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Showing posts from May, 2010

Grace

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Here is a photo with so much meaning—layers and layers—that it's almost overwhelming to look at. Yet the subject is so very simple no one on earth could possibly be confused.
Immortalized forever by famous photographer Dorothea Lange, we see a woman with dirt all over her face, frayed clothes, weathered skin, baby in her arms and children leaning on her tired shoulders. Yet she still has the dignity, the grace, to hold her hand to her face in such a delicate way. There is a beauty in her stoicism, and a real physical beauty in her classic features. No one is to know the depth of her poverty.
When I look at this picture, I feel tired and sad. But I also feel the love this woman has for her children, and the undying need she most likely possess to protect their innocence. I want her to succeed. I want to give her comfort. And I want her children to be clean and to be fed and to be happy.
How does this picture make you feel?


Makin' it Work

I've been having a rough time getting through a scene lately. But I know from past experience that there are one or two things happening which might be keeping me from moving on: I've either created too much and have lost control, or I have veered too far from the original plan with no hope of righting it anywhere in the book.
It takes me a couple of days before I can get over my frustration. Then my need to write takes over and I start to get strategic. One thing I have started to do is to write several versions of the scene and keep all extras in a Tidbit File. That way I can keep all the stuff I like without feeling as if I am losing anything. Ironically, I have found some of these non-working scenes to work later on and so I actually do end up using them in other parts of the book.
What works for you? Do you have a method that helps prevent or helps you dig yourself out of The Block?
Happy Memorial Day!

Before the Rain

This is what I'm listening to right now while putting away the dishes. Brook Benton recorded this song as well, but I like the slower version here with David Ruffin. I love it when he dips down into his lower register—great stuff!

First Memory

My first memory—the one that shoved me into life away from all the blurred images of infancy—was of my parents opening the door to our new split-level home on Franklin Street. We were moving from a flat-like town home to suburban bliss, complete with garage, basement and full backyard. I have no idea of why this memory should stick in my mind the way it did, except for the sight of my father who was so very tall—everyone said he was as tall as Abraham Lincoln—standing there in front of the door with key in hand, fumbling, cursing, ready to hit something or someone. When he finally managed to get the door open, a knot of fear relaxed in my three-year-old chest, and all of us that had been standing behind—my mother, my brother, sister, and I—stumbled into the dark shadows of the foyer.
There was much to be done. Things had to be moved in: mattresses with their skeleton frames, the big blue and green floral couch, boxes of clothes, dishes, all of Dad's film equipment, his bible,…

50's Saturday

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Wouldn't you love to take a ride in this beautiful car? A 1957 Chevy Bel Air. Sweet!



I get all riled up when I hear this man sing. He would have made a great preacher. Too bad about that dirty Rock'n'Roll music . . .




And here's the King. He had the fever in him too.




I had to have watched The Buddy Holly Story a million times in my early twenties. I love his songs and his residual spirit. I still get a little teary when I think of him being killed in that horrible plane crash out in a snowy field in Iowa in the dark of night. His wife Maria was pregnant, and upon hearing the horrible news, had a miscarriage. So sad.

People just looked so happy back in the 50's. Of course, these folks had a little beer to help things along. "Hi Phil!" "Hi Betty!" "What's with the girly robe, Phil?" "I don't know Betty. I just found it on the dark part of the beach next to a dead body, Betty." "Oh . . ." The lady…

More 70's anyone?

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I'm baaaack. More seventies stuff, baby.

The reps at the ad agency stayed up extra late trying to find a way to make these suits look cool. And it almost worked.
Really ladies? You're that peeved about not having better copy machines in your office? Guess who's gonna have to figure the damn things out . . . Nice signs though. I like the lady in the front—she's kind of fierce.
And now we know what the Burger King guy does when he's not making all those commercials. Go on, you smooth devil you.

I can't decide which shade of beige I like the best. Does anyone else get the feeling there was an orgy after the photo shoot? Dammit!

I remember the days of tanning like this. Okay, I just burned and got freckles. Nice promise in the ad though. How gullible were we back then?!

Oh! I know . . . How about you just wash your hair more often?

Guess I was too young, because I but don't remember the shampoo. But I like the ad and adore anything sunny and lemony. I&…

Nothing much . . . just this

I haven't seen this video in a long time. I forgot how much I love the raw, vulnerable quality in his voice.

