Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Never Give Up. Never, Never Give Up

I have been writing my novel, Domus, for years. Writing, rewriting, revising, reviewing. Laughing, crying, sighing. Loving it. Hating it. And, for the last few weeks I've been avoiding it. Today my daughter shared this entry from one of her chat rooms. Since it hit me where I write, I'm sharing:

...a Salon.com article by Cary Tennis. It is in response to a writer whose second novel was rejected by her editor and she is crushed. It seemed so well put, it was something to share. So, if anyone out there has just gotten added another rejection to the tower, this one's for you. Oh, and thanks, Cary.

Dear Lost for Words,

You've spent five years on something and you've been let down. It is as though you've been lugging a heavy bag of gifts for your mother up a mountain for five years, and you arrive at her door, and she says, Sorry, not interested, the gifts do not impress me. Go home.

So you sit down outside the wall of your mother's castle and ask, Wow, what now? Sh--!

As a character in your own story, you must take action that flows from who you are. If you are not sure who you are, use your imagination: What would your ideal person do?

It goes deep. It goes deep because it goes to our mythic, innocent, unprotected self, our child self. But let us not stop there. It also goes to our hero self, the world-beating, unstoppable one.

This is exactly why I was writing yesterday about the connection between the infant's sense of wonder and the artist's well of creativity. The rejection is felt by your true, innocent, unprotected self, the self that requires unconditional love. At this crucial time, you must listen to the wounded innocent and feel that pain and bewilderment.

But you must also invoke the powerful, avenging hero.

It is not just the innocent that helps us write. It is also the warrior. The innocent creates these lovely things and looks up wide-eyed and says, Look! Isn't it beautiful?

The warrior sharpens her arrows deep into the night, checks her armor, practices the kill shot, surveys the opposition, steels herself against fear.

The innocent needs the warrior. Beauty and strength: One without the other is not enough. The empty warrior is like the blinded one-eyed Cyclops, flailing madly in the cave. The unworldly artist is like an infant left in the forest to be eaten. As artists, we need both the innocent and the warrior.

It is good that you have a challenge. If you write one successful novel after another, we are not much interested. We might envy you, but we don't much care what happens -- there is nothing to overcome, nothing to be discovered, no deeper inner resources for the character to find, no ingenuity and problem solving.

We're not interested until there is trouble.

So now you have some trouble. Good. We're interested. We like trouble. Sorry that it is a pain for you, but we are selfish voyeurs; we like your trouble. We can't help it. We understand trouble. We relate to trouble. We understand difficulty and hardship and resistance. We want you to succeed. We want you to succeed because your story touches us. We've been there.

So let me ask you: What does your survival instinct tell you? Do you picture pounding your fists on the wall of your editor's office until she relents? Do you picture laughing it off and finding a new editor? Do you picture going forward with the novel in hand, or writing a new one? What feels right to you? What feels right for your story line? What would your hero do?

Please note that I do not ask what you think you should do. I ask what you feel and what you see. This is not about tactics, but about vision.

Also ask this, for you are not going through this alone: Who is in your corner? Who is on your side? Assemble your army of supporters. Ask them for help. Ask them to help you climb out of this ditch. They will help you.

You do not have to triumph immediately. Such a triumph might come too early. This is only the first act. You may take many more blows yet. What pleases us is how you take the blows and counter adversity, what you show us of character and heart. That doesn't mean that you don't wander, lost, for a bit. It certainly doesn't mean that you don't feel terribly low. We would understand if you did. We want you to respond authentically, but we want you to come out of this.

Whatever your response, it must and will come from your creative, unbeatable, persistent, undaunted, unfazed, life-affirming side, the side of you that dreams of triumph and revels in every sunny day, the side of you that is innocent and optimistic and unafraid.

It might mean that you rewrite the novel. It might mean that you pour your feelings into a new work.

But that you respond to this event from a deep sense of your own truth is crucial -- not just to you, but to your kids, your psyche, your man, your family and, one might say, to your story line, which is to say, the life that you create every day when you wake up.

We, you might say, are the readers of your life.

We want a good ending. It doesn't have to be happy, but it has to be true.

Charlotte Mielziner

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm Feeling the Pain...

I'm a Twilight fan, I'll admit it. Books and movies. But, there's a part of me that just say OMGsh!!! Was it really that easy for Stephanie? This agent's blog hit the mark for me. Since I can't get the link to work, I copied it here.

www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6709916.html



Soapbox: How Stephenie Meyer Cramps My Style
Are you familiar with the Twilight origin story?
by Stephen Barbara -- Publishers Weekly, 12/7/2009

The main thing about Stephenie Meyer, aside from her being a megaselling author and probably more popular than the Beatles when the Beatles were bigger than Jesus? She's making my life really hard.

