Monday, July 25, 2011

Writing about Rose Rustling

You know you're a rose rustler looks like you've been 
in a bar fight with a bobcat.
~Shannon Sherrod, TRR member

Rose Rustling can be a prickly hobby!

I'm shifting my writing gears to work on something near (and dear) to my heart. I have a confession to make. I'm a bona fide rose rustler. Sound a bit unlawful? It's not. We sound rambunctious, but we're fairly tame. 

I've been a Texas Rose Rustler for over thirteen years. I spent two years on the board as the Program Chairman, and served as the Editor / Publisher for nearly six years, for the quarterly newsletter, The Old Texas Rose. Presently, I'm serving as the group's speaker. I travel all over Texas speaking about rose rustling, and teaching the audience how to propagate old roses.

For about a year now, I've been digging into the history of the Texas Rose Rustlers, and I have discovered they had a rootin', tootin' time back in the early days (late 1970's). They scouted the country back roads, abandoned home sites, and cemeteries in search of lost and unidentified roses. Many of these roses were planted by the pioneers. Surviving all on their own, in harsh Texas conditions, proved these roses worthy of saving.

There are a few of the original Texas Rose Rustlers (TRR) still around, and they have shared their stories with us younger members. The TRR has a fascinating history, and it needs to be written before it's forgotten. 

Enter me. What I once believed would be a long article, has turned into more of a book. There's just too many rich stories, lore, and information to use, not to write a book.

If you have an interest in old garden roses, check out the TRR website here. 
So, while I'm taking the well-deserved break after drafting my YA novel, I think I'll try to rustle up a few roses, and write myself a nifty little book. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Letting Your Novel's First Draft Simmer

You've gathered all of the main ingredients of your main dish (novel) and scattered them on the counter.
You've prepped, chopped, grated, stirred, sauteed, boiled, and now, switched the heat to low.
The recipe recommends you let the mixture simmer.
(If writing a novel was like following a recipe, 
we'd all create #1 bestsellers!)
Unfortunately, writing a novel is not that easy.
So, how long does a writer let their 1st rough draft simmer?
One thing I know for sure, is it's best to put it away for "a while". But, what is "a while," and how long should a writer wait to open the draft and begin revising? I love using Google, and I'm known to literally type in my question and hit, search. Here's what I typed:
Length of time to let a novel rest before second drafting
Below, is a chunk of information I stumbled upon (on the first page of my search) when I Googled the above question. Imagine how mortified I was to read this:
  • Almost every writer does revision wrong, by starting on page one, line one, and "fixing" the story one sentence at a time.
  • Almost every revision kills most of what's good in a novel without fixing what's bad.
  • Almost every first draft never makes it to second draft.
  • And almost every first novelist abandons that first novel forever, tucking it (and the opportunity to learn the most amazing part of writing fiction---how to turn first draft-dross into final-draft gold) in a box under the bed.

    Right along with his dreams of writing something worth publishing. 
UGH! Is that scary or what?

George Orwell says this about a 1st rough draft: "  Of course the rough draft is always a ghastly mess bearing little relation to the finished result, but all the same it is the main part of the job."

I found this piece of advice on

First, make sure you know how and where you work best. If you like going to a coffee shop or would rather stay at home and sit at your desk, do that. Next, just read through the novel and correct grammar and the little things you can mark up on the page. Second delve in deeper and have a notebook where you keep notes on plot points that get lost, characters who’ s name changes, or situations/ideas that need more explanation. Those are things that you may need to add a new scene in for.

I confess, it's been two months since I typed my last period on the first draft of my YA novel. I'm sending it in large chucks to a few readers. I tried getting myself involved with a couple of other projects, but I'm itching to get back to Josey and her adventures.

Let me hear from y'all. How long do you put your first draft on the back burner to simmer before bringing the pot back to a rapid boil?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Plot Whisperer

Thanks to Nic Trick Steinbach from She Writes for passing along this link to Martha Alderson's step-by-step Plot a Novel video series. I've just begun the series, but from what I can tell, they're informative, easy to follow, and she refers to literary treasures, we all know and love, as examples.

The first video talks about character. Who is your story about? What do they want? What is their main goal in the beginning of the story? How does that goal or character change along the way?

Grab your notebook and a pencil; you'll definitely want to take notes!

Maybe it's all the flora and fauna surrounding Ms. Alderson that allows her writing mojo to flow. She's down to earth, and her conversational tone gives the how-to video an informal, and "let's-sit-out-in-the-garden-and-chat-about-writing" feeling. I seriously doubt you'll be disappointed!

Here is a link to her website:         

To watch the complete video series, click here: