Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Writing Ruminations: Writer Reframes

Therapists have a technique called a reframe. This technique takes a negative thought or situation and then "reframes" it to a more positive point of view. Since I'm having some trouble coming up with a blog post for this week, I thought taking this technique and working its magic on doubts that writers often have might be a fun and helpful exercise for me and for you, dear reader, too!


1. Negative thought: I'll never make it in the writing world.
Reframe 1: I'm glad to have lots of time to learn the craft of writing. When I do make it, my writing will be tight and I'll be ready for success!

2. Negative thought: My writing sucks.
Reframe 2: Certain parts of my writing may be iffy while I'm learning the ropes, but the more I write the better I'll become.

3. Negative emotion: Frustration at grammar or editing errors in stories/tweets/books/rejection letters of famous authors or agents. (I've been seeing this one on other blog posts lately.)
Reframe 3: Obviously famous authors or agents are human too. Maybe the fact they make mistakes means that I can achieve that level of success too, if I keep trying.

4. Negative thought: What if I make a mistake? (My favorite.)
Reframe 4: A mistake in your manuscript is not life threatening. Any re-writing you would have to do will only make you a better writer, and you have the time to play with it.

5. Negative thought: No one is going to want to buy this.
Reframe 5: This is the story I want to tell right now. After I write it, I can decide what I want to do with it. Being prolific is maybe better than being perfect at this time in my writing career.

6. Negative thought: Another rejection???
Reframe 6: Good practice. Rejections don't necessarily mean you're a sh*t writer and are going to happen. I'll keep submitting and keep writing. If I don't, I'll guarantee I'll never be a success.


7. Negative thought: I have to get an agent/sell a mound of books/make a certain amount of money to be happy.
Reframe 7: I can find joy in writing right now. Writing is fun and creating is magic.

Do you have any negative thoughts that plague you, or have you seen any mentioned by other writers? Write them in the comments and either write the reframe yourself, or we can work on the reframe together!

Monday, September 23, 2019

Things You Might See While Playing Pokemon Go: September Edition

Hi! As you may have noticed I've missed most of my posts in September. I can't remember what happened for the first week, but after that my father-in-law passed away and that kind of consumed the rest of the month. The end of September got here way faster than I was expecting. It was a blur.

I did, however, play Pokemon Go, so this is a good post to start blogging on again. I realized a week or so ago that I enjoy how mindful creating the blog post monthly makes me. While walking the dog and playing the game, this post makes me live in the moment and observe what I see around me.

This is at a raid, where a lot of Pokemon Go players come together to fight a large-sized Pokemon that you wouldn't be able to catch on your own. It's actually a lot of fun and there is a Pokemon Go community that you get to know through teaming up to play the game. The cannonball memorial is actually the gym where you go to fight the OP Pokemon.

I like to take pictures of the pretty parts of town, but this closed mall is down the street from my house, in a part of town that is now considered "blighted." Sadly, this is how many rural towns in Nebraska have ended up. The city is trying to re-develop the area, and there are a lot of interesting ideas floating around with what to do with the mall.

I know the name on the tombstone is Wood, but doesn't it look like it's saying "MOOD"? 😅

Yes, you can even play Pokemon Go at the Symphony! At least, you can when they play their annual concert in the park!

Tom "Bones" Malone, of Blues Brothers fame, was the guest musician at the Symphony. He also visited the schools and worked with the Jazz bands at the Middle and High Schools. Boy 2 learned the basics of soloing on his tenor sax from him! The music program here is amazing.

I just love this building. It's one of the oldest still standing in town.

My father-in-law's funeral was in Phoenix, Arizona. It was my first time seeing such large cactus and desert plants. Phoenix was beautiful and I wish we hadn't had to go for such a sad reason. I didn't play a lot of Pokemon Go while we were out there, but I did have some moments. You get extra points for some things when you catch/do them at a distance.

