Author Archives: Annette

About Annette

A writer who put the writing away for far too long coming back to it.

Weird snippets

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The last little mini-dream I had before waking up: I was mixing Kraft’s neon orange cheese from their blue box mac and cheese into a pot of something (spaghetti?) on the stove, sprinkling it in by pinches – as one does with seasonings – while Agnus Dei played in the background. I’m certain people who assign meanings to dreams can figure out whatever significance this has. Barber’s Adagio is one of the most beautiful pieces of work ever, in my opinion. And this is one of the best renditions of Agnus Dei I’ve ever heard. Enjoy!



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A lot of the “luck” you get in this life is the luck you make. If you get some megadeal for a book you wrote, that isn’t something that just happens. You have to do the writing. Win the lottery? Gotta buy a ticket. Make a spectacular catch? Gotta practice. Find a buried treasure? Gotta dig. There is very little luck in life that involves you doing absolutely nothing.

Opinions are like…

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“In literature as in love, we are astonished at what is chosen by others.” (André Maurois)

I keep this in mind as I read five star reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, et al, of books that I’ve recently completed in which I struggle mightily to find some good. Everything gets one star by default, because the writer finished writing the thing. From there, though, some days it’s like looking for a needle in a pile full of needles trying to say anything kind before launching into the things that didn’t work for me. The current book I’m reading has no likable characters in it. Good guys, bad guys, secondary characters – none of them are interesting or likable, and the main character is actually incredibly unpleasant. The question is how to convey this without making it sound as if the writer should have simply burned the manuscript instead of publishing it.


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Quite an interesting article on productivity. I had read about the Pomodoro technique many months ago, and have played with it a bit in various arenas – those of you who know me personally and all the things I do will understand that a bit better, I expect. For writing, though, it has really helped, as has another item mentioned in that article: setting a distinct goal for something in small chunks instead of being dwarfed by the enormity of the entire project (such as “write 500 words” instead of “work on the book”). The techniques in this article about how to be more productive intersect and at times overlaps techniques to combat procrastination and/or plain old laziness.



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The other day while in the shower, an idea bubbled to the  surface of my brain. It’s often during mundane, routine tasks that these little flashes pop up for me – showering, driving somewhere into town from the boonies, pulling weeds, checking the bees, mowing part of the property, transplanting seedlings, and so on. I’ve heard (and read) this happens to other people as well, as a byproduct of the mind being able to wander away from the task at hand and not have to focus 100% on that task, freeing up the thought processes that are (for me, anyway) constantly churning through ideas and possibilities, whether they are related to the current WIP or not. This particular idea occurred ti me, and then several days later, I saw an ad on tv in the midst of the Olympics coverage for a new series that was in the same general vein, but much more macro on the subject than the micro that occurred to me would be much more interesting. I won’t go more into the idea itself right now, as that isn’t what this is really about – it’s more about those sorts of serendipitous moments when two parts of the universe crash together.

People ask where writers get their ideas, but I think the better question is how a writer gets their ideas. Ideas? They’re everywhere. Ideas are cheap. The process of stitching together various idle-thinking things, though: that’s where the ideas really happen. Sometimes those pieces come together quickly. Sometimes they may take years, or even decades. The thoughtful artist merely needs to pay attention to the world and drop the things they see or read or hear into the mental hopper and let the brain tumble them about without interfering or actively chewing on them like a dog with its favorite toy. Relax. Let your brain sort it out. When it gets to the point where the recipe has been made and it begins to come to the forefront of your mind more and more, you’ll know it’s not just that the pieces of the recipe have come together, but that it also has staying power, the good pieces kept and the other pieces left by the side of the mental road (at least for this idea) on the journey.


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“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

With all due respect to old Ben, this is not entirely true at face value, if we are to face reality. Still….

We’re tooling along well in the current work in progress, although we – me and voices in my head! – were struck by some kind of bug this past week that has been a malaise more annoying than completely debilitating. The writing suffers when it’s difficult to look at words on a page or screen without queasiness setting in after a very short period. It put a damper on things, and has resulted in even less sleep than the usual little, but we’re back on track, I think.

The gardens are suffering from a severe lack of attention between the above, terribly out of sync hot and humid temperatures far above the norm, and bugs – lots and lots of bugs. I’m restarting some flats, however, as here we have the opportunity to have two seasons if we like, and I would like that. The harvest totals have been good but not great, thanks to lack of proper management and the incessant ability of weeds to thrive when nothing else wants to do so. That has a potential solution that I’ll be working on that requires a delicate balance of keeping weeds down in the frames without setting the roots of the plants on fire. That same delicate balance has to be done for life in general, too: all work and no play does in fact make Jack a dull boy, after all.

By the way, I am still off facebook except to update the requisite author page, since “all authors must have a platform!” is now the mantra and requirement. I’ve been tempted here and there to pop on after monstrous, horrific events, but it would simply suck me back down into its depths only to surface for air who knows when, with all that time wasted. It’s good to know your own weaknesses and fight them accordingly.


