Monday, August 30, 2010

On-the-fly and Off-the-cuff

It's Monday morning, and I'm at my son and daughter-in-law's house babysitting the plumber. The man probably wouldn't like my analogy, but your children are yours, forever. Life has its cycles. One day you're rocking the next you're putting out fires, sometimes literally. The good news is my imagination is portable and so is technology. The lap-top is humming and after the new sink is delivered I'll go to the post office with a contest entry. If I would win (or heaven for bid when I get published) I doubt anyone will think twice about the accomplishment, but the dividends for being a mother are beyond number. Sometimes I get to babysit our grandson and sometimes it's the plumber. Life is good.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sanity, an Evanovich Moment

I keep saying maybe tomorrow will be the day, but so far, NO. This blog is the sum total of my writing. School started today, and I loved having my grandson for four days while his mother, a teacher, reported back to school; but somehow, I'm now WEEKS behind. Dozens of things all seem to be due - yesterday. Ahh, the life of a volunteer. The only thing worse than failing at a job, is failing at a job where you can't get canned. It is like the proverbial Hell stone that you can never roll up the hill.

Although too tired and strung out to concentrate and write, I have been able to read Janet Evanovich's latest Plum novel, Sizzling Sixteen. A fast and fun read, Stephanie Plum's I Love Lucy antics are always entertaining. Evanovich is the master of slap stick.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Amy Dickinson, A Mighty Queen Herself

All the "how-to-write" books say to be a good writer one must read. Well, I'm not getting much writing done these days, but I am reading.

Amy Dickinson, the advice columnist, has a book entitled The Mighty Queens of Freeville. Not to be confused with the Pulpwood Queens of Jefferson, TX that I wrote about a week ago, this is a sweet, comical, and honest look at Amy's life. Writing reminiscent of Erma Bombeck, but calmer with less shtick, Amy shares her life as a single mom. In a society that is sorely lacking in moral values, Amy gives us a glimpse of living through adversity, clinging to the best of small town America, and to the women who instilled in her faith and reason.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Going Home

Recently my husband and I made a pilgrimage north to our birthplace. I used to say, we went home, but with the passing of my parents in recent years, there really is not much there for me that feels homey. I enjoy visiting in-laws and cousins, but it's not home.
My mother was a wise woman. When we moved twelve hundred miles away to start our young married lives and took their only grandchild, Mom insisted they maintain a second residence on a sleepy clear water lake. Her philosophy was if they had toys, we would come home to play. And for over thirty years, we made the trek twice a year, winter and summer.
Two hard days driving, four kids in a van, we drove all night, taking turns sleeping, to visit with family and play at the lake. The cottage was a simple two bedroom box that smelled musty, but we reveled in our days spent there. Wet bathing suits and flies, or snow sledding and hot chocolate, it was a home away from home. Hospitality is what my parents spread on their gift of love. We went to be close to the familiar and bask in their love, but if it had not been so inviting and comfortable, we would not have gone near as frequently.
Now our chicks have flown the nest. What castles and candy can we offer to draw them home?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I'm a Pulpwood Queen and for those of you unversed in the ways of the piney woods of Texas that is a female bookclub reader. (Men are Lumberjacks, I think). An international bookclub, the Lake Charles chapter is reading for its August selection a good book called, Heart of Lies by M. L. Malcolm. (It may be a REALLY good book, but I'm only halfway through.)

A compeling story and page-turner, it has something for everyone. Set between WWI and WWII, it is a high intrige love story, traversing several continents. Interesting writing from a writer's point of view, as Malcolm changes voice within the scenes. Something I was told was a NO NO, but it works for her. It's published (Harpercollins), and was previously published under the name Silent Lies by Longstreet Press.

Ms. Malcom will be visiting the Lake Area in August for the monthly Pulpwood Queen's meeting, Aug. 25. To honor Malcolm and promote book sales, the PWQ's are hosting a meet and greet at Central Library in Lake Charles, LA starting at 5pm. You're invited. Refreshements will be served and a great time will be had as we Queens rock.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Irony of Death

It's strange how the only thing in life we are absolutely sure of is death, yet when the life of a loved one is eclipsed, especially a young person, we feel it unfair. Paul writes in the Bible that "to die is gain." Another irony I'd rather not feel.

Life around us moves on as nothing has happened; and we must move too, even while our life has stopped - paused in mid-breath.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Newtonian Principle

Back from vacation, my fingers were itching to get to the keyboard. I have spent the last two days happily honing my current novel, Miller's Tale. For breaks I wade through the inbox of my e-mail. Geek Heaven. Catching up on old posts on the BWG blog, I saw a theme. We writers are all possessed by an invisible force, yet to be tested and named. We are all drawn (or driven) to see our thoughts in print. I believe this is more than just a self-centered ego scratch, but a mystical force that allows the unseen to be birthed. Babies that need our constant attention, crying silently until we relent and give the page its due. Admittedly, it's a weird relationship that non-writers can't fathom. Like gravity, we are pulled to the page.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thomas a Kempis

This is my favorite prayer from Thomas a Kempis:

O God, most loving Comforter,
I pray that you will always turn what is evil into good,
and what is good into what is better.
Turn my mourning into joy,
my wandering feet into the right path,
my ignorance into knowledge of your truth,
my lukewarmness into zeal,
my fear into love, all my material goods into a spiritual gift,
all my earthly desires into heavenly desires,
all that is transient into what lasts forever,
everything human into what is divine,
everything created and finite into that sovereign and
immeasurable good which you yourself are,
O my God and Savior. Amen

Monday, July 5, 2010

What happened to June? This summer solstice thing is a lie, just like global warming. My theory is the days are shorter, time is speeding up, and the ice caps are melting because the earth is spinning faster. Hey why not? Thank goodness I'm not in charge of the universe. Father Time and I have always been on a different schedule.

