Sunday, December 15, 2013

Some Writing Memes or "I need a little fun around here."

I have found revising to be tedious work--- a good bit of it anyway. It takes me far longer to get into than the original writing. I need encouragement. . .a carrot. . .a stick. . .inspiration. Most of all, sometimes I just need a smile. Don't we all?

So I gathered some of those "you should be writing" memes from around the Internet. Most were fine and made their way to my screensaver to nag and prod me when my mind drifts away. But I did make a few of my own and thought I would share them. For laughs. . .for giggles. . .for blushes.



 
 
 
Yeah, showing my prejudices here. A couple of them anyway. I hope you enjoy them. I have a few more but that's another blog all together. Now I must really get to work. These guys can really bug me!
 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December's Bad Poetry and Brief Fiction Update

I have been so neglectful with this blog. With good reason, I suppose. I'm exactly six weeks post-op from a total replacement of my right knee, a surgery almost too long postponed. I'm actually doing quite well--at least my physical therapist thinks so. But the process is a draining one both physically and creatively.

I'm still writing every day but how much I can do every day varies a great deal. Some days are better than others.

I'm still waiting on feedback from a second reader before continuing with the revision of Rain. I do wish they would hurry up. I want--need--to get it sent out early in the coming year. I would pester and nag but one doesn't do that to friends, does one?

Snow is coming along, more slowly now than before surgery, and there are parts I think work well and others that don't work as well. But that's what revision is far isn't it? I'm still quite hopeful I can have it finished before the DFW Conference next year.  It remains to be seen.

Now, how about some bad poetry?


Recent Poems from Facebook and Twitter

I.

Wrapping my eyes in gray
My ears in soft cotton wool
Hypnosis or sleep?

No difference in the hours
One sliding into another.

II.

Sunlight refracting
Into droplets of color
Falling one by one.

III.

Now cold cobalt nights
Descend sans dreams or nightmares
Empty . . . so empty.

IV.

On every journey
Light roads, dark roads co-exist
Traveled best with friends.


Number IV is one I wrote and tweeted to someone I know (albeit not well) in response to one of his tweets. I generally consider such 'gifts' and would not share them here but Twitter is public.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Autumn Poetry



It's almost the middle of  November and wasn't October glorious? Not that it gets spectacular in my part of the country but it does finally get cool---even cold at night.


Autumn Haikus

I.

At long last--cool air
Breathable, windows-open
Sweet, wine-flavored air.

II.

Stars in the night sky
Dancing to silent music
On sparkling tiptoes.
 
III.
 
Autumn rain sliding
Off the eaves and golden leaves
Such color on the gray.




Silent Enchantment

There is silence
Warm and soft
On a bumpy park bench
No words spoken
Fingers on my shoulder
Beneath my ear and cheek
Someone breathes
Even, soft
And there is dancing in front of us
A costumed chorus line
Of scarlet, golden orange, and sunlit yellow.
Moving singly at first, each alone
Suddenly. . . without cause
The line merges and moves
Of one accord
Dip, sway, up
Like a single being
Slowly breathing
Becomes synchronous
Three breaths, four breaths
Five, six, seven
The spell breaks
On the very verge of true enchantment
Again?
Please?
 
 
Maybe
 
Dance . . . there should be dancing
And music to go with it, soft and cool
Instead of cold and hard
Like diamonds splintering
Without light
To lay colorless on the grass
All bleached into insensibility.
 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Stories within stories: a Snippet from "Snow"


I talked about characters in yesterday's post. How I create them and they tell me the story. Sometimes little pieces of story simply become snippets---a story they told me which influences them but serves as back story, much like "Judith".

I've been revising Rain over the past few weeks but I've also been working on my second project, Snow, with an eye to having them both ready (possibly) for next year's writing conference. As happens with me, a name caught my eye and, while I knew she was important, I didn't or don't pursue that particular story in Snow. It's backstory again. And, yet, I liked it. Another story is folded up inside. Would you like a peek at the snippet? It's unedited rough draft and incomplete (even now my fingers itch to rephrase and elaborate some things). I think I'm going to finish it up as a short story and put it up on Scribophile. The story folded inside? Please tell me in the comments if you see it as well as I do and ,if I wrote it, would you read it?

Writing in a Crowded Room

No, this isn't about Nanowrimo, that mega-writing event taking over next month in some writing circles. I write every day so I don't need the incentive. It would be like performing the Heimlich maneuver on someone who isn't choking.

I've said I started late to writing and I've said my teachers in junior and senior high didn't see half my writing. That is all true. But I remembered something I did a very long time ago which should have told me something. The memory drifted back into my current consciousness after I asked someone if they would like to look at some character sketches. I may be a pantster in the plotting department but sometimes I think I overdo it a bit in the character department. Where did that come from? Where did that start? Very simple

When I was around 13 or 14, maybe younger, I started doing something when dragged by my parents to an event I didn't want to go to. Sometimes it was a public event; sometimes it was a family reunion where half of the people were unfamiliar to me.