Retaking the pen, day six

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It’s coming on a week now with the writing goals, and is now a full week since cutting off the whirlpool of suck that is facebook. How are things going?

Terrifically well! Far better than I expected, as it happens. I have resurrected previous snippets of the novel in progress, gone back over them to edit a few things, and used them to jump off into new material to add to that work. The work is now just shy of 13K words, with another writing session later to make up for time interrupted earlier this morning by work-related issues. I know that I tend to “write light” and that I’ll need to go back and flesh out some things, especially for descriptive reasons. Over half a lifetime in the tech world will do that to you, since the object of any communication with clients is to understand the problem, repair it as quickly as possible, and explain it to them as simply as possible, with as little jargon and few words as possible. This can be a slight handicap in breaking back into a world where lengthier strolls into prose are welcome and necessary. That mindset, like the novel itself, is a work in progress, and perhaps always will be.

The story itself is coming along nicely. Last night, I had one of those flashes other artists will understand perfectly, where a problem in the plot I didn’t fully understand I had worked itself out and the solution came to me with a side dish of “duh”. I’ve had these moments throughout the years, so it’s hardly surprising in and of itself, but it’s always surprising when such a moment bubbles to the top of the braincap to explode like fireworks.

Thoughts on Night

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Elie Wiesel died yesterday. Unlike (apparently) a lot of people, I did not encounter Night, his nonfiction/fictional account of internment at the Auschwitz concentration camp, survival, forced march, and subsequent liberation, until a few years after high school. It was not among the required readings for any of my classes, not even AP History (nor was Anne Frank’s diary). My reading habits by that time after graduation had come to cover a range very far and quite wide, and I found myself with a particular interest in Europe post-WWI through the end of WWII. More specifically, I was fascinated by both Germany and Russia (and then the USSR) both under the spell of tyrants, with people surrounding them willing to do the unthinkable to others whose only crime was being different or having some trait – religion, education, race, ethnicity – deemed undesirable by the dictator in charge. I was also amazed by the kindness of those not blinded by hate who were willing, often at a steep price, to assist complete strangers escape the realm that held them in such disregard they may as well not have been people at all.

Wiesel, like everyone else, was not perfect, and I did not agree with him on everything, just as no one does with any other person (his balking at the Iran nuclear deal was one such instance). However, his was a large and important voice with others reminding society of just what it is capable of doing if hypernationalism, xenophobia, and hatred are combined into a toxic mix. Unfortunately, those other voices who lived to tell their stories of that period are rapidly dying off as well, and I can only hope that people, now and in the future, are willing to heed the voices of those no longer among us.

Retaking the pen, day one

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I had previously (months ago, back in March, just after my birthday) created a goal of finishing a first draft of the current work in progress by the end of June. Three months, from April to the end of June, would be, I thought, plenty of time to complete it, as when I do write, I write very quickly, since the scenes have been bouncing around in my head for awhile – in a few cases, over twenty years.

If you have read a couple of the older entries here, you’ll know this did not happen. However, you’ll also know that there is a reason behind it. I had to switch from doing the actual writing to wrestling with that rather annoying (and, I had thought, forgotten) issue. I believe I’ve kicked it down enough at this point to not be as huge an impediment to getting some serious work done and get the novel (first novel!) rolled out.

Toward the end of June, I decided to also simply push aside social media. I had done this before, with some good success, but some events in June pulled me back to facebook. Today, though, is the end of the first full day with zero visits to the three social media platforms I more or less surf around: twitter (where I do more scrolling past people hawking their books nonstop and the people retweeting them than finding actual news or interesting tidbits), instagram (dogs!), and facebook (the Mothership of the Time Sink Armada).  I used the time to address a few things that had to be done, and today – day two, since the clocked tolled past midnight almost an hour ago at this point – I will begin working my way back into the writing pool, with a low hanging target of 250 words. That’s right: about one typeset page. This post is longer than that, but I’d rather work the novel writing  upward in a gentle manner, instead of trying to be like the gym cowboys who show up after New Year’s, work out for six hours, then cannot move the next day and eventually let it slide.

Almost every writer on the planet says “write every day”. I’m a believer of that myself. It is not, however, because I think that such writing has to be done because the train has to keep moving forward nonstop – after all, it’s possible whatever was written on day x may not make it into the final draft, or may be cut down significantly, or rearranged, or whatever else could be done to it. I think, at least in my case, it is because when it becomes a habit to write every day, it is like any other routine that becomes ingrained in our lives, done automatically, without a lot of thought that it could be terrible, that everyone will hate it, that a meteor will fall from the sky and crush you at your desk for daring to write. Instead, it will be just another part of the rhythm of the day, and will be eventually be noticeable by its absence rather than its presence.

So, here we begin. The map is laid out, and the path is faintly scratched over it to the destination to which we strive, but those lines await a heavier hand with the pen, to clearly define the journey’s progress. I have the greatest expectation that this time things will be different, because sometimes digging at the scars of your psyche is the only way to get to the truth, and then gain the ability to move large obstacles from the very start of the trail to discovery.