional work you've begun is bad, and you don't want to write through more bad prose to get to good. Maybe you just can't make yourself string more words together. And you shudder to think anyone might read what you've written.

So, you stop.

You feel guilty about it. You think about what you meant to write, but you still can't get beyond the defeat. You wait and don't know what to expect.

I was in one of those places when I went to visit friends who were house sitting their "granddog" while their son was at the beach.
Photo by doting father Donovan Craft


Steeler Nation (you know his namesake team), a bouncing, jet black combination dachshund and poodle ("Dachapoo") came into the household when his dad, cousin and co-owner, and aunt and uncle lived with the grandparents. Steeler was used to being in a vibrant home with lots of people to pay him attention.

Things happen. People get job opportunities and have to go in different directions. Steeler and his dad moved out. Steeler's cousin, aunt, and uncle moved out, too. Only Steeler's grandparents were left at the home.

When Steeler came to visit his grandparents, he was overjoyed to see them, but he hated for his dad to leave, even though briefly. Steeler lavished love on everyone and looked puzzled when he had fewer people with less time to respond to his adoration.

The grandparents placed Steeler on the porch at night and returned in the morning to find him looking expectantly through the window to greet them. Almost as if he stayed in the same position, waiting for them to return.

So, the grandparents asked me over. Steeler was beside himself to see me. He jumped up to be petted and admired. He brought me his squeaky toy to throw for him to retrieve. Maybe most disconcerting for someone who hasn't lived with a dog for awhile, he propelled himself at my head and licked my face to get attention. Steeler is nothing, if not determined and unrelentingly persistent.

The day after I visited, I had an idea about how to finish a story. I sat down to write and it was as if the floodgates opened. I read and reread. The words were good. They made sense and flowed. I almost felt as if I could cup what I had written in my hands, lift it to my mouth, and gulp down sweet refreshing liquid. It was exhilarating.

So, I started thinking about my little buddy Steeler. He hadn't seen me in months, yet was glad to greet me. He never gave up seeking to get my attention, even though I would offer him a little petting, then turn to other matters. He kept watching me and propelling himself at me, until I gave in and enjoyed being with him.

Writing is like that sometimes. You keep it at bay until finally it comes tumbling out of you.

Next time I feel incapable of putting words together, I'm going to remember Steeler's laser focus, whether I was looking at him or not. I'm going to try to channel some of his energy and find those words I'm looking for and propel them onto the page.

Thanks, Steeler. I owe you a big sloppy hug.

Have you found a "force" that spurs you into writing?

Photo of Steeler and me by Susan F. Craft


16 comments:

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Paula,

I have the distinction of being your first responder. Yes, I too face writer's block. Rejections discourage me and I lose focus. What to do? I don't have Steeler or a pet like him. But I live in a building with a gym. I use the treadmill and walk a mile or two. In good weather, my husband and I take long walks. These seem to help me focus. Sometimes you have to walk away literally for a while.

Shari Randall said...

Hi Paula,
Steeler is an adorable little Muse!
Shari

Susan F. Craft said...

Being around a constant source of excitement, encouragement, and unconditional love is contagious. Thank you, Paula, for this very fun story about our granddog, Steeler. I'll ask my son to read it to him tonight :-)
Susan

Carla Damron said...

Nice blog, Paula! Steeler did his job quite well.

B.K. Stevens said...

Hi, Paula--

I enjoyed your post. When I get frustrated while I'm writing, I often do some housework for a while. I'm almost always back to writing before long--maybe because I hate housework so much.

Warren Bull said...

Sometimes when the words don't come I will revise and edit an earlier work I'm not done with. That often wakes the muse.

Barb Goffman said...

I'm sure we all face times when we wonder if we've had our last good idea. I know I do. What I find helpful is to keep my eye out for story calls. I never know when, suddenly, one will poke my muse and she'll awaken, rarin' to go.

(And that is one adorable dog. He looks very smart.)

Gloria Alden said...

Steeler is adorable. I'd like to say my equally adorable collie, Maggie, is my muse, but truth to tell when she's awake she's too distracting. It's the same with my two sister cats, Moggie and Brat Cat.

My daily walk in the woods with Maggie helps me, and like Warren, I also find it helps to revise and edit another bit of work.

Kara Cerise said...

Sweet Steeler! I love the photos.

When I'm blocked or need inspiration, I organize a messy drawer or closet. That act seems to organize my thoughts and creates a space for fresh ideas. On the rare occasion when it doesn't help at least the house is tidy.

E. B. Davis said...

What a cutie!

It doesn't matter what I'm feeling, how down I am--if an idea takes hold--I'm gone. But if I'm waffling, my only recourse is to get away from the writing until I get a better head on. A negative attitude kills creativity, but on the other hand slap-happy inspiration usually leads to lousy writing. I have to be somewhere in the middle in my groove--then I can execute an idea.

Give Buddy Steeler a pat for me!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Jacqueline, I agree with you. Movement seems to help generate creativity. Hummm. Maybe the topic of another blog?

Shari, he truly is a little sweetheart.

Susan, thank you and Donovan for letting me be part of Steeler's family!

Carla, you are absolutely right! Thanks.

Bonnie, I'm with you. If anything can turn me back to writing, it's housework.

Warren, I like that idea. Thanks for the suggestion.

Barb, story calls have certainly been a help to me, particularly this year. You're right about Steeler's intelligence. He seems naturally empathetic, and his beautiful eyes just convince you that he knows exactly how you feel.

Gloria, you're the second to mention walking. I need to think more about the correlation between moving and writing. Thanks.

Bringing order out of chaos! Kara, what a great analogy to the whole writing process! Another good suggestion!

E.B., you make a good point about readiness to write. Absolutely I'll give Steeler your good wishes.

Thanks so much to all for reading and commenting!

Kaye George said...

I do sometimes get into a pickle when the words aren't flowing. They never completely stop, because I squeeze them out, but sometimes they trickle instead of flood. If I'm really, really stuck, I do find that going off and doing something unrelated, or letting myself sleep on it, helps.

What a darling doggie!

Paula Gail Benson said...

Kaye, I need to learn about your squeezing techniques! I like your recommendations, and Steeler is a real cutie. Thanks.

Kaye George said...

Squeezing is, just keep typing, even if it's nonsense. Something will come out. This is going on the theory that you can't edit a blank page.

Paula Gail Benson said...

Kaye, I love it. My new mantra--you can't edit a blank page!

KM said...

Sounds like Steeler is a better muse than our cat Jack the Tripper (he twines around your legs as you try to walk) who likes to sit on your lap & hit keys with his paw.

Over the years, we've usually had at least two dogs at a time. That way they keep each other company even if the humans are busy and distracted. The most interesting combination we had was an English mastiff (over 200 lbs) and a rat terrier. They got along very well. When the terrier went back to her original home (after almost two years--her owner got in an unfortunate position where he couldn't keep her) the mastiff was so lonely we adopted a rescue labradoodle.

I find I have more of a problem with finding the time to write than I do with writing when I have the time. When the first in my crime novel series was released I quit my part time job (teaching GED in the local county jail 3 evenings a week) so I'd have a bit more time. When I finally retire from the day job, I'm hoping I will be able to restructure my day so I can use a block of time for writing.