Nancy: An Oldie But (Hopefully) a Goodie

Because my day job is in a high-stress, deadline-driven field, I have a tendency to have weeks at a time when I don’t have time to write, or sleep (much), or blog. The past several weeks have been just this kind of time, and adding to that, we had Puppy (real name Pepper) to foster for 10 days.

Puppy, aka Pepper, channeling beagle patron saint Snoopy.

Puppy, aka Pepper, channeling beagle patron saint Snoopy.

Here is a picture of Puppy and me saying goodbye the day she was going back to her owners. (The smile was for the camera; we were ridiculously weepy to say our final farewell to her). But there’s still another week of crazy before I can get back to some semblance of a normal writer’s life (ha!), so today I’m going to cheat a bit by sharing one of my favorite blast-from-the-past posts, written in 2013 before the 8 Ladies told anyone outside their immediate families and closest writer friends that we were embarking on this blogging adventure together. It combines two of my favorite topics: writing and the Beatles! What’s not to love? So until next week, I’m going to carry that weight down the long and winding road while I leave you with some food for thought, Fab Four style.

And in the End…

Most people who know me in the non-internet world, and a few who know me via the internet as well, know I am a HUGE Beatles fan. I am not of the Beatles’ generation or the time period of their music, but I love their work, their persona, and their lore with the intensity of a thousand suns. So imagine my pure joy when, last week, I came across a local radio station playing the original Beatles collection (albums released while they were still together as a group) on vinyl. And in listening to the beginning and end of this day-long broadcast (with the inconsiderate interruption of the day job in between), I got to thinking about story beginnings and endings.

Hearing the Beatles’ earliest recorded album, Please Please Me, as I drove to work, and then hearing their last recorded album, Abbey Road, after I arrived home that night, made me realize how much that last album took the band back to its roots. Continue reading

Nancy: A Girl Anachronism

"Two Strings to Her Bow" by John Pettie, 1882. From Wikimedia Commons.

“Two Strings to Her Bow” by John Pettie, 1882. From Wikimedia Commons.

This past week, on one of the author loops I read, someone posted about her preference to read historical romances in which heroines either don’t step outside the bounds of the time period’s social structures, or suffer (social) consequences if they do. While I don’t want my 19th-century heroines to read like 21st-century women, I can’t get on board with keeping our heroines from stepping over the lines or cutting off their toes if they do.

During our McDaniel classes, we discussed the need for characters, especially protagonists, to be in some ways larger or better or more interesting in stories than most of us are in real life. A story about ordinary people going about their ordinary lives under ordinary circumstances just isn’t likely to be a very riveting read. One or more of those ‘ordinaries’ need to become extraordinary to make our fictional worlds worth exploring. And I want my historical heroines, whether I’m reading about them or writing about them, to be extraordinary. Continue reading

Nancy: Sweet Dreams are Made of This

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A few weeks ago, I was working on a consulting gig with a team, and we were pulling some late nights to get complex ideas for solving a client’s business problem into a written proposal. More than once, we found ourselves staring at a whiteboard covered in something resembling hieroglyphics and realized we couldn’t get to the next step of whatever problem was on the board. And more than once, we took the advice of one of our colleagues and called it  night, hoping to get better results when we returned in the morning after a good (or at least mediocre) night’s sleep. This took me back to one of our McDaniel courses when we talked about discovery and working through plot problems using multiple techniques, including dream work. Continue reading

Nancy: Five Minutes That Can Change Your Story

The art of clearing the mind

The art of clearing the mind

 

Several weeks ago, I was taking a yoga class with a wonderful teacher. During the practice, he said something that, at the time, I thought was a bit hyperbolic but might have some merit. He encouraged everyone in the class to find 5-10 minutes a day to find a peaceful, calming place and sit quietly. The idea is to clear your mind, to think everything and nothing at the same time, which is a very common part of yoga practice. About those 5-10 minutes the teacher recommended, he said, “It will change your life.”

I love the idea of these moments of peace each day, but to be honest, I haven’t made time for them yet. However, about a week after hearing that advice, I did start applying an adaptation of it to my writing. Continue reading

Nancy: And in the End…

Nancy's Vinyl Beatles Collection

Most people who know me in the non-internet world, and a few who know me via the internet as well, know I am a HUGE Beatles fan. I am not of the Beatles’ generation or the time period of their music, but I love their work, their persona, and their lore with the intensity of a thousand suns. So imagine my pure joy when, last week, I came across a local radio station playing the original Beatles collection (albums released while they were still together as a group) on vinyl. And in listening to the beginning and end of this day-long broadcast (with the inconsiderate interruption of the day job in between), I got to thinking about story beginnings and endings. Continue reading