We All Deserve a Reward Now & Then

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeIt’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

This month, the IWSG Day Question is How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal or finish a story?

First thing first.

You Need a Reason to Celebrate

You can’t celebrate achieving a goal unless you’ve got goals in place.  I’ve been mulling over this for the last week, trying to find a touchpoint that resonated.

I Could Pamper Myself

I could readily pen my thoughts on what to reward myself-  a massage, a couple of hours with a purely entertaining novel and a pot of tea, a nap. An extra walk with the dog.  A cookie.  Some time set aside to play with my fountain pens, or do some genealogy research or bake some bread. Maybe a a weekend retreat someplace with an ocean or a forest full of trails, for a big-deal accomplishment.

But First, Make a Plan!

But I found myself returning to but what about actually setting the goals? I couldn’t let it go. Sometimes my brain can be such a nag.

I work with my calendar, scheduling chunks of time to write, or edit, or research. I give myself deadlines. I set long term goals and break them into smaller, manageable pieces. I’ve been known to give myself word-count goals.

Some things work better than others.

I Wonder What Everyone Else Does?

I wonder what other people do?  I’ve read plenty of accounts online and in various writing magazines. I’ve sat in seminars and listened to panels discuss this very topic. Hours and hours, I’ve given to this topic, especially earlier in my writing journey.  I’ve heard the opinions and suggestions of countless experts.

But I don’t really know any of those people.

So, What About the People I Actually Know?

I recently sat around a table with a group of writers and posed the question. Some I’d met recently, others I’ve known longer.  But at least I could feel a bit of a personal connection, unlike an article, website, or panel of important people up on a stage.

Guess what?  Some of the most prolific wordsmiths I know don’t even give themselves goals. They sit down at the keyboard when they feel like it, and, once they get going, the words just start to flow. Others schedule times and/or places they write. Still others opt for a daily word-count goal.

You do what works for You!


And, Then, We Digress…

We broke into simultaneous  animated conversations about what to do with middle-of-the-night inspirations and I never got to ask about celebrating achievements.  Nuts.

My conclusions?

  • Gotta set goals before you can achieve them.
  • I’m still curious how others reward themselves.
  • And I must get writing on what do do with that inconvenient brilliant idea.

We Were Discussing Goals and Rewards…

As far as treating myself – well, the feeling of achievement carries its own warm fuzzies.  I feel good when I can check something off on the list.  I don’t want to get in the habit of tangible attaboys every time I accomplish any little thing.  Despite that, those things I mentioned at the very beginning – the walk, the nap, playing with pens or genealogy, a cup of tea, even a retreat – yes, I use them.  I just make a point to sprinkle them into my plan, rather than pile them on.

This Business of Writing and Tribe

It’s the first Wednesday of February, time for my Writing Journey post.  Thank you Insecure Writer’s Support Group for the monthly nudge. You’ll see lots of other fabulous insight by checking out the blogroll on their site here.

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThis month’s suggested question is What do you love about the genre you write in most often?  That’s a great question, but difficult for me to answer.  I wrote all kinds of nonfiction. These days, speculative fiction, YA, fantasy, historical, mythical, old school science fiction, folklore, legend, or some inexplicable combination push their way out of my brain. And my in-the-works upmarket humorous women’s fiction. Sheesh, I recently even entered a poetry contest. My creations are not always easily categorized. I don’t swim in a single lake at a time. Continue reading

I Can Always Learn More About Sushi

A Blog About Japanese Food (Sushi!) – I’m In!

So, this blog post about sushi came just came through my feed.  Those who know me well are aware of my foodie-ness and interest in what people eat in other parts of the world.  I dove right in and took a look.  You can, too, here at Pickled Plum.  Caroline over there is a foodie, a photographer, a model, and sells Japanese cooking things and a cookbook on her website.  It was inevitable her blog would show up in my stream one of these days, given my years of making Japanese food a semi-serious hobby.  Ask me about my vast and pristine bento box collection sometime. I’ve been following her blog for a short while, and have enjoyed the beautiful food photos (anticipated, given her background) as well as some more in-depth than usual facts about jJapanese food.

When this sushi/sashimi/musubi post showed up, I clicked so I could read more.  As Caroline has lived in Japan and I have not, I was curious to compare sushi in Japan and sushi in the United States.

