I DO Exist! It’s been an odd summer for

I DO Exist!

It’s been an odd summer for me. I got off my routine of writing every day due to life. I know there are writers out there that understand, and I’m sure there are plenty of you who have a hobby occasionally ruined by the way life progresses. I did my best not to be frustrated. Instead, I managed to severely edit a story I’ll be submitting this morning. I’m amazed at how much I ended up cutting from the story. It’s tighter, and I hope much better.

Wright Place, Wrong Bed Inspired by a Writers’ Retreat

Two years ago, my chapter of RWA hosted a retreat for whoever could make it to a plantation south of New Orleans. We’d done it in years past at another plantation upriver, and it was time for a change. I’m not sure it was a good change, but the trip did inspire a story that’s will be published by The Wild Rose Press.

We began our evening at the plantation by finding our rooms, which were scattered all over the place. Some were in the big house. Others were in what was probably once the caretaker’s plain home, and still another group were in an elevated modern house. We settled in, saying hello to our roommates and getting the lay of the land, which included a few rooms with sketchy latches on the doors. When we convened in the former chapel turned dining hall and bar, we all had a tidbit to tell about our rooms. Some were happy. Others were rather less so. Eh, I thought. We’re way down where no one cares.

We forgot all about our rooms when a certain friend of mine pointed out the four rather handsome men enjoying dinner at the next table over. They all had suntanned or sunburned necks, fishing shirts, and boat shoes. They were four men on a weekend away from whatever, whether it be wives, girlfriends, bad jobs, or a family reunion. My friend mentioned something. My brain got to twirling, and a little while later, I mapped out a plot.

This is where I admit to having more ideas for stories than I have time to write them. So, Wright Place, Wrong Bed languished into skeleton plot land until I finished some other projects, moved from New Orleans, and set up a new life in Florida. Yet, I completed it, and now I’m dealing with edits. 

If there’s a message to this story, I would say that it is to look for inspiration wherever you go and to keep with your ideas. They will eventually bear fruit.

I’m terrible at this

Way back when I was a wonderful blogger. I posted so many ideas, thoughts, photos. 

Then, another life fell under my umbrella–my mom. She’s now one of my primary responsibilities. I still take care of my family, but I ditched the day job and moved. I live in a beautiful place. Beer and oysters remain a part of my life as does writing, but there is less time for those activities. 

I complain, no, write about my mother more on Facebook than I do here. Perhaps I should switch that? If you’d like to read more about what happens to me on a weekly basis (because I’m also terrible about posting each day on FB or Twitter) please friend or follow me on either of those places. The link for Twitter is on the sidebar. For FB, click here.

A Review from Fresh Fiction for Big Bad Easy

ImageBig Bad Easy is a New Orleans based story based on something that happened to me. No, I didn’t become involved with a cop, but I did have my car broken into and have a great experience with the detective investigating it. 

All that aside, Annetta Sweetko from Fresh Fiction reviewed this erotic romance and had this to say about it:

 I also enjoyed the feel of the Big Easy that came through on each page, so much so that I found myself wishing for a beignet. I will certainly be looking for more from author Ursula Whistler.

Read the whole review here, and pick up either a print or e-book of Big Bad Easy.

Risque Poses, My Uncomplicated Story

I wrote this story at least four times, each with varying degrees of characters. Only the main character remained the same. When one of my writer friends made a suggestion about Mathias, the hero of this short story, I found the perfect foil for my heroine. It’s quiet. It’s uncomplicated, but it’s deep in ways that I think will touch you. Try it. 

Risque Poses 

Image

“I have an idea for a plot.” Dreaded words to an author.

About a month ago, I took a weekend trip with some friends. In our long ride in the car in which I had no responsibility for driving, we took some time to catch up on what was going on in each others lives, shared some insights into daily issues, and then the sentence came out which made me cringe.

“I have an idea for a plot. Here it is.” She launched into her idea, which came from a real incident in her life. 

I listened, not having any idea how I would turn this into a story. It was only the description of one meeting. At least it was a good one, where the hero and heroine would meet. My friend had one other requirement–that the characters have sex on the hood of a car. In my head I was thinking, “Um, I can’t do that.” 

Except, you can’t say that when you are sitting beside your very good friend. Great friend. Life long, always been there for you friend. Yes, we are honest enough with each other that I could have given her the “that’s nice” line, but for reasons I won’t discuss here, I was needy, wanting real in depth round and round go get ‘em conversations. So, I said, “That’s a nice idea, but it takes more than that to write a story. We need to know who the characters are, and one of the ways to do that is by answering some questions about the characters.”

Here is where I pulled from one of the best online classes that I’ve ever taken. Quilting 101: Patchworking the Perfect Plot with Suzanne Johnson. It covered plot arcs, the threads of the story (the individual character arcs), and so much more. All the parts she showed us stuck with me, but I focused on the character dossier. 

Let me tell you a bit about Suzanne first. She’s the author of Royal Street, River Road, and Elysian Fields, a gritty, but delightful story set in post-Katrina New Orleans. It’s great urban fantasy with some amazing characters that jump off the page. I was instantly in love with Jean Lafitte. She also writes as Susannah Sandlin. You can find all about her at Preternatura

Back to the main story. I pulled from Suzanne’s character dossier questions as we rode along the interstate. As i was going from memory, I didn’t cover all the questions, but I got the big ones. Honestly, a writer needs to know what a character’s childhood was like and who their best friend is. These things tell you a lot about a character.

My friend jumped right into the questions, taking my deeper questions and criticisms in stride. That skeleton of a heroine grew into a truly fleshed out person. I know who she is, and by the end of an hour, I had a pretty good sketch of the hero. I’ve got the big idea, or in Suzanne’s words, what the overall quilt will look like. The colors that I’ll be using aren’t very clear yet, but I’m not even halfway through the patchwork quilt process with this plot idea. (I am in the middle of what started out as a crackpot idea.)

Here is what I do know:

  • I can make my friend’s idea into a story I can sell. It may not be exactly what she envisioned, but it’s one more idea to make into a story.
  • I wouldn’t have been able to do this without the education I got via Suzanne. 
  • I may not ever cringe again when someone says, “I have an idea for a plot.”

Ok, that last one is probably a lie. I will still cringe. Most authors aren’t struggling for ideas. We struggle with the limitations of time and the speed of our fingers to get the ideas out fast enough. Here is the other beautiful part about Suzanne’s way of plotting; it is all there once you are done. You’ve got the accessory characters, the furniture (you’ll have to take one of her classes to understand), the interactions between all the characters, plot arcs, and a nearly full blown synopsis. Due to me taking care of my mother, it was necessary for me to take a pretty large break in writing. When I went back to the manuscript in my editor’s hands, I knew exactly where I was in the story and where I needed to go once I had time to devote to daily scribbling. I didn’t have my brain to thank for that. I had Suzanne’s plotting method.

I’m left with a scribbled plot idea and half synopsis in the back of my day planner and a serious appreciation for a great writer and an even better writing teacher. Check out Suzanne Johnson’s website and look into one of her workshops that she’ll be leading in the next year. You’ll be glad you did.