Thursday, August 25, 2011

My Library - The Dream of Dreams

We have a big, useless, extra living room in the front of our house which, along with couches, holds our formal dining room (in five years, used maybe twice), and an old pirate-toothed broken-keyed piano that has been in the family for sixty years. The room always depressed me. I wished it was part of a bigger garage rather than a mish-mash homage to my poor decorating skills.

Two weeks ago, I ran into a cousin I hadn't seen since we were young children. Our local library has two computers in the kids section and two cute little boys were waiting patiently for their turn, as their pretty mother sat across from me. I was ninety percent sure it was her, so I just took a gamble and said, "I think I know you..."

After a lovely chat and some understatements on how our family is not that close (although in distance, many of us live in a twenty mile radius), she invites me and my boys to her home for a swim date, and also invited her equally lovely sister who has two young children as well.

What does this have to do with my extra-appendage living room? Well, it has more to do with what my cousin did with her home. She took a 1970's previously-yucky ranch home and turned it into the pages of Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware; and she did it all with reclaimed items from craig's List that she refinished herself. Even with two boys under five, she has a white couch that is still white. And the kids do actually sit on it!

It struck me that most of my decorating woes have come from the fact that I hate to spend money on decorator items because the costs add up so fast, and honestly, I really have no idea what I'm doing. Of my naturally occurring skills, decorating and gardening know-how fall pretty far down on the list, I am sorry to say. But when I came home from the visit, I became feverishly inspired by her can-do, do-it-yourself, reasonably priced attitude and decided to take on my house.

The big useless living room was getting a makeover.

My decorating guardian angel must have heard me, thrilled by my actual interest in determination at last. Not long afterwards, I was with my neighbor at a neat, upscale resale shop in town (Treasure Traders) when I was shown the rug. Rolled up in the back was a 9X9 foot round, hand tufted, wool rug - gorgeous and new, valued at 1500$ - for only 200$. My neighbor was nice enough to let me bring it home in her truck (the thing weighs a ton and still hung over the tailgate a few feet) and my husband was nice enough not to freakout with the surprise purchase that I didn't even consult him on.

All the junk I didn't like in the living room got pulled off the walls and removed from the nick-nack tables. We unfurled the gorgeous rug in the middle of the room as my kids ran circles around its perimeter. Then I began to understand. This lame living room, my rug told me, isn't a living room at all - it's your library.

 All my life I have dreamed of having miles of bookshelves, filled to the brim, and a place to sit in comfortable peace and read until my eyes blur. Now I have an actual vision.

And I am ready to 'Make it so'.

Star Trek TNG fans will get it. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Memory Lane - You Know you are Old School San Marcos When...

We had an airport in SM?

Over the past week, viral nostalgia has taken over my Facebook page. One of my old high school classmates signed me up for a group called You Know You are Old School San Marcos When...(fill in the blank). So without knowing it, I started to get at least one hundred emails a day from fellow "Old School" San Marcians (?) trying to one-up each other with their memories of days gone by in the town where I grew up and still live today.

At first it was addictive - lot's of "Oh yeah, I remember that!" as memories long past rose to the top again. Then it became redundant as people posted things someone else already remembered (yeah, we already covered that the dairy used to have cows...). And then it became almost annoying with memory tid-bits of stuff like this: You remember Joe Schmoe driving his blablabla down the street. Really?

Well, I took myself off the auto emails, but now and again, pop onto that page for a look. The feeling of community, of a group that I really do belong to since I am a life long San Marcian (going with it) feels pretty warm and fuzzy. I never knew I liked this place so much or had so many invisible kindred town spirits.

Lots of other groups like this have sprouted up on FB, so if you are interested, look up your old hometown and see if a group exists and enjoy the ride to the past.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Writing and Road Trips...

Writing is a fickle friend...and not really someone you wan't to take with you on a family road trip.
On the Road...literally. This is a freeway onramp in Utah. Not too busy, obviously. 

Recently I went on a great road trip with my parents, kids and younger brother (sweet husband had to work), and of course I brought my handy-dandy notebook (is that a trademarked line? probably) with the thought of lots of possible writing time in the more than forty hours planned riding in the car throughout the trip.

