Thursday, January 26, 2017

In Which I Wax a Little Metaphysical

Fate is such a fickle word. It comes with so many connotations. Many people draw up and wince as if they've been gutted at their core. Others feel the urge to correct me.

Quite frankly, I believe in God and I'm just naive enough to believe that things usually do work out for the best. That being said, I love the mystery of the word Fate. I'm a mythologist and the word conjures up three women, sitting at a loom, weaving out the destinies of the world. The Three Fates of the Old World. No, I don't believe in predestination nor to I believe that everything is carved in stone and we don't really choose our lives. Choice is the most powerful gift we've been given. But I do like the idea of things just meant to be.

Fated, if you will.

Tuesday I wrote about finding a novel I'd forgotten about. I felt so silly. Really? FORGOT you sat for a week and pounded out words to tell a story that came to you and needed OUT?

Yes. I pulled a Hemingway and wrote a novel in eight days. Don't hate me. The rough draft is awful. But it's a draft and it's finished. I count it a small, yet messy, victory.

Well, after I got over feeling a little foolish, I wondered: what if I was meant to forget about it? No, no, hear me out! Don't go all Realist on me.

I started work on a novel several months ago and it has NOT come together. I've had glimmers, even some pretty sizable chinks cut out that let in substantial light but nothing that would give it the continuity and believably I needed. When I rediscovered the Lost Novel, a very important element of the Difficult Novel was made clear. It was a Holy Crap moment that I was excited to discover. But that wasn't it. Lost Novel also whispered to me of a very important element that was missing from another novel, a Prospective Novel I outlined 4-5 years ago.

I had a feeling they were connected but I didn't know how. They aren't a continuing story but they lacked that woven thread. Now they have it and it glitters like a spider web in the dew.

Novels want us to tell their tales. They come to us as gifts, sometimes begging us to write them. And I believe that we, as writers, need to find a way, somehow, to write them all to the best of our ability to write them. However, I also believe that novels come to us for a specific time. And, here I go being naive again, I believe that some novels may come to us for specific people.

Throw it all together in your cauldron, kids, and let it stew!

The point I'm trying to make is this: don't beat yourself up if you've not finished that novel yet. Don't get angry or jealous because you keep hem-hawing around a story, that it just isn't clicking yet. It will. Yes, I say that with confidence. It will. Every story that comes to us becomes a part of us. Some of them need to simmer a bit, soak in our imagination and meet up with other stories that aren't yet fleshed out. Or, if I may suggest, yet to be born.

If a novel isn't coming together for you, let it alone for a while. When the time is right, it will come back to you. Sometimes from an old file folder, or from a mention from a friend who wonders "what ever became of that story your were writing?" Or, if you tend to be a little quirky like me, you may forget about it all together and when it comes back to visit, it will bring along some friends you had no way of knowing they even knew.

Happy Writing,

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino - Book Thoughts

"If on a Winter's Night a Traveler" by Italo Calvino is delicious. It is a miasma that ebbs and flows, erupts and recedes. It is not a book meant to be understood, but moved through as one might move through a pond filled with lily pads and reeds and all manner of delightful thing by which to get distracted.

I've read three books this month, all of them interesting. This one, however, is one of the most interesting, delightful books I've ever come across. I'd heard about it for years but had no idea what it was about, which made it perfect for my personal reading challenge: twelve books (at the least) about which I know little or nothing. After reading this, I can honestly tell you that no one can tell you what it's about. No one can prepare you for the joy of shifting and curving along the path Calvino mischievously, and expertly, guides you. It's usually listed as experimental fiction. It should be shelved under "required reading for people who truly love language and story for the sake of story".

This is a book meant to be savored. Don't pick it up expecting to read it in one sitting or even one weekend (though you may persevere better than I). Enjoy it. Chew it up slowly. Have fun. And definitely enjoy the ride.

Happy reading,

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Novel Time (and I) Forgot

I have plunged back into writing with both arms full! Last year was woefully bereft of high word counts but I did get a little story written :D. January started out with me chiseling out some quartz on a tricky little tale that still has me a bit befuddled.

Then I found a novel I'd forgotten about.

Seriously. I'd forgotten I written a book.

Who does that?

I was doing a character sketch, for a future project that, getting lost in, gives me great joy. Suddenly, I said, out loud, "I have a finished novel!" The cats, of course, didn't care, but I immediately went to scrounging. There, on my computer, transferred onto my external hard drive four years ago, was the folder.

