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Showing posts from September, 2010

Ba-ba-ba-boo . . . Pennies From Heaven

I love Bing Crosby, and not just the Christmastime Bing, the 1940's blue-eyed crooner Bing. He had one of those voices that could melt a heart, take it out of its despair and turn it right side up again. I love old records like this.

You can just picture two people listening to this a long time ago. She's wearing red lipstick and has her shining hair all coifed up on top of her head. He smells like Old Spice and tobacco and is wearing a sweater vest over a long-sleeved cotton shirt. The room is dark, and the floor creaks as they dance. It's an old RCA Victor that they have the record spinning on; the thing crackles and whirs and a cold wind blows outside.


Scare me . . . please!

Fall always makes me want to read ghost stories, the true kind. I love the fictional ones yes, but nothing thrills me more than someone's account of a real haunting. Soooooo, since I've read pretty much everything on the internet about this topic, I need some fresh stories! Tell me if you've ever seen a ghost, had a paranormal experience, been awoken by shadow figures, watched things move in right in front of your eyes, heard voices out of nowhere . . . you know, basic spine-tingling stuff. The scarier the better!

Sorry Honey, I ate cornflakes all day

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I had to make an extra post because of something I read on the internet. Did you know that cornflakes were part of a "pure" vegetarian diet, including the avoidance of alcohol, tobacco and caffeine? Started by a Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, cornflakes were considered safe and bland; spices being considered a food that could incite "desires."
I just know them as the cereal you have to cover with a ton of sugar and eat really, really fast. If you wait too long, it's all over. Mush.

Being Positive

I'm reading Buffalo Girls by, yes again, Larry McMurtry. I tole you I jus' couldn't quit him! I like McMurtry because his phrasing is similar to mine, because he understands humans waaaay too much, and because every once in a while he writes a line that makes me laugh out loud. I love that. It's what I like to do when I write. I'll make a scene really serious then out of nowhere throw an absurd one-liner and then go back to serious again. It's like popping knuckles or something—I just have to do it.
Have you ever noticed how much writers need to be validated for their work? Not mentioning me, of course! We're always asking if our work is good enough, is it readable, does it run smooth, do you like it?!! What writers are really looking for is someone else, besides themselves, to read their work. Please, please, read this . . . like a beggar reaching out for food. Tell me it's gooooood. I know I'm guilty of this, but I have been trying to…

Try, Try Again

Well, I guess I'll go another round with this old book of mine. A few months ago, before putting it aside, I made changes to the beginning chapters which represented Emma's voice in a much stronger way—it had become sterile and boring after tons of edits. I thought hard about what I had initially wanted her to say, and how I wanted her spirit of a sweet, yet feisty hippie girl to shine. I made those changes and put it aside to do other things, which was a really good idea. I was truly burnt out. Last night I compiled a whole list of agents to send queries to. I thought I'd gone through them all, but I guess not. Thank you agentquery.com!
And thank you to my friends who have always been so kind and supportive of me even when I couldn't be that way for myself. Keep your fingers crossed. Again!
Here is a cool video that little Julia is in love with. It's quite long, but well worth it.

Julia's Birth Day

I woke up and knew it was time. There were strange things going on in my nether regions, and in my abdomen, a slow burning ache that would come and go in waves. It was seven a.m., a little early to be in labor, but Mother Nature doesn't work on schedules. I turned on the t.v and watched for a bit, knowing contractions could take all day before being really serious. It was rather exciting. Let's see, how many minutes have to be in between these suckers before going to the hospital? About three? Well then I'll just watch the news and. . . CRAP. My contractions were at five minutes already!
I woke up mister grouchy man and told him that things were progressing quickly and perhaps he'd better call in to work. "Ah, we have plenty of time." "No. We don't. Call and tell them your wife is in labor and you won't be able to work today." "We'll see. I think we have plenty of time and I could work a few hours before anything gets s…

Can I Get a Witness?

