Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Trying out New Writing Software

by Marsha Ward

I've been testing a software called yWriter5 by Spacejock Software for a couple of days now. I'm starting to get the hang of it.

Today I learned how to make the first chapter not a Chapter but Information, and put in the brainstorming notes from my session with Connie Wolfe while we crossed the country a few weeks back. 470 words. Do they count for writing?

Friday, August 21, 2009

BTS Night

I have been so absent here for the longest time! Marsha, I'm sorry you've been the Lone Ranger. At any rate, I thought I'd share some thoughts on school.

Aw yeah. Back to School night for both my daughters. Mark went with Nina and I took Anna. (And Gunder. Doh.) We talked to teachers, noted the required supplies, walked the crowded halls and said hi to friends they haven't seen for three months. Part of me was excited for Anna, and the other part wanted to throw up. I really did like school, but the drama with friends and hoping people would like me and wanting to look perfect, etc etc came back with a vengeance.

In terms of Anna's classes, I found myself being excited for her. The geography teacher said she needs colored pencils because they do a lot of maps. Natch. Ok, I so would have been all over that. I have a weird affinity for both colored pencils and maps. The math teacher was really cool and I think it'll be a good match for my daughter, and the English teacher was one I would have loved having as a kid. And she has the kids write something every day!

They're writing every day!

I think this is one of the most valuable skills that helps students across the board. If you can read and write, success in multiple subjects is much more attainable than otherwise.

I'm reminded of the line in "You've Got Mail," where Tom Hanks tells Meg Ryan that he wants to buy "bouquets of sharpened pencils." Dork that I am, I love that. My favorite pencils ever are the Ticonderoga Tri Write. They are unbelievably sexy. Yes, I just said that about a pencil.

All things considered, as much as I will miss the freedom of summer, I am looking forward to reestablishing routine around here. I'm much more organized during the school year. Summer becomes a free-for-all.

To my sweet children, I wish you good luck and fabulous friends and good study habits. I hope that you'll learn many wonderful and useful things this year, and that your successes will be satisfying.

Better stop before I get all misty-eyed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More Character Notes

by Marsha Ward

Maybe I don't need that byline. I seem to be the Lone Ranger on this blog lately.

Anyway, I'm featuring Clayton Owen over on my character blog, so I thought I'd put my comments here, too.

Clay Owen is next younger than Marie. On his character card, I used a photo of actor Bruce Penhall of televisions's "CHiPs" (1977-1983) . I don't see him around much anymore. He was the World Motorcycle Speedway champion of 1981-82, which predated his '82-'83 role as Officer Bruce Nelson, a cadet in the California Highway Patrol, playing in the lineup topped by Erik Estrada, Robert Pine, and Larry Wilcox. Since CHiPs featured motorcycle officers, I'm sure his motorcycling skill stood him in good stead.

Now you know how long ago I clipped this photo from TV Guide(R).

Anyway, getting back to Clayton Owen, here's when I typed on his character card:

At fifteen, Clay is still too gangly to be handsome, but he has promising features and a mop of crisp blond hair. His eyes are grey. Clay kept the family in meat for a year after James was drafted, is responsible, but when he pops his cork, look out, he is apt to do something rash and unthinking. He plays as hard as he works. In a few years, he will be a major character in the continuing saga of the Owen family.

Well, we'll have to see what surprises Clay will bring to the family's adventures. What do YOU think he's going to do?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Character Notes

by Marsha Ward

Many years ago, I typed notes about characters in my Owen Family novels on 3- by 5-inch or 4- by 6-inch index cards. It's pretty illuminating to go back and read those cards and see if anything I wrote remains true now, three novels later.

For example, one of my female characters is the elder daughter in the Owen family, Marie. She was born between James and Clayton, and is five years older than her sister, Julianna. She was first seen in The Man from Shenandoah, and appears in Jessie Bingham's memories in Trail of Storms.

I have two photos on Marie's card. They are both far too old for the real Marie. One is of a female newscaster whose name escapes me, and the other is of an actress whose name I never knew. Ha! I didn't need names for the photos. Their purpose was to provide a general physical description I could visualize and describe as needed.

Here is what I wrote on Marie's character card:

Marie has thick dark hair and a beautiful smile. She loves a good mystery, and is good at ferreting out people's secrets. Her eyes range from hazel to dark brown, according to hertemperament . She enjoys teasing her brothers. Marie is aware of becoming a woman, but has no anxiety to wed. She would love to have several beaus to play off against each other, but will take what comes with a good will. She loves adventure, and looks forward to the trip west with high excitement.

I'm looking forward to getting to know Marie better. Are you?