Wednesday, May 29, 2013


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 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.



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

Carved in water
Form and function spent
In silent curling waves


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


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

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.