I wrote it fast and, therefore, it is not really finished. Only technically finished in the sense of beginning, middle, end. It needs editing and stitching together but it has given me a great discovery: I helped me figure out a very confusing problem I was having with the tricky little tale mentioned above. The red thread of connection cinched and I now know where it fits in. I could feel the stones fall into place.




And now I sit, pouring over a four year old manuscript enjoying weaving the characters together, understanding their stories, and getting from a rather messy point A to point B, tidying up along the way.

TELL ME: What are you working on? Any fun discoveries lately? Have you ever forgotten you wrote a book?

Happy Writing,
(and keep those manuscripts close...)

Monday, January 23, 2017

***Drum Roll Please****

Good morning!

I've got some pretty exciting news to share with you all today. I've got a tentative date for the Insecure Writer's Support Group Anthology release AND I have a cover to show you :)

And yes, those ARE confetti tacos :D. Because you can't have a party without tacos, right?

Our fearless publisher at Dancing Lemur Press, has informed us that we are looking at a release date of May 02. Once I have more information on and exact date as well as information on where the book will be available - in print and in eBook format - I'll let you know! My contribution is titled "The Mysteries of Death and Life" and, yes, it is the title story. Which makes this cover reveal all the more spectacular.

And now for the really, really exciting part.




Are you ready?


OK, now I'm just being mean :P


Isn't it fantastic? The designer did a marvelous job on capturing the theme of a Hero Lost. This just makes me giddy :)

We've got a bit of a cover reveal party going on today! Check out the sites of the other authors featured in the anthology:

(There are a couple of other authors featured as well but I did't have their blog addresses).

Stay tuned for more announcements concerning the anthology, including our website launch February 01!


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Inspiration

Too many times we hold back because we don't believe in ourselves. We have a hard time believing in our innate greatness. And this isn't a greatness that need be powerful or tremendous in the eyes of the world. In my opinion, the greatest inspirations, the most necessary helps, come from those who don't claim to be super heroes. They are simply doing what they do because they understand the undeniable magic, the unfathomable potential present in each and every human soul.
(Image found via Pinterest )

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Wrestling a Dragon to Tea (Updates)

Breath is an important part of life.

Some may say that it IS life.

Part of the challenges that I face with myalgic encephalomyelitis is sudden shortness of breath accompanied by debilitating fatigue. I just took a shower. I might as well have asked a dragon to tea.

Then again, having a dragon to tea sounds like fun! Perhaps I should rephrase: I might as well have wrestled a dragon into acquiescing to my request for tea.

Then again, maybe not :)

Slowly I've been acclimating to the news of the anthology publication.

Even slower have I been processing the work still ahead.

The learning curve, however, is steep (I hope) and I am surrounded by a great cloud of those who have gone before. They are kind. They are encouraging. They are filled with a SLEW of great ideas that I am in constant awe of.

I can only hope my efforts will help and not hinder.

Speaking of The Anthology, the anticipated release is in May of THIS YEAR! I'll let you all know when we have an actual date. It's pretty exciting and, like I mentioned above, there is still a lot of work to be done. But I'm thankful everyday to be a part of this wild ride. Wander over to Dancing Lemur Press and check out the wonderful array of genres they represent! I'm over the moon to be a part of their family!

In other news:

* The kittens now seek fun in climbing into window sills and up bookshelves at 3 a.m.

* We STILL do not have a second car and I am enjoying being chauffeured about by my long suffering husband. One of my goals in life is to be Jessica Fletcher. Not driving is one step closer to fulfilling that goal. Sadly, it is one my husband is not too keen on seeing permanently fulfilled.

* Savannah feels like Spring. What? Last week we were freezing. This week I'm wearing short sleeves. Those who know me know I'm part reptile and am therefore always cold, always seeking a warm, sunbathed rock upon which to sit. And here I sit, in short sleeves. Comfortable. Oh, Dear February, be kind.

* I am in the midst of a marvelous book by Italo Calvino called "If on a Winter's Night a Traveler". This book is spectacular! A true gem. Bizarre and spiraling, sprawling and a bit confusing but so tantalizing I find myself needing to know what happens next. Spoiler alert: He makes you, The Reader, a main character.