I took a notebook and a pen with me. Looking around I would spot a face in the crowd that interested me. Where my older brother would start drawing a picture I would start describing their face, the way they wore their hair, what they wore, what caught my attention, how they moved. how they used their hands as they talked, their facial expressions. After getting down all I could see (but actually could not hear---I was never close enough to hear and too shy to approach), I would start my usual Pochemuchka-like behavior.
  • What did they do for a living?
  • What were they doing in that venue?
  • How did they fit or not fit?
  • Why were they happy or unhappy?
  • What was making them feel/act that way?
Shall I stop now? I could write more questions. It comes easily to me. And, yes, out of all those questions a little story would arise. I didn't write down the story I'm sad to say and all of those character sketches have been lost over the years. Probably stuffed into a box and tossed out as useless later. I'd probably have them in a zip file if it had all happened in the Internet Era.

I do think it molded my method. Character comes first--story comes out of the character. I don't think I can state without hesitation my stories are character-driven. I don't think they fit that definition. It's more a matter of creating a character complex enough, real enough for them to tell their story to me.

How long or how well I can execute that method I don't know. But I keep discovering characters and listening.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Bad Poetry for September



I sometimes envy those who can focus on one piece of  fictional work at a time. The endeavor seems to be beyond me. I work one piece, when the writing begins to pall I pick another. It works for me---most of the time anyway--- so I'm going to keep that modus operandi for a while.

Poetry is another thing altogether. That work comes when it comes. No prediction is possible and leaving something with a missing line sounds a death peal to the poem itself. I can't call it back and finish it. Revision, yes. Completion, no. A personal idiosyncrasy to be sure.

But all that said, it's time for more bad poetry. I haven't posted any this month, have I?


September 2013

I
Now distant thunder
Rain coming soon? Or too late?
Grass heat-brittle.
II
Longing for snowflakes
To dance on my fingertips
But rainbows would do.
III
September confused
Between summer and fall
Only halfway there.
IV
Summer all worn out
Fall reluctant to appear
Struggling with his shirt.
 
V
Rain now coming down
In sheets of silk and silver
Onto a bone bed.
VI
Water music
Playing on dusty windows
Too fast for dancing.
 
 
 

A couple of these appeared with the hashtags of #micropoetry and/or #haiku on Twitter.
 
 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

One Reason Revison/Editing is so Hard

A friend of mine recently posted this on Facebook with the comment: This is one reason why it is so difficult to proofread your own writing.

 
 
As I work through Rain, chapter by chapter, page by page,  I can only sigh and agree. What? How did you miss that? Oh, no, you didn't! You could launch Sputnik through that hole! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Where's the Author of this Blog?

That's a very good question. I have an answer or answers of sorts.

She's revising, one chapter after another. Rain, of course. I knew it was coming but I didn't expect it to be this difficult. It's not "killing my darlings". It's more like nuking adverbs, inserting very small words that didn't make it, and tweaking storyline.

The only thing I'm not paying much attention to is grammar. I know it sounds odd and probably egotistical but I do think of myself as fairly decent with grammar. I also plan on sending it to a professional editor just for grammar and punctuation correction. After months and years, in the case of Rain, things can get by you. So having something looked at by a professional makes sense.

My little three point review process may need some broadening of scope or method. Right now it makes sense to me. I've never revised anything before. Yes, you heard me correctly. I've never revised before. Perhaps I could say I've never revised on this level or on this big of a project. It doesn't compare to changing a word in a poem or finding another way to say something in a four hundred word essay. I do that all the time.

I identified the use of adverbs as one of my weaknesses. No, I don't think every adverb should be shot on sight. They are a legitimate part of the English language and don't deserve the treatment they've received. But, still I seemed to be using a lot of them. What do I do? Here's my page by page process.

  • Highlight every single adverb.
  • Go back and eliminate every highlight falling between quotation marks. To me, this is dialogue. The way my characters speak. I want to look at my words, not theirs.
  • Go back again and look at each one. Did I describe the action, feeling, or tone elsewhere? Could I have described the action, feeling, or tone in some other way?
  • If the answer to my first question above is yes, I delete it.
  • If the answer to my first question is no I go on to the second question and either add or rewrite the action or dialogue.
  • If the adverb fits --- horror upon horror! --- I leave it alone.  It works for me.
The second weakness I work on is my apparent inability to see where I've dropped very small words. All those little articles and such I thought I typed but didn't. This is a fun process. No, I'm not being ironic or sarcastic here. It is fun.

I don't participate in any face to face writing critique groups. The idea, right now, fills me with an utter state of inexplicable fear. Online is my chosen method for that. But that's another posting. But I often hear  is "Read your work aloud". Reading it aloud to myself? I'm afraid that didn't work for me but something else did.