Ideas on a Wednesday

The laundry is done, but the dishes are still waiting. Can't seem to ever get away from those dishes! I had a monster headache, but overall it was a nice day hanging out with the kids while they played in the sprinkler.
I was listening to Queen last night and thinking how cool it would be if I could get a tribute band together with me as a female Freddy Mercury. Wouldn't that be awesome?! I was singing Bohemian Rhapsody in the shower, and darnitt but I can belt out the notes—I'm serious. Okay, let's just face it, I'm dying to strut on stage. With all this writing going on, I have severely ignored that side of me which is the flashaholic. It's been several years since I got on stage, and I think it's high time I was in a band again. Back then, I was too serious, trying to make a name for myself and all of a sudden I have this fierce wild showperson inside that is just dying to come out. Probably won't happen, but I might see if I can get some guit…

Top Ten Non-Satirical Reasons Why I love My Book

10. The year is 1979, and I love the 70's.
9. The setting is Southern Indiana in the Ohio Valley, one of the prettiest areas in the U S of A.
8. My evil guys hide out in caves. Caves are spactastalistic.
7. I always dreamed of writing about a ghost-guy someday. And you know what? I did a darn fine job. William (Billy Joe Bennett) is my favorite character out of any I've ever read. I truly love him.
6. There's a 1972 SS Camaro in The Soul Seekers. Enough said.
5. When I feel down or in doubt about myself as a writer, I read my book and remember exactly why I love doing this.
4. As a child I experienced a little of what life is like in a religious cult. I think I made it accessible to the reader, but at the same time, larger than life.
3. I brought to life the very real feelings of isolation and loneliness in a small town setting. All of my characters have a flaw that they must overcome. And just like life, some don't, but their flaws make them human to the …

Top Ten Reasons Why An Agent Should Rep Me (aka my pathetic attempt to get past querying)

10. My book smells like patchouli
9. Tiger Woods read it, and he approves
8. The whole "vampire puttin' the moves on an innocent teen girl" thing is getting kinda old
7. Ghosts sparkle too
6. I need the cash
5. It is statistically known that people who don't get published are big losers (not really!)
4. I can pimp it like the ShamWow! guy
3. My books have the amazing power to cure the Swine Flu
2. Help prove to my family that I haven't been surfing the net all day
1. I'll just keep sending queries . . . forever

Slugs and Stuff

Last night, the kids went on a slug hunt. I know. GROSS. I kept telling Julia not to touch the darn things, but she, in her Julia way, would just look up at me and say,"Shhh. Don't talk." Little bugger. Liam would hold the flashlight in search of the slimy creatures, and when coming across one, would announce, "I got on! I got one!" That's when big sister would walk right over, pluck the thing off the ground and drop it into her slug bucket.
I didn't want any part of it, except to watch. I do love seeing them play like that—my kids, the slug hunters.
Okay, so I am pretty stressed about watching so many kids this summer and losing so much of my quiet time. I'll just . . . have to adjust. In many ways it will be good for me. Sometimes a little distraction can often spur creative thought, as Cro said last week. Once I get past the initial, OMG I'm exhausted stage, I'm hoping to find a flow of words that won't hide behind stress…

Just call me Mary Poppins

This summer I will be taking care of my niece and nephew, along with Julia and Liam. Let's just say I am already anticipating a drastic loss of writing time in my life, especially in the blogger world (which I can't seem to keep up with anyway). BUT, I am happy that all the kids will be together, and I have a lot of projects planned to make the days go by super fast.
One of the big projects is for the kids to write, direct and film their own movies. I know my nephew Tommy will love this. Rose will like the project if she can write about animals, and Julia adores Rose so they'll probably work together on that. Liam . . . oh lord. Liam is three and has a fit every five seconds now, it seems. Just had one—seven in the morning. Let's just say that the whole summer while I'm teaching art and helping the kids write and film, etc, my extra appendage called Liam Asher Lakota, will be clinging to my leg. That's fine. It's fine. I'M FINE.
Another thi…

Summer is Almost Here

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Why does summer hold so much expectation? Why does it melt, and take away all the stiff, harsh layers of winter with only one touch of its warm breeze? In summer, I can run free with bare feet and hair flying in braids. Fireflies circle through all the wild grass, and the whole earth buzzes; the locust; the cicada; the infant birds up in a nest; the frogs out in the ditch. Summer smiles down at me and begs for my release, so that there is no past between us, only now, with the clouds, and the coneflower and its buzzing bumblebee. Purple and gold; sweet and sting. Somewhere in the distance, a train rumbles by and I listen. Listen. Listen.

