Today is Thanksgiving. There are so many things I am thankful for: freedom, family, fun, friends, folly, finishing a work in progress, fishing agents for a bite, frolicking with great nephews, fat turkey, finding a place of solitude for introspection, and mostly for a life that I have tried to live the best I can. Made a lot of mistakes but hopefully not any that can’t be outlived. Make a grateful list and add to it daily. This is truly the measure of your existence.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Louisianans are thankful for the month of November to arrive. This means Hurricane season is over! Be thankful for the little things that impact your life.
Thanksgiving week….the hustle and bustle of gathering food, family and fun into 48 to 72 hours is a juggling act at best. RELAX!!! The best memories are the mistakes, the accidents, the boo-boos, the crying that turns into laughing, the faces of children tasting things for the first time, the gibbering and jabbering of small children talking their own language and understanding every word; the misty eyes of adults watching the madness unfold, the sleeping on the sofa after the meal while the television blasts out the hut-hut of the games, the hour later return to the table for more fortifications, the kids on sugar high running around and most of all the loving, the hugs, the sweet kisses with slobber and the memories to last a lifetime. So enjoy the ups and downs of your holiday this week.
Lily’s Lagniappe: The state of Louisiana is known for Mardi Gras, plantation homes, swamps, alligators and fantastic college football teams. But during the Thanksgiving week children are off from school and families gather together and forget old disagreements and break bread together. Some of the best cooks I know are from this state. Food is an art form but at Thanksgiving its not about the turkey or the dressing or desserts; it is about the family, the children, the siblings, the grandparents, the aunts, the uncles and spending time together. Even if some are serving our country and not at the table, some are working because their families need the money, some are protecting our streets, some may be on duty in case an emergency arises, and even though they may not be physically there…we honor them with memories, thoughts and prayers.
Today is Sunday. The Lord’s day, the day of rest, the beginning or ending of the week depending on your viewpoint. I believe it is the beginning of the week. Every week starts off on a day of rest so the rest of the week goes well. The same is true of a manuscript be it PB, MG, YA or magazine article. By starting after a day of rest on your current work-in-progress, it gives you, the writer, a new look at your words. Things must go and things must be added to make the manuscript stronger. Time is right to make your manuscripts stronger, more relevant and more publishable.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Interstate 10 between Baton Rouge and Lafayette has sections over water called the Achafalaya Basin. Out in the water are trees called Cypress. Strong durable trees but over time with winds, creatures, and flooding the trees become shorter than usual. They stick up about a foot to about three or four feet above the water level. We, Louisianans, call those cypress knees. Many a table with a glass top has decorated plantation homes, and then later most homes. There are homes built on stilts above these waterways made of cypress. They stand the test of time and weather lasting fifty years or more with always more than one generation living in these homes.
This is Friday. Eek, the weekend. How will I ever find time to write? Can I find thirty minutes to myself? Will I ever finish the revision of my work in progress? The answers depend on your desire. Can you find time to write? Yes a few moments before the rest of the house wakes up or while they are eating or while they are doing chores you create. Another place to be by yourself is the bathroom for about an hour of privacy. Finish revision? Yes, but unless you are re-visioning your manuscript its very tiring. Hard to know where to start but as Walt Disney said stop talking about it just do it! When you have the desire you have the way. Go forth and conquer.
Lily’s Lagniappe: Cooking with a sausage or a turkey sausage, it is not necessary to add salt. The sausage will provide the sodium. When you add the sausage to gumbo or jambalaya allow it to sit in fridge over night then heat and serve. All the ingredients mix better.
Wednesday, hump day, middle of the week; the day of the week that most school children look forward to because the school week is almost over. Wednesday to a writer is more of a deadline. Can I fix my novel before Friday? Can I have a peaceful weekend because I straightened out the problems in my work-in-progress? Can I actually go to see my parents? My siblings? The answer is YES!! GO!! A distance between you and your manuscript is the best way to make sure you have fixed all the issues. Then once you reread you words you will be as excited as kids looking toward the end of the school week to get back to work.
Lily’s Lagniappe: The longest bridge over water is the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge. it spans 24 miles. A couple of times during hurricanes it has been damaged and had to be repaired. It spans the distance between Metairie and Mandeville.