Someone on the Facebook group, Novel Matters, posted the discovery of a small option in Adobe Reader. Under the 'view' tab was a little option called "Read Aloud". The voice is computer-generated and doesn't always pronounce words or names correctly but, by cracky, I could hear where I missed those "little" words, awkward phrasing, and repetitive words. Yes!! Down to the second process:
  •  Convert Word Document to PDF file.
  • Open saved PDF file in Adobe Reader
  • "Read Aloud" page by page
  • Go back to open Word document and make needed corrections
  • When last page is done--delete PDF file.
Sounds a little simple but it works for me! Sometimes after (and sometimes before, to be honest) I will listen to the entire chapter to hear how it all hangs together.

Tweaking I cannot explain in a concrete step by step method. It seems to flow through the first two processes. I'm reading/listening as I go through the first two processes. I go either "what?" or "wait a second!" and change/tweak things right then and there. Perhaps as I revise more the pattern will come to me.

I do know I don't want to be caught in a never-ending revision loop--- like this guy here.

 
 
 
Sooner or later I think you have to stop revising, declare the story finished, and get it out there. Really, does any writer ever think: "This is perfect! Nothing more to do here."? There's a quote somewhere that states that.
 
 
 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's the Question?

I've already confessed I don't care much for the conscious development of theme and such here. It's on my list of current 'failings', I'm sure. I've gone to various writing boards and pages to ask questions. I've finally decided I'm a "special snowflake": I don't choose a theme before I start writing a story.

Oh, it isn't that I don't have a clue. OK, maybe I don't have a clue. But what I always have is a question, which leads to another question then another. The story begins.

For example, here are some of the questions I asked with some of the projects I'm working on.

  1. Rain: The initial questions were: Is a one-night stand or getting picked up at a bar always a bad idea? Does anything like love ever come out of them? What if was romantic destiny? Yeah, pretty much very stupid, very risky questions to answer realistically. But why not?
  2. Snow: This one came right out of Rain. What if Cheryl's old boss was not the kindly silver-haired gentleman so frequently associated with the job title of judge? What if he were young, unmarried, and attractive? How would Gerry respond when this man shows up? Why/How would the judge? What is he looking for?
  3. Familiar Strangers: By this time I'm sure some of us (if not most) have met someone in real life (IRL) we first met online, both in a romantic sense and a friend sense. Can the 'friend' become a romantic partner? What happens when it's discovered they are not what they first appeared to be?
  4. Dani's Song: Let's just ditch this worn-out cliché that only a woman can be the Beauty and only a man can be the Beast. Really! What if it was the other way around?
No, none of them will end up answering all of the initial questions. One question leads to another---always. Sometimes---OK, quite frequently--- the question becomes irrelevant or morphs into something totally different. One of the things I've discovered about questions is one must learn to ask the right questions. It makes all the difference in getting the right answers.

I sometimes think I ask too many questions but my characters seem bent on answering them.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Poetry Yet Again: How Strange . . . in Summer

I said I wouldn't do this often and I meant it when I said it. I didn't lie. Summer isn't the season for poetry to me but yet, here I am---posting poetry again. It's an anomaly. It has to be.

Coming into New England


Gliding above the clouds
And there below . . . hills and valleys
Festooned with gray-tipped tree streaks
An ice blue horizon bright with reflected sunlight
But oh, the green hills and mountains
All huddling close to the road
Soft rain falls in tiny clear drops
Air so cool and sweet, inviting intoxication
Along side the road a river meanders
Staining stones and spreading its arms wide

I know this place
                    It seems to know me.
                    Oh, mercy. . . I know this place.
                    Hello. . .hello? Remember me?
                    I think so. Didn’t we meet once?
                    No--- But yet, I cannot deny
I know it and it knows me.
Oh, mercy. . .
 
 

Always Coming Home

 
Windswept grasses
Blue haze in the distance
Sand dunes sculpted in wind
Rainbows crowning mountaintops
Turquoise water lapping at sugared sand
Dark green fir and spruce
Burying their heads in soft gray clouds
A winding wet-black road
Where redbuds peek
Wide, muddy rivers and sparkling streams
My heart always says
I’m home—I’m always coming home.

 

Falling Rain


There on the tips of my fingers—the tips of my eyelashes
Tiny, clear drops of rain
More than mist—less than showers
Miniature prisms unlocking rainbows
Simple, fresh—glorious.
 
 
 
And for something just a little darker:

Revenants

Makeshift days and cobbled nights
Of faded sun and fractured stars
Looking for something
I’m sure isn’t there—a phantom, a whisper
Perhaps only an echo gone now and silent.
And the air holds no memories.
 
 

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

An English Confession

Yes, it's confession time.

I always hated the analysis of literature in English, in particular the words theme and symbolism. I'm sure there were others in the mix. What is the theme of this story/book? What does it tell us? What I kept hearing was theme = meaning. I just wanted to read the story---not analyze it for meaning and I certainly didn't care what the rose bush beside the steps in "The Scarlet Letter" symbolized. I really didn't.

