#IWSG: Character names or book titles?

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.

Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Visit IWSG to sign up. The awesome co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

The question for June:

What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

BOOK TITLES! I have just the worst time thinking of a title. For instance, my first novel was originally titled, Marty Unmedicated. Then it spent a while being called Six Days on the Fifth Floor. I still sort of like that second title. And I've never gotten completely used to having the nonsense word "hondo" in my book's title. It is explained in the end and gives you one of those "ah ha" reader moments, so I feel moderately confident I picked the right moniker.

My second publishing effort, Magic Ear Kids, was somewhat easier to name. I thought for a while I would call it She's a Magic Ear Kid. After all, I only have the one kid and "kids" leads a person to believe my experience is more extensive. A quick trip to the Google revealed the search string "magic ear kids" leads back to my hearing loss blog. The name followed the Internet presence. If I was going to call my collection of stories about parenting a child with hearing loss by a different name, I should have thought of it ten years ago!

My work in progress is currently named "No Title." 

Character names seem to pop up in my mind with no effort. I tend to write mostly composite characters made up of several of the people around me. I give the character a name that's most like the main influencer in the fictional version of reality I've created. For instance, if a person that I most modeled the character after has a common name found in the Bible, I'll just pick a different common name found in the Bible for the fictional character. Mom of two kids with normal names that are spelled weird? There are lots of weirdly spelled normal names! It's a system that's been working.

The Mom's Club Book Club

This winter, I traveled to the very swank McCandless Crossing Panera to meet a group of moms for their monthly book club discussion.

The book they read was No Room for Hondo.

And so I was super excited and nervous. Like the nauseous kind of nervous. Still, multiple people read my book and were willing to discuss it with me. Perhaps they were even excited and nervous to meet me!

I pulled on my best new $4.00 Gabes' sweater, hiked up my big girl pants, and carefully cut a path through the snowy night. (In February, it snowed EVERY time I thought about going anywhere.)

The Panera was completely empty.

At the appointed time, three moms arrived. We sat in a booth and had what I found to be a surreal conversation. They'd really read it, for one thing. And though I could tell one of the three didn't enjoy it as much as the others, the reviews were positive and genuine. We chatted for over an hour. A Panera employee was waiting for us to leave so he could vacuum. When it was over, they said their book club felt more "real" since they'd had an author at their meeting.

I thought the same thing about my writing career. It suddenly felt more real.

In the months since there hasn't been much action for my first novel. A Kindle Unlimited reader here or there. An occasional solo purchase. It was on my list of "things I'd like to do before I turn 40" to "get sales of No Room for Hondo to a non-embarrassing number." I may just be giving myself an easy out, and I do have more than two years before the big 4-0. But...

I think those three moms made this entire endeavor worthwhile. 

(I'd totally visit another book club in-person or via Skype or Facetime. Contact me at resciniti3 at gmail.com if you're interested!)

#IWSG Spring Inspiration

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs.

Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time - and return comments. This group is all about connecting!

Visit IWSG to sign up.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!

The question for May: It's Spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others or not?

It's seventy-four degrees as I type to you this May Day from my front porch. My dogs are out with me. Birds are singing. The neighborhood is filled with the sound of chainsaws, heavy digging equipment, and mowers. Honestly, can we not respect the sunshine with a little quiet? 

All the same, spring has sprung. Warmth and sunshine combine to make me feel more alive than I did through the long winter. Life is good. And there's no time for writing.

You see, last fall, October to be specific, grubs invaded my once pristine lawn. Then, raccoons or bears or armadillos came to eat the grubs. The turf suffered. Nighttime air temps above forty (for the first time last night) allow for lots of yard work. I've applied beneficial nematodes and purposely seeded the lawn with white clover. I'm going organic this year and fully expect my life will now consist of moving a sprinkler from one section of the yard to another as I cry out, "don't die on me" to the fine fescue.

It will be fun.

A few months ago, I wrote the first chapter of my next novel. I was pretty proud of it, printed the pages and gave them to my super special advance readers (my husband and daughter). They either really liked it or love me too much to tell me otherwise. That was a good day. Time passed and it was an occasional topic of conversation.