This is the sight right after we got off the plane in Las Vegas! And yes, the airport was FULL of Pokestops and gyms. All of the airports were - Omaha, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

After returning to Nebraska, I've been rushing to to get all my home visits done. This is on a back road between towns where I visit clients monthly.

The Pokemon is MewTwo and it was such a cool picture I had to share it. The game has an AR camera where you can take pictures of the Pokemon in the real world. The picture was taken in a nearby rural town where I visit the Assisted Living facility. I had to wait for a client to be available so took a short walk.

Lastly, here's my pup with a Lillipup! There's a resemblance, I think!

Sadly I didn't work a lot on Growing Old is Murder, but I did make some progress, so I guess I'll have to be satisfied. I should be able to start actually writing in October. Yay!

What were you up to in September? If you have artistic endeavors, have you been able to make progress? Have you read anything you'd recommend to others? Tell us all about your month!

Monday, August 26, 2019

Things You Might See While Playing Pokemon Go: August 2019

Another month has passed! Time just keeps flying along and I'm straggling behind a good majority of it. However, I'm alive and life is good. If I don't quite get everything done as I plan, it's okay. This has become my mantra so I don't beat myself up for failing to meet my time goals.

I have to admit something, though. I've been working on planning my story (still) and I'm finding all the choices are starting to give me anxiety. Now that I'm aware of this writing hazard, I'm trying to talk myself into not freaking out, making decisions and relaxing into the story. How strange that the very thing that makes story writing fun also stresses me out.

Anyhoo - we had a fun month playing Pokemon Go and I walked a ton.  Getting up early to walk the dog and play a little PoGo has become habit, so I actually look forward to it. 

These first photos are from downtown Lincoln. We went early in the month to purchase a cello for Boy 1 and drop off Boy 2's saxophone to be fixed. I'm happy to report the cello has a beautiful tone and the saxophone is quite jazzy! Lots of Ralts Pokemon were caught because it was Community Day. It was a really pleasant day.

This little grotto is in my hometown. The funny thing is that, until my husband mentioned it, I totally didn't realize that those plants are actually just weeds.

I had a ton of sunrise and sunset pictures, but instead of boring you with all that beauty, I picked the best one. This is around the corner from my house.

Another picture from a park in Lincoln from when we went to pick up the saxophone last week.

I have seen some gigantic dragonflies and praying mantis this week, but I was able to take a photo of the cicada drying its wings after hatching. Absolutely beautiful.

Here's to a fast August and hopefully a lower-key September. Maybe we'll have a moment to catch our collective breath and relax into fall.

How was your August? Did you see anything interesting you'd like to share?

Monday, August 19, 2019

Random Thoughts: Marvel Movies and My Life

When Boy 1 was two years old we watched Iron Man on DVD. He was totally entranced with the movie. At the scene where Tony comes out of the cave with the flame throwers, he shouted at the men on the tv to run. The next time we went to the store he wanted an Iron Man action figure. He even slept with it for quite a while.

Boy 1 and the beloved Iron Man.

Boy 1 as Tony Stark. Not sure what the cape was for, other than capes are cool.
Starting at that moment in 2007, Marvel became the background of my family's life. I watched my boys grow up as we watched Marvel movies together. Some of the fondest memories are the discussions we had in the car going to or leaving the movie theatre. I can count Christmases based on what Marvel toys they got. Thor and Loki's love/hate relationship is similar to my boys' relationship. They're kind of at a Thor 3 relationship, currently. It's nice to see them supporting each other more.

Boy 2 in his Thor regalia. My mom made him the cape for his birthday!

He wore the cape and helmet all the time for a while.

Boy 1 is now 13 years old, Boy 2 is twelve and Iron Man is no more. Endgame ended Marvel's first phase right when my kids' childhood ended. They are no longer shorter than me, chubby cheeked, bright eyed and wanting to play with Iron Man and Thor toys. They're struggling to find their balance between being children and being adults, finding out what kind of people they're going to be.

Perhaps that's why I didn't like Endgame very much. There's a parallel between the end of the Avengers as we know it and the end of my role as the parent of young children. I'm entering undiscovered parenting country.