I had a nice surprise when I visited the fabulous Karen G's blogand saw I had received honorable mention for Best First Paragraph in the Lettuce Write Submission Contest. It's helped to restore some of my confidence so thank you very, very much Karen and Allie! You made my day!
So, I looked over the first few chapters with fresh set of eyes and fixed little things like cluttered sentences or passive voice. I think I'll do a whole edit starting this week and then see where that leads me.
The weather is great, very Autumnal. The leaves haven't changed yet so the colors don't quite match the crisp feel in the air. It might be too late, but I want to plant some radish and lettuce seeds for a small fall garden. I already have some turnips out there—Julia's favorite! She kind of . . . dumped a whole packet of seeds in one spot. But that's okay! I'll deal with those buggers as needed. So what if all the turnips turn out whackadoo? Anyway, tomorrow …

Manitou Springs

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There are places on this earth that hold a bit of magic, and I think Colorado happens to be one of those places. Manitou Springs, nestled at the base of Pike's Peak, is a small Colorado town laced with an air of mystery. The red earth, the curving streets with rows of shops and mineral springs all seem too quaint to be real, and Miramont Castle with its hauntings and tales of days long past calls out to you with arched windows. There are stories of witchcraft and indian folklore. The houses all cling precariously to the ridges of earth and streets all go up and up . . . As a visitor, you feel there are many secrets that you must be born here to understand.
When the sun is out you can see old Pike staring down in white-capped glory. When it's cloudy she disappears into the mist like a ghost, waiting, just waiting. There are a couple of ways you can get up to her peak: you can climb her yourself, take the Cog Railway, or drive. Paved roads leading out of Manitou take yo…

Boys Go To Jupiter 'Cause They're More . . .

Okay, so like, I guess we're really close to Jupiter or something because if you go out and look at the moon, you'll see old Jupe hanging around lit up like the Chrysler Building. I think it must be a good time for creativity, 'cause all of a sudden I'm getting some actual progress with my old manuscripts in places I thought were dead. Yay! But the bad news is all the other stuff in my life (today) is really messed-up. The kids would barely get ready for school, and when we got there, the parking lot was full. I had to circle the place three times and finally settle on a spot all the way down the block. Front doors were locked (three minutes after the bell?) and we went to the office to get a tardy slip.
Then, I couldn't get the key to go into the new deadbolt, but the garage door is running out of batteries and it took me forever to get it to open up. Sooooooooo, I was thinkin' about taking the kids and Henry the dachshund for a walk 'cause it'…

Dreaming part II

I used to hang out at record stores, aimlessly looking, waiting. I used to think life would come to me, but now I know life doesn't come, it just happens. The man at the record store I frequented the most was tall with dark hair and a beard. He'd look at me and shake his head, knowing I'd probably get some Beatles record or The Doors. I wanted to reach out to him and talk, because he was older and could give me some wisdom, tell me stories of his life that I could cling to. Maybe he'd share a cigarette.
When I was a child I wandered the playground alone. Kids were all around me but I could not seem to trust anyone, and so I kept to myself, just wandering. I found an old tree with pools of water at its base, leaves drifting over the liquid glass reflection. I'd sit and stare at the pool, and the dark wooded roots, and the ants and spiders moving in and around. I called it my witches brew and every day I added something to the mix and stir it all up until re…

Dreaming

I used to have this dream where I was sitting up on a roof, looking over the land (or neighborhood) with the sun on my skin. I don't know what that signified, but every time I had the dream, I'd wake up feeling as if I were trapped in my real life. I longed to be the person who could just let go and languish everything around them. So, I'd think hard each time about what was currently wrong and what I needed to fix. Sometimes it was just growing out my hair, to escape the visual expectations of society. At eighteen, I rebelled by dying my long hair black and wearing all black for a year. I was goth before goth was even cool. I came to think perhaps it was stupid to do such things so I went the other way and didn't dress up at all, I became a blender and looked like a mousy librarian type. It was my secret rebellion.
As musician, I could concentrate my feelings into a song and that was a nice healing sort of thing to do. I'm one of those people who need t…

Intimacy and Realism

I'm kind of shy to talk about this, but I feel a slight achievement with it, so why not? I have written a sex scene between man and wife, and I wrote it straight out with every detail. I don't know, is that considered erotic fiction? I guess I don't care. I wanted to write a story about a man who felt he had nothing, was annoyed with life, with marriage, with work and fatherhood, etc. With this sort of culmination of distaste I would have him see his wife and realize what a treasure she is: a beautiful creature who could save him from his own destruction. He would see her and be transformed with love. And so, of course, I wanted to write about them making love in such a beautiful intimate way, that it would be almost surreal to those reading it. I've always thought that when two people really love each other, and come together in sex, that it is like being high or like having a spiritual experience. That's what I wanted to express.
Anyway, it was hard to …