The insistence of my English teachers (hush, Barry, you taught me Spanish!) on all of that turned me completely off literature, especially in my senior year. My teacher was very sweet but I learned to loathe Thomas Hardy. I passed primarily because I could, as the old saying goes, : if you can't dazzle them with brilliance---baffle them with B--S--. 

No, I was not a good student and I doubt if any of them ever thought I would persue a writing vocation. Seriously. Well, except for Mrs. Langley in junior high. She was the one who encouraged me to continue writing poetry and tried to get me into honors English in high school. It didn't happen.

I took a journalism class but dropped it after one semester when I found myself tooling around town selling ads for the yearbook to local businesses. Journalism is a business; I do understand that. But there were never any classes--no instruction whatsoever.

College was much better. I flew through Basic Comp I and left the instructor wondering why I was taking it. Simple answer: it was required for my major. It seems a lot of students were having trouble writing a coherent sentence. I was having a problem with boredom. Technical writing was required for my nursing major and I did well in it but it was boring, too. Creative writing I and II sparked my interest at last; I did well there because I liked what I was doing. I was writing a story. That was fun! No searching for meaning, no analysis pending, no symbology necessary. Just tell the story!

No, I'm not writing the Great American Novel nor do I have any ambition to do so.  I will simply write the best story I can, put my heart into it, and leave the reader to decide if it speaks to them . . .  and all that theme and symbolism stuff.
“A book is never, ever finished. You simply get to a point where you and your editor are reasonably happy with how it is and you go with that. Left to our own devices, a writer would endlessly fiddle with a book, changing little thing after little thing.”
― Kimberly Pauley



Yes, I'm in the throes of revision and understand that quote far too well!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Summertime

It's been awhile since I've posted any "bad poetry". Is it too soon?


My Mother’s Hands
 
I found my mother’s hands today
Dishwater-wrinkled with little spots of brown
The nails all bare—no Sunday polish in peachy tints
And the left finger still banded with gold.
It surprised me to see them there
Quiet, soft, so well remembered
Where I never thought to see them
At the ends of my own arms
My mother’s hands.

 

Reality with Subtitles

A one second touch.
Just fingertips and there it was.
Connection. Reality.
Again? Please?


Personal Possessions

Courage—Perseverance
Etched in your bones
A part of you , never to be lost.
Like silver, never to be tarnished
Always a part of you.
Always.


Summer Haikus
2013
 

I.
Laugh with me then
Safer than firecrackers
And lasts much longer.
II.
Heat undulating
Off the grass moving waves
Without water. Stop!
III.
Glaring, sun-bleached white
Stripped of moisture— of rainbows
A thunderstorm please!


Enough for now, I think. I don't want to do this very often. It's rather debilitating to be truthful. Authentic but truthful.
 
 
 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Do Your Characters Ever Invade Your House?

I'm so sorry. I couldn't help myself. In a recent email exchange with another "writing buddy" I wrote:

I am busy with my 'own stuff' but I think the guys improve when I make them sit in the living room and amuse themselves while I do something different. (Now there would be a funny scene to write!) I better stop thinking about that image!!

Of course, I looked up from my laptop into the living room and the images started popping up. The urge became overpowering. My fingertips tapped out the following little scene. Maybe it will make you giggle like it did me.


Friday, July 5, 2013

The Perfect Question

I subscribe to a lot of blogs and writing sites. One of them I particularly like is Writers Write. Every day in my mailbox I find a writing-related comic, the latest blog posting,  a literary birthday,  a writing-related quote, and a writing prompt. All of them make me smile, think, and sometimes laugh out loud. The only thing I don't like--- they're in South Africa and when they send me an announcement about an upcoming class I growl. "I can't come! You're in South Africa!" Yes, I talk back to my computer screen, don't you?

I really like some of the prompts, though I don't really need them right now to get me writing,  Just as an example I'll share a few.
  • List the gifts your protagonist received on his or her birthday. Which one did your hero like best?
  • Make a list of five things your protagonist does not want to do.
  • Write about missing a plane.
  • Your hero and villain are on a train. Where are they going?
Sometimes one intrigues me to the point I want to use it so I do and end up stuffing it into a character's dossier. Today I'm going to take that up a notch and do a posting with a recent prompt. I thought I would apply it to each project just for fun. So here goes.

What is the perfect question to use as the opening line of your novel?

1. Rain: Cheryl's here at the club?

2. Snow: Get placed again in that trice-cursed area of the female psyche known as friend? Not only no but hell no!

3. Dani's Song: What do you suppose the story would be like if the Beauty was a king and the Beast his bride?

4. Troika: Didn't she know she was too small to be lifting weights like that without a spotter?

5. Familiar Strangers: What in the hell did she think she was doing waiting beside Buckingham Fountain in December for a man she had never met?