Four years ago I became a literary agent, and ever since then, writers have made certain charitable assumptions about me. They expect me to know things. They ask questions. They invite me to appear at conferences to share my expertise. Occasionally I even teach an online course called, ambitiously, How to Get Published. The #1 question I am asked by these aspiring writers? “How do I break in?”

A loaded question, if ever there was one, but over time I came up with a nearly airtight answer. I quoted Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 Hours of Practice rule. I told of the 100-some rejection letters F. Scott Fitzgerald nailed to the wall of his office before having his first story accepted. I dilated upon the image of a young Ben Franklin, rewriting articles from the Spectator as poetry and back into crystal-clear prose late into the night. I extolled virtues so stolid they sounded like 17th-century Pilgrim names: Patience! Diligence! Faith! I imagined my listeners, teary-eyed and chastised, readying themselves for years of persistent toil before the golden day of their first acceptance by the grace of an editor or agent.

And then I learned the story of how Stephenie Meyer broke in.

Are you familiar with the Twilight origin story? Articulated on the bio section of Meyer's Web site, it is a tale that nearly beggars belief, containing echoes of beginner's luck, Don Larsen throwing a perfect game in the 1956 World Series, and Sarah Palin almost becoming vice-president: a combination of inexperience, mediocrity, and success so spectacular as to turn all received wisdom on its head.

It goes something like this: one night Meyer had a dream, feverishly wrote the complete manuscript of Twilight over the next three months, sent it to several literary agencies, accepted representation from one of the biggest in New York, sold her series at auction for a then-unprecedented $750,000 advance, in due course knocked J.K. Rowling from her top spot on the bestseller list, and in the space of four years became the world's most popular author.

Here is a list of common tropes conspicuously absent from that story: learning how to write; persistence in the face of rejection; years of unrewarded toil; invaluable help from a critique group; hard work; a moment in which the author Does Some Soul Searching and Nearly Quits. Also, editing.

This last omission is probably the most remarkable, the crowning way in which Meyer and Twilight have proven the exception to nearly every so-called rule of the publishing business. With a self-effacing chuckle and a grateful nod to their editors, most famous writers later explain how their early drafts were overwritten, melodramatic, flatly characterized, heavily expository and indifferently written, only to emerge as being of recognizable quality in the late editorial stages. Meyer has sidestepped this inconveniently collaborative process by simply having her early drafts published, warts and all, and to no obvious disadvantage.

Given the phenomenal success of Meyer's series, the passion her work inspires in fans, and her unusual rise to the top, it becomes clear that Stephenie Meyer—how best to say this?—knows something we don't. You first see it in her author photo (seated, couch), which captures a look somewhat reminiscent of da Vinci's Mona Lisa: the close-mouthed, mysterious smile; the wise eyes hinting at possession of some enigma that cannot be divulged. Whatever it is, it's better than The Secret and more optimistic than He's Just Not That into You. Meyer can make immortal vampires love clumsy, awkward teenage girls; 800-page hardcovers profitable; and independent film adaptations compete with the likes of Titanic at the box office. Is there anything she can't do?

Which brings me back to that nagging problem I mentioned earlier. Every time an unpublished writer asks me for advice on how to break into the business now, I have a new response, but it's such a lame hedge that I'm afraid I'm going to bomb at conferences. “Read till you nearly go blind; write till your fingers are numb. Be ready to face years of rejection.” And after a pause and a sigh, I add: “Or just wait for a dream to hit you and transcribe a phenomenal worldwide bestseller in three months' time. Either way.” It's the best answer I've got, these days.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Brains and Beauty

"In the 18th century, there was said to be a man who had read every book written. But nowadays, if you read one book a day, it would take you about 15,000 years to read through the books in a national Library. By which time, many more books would have been written." I found this quote this morning by Luke McKinney on the Daily Galaxy in an article about our brains. It speaks to the notion that I'll never catch up on my reading! But, that doesn't mean I can't try.

I am blessed with a husband who understands and shares my love of reading. This week he bought me, for my professional side, "The Human Brain" a delightful full color tome I wanted for my herbal library and for my feminine side the last installment of the Luxe novels "Splendor" by Anna Godbersen--I love the dress on the cover; in another lifetime I may have worn something like that. The books are at opposite ends of the teeter totter--one appeals to my intellect, the other fulfills my girlie requirements. It's how I achieve balance. I am adding both books to my Reading list in the right hand column.

In the meantime I am approaching the finish line. That's Dec 31 when I review my years worth of reading. I haven't added the titles up yet, but pretty sure I beat last years total. Gotta go..it's cold outside and a good day for reading.

Monday, November 30, 2009

NaNoWriMo is over.