So this should be no shock, but I wrote nothing. Squat. Nada. Thinking that I may have down time to let the words flow, the opposite happened and I ended up in a battle of Pocket Frogs on the IPhone with my fifteen year old bro. We bred some rad frogs, but somehow I feel like that time could've been used a little more wisely in the writing department.

Awww, yeah!

With the wide expansive desert around and the endless freeways ahead, the words inside just turned up their noses at me and said in their best Garbo impression, "Vee are on vacation too! Leave us ALONE" and threw up their graceful right hand to shoo me away. Maybe the proximity of the other six people in the car, maybe my two year old complaining about his loose earphones every three to five minutes, maybe the allure of gambling fake coins on breeding awesome fake frogs on an iPhone just wasn't a fertile mix for writing.

A Huck Finn moment in the river
Solitude, of course, is the environment for me in a perfect writing world...why did I think a family road trip would be anything like that? Well, truth be told, I kinda figured things would work out this way - I didn't really expect any brill writing to come out of me during those ten days, but hope springs eternal. I'll keep dragging along my notebooks just in case!

In fully experiencing the time on the road, at our destinations and with my family, I think those moments will flavor my writing in the future.

And look at that, I've already found writing inspiration from our trip for this blog ;).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Short Story Contest - No Entry Fee

Money, money, money....

I wanted to share this link to a short story contest with no entry fee: The Short Story

Top prize is 300 pounds sterling, which would be pretty awesome. The only caveat is this:  By submitting your work to The Short Story you grant them first serial rights and the right to archive your work online for an indefinite period of time. You retain all other rights.

If I enter my Dreamcatcher story and happen to win by some chance, I wonder if the win will affect any of the other contests I am currently waiting on (not that I am expecting to win those either, but you know, that IS the point/goal). The chances are so slim, I think I'm just gonna submit. If a miracle occurs and I become a finalist one place or another, I will withdraw from the other competitions. Whoever wants me first can have me! 

Anyone else up for submitting a short story???

Friday, July 8, 2011

Writing Songs - Poems and Flash Fiction set to Tunes

At Hensley's Carlsbad, CA

I am in a band called The Hillside Music Club, and our guitarist suggested that maybe we should write some original songs. Well, it's another thing I never thought I would be able to do, but when I started to think of story telling through music, the words just started coming. Some songs are like flash fiction where you get a real sense of story in just a few lyrics and the others are similar to poems. So far I am up to about seven decent songs that need tunes, so we are working on that next. Maybe this is how I'll finally make some money writing ;).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Comments - Screw the Advice

Yeah, even the bad comments are welcome. 

So I read a popular writer's blog post that said most people will not give your blog any credit if they can see that you have meager comments, etc. So even though it is hard to do, fledgling bloggers should dump the comment box and showing of small amounts of followers until the blog is bigger and more popular.

So in case the few of you who read my blog have noticed, that is what I did - I lost the comment box. And you know what? It sucks. I loved each and every comment I ever got on any of my blogs, and removing that aspect (though the comments were not copious by any means...but who cares???) has made the blogging I've been doing pretty hollow. I MISS my few little comments!

So in a huge FU to that stupid advice, I am going to put my comment box back on, and expecting NOTHING, I will wait for the fancy to strike one of you at any point in time and relish in your thoughts.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Writing Contests - Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest 2011

"With a little help from my friends..."
About a month ago,  a few of my wonderful friends and family helped me through the writing, editing, and revising process for my short story about an old widower and a young single mother called The Dreamcatcher. In the course of a week, about a hundred emails and revisions became my life, and it was one of the best weeks I've ever had.

You know why? Not only were my friends and family amazing at pointing out both the positive bits and the parts that needed strengthening, but in the short course of a few days, I had created a whole world, realistic characters, and a complete short story along side my friends and family. Though the work is mine, little bits of some of my favorite people are in there too.

In my writing life goal, here is my strategy: first, write short stories - get a few really good ones and submit the hell out of them for short story contests. Second - win said contests. Third - apply lessons learned in my short story writing to strengthen my novel writing/process (working title of current novel, Dark Stardust). Fourth - write at least two more novels and then start the next phase of perusing publication. Fifth - never be disappointed, the process is the prize.