Monday, June 28, 2010

This assimilation thing is strictly my problem. I just spent an hour writing and editing a spot to inadvertently erase it. ....brains not included.
Back from the WLT's conference, I'm tired, but not much wiser. I followed my own advice to smile a lot, and I made the conscious effort to walk up to strangers standing by themselves and introduced myself--be friendly. I met many new authors, wanna-bes, and got reacquainted with a few familiar faces, so the weekend was pleasant, as I worked on my person to person skills. Attending as many break-out sessions possible, I got familiar with many agents and editors--good info for future queries. But at my one-on-one pitch interview, my nervous reaction to talk made me my own worst enemy.

I had the opportunity ($) to attend a pre-conference pitch session Friday afternoon lead by Rebecca Oliver, an agent from the William Morris Endeavor. She also happened to be the agent I was scheduled to have my personal pitching session with the next day. Ecstatic to be so fortunate, I took notes determined to follow her 4 C's of pitching.

1. Connect with the agent, research them prior (no problem-I had done this!).

2. Context, compare my writing to published authors
(that was where I fell down last time, so I had my 3X5 ready).

3. Compeling, a description of my novel encapsulated. (another stellar 3X5)

4. Credentials, (not much to remember on my part, but I was ready).

I was relaxed, confident, and armed with the soccer score, of which Ms. Oliver had mentioned she was a fan. Later, when I played back my miserable pitch session in my head, I realized I had forgotten to even introduced myself. Never shook the woman's hand or thanked her. I remembered the 4 C's (sort of) and forgot my manners. Oh, well, back to the query letter. The words are going to have to sell themselves, cause Kathy Lee, I'm not.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I'm attending the Writer's League of Texas Agent Conference this weekend, so I was especially interested in a blog spotlighted in my monthly Sister's In Crime news updates. Ramona DeFelice Long, a freelance editor, shared her observations concerning the verbal pitch at conferences. Having attended multiple conferences over the past 10 years, I pretty much agree with her about the horrors and stress of what she referred to as the "cattle-call."

I'm paying big bucks to attend this weekend, knowing I will sit in line, waiting for my 10 minute interview with an agent, and hoping it will change my future. This all hinges on my verbal skill at discribing my novel, genre, plot, and hook in approximately one line. Rediculous enough in itself, those who know me recognize I have no memory skills, and I've been told I need to "filter" my output. This said, I plan to write my pertenent information on a 5x7 card, smile alot, and ask questions.

I liked Ms. Long's suggestions to enjoy the conference sessions, learn something, and have casual conversations with agents whenever the opportunity arises. Next week I'll e-mail a query to targeted agents and mention meeting them at the WLT Agent Conference.

I feel so much better now. I think I'll go eat some chocolate.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Quit Mowing

9:15 a.m. covered in sweat and feeling faint, I just walked inside from mowing our rather smallish front lawn. I had chosen to slog through wet ankle deep St. Augustine, because it was cooler - not the heat of the day. What was I thinking. (Feeling sorry for the lawn boy, my husband). The thermometor is reading 90 degrees in the shade. The sun is shining and the humidity is 100%. Any place but Louisiana and the Amazon river valley could it be that humid and not be raining. There are a few innocent looking clouds that with luck may grow into thunderheads and give my husband a break. I quit.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Thursday, laptop over my shoulder, I took my blog problems to Stellar Beans where the Bayou Writer's Group has a critique forum every week. We meet from 10 am until noon and discuss writing, books, and somone's baby that they are willing to lay on the table in its diapers.
Asking around, to my surprise and comfort most of the persons present knew as much or little technical stuff as me. After some fumbling around unsuccessfully in my attempt to remember how to access the internet, I asked a kid. (To be fair he was studying for his dental school final, but he looked 15.) Re-discovering that gift, Jan Rider Newman came late and being an experienced blogger, she helped me answer a few simple questions. So I learned something. What more can we ask for in this life - coffee, friends, and to learn something. Funny thing I came home and wrote this blog and a glitch in my internal settings forced me to abort the post (twice). Exhausted form the frustration, I'm at it again today. We'll see if I learned anything.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Shallow, sand-filled, pushed around by the tides of indecision and self-love, my thoughts lack gratitude. My anchor is in deep water where the waves don't crash, safe from the ripping shore. Hope moored deep, I swim the quiet into the unseen. Waters of love teem with color, fascination, and life. A Holy Breath diving toward the Spirit.

Friday, June 4, 2010

blog fumes

Day 4 and after dozens of attempts to personalize my "spot," I feel compelled to utilize the forum. As I struggle quietly in my corner of cyberspace, creating this baby, this monster that will require continual feedings and changings, I realize blog is a four-letter word. What genius at Google wrote, "you can create your own blog in 5 minutes -- really." Pa-leeze. - BLOG-YOU!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This is the first blog of the rest of my life.