The Hines Shakes

Photo by Sunsetoned on Pexels.com

It has been a while. Only a few months until my 20th website anniversary, which is when I’m leaving the weekly blogging commitment…so I’m tapering. The earliest iteration of this website was mostly just a blog. I wrote every day for many years and yes you can read it all here. I’m not disappearing…but I didn’t have any books out yet in 2002. Blogging was my bliss. Now I’m a multi-published novelist with e-publisher The Wild Rose Press. I’ve just turned in the second book in my second series for them. I’ve written a few stand-alones too. I even have a couple of free books and stories here on the website. My earliest novels were Kindle novels and I think they’re all 99 cents.

It’s difficult to dedicate yourself to too many things, and so not a lot of blog posts while I moved from Michigan to Florida and finished my 12th book. I’m about 75 pages into the third book in Jane in St Pete series–and wondering if it will be a trilogy. It feels like something new is hovering. Hoping to get Jane 3 out closer to Jane 2–Covid kind of upended life for me (and the rest of the world).

The most difficult thing moving has been finding new doctors and explaining things to them like the Hines Shakes. I was born Cynthia (Cindy) Hines. Sorry, the Hines Shakes are not milkshakes, but a condition medically referred to as “essential tremors.” It can interfere with writing. In our family some folk can’t write their name without meds.

I use medication, but I don’t want to become a prescription medication addict, so I check in with the doctors. I think I have finally got a plan with a good doctor and a therapist as well as a neurologist and other specialists for other conditions besides these shakes. One priority besides being able to type my novels is having the energy to run a household again. We have been in condos for almost a decade. Now we have a big yard, several garden areas, a lanai (that’s what they call a screened in porch in Michigan) with a built-in hot tub. The house is our largest, too. Not by much, but at 67, it’s a bold move. My husband has more energy than me. As our financial manager, he’s been riding this crazy stock market wave with a cool head and well as fixing up this place, which was a bit more of a mess than we thought.

He does all the difficult jobs like landscaping and keeping the hot tub spotless, plus he’s been working on the master bath walk in shower. He had to pull up tiles, clean up rot and re-whatever it is you do to make them new. We have chosen a painter, who starts on the inside end of June. After rainy/hurricane season he’ll do the outside. The hurricane shutter guy is coming in a few days. We do have hurricane shutters but after having to buy a water system, replace a dishwasher plus those floor tiles and more, we don’t quite trust them.

I’m doing my same old cooking and cleaning and laundry and shopping. Al finally got a grill so I try to have him cook dinner on that a few times a week. I still make the salad. And I’m writing!! Just not blogging so much.

Summer School

Look what popped up as we got our gardens ready to grow! We had no idea what most of the gardens would look like aside from the palms. Ed, who takes care of our lawn, also trims the palms. We have seven of them. They’re beautiful. It’s starting to rain a bit here in SWF (Southwest Florida) and rainy season soon will be about an hour shower or storm daily. That’s beautiful too. With wind, the palms stream water through the rain. So otherworldly. Well, if your world for 66 years was Michigan.

A snag occurred in Jane Book 3 last week when our calendar overflowed with invitations from friends. The Michigan people are going home, so we had get togethers to say a final goodbye (until next year) and the new neighbors are inviting us for get to know you cocktails. Someone had a party every day last week. At first I thought, oh that’s fine, I’m done writing by 2 o’clock in the afternoon. Well, ha, writers need to be in shape to write. Maybe just older writers? Party drinks and fancy snacks will sneak up on you. Over the week, instead of writing, I filling the gas tank with naps and reading to get myself ready to be social. The just-started story was reduced to scribbled plot notes.

Today I was determined to get back to work but it took me an hour just to turn on my new computer and find the Word program. I tried to do a blog post first but Windows didn’t recognize my Word Press sign in. So here I am on the Mac. But I have to stay with the story on Office/Word. I HAVE TO. I would like to maybe take an online class. Or two. http://www.wethegeek.com had some good info. I’d like a personal class like I got with my genius at the Apple Store. Not sure Miscrosoft has that. In an ideal world I’d like one tutorial for switching from MAC to WINDOWS when blogging and one for writing novels. Also email would be good too. Had no luck finding my email on Windows.

A thing about getting older is learning new stuff takes longer. Also Al is only willing to help me with this up to a point. He got my garden growing, moved furniture, painted living room, keeps the spa ready, and so much else. Even some golf. 🙂 My plan for now is to just use Word and get on with my story. And blog on the Mac. For now. Until school starts.

Story Hunting

We’ve been house hunting since we came to Florida. Wow, prices have sky-rocketed. But you probably knew that. It didn’t help us out as St Pete seems to be a new favorite of millionaires. So we ventured south even though my dad says “the further south you go, the more the prices rise.” I don’t know. Sarasota was a little less pricey and the homes were a bit newer. Not new enough. Al wants something built in this century. We’d been looking a couple months when we hit the jackpot. Everything (almost) on our long wish list. Right price. Ditto square footage.

Also, the neighborhood comes with a story. I just finished Vanderbilt by Anderson Cooper and when I looked up the area online I found that the first rich Vanderbilt, first American millionaire in fact, had left a vast fortune to his heirs. His two sons bought a piece of land in Florida and fixed it up as a cattle ranch. They were the last Vanderbilts to add to the fortune of their father without squandering it all. I’m not sure what happened to the cattle ranch but it’s now a lovely little town laid out like Detroit (a wheel) and when someone digs for a new home, you can still smell the cow dung.