It's more difficult than it sounds. Only the question for Familiar Strangers and Troika come close to being acceptable. I cheated on Snow by adding Aaron's answer and the question for Dani's Song is in the old narrative voice which I am re-doing for the revision. All of them hold true to the beginning of the story though. Interesting.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Paring down the List---or F-O-C-U-S

Recently, with an eye to publishing online, I sent off a completed piece of work to a freelance editor. Every time I turned around I read about online publishing the advice kept hitting me: "Hire an editor!" So I did.

The experience brought me up short and made me look in a direction I hadn't thought of before with that particular piece. The story was fine, in a general sense, but it needed this and this. This word was overused. Oh, and this one, too.  You're repeating this and how about showing the audience how this happened. Yes, I suppose in a sense you could say it was ripped to shreds. Surprisingly, the feedback felt good. It really did.

The nearest simile I can think of right now is it like someone walking into a room you like. The room has colors and textures you like, furniture and art you've grown fond of, but there's clutter you don't know what to do with and the placement of the furniture isn't quite working for you. They deconstruct the room, pare down the clutter and move furniture around,  You blink in amazement---the room looks so right and what you've always liked about it is stronger. Whoa!

Now down to what I'm talking about in the title of this post. I'm revamping my projects list. I want and need to revise two of them. I have three rough drafts to complete  The rest is going to the back burner.

Revision tier:
  1. "Dani's Song" - I'm scrapping the notion of simply e-publishing a revised fairy tale (with or without illustrations) and going to revising it into a full grown middle school book.
  2. Rain- Of course it needs revising! It's been read and critiqued with all its shortcomings delineated. I want to get it straightened out and into the publishing ether. My characters deserve that chance.
Rough Draft tier:
  1. Snow
  2. Troika
  3. Familiar Strangers
I will be focusing on revision but I can't completely. It will be more of a 60/40 mix between the tiers or perhaps 80/20. Working on one storyline all by itself saps me. Switching to another for a space is what keeps things going for me. I don't risk burnout by any means. I'm too addicted to writing for that.

So what do you say? It's July. Should I give myself a deadline?  Nah---not yet. But the DFW Writers Con in 2014 is coming up in less than a year. Another gut-wrenching pitch perhaps?  Or two?


Thursday, June 27, 2013

What Kind of Love Story?


Write what you know. Isn’t that a popular saying in almost any writing class you can take? If writers only wrote about things they knew what a dull place fiction would be! I decided to take another pundit’s advice instead: write the story you would want to read. It may be wishful thinking. It may be unmarketable but some things just keep coming out at the end of my fingertips.


1.     The love story doesn't end at the altar. All right some of them do but some of them actually start there. And I fully believe some of the best love stories grow from there.

2.     Attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder.

3.     Geeks can be attractive. . .and sexy. Do you think they are all alike in both form and function? You haven’t met the geeks I have! 

4.     Women over 40 can be sexy, too. Do I really have to address this?

5.     Everyone has family! Stories may be easier to write for orphans or near-orphans but really!

6.     Parents do have love lives. If you're a parent, you understand this.

7.     Sex can be funny. I mean come on! Think about it.

8.     Men are often more romantic then they are given credit for. One of the advantages of being older is by this point is I've actually witnessed this over and over again. I don't have sisters, daughters, or nieces; I have brothers, sons, and nephews.

9.     Love at first sight does happen. Hey, this is romantic fiction after all. And, I am sometimes struck by the number of times I've heard a man say, "Yes, I knew the moment I saw her I was going to marry her (or something similar)."  Women have said it, too.

10.  A love story isn't always a romance but it is always a love story. I have a couple of projects on my writing list which fit that description.

 
These aren't all the little ideas or rules that make their way into my stories and I can't say they all make their way into  every story. Some do and some don't. They're just the ones I've become aware of over time.

 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Looking over the last six months: an updated writing list

It's been six months now since I wrote my "writing" list. I thought it might be time to refresh it and look at what I've accomplished plus what I still have to do.

Writing projects (as of  June 2013)
 
StClare Chronicles (all are "working" titles)

In chronological order:

 "Evelyn and Alexander"- This is still simply an idea, back burner material and I'm not completely sure of it. It's going to take a great deal of historical research about a time I know very, very little about.

"Summer Heat"-  This is the same place "Snow" was not too long ago. It has been started and my organizationally challenged brain sometimes swerves to it when I'm working on "Snow".

"Rain" - The rough draft is completed and I'm letting it "set" for a bit before I start revision. I've actually pitched it (albeit not well) to an agent. Currently my plans for it are simple.

  • Do a revision which satisfies me.
  • Write a query letter and send it out into the great publishing beyond.
  • Keep sending it out until I at least have the rough drafts of "Snow" and "Summer Heat" completed or someone in that great publishing beyond shows some workable interest. All right, the rough draft of "Snow" at least.  