Happy birthday Samuel Longhorn Clemens; you did it your way. I kind of like his real name, sounds distinguished. Sounds like he would go on to be successful and famous, but evidently Samuel didn't think so at the time. The Mark Twain pseudonym is the result of his river piloting days meaning it's "safe to navigate". I like it that he took a name with real meaning for him. He must have loved the river and relived his days there through Tom and Huck's adventures. Sam wrote 28 books and I couldn't even meet my word goal during NaNoWriMo this month.

My all time favorite Mark Twain quote is "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
That resonates with me and my writing struggles and is why I never seem to meet my NaNo goal: I spend too much time thinking about which words to use and spellchecking and editing and not enough time WRITING. NaNo is over today. Maybe next year!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Broca Is Not A Whale

When was the last time your surprised your Broca? Or failed to satisfy your schema? "Secret Formulas of the Wizard of Ads" by Roy H. Williams is a delightful book about successful marketing. In it he briefly explains that the Broca is an area of your brain that "energetically generates verbs, enthusiastically constructs sentences and anxiously anticipates what others are about to say". I get the mental image of a panting puppy waiting not so patiently for a bone. When the Broca has done its job, it passes it along to the prefrontal cortex for action. This is a simplistic explanation, but it's that "anticipates what others are about to say" that is pertinent here. If Broca knows whats coming it can refuse to pass it along..in other words YOU ARE BORED.

I've taught many classes on keeping your Broca unbalanced and interested--none of which had anything to do with writing. But, good writing is all about the Broca. Don't stay on the muddy path made by others; wonder off into the lush head-high grasses of the rain forest or the jungle and find new creative unusual ways to portray old archtypes. Keeping the Broca's attention will serve you well regardless of your vocation.

Oh, and your schema? You can look that one up for yourself. (Surprise!)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just write...

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter. ~James Michener Wow! Really, James said he wasn't a very good writer? I'm not sure where that puts me on the literary food chain...the missing link possibly? Not missing link as in answer to cryptic questions, but missing link as in actually missing. But, he's an excellent rewriter...hmmm. This gives credence to the NaNoWrMo superDUPERcalifragilisticexpialidocious way of writing this month. Write like an egg being scrambled...grammar, style, voice be hanged...write like your life depended on word count alone. Run with scissors, shoot a BB gun, swim after eating. Write like world peace will happen if you hit that magical 50k count on November 30. Or at least peace between Mizzou and KU fans. Close your eyes and channel that other world that lives only in you. That story that only you can tell. That epic waiting to debut in a style that is uniquely yours. It's ok to rant and ramble in this first draft. It's ok to murder syntax along with your victim. It's ok to change point of view three times in one sentence, dangle your participles and misspell. Gads! Did I say it's ok to misspell...don't tell my husband. Just ignore those red words begging correction. The idea is to get the idea down...free form. Write endlessly like the Mobius Strip. Type, write with abandon, run with the James Michener wolves: REWRITE, REVISE LATER. I like January for this. My gardens are not calling, the roads are too bad to go anyplace, my fireplace is crackling and a pot of herb tea is brewing, that is the time for the proverbial blue pencil. But, right now: WRITE.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mustaches and Word Count

Evidently writers aren't the only ones who use November as a catalyst (National November Writers Month) to get things done. If you are of the male persuasion and can grow or ever wanted to grow or think you can grow a mustache, Movember may be your calling. My man Gary has a mustache as does his brother so I happen to be partial to them. And Tom Selleck, well he just seals the deal; I mean even if you could resist Magnum no one can resist Quigley. Movember began in Australia in 1999 when a group of hirsute men decided to raise money for charity. The rules were simple: you must be clean shaven on November 1 and grow the mustache until November 30. Sorry, beards and goatees don't apply.

Now, if you are a writer you can participate in both NaNoWriMo and Movember, in fact it may be quite productive. You can closet yourself away, write like a fiend and you don't have to shave. Bathing optional.

As a NaNo participant I receive posts from all over the world. This morning I recieved an email from Maureen Johnson. (Check out her site:maureenjohnson.blogspot.com) She just so happened to have used Australia to illustrate the writing difficulties of being in the middle of the month. Since I, too, am writing about Australia today, I took that as a sign. A good sign..that I will cross the finish line with a decent word count..regardless of how tattered and torn, beaten and threadbare, I will keep on keeping on and all that stuff. I just hope I don't finish with a moustache.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

English...who can keep up?