Beautiful Saturday

In yesterday's post, I think I came off sounding as if I hate to write, or that I somehow find it a chore. Don't hate it. At all. I love to write. Yes it is hard sometimes, but all things have their difficulty.
Over on Absolute Write there have been countless threads concerning whether a person should wait for inspiration to write. So, so many people have expressed their opinion that a true writer does not wait for inspiration, they plant their butts down in a chair and they get to work. No, it's not always fun, but I doubt that anyone would put any time into this craft if they did not love it. There's no real money, no fame, no round of applause after each finished chapter. A writers' true reward is the joy of creation and the knowledge that they, too—through hard work—are becoming better at their craft. I know I personally grew up writing, thinking, talking backwards and so it is a constant struggle. But I LOVE doing this, and am proud of what I have acc…

Writing is easy, writing is easy, writing is easy . . .

As I slowly merge into writing the second book again (put on hold back in January to revise the first) I can feel the tightening of my shoulders for all the words ahead, not yet written. Usually not one to give into writer's block, I nevertheless anticipate the finding of each string of words, one after the other, praying for a rush of thoughtless flow.
Have you ever been working on a scene and it was like pulling teeth? You get something down, then stop, think, erase, write it again . . . Painful, right? And yet, when I've written like that and then later gone back to check, it all read smooth. No one would ever know the long coffee-filled hours it took to produce only a few pages of text.
There's a word angel sitting over my shoulder advising me for or against every sentence. It's a good thing. A glorious thing. No more the innocent word scribbler, we struggling writers are scholars of good grammar and thoughtful construction.
But again, I haven't forgotte…

eRacing Negative Energy

It has just been one of those days. I feel drained and have nothing interesting to say. But this made me smile : ) I love you 1972 Camaro. I know I'm female and a mom and all that. But, seriously. I. Love. You.


Hmmmm . . .

Here's a question for my romance writing friends. Which one would you choose: one real night of hot, steamy sex (you get to write it) with your favorite character, or the promise of a having your book published by a dream publishing house in the next coming year?

Now

When I went through my introspective period these last few months, I thought so much about life and writing and art—everything. Some of us are just never complete I guess. That's why I love Carson McCullers so much, she was a lot like me, and was truly the kind of person that I can understand and, I wouldn't say model myself after, but I just feel close to her essence. Not to say that I can't appreciate all of the WONDERFUL writers around me. I love, LOVE being near and learning from all my literary friends. But I do think we naturally gravitate toward that which is similar. I understand McCullers—I feel her message: Loneliness. Heartache. Reaching out.
I wonder if that's why I love time travel stories so much, and ghosts. Neither one requires a person to completely attach themselves to society and yet, they can voyeuristically touch and experience everything they long for. I'll leave that for Freud to explain.
I think artists, and a good percentage of wr…

Snips and snails and invisible toys?

Thanks for the late-night query voting. I was too close to the project and needed some outside opinion and you guys came through. I'll probably erase the thread later so that my query isn't hanging around for the whole world to see. You guys nailed it on the head about number 1 being too long. People have liked the character portraits, but it was just too long and didn't read smooth.
My little three-year old Liam has out Diva-ed himself (and he is a diva, that Liam). This week-end, he had a huge meltdown over some non-existant object that he says fell in the car, and now this morning woke up asking to play with a toy he doesn't even own. You know how all the parenting experts tell you not to use the word 'no'? Well, I used it anyway and Liam started to cry, which woke up his sister. Oh, did I mention all of this happened at six o'clock in the morning? Yeah. But I am handling it well, I think. I slipped on a cartoon, grabbed some coffee, and am now …

The Chant of Champions

I understand now why so many people on AW have the line, "Never give up, never surrender!" on their post signature. The quote comes from the movie Galaxy Quest, with Tim Allen and Alan Rickman (aka, Snape). Perfect line for a writer struggling to stay in the game. I read about someone who, so far, has sent out over a hundred queries and is still fighting. That's true devotion. I could learn a lot from him: how to have so much faith in my project that it never runs out and never gets beat down. Never.
I'm going to sign up to Publisher's Marketplace and send out a round of queries every week until my fingers bleed. And while I'm doing that, I am going to finish the second book. In honor of one-hundred query guy, I am not going to give up.
Now it's time to make pancakes and dance around to this song:

A Nice Blog

I think my last blog scared everyone, with its guns and strange dolls.
Here' something nice and calm for a rainy Saturday night.