As I mentioned, I have not lived in Japan; I’ve never even visited.  My practical knowledge is limited to some (no, I’m not sharing how many) decades of experience eating in Japanese American restaurants, living in communities with a high concentration of Japanese Americans, and dating a Japanese American guy. Can you see a theme here?  My experience is in one country, Caroline’s is in the other – I was revved to read and compare.

I’ve also read every Japanese cookbook I could find, authored by experts in both countries, and plowed through a few Food of Japan and History of Sushi reference books.  So, though not practical, some of my knowledge does come by way of Asia.

Ready to Learn and Discern? Here We Go!

What Goes into that Sushi?

  • Sushi ~ Sushi means seasoned rice, used to make various sushi dishes.  I say sushi rice is sweetened with mirin and seasoned with rice vinegar; Caroline says rice seasoned with sugar, vinegar, and salt.  Neither of us mentions that monosodium glutamate was used in sushi rice decades ago, both in Japan and the United States.  And most of the time, when people say sushi, they mean the various things made with sushi rice, not just the rice.
  • Onigiri ~ Warm, salted rice is hand-shaped, usually in a triangle about the size of the palm of your hand.  Flavorful items may be mixed throughout the rice or hidden in the center.  Sometimes onigiri are wrapped in seaweed.  Onigiri are meant to be portable, are often found in lunch boxes in Japan, and are served at room temperature.
  • Nigiri ~  I’ve always understood that nigiri refers to a small rectangle of sushi rice with a thin slice of fish or other topping on it.
    • Nope, Pickled Plum says that dish is nigiri sushi and that nigiri is the same as onigiri.
  • Nori ~ Nori is thin, dried seaweed sheets, used for making maki sushi. Actually, now that we’ve finally become comfortable in America with the idea of dried seaweed, I feel okay elaborating and sharing that nori is made with a species of algae called pyropia, which is raised and harvested by some pretty fancy aquaculture.
  • Maki ~ Maki is a sushi roll consisting of fish or another ingredient surrounded by sushi rice and wrapped in nori to make a cylinder, which is sliced for serving.  Maki is made by layering nori, then rice, then the filling on a special bamboo mat and wrapping it tightly so the cylinder holds together. Tekkamaki are skinny, futomaki are fat, uramaki are inside out, and tempi are rolled by hand into an easily consumed cone shape.
  • Musubi ~ Musubi on a menu tells me there is some connection to Hawaiian culture afoot.  Musubi is a big, flattish maki made with plain rice, a grilled slice of spam, and teriyaki sauce.  It is served warm.  Spam was introduced to Hawaii by our Navy.  Sailors stationed in Pearl Harbor enjoyed (?) this salty, canned meat product invented by Hormel and marketed to the military as a shelf-stable substitute for real meat.  Spam wouldn’t spoil in the hot tropics of Hawaii, and is now popular in a number of dishes there, including music.
    • Who knew? Pickled Plum states that musubi is the same as onigiri and nigiri.
  • Sashimi is thinly sliced raw fish, and, since it has no rice, is not sushi.

Sushi often includes that effective sinus clearing green condiment, wasabi.  Alongside the little cone of wasabi paste, you’re likely to see a small mound of sweet pickled ginger.

I so enjoyed exploring Caroline’s blog, Pickled Plum.  All kinds of great stuff over there.  Hope you take a look too!


Photos in this post come from Pixabay and are released under Creative Commons CCO.


Nice Story About One of My Favorite Charities

From the Dorset Echo, a nice little article about Christmas at Weldmar Hospice. Although Weldmar is thousands of miles from me, I’m a huge supporter.  Don’t get me wrong, I still volunteer and support hospice here at home.  I was fortunate in recent years to meet some of the Weldmar folks and see their beautiful and functional facility.

So, if you’re looking for a charity to support, look no further than here.  And, support a fledgling reporter, let Jennifer Mulcahey know what you think.

How Weldmar helps patients escape the burden of illness at Christmas

Jennifer Mulcahey,Trainee Reporter

Christmas is a special time of year for many families.

For patients of Weldmar Hospicecare Trust it means even more – as it could well be the last they spend with theirs.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom at the trust’s hospices, or at the day centres it runs at hospitals across the county. In fact, all the stops are pulled out to make sure Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Every Wednesday, at Bridport Community Hospital, a small team of dedicated support workers from Weldmar provide day services for patients.