I recently read this line in a popular on-line blurb: It is the commonest preventable cause of blindness worldwide. Really? Commonest? I'm sure it's acceptable and probably even proper, but in my head Mrs. Traugott reigns supreme. Mrs. T taught me English for four years in our small but respectable home town high school. And commonest just goes against the grain! It's just wrong! I'll stick with most common...that is until an editor blue lines it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

To Gary

As many of you, I have a long line of veterans in my family: grandfather, father, husband, son. They served at home, on far away shores, on the sea, the land, the air. They wore uniforms of the Air Force, Army, Navy and even the Sea Bees.

Last year in this column I honored my son as it is also his birthday (Happy Birthday, Chad).

Today, I thank all veterans everywhere, but making it personal makes it more meaningful to me. Today I honor my husband. Thank you, Gary, for serving. Thank you for putting yourself in harms way in the jungles of Vietnam while I slept warm and safe in my bed. Thank you for eating rations when I dined on steak and sipped fresh tea. Thank you for sleepless nights and anxious days, for standing duty, for marching in mud and swatting strange bugs and avoiding poisonous reptiles. Thank you for lying all those months in a foreign hospital bed bleeding and without family. Thank you, Gary, for my freedom. Freedom to walk in my yard and gardens; to communicate with anyone on my computer or cell or walk across the yard and speak with my neighbor. Thank you for fighting for my freedom to say whatever I choose whenever I choose. I can go to the library or bookstore and get just about anything I can think of to read. My clothing today is my choice. I can wear a T-shirt that is insulting and degrading or one that is uplifting and thought provocative. I CAN CHOOSE because you chose to serve. Thank you for your sacrifice and service to your country. And, most of all thank you for coming home. I love you.


Gary touring Queen Mary

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What's the Secret, Neil?

I'm feeling a little stressed as I am behind in the "NaNoWriMo" November writing marathon. That know-it-all smarty pants spelling bee runner up inner-critic keeps popping out insisting that I have used too many commas. What does it matter, I say, stand back, I'm on a roll. You misspelled recipe, again, she says. No I didn't, I say, it's supposed to be receipt, now go away. She tosses her hair, adjusts her rinestone glasses, purses her lips, throws her scarf over her shoulder, gives a little huff and puff, and slides back into my psyche. For a while. Now my concentration is broken. I may as well take the puppy out, update my face book, go get the mail, clean the oven, check in on my two blogs, figure out why my neighbor is staring into my yard, read the posts of other NaNo participants and wish Neil Gaiman happy birthday--Happy Birthday, Neil. How is it that he is so prolific and I, well, am not? Does his inner-critic constantly interrupt the creative flow? Does she sneer and pat her foot if she is ignored? Come on, Neil, what's your secret?

OK, back to work...

Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNoWriMo rocks!




NOW, if I can just figure out how to get this widget over to the side!! Drat. Or do I want this one....

Friday, October 23, 2009

Outlander series...

Being of Scottish heritage, Jamie Fraser is irresistible to me. He's not just Scottish, he's a Highlander. Not just a Highlander, a gentleman. Not just a gentleman, an honorable gentleman. A hero. A hunk. And, Claire. She loves and uses herbs for heaven's sake; my kind of woman. So, along with thousands of others, I have been waiting...and waiting...and waiting for the 7th installment of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. It's like waiting for a man to propose - excruciating. I can understand the time it takes to let the characters reveal the plot to you; to think about them, dream about them, write it down and revise, revise, revise. After all, my Domus is in revision...again. But, that doesn't make it easy to wait. I have to admit that more than once I said, "What the heck is taking so long?" And, I wasn't too happy when Diana spent time on Lord John manuscripts when she could have, should have been with Jamie. But, who am I to question other folks methods or muses? Diana obviously has a winning formula for best sellers.

It's like waiting for a package to come for so long you swear it's lost in the mail then one day it just appears. "An Echo in the Bone". All 814 pages of it not including the author's notes. After all my complaining and criticizing about it taking so long between books (Ever waited for a package FOUR YEARS?), I don't have time to read it! Isn't that a kick in the seat of the pants. So, it sits on the shelf. Beckoning. Taunting. Yes, I could put it by the bedside because I always read before going to sleep. But, I know me. If I crack open that book, it's sayonara to my other projects. I will read the Echo straight through without so much as a guilty sigh. Feed the dog - maybe. Sift the cat litter - no. Answer the phone - never! So, Echo sits on the shelf and waits for me as I have waited all these years for it! I always read something from the Outlander series every January...I hope to high heaven Echo is finished before then.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heat Wave

Holey Moley, I thought Daylight Savings Time confused me. Or time travel. But the new Richard Castle novel "Heat Wave" sent my thoughts in spirals. I adore the TV series; I think it's creative, witty and charming with believable interesting characters. And, kudos for depicting an intelligent talented teenage daughter who actually treats her parents and other adults with respect. My dilemma appeared when I tried to figure out who actually wrote "Heat Wave". My first thought was perhaps the TV series was based on a real author, wrong. Second I wondered if it was a pseudonym, wrong. Perhaps someone associated with the show: producer, director, etc? Wrong. Could Nathan Fillion actually have written it? Hey, stranger things have happened; Millie the White House Dog wrote a book. It may have been obvious to you from the beginning, but I searched around in google making myself dizzy before I concluded the author of the book "Heat Wave" must be the writers of the TV series Castle. I've yet to read it. I have to wait until my equilibrium returns.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's getting closer...