So since I am still in the first phase of  my plan, I looked at my short story again the other day and did yet another draft/revision. It's amazing how you can see so many things to improve upon after letting a piece rest out of sight for a while. I submitted it originally to the Writer's Digest Fiction Contest, and just yesterday to the Good Housekeeping Fiction Contest.

The Writer's Digest one cost $25 stinking bucks that I am guessing I will never see again, but I have to credit that contest with lighting the fire under my butt and forcing me to write my first solid short story. The Good Housekeeping one was FREE! So I encourage all my writing pals to give it a go: Click this link for the Good Housekeeping contest!

Good luck my dears!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

What's the Story - Picture Story Prompt: Elvis Presley and Sofia Loren

Let's say it together, 1,2,3...SEXY! They get my vote for two of the most beautiful people to ever share a picture frame (click on the pic for an enlarged version...go ahead, its worth it).

How did the dialogue between Elvis and Sofia go?  Of course it would have been heavily accented in southern twang and rolling Italian 'r's - but maybe they didn't even have to say much...they wouldn't need too...just look and laugh and look some more. Pretty good views either way.

Unlike my last post about the 97 year old author Lilian Jackson Braun, on how a person's writing and perspective improves with age - good looks like these don't last much more than the time it takes for the shutter to flash. These people existed in an instant of time together, so damn beautiful.

What's my point? Enjoy the now, drink it all in and live; take risks and silly, playful pictures; take continual mental notes and write about your beautiful moments- make them live on forever in print.

I don't know. I just wanted to share these beautiful people in this beautiful moment with you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Cat Who - Author Lilian Jackson Braun

Penguin Group (USA), via Associated Press
Lilian Jackson Braun
I never read even one page of Lillian Jackson Braun's mystery books with titles that always featured the phrase 'The Cat Who,' but my grandma did. As a kid, I remember seeing grandma's signature bookmark of a tissue (unused...I'm pretty sure at least...) to hold the page in plenty of those paperback books.

 I never had the desire to read those books, and still don't, but I liked that a cat was part of each plot somehow. Even though I don't want to read the mystery series of Lilian Jackson Braun, I sure would love to read more about her and her life.
This one has something to do with UFO's I think

Lillian Jackson Braun died this last week at age 97. Each of her twenty-nine Cat mystery books were written longhand over the past 41 years.

You know what I love about that? The first book she published in this series happened when she was 56. It's never too late to write, and I have a feeling, the more experience and observations we make over the years of our lives, the more we have in us to genuinely, honestly write.

So many other career possibilities pass by with age, but writing celebrates it, uses it, and turns it into a treasure.

Here is the link to the article about Lilian Jackson Braun in the New York Times if you are interested in reading more about her.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Quotes and Pictures -

picture from 364 quotes

There is something about a smart little quote and an appropriate picture to got along that just satisfies the heck outta me. I found this blog 364quotes, which gives you a different quote and pic each day of the year except January 1st.It looks like the author of this blog just started to do the images, before she just presented a quote a day.  Check it out if you are a quote/picture-o-phile like me ;-)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cats are Better for Writing, Dogs are Better for Reading

There's a pretty clear definition between cat and dog people (of course some of you out there are just animal lovers in general), but I fall into the cat fan-hood. I found this picture of Hemingway with a cat that looks like my beloved ol' Maine Coon named Tino who died a few years ago. That cat could do tricks like a dog - he was so darn smart. I just loved him so much and he was so cool, that I had to put him in my work in progress book, Dark Stardust, under the pseudonym of Carl (yes, he is named for Carl Sagan). 

There's Marley and Me (which I haven't read) about a labrador I think - that has to be the most famous animal/human story of recent years...what about cat stories? Are there any? Cat's usually aren't doing the crazy stuff people love dogs for - they kinda just hang out and act cool (or crazy depending on the cat). That doesn't add up to much of a plot, does it? Dogs make better protagonists (or foils for protagonist humans in most cases). The Call of the Wild (which I have read and loved) is a perfect example of great dog lit. 

But what better animal is there to hang out with on a rainy day, typing away at the keyboard? Sorry dog fans, but I'll have to go with Hemingway on that one - a cat and a corked bottle of wine at hand worked for him. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Moveable Feast - Read it First

"If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast."