"Snow"- The current work in progress (WIP), of course. I started it out thinking it was strictly a romance but, as happens, that simply isn't possible. Once past the third or fourth chapter of the rough draft I realized there was more to the story than simply romance. Research, again! But I want the rough draft completed by the end of the summer. Now whether Aaron and Desiree will cooperate with my ambition I'm not entirely sure but I'm hopeful. More than likely I will end up taking it completely out of this category.

"Couples and Pairs"- I've started this one already, too. It seems to be habit of mine---start something then go back to it later. When I  get an idea I hate not recording it somehow and just writing the first few scenes is my favorite modus operandi.

"Breaking Precedent"- This short story is complete and I have no issues with it but since I am not going to submit or publish it I think I will leave it off the public list next time.
 
"Fatherhood"- This story has also already been started and is begging to be finished. Eric will have to wait. I understand---I really do but he's very young for my usual male protagonist/hero. But I like him very much; I think he'll manage.
 
"Scenes from a Wedding"--- Nope, I haven't started this one except in my imagination but it is very clear there: setting, characters, dialogue. I don't want to go any further with it right now.
 

Fairy Tales

"Dani's Song" (subtitled: "The Veiled Queen")- Ah, I'm a little disappointed. Things haven't progressed the way I optimistically wanted. My illustrator has been overwhelmed with family responsibility. I would like so much to get it up in e-form and out in the world.

"Dragon in the Snow"- Until I get "Dani's Song" out in the world my very first dragon story will have to sit on the back burner.

 
Other Projects

"Familiar Strangers"- I'm six chapters in, a lot of 'snippets' written, and the final chapter done but it will probably be next year before I get it into rough draft form.  

"Taste of a Man"- Would you believe, except for one or two chapters, the rough draft is complete? I couldn't either until I looked at it recently. But there it was.  I hadn't realized.

"Troika"- Another six chapters in and more 'snippets' written. I just haven't made up my mind if I'm doing a series with "Taste of a Man" where "Troika" is the final book or if "Troika" is a stand-alone or both.
 
Future Ideas

While I did include this section on my original list I've decided not to include it this time. Perhaps another posting? I certainly don't need more characters nagging me to start their stories. I have enough  work right now to keep me busy for a couple of years.
 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bad Poetry? Of course, it is!

A poet who reads his verse in public may have other nasty habits.
Robert Heinlein, Time Enough for Love, 1978

 
 
I have found the quote by Heinlein I mentioned so many posts ago. I'm glad I remembered it correctly enough to google it.
 
I don't know if Mr. Heinlein liked poetry or not. Well, not beyond the odd limerick and the songs of Rhysling, the Blind Singer of the Spaceways from The Green Hills of Earth. And I think he liked Kipling. But beyond that I'm not entirely sure. I will leave it to more scholarly Heinlein students to answer that question but I don't think he liked many and the quote states that clearly to me.
 
I haven't been reading my verse in public but I've certainly been publishing it for all the world to see here.  I've never seen a study or made a survey but I can't help but draw the conclusion that a poet either considers their work to be very good or very bad. Yes, I consider mine bad poetry. Very rarely do I consider it good at all. Sometimes I think a particular poem approaches what I consider "acceptable" but that's about it. This isn't false modesty. To me it is simple fact.

Poetry is an emotionally dense medium to me. I love reading it but can only manage a couple of poems at a time then I must put it down and digest. If the poem is extremely dense I may put down after a few lines. My own poems are not as dense to me, which may be a matter of personal perception. On rare occasion they capture the moment and the emotions. I just keep trying. I have no ambition whatsoever to be a true "published" poet. Sometimes there will be one written especially for a friend who seems to enjoy it but that is as high as I wish to go.

One could, I suppose, study poetry, take classes, and 'bleed' on the paper (or screen) but that is so 'not me'. They are simply bits and pieces of my heart, however inadequate they may be. My heart sings and I, the musically inept, try to put it down on paper. So, to me, it's "bad" poetry---always "bad" poetry. If it happens to touch one person in any fashion whatsoever I smile and say "thank you". That is enough for me.

So, if you happen to like the poetry that appears here, thank you. And if you don't, that is perfectly alright. It really is. I will try not inflict too much on you. I do understand. It is bad poetry.

 


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Excerpt from "Rain": Prologue

I've stalled out a bit on Snow.  I realized as I wrote (since I seem to be a total 'pantzer'--i.e. someone who writes by the seat of their pants rather than outline a story) there was more to the major subplot than I had information. So I will be off to the library and the local courthouse for research over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully I will be able to keep myself from chasing red herrings. It's a risk. I could write Snow strictly as a love story but I don't think it would be the story it could be. Love comes in so many forms.