I thought for a while we lived in Oregon; our days were so gray and misty. It may dampen the spirits but it's good for the skin! While my hands are busy getting my house ready to go on the market my head is busy planning my writing frenzy for NaNoWriMo. I always spend a considerable amount of time deciding what I am going to work on. I need and want to finish "Domus" revision, but since NaNo's purpose is WORD COUNT, editorial pursuits don't really fit. So, I am going to pound away on the keyboard bulking up a piece I started last year "Hopscotch". Perhaps I can work on it every November until it's done! It's about a woman who looses house, hubby and health then discovers new life growing in the carnage of her past. We'll see how it goes.
If you haven't participated in NaNo...give it a try. It's liberating. www.nawrimo.org.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Cat wisdom



Ever wonder what a cat is thinking? I mean they look so wise. Professor April McGonagall is laying on my desk beside the laptop, eyes half-closed ( or is it half-open), purring softly. I'm sure she is playing out something intriguing across her feline minds-eye. She usually takes life in stride. I mean what does she have to stress over? Food and shelter are a given; she has her private "cat stair" to the basement and her own private green, growing stash of catnip. We got April as a tiny kitten when light was just beginning to penetrate through the slits in her eyes. She fell from the attic down two stories between the walls along with her brothers and sisters. The apartment maintenance men rescued them by cutting a hole in the wall; it was a wonderful diversion for the day but the manager wasn't happy with the extra expense in the budget. (Ahem...) April came home and my husband and I shared three hour feedings 24/7 for years. OK, it wasn't years, but those were some long nights. I say she fell from Heaven; my husband says they through her out. April is five and a half years old now and we are convinced she considers herself Queen of the Universe. I know she is endowed with superior cat wisdom; now if I can just get her to share.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nanowrimo

Ahhh, autumn. Leaves dressed in rustic colors, tree sap sinking into slumber, root herbs waiting to be uncovered. Today the air is frigid, the wind is slicing, the tea is steeping and I look forward to staying in my pjs all day creating crises for Lichen, my protagonist. And, November is just around the corner. NANOWRIMO beckons! I always wrestle with what I am going to work on during those 30 days of frenetic typing. It's hard for me to stuff my inner editor into a canning jar screw on the lid and throw a dish towel over it. I tell myself to just let it flow; don't correct misspellings; don't agonize over the use of a semicolon; (I love semicolons); don't over think the villain impulses; JUST WRITE. So, come on Nanowrimo....I'm ready.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wings and Witchcraft

Congrats to Aprilynne Pike on her Disney deal. "Wings" is slated to be a movie with Miley Cyrus. Faeries are so in. The faeries in my book "Domus" are anxious to fly. I'm making some serious changes...thanks to my readers who keep me motivated.

Happy Birthday to Erle Stanley Gardner who was born on this date in 1889. He began writing in the 1920's and published his first Perry Mason novel in 1933. He was successful not only under his own name but his pen names as well: A.A. Fair, Robert Parr, Carleton Kendrake and Charles M. Green. Erle had a sense of humor even when endorsing checks: "It's a damn good story. If you have any comments, write them on the back of a check."

HOO HA for the success of the Harry Potter movie. My family and I had a great time at the midnight showing...costumes, beach balls and good clean fun. No vulgarities. No destructive behavior. It is heartening to see college-age kids still hanging in there after falling in love with Harry at early ages. A few of the adults "acted out" by responding to the playfulness and good humor with controling overreactions. They should take a clue from the kids...chill.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Free Speech

It is just maddening trying to add stuff to this blog and it won't work! Of course, that always happens to me...just ask anyone. Electronics get all confused around me and don't do what they are designed to do. Of course, my engineer, computer geek (it's ok, he calls himself that, and has a cup to prove it) husband can take the problem in hand and it disappears. Once in one of my previous lives (I have several--hey, that would be a good book) I was having difficulty with the computer and the company techy said "Elizabeth, this NEVER happens to anyone else." It's no consolation. I've said numerous times, just give me a yellow legal pad and pencil and I can finish in half the time...but, I don't really mean that. After all, if I jotted down my musings on a pad, YOU wouldn't be reading it!