In a previous post I mentioned that I was reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast while waiting for The Paris Wife from the massive list of people ahead of me at the library. Now there is a waiting list for A Moveable Feast, so I feel quite pleased with myself for getting to it first (ha ha! as the bully from the Simpson's would say).

I finished reading the book a few days ago - it ranks pretty high up there on the interesting scale for me. The writing is strange at times, the book lacks flow and the stories he tells in the book don't have any cohesive plot or anything (and a few parts are totally skip worthy - too much info about horse racing, a la Moby Dick and the sections detailing whale blubber).

Hemingway wrote the book about Paris of the 1920's in the 1950's and it was published after his death. I wondered if it was found unfinished, or still in draft form, but I eventually came to the conclusion that this memoir ebbed and flowed like our memories do.
Paris 1925
We don't remember things in a linear way, one thought leads to another and they don't have to be connected in any otherwise logical way. Reading A Moveable Feast is like floating inside his memory, feeling and seeing and moving in tandem, as a part of Hemingway.

Since I read the book with the story of his wife, Hadley, in mind (the author wrote The Paris Wife after being inspired by their relationship in A Moveable Feast), every mention of her stuck out. The funny thing about it is, there aren't all that many mentions of her. Hadley, and even more so their son Bumby (who he mentions they left with the family cat from time to time as a babysitter), are very peripheral characters in the book.

When he does talk about her it's always lovely, how wonderful their relationship is, pure and right, then he pulls immediately back and says something like "We didn't know this wouldn't be like that forever" but in a more Hemingway kinda way. The very last chapter, almost like an apology or afterthought, he finally comes clean on what happens to their relationship (I won't spoil it, don't worry), but it is so quick and detached and almost too painful for him to even remember. He left it last for a reason.

That too recalls back to the way we remember - the painful things tend to always be looming on the periphery, and when we do have to relive them, it can be hurried and awkward - just brushing the surface of the reality behind the pages and pages of hurt.

Reading the first few chapters of The Paris Wife on my Kindle, I am so glad I read A Moveable Feast first, and recommend anyone interested to follow suit.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Inside the Mind and My Protagonist's Powers

If I could only see inside your brain!
The point of reading a book is to inhabit another person, another world, intimately and more completely than we can ever do in real life. You get to hear people's thoughts, get justification for actions, insight into wishes and dreams - stuff that usually gets kept inside the secret mind space.

The main character in my book, working title Dark Stardust, can't read minds per se, but she can see secrets - things people tuck away for no one else to see or know about. Cat sees and uses that information when she needs to as a defense or to understand another person's true intentions.

As her story gets more complicated, Cat starts to manifest new powers and abilities that she never had before. She struggles with these new abilities, but as they make her more valuable to the people around her, Cat feels uncomfortable with being a part of anything. She has been isolated her whole life and has no idea how to interact in personal relationships.

I bet she wishes a power would manifest to deal with that problem. What kind of powers would you choose if you could have your choice?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Apostrophe Abuse - Something Funny to a Very Select Audience: Writers, Teachers, and Word Nerds

You know you are a Word Nerd when misplaced apostrophes tickle your funny bone. If you fit this definition, Apostrophe Abuse will brighten your day. Seriously people - some of these are just cringe worthy.

*Full Disclosure: I am a Word Nerd.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Alpha Readers, Beta Readers - Gotta Have them Both

I love the Writing Excuses Podcast - Brandon, Dan and Howard, three published best seller-authors chat for fifteen minutes on one particular aspect of writing per episode (their podcast is on iTunes and their blog is linked in my bloglist). Last week they covered Alpha readers and writing groups.

Good Alpha readers are hard to find, and when you do find them, don't let them go. The requirements include:

1. An ability to see your broad view, character and story archs.
2. They offer suggestions that make your story better, while still letting it be your story. Some Alphas may want to  change your story into something they would prefer to read, rather than helping you refine what you already wrote.
3. These are not proof readers - they should be able to ignore the little mistakes in order to focus on the main points of your story.
4. Their criticism and questions help improve your story.

