Writing, beaches and sand wishes

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The query and the synopsis - my 82,000 word novel

I worked from 3:30 until about 8 pm on these two items.

Taking shape, taking shape. The market is very tight for writers. E pubbing which is faster, higher return etc. may be the route to go.  I am not sure at this pint.

I still have a lot of tinkering and massaging of my manuscript. It never ends. I love my story. I love my characters.

I'm leaving it alone for a week, maybe longer, a vacation of sorts? I need a break from it. Each time I go back it takes a better shape.

Writing is re-writing. Again, again, again, again and a few more (several) agains.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

By the by Stickman put one of my short stories on.

Many of the reader submissions are tales of expats and their misadventures in Asia. My story Living the Bells of St. Trinium's can be read here:  http://www.stickmanbangkok.com/ReadersSubmissions2012/reader7485.htm

It is at the very bottom of the Readers Submissions column, scroll way down to the bottom of the page, look for Wilkins MacQueen dated 18/6/12 for a slice of a day in the life.

This story was destined for a monthly column I was to write that didn't materialize in a neighboring city monthly magazine.  The magazine was going to publish it and then tell me after it was published they couldn't pay me. So I yanked it. Hey, no hard feelings, I'm just glad I was able to pull it before it was published.

A boost by Rob Parnell last week & The Horse Whisperer Revisited

My unease as I finish my novel is behind me, at this moment. Rob's site is one of the top ten writer sites on the internet according to Writers' Digest. Rob went through some correspondence I sent him and published parts of it, commenting on my observation, queasiness, doubts, you name it. Overwhelmed is the word I used.

He walked through it, commenting, pointing out things that I had noted.

My panic, the sleeplessness, the loss of appetite, the stress - the last things I expected to go through as I worked very, very hard to reach my goal. But I did. I topped my manuscript out at 82,500 words.

From start to finish this piece has taken me about 5 months. I used to be happy with 500 - 800 words a day.  Now I easily can hit 1,500 a day and if I don't work at my day job I can put out 2,500. That's my record for one day.

You can't churn out garbage (although that happens often enough) they need to be good words, they turn into great words (we all hope/pray) with the endless rewrites.

Anyone can write. Few can write every day, face it every single day, without a break, all the endless rewrites and finish it. To revise again and again and again, and again.  The experience (this is my fourth novel, I also have a whack of short stories and poetry)  from the other three gave me sharper tools so I could immerse myself in it non stop almost every waking moment and reach the goals I set for myself a short while back.

I'm barely done this one, I will start on book two soon, the twins I hope will grow into triplets. .

It is based on a true story involving a real horse and a very prominent person who is still involved in horses. The more research I did early on, the more I knew I had to write it. It wouldn't leave me alone.

I owned, bred and showed horses. My novel is authentic in the jumping and dressage details of training and competition. I took up competitive jumping when most riders are retiring. It was great to put my experience to good use on the page.

Everyone who loves horse stories has likely read the book The Horse Whisperer. Great book with an unbelievable, disappointing ending that had no truth in it. The author didn't understand the nature of the horse and I guess no one told him what he should have known to get to the right ending. The ending didn't stand up and made me cringe and angry. He tricked us. He didn't knowing enough about the subject to a get a believable ending out. It happens.

The movie had a better ending. At least Hollywood avoided repeating his mistake.

So I need to sort out this blog, get the Thai stuff back on, the photos and the early days here when I was fresh to Thailand. I think I'll start up a fresh blog, just for writing and the odd thing that catches me, a photo. I never wanted to fill and maintain two blogs, but maybe I'll look at that.

I'm still having a lot of trouble with Thai showing up on my blog. The dashboard, the banner, why can't it all stay in English? Too much to ask I guess.

Anyway, I've written today from 12 noon until midnight. Time to read a few pages and get ready to do it again tomorrow. The more you write, the more you can write. I never experienced "block" of any kind. I doubt it exists.