The day services give patients a much-needed breather and the chance to temporarily escape their illness through art therapy, complementary therapies, word games and other stimulating activities.

Jenny Wood, day services lead, said: “Our purpose is to bring that bit of joy into people’s lives. We play quizzes and games, make crafts and a lot of patients who come in like to make gifts for their families. There is lots of fun and lots of laughter.

“We are very aware that it’s not the happiest time of year for some people. Some patients are only just confronting their illness and not everyone is keen on taking part. We respect that. It’s about providing an environment where people can relax and have fun.”

Recently, patients have been making Christmas crafts, indulging in truffle-making and playing festive games. For some, it is the only interaction they will have.

“Carrying on is really important and these activities provide a nice distraction,” says Jenny. “Christmas can be a reflective time, and it’s okay for people to feel melancholy, so we support them with however they might want to celebrate Christmas – if they want to celebrate Christmas.”

As Christmas approaches, patients can expect to tuck into turkey with all the trimmings this week.

Jenny said: “Some of these people can be very socially isolated and live in rural areas and so the Christmas meal might be only interaction they have. A lot of people have many hospital appointments to go to and this will take their mind of things.

“Weldmar is lovely at Christmas. It’s a bright, uplifting place which surprises people. It’s a happy place with some happy memories and lots of laughter. Sometimes I just step back and watch what is happening and the nicest thing is seeing people laughing. You ask people if they have enjoyed themselves and it’s always a ‘yes’ and whatever is going on at home, it’s nice to know that for one day week they have a really happy day with us. Knowing you have been a part of that is special.”

To some, a hospice might seem like the last place to expect celebration, but at Joseph Weld, Weldmar’s inpatient unit in Dorchester, Christmas is in full swing.

A huge Christmas tree twinkles in the entrance, the canteen is adorned with festive frivolity and, perhaps most surprisingly, you can hear lots of laughter.

At Joseph Weld, round-the-clock palliative care is provided for people from across the county with cancer and other life-limiting conditions.

Sally-Anne Baverstock manages the inpatient team, which works 24 hours-a-day, seven days-a-week, and is dedicated to making Christmas a special time for each and every patient.

“It’s not a sad time here,” said Sally. “It’s a happy time. We sing carols, do Christmas Jumper Day, put up the decorations – all sorts. Patients really enjoy that bit of fun and that normality.

“Patients are aware it may be their last Christmas and it is about that balance between sensitivity and normality. Each patient is different and Christmas can mean different things for different people – children could be here to see parents, mums and dads could be here to see children; it’s a very sensitive time.

“What we want to do is make Christmas the best we can
for patients and their families. It’s a sensitive time and we have to appreciate that and get it

“A patient might want to go home for a few hours, or they might want their pet to come in and be with them; however we can get it right, we will do it. We want to make it special.”

Weldmar Hospicecare Trust is an independent charity working in Dorset and all its services are provided free of charge.


via How Weldmar helps patients escape the burden of illness at Christmas | Dorset Echo

NaNoWriMo 2017 ~ Day 1

I was fortunate to recently meet author K.J. Scrim.

A pleasant visit over a a meal I’d been craving.  I probably annoyed her with my incessant questions.  Brain picking experienced folks I admire is a sometime hobby of mine.  I was so pleased to finally meet this woman and learn a few things from her.

In any case, a while back I’d seen on her blog mention of Insecure Writers Support Group. I was intrigued.  This group of writers support and encourage one another through their blogs. The first Wednesday of the month, a question is presented; I appreciate that it isn’t one of the same tired old things I see asked regularly.  I’ve never been part of a Blog Hop before, and this month’s question is relevant to me, so I decided it is time to give it a go.

The Question

Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

What the Heck is NaNoWriMo?’

For those who may not know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, and the goal of participants is to write a complete novel starting November 1st and finishing by the end of the month.  The event began in 1999, and in 2005, National Novel Writing Month became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. NaNoWriMo’s programs now include National Novel Writing Month in November, Camp NaNoWriMo, the Young Writers Program, Come Write In, and the “Now What?” Months.  Only 21 people participated in that first event.  This past year, over 384,000 took the challenge.

