Going Dark

It was with a sigh of relief that I sent the edited version of my second novel back to my editor at The Wild Rose Press.  Relief because I made myself push through and fix the glaring problems with some character motivation (or at least I hope I fixed it), relief because there was a time when I was ready to throw the towel in and say “Screw it!”, and relief because this is one thing I won’t have to worry about while I’m in LaCrosse, WI for the collie nationals next week.
That’s the reason that I’m blogging tonight, too, as I know I won’t be blogging at all next week.  I will spend the time from April 1st until the evening of the 6thin a building from the moment the doors are opened until we’re shoved out them every night at midnight.  My time in that building will be filled with taking care of the “furkids” in my string, grooming said collies, showing them, and worrying about them.  If they would let me set up a cot in my grooming area, so I could sleep there at night, I would do that. 
Yes, I’m going to see friends that I have only met on Facebook, see friends that I only see once a year at the collie nationals, share laughs and tears and hugs…but it’s also a lot of work and a lot of stress—especially being responsible for the safety and well-being of dogs that I don’t even own.  As I was lugging large plastic totes out of the basement and loading them into the van, I kept asking myself why I do this every year. 
The answer I kept coming up with is I love this: I love the intense competition, I love being able to show dogs, and most of all, I love how no matter how fierce we compete in the ring, the vast majority of “collie people” will also rally around one of our own who has stumbled and needs help.   The majority of the people in this breed I have chosen to be involved with are good people. 
So, if you follow my author page on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter, or just follow this blog, I’m going to be silent for a while.  I’m going to be brushing dogs, showing them, taking care of them, and maybe sitting for a few minutes to watch some of the judging.  I’ll be too tired to be blogging, checking Facebook, or Tweeting anything. 
I’ll get everyone caught up on how the “furkids” when I get home.  In the meantime, have a safe and blessed Easter, and maybe—just maybe—while I’m in LaCrosse, spring might actually arrive.

Channeling Creativity

Creativity takes many forms.  I realized that a long time ago.  I’ve been able to channel a lot of my creativity in two ways: writing and when I hit a wall with the writing, in creating show leads.  Gone are the days of a plain black or white nylon lead.
Lately, I’ve been making a lot of leads for two major reasons.  The first is when I sit and stare at the screen with the edits for my second book, I find it’s better to get up and walk away from the part that’s frustrating me and do something where I can actually see immediate results than to continue to fret over why I can’t make a scene work.  The second reason is I’m sharing a booth at the Collie Club of America National specialty for the leads and I need to have leads to put in that booth. (If you’re in the LaCrosse, Wisconsin area, stop in during April 3 – 6 to see the creme de la creme of the collie world.)
A lead made with Canyon Echoes beads
So, over the last month, more than fifty leads have been made.  These leads are made of synthetic leathers, natural leathers (both cowhide and kangaroo), and a combination of kangaroo and sparkly nylon cord.  I think I even have a black nylon lead beaded up in the mix.  A while ago, someone said that these leads look like jewelry, to which I replied “We dress ourselves up to go in the ring, why not add a little bit of “bling” to our dogs, too.”
(Ignore the date.) One of the first I did that came out exactly as I wanted it.
Making the leads has been an interesting learning experience.  When I first started, I felt that the more bling, the better.  Not so much now.  The leads are lighter, less beading, but with enough bling and pop to catch the light and sparkle.  I’ve found an artisan in Arvada, Colorado (Canyon Echoes Artisan Beads) who makes the most exquisite glass beads I’ve seen.  For those beads, I will only put them on a hand-braided kangaroo leather lead.  The first few leads I made of the ‘roo and the cowhide didn’t have a strength core of sinew running through the middle.  I learned the hard way that if a dog makes a sudden lunge on those leads, no matter how strong ‘roo is, it will snap.  I had to remake a few.  Back braiding the lead for the snap and the handle took a little bit of time to master.  Anchoring the beads was another learning experience, because the leads are braided all the way through before I put the beads on them.  (Doing this has reduced the amount of stretching under the beads.)
Just like any craft, though, the more leads I have created, the more I master the art.  And, with that being said, I’m back to finishing the edits on the second book.  I want to be able to send that edited work back to my editor at The Wild Rose Press before I leave for the Collie Nationals, so that’s one less thing I have to worry about there.  I have 17 dogs to show over four days and I know that will pretty much take up every waking hour while I’m in LaCrosse.

It All Comes With the Territory

Editing?  Oh, hell no…it’s not editing I’m doing.  I’m basically rewriting the last seventy-five pages of the second book.  It’s the only way to make the whole thing work.  When I said I got a break-through, it was just that.  Unfortunately, that break-through involved a major rewrite.
Oh, well.  It is something that needed to be done and I’m finding I like the characters again.  It’s almost like writing a whole other book.  As a friend pointed out, I like to write.  (I’d better, it’s my chosen craft.)  I did point out to this friend that while I like to write, I really hate editing.  Editing, though, comes with the territory of being a writer.
Other things that come with being a writer, I’ve found, are my friends at dog shows asking when the next book is coming out.  Ummm…when I get the edits back to my editor and then I get to wait to find out if I’m going to be offered a second contract.  And, then, it’ll be about a year.  I’m also asked where I get the ideas for my books.  That’s always a fun one to try to explain as I can get ideas from just about anywhere…like the time a few weeks ago on Facebook when someone posted one of those funny pictures about walking through the woods being relaxing while “the fact that I’m dragging a body through the woods should be irrelevant,” and one of my friends said, “What a great beginning to a story.”  Well, thanks…with that comment, the Muse took off on me and started plotting yet ANOTHER novel.
It is an enjoyable experience though to tell people that if someone makes me really angry, that person could end up in my next book.  Writer’s revenge…
Another thing that comes with the territory are the questions of how rich the current book is going to make me.  When I’m done laughing and have picked myself up off the floor, I tell people that I won’t be buying that ranch in Wyoming any time soon, much to my disappointment.
Finding the right music to listen to while writing is something else that comes with the territory of being a writer (or at least it is for me).  When I was working on novel I started in November, I found I was listening to a lot of period music (from the American Civil War) and also listening to the whole album of the musical The Civil War.  Yes, there were a few that I skipped every time I listened to the album and two that I would put on repeat and listen to over and over and over.  I find that the right music helps me to write because it gives the ability to step out of my own skin and into that of my main characters. 
As I tell my students, writing is a lot more than just sitting down at the keyboard.  I seriously doubt anyone sits at the keyboard as we were taught to in school, both feet on the floor, straight in the chair.  That’s another “Oh, hell no!”  For me, I have to have my can of diet coke on the desktop, some kind of snack (lately it’s been carrot sticks and celery stalks—and yes, I think I’m turning into a rabbit), and the right music blasting through the headphones, while I slouch in my office chair.  When I’m really into a story and the words are flying onto the screen, that music becomes little more than white background noise.  I cannot write in silence.  Just can’t do it, and I’ve tried.  Less than two minutes into that exercise in futility, I’ve got the headphones on and something playing.
And, then there is the time that I am most productive.  Fortunately, insomnia lends itself to the time of day (in my case: time of night) that I’m most productive.  Long after everyone in the house has settled into bed for the night, I’m at the keyboard, creating my own little world.  But, it’s okay.  They know me there.
And, that comes with the territory, too.