Since I am new to this whole process, and I have two amazing Alpha readers in Kristen Bower and Sara McBride, I think I hit the lottery. I'm not letting them go! As for Beta readers, I am hoping I have a few of those willing to read my story after my drafting is done (someday...).

What's different about a Beta reader? These are the people who read your story after the Alphas have helped you guide your glob of ideas into a coherent, possibly brilliant, novel. Beta readers can point out grammar, syntax, spelling errors, and passive voice if they see it. They might be helpful at wordsmithing various sentences and paragraph to punch up the writing in general. They are the ones getting the full punch of your twists and turns, they are the ones who see the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I Told my Story

A few days ago I told the guts of my entire story to my mom and grandma. It was the first time I had ever verbalized the whole thing, and caught myself saying, "Well, this is where it gets a little complicated," more times than I wanted to. It was a strange experience, almost like I had blurted out every secret I ever had over the course of the day (it took a while to tell the story, mostly in bursts between our other activities and inevitable interruptions from my little ones). Was it good enough? Had I eliminated some of the spark inside of me by getting it all out there, or was I more clear in my vision?

On Easter, I started telling my lovely cousin, Ashley, my story and this time, it came out more clearly I think. Since I cannot write for hours on end like I want too, I think verbalizing the story helps me clarify plot lines and characters. It may, also, just a little, take a bit of the magic out of me. I have decided to keep the rest of my story to myself at this point, hoping that my family will want to read it and find a few surprises when they do.

This is my first experience with taking on the challenge of writing a novel. The complexity of the process is fascinating, and overwhelming, and lovely, and gut wrenching. Frankly, I can't believe how much I love it.

I am so grateful to everyone who is supporting me in this process! Thank you!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Writing Resources - Top 101 Best Websites for Writers

My wonderful friend and fellow writer, Sara McBride, did me a great favor. She gave me a gift subscription to an inspiring and helpful magazine, Writer's Digest. This month, they had an article with the 101 Best Websites for Writers, and it is incredible.

I recently opened an email account for my writing where I can get all my information and newsletters on the craft in one place. I went to the Writer's Digest page, signed up for their newsletter, and as a bonus, they sent a digital copy of their website list that is clickable.

 I totally recommend any of my writer pals to check it out - fabulous resources!

My favorite site, which also had the most recommendations for this list from readers, is Funds for Writers. The weekly newsletter written by C. Hope Clark has wonderful advice which is followed by numerous paid gigs and contests for writing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Distractions, Dinosaurs and Angry Birds

"Guess what mom? A bubble just came outta my nose! That was awesome!" Teo, 4 1/2 years old says, looking up from the iphone with Angry Birds music blasting from the little speaker.

"I wanna do Dino Dan on your computer," Lex, sitting on my lap reaches for the mouse, "I wanna do Dino Dan on your computer!" He reaches his dinosaur's tail to tap the keyboard. "I am falling down! I am falling down! I wanna do angry birds on your phone! I'm falling down, I'm falling down! It's my turn!" Lex, nearly 3 really wants to play Dino Dan.

This is what I am hearing while trying to type some brilliant blog post.

"Angry bird, angry bird, angry bird. I wanna do Dino Dan on your computer! Please me do Dino Dan on your computer!" Lex says before I remove him from my lap, and he starts screaming.

Every word struggles, and each one that reaches the page has to navigate through a maze of Dino Dan and the musical stylings of Angry Birds.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Comic Character - What is Funny?

Funny is not easy. I am at the point in my story where the 'funny guy' comes into play and I find myself stretched. I don't consider myself naturally funny. At all. How do you come up with witty retorts and comic dialogue when it doesn't come naturally? There is a fine line between funny and annoying or crass.

Also, since it is a character from another world, I know I need to be careful with any cultural references. He wouldn't be making any jokes about Charlie Sheen, obviously (not that I would ever do that anyway). So what is funny and how do you do it?

Any thoughts from my funny friends out there? I'll happily borrow your funny.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Moveable Feast - How Hemingway Did It

I love magazines - they are so easy to read, taking much less attention and commitment than books. Read what interests you and leave the rest - an easy accomplishment. Last month, one of my lady magazines (not sure if it was Good Housekeeping or Redbook) had a book excerpt from the new book, The Paris Wife. I had already heard about the book - it's getting a lot of buzz.