I was grateful to have Spiderman: Far From Home to help demonstrate how to live in a world without Tony Stark. Because, as is noted in the movie, life does continue on after loss. My kids are going to continue to grow up (God willing) and become men and move away to have their adult lives. Hopefully they will be good and kind people. I'm hoping they will have internalized some of those self-sacrifice, humility, strength, standing up for good against evil lessons found in the Marvel movies.

Thank you , Marvel, for the good times and the good memories.

I love you 3000.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Writing Ruminations: How Do I Cozy?

Many years ago--about 10, to be precise--I decided to try my hand at writing fiction. I cut my teeth on short stories while I learned about the three act structure, hook lines, characterization, sub-plots and sub-text. I read craft books, attended writing conferences, perused writing magazines and even took some online courses. I put my writing in front of anyone who might read and offer critique. 


Finally, Voila! I had written a novel. And then I even wrote a second one. Granted that one took a whole lot longer to finish, but that's another post.

I started thinking about my next novel and realized that I wanted to try something a little different. It was time to try...a cozy mystery.


I turn to all the experience and education I'd gathered over the last ten years. I try to organize myself. I try to characterize. I try to plot. I try to figure out exactly what the heck I'm supposed to put into a cozy mystery. I check blogs. I check books. I create spreadsheets. And still...


It feels like I'm starting over at the beginning all over again. Same sense of not having a clue and not really knowing where to go to get the answers I need. My spreadsheet has helped, but even though I've been able to meet my goals for the basics (character development, setting development, etc...), when I get ready to start plotting, I feel a little lost.


Luckily, I follow several people on twitter, including Elizabeth Spann Craig and Kellye Garrett.

Elizabeth Spann Craig has a great blog series about the basics of writing cozy mysteries. It's helped me to see the general process and she has a ton of links to other resources on the internet.

Just last week on Twitter Kellye Garrett shared a book she used to write her award winning Detective by Day mysteries. It's called Writing and Selling Your Mystery Novel by Hallie Ephron. I'd actually seen it a couple of weeks ago at the Barnes and Noble in Lincoln, but didn't purchase it at that time because I wasn't sure it would be helpful. After Kellye Garrett's recommendation, I made sure to stop by the Barnes and Noble this past weekend when we were in Lincoln picking out a cello for Boy 1 and grab the only copy.

So far it has been enjoyable to read and the exercises at the end of the chapters are practical, definitely doable and helpful for clarifying what I need to be doing to plan the novel before actually writing it. Since I'm a plantser, this very much appeals to me.

I plan to keep to my spreadsheet goals, but use the book to help me fill out the plotting part, most especially. I may switch to completing chapters by a deadline, but haven't really gotten deep into it to decide.

What do you do when you need guidance? Do you have a trusted person who is your go-to? Or do you prefer to utilize books and blog posts?

**Quick note: I STILL can't access my comments. I don't know what to do, but I wanted to say thanks to Joe and Cindy for the nice comments!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Things You Might See While Playing Pokemon Go - July Edition

Was your July satisfying and awesome?

I have to admit my July was rather normal. I took three days off work for vacation and then Boys 1 and 2 started de-tasseling corn, so we couldn't go on any significant trips! They had one day off while I was off work as well, so we went to Eugene T. Mahoney State Park for the day and enjoyed the treetop ropes course and the paddle boats. I think we all imagined being Jedi as we were hopping from platform to platform and then zip lining to the ground.

That's me in the photo, with Boy 2 behind me. Please forgive my hair, but it kept raining off and on. We did play a little Pokemon Go at the park, too. 

Found a Pikachu on the Fourth of July!

Proof I've been working on Growing Old is Murder! This was taken at the library, which has a Pokestop right outside the window on the left. That's my husband reading across from me, and gathering as many pokeballs as he can!

The next two pictures were taken at the airport. It is a tiny airport, but there's a long drive that has a Pokestop by the airplane. I take Revan, our Labrahound, on walks there in the morning and harvest Pokeballs and Pokemon.