I do know without writing a lot, without reading a lot nothing anyone produces will get any better.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Serious about writing? How much are you writing

every day?

I'm writing about 1,200 to 2,000 words a day. Every day. The only thing that varies is the amount of time I have available. I work. Until recently I worked 2 jobs, yeah, 7 days a week. The only days off I got were national government mandated holidays. 3, almost 4 years of that. I still wrote every day, but not as many words at each sitting, a girl has to sleep sometime.

I don't do that anymore.  Being in the habit of writing every day I can churn out my story like you wouldn't believe, because I acquired the habit.

Friday, August 31, 2012

I'm honored today, Rob Parnell used some

correspondence of mine in his weekly newsletter. Here's the link http://easywaytowrite.com/

Sign up if you are in writer mode. There is tons of free information, professional advice and other goodies.

And me, today.

My manuscript topped out at 82,843 words. I'll sleep on the ending I worked out today. We'll see if it sticks.

Once I tune this one up, I'll start thinking of book two. I've already got the shape of it mapped out.

Now I need to go back to the early days in the story and massage forward. Shouldn't be too difficult, I've been working on the entire thing each time I added a new section.

If you write, I'd love to hear a bit of your journey. Mine has been a wild ride. It's been a long one. It's one of the best I've been on.

Write every single day.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Writing in Thailand, a unique place to hide away

I would be lying if I said writing is easy. I am at the point today, after having the luxury of sitting down and writing in quiet, pleasant surroundings anywhere from 3 to 8 hours over the stretch of many daysI have developed the habit of writing.

I have the luxury to go and fall into the huge pristine pool where I live, usually mid day, to clear my head, as I take a keyboard break. With a considerably lighter work schedule narrowed my focus substantially the past couple of months. I don't get distracted. I don't wander around my ground floor apartment looking for stuff to clean or things to tidy.

Every morning I wake up, fix a cold coffee and sit on the little patio, fire up my notebook and begin. I don't stop until I start typing words inside out.

The bushes/trees beside my patio give me some green privacy.  Birds hop down on the leaves and look at me, then finding me uninteresting they flit away and check back later. Usually I haven't moved.

My tv and dvd player sit unplugged. They haven't been plugged in since I moved. I quit reading the newspapers on line. I glance at the paper at work.

I took all my Thailand stuff, including photos, off this blog, made a clean sweep. I may put  the early posts back on and/or start a new blog. Hard to say. My job now is to tinker, fix, rewrite and massage my manuscript.

The discipline of sitting and writing so much every day has benefits. I won't list them. Although it may read like my life has narrowed, it has truly expanded in so many ways. I've found a new pen pal, have someone who looks forward to reading my new pages, (that is encouragement enough to forge ahead) and guess what?

I write every day. That means every single day. No matter what.Once over the past couple of months I took one day off from my ms to get my breath back. I forced my self to not turn on my computer. The next day I flew trying to keep up as the pages tumbled out at light speed. If I find a problem in the ms that is not fixable at that moment I ignore it, write around it or move on to other parts. I go to bed for the night and like magic, the solution arrives by the time I wake up.

Focus. Discipline. Positive results.

Mac is back - after writing an 80,000 + word manuscript

Historical fiction. Based on a true story. I've been churning out 1,000 to 2,500 words a day since I moved, got the slum off me from my tin shack neighborhood, which I enjoyed while I was there. But it is better with a pool, a health spa avec sauna, and all the bells and whistles.

Rob Parnell is featuring me and a part of my journey in his newsletter coming out this week. Am I flattered, honored and a bunch of other things. Well, how do you write an 80,000 word ms? One word at a time.

Rob is Australia's grand writing guru.

I've been swept into my characters, their problems and their developing conflict.

I feel very good. Hope you do!

I will be blogging again, daily.