But I said in an earlier post I would publish an excerpt soon. I would publish another one from Snow but I want to finish the research first. So I have chosen an excerpt from Rain. Actually what I've chosen is the very beginning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Regrets


A little note: Once again, I've pulled out an essay I wrote in the 90's. Why this one? I'm not really sure. I had a wonderful weekend in Vermont, met and made friends I want to keep, and fell totally in love with New England so this one is kind of an odd choice---I'm actually quite happy about my trip. My only regret about it is that I couldn't stay long enough.

Regrets

Regrets I’ve had a few
But then again too few to mention.”

 
The Chairman of the Board had it right. . .at least at first. Everyone has regrets. . .soft regrets. . .hard regrets. . .heartbreaking regrets. . .and half remembered regrets. Yet to go around proudly declaring that we have none seems to be in vogue. Apparently it is considered psychologically unhealthy to have regrets. It’s incomprehensible. Regrets are so human.

OK, so is guilt but that’s not regret. Guilt is always over something a person perceives to have done wrong. Regret is a feeling of sorrow over not having done something or having done something incorrectly. They’re not quite the same thing.

After a certain length of time on this planet, one soon comes to the realization that there are some things they will never do or have. The vast majority of those things we can simply shrug off. There are some we cannot.

Do I have regrets? Oh, yes. I have two major regrets actually, although it’s difficult to call them regrets. And they will probably sound silly to anyone but myself. . .but, hey, they’re my regrets, not someone else’s. I cannot decide now in my life that I will do something about them; I cannot do anything about them. It is simply too late.

I regret that I have never been first in any man’s life. Sounds silly, yes? I have never been anyone’s first choice. . .never. Every man in my life has been someone else’s. . .someone he chose first. I will never know what it is like to step into a man’s life without it being occupied by others: an ex-wife, children. Physically, mentally, or emotionally, they’re there. I’ve never experienced a man in my life without them. At my age, I probably never will. I would have liked to have known what that was like.

I regret that I only have one child. Yes, I love my child dearly but I always wanted more than one. In all actuality, I wanted a bunch of them. I wasn’t infertile; I could have had more. Yet I had this strange principle. . .I would not make any man a father who did not want to be one. So one is all I have when my heart always yearned for more. Now time and biology are against me; I can have no more children.

Just a couple of regrets. . .probably too few to mention but nothing I can do about them; they remain regrets. I never do believe people when they tell me they have no regrets. Not really.

 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Late Spring Poems

I'm getting myself ready for a Memorial weekend trip to New England to spend some time with friends. It promises to be hectic, fun, and just a touch scary. All the prep leaves me with little time for blogging but I do like to update frequently so what do I always have at the ready? Yes, more bad poetry! Why do I call it "bad"? Ah, another posting---another time.



Equinox


I

Withered leaves on moon-glazed water
A cold stillness mist-rising-
Silence. Only silence.
II

Carved in water
Form and function spent
In silent curling waves

III

Bits and pieces of light
Too faint for sight; too bright for concealing
Shards of unspoken feeling

IV

Love conditional and limited
Wrapped up in prose and yesterday’s newspaper
Staining fingers black
Not today—not today.
 
V

A perfect storm hovering
Green-gray, and ghostlike
Thunder shaking the leaves
Wrapped in an old quilt like a multi-colored cocoon
Waiting for sunlight, loving the rain. 
 
 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Excerpt or Snippet?

After posting some excerpts and a snippet from both finished projects and works in progress the thought occurred to me some may not be clear on the differences between the two. Excerpts vs snippets, that is. I thought I would take a moment and explain how I distinguish between the two.

A snippet is a piece of dialogue or scene I've written which concerns a particular character or perhaps thought about putting into the story. Sometimes it is simply back story; sometimes it's a piece of a scene that helps define character or back story but either doesn't move the story along or I took the story a different route. I don't pay a lot of attention to 'cleaning it up' because it's never meant to appear in the first place. It is always rough draft form. Sometimes I am thinking with my fingertips on the keyboard, formulating as I go. I actually write that way. OK, I do correct the spelling. I have a thing about words being spelled incorrectly. Don't get me started!

An excerpt is a piece from a work in progress. What I post as an excerpt is at least a first revision, not a rough draft. I have cleaned it up and it is part of the story. What I try to do is have enough so it does make sense even if I did lift out of the original  context.

My recent snippet from Rain--"Judith" is definitely rough and a little rambling. What it holds is back story and a look into what motivates my male character. The excerpt from Snow is an actual conversation taking place between my female character and her brother. The dialogue shows, not just background for the main story, but part of the plot development.

Now I shall have to think for awhile. Snippet or excerpt? Rain or Snow? I can't decide. Would anyone care to express an preference? Go ahead. It's easy.


First drafts are for learning what your novel or story is about.
                                                                                          Bernard Malamud           

Monday, May 6, 2013

DFW Writers Conference Precis

Last weekend I attended the DFW Conference in Hurst. I remember attending another writing conference in the metroplex back in the 90's so I cannot say with certainty it was my first writing conference. But I believe I will consider my first.