Speaking of technology, is China so afraid of free speech that they still muzzle it? Apparently so as they have blocked Twitter, Facebook and now, horror of horrors, AMAZON.COM. Check out kristinbairokeeffeblog.com since I CAN'T SEEM TO ADD IT TO MY BLOG LIST!!! grrr.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My Writing Life in the summer.

As Robert Frost once commented: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." I love that quote. It justifies the tears I shed over my characters lives and the laughter that bubbles up out of the words I type. My garden and herbs are keeping me very busy outside, but in my mind and heart I'm writing. I'm looking forward to writers group tomorrow night; I've had to miss a couple of meetings and I'm having withdrawal symptoms. You know, punctuation that appears randomly in conversation like ending declarative sentences with a lilt that implies a question mark. Or when my husband asks what time it is I reply with the latest word count of Domus (that's my novel). My eyes are glazed over with plot ideas and when I see the ad for the new Harry Potter movie, my heart blisses out because writers dreams really do come true. So, I need a good dose of friendly advise and camaraderie critique then I'll be grounded for another two weeks. See you tomorrow writers group and thank you in advance for a good dose of reality.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Freedom...

"I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart..." from Anne's diary. Anne Frank would have been 80 today.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Words

I love words. My husband says females have a certain number of words that must be said in any given day or they will burst. Being a logophile of "ginormous" proportions, TODAY is truly special. At precisely 10:22 a.m. (Stratford-on-Avon time) the English language will hit a new high (or low, depending on what your perspective is). According to Global Language Monitor, those folks who keep track of what we say and when we come up with new words (where do they find the time?) English will cross the MILLION WORD milestone today. They know this because, being the innovative and forward thinking nation that we are, we create a new word every 98 minutes. If President Bush had not been "misunderestimated" and Thomas Jefferson had not responded to the European insult of American wildlife in his famous Notes on the State of Virginia by using the word "belittle" we would be two words shy of our mark. Note: your spellchecker will, as usual, be running a lap behind.

I rarely win anything, but this week my luck has taken a turn for the better. First, I'm sitting at market and a "fellow farmer" pointed out a dollar bill stuck to the tire on PT Patti Petunia (yes, I name my cars). As my grandfather would say, in all my born days I've never seen such a thing. Then, I missed our writer's group this week (they carried on without me proving my "dispensableness"). In my absence, I won a drawing conducted by the generous Debbie Simorte Debbie gave away Get Known Before The Book Deal by Christina Katz. Check out an interview with Christina on Debbie's blog: www.writerup.blogspot.com. THANKS, Debbie. I can't wait to start building my writer's platform. Better go. Gotta use my "sticky dollar" for a lottery ticket. Hey, it could happen.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Cowboys

I love cowboys. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid blazed their way to history last night on TV. No matter how many times I watch it, they still don't make it. I can't resist Lassiter when he fires that long rifle. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers crooned the crooks right into the jail cell. Ever since Bill "Hopalong" Cassidy, clad in all black, galloped his way through my childhood on his white horse Topper I've had a soft spot for cowboys. He lassoed bad guys with a sense of fair play and a gentlemanly tip of his uncharacteristically black hat. There were no fuzzy boundaries between good and evil (unless you count the stereotypical good guys wear white hats); I always knew Hoppy would prevail while keeping his manners in tact. Although the original character created in 1904 by Clarence Mulford wasn't quite the clean cut version of the silver screen, I probably would have loved him as well.

I've gone on to other cowboys since Hoppy smiled at me from his picture on my lunch box. Much to the puzzlement of my family, I still watch the Lonesome Dove series written by Larry McMurty every chance I get. Thanks, Larry, for giving me a cowboy fix, and happy 73rd birthday. Happy Trails.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

New dog and alphabet soup

It's true. Puppies are babies. I ignored the raised eyebrows and silent responses when I announced I was getting, not just a puppy, but an Australian Shepherd. I scoffed at the pet store clerk when she said that they are very rowdy. I silently remarked that if I wanted a couch-potato-dog I'd buy a basset. No offense to basset owners. Being a "walker" myself, I reveled in the Dog Whisperer's advise that dogs need a minimum of 45 minutes of walking every day. I looked forward to playing frisbee in the park and taking first place in agility classes. That was me in my own little perfect dog dream world.

Now I know. Now I'm in the real world. Sophie has opened my eyes, terrorized the cat and shredded the mail. She's thirteen weeks and seven pounds of lightening zipping around the house in a black and white blur. They say that puppies (ok, kittens, too) evoke a hormone that makes us love them otherwise we may want to strangle them. My husband is always saying it's a good thing she's so cute.