Good to be back on line, I focused and sacrificed every waking moment when not working to my manuscript. As you should do.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Mac sorts out traffic - true story, fire in the hole!

Coming from the bus on the back of a motorcycle I saw a fire under a car parked on the street outside my condo village. I thumped the driver and yelled "Stop!"

No way he's driving me by a vehicle with a fire ball under it. So he stops, I pay him and he zooms off. I'm at the corner, a good way off from the fire under the car. Now the security guards and the drivers at the mo'cycle station get active - no fire extinguisher. I'm afraid the vehicle will blow so I stay where I am. Traffic keeps rounding the corner - then stops when the drivers see the action.

I hear the first emergency vehicle. I set down my bag of groceries and start motioning for the stopped drivers to back up, turn and keep going down the main artery I'll call it. I'm waving at the other traffic that wants to turn into my street and wave them forward away from the corner. The drivers are cooperating and they get out of the way. I see the emerg vehicle pulling in and by the time it arrives to turn the corner the other cars have moved out of the way.

They stop and thank me in Thai, saluted me and carry on as I give them the thumbs up with a grin. (Why take the time to stop wandered through the caverns of my mind at the time, but hey, I wasn't driving.)

Now there were likely 30 people who could have easily grasped the situation and worked out what needed to be done. Instead the running around like chickens was amazing. There was no extinguisher handy, the next condo village security ran out with a hose - about 500 meters too short. It was like the politics here. All the frenetic activity and nothing of meaning going on. The innate ability here to miss the point every single time time must be ingrained in the cultural/societal structure.

The fire had consumed the engine by the time the emerg vehicle got in place, but they had an extinguisher and it was quickly put out. A new Lexus is now a barbecued Lexus.  No one hurt, nothing too dramatic. I hiked up my skirt, picked up my groceries and finished my walk home.

All in a day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Long time no blog - I moved and have been getting sorted.

I left the district I have lived in with barely a backward glance. No more bus/motorbike noise, no more voices at 5:30 am drifting up from downstairs, it is good to get situated in a different type of neighborhood.

Peace and quiet reigns here. I have moved into a gated community with a pool, a health facility, it is a well developed quiet spot.

I did a fill in at a gov't school (I know what was I thinking of?) for 1 day at a primary school. It was just fine. Polite little kids waied me non stop. Quite enjoyable. I have my full weekends and work 2 hours Mon - Thurs, evenings 6 -8. I'm trying to keep Fridays free for a day off.

I've got several convenience/service outlets in the condo village, restaurants, a small store, laundromat and so on. I can get a hair cut, and there is a pharmacy here. I don't have to leave the place on the days I'm home.

Good security. A few teachers live here so it is wonderful. Great change for me.

Not much going on in the news these days. We do have a Hoof and Mouth outbreak however. There is a very interesting post here http://www.khonkaen.ws/ commenting on a Reuters article on Thailand. If you go to the site, click on the picture of food on a blue table.

All about tourism and the problems that need addressing.

Myanmar tourism should make a huge dent in Thai tourism. I hope as they open up they will keep the pristine beaches clean and make wise decisions on development. Letting things run amuck causes quite a problem as we see here in so many places.

Anyway, back to my day.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Fortunately everything on the protest/rally side is quiet.

Life ticks on without disruption. Weather, frequent downpours, hot and sunny in between. I don't know (know one does) at this point if there will be flooding this year. Work has been going on concerning dredging and flood walls.

The flood situation could go either way. It depends on the amount of rain. I haven't heard of any tree plantations going on. There must be some reforestation going on but if there is it hasn't been in the news.

I would love to see less garbage going into the klongs and rivers. That would help a lot of things, the garbage blocks drainage and adds to the problem. It's all about education and having proper waste removal systems in place.