* I've just started research on a novel.Well, I've just refocused my research on the bug-bear of a novel I mentioned in THIS post. It's looking less and less like molar extraction, but still has yet to take on the guise of easy flowing maple syrup.

image found via Pinterest

May you always wonder, my Friends

Thursday, January 12, 2017

With a Lightness of Being

January comes in cloud-like, don't you think? It carries on it all the hopes you have for the future yet, there at the back, there's a dark blur that is the past.

Not that the past is always a bad thing. "Dark blur" can simply be interpreted as baggage. Something one wishes to shed in order to step lightly into the things to come. Many lovely things happened last year; many frustrating and sad things also happened. The first few weeks of a new year blend my hopes and fears, my wishes and dreams, my reality and my feelings of inadequacy into a gloppy, green mash.

The past few days have been whirlwind. Brain fog coupled with that Great Cloud of Unknowing that whispers each January blinded me vision and kept me from writing. I sought solace in books and found myself returning once more into the comforting arms of the words of Madeleine L'Engle.

In "A Circle of Quiet", L'Engle continually returns to the concept of ontology : the word about the essence of things; the word about being.

The essence of being. What, I wonder, am I BE-ing? What AM I and what did I used to be? Deep questions, like snow drifts, and I'm huddled against them this night. 

When I was young I saw myself on the cusp of 40 in an entirely different place - geographically and professionally - than I am now. I was an ambitious little girl, wanting to be someone, something; I wanted to be famous and have my name on every bookshelf, in every CD collection in the world. 

And that pursuit made me miserable.

What am I BE-ing? Hmm...that shall take a bit longer to unravel. For now, I sit, editing, researching, reading back issues of British Country Living. In a few moments I'll heat up spaghetti, wash a few more dishes in my too-small-sink, and continue to let the kittens fight over who gets to sleep in Mom's lap this time. A British documentary about art thieves is on the telly and my coffee sits atop the radiator to keep it warm.

I suppose one might say I am BE-ing. Just being. Taking deeper breaths than I took yesterday after a long, internal feud with myself. My perceived inadequacies. Deep breath and a clearer vision. These small things of being are what make life worth living. Goals are ahead of me; work lies deep against my dreams but I must not lose sight of the lovely little things that make breathing (BE-ing) easier, lighter, more wondrous.

It is from these breaths that art is born.
It is from this lightness of being that stories are told.

Be kind to yourselves, Dear Reader.

Let January cloud past and leave you with a smile and a clear vision of the next eleven months.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Power and Bravery of very small steps


Those last few months were rough. We had to have our sweet cat Colby put to sleep because of pancreatic and liver cancer. September and October literally blew in rather violently with hurricanes, one which saw us uprooted and evacuated with no way of knowing what we'd return home to. Chronic illness raised it's ugly head, I was T-boned by a pick-up on my way home from work, and I had to have an abnormal growth removed from my back which was akin to minor surgery (a fact the doctor's office didn't seem to think particularly important to tell me beforehand).

This isn't a woe-is-me post. I don't want sympathy. I'm sending out a very real photograph of what the last four months were like for my husband and me. Crazy. Wind-blown. Grief stricken. Scary. Stressful.

And yet...I had this little, tiny goal.

Back in September the Insecure Writer's Support Group posted about a new Anthology competition. The topic was announced along with all the other submission guidelines. The due date was November 1st. It had been a long, long time since I'd submitted anything other than a cookie recipe. My mind was made up: I would write a short story (something I'm not very adept at) and submit it. 

That was it. Just one, tiny submission.

Then the M.E. I deal with came up like Cthulhu, all tentacles and foreboding omens. We evacuated our home and most of our possessions. The very next weekend I went to a conference for work and the following weekend we were in Atlanta for a concert and family reunion. 

I was millimeters away from saying, "You know what? No one will blame me if I sit this anthology out. I've been through a lot."

But I didn't. I wrote while we were on the road trip-family reunion-concert weekend. I sat at my mother's dining room table and finished off the major (MAJOR) editing so I could get under that blasted word count. I agonized over a title. I read it out loud at least a half dozen times. The cats loved it! They fell asleep every time :/

October 30th. Two days before the deadline and I emailed the story in. It didn't go through. I fixed the program, uploaded it to something else and resubmitted it. Success!! I breathed a sign of relief, drank a glass of red and was proud of myself. I did it. I accomplished a goal. I submitted a story.