"Have you written any more of your book?"
"Do you know what's going to happen next?"
"Are you EVER going to write any more of that book?"

These questions mostly from my daughter. She provides me pages of her work in progress at least once a week. It's a fascinating fantasy novel. Super descriptive. Blows me away.

"I haven't had time," I'll say. Or "I've been thinking about it."

She shrugs at me and goes to her room where she'll dash out fifteen pages. This has become intimidating. Not that it's a competition, but come on!

In an attempt to stop being so utterly disappointing, I'm going to make a point to write every day this month. Starting tomorrow because right now I have to move the sprinkler.

Costco Croutons and a Broken Expander

My husband has been food shopping with me regularly. It took a while for me to adjust, but he's become an indispensable part of my grocery getting. For instance, at breakfast I might say, "we should check and see if there are more paper towels in the garage before we go to SAMs Club."

And he'll say, "yeah, we should do that."

Then we'll be in SAMs Club, as though we teleported there, and I'll say, "I forgot to check the paper towels at home."

"So did I," he'll say.

It's a shared joke then to put the newly purchased paper towels on top of the glaringly visible, unopened pack of paper towels already in the garage. We repeat this process weekly with things like decaffeinated tea bags.

But I knew we didn't want to buy more croutons at Costco.

"You don't like the croutons from Costco," I said.

"Were those from Costco?"


And we didn't buy the croutons. I never thought to ask why he didn't like the Costco croutons. They were organic and looked like any other prepackaged stale bread cubes. I don't partake of the croutons, so just making it out of the store without a five-pound bag of food that no one in the house wanted seemed like a victory.

That very evening, eating a salad which has since been recalled because no one knows whether it was grown in Yuma, AZ or not, my daughter announced that a crouton had become lodged in her palate expander.

Now this palate expander is no joke. Drawing from my personal experience, I thought orthodontic care would be tough. On my daughter. Because she's the patient. Little did I know she would get a "distalizer palate expander" for "rapid palatial expansion." This jobber has a tiny little hole that cranks a screw to perform the actual expanding. It's the mother that has to turn the screw. Sixteen times!

Maybe my close up vision isn't what it once was, but it was a real thing to get the "key" into the hole of that screw. The key is this plastic handle with a pin on the end. I spent two weeks poking around, doing a bad job. On the fifteenth night, I made a breakthrough! The key went right in the hole on the first try. I pushed down to turn the screw. Nothing.

The screw wouldn't make its fifteenth turn. The orthodontist had to take the expander out of her mouth (this thing is cemented in there, by the way) and lubricate it with vegetable oil. Turns fifteen and sixteen proceeded on subsequent nights without difficulty.

My bit was done. 


Enter the crouton.

The expander in question looks similar to this "Pendex Appliance." 

During a tense fifteen minutes, reports issued forth that it was not, in fact, a stuck crouton, but a broken expander. Without hesitation, I picked up the phone and happened upon the orthodontist's extended evening hours. We raced out of the house to the professionals.

"I've never seen that before," says the doctor.

"Have you been eating jelly beans?" the tech asked.

"Croutons wouldn't do that," says the doctor.

The expander was pulled out AGAIN and kept overnight to be soldered back together. A little metal bit had cracked right off. And the technician was insistent that she knew the culprit: jelly beans.

On the car ride home that night, it was disclosed that the Costco croutons are "filled with rocks" and many times eating them has "almost broken a tooth."

"But why did the technician lady think it was jelly beans? Have you been eating jelly beans?"

That part remains a mystery. There have been no beans. The palate expander was re-installed the next day. The tech came to the waiting room to give a report. She told me that the expander needed to be unturned to fit back in. So I needed to find the key and do two more turns. Two bonus turns. 

So on top of discovering that my family has been suffering dried bread that's the same consistency as driveway gravel, I had to poke around with a pin-like key in my daughter's mouth again. My only solace is that I remembered not to buy more croutons from Costco. And we'll steer clear of jelly beans. Just in case.