I just really like this tree. There are several in town, and get big white flowers on them. Does anyone know what they are? I haven't a clue!

Below is but one section of a mural that spans several buildings near our downtown area. I'll share more each month. I chose this section for this month because it's interactive with the building. I love how the people are painting the building and the man is holding the window like a picture frame.

The next two pictures are taken in one of the many parks in town. The amount of trees and vegetation here (as opposed to Wyoming) is soothing to my soul. I'm starting to think I was either a bird or a tree in a past life. If I'm feeling upset or stressed, just get me outside and I can breathe again.

Yes, I even played Pokemon Go while donating blood. (There was a Pokestop at the church where the blood drive was held.) I included the picture as a reminder that blood donation doesn't take much time and  truly saves lives. Consider getting in touch with the American Red Cross in your area to find out where you can donate. If you happen to be overseas, I have no idea how that works for you, but I still encourage you to donate today!

Last but not least is Revan. Part of why I got so into Pokemon Go is due to needing to walk him, and he often is in the back seat while we drive to the college or a park to make the rounds to the different Pokestops.

When I saw the picture of him on the shelter website I knew he was our dog. It's amazing how well he has fit into our family and how much richer our lives have been since he's become a Schiffbauer. If you're thinking about getting a new pet, I encourage you to peruse your local animal shelter. Speaking from experience, there are some fine animals there, just waiting for you.

All righty! May you all have a great week and I'll see you in August!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Random Stream (of Consciousness) - Politics

I was looking at my Twitter feed earlier today. As I scrolled through my profile, I realized that many of my tweets are retweets of political information. Not long ago it seemed I'd reached some kind of milestone when I was called a "liberal Progressive turd" in response to one of my more widely viewed comments.

Pre-Through the Fairy Ring, I kept my political opinions to myself. I didn't want to offend anyone (meaning readers) who might have views different from my own. It didn't feel as if my voice on such things was important, anyway, because I have always lived in very conservative states and my puny liberal voice doesn't carry much weight in politics.

I started writing Through the Fairy Ring during the election cycle of the 2012 election. I was disillusioned with politics in general and decided to explore the theme of leadership as part of Hazel's continuing story. When I'd written the book I'd tried to think of the worst a leader could do to demonstrate their self-centered and power-hungry ambitions. I am dismayed at how similar current events are to my story.

Part of the story is Hazel learning to have a voice and speak up for those without a voice; learning that people can do many crazy things for power and because of greed, but then standing up for what is just and loving, solely because it is the right thing to do. I can't say whether I successfully accomplished my goals or not, but I do know after the 2016 elections, I can't keep silent about my beliefs. I may offend some people (obviously I did the guy who called me a liberal turd - or he was a bot, in which case I'm rather proud), but sometimes you have to stand up for what is right, regardless of what other people may think. Being silent is being complicit.

I also have begun participating more in our political processes. I'm teaching my children about advocacy and encourage them to speak up for people who have no voice. We even attended a political rally in Omaha as a family.

I try to moderate what I retweet on Twitter. I try to ensure what I share is reputable and not a bot-made inflammatory meme. I try to include light-hearted posts and retweets too. I try to keep my posts level headed and not emotionally charged. When scrolling through the feed, it's a weird eclectic mix, but it's the things I worry about and want others who may look at my timeline to know. And then some humor to try to lighten things up, because daaaang!! I swear the world has gone dark and crazy. We have to try to have some balance, right?

I don't really have a way to end this post. I was busy the last couple of nights being a mom and am falling asleep writing this, so I guess I'll just say "the end." 

Do you share your views on the world at large on social media? Why or why not?

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Writing Ruminations: Goooooal!

Have you ever been trying to write something and you feel like an unmoored ship, drifting along on the currents of confusion?


For the last two months I've been in the developing stages of my next novel, Growing Old is Murder (working title.) It's a cozy mystery and I've never written one before. I've been alternating researching how to write a cozy mystery, creating settings, and developing a workable plot, subplots and characters. As I've had no real method to all this madness, I've become confused, distracted and overwhelmed, and consequently, I've not made any real progress.


Earlier this week Jeanne Kisacky's blog post "My Boss is a Pushover" was featured on Writer Unboxed. I've linked it for you, if you'd like to read the post, because it is a good post. However, for the sake of my post, I'll quickly summarize that in her post, Ms. Kisacky mentioned that she'd developed a project management outline to help her track tasks and give rewards. I realized that something like a project management outline may help me clear the fog in my head.


So, last night I spent the evening creating several Excel spread sheets, separated into task categories (as suggested by Ms. Kisacky.) My categories are Develop Characters, Develop Setting, Plot, and Scenes.

On each spread sheet I included a projected due date. My goal is to have enough character development completed by July 19th that I can "see" them enough to start writing. The development of the three main setting locations are due for July 26th; broad plot points and subplots chosen by July 31st. Then, as you can see above, I start writing scenes, with the whole first draft done in November. Once I get the first draft done I'm going to develop a spreadsheet for editing. 

I will say right now that my goal dates are quite challenging in my mind, but I have already developed quite a bit of the characters and settings. It's not as if I'm starting at the very beginning.

I'm trying to keep the pace somewhat rapid so I am forced to make decisions and move ahead. With Through the Fairy Ring I got so mired in choices and the anxiety of making a bad decision that it took for-freaking-ever. Trying really hard this time around to keep my momentum and enjoy the process.

Also, I subscribe to the "If you shoot for the moon and miss, you'll still land in the stars" point of view.


Yes, I am aware that there's tons of empty space between the moon and our nearest star which is not the sun. Let's just not acknowledge that fact when trying to motivate, right?

I was completely surprised at how much more centered and grounded I felt when I completed the spreadsheet. I know what I need to do and now have an idea for when I need to have it done. I'm hopeful my spreadsheet will help keep me on task and motivated. 


Oh! That's the last piece of the puzzle. I've decided a mocha frappe from McDonalds is going to be my reward for when I complete a task (at any time), but maybe I'll give myself a double-reward if I finish a task by the due date. I like that idea!

How do you keep yourself organized and focused while writing? Or even just in everyday life? Any tricks you'd like to share?

Monday, July 01, 2019

What Social Media Should I Keep (or Do People Even Blog Anymore?)

Many years ago I read how writers need a social media presence and I jumped in one hundred percent. I joined Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Google+, Wattpad, probably a ton of others I don't even remember now, set up this blog, set up a website and promptly felt overwhelmed. I wasn't going to give up, though. If social media was what I had to do to be successful, than I was going to do my best!

Fast forward to today, and a lot has changed in my life, and to my perspective on writing. I've learned to view my writing "career" as a journey and while I'm on this journey I better be enjoying myself or I won't keep going. There has to be a balance between ambition and acceptance, or I end up with paralyzing anxiety that prevents me from writing.


I have been evaluating all of my social media accounts and trying to decide which are worth spending time on and which I should let go of, because I don't have time for writing, cultivating all the social media accounts I've developed in the past and living the rest of my life.


Part of why I wanted to resurrect this blog site is because I miss the ability to connect with people. Blogging seems to allow the most opportunities to share full thoughts and ideas and have a decent discussion (if others will engage, of course.) Some of the friends I made blogging are the ones who are still talking with me today, and are the biggest support to me as a writer. 

On Twitter I see so many new writers looking for connections, for someone to talk to about their experiences and so excited about their beginning writer's journey. While I'm not some amazingly published writer who meets the standard measures of writing success, I would still like to be able to offer, through this blog, a place for people to find inspiration and motivation along their way.


Twitter happens to be the social media site I have maintained over the last several years, because it is where I found some real friends whom I am very fond of. We bonded over Shakespeare and I can't imagine not checking in and seeing how everyone is doing. The nature of tweeting is to be short and sweet, and this is a plus. It's a good way to connect with lots of people in a shorter amount of time. Now if only it would stop being so angry over there!