What does all this have to do with writing? Well, new babies are time consuming. In fact, they are ALL consuming. It's always about me, me, me!! But, that's ok. I am having the time of my life with her and storing up a lot of anecdotes to spice up my stories! She's even given me a personality for one of my "drogs" (dog sized dragons) in my novel Domus.

Gotta go. Someone is barking at the door to go out, so evidently, she does, too!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Roget


I wonder how many things are the result of depression...good things, I mean. Peter Roget (1779-1869) had reason to be depressed, I won't go in to those, but an unusual effect of his affliction is one of my most beloved tools...the Thesaurus. Peter began his lists of words as early as 1805 along with other list-making. Historians say he started this curious habit as a coping mechanism...I'm not sure if they really know this or if it is an educated guess, but it makes for good press. He studied medicine in Edinburgh which is of interest to me as my ggg grandfather is from there. Roget went on to teach in London, retired in 1840 and didn't begin his official thesaurus until 1848. When it was first published in 1852 it had the ungainly title of "Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases Classified and Arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas and Assist in Literary Composition". Whew. Ok. I'll just stick to thesaurus.


Those of you who are familiar (my readers:) with Domus will not be surprised to know I pre-ordered the new faerie novel "Wings" by Aprilynne Pike. Alex Moore just posted a great interview with Aprilynne--isn't it interesting to read other authors take on things. Aprilynne also has a YouTube video--check it out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Birthdays

What does it take to make a good writer? Being the baby of the family perhaps; one grows accustomed to all those oohhs and aaaahhhhs. Or having an editor and legislator for a dad; standing up for the folks and dotting all the i's. It could be good schools; Huntingdon in Alabama and Oxford in...well you know where Oxford is. How about "birds of a feather"...Truman Capote being one of those childhood feathers. Maybe it's a sorority, though I may take issue with that. Could be a ho-hum job with an airline would spur a person to greatness or taking frugality to the cold-water-only level. Good friends could play a roll, especially ones who give you a years salary to live on just so you can write--wow, that makes me speechless. Whatever it takes to make a good writer, a great writer, Harper Lee discovered it or experienced it. To Kill A Mockingbird, an instant best seller at publication in 1960 and a pulitzer winner in '61. It's still holding readers in awe 30 million copies later. Happy Birthday, Harper. You are an inspiration. April 28, 1926

Let's see, I had a neighbor once who walked every where he went (we lived 15 miles from the nearest town.), didn't have a tooth in his head or electricity in his house. What can I parlay that into.....?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Turn Off The TV...

Turn off the TV!!!! It's that time again for Turn Off The TV Week - April 20 thru 26. One of the good side effects of TOTTV Week is READING. Pick up a book! I have sooo many folks tell me they just don't have time to read...bah humbug. Minutes are like pennies, a few here, a few there and it adds up. I have several books going at once..fiction and non-fiction, short ones, long ones. Waiting in line at the car wash? Traffic jam? Waiting for hubby at Home Depot? Waiting for puppy to finish business outside? Can't fall asleep? There are hundreds of opportunities for reading more than billboards. Carry a small books or magazine in your purse or car or briefcase. Come on, commit!
"I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book." — Groucho Marx remember him?

Happy Birthday Sue Graffton. 69 and still writing strong. Her Kinsey Millhone series has millions of global fans who don't need a TOTTV Week to keep up. Take a look at her newest: T is for Trespass listed in my favorites in the Amazon box. It's a good way to begin the reading habit.

Monday, April 20, 2009

NY Times Best Seller List

A writers Holy Grail: The New York Times Best Seller List. Lynn Viehl's newest addition to the Darkyn seriers "Twilight Fall" published July 08 debuted on the List at #19. She shares her experience with the rest of us so we, in short, will have a clue. Lynn clarifies the murky non-information out there about the real money made when you are published. Lynn's candid particulars enlighten us with a healthy dose of reality. Read her full article at http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. Thanks, Lynn.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Books...

I finished Shakedown, three books on puppys and two herb books...what a week! I really liked Shakedown and am ready to start Dead Man (Joel Goldman). A childrens book I can't wait to start is Neil Armstrong's My Neighbor and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Moreno. Doesn't that sound marvelous; the blurb says the new kid on the blog is a wormy little liar...love it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's that time...

Here it is writers groupnight again...like a rose in the bramble bush. It gives me that feeling of contentment knowing I will soon be in the company of writers who write for the sheer joy of it. Some wanting publication, some not. It's great to share our ups and downs, acceptances and rejections. We are birds of a feather...

I am reading Joel Goldman's Shakedown; I can see his style maturing from the first one I read last week. His new one Dead Man just launched, sorry I couldn't be there; how exciting, a local launching a book! Come on gang, we can do it, too!