This winter is beginning with a vengeance. What if we used winter’s energy to attack our writing. Is that plot working? Is the character’s motivation valid? Is this truly my main character’s story? How many subplots are too many? Can I finish this novel in a timely manner? My suggestions are to finish the first draft and put into the computer or on paper (yes I am a pencil to paper gal then computer), determine the main character, subplots are a tricky issue for most writers but I say no more than three and lastly once the first draft is done work on the plot point by point and RAISE the stakes.
Lily Lagniappe: The movie Steel Magnolias was filmed in northern Louisiana. The beautiful scenery, the homes and the fair the ensemble attended are real places and festivals. It is a lovely part of the state to visit. Come see it!!!
My main character is in jeopardy. She’s vulnerable, socially inept, naive, intelligent, responsible and shunned. Now I think I’ve gotten a grip on her core. Aren’t we all of these things from time to time in our lives? How do I show growth? She’s smart and can rationalize her situation. She’s shunned by peers because of her family. Can we all identify? The mom wearing the ‘comfortable’ clothes every where she goes, the dad wearing daisy dukes with black socks because that’s what he grew up with, the brother who hasn’t bathed in a week, and the noisy little sister, these are all things we can recover from. My character needs greater peril. I’m working on throwing ‘rocks’ at her. Not sure who used this term first but it just means keep upping the conflict. So I’m going back to zigging pebbles at my main character.
Lily’s Lagniappe: LSU plays Arkansas this weekend and a lot of folks serve cochon de lait. Roasted pig over an open pit. The recipes vary on the internet. But Mansura, LA is the capital of Cochon de Lait roasting. There is a festival every year. Delicious food and usually a cook off.
Several blogs lately have done a fabulous job giving instructions on how to craft your characters. What shoes would she wear? What t-shirt would she wear with jeans? Slacks? Shorts? I believe these are very important and I also believes it changes. I actually have a character that would wear only t-shirts and jeans at the beginning of the novel – then a period of sweats, flannel shirts, no hygiene – then exercise clothing and then finally back to t-shirts and jeans. Her clothing indicates her inner struggle. But at the same time she just might wear tennis shoes in all aspects of the emotional journey. So crafting your characters depends on so many aspects of a persons preference. Deciding the ones that help you convey the character’s journey to the reader can be of monumental importance. Try them all. Find the ones which resonates with your character.
Lily’s Lagniappe: A quick dessert..a poor man’s beignets. Take the cheapest can of biscuits. Quarter each biscuit. Put them in a deep pot of hot vegetable oil. Turn the biscuits over so that they are golden brown on all sides. Place them on paper towels or something to absorb excess oil. Then while hot put confectioner’s sugar on top. Serve them warm.
Today is the day we celebrate veterans. I’m sure all of us have relatives that served in the armed forces. One of my relatives was stationed in Korea, one served in Frankfurt, several served during the Korean Conflict, and WWII. Our family was lucky, all of our loved ones returned home safe and sound. An Australian reporter started the November 11th day of honor of veterans. He simply asked on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour a memorial of silence for two minutes to honor the sacrifice of veterans. A short two minutes…120 seconds for years of being shot at, plotted against, called horrible names, and even their own countrymen not understanding how they could go to war. No one really wants to go to war but when the American way of life is threatened, these brave men and women take a stand. They execute their orders with no thought whether they are protecting Democrats or Republicans, or whether we wear the latest fashion or hand-me-downs, they simply protect us. PLEASE tell every veteran you see today and every day; thanks.
Lily’s Lagniappe: North of Baton Rouge on Highway 61 is Port Hudson, the site of a big battle in the Civil War. To this day folks who visit the battleground still find arrow heads and cannon balls. A place where our young country was struggling with who we actually were is a constant reminder that our democracy is a fragile thing that must be nurtured.
Heading to Gatlinburg, TN with three-fourths of my writer’s group, SOUP SISTERS… We are going to Dollywood today but the rest of our time there will be writing. No one to bother us or make demands. Solitude, pajamas, a little Louisiana gumbo will help the creative juices to flow. Hope all you find a place where you feel whole, inspired, loved and fulfilled.
Lily’s Lagniappe: This time of year it’s turkey frying time in Louisiana. There are cajun spices that can be injected into turkeys. The key to a good fried turkey is the temperature of the oil. Please be careful this season and use fresh turkeys not frozen ones.