Themes

I'm starting to see a recurring theme in my work: marriage. Its tradition, its disintegration, people heading toward it, people unhappy with it, sex in marriage, conversations, repression, reaching out, the humor of institution, and the hopelessness of suffocation. I can't seem to keep my mind from wandering to this topic. I wonder what it is that fascinates me so much? Perhaps it's because my mother's horrible marriage . . . I don't know.
It's very cathartic though.
I've always been drawn toward the idea of man and woman laying together having conversations. Or sitting in a coffee shop together . . . having conversations. I love to explore the two sides and think about the play that is constant. I think that's why I loved Thurber so much, because he was always writing about marriage and the parallels between man and wife.
Anyway. I guess I will just keep writing about it until I run out of things to say.
What do you love to write about? Do …

It's Gonna Be a Ball at the Ball

My wonderful and dear friend, Cro Magnon, has invited me to join his entourage at the upcoming Willow Ball, September 30th. I'm going to try really hard to hitch a ride on the internet express to get there. I might have to stay a couple of nights at strangers' blogs before I can reach my destination, but I WILL get there! Anybody have a spare comment box I can sleep in, just for a night or two? Thanks!
My date is still unconfirmed, but I've been communicating with some long lost friends and they all thought it would be okay if we went together as a group. It'll be the Dead Rock Club with me as the human host and spiritual translator. Buddy Holly, Bobby Darin, Jim Morrison, John Lennon, George Harrison, Edie Cochran, Gene Vincent, Freddie Mercury, and the sweet, smooth Ricki Nelson (sigh). Yeah, there's no girls in this club. I sent an invitation to Janis Joplin, but she was a little busy sorting things out with Mama Cass. One of them had borrowed the oth…

Vinyl Kismet

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I had an epic discovery at a local book/record store yesterday. I went in to browse and came out with The Eagles- their Greatest Hits 1971-1975. We're talking good. Liam doesn't have preschool on Friday mornings, so he's playing, I'm cleaning and listening to the record and it's amazing!


Side A: Take It Easy Witchy Woman Lyin' Eyes Already Gone Desperado
Side B: One of These Nights Tequila Sunrise Take It To The Limit Peaceful Easy Feeling Best Of My Love
I love it when I get all wrapped up in music. It sparks so many ideas for stories and just makes me so happy.

Work work work . . .

Just busy working on another short story, part of my Woodsocket '79 project. I wanted to write a collection about a town using a voyeuristic viewpoint. Whoever I wrote about had to be picked apart in some way and their greatest insecurity, fear, held up and thrown at them. I also just wanted to have fun. After working day and night on the last book, through swine fu and everything, I just wanted to have some fun. And I am. I love the seventies, so this is great fun for me. Sometimes I feel like I've put my finger down on a map location and this whole story will come to me and then I get to go live it out on paper. Ned's Bed was sooo fun to write.
The unfortunate thing is, I can't share anymore of it with you guys until it's actually in magazine or book form. Why? Well, apparently when you post something on your blog it is considered published. Big bummer. I really liked sharing with you guys, but, you know . . . whatever. I'll get stuff published e…

I love New York!

I don't know why, but I really want to go to New York now . . .
Oh yeah, here's this cool jingle I found.


A lot of Boring stuff in my life that I like

Last night I read The Chrysanthemums by Steinbeck, The Unicorn in the Garden by Thurber, and A Respectable Woman by Kate Chopin. Thurber doesn't really fit in with those other pieces, but Julia likes it when I read his stuff to her so he made the cut.
I didn't think I would enjoy The Chrysanthemums but I did. When I read the last few lines, all the other parts of the story flashed through my head, and I felt that epiphany again. I felt her sadness. "Strong woman" her husband calls her, and yet she's crying over her flowers in the road.
And then in A Respectable Woman, I again, felt her moment of release and understood her confusion, or I guess, her awakening.
One thing that stood out though, was the usage of semicolons. Can I just say how much I dislike these little buggers? I try to use them when I see fit, and sometimes I actually enjoy doing so. But it seems to me no one really knows what to do with them. They're like the salad fork of the writing…

Symbols

I am finding it more and more difficult to balance my home life, blogging, writing, and all the other stuff like getting kids to school and picking them up, etc. I just want to apologize for not visiting everyone's blogs the way I used to. Thanks so much for visiting mine, I appreciate it!
Remember last week when the praying mantis was in my car, on my seat? Well, it's funny because that whole experience made itself useful yesterday when I was finishing up a story. I needed to use a vivid metaphor in one spot, and the only thing that came to mind was that praying mantis. Little Julia and I had later watched some videos showing how this creature snatched out at its prey. It was a perfect visual for the way my character snatched out at an object. Swack! Perfect metaphor! I would have never thought of it or anything close for this particular sentence, if I hadn't had an actual praying mantis in my car. Life is so cool and mysterious like that. We don't even kno…