 First I'd like to say I've already signed up for next year's conference. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment and a total cheapskate. Till the end of the month it's only $200. It will go up to 300 after that then up to 400.

Glutton for punishment? Basically speaking I was totally wiped out both days. I didn't go to the mixer on Saturday and by the end of lunch on Sunday I looked at my friend, Charlotte, and said "I'm brain dead." She agreed with me and we skipped out on the last afternoon. Not there wasn't anything I wanted to attend or thought wouldn't teach me something. I just couldn't absorb one more particle---even with caffeine.

I did two very difficult things for me and didn't realize how draining it would be. I made a pitch and I presented a work in progress at a limited seating (read participant) workshop for critique by a publisher and a literary agent.

Yes, the agent at my pitch was very nice. No, I didn't do it very well. But that wasn't the point or goal for me. My goal was simply to do one. "Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes" in a manner of speaking. I didn't expect to win the publishing "lottery". So when he said he wasn't interested it was no big deal. I did it. That was the biggie.

The workshop was more stressful. "Snow" is a work in progress but I have never put out my work to others in such a manner. I have beta readers and had even gotten back feedback from my primary reader before I ever went to the conference. Putting out something orally and getting immediate verbal feedback I have discovered is extremely stressful. I think I would rather walk down S. Hulen dressed in a shower curtain. But, once again, there has to be a first time for everything and I did get through it. I did get some constructive feedback. But when you're only allowed 2 pages how much can you expect? I  would pay extra to have a much smaller group and be able to present a chapter. Ah, one can dream, yes?

Wiped out and lesson learned. Despite my friendly manner (dare I say cocky?) I am an introvert at the core and keeping myself leashed and on task for two extremely daunting tasks demolished me.

I like the historical research presentation and got a few ideas I hadn't considered before. I loved meeting other writers. Finding other folks my age who were also writing was wonderful. I like not being the Lone Ranger. [Bitty, I tried to find you before I left! Darn it! Next year?]

So, yes, again next year. Less business, more craft. Well, maybe I'll pitch again but perhaps I'll put that decision off for awhile. Hey, practice makes perfect. Wouldn't you agree? After all, I  don't have years to waste.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A "Snippet" from "Rain"

I can't make up my mind on whether I was going to present Rain or  Snow at the upcoming Romance Workshop at the DFW Writers Conference. I've worked up both of them. So I've written two queries and two plot summaries. The activity should teach me something, shouldn't it? The rough draft of Rain is complete at least. Snow is a work in progress. I'll let you know my final decision and its ramifications after the conference.

But this posting I thought I would do something I've not done before---post what I call a 'snippet'. Frequently they don't make their way directly into the story but do form one of the building blocks of a character. I write them and stuff them into my character dossiers. This 'snippet' is from Rain and involves Gerry, the male protagonist. Right now it exists simply as a nightmare in the rough draft.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sanity? I Was Sane Once?



Well, actually it hasn't. I don't think so anyway. I've spent the better part of today finishing up my homework for the DFW Writers Conference. Yes, the Romance workshop I signed myself up for in a sudden fit of brazenness.

My pitch session was emailed to me not too long ago and I initially was super excited about it. I looked at it again and groaned. Just from looking at the time my session is scheduled for the end of the day or pretty close to it. End of the day. I can't make up my mind if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I'm leaning toward the latter with various descriptors tumbling through my mind: tired, hungry, thirsty (for a stiff one), and aching (me at least).

Ah, well, as I told the friend who is carpooling with me. "It's practice. You're going to have to do it sooner or later. And there's always going to be a first time so just do it!" I was actually negging on her after she told me she wasn't going to pitch her manuscript. No way was I going to let her get away with such cowardice! Last night we talked for almost an hour and yes, she will be pitching as well. Yes! After all, misery loves company, yes? OK, I didn't urge her to do simply for that reason but it will  be a double learning experience. We debrief each other extensively afterwards I'm sure.

I will not be posting here again until  Saturday night at the earliest or Monday at the latest. In other words, if I hear encouraging words I will probably be posting Saturday; if the words are discouraging I will probably post Monday. All of which means absolutely nothing--------------everyone here knows I'm going to keep writing no matter what is said.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boston: April 15, 2013

 
Just some poems I wrote in the wake of the events in Boston. I think I tweeted two of them. 

I.

Inhuman horror
Such disregard for life
Never. Never. No.

What is to be gained? Not respect
Nor understanding. Nothing


 

II.

My heart does not want to believe
But my eyes refuse to forget.
A world in grey and black
No color anywhere but scarlet.
Yet the sun rises in the morning
As if it were any other day
The world did not change.
We did.

                   



III.

Love abounds in darkest times

There on a street corner, wrapping a wound

“Here you’re cold.” A cup of coffee

Compassion, humanity, our truest selves

Painted in broad strokes of hope.

This we must remember. . . we must.
 

 
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