The Short Answer

Super easy for me to answer.  No and No.  Not because I’m a complete failure at NaNoWriMo, but because this is my first year giving it a go. And This is Why

I plan on finishing,  making it to my 50,000 words, and I hope to do so before the month is out.  I never take the easy path, November is busy as it is, with Thanksgiving and the holidays just around the corner.  This year, I’ll be dealing with some extra distractions beyond the normal.  This, I hope, will make my victory all the sweeter.

As far as possibility of publication, I have a bit of hope, but think it will be unlikely.  My primary motivation for participating in NaNoWriMo this year is to reinforce the discipline of the habit of writing regularly.  I’m confident I’ll accomplish that.  But I found, as I began getting words down today, the first day, I realized that I lean hard towards planner. Not such a bad thing, except I keep finding skips and gaps and holes in my outline.  I’m forcing myself to just go with it, writing and only occasionally tweaking the planned chapters and scenes.  But I’m pretty certain that the final result will need some serious surgery before being ready for public consumption.

New Approach Here

What fun I’m having, having excised my internal orders to not just write, but write really well from the get-go.  I will be something of new experience holding off all that editing for later on.  Word Sprints are going to be my friends.

The NaNo word counter I stuck on my home page is working!  Now I have the accountability that goes with  half dozen or so of you who stop by my blog viewing my progress. One more little nudge to keep me on track.

Once I get my own post live, figure out the linking for the Blog Hop, and get this out, I’m going to go and see what all those other writers had to say on the matter.  I know I’ll be finding good things.

Thanks to awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton,MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!



At Least I Got the Page Numbers Done

“I’m writing a book. I’ve got the page numbers done.” ~ Stephen Wright


I suppose I should begin with the times when it was easy.  When I was a student, an intern, a researcher, a scientist, an engineer, those were the easy days.  I wrote textbooks and technical papers, manuals and government reports.  I wrote Really Hard Stuff, except that is wasn’t that hard.  That writing came with the job, and the priority was the data, the process, the procedure, the specifications.  I got published.  My work is still in use, decades later, around the world.  I made a few bucks.

Early on, when I was part of a team, I knew I’d be expected to get our results documented.  Nobody else wanted to do it, after all. Except, here’s thing…  Whatever you’ve got in your head is amazing and profound and life-changing only to yourself until you share it with others.  Not just share, but share in a way that can be understood and put into practice.  I never got why others hated writing.  I loved distilling a whole mess of technical into something organized and understandable.  Useful.charles bukowski quote about writers block

And I Got Paid…

Later, I did more solo projects.  First I’d justify the cost.  Then I’d do the researching and the calculating, the experimenting and the graphing, the justifying and the concluding. I’d get to document the whole messy thing.  I’d distill piles of sticky notes, mounds of data and journals and scribbles into something useful.  And people would read what I wrote and use it and make a difference.  I taught people.  I shared new discoveries.  I developed and documented procedures that saved corporations more money than I’ll earn in a lifetime.  I showed workers how to do dangerous things without killing themselves or anyone else.  I revealed the secrets that engineers needed so they could teach to those whose brains work more traditionally.  I translated government mandated policies into real-world application.  And I enjoyed every last minute of it.

And I got published.   And I got paid.

Then I took a break, set my sights on different priorities.  And now I’m back.


And I want to make stories.  I’d like to change people’s lives just a teensy bit, one chapter at a time. I hope to create something compelling enough that it provides entertainment and escape and maybe even a life lesson or two. That’d be perfect.  I’d settle for even one of the above.

And I am Stuck.

I see too much expanse of blank whiteness, sitting silently and expectantly, mocking me for my inability to string together a few coherent words.  Oh, I want to silence that accusing blankness with some genius keystrokes or the scritchtey scribing.  The inability to string together a coherent paragraph always takes hold at the worst possible time. No, not when I’m facing a deadline.  The absolute most  inconvenient time to have trouble composing is those occasions, oh so few and far between, when I have uninterrupted time to dedicate solely to my craft.  Most unfair!

Okay, so today I got nothing done on my novel.  But I thumbed my nose at The Block and got a blog post put together. Perhaps this will be the introduction to my  future series on how to overcome The Block.  Ideas a-plenty – I’ve got’em!

Now, let’s see what I can do with them.

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