Dream high and enjoy the view

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I found out Glimmer Train isn't currently taking entries, so I'll look elsewhere. And I was wrong about something else as well, the hardest literary review to get in would be The New Yorker. I'll go look at their guidelines, but that's big-time dreamin' folks. It's amazing how many there really are, and how much competition exists in the market. Again, people keep saying go high and work you way down. Send one story out, forget it, write the next, send it out, and keep it up until you get accepted. Kinda a good challenge to take on. Thanks for all the well wishes yesterday, that was really nice!
I wanted to show off some of Julia's artwork. She has always been a prolific artist, with a very keen eye for detail and a perfect memory. I can't even keep up with the paper she goes through. Just last week I had to toss a ton of scraps into the recycle bin, and she's already created a whole new pile! The child is messy. I need a robot nanny.

H…

Who's on First?

Okay, I'm ready to send out a my first story but still haven't decided on which literary review I want as my first submission. There are so many out there and people say to go hardest first, which would be Glimmer Train, so I think that's the one I'm going to send it to. Okay, there you go, I just decided! I'm just going to do another spell check and then send it out. Wish me luck!
It'll probably be about three months till I hear anything, so that's a tough one, but standard I think. Just gotta get used to it. I keep hearing that the best thing to do is send out the story, forget it exists, and get to work on the next one. Wash and repeat.
That is kind of surreal though. You work really hard on something, then just pretend it never happened? Oh well. Three months of it being out there is three months I could have done nothing with it.
On the other side of things, I made my usual visit to the grocery store after dropping the kids off at school, an…

Looking Up

Don't you hate it when you get sick and you feel as if you've been taken out of time and space and dropped back down in the wrong spot? That's how I feel today. Add to that the fact that Julia is up bright and early (BRIGHT AND EARLY), and is running around telling knock, knock jokes.
Anyway, I was thinking about my book and how much of a struggle it has been to try to get it published, how it may never get published. When I started querying a year ago, the book was not ready. Like many new authors I thought it was, and I unfortunately burned through many agents with a bad query letter and a poor manuscript. After many rejections I asked for critique from beta readers. I took their suggestions and tried to strengthen the opening of the book and query letter. More querying. More rejections. I revised the book again—best thing I've ever done—but it still led me to more rejections. I tweaked again, more beta help, more tweaking. More rejection. Finally, I set it…

Quick Hello!

I've had a horrible migraine all day, but just wanted to drop in real quick and say I hope everyone's weekend is going okay. I think the kids like it when I'm sick because they can lie in bed with me and watch movies. They get to drink my tea and nibble on my late-afternoon sandwich. They're so cute, and I love having them next to me, plus Henry! Can't forget him! He's all snuggly in bed with his ears flopped across the covers.
Tomorrow is Labor Day, which is just a nice little holiday with no school and no banks. More movie time I think, and a trip to the park. I wanted to make a chocolate cake, but I won't do it if my head still hurts this bad.
Can't leave without a video to annoy you guys. Actually, it's a great video with my facvorite singer/songerwriter ever. Miss Lucinda Williams. The greatest.

Annie Dillard

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The other day I found a book that looked interesting and I started reading without any thought of commitment. I just wanted to see what it was about. What I discovered was the most beautiful prose that I have perhaps ever come across. Very descriptive passages all about nature, but so much more than that. Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek isn't a new book, but it is timeless. She recreates our world, sometimes seen as a mere landscape to our daily activities, into a place that is vivid and real; life abound in rivers and muskrats; forests and mountains. Sometimes it is too much, too beautiful, too descriptive and I can barely stand how perfect she is a writer; I'm so jealous of her talent! Though it's certainly something to work toward. I'll just keep reading, and keep learning.

Creating a Web Presence Doesn't Cost a Dime

Many writers start to think about creating a web presence long before publication. But websites, videos, all of that can be pretty expensive stuff. So I wanted to write a quick blog about some of the things a writer can do that won't break their account, or take too much time from their busy schedule.
1. I saw that our sweet and charming Talli Roland uses Wix for her author website, and I thought it looked very professional. The best thing? It's free. Pick out a template that works for you, and just enter the text and pictures.
2. Blogger, Wordpress, etc. We're all here utilizing our talents, networking, and honing our skills. We're talking contests (sassy Kimberly Franklin just had one for the upcoming The Mockingbirds and has a whole list of fantastic contests on her sidebar), author interviews (like the beautiful Jen's amazing summer series that just came to an end), clips of work, funny snippets. You name it, it's all here.
3. YouTube. You can…