I have a new puppy...yep, late night feedings, dog-proofing and baby-teeth bite marks. Lovin' it! Sophie: an Austalian Shepherd.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Reading

Reading is the yin to writings yang...or is it the other way around? Anyway, I just finished Deanna Raybourns new book...Silent on the Moor. It's so Heathcliff and heather...I loved it. Brisbane's surly inclinations have you, and Lady Julia, hating him one moment and loving him the next.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Local author

It's always a pleasure to find a local author. At our B & N Writers Group meeting last week Gayla, our forward-thinking facilitator, reminded us of a Kansas City author who is doing quite well, Joel Goldman. A number of years ago he spoke to our little gathering and I am finally reading his books. Nothing against Joel; I tend to read full speed ahead, and actually "plan" my years reading in December. I'm not OC, honest. I know I'm not because I can deviate from my plan with hardly any scars. Joel proves it. I inserted his name onto my 09 list with barely a wince.

I just finished Motion To Kill...I like to start at the beginning. I love it that he uses KC as a backdrop; it's quite fun to know the locations mentioned in the storyline. I thought the first novel between ok and good so will continue with the rest like little dominoes falling before my intrepid reading plan. It will take me some time to get to his current "The Dead Man" due for release Wednesday, 4/1/09. Way to go Joel; you strengthen the rest of us with the resolution to persevere.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Many tangled paths...

I've decided to live to be a viable 125 years. As opposed to an unviable 125. Perhaps I should say a functioning 125. I mean, what's the point if you can't think, read or write? I have a delightful, self-sufficient, perky, still-lives-alone friend who is 104 and she's sharp as a spike on on a sweetgum seed pod in my yard (I love that tree). Dr. Oz says it is entirely within the realm of possibility; living to 125, not spikes on the sweetgum pod.

At any rate, I have entirely too much writing to do to get it all finished before the insurance statistician says I will die. I mean, Domus is finished, but not published. Domus being this kingdom of Fey where Lichen Ipse, an F 22 Raptor pilot finds his grandfather, his soul, his true love and manages to rescue the entire Kingdom from annihilation. Cool guy. And, then there is Hopscotch, a murder mystery that doesn't even have its corpse yet. Not to even mention (but I will) the non-fiction book: The Herbalist Is In...a hands-on compendium of my herbal encounters that's like condiments, sweet, sour and surprising.

The way I see it, 125 years may not even do it. In which case I will leave detailed instructions to my progeny on how to finish all my projects. Just feeding my worm farm, yogurt, starter dough and kombacha brew could take hours if you don't know what you're doing.

So, I'd better hop to.....gotta get a proposal out. Hey, have a monumental day. :) Lizzy

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ahhh, writers...

Last night our B & N Writers Group gathered for a couple of hours of hope and sharing. I have been with this group for several years. We've seen writers come and go, but there are a few of us who hang in there thru cream and skim. I love sitting in...sometimes I have something to read, sometimes not. Several continue to inspire me: our fearless facilitator, Gayla. She doggedly and faithfully leads us month after month giving us pointers, gently steering us away from using too many points-of-view. Pat, our published author, always reminds us of a submission pitfall or two and is there like a glowing comet whirling toward our goal of publication. Jim is our stalwart day-in day-out author who pursues magazine editors like Einstein pursued his theories and is rewarded by frequent publication. Corianne who awes us with nostalgic stories of her long and interesting life. Irma, our own Poet Laureate, takes us from our own mysterious psyche to far-a-way places like China.

Then we have a considerable flow of new writers, last night we had two. Some will stay, most will not. What is it that keeps the regulars coming, that makes us continue word after word, line after line whether we publish or not? Is it need for expression? The hunger for our by line? The insatiable desire to find our voice? It's probably different for each of us, but whatever it is, I find satisfaction and comraderie in our little group. It's a soft landing when we fail; a booster club as we drive toward our goal and a fan club when we succeed. When we are sitting in that circle, we are writers every one. To the newbies, keep coming, but most of all keep writing. To the oldies, thanks.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Genesis

Greetings! This is my toe...in the water...checking out the temperature. I already have an herbal blog and website; now I have a writing blog and website. I was trying to fit both "mes" on the herb site, but somehow, it just didn't work. So, now like an egg yolk that doesn't work in icing, I've separated the two...this is the egg white side of me. (I had to give the herbal side the yolk as it's the part with actual nutrition.)

I hope to share my ups and downs of writing...the rants that don't really fit the website. Besides, my webmaster husband would soon tire of these postings! Besides, OK, I'll admit it, I like being in charge.

So, if you are a writer, hope to be a writer, have been a writer or just like to watch writers squirm around in misery of their own making, welcome.

I write fiction and non-fiction. Sense and non-sense.