Saturday Faves

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Oh my God. Is it really? Can I be sure? Yes, yes, relax. It is Saturday and that means it's time for SATURDAY FAVES. You lucky bastards.
A group of really great guys over at Absolute Write have been helping me figure out which gun Emma should have. I said it needed to be female-friendly and a fast shooter (because she's only getting one shot at this—literally). The overall choice, and the one that resonated with me, was the Smith & Wesson .38 special. Good old Annie Oakley had a S&W. Gotta love that. Wanna know the weird thing? I actually have the strange inclination to buy a gun now. It's okay. I'll stick to my guitar and keyboard.


Remember these things? My favorite was (not pictured here) the lemon. Lemon makes me happy. The worst scratch and sniff sticker I ever came across was one that smelled like diesel.



I love the band America. Been listening to them all week via sweet ole' turntable.

You know I love The Beatles. I'd never seen this clip befor…

Welcome back

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I haven't shown any crazy 70's ads in a while, so here you go. We'll focus on food today.

I like this ad because of the shared moment between the dad and son, but . . . have you ever in your life seen a burger that big at McDonalds?? They shipped that thing in from Canada.


And I love the tagline in this ad, "Get down with something good . . ." I also love the placement of everyone in the picture. The kid's expression in the far left window of the van can't be beat.


This one caught my eye with its different fonts and continuous line on the drink. Sweet!


Raisin pudding pie? Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. No man's gonna come home to that. Except for this guy, and I'm not so sure I'd want him anywhere near my residence. Maybe it's the way he's holding the fork. No. It's him.


Gotta love a one-word campaign.


And to wash it all down, my favorite, Dr Pepper.


Strange

Last night, American Masters on PBS featured The Doors: When You're Strange. Johnny Depp narrated it—a good choice really, as his voice has that same deep and dreamy quality of Jim Morrison's. The content he was forced to read, however, was poor. Yes, Morrison was strange. He, at times, was known to slither around on the stage like a lizard. His words were trippy, and much of the time he stood with eyes half-closed; living in a cerebral cocoon with only a momentary glimpse into reality to recharge, or see where he'd traveled. But they painted a picture of a man who everyone hated, who destroyed a band, and who was such a freak that audiences only came to see out of curiosity only, and not as lovers of music. Wrong. I think the music, more than anything—more than Morrison—was what made people then, and now, come around in fascination.
I did like one line in the show, "The shadowy realms of dreams." Julia and I repeated it a few times to each other. She w…

Stepping back from the abyss

I realized what a contradiction my last post was to its previous post. Reject me I love it, then . . . screw it, I'm outta here! Typical me.
I have this weird habit of giving great advice and then allowing myself to take a different route. Like the person in the movie who sprains their ankle and then declares, "Save yourself!" Yeah right. Just get up, you idiot.
To be fair, when I said I was considering self-publishing, it wasn't out of defeat. It was me thinking of a new plan—out loud. Sometimes it's okay to do that. I've always been an idea person and a go-getter so, for me, self-publishing would be a natural fit. However, I am very grateful to Talli and all of you for suggesting I try querying just a bit longer. I really appreciate you guys.
So, out goes the query again. Thank you, all of you, for the friendship and wisdom.
And hey, if this writing thing ever fizzles out, I could always start my own band like The Partridge Family. Just gotta ge…

Sometimes you win nothing, but you gain everything

As you might have guessed from my last entry, I was rejected by the agent I re-queried last Friday. She said my writing was good and clever, but is passing on the story. I feel really stupid for bothering her like that again, because I remember now that it was the story she passed on last time as well. Listen to those agents folks! At least she was fast—I'm really grateful for that.
I think the reason my book did not appeal to her is, perhaps, the element of a cult-like religion. But it's what I grew up with. My dad was, basically, in a religious cult and I remember very specifically he and some other men standing on the street corner in our small town—they were all wearing suits and horn-rimmed glasses. It's a very striking memory, and it's who I am. Earlier this year, I was thinking really hard about how to change the book, and while shopping one day, was approached, again, by a group of men in black suits and horn-rimmed glasses. One of them stopped, really loo…

Rejection Inspection

When I started working on my manuscript last year, I bought a book at a bargain store called, Reject me I love it. Admittedly cheesy, I thought, "Why not? I may need this someday." And I was right. It is the best little book, especially for aspiring authors. It deals with all the usual self-criticism that keeps us from ever even trying to reach our goals, and the defeatism that comes with rejection. We're so afraid of being turned away that we won't even try. In the book, author John Fuhrman stresses to embrace rejection, because it is a healthy part of growth and not something to be afraid of as we are usually taught. In fact, no success can ever come without a small amount of rejection. Those who learn from it are the winners. Those who try, and fail, and then try again will eventually succeed.
The next time someone rejects your project, say to yourself, "This is good, because now I will fix what is wrong and then the next time there will be less to reje…

Sunday Night Goodness

I don't even want to type anything. Listening to this is pure joy.