I hope we don't face what we did last year. That was astounding when I think of it. Let's hope this year is better.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

It's pretty hard to overturn a bus...but the driver managed it

Three people were killed and about 20 others injured when one of three buses taking executives of the National Anti-Corruption Commission to a seminar at Khao Yai overturned on Mitraparp highway in front of Choke Chai farm in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima province on Sunday morning, reports said.
Of the three killed, one was a woman identified as Somrak Phukchodngam, 51, the wife of the bus driver, one was Supawan Pinyothammakorn, 54, a female executive, and Chai Chinso, 51, a male executive of the NACC. Go here for the short news story. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/302536/3-killed-in-nacc-bus-accident  

Sad, very, very sad. Please fly to your destination. No bus or van is safe here. These were gov't VIP's. Imagine. From today's Bangkok Post. 
PS: The Nation reports two died. To be fair, two could have died in the crash, one later. Who knows?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Looks like all will remain calm. Case(s) dismissed.

Got that 6 minutes ago from Associated Press. Breathe a sigh of relief, everyone can take off/retire their colored shirts, go back to work or home and have a nice relaxing snooze.

Nerve wracking business. All's well at this point. Let's hope it maintains.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Judgement Day: Friday the 13th, tomorrow. Tourists take note.

From today's Bangkok Post:

Mr Korkaew, who has warned of the distinct possibility of civil war if the decision goes against the government, said he was worried that the red-shirts would be manipulated by ill-intentioned people intent on inciting violence. Police have also prepared helicopters for the evacuation of the judges if necessary, he added. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/302128/pm-asks-all-parties-to-accept-verdict

In his soft-speaking monotone, the party list MP (Korkaew Pikulthong) threatened Constitution Court judges that they would be kidnapped by the people and charged with treason if the court ruled against the government’s charter amendment bill this Friday.
He incited hatred of the ammart (elite) clique, accusing them of plotting a coup against the government by mobilising people to confront the red-shirt supporters, leading to violence that would justify the military intervening and seizing power.
He (Mr Korkaew) told red-shirt followers to brace for an all-out civil war, asking them to stay home and wait for his signal. "Once you hear a whistle blow, pack your bags and bid farewell to your family. Then it will be a decisive fight for us," he was quoted as saying.
A huge judgement is being handed down tomorrow. The above quotes are from today's Bangkok Post. Shudder. 

Take care tourists. There could be trouble. If you read the articles you will know what shopping area to keep away from.

Be safe.   

Monday, July 9, 2012

The big rally/protest didn't appear. Happy for that.

So far so good.

Weather has been rainy off and on. We're moving toward monsoon days. The work is going on concerning flood walls and dredging. I have tried to find info on tree plantation projects underway but have found little on the subject.

I found a bus company that has GPS on all its buses. If a driver is speeding he's told to slow down. Good news, this company always puts 2 drivers on for long distance runs.

I hope that safety training is implemented and these horrendous accidents stop. Speed governors would help,  
mandatory safe driver training would be beneficial..  Defensive driving courses for all drivers would go a along way to improve road safety.  Let's hope for some positive action on all fronts to lower the risk to the riders.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Tourist coming to Thailand - read this.


In part, today's Bankok Post,
If the Constitution Court judges did not resign, between 300,000 and 400,000 red-shirt supporters would show up to let it be known that the entire panel of judges were not acceptable to them, regardless of what the court's final ruling on the charter amendment bill might be, she said.

So where do you want to spend your tourist bucks? This will paralyze the city, again. Scary. Really scary.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mung Bean Souper night, pure nutrition

Feeling draggy, back to nutrition is me.

If you have a pressure cooker, toss a cup of beans (rinsed, picked) in with 3 C water and 1 chicken boullion cube. I love mung beans for the high nutrients but any bean will do.

If not, rinse, soak overnight, then slow boil until tender/done.

When the beans are done, about half an hour plus/minus in the pressure cooker, turn it off and let it cool until you can safely take the top off.

As the beans cook wash/chop 1/2 head of broccoli, 1/2 head of cauliflower a BIG carrot or two, onion, a whole one, and anything else you like. Kale, tomato, beans, corn, squash.