I’ve been worrying about Jane. When I move from St Pete, what does Jane do? I have sprung a wealth of ideas from that one question and none of them have to do with changing my website or Jane’s address. This is the first time in a long time my mind is forming book 3 before book 2 is done. This is a good sign. I’m relieved. It’s good to see the shadows of new work down the road. I may even have found a new writing room in which to get it done.

I’ll keep you posted!

What’s a Scene Sequence?

RIP Bosco

I finally found time to write my scene today…it’s been growing in my mind and I’ve been scribbling notes, but the move has really interrupted normal time here. I’d say it was fine, but I miss my words and my blogging friends, so really, it’s not exactly fine. But eventually it will be. I had to plan this morning’s writing sprint around so many other moving type things, but mostly packing. We still didn’t get our A/C fixed (next week!) so I need to consider the weather. Lucky for me, it’s been more like fall than summer. But we are due for another meltingly hot week coming later. I’m 66, I can’t pack and sweat at the same time.

Ironic I know. We are moving to Florida in August and I’m complaining about Michigan heat. Al and I have talked about if this is some kind of sign. But we do have a little home in Florida, so it’s somewhere to go, even if we decide not to stay there. I think we’ll stay. That’s the plan. Our way of working is to have a plan but be flexible. So while our little condo is in St. Pete, our stuff (for me, books; for Al, tools, for both of us, a few pieces of treasured furniture) is mostly in storage here in Michigan. Because the little St Pete condo has all we need, but not all we want. We will be looking for a new place once we get down there…well, maybe we’ll take a long road trip first, from Florida to Seattle. I have not seen my grandkids in almost two years!

Next weekend, we are going to see Ben, who lives with his parents and dog Sunny in northern Michigan, right at the tip of the lower peninsula. It’s about four and a half hours from here, so we see Ben more than our Seattle grandchildren. We are planning to see them all every summer once we relocate to our new (yet to be found) perfect home. Next weekend, we will miss Bosco, who was my first granddog and came before any grandchildren or other granddogs, passed on to dog heaven a few days ago. I’m glad Ben has Sunny. This is a first dog death in the family. It’s hard. Dogs are so loyal and cuddly. We will miss you, Bosco.

I really did mean this post to be about scene sequences, but you see how life is happening at warp speed just now. At first, I had the idea for a scene: Jane spying on four guys playing poker. One of them, she is sure, is the murderer. But then I thought, oh I need to set that scene up a couple different ways first. Sort of lay the foundation. Build the tension slow. Which is why I have three scenes, not one. And they are called a “scene sequence” because they all relate to Jane trying to catch a killer. The first thing I had to do was watch a YouTube video on poker as I knew nothing about it. Then, long overdue, I had to research Florida shrubbery. And after about five hours, I had my new scenes.

I read them over. They’re rough. They need work. But that’s what revision is for.

Contained Chaos Ensues

We sold our home in three days; lucky for me I didn’t have to keep the place pristine for very long. The buyers are a lovely couple who have agreed to let us stay until mid-August, so I think maybe amid the chaos I may continue to try to write my novel. Or at least fit in one more scene before we split town. It works to my benefit to keep my writing tools close to hand until the very end. People who are 66 years old, or at least some of them, accumulate a lot of stuff, which they, or okay I, nonchalantly decide I don’t want most of anyway. Ha!

The two or three boxes of books has turned into six and those are just the ones going into storage until we find our next good home, which will be big enough to hold these things that just won’t fit into our little St. Pete getaway. So into a storage unit most of it goes. Into the car we shall pack our usual assortment of clothing, minus winter coats and boots and sweaters. Those we will leave for the Estate Sale ladies to deal with, as they have ensured me they are very happy to do. They even sell unopened food. These Estate Sale gals have made the moving process much easier. Whatever we don’t want, they’ll sell. Whatever they can’t sell, they’ll donate. And then they’ll clean the house for the new owners. We’ll already be gone.

That I have the luck to be able to write a few more times in between the sorting and boxing owes much to these ladies. Meanwhile this big scene in Jane.2 has been growing, shooting out pretty flowers inside. I know I need to write it now. Or soon. For sure before we leave this place for good. Yes I’ll miss my writing room, but I’ll miss my family and friends more! As for missing a room, I do mostly write on a chair with my laptop, which I can do almost anywhere. This “ardent coral” room is for all the else, some of it practical like a printer and paper clips, most of it inspirational, like my books. I knew I was going to keep the complete collections of my favorite authors of fiction: Anne Tyler, Alice Hoffman, Erica Jong, Louise Erdrich, Barbara Kingsolver, Sara Lewis and Margaret Atwood.

Turns out, I forgot my favorite non-fiction writer: Anne LaBastille. And my lone male short story writer: Raymond Carver. He comes along with Alice Munro and Carol Shields. Then there are the poets and the Zen philosophers. But I ruthlessly cut myself off with one box there. Oh and I had to add Laurie Colwin, who died way too young. She wrote fiction and two cookbooks. Her stories were a big deal to me back in the day. I want to revisit her.

Except for the writing books, those I’m using as research for this book (here’s a hint: Frida Kahlo) will wedge into the loaded southbound vehicle with Al and I and our electronics. The few other favorite “How to Write” books, several of them by script doctor/screenwriter Linda Seger, I will store for use on the next book.

We are taking this a step at a time and I may be nuts to think I can actually write a book while relocating twice. Well, maybe only once. We are thinking we will stay in our little jewel in St Pete six months or maybe a year. Al is my guiding star with this as he knows all about the economics of the housing market these days. I couldn’t do this without him, but then I don’t think I would have ever been able to write a book without him. All you need is love. And books.