Sure, I wanted to be published. I even thought over my title good and hard thinking, "If it won, what title would be a good one for an entire anthology?" But I didn't stress. 

Flash forward to December 23.The day before Christmas Eve, I was sitting at my In-Law's kitchen table when I saw an email. It was from Alex and the subject line said: IWSG Anthology.


With shaky hands I opened it. I read the words printed. I read them again. Then I screamed. I started to cry. Everyone in the house looked at me, went silent. My husband looks at me calmly and says, "Is this a GOOD thing?" I shoved my phone in his face and let him read:

"This won’t be officially announced until January 04 so please don’t announce it until after that date. Your story made it into the IWSG anthology! Congratulations. The IWSG Admins wanted to give you an early Christmas present. The publisher will be in contact with you after Christmas. And guess what? Your story came in at number one! It will be the featured story and the anthology will be titled after it."



I've had recipes published. I've had personal essays in newsletters published. But this? This is my fiction. My heart. My soul. 

And they said yes.

It didn't seem real. It still doesn't! But the more communication I have with the publishers the more real it seems. I've danced in the kitchen much to the kittens' chagrin. I've ran in circles around the living room (tiny circles, but circles!). I've cried. I've laughed. I've freaked the crap out because now I have to: up-my-game-in-the-blogging-writing-world-connecting-get-more-stuff-out-there-there-are-four-other-short-stories-I-need-to-edit-and-submit-and...

You get the picture.

So here I am. Bare bones and breathing. Shaking. Terrified. Fluttering in the wind for all the world to see. There is a responsibility that comes with writing. An even greater one with being published. I have a lot of work to do but I'M EXCITED. I have a little nugget of encouragement.

I did it. I can do it again.

The point of this long post is: SUBMIT your story. Especially if you think you can't. I took a chance, tightened my belt and, like Bilbo, went on with the dwarfs into Smaug's cavern. And this time it paid off. Next time could bring rejection. The next dozen times could bring rejection but that's OK. I have a dollop of glitter and I'll never, ever let it diminish.

I now KNOW I can do it. And I'll cling to that knowledge until the skin falls from my fingers. My fondest wish for ALL OF YOU, Dear Readers, is that you TOO find your shard, your glimmering truth. Whatever it may be, let it be a guiding light, a talisman that reminds you, especially in your darkest moments, YOU CAN DO IT AGAIN BECAUSE YOU DID IT BEFORE.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

IWSG January 2017 - A Year of Ink-Stained Hands

Good morning!

Welcome to a NEW YEAR of posts from the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Our Fearless Leader Captain Alex created this wonderful group and you can read more about him and this group by clicking the links:

Captain Alex
Insecure Writer's Support Group



I hope the holidays treated everyone well and that you are all ready for an exciting NEW YEAR filled with opportunities. Writing is a never ending process. If you're a true writer (and I believe you ALL are) then you know that finishing one story or one essay or one novel isn't enough. There are more waiting in the wings of your imagination. More that want their turn in the spot light. These stories want wings and they want your blood, sweat and tears to push them out of the nest and teach them to fly.

Stories are hard evidence that magic exists. Writers often complain about not having enough time to write or not having enough hours in the day to put in a few more sentences before sleep over takes them and another day, another week, another month is gone and the screen is still blank. The notebook still empty. And yet we know - KNOW - the truth:

Writing only happens when we finally exhale and begin.

That's why this year I have only one, major goal.

To Exhale and Begin

Exhaling story to screen and paper; beginning the ideas that have been sucked dry by the Beast of What Everyone Else Says You SHOULD Be Writing. A year of writing for the pure pleasure of it.

What if you spent this next year with ink-stained hands? What if you pulled out those old ball-points and brushed against fields of fiber and tilled the fertile soil of your imagination? I'm not talking about finished productions and I'm not talking about six figure book deals. I'm talking about a year of writing. Just writing for the sheer pleasure of the ink stained page. Spend time nourishing the Writer and gently remind yourself why you started writing in the first place. Get back to the essence of writing. Reacquaint yourself with the simple, beautiful magic of word-smithing. The feel of pen strolling over paper. The pleasure of creating words that flow and slide and sail. I'm tired of striving for stars and thunder. I long to mine for dandelions in the cracks in the pavement.

Happy New Year, Dear Reader.
Here's to a year of ink-stained hands.