Throw that in, pressure cook for about another 10 - 15 minutes. Serve.

Without a pressure cooker, 20 - 30 minutes, just enough to cook the veg.

This is power soup. If you go to Eat For Life, (there are many sites) that will give you the scoop on eating extremely healthy. Nothing processed, no salt or sugar, dairy or meat. You won't be hungry. Promise.

If you have to have meat, every tenth meal can be a meat meal. Everyone tells me I look bright when I strictly adhere to this. You eat 4 fruit a day, a few nuts and eat a  pound of raw veg and can have a lot of cooked veg. You can eat corn on the cob and at least a cup of beans/legumes a day. So the hummus is encouraged. Wahoo! Salad can be the main part of the meal but doesn't have to be. Flexible and cheap to eat this way.

Dr. Fuhrman is the man. Find him, follow him. You look and feel better overnight. No guff. And he has recipes. I'm a hummus hag, allowed, almost as much as you want. When I adhere everyone says I look younger. Skin glows or something.

Discovered a great travel blog


Travelfish has been around for years. Great photos and lots of first hand experience in many parts of Asia. Different experiences, like staying in a jungle canopy tree house.

I'd check it out if you're looking for off the beaten track experiences. I know some parts of Asia reasonably well and the blog details the sites/places nicely.

Very stunning photos. Always a plus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

10 dead, another bus accident. 7 killed in van crash


17 more hurt, many seriously injured. Can the carnage end? My best advice is to fly to where you want to go. This is another example of how unsafe tourists are here. So sad, so unreal. 10 people who were alive yesterday are not alive today. My mind is blown. I can't imagine 10 bodies, lives snuffed out like this.

 Road transportation is deadly here. Beware.

The link will take you a popular foreigner site. The photos of the bus are horrendous. It looks like it went through a machine blender. Absolutely horrendous. I can't believe anyone survived the wreck. 
Terrible tragedy.  http://teakdoor.com/thailand-and-asia-news/110137-bangkok-surat-thani-bus-crashes-10-a.html

I missed the van crash. The vehicle hit a tree head on, killing 7 day before yesterday. 8 injured. Driven by a 19 year old. You can't get a commercial licence until 20 years of age.  One girl had graduated from university and was returning home.

The magnitude of these accidents is staggering.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Odd/weird news in Pattaya papers

Strange goings on in the metropolis. A foreigner was caught shoplifting a model airplane. Odd item to covet.

Wacky stuff goes on there. I read a few news sites from time to time, an eye opener. Bizarre place.  

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Shocked! 2 Brits who the Bangkok Post reports

have been here for 10 years, well read about it here:  http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/crimes/300316/two-brits-nabbed-for-bungled-atm-thefts

When you go bush there is no coming back. One character who is 25, that means he's been here since he was 15. Does your mother know what you've been up to? Pictures included. Ripping out ATMs - my word. Try getting a job is my best advice. Foreigners, go figure.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Trouble sleeping. A meaningless post on Jesus

and Anne Rice. Short little book, I'm 20 pages in. Told through Jesus's eyes, as a seven year old. He killed/brought back a kid a couple pages in. So why doesn't he heal laughing Uncle who is dying of something? That's what I call a plot hole but I haven't read too far into it so I shall try not to judge a book by its first few pages.

And sweet mother Mary actually showed some temper. Once so far. I like little quirky books. Bach's The Reluctant Messiah was another one that took my fancy. You'll remember Bach from the book of the bird - Jonathon Livingston Seagull. Music by none other than Neil Diamond. 

Classic writing, classic music. So long ago.

Cooked up dinner, talked to an old friend, and in

bed early to prepare for my weekend blitz of work. Doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Great day, took off for my bookstore, exchanged

titles, had a great meal and home in time for a short blog word before bed. Mexican food, brought home my fav hummus with 'mato sauce. Extremely busy, more soon when I'm into my new schedule. Cheers!

