Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Going by the seat of your pants....

photo by Shena Tschofen
Did you ever think about where that phrase originated? As I was typing this, I wondered so I Googled it and came up with this explanation page.
This is early aviation parlance. Aircraft initially had few navigation aids and flying was accomplished by means of the pilot's judgment. The term emerged in the 1930s and was first widely used in reports of Douglas Corrigan's flight from the USA to Ireland in 1938. The old flying expression of 'flies by the seat of his trousers' was explained by Larry Conner, means going aloft without instruments, radio or other such luxuries. [source]
That's how I write, by the seat of my pants. People often ask me, so thought I'd talk a little about how I write my mystery books,

Coming from thirty years in the computer industry, ranging from data entry operator to programmer to systems analyst to VP of Client Services, I always believed it'd be a plotter. I was sure I'd be outlining the entire book, scene by scene as well as detailing every little idiosyncrasy of each character. I mean, after all, my career in IT demanded that level of detail.

Imagine my surprise when I wrote my first mystery novel, Not a Whisper. I had the prologue, which came from a dream I had written down years before, which gave me a dead body. I had a setting, an area where my late husband and I had lived, and I had a couple of characters loosely defined. I had no idea who the killer was, or even who the dead body belonged to...I just wrote. I think in that book, the killer changed half a dozen times.

The same thing happened in book two in the Klondike series, Barely a Spark. I knew who was going to die but had no idea if it was murder, suicide or an accident. I just wrote. With book three, Almost a Touch, I kind of knew who the killer was but wasn't sure who was behind the killing (you'll have to read the book to understand what I mean).

Three more mysteries, all set in Hawaii, and I wrote the same way. By the seat of my pants... I guess it's working!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Bucket Lists - Part Two (Over 60)

I first wrote about my bucket list in this post, Bucket Lists - Part One (Over 45).

Do you have a bucket list? Do you want one? Should you have one? Is yours full, being filled, being emptied or empty?

I had one that I started in my mid-forties, one of the best times in my life. Recently I came across it and realized I no longer feel the need to keep at it. I've done so much more than many folks, been so blessed to be able to do them.

Here are some of the things that have been crossed off my bucket list, all after age 60:

Become a Full-time RVer:
I didn't know this was on my list until after my husband died and I realized I needed a cheaper place to live if I wanted to travel. After searching several towns in other states, I was talking to my youngest daughter on the phone while driving home. She suggested I consider selling the house and becoming a full-time RVers. I had fifty reasons why I couldn't. By the time I got home, I realized I could.

And I 2006, I sold my house and almost everything in it. The buyer asked me to move closing up by two weeks, so I did. Then two weeks before closing, she backed out (her kids talked her out of it, they wanted her in an apartment). For two months I survived with a webbed lawn lounger in the living room, watching the TV my neighbor bought and let me continue to use. I slept in the guest room on the bed another neighbor had bought and let me continue to use. My clothes were stored in totes and I used a lot of paper plates for a while.

In August, I found a receptionist job for a local real estate company and pulled the house off the market, thinking it just wasn't meant to sell. I then bought all new furniture and other things that I had sold. It was September when my UPS man told me his wife really wanted to buy my house but they had no contract on theirs so they couldn't make an offer.

Fast forward to September 2007, my UPS man and his wife put a contract on my house, I bought a small Class C motorhome in Florida (sight unseen), sold everything - again - and on October 31st, I left the driveway and headed out as a sixty year old, widowed full-time RVer.

Visit a Renaissance Faire:
After meeting my current husband in Gillette, WY at an RV rally, we traveled around all the states but each year we returned to his home area of Maryland to see family and friends and take care of doctor visits. During one of these visits, we attended the local Renaissance Faire.

What a blast we can see all my photos HERE.