Can't wait to read more of this book...

Told in first person in the voice of Hemingway's first wife Hadley, the little chunk got me right away. The charismatic, handsome, idealistic young rogue was nothing like the cranky, depressed, angry Hemingway that I always conceptualized him as. He was young, madly in love, and they were in Paris. I put in my request at the library, and I am number 168, or something, in line to get the book. Guess I will have to wait a while for the rest of the story.

Barns and Noble had a little video interview with the Author, Paula McLain. She had written her first book, gotten published, and had no idea what to do for her second book - she found herself bone dry for ideas. She decided to reread A Moveable Feast by Hemingway - his memoir of being a young man in Paris from about 1920 to 1925, and became inspired by the relationship between the young married couple. She didn't even need to invent any plot, since the true story was so compelling.

Before the 'Crank'
I put my request in to the library for A Moveable Feast, and didn't have to wait in line at all for it. What a compelling book - I am munching away at it like a flaky croissant. Half way through it at least, I am really enjoying Hemingway more than I ever have before (although I did like The Sun Also Rises quite a lot in College, but The Old Man and the Sea in High way. Should give it another read I guess).

Of course I am a sucker for truth, for reality, for memoir and real people, oh and also for 1920's Paris too.

What a dreamy cover. I want a poster of this...
So here's the writing bit that I found interesting. Hemingway worked everyday in a little room in Paris, writing until he knew what was going to happen next in his story and stopping there. He knew he was done when he had something more to say the next day, never letting the well completely run dry. Then he would do everything possible to not think about writing until the next day, letting his unconcious deal with the story, allowing the spring to refill the well, ready to write again later.

I seem to have more time to think than write. As I type, my boys are throwing pillow bombs at me. So it is time to sign off and let the well fill, and fill and maybe flow over. Guess the words in my head will get all that water someday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Reading Fix

No zombies needed, thanks. 
Being a mom of two little ones, I don't have the luxury to read like I used to (those were the days). Instead of hours with a book, I find little cracks of time here and there to get my reading fix. I recently got a Kindle, which I adore, but like regular books, don't have too much time to hang out with it. I did recently put the Kindle app on my smartphone, however, and while I wait for my little one to fall asleep, I am using it to read Pride and Prejudice for the first time (I know, it took me a while to get to it...).

So if you don't have a Kindle, but do have a smartphone, I highly suggest getting that free app because along with it comes a treasure trove of free public domain classics. As they say, the more we read, the better we write...right?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Villains and the Muppets

Villans. I have been working on a particularly nasty grandmother in my W.I.P, Dark Stardust, and it has been an interesting walk towards making her who she is. Do I make her so evil her eyes seem to shoot laser beams? Do I take the more subtle, passive aggressive route to amplify her motives/feelings? 

I spent many hours of my childhood with those four dudes in the picture above. Four horrible, awful villains - characters of abuse and horror. They also happened to be Muppets (so I guess that made it all ok). On a side note, I have no idea why so much of children's programming is terrifying to children, even today. 

So, we had this video disk player and I played the Muppet Musicians of Bremen over and over. And over. These guys abused their animals in terrible ways - the fat one even wanted to eat his animal. OH and they were also some kinda band of thieves. Lots of scary close ups of those dudes later,  the animals get their revenge in the end (literally for one of the meanies). 

A real villain has to have a motive - a reason to be awful. Truth be told, everyone thinks they are justified in their actions, no matter how horrible. I remember a story about Al Capone - he said he was doing the community a service by providing jobs. Justification. There are always two sides to every story, especially with villains. 

(Let's look at this clip from Caleb Siles view point - that cat isn't doing much to control the rat population! She deserves to be thrown out for dancing and singing with the vermin!)

A big thank you to Kristen Bower, an incredible writer of The Vesuvius Isotope, a brilliant story that I absolutely love (her W.I.P), for helping guide me towards the much more vile subtle Grandmother Catherine. 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Paint it Purple Blogfest

Whoa, my first blogfest ever! I am very excited to participate in the Paint it Purple blogfest held by  Erin Kane Spock, author of the Hold On To Your Bloomer's blog and Elizabethan era historical romance.