Monday, June 18, 2012

No, I haven't died - extremely busy right now.

I have also had a three alarm headache (weather?) feels like the fore runner of a Chinook. I predicted Chinooks 12 hours before they hit. Overcast, lots and lots of rain off an on, cooler but still need a fan or two on.

I think high/low pressure zones are running in and out of the area with all speed, causing the thumper. A buddy of mine is also suffering from a head pounder.

Backed up the blog, will maybe try WordPress when I get over my crammed days/evenings. I've had several different pairs of glasses lately, might be something to do with that. Nothing serious, but screen reading, even this small post is making the hammer harder behind and above my eyes. I also read a lot each day so could be a combo plate of weather/eye strain. Who knows?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Our exchange student from 4 years ago, a lovely

girl from Germany returned after 6 months in India. What a delight to see her! She's been here for a month before heading home to Germany to resume her studies. She loved her year here. She learned the language in a blink of an eye, embraced the experience and still has friends here. She cooks Thai food back home even.

I think exchange programs are the best. The students gain so much. To be plopped into another part of the world for a year, what an experience. All bring new understanding back to their home country.

We're going to have dinner together, she leaves Monday, so it will be nice to have a chance to chat further. I took her to one class an M6 who remembered her. She chatted with the students in Thai and they were happy to see her.

Adventurous and curious about the world, she's already had great experiences in countries so far from home.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Durian - the stink weed of the fruited tree: love/hate

I have no idea what got into me but when I saw the big spiked fruit, I had to have a taste. It is back in season along with rambutan. (Ram boo tan)

 First select your weapon/fruit. Point, the market man will get it. Stand back. I picked a small one, think of a football with spikes and sort of squish it in a ball. A smallish basketball with spikes? Note the gloved hand of the slicer upper.
 Not sure what happened to the photo. He cuts into it, figures out where the "pockets" are in the fruit then slices away.
 He opens it with skill and precision. He then removes the soft fleshy parts you want to eat.
 Voila - the stink weed is ready to eat. Each portion comes in a tear drop shape. There is a pit inside. You can dry the pit and roast it. Tastes like almonds I'm told. I got five or six of these in varying sizes for 120 baht. I do no work and can eat as it. Each portion is wrapped in a light waxed paper.
Here is one of the five or 6. I put it in my hand to give you an idea of how much you get in each piece.

You quickly get beyond the stench. What does it taste like? A sweet butter consistency custard. To die for. It has a rich taste, not unlike Bird's Eye custard come to think of it. It smells like a dead rat. But if you can handle Camembert rind you will have no problem. I eat that poopy smelling cheese rind and all.

The King of Fruit is ready when it drops from the tree.   Many people get killed by dropping fruit every year. So many in fact that tree geneticists are trying to make the trees grow smaller/shorter.

I'm convinced I could live on mung beans and durian. The two are so rich in all we need to stay healthy.

http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/2088/2  The link will take you the analysis.

Amazing fruit even if you can't eat it in parks and subways. Please moms, never send it with kids to school in their lunch (unless you are rigging up payback).

As my father said when I was a kid eyeballing the scalloped potatoes, "You won't know you don't like them until you try them."

Native to Asia, there are many varieties but only nine are edible. Nutrients will blow your socks off. And it is a good mask for the face. Even the husks apparently keep the mozzies away.

I love it raw. I wouldn't dream of cooking it spoiling/diluting the taste and texture.We get durian dried fruit snacks but they too disappointing to bother with. Like my mango licorice.

There is a recipe I saw involving durian and chicken but I'm not eating bipeds these days. Or four beaters, or swimmers. Or eggs, or cow juice.  I'm trying something new, soy what?

If there is an Asian market, trust me, by the second bite you'll thank me. And your body will be grateful, durian is loaded with the really, really good stuff.