Travel More:
Oh, my! Have I ever!! Besides visiting all fifty states, I have been to:
  • Canada
  • Mexico
  • Guatemala
  • Nicaragua
  • Honduras
  • Colombia
  • Panama
  • Belize
  • Jamaica
  • Costa Rica
  • Aruba
  • Bonaire
  • Grenada
  • Barbados
  • St Lucia
  • Antigua
  • St Thomas, VI
  • St Maarten
  • Puerto Rico
  • Bahamas
  • Turks and Caicos
  • Ecuador (including the Galapago Islands)
Thank you to the Princess and Carnival Cruise Lines!

Live in a foreign country:
In January of 2013, we saw an episode of House Hunters International and it featured a story about  family living in Cuenca, Ecuador. We were intrigued. We planned a thirty day visit to see what we thought. That was in April. In December, we packed up nine almost 70# bags and flew business class to Ecuador. What an adventure. We lived there for two years before coming back home. It was an experience we will never forget. You can read about the entire journey, starting with our exploratory trip, on our blog Retired in Cuenca.

White Water Rafting:
I was a bit nervous about this one, even knowing it wouldn't be anything but the lowest class of rapids if I ever did it. Well, things change. In Grenada, we did river tubing and it was just a hair below rapids. I had a blast and told my husband that I was now crossing White River Rafting off my list.

The other thing about Grenada, was my first time with cars on the wrong side of the road. I was sitting on the right and admit to being TOTALLY freaked out!

I never, I mean NEVER thought I would go zip-lining. But I did. My first time was in Alaska while visiting Icy Strait Point, Hoonah, Alaska. At the time, Ziprider was billed as the highest, longest and fastest zip-line IN THE WORLD! What was I doing??? Sixty miles an hour? I just kept repeating to myself, "You've ridden faster on your motorcycle." By the time I arrived at the bottom, I was laughing!

My second time zip-lining was in Belize last year. We booked this cruise to meet up with our "band sons", musicians we had friended on two previous cruises earlier in the year. After we booked the cruise, they told us they wanted to go on an excursion with us. What a blast!!! But my zip-line days are over. LOL!

Published Author:
I have always loved to write...fiction when younger, a ton of non-fiction throughout my career and then in 1996 when I started writing web content on various topics. In 1998, I started dabbling part-time with fiction writing. Children's stories, short stories, picture book ideas and one short story for a woman's magazine - which never got submitted. My husband was diagnosed with cancer and writing went on the back burner.

Fast forward to 2012, encouraged by good friend and fellow RVer, Nick Russell, I began to write again, using prompts from various flash fiction sites. I fell in love with it and participated in my first April A to Z Blog Challenge. I wrote flash fiction and later self-published all the stories in a book on Amazon, A to Z in 10 by 10.

That summer I joined Camp NaNoWriMo (a challenge to write 50k words in 30 days) and thus my first mystery was born, Not a Whisper. Since that time I have published two more books in that series, and three novellas set in Hawaii, as well as having short stories accepted for publication in several anthologies.

Coming up next week - what's left on my list?

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Photo Fiction: Freedom Sought

Sunday Photo Fiction - CLICK for more stories!
Photo Credit: Susan Spaulding

He'd been monitoring the tunnel for weeks. During the day it was filled with tour groups, anxious to get a sense of how those living on the other side of the wall might have felt when they snuck through, free at last.

He wanted, no, needed to be free. He'd tried tagging on the back of the tourists but they always caught him. He had no money for bribes and they'd drag him back to where he had started.

But he wasn't discouraged. He'd figured out a way to get in at night. A way no one, that he knew of, had ever tried. He'd had to lose weight so he'd fit, but after measuring and building a duplicate of the opening, he knew he would fit.

Tonight was the night. Three hours after the sun set, dragging his duffel bag behind him, he slithered down deep into the hidden opening. His heart was racing, not with fear, but with joy. He was going to be free.

Regimes change and the new one was determined to erase the past. The tunnel was blasted and as the rock was carried off, one worked held up an old duffel bag.

198 words