Hey, you look a lot like . . .

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WILL Alain Delon has some of Will's dark, good looks—sans the cigarette. Ghosts don't smoke, you know? And then, a running joke in the book is the way Emma refers to Will as Superman—because he looks so much like the man of steel, as pictured below. You know I love Superman, right?!
He's a writer and has just a little bit of Jack Kerouac in him—perpetually surrounded by books.
And he'd have amazing blue eyes like Gerard Butler . . .


Emma
I always thought Amanda Seyfried would make a great choice to capture Emma's hippieish persona. She's a little bit Joni Mitchell . . . And a little bit Supergirl—just to even things out, of course!


Happy Saturday!

YA Just Never Know . . .

Hey YA peeps! Sent in a query this morning and received a full manuscript request this afternoon. To be honest, it was a re-query so the agent knew me already. She is so sweet and gracious and she has a great eye for YA. Let's just hope this works out!
The only problem is I was all ready for querying and now I have to be content to just sit on my hands and wait things out a few months. Oh darn, right? But . . . I have the second book already half-written and can now concentrate on finishing that, and then the third one. And then there are some short stories and memoirs I'd like to put down. Other than that, I feel like celebrating!
You know, I am really happy to be done with this first book—again. I put so much into it, ya'll know I did. First it was about the love—I loved it, the whole idea, the concept, the characters, the setting, but something was missing. Now that I have bled my heart and soul into it—so much that I literally can't think of another thing,…

Repost- The Game of Life

I wrote this back in February and as my brain seems to be in edit mode today, I thought it would be okay to repost another one of my favorite pieces. I never told anyone, but the day I wrote this the Reeve Foundation contacted me and then featured this on their Twitter. I was so proud I can't even tell you! It meant a lot to know that my blog was reaching those that needed it the most. So here it is again- The Game of Life.
I want to speak about Christopher Reeve again, as I've thought a lot about his life and the parallels of his injury to the role he played. He scoffed the idea that he was a real-life Superman, but we would all agree he truly was, in every way a person could be. Of course, every advance he made was earned with immense pain and minute to minute struggle, so to him it wasn't a great, magical thing. It was work. It's all how you look at it: most of us saw the overall result--the end result, but he experienced it as it unfolded.
In life, we often get c…

When the Cool Summer Breeze Sends a Chill Down My Spine . . .

This is total awesomeness. I finished my synopsis last night!!! Oh sweet Jesus I did it. Now it's time for a full manuscript edit and I also have to refine my query. Let's just say I will be doing a few all-nighters this week.
Edits, as painful as they are, really do not bother me half as much as writing a synopsis or query. I can put on some records and just turn my brain into technical mode. I like reading my book—it's fun. The worst thing that happens is when I get too critical and start to turn fatalistic. I am allowed no more book rewrites unless sanctioned by an agent!
When I heard this song in the car last summer, I about flipped for joy! William has been stuck as a ghostlike eighteen-year old since 1956 and Emma is the first human to be able to see or hear him (though neither of them realize this at first which creates a certain amount of fun). He fades at night, and in one scene Emma goes to look for him in the town square. She is caught in a breeze tha…

Saturday Excerpt

Excerpt from a new WIP, Gossamer Boy.

"Smiiiile."
I did. At least, I made an honest effort. Smiling wasn't one of those easy things like breathing or throwing up. Smiling was actually pretty hard to do. Well, for me it was.
"Thanks honey. Get up so I can shoot someone else."
It was picture day at Hell High, er, Hellman High. Right before going into the guillotine two girls looked at me and said, "You're gonna have you're picture taken looking like that?"
There's no answer to give in a situation such as this. I did my usual blank stare and they left me alone. Hey, it worked for skunks, and now it was working for me.
I knew my hair looked awful. How was it possible I could make it worse than it usually did, especially after hours of gel, flat irons, hair pins, and aqua net? A greasy burn spread through my stomach when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the angle of Haley Dodd's compact. I saw a pale thin face with freckles o…