After all the issues we've learned over the past two years regarding Facebook and privacy violations, I don't really spend a lot of time over there. I do maintain my author page, though, and try to post periodically. I view Facebook more as a delivery system than a place to cultivate relationships.

I am planning on closing my Wattpad account. I haven't been successful over there since Finding Meara released and I think the only reason the release went as good as it did was because of the family and friends who gave it the first boost so it was actually visible. I don't have the time now to devote to developing a reader base on Wattpad and write new stuff, too. It's kind of like when your hair gets too long and you need a trim. Wattpad is a place I feel I can trim and not miss anything.


Please keep in mind, though, that the main point of this post is that I am making my decisions based off what I feel fits my desires and needs best. I'm not pushing myself into a cookie cutter design of social media presence just to make sure my bases are covered. I'm designing my social media presence around how I think I'll get the most enjoyment in the process and offer the most to my potential readers. 

And finally, just because I don't think a site works for me doesn't mean it won't work for you!! That's between you and your own personal journey. I wish you the best of luck with finding what makes the best sense to you and will give you the most satisfaction.

Have a great week!

What does your social media presence look like? Have you been more active in the past, or are you just starting out in the social media maze?

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Things You Might See While Playing Pokemon Go - June Edition

Hi!  Or maybe "Surprise!!" would be a better beginning!

I don't think you want me to go into why I'm posting now or why I haven't posted in so long. Let's just agree to move on from here, shall we? Let me just blow off the dust around here and we can get started!

Quickly, let me update about Through the Fairy Ring. I had every intention of putting the story on Wattpad and leaving it there, but I've since changed my mind. While I have finished editing it once, my lovely author/editor-friend Suzi Wieland has kindly done a final copy-edit for me. Once I get the last check done I'm going to be releasing it on Amazon. So, all the places that say Through the Fairy Ring is coming soon are once again correct. Sorry?

I plan to post blog posts every Tuesday evening. I have a plan for a blog schedule, but until I actually post weekly for a while, I'm not going to waste your time talking about it! Look for links on Twitter and Facebook, if you aren't subscribed or a follower here.

OK! Let's talk Pokemon Go (also known as "the game that has obsessed my husband and me.") I've played off and on for several years. In April we adopted a new dog (Revan) and I began playing Pokemon Go again because, of course, a large dog needs lots of walking. I got hooked into the local Pokemon Go community and started doing raids and battles, and now I know more about Pokemon than I ever thought I would have. I love the game! I just wish they would come up with more research quests, because I'm almost done with them all.

Anyway, as I walk all over I see interesting things, and decided I would like to share them with any of you who want to take the time to look at my pictures! Without further ado, here is some of what I've seen this past month while playing Pokemon Go!

The dog who started it all! May I present Revan, the sweetest dog with the craziest eyebrows. He's a shelter rescue who is our perfect dog. So happy he joined our family!

There are all kinds of murals around town. This month I chose to share the birds, because I love birds. We have all kinds of aviary variations that either live here or migrate through-including laughing gulls, blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, doves, grackles, orioles and many more I don't know the names of, but love seeing every summer.

Sandhill Cranes are very big here. They migrate across this area each late February and March. They're an amazing sight to see, and hear. Their call is a sweet warbling.

Just some pretty flowers at one of the two colleges we have.

This is one of several fountains we have in town. It's a Pokestop in a cute little park in the middle of  the main part of town.

We've been getting some amazing thunder and rain storms.

Last week several ancient trees were blown down all over town due to high winds which accompanied the rain storm. I'm so sad at the loss of the trees.

Which did you see first ? The spider or the face?

Another one of our fountains. I love that they light up at night! This one changes colors and water flow, too. It's fun to watch. Below is a more dramatic photo of the same fountain.

That's my pictures for this month. I hope you all had as fine a June as I did. :D


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