Since I am new, please forgive any newby mistakes!

The premise:
1) Post a short segment (a paragraph or two, really no more than 100 words) of your work-in-progess.

2) Paint it purple with enough metaphors, similes, and poetry to gag the most die hard beatnik.  This version is sure to be much longer than you original work (hence the word limit for the first selection).  Feel free to run wild, spitting in the face of good taste, genre norms, and Occam's razor.

Here is a pre-purple paint paragraph from my work-in-progress (with a work-in-progress title of Dark Stardust), told in first person by the seventeen year old protagonist, Cat. Her dreaded dress is lavender, so this passage seemed fitting for Paint it Purple. 

      Five minutes until the wedding. I took a deep breath and looked at the dress again. It was only a dress, right? I could put it on, I thought. It seemed like a simple act, a seemingly easy decision, but it pulled my mind into the abyss of a hundred caves of thought. I slowly changed into the lavender strappy tangle of a dress, catching it several times on the army of bobby pins warring with my hair. A pair of matching dress sandals rested in their box - obviously meant for me. I pushed them back in their place and left them on the dressing room table. Looking up I caught my reflection in the mirror - wondering for a moment, who is that girl?

Bring on the purple paint version:

    Five minutes until the dreaded wedding. I took a long, deep breath, like a passenger on the sinking Titanic just one moment before hitting the icy surface of the sea, and forced myself to look at the dress again. It was only a stupid, ridiculously-not-me-dress, right? I could put it on, I thought, wading through the sticky globs of molasses in my mind. It seemed like a simple act, a seemingly easy decision, but it blasted my mind into the abyss of a hundred thousand caves of thought. I slowly changed into the lavender strappy tangle of a dress, each moment lasting an eternity of eternities. The straps seemed to grow mischievous fingers, pulling and catching endless times on the army of bobby pins warring with my hair. A pair of matching lavender sandals rested pleasantly in their box, like two pretty little corpses, meant for me to wear with the dreadful dress. I pushed them back in their place, a little too forcefully - and left them on the dressing room table like a plate of grey-green broccoli.  Looking up I caught my unfamiliar reflection in the mirror - wondering for a split second, who is that creature? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Right Time to Write

Ok, so maybe the pun is a little silly, but throughout my life, the utopian "right time" to write just hasn't existed. Well, maybe when I was eleven years old, stuck at my parent's office after school each day, writing my mystery series starring Detective Ready (oh, to be bored again...sigh.).  But certainly not anytime recently, with university (even though I was a writing major...huh...), the teaching career, and now raising two little boys (four and two) taking the heavy load of time in my life.

The writing seed, resilient like a weed, kept trying to grow throughout my life. Too bad I am such a terrible gardener. The lovely little seedlings that managed to sprout, routinely got trampled, or pulled prematurely, or simply just neglected after they became too needy. Writing is so needy - it takes so much brain power, enveloping the writer in heavy blankets of whip quick hours, tapping on the keyboard.

In the five or so minutes I spent writing down these quick thoughts this morning, my two year old came to me crying over some offense his brother committed, our huge OUTDOOR dog Tex ran through the house with wet paws from the morning mist, being let in by the four year old intent on doing his 'chore' of putting the dog in and out of the garage, and again by the two year old demanding his juice. The sun had barely come up, and no more than half of page longhand was allowed to come through the pen to pad.

How can anything worthy or clever come out of me when the ambient input drowns out my whispering writing mind? I need volume control.

A few lines more get written on the page when my two year old finishes his juice and starts mimicing Darth Vader with the dribbles of liquid left at the bottom of the cup, and my four year old discovers daddy's hazelnut cookie stash, the ones he had been snacking on while watching t.v. after they finally went to bed. So the little boys and I take a cookie break at six a.m. - why not.

I really feel sorry for my writing seedlings - they have been living in a tough neighborhood inside of me, but maybe this tough little seed has finally had its fill of being neglected - like Audrey 2 from Little Shop of Horrors, demanding blooood.

So when is the right time to write? There isn't one time any better than the rest - the challenges will always come around, so why not make now the right time at last?