I pulled out the wool socks last night.

I saw a forecast early yesterday that predicted overnight lows at 34 degrees. Yesterday was cold and rainy and I believed we could get that low. I was cold and as soon as I got home from work I snuggled into wool socks, long pants, a knit sweater, and wrapped up in a warm blanket. Of course, I had to shed all my layers when I went to bed and I shivered between cold sheets for what seemed like all night. Oh, yes. I was sure we had bumped up against the freezing mark overnight.

Reality is that it only got down to 45 degrees last night. In fact, the temperature barely changed during the day from the high of 50 degrees. Going into winter that seems cold, and after experiencing lows in the low 70s and high 60s for weeks, it is cold. When we get on the other side of winter after temperatures have been -10 or lower for weeks, 45 degrees for a day’s high, much less the low temperature, is positively summerish. It all depends on your perspective.

The cold forecast altered my reality. I let prediction lead me to believe it was colder than it was. The mind is amazingly pliable when reason is absent. As authors, we take advantage of this in our stories. As with the theater, there is a willing suspension of disbelief when a reader opens a fictional novel. Writers can gently lead readers, or throw them like logs on a fire, into the lives of their characters to the point they are living that life with the character. I admire skilled authors who can lead you into another “world” that seems so real that at times it is difficult to shake it off and re-enter the actual world.

One of the best stories I’ve ever read for sucking me into another life was “ … And the Ladies Club” by Helen Hooven Santmyer. It is a novel that takes you into the lives of a group of ladies from the time they graduate school until their deaths. The book is like 8-inches thick, but reading the story was never a chore for me. It was more like visiting with dear and old friends. Mrs. Santmyer also is my hero because this novel was first published when she was 80 years old. It gives me hope I may someday have a published novel.

To that end, I got a new computer. It’s kind of hard for me to call it a computer as it is such a little and light laptop. I got my old laptop when we gave up on desktops about 10 years ago. It is a heavy duty business-grade machine because I still wanted gobs of memory and power to store and edit photographs. It has a 17-inch screen and I think it weighs seven pounds. The second battery I’ve put in it is wearing out, so it constantly has to be plugged in. It’s a relic. The Snake River Writer’s Conference is next week and I really wanted something I could take with me that wasn’t clumsy and awkward. My new laptop fits the bill exactly. It is little – just a 14-inch screen – and so light I barely know that I’m holding it. The new lap top will be my writing computer, but I’m keeping the old warhorse for pictures.

If I was Titan, my Huskey/Collie mix two-year -old dog, the excitement building for the writing conference would have me prancing from paw to paw, turning a circle, prancing some more, much like he does as we’re getting ready to go out for a walk. We have the schedule of events and I have my appointment time with the guest literary agent, Mr. Jim McCarthy of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret of New York. Friday, 10:18 a.m. I’m prancing just thinking about it. The good news is if you are in or close to Idaho Falls, you, too, can attend the conference. It was moved to a larger venue so there still is space available. Just go to the Snake River Writers Conference group on Facebook and you can register.

Everyone is going to the same workshop session, so we all will be learning and growing together. There are workshops on character development and novel arc, timing and perspective, voice and mood. There are others that look more at the publishing and business side of writing and one entitled “Save the Cat.” Some people who are going to the conference apparently have saved the cat in the past, but are happy to save it again. Others know of Save the Cat in book form and the sequel, “Save the Cat Writes a Book.” It sounds like it has something to do with outlining, and I can’t wait to find out. I’m sure by the end of the conference, I’ll have some great experience and a wealth of new knowledge, including how to draw readers into the lives of my characters.

Well, it’s a fall Saturday and that means it’s time to make salsa, so I’d better get after it. Stay warm and dry and enjoy the read,

T C Robinson

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