Thursday, September 25, 2014

Haikus in Newborn Autumn
And silence beats down
Bass notes reverberating
Downing emptiness.
Music often seen
Never heard. . . glinting sunlight
Carried in the wind.
Volumes on pages
Never spoken or whispered
All in soldierly rows.  

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Small Updates: Writing Groups, Critique Groups, and WriteClub 2014

I don't know where in this blog right now but somewhere, at least once, I talked about looking for a critique group, maybe joining a writing group, and submitting to WriteClub 2014. So this is a simple update on all three things.

I'm still looking for a writers group that meets locally.

Yes, I've been distracted by a variety of things, not the least of which is the editing of Rain for e-publication later this year. I know now why Stephen King said "Write your draft with the door open and edit with the door closed." Because writing a draft, while it isn't easy, has those moments of excitement where the creative juices gush out, dialogue sparkles, and you're so happy you're laughing. Keep the door open! You don't mind anyone seeing you like that. But editing becomes something else again.
  • You've used that word how many times??
  • Now where in the h-e-l-l are you going to break that chapter into two smaller ones?
  • It's a nice word. A good word. But it doesn't fit!!!
  • No, that's not what I meant to put down!
  • That scene might make a lot more sense if it came before this one wouldn't it?
  • You've used that word again!
  • That sounds mighty condensed and fast. Can you slow things down a bit?
Your cuticles bleed all over the keyboard from chewing them. Your eyes water from the glare of the screen. You mumble language you would never use in public (or a blog). You're pulling at your hair and it isn't pretty. No one needs to see you like this . . . no one. Yes, best to have the door closed so no one can.

Steve was right.

I still want to find a critique group. Yes, to me, a critique group is very different from just a writers' group.

I did apply to a forming online critique group some time ago. Pure chutzpah. They weren't asking people to join; the fact it was forming was put out there and I said something along the lines of "How can one join? What do you need?"

Quite a process actually. A questionnaire and a submitted writing sample. No fair simply referring them to my blog, I suppose. The whole thing felt very much like applying for a job you believe you would be very good at, could learn from, and contribute to. I wasn't offered the position, even though I was told I was first on the waiting list. It was a long shot anyway.

I've been invited a couple of times (maybe more) to a local group but I know myself. Submitting written work and getting written feedback is fine. Reading my work aloud to a group of people I don't know freezes me. Totally. Even the thought. They're warm, friendly, wonderful folks. I enjoy being around them; I've been around them. It's just not for me. The online group would have worked.

And, no, none of my submissions made it into the ring at WriteClub 2014. I really didn't expect any of them to make it. Well, all right, maybe just a little but not very much. I need to go there after posting this update and catch up again. Will I do it again next year if there is a WriteClub 2015? I might. I don't know at this point.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Just How Tall does a Hero Have to Be?

It must be silly question time. I've been doing a lot of reading this past week in what will end up being my genre--romance. And I look over at the bookshelf sitting next to me on the left and see two book series (best sellers all of them). Out of the twelve books there it dawns on me.


Let me repeat that without the caps. Every single male protagonist is well over six feet tall. A fact which started me thinking. Lois McMaster Bujold managed an engaging male protagonist under five feet tall but Miles Vorkosigan is the only one who breaks the rule.

I don't know if research and statistics will back me up. This is strictly anecdotal and one shelf of the bookcase.
  • Jondalar from the Earth's Children Series by Jean M. Auel                     Six foot six inches
  • Jamie Frasier from the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon                   Six foot four inches*
  • Matthew Claremont from the AllSouls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness     Six foot three inches

I just finished reading my fifth book of the week and, yes, out of five male protagonists, not a single one of them was under six foot three. I'm not going to name titles/authors with those five. It was research, not fun, and I don't want it known I read them. Yes, they were that bad.

Not a large enough number for statistical purposes but enough to get me to asking the question. Is this becoming a rule?

So I have a question for those who write and read romance (or even other genres with a romantic subplot).
How tall is your male protagonist?
How tall were the last five male protagonists in the books you read?
*not totally sure of the accuracy of this but I recall reading it in the discussion surrounding the casting for Jamie Frasier in the new Starz series.

Monday, July 28, 2014

It's not my Bad Poetry this time --- Not Exactly

White Mountains of New Hampshire
S.E.Hudnall 2014 

That's correct. This isn't my "bad poetry". I was in New England this spring, having a grand old time and, yes, writing in my little spiral notebook. I knew I was going to be bringing back "bad poetry".

But this one, while written there, isn't really mine. It was my notebook. I held the pen. But it's really Desiree's. It's her poem. Who is Desiree? My female protagonist in Snow.

Honor for Sale

They're selling honor and glory on the street corner,
Hawking them like precious wares.
And the price---the rock bottom price
Is the blood of your fathers, sons, and brothers
A few hundred body bagsT
Caskets to be unloaded on a western dock
A sister's tears--- a father's aching emptiness
A mother's son-less arms
A future caught in crossfire on a rice field
The skein of brightness, love, and laughter
Cut by a sniper's bullet---no Fates involved.

They're selling honor and glory on the street corner
Special offer today
Death half off or two for one
Your choice of bargains.
Elizabeth Desiree Williams

They say there's a little bit of yourself in every character you create. I'll say "Amen" to that. I can't deny it. But it's never more than just a piece or two. Desiree, quite obviously, is the poet of the bunch. And also writes 'bad poetry'.  

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Electrifying. . .Terrifying: The Road to Indie Publishing

I'm scared. . .almost to the point of pure terror. How's that for a confession? I emailed a PDF file I formatted and designed of Rain to two people, both who have been super supportive and helpful (weak word) of me and the book. It was a very personal edition as I did it strictly for them, even designed the front and back covers myself. As yet I don't know what they thought of it. I wrote that I was not expecting any critique or feedback from them on the current edited copy I used. But knowing the ways of one of them I believe I will get some there.

You see I've decided to publish Rain independently and electronically. I don't know how long it is going to take me. There is a lot I need to figure out. My personal goal? I'd like to have it out within the next fourteen days, a purely arbitrary deadline as I have no idea what I'm doing.

Dozens of sites are out there loaded with advice and how-to's but a simple checklist is hard to find. Something simple like this (which is far from inclusive or even in the correct order) :
  1. Finish editing.
  2. Send to copyright office
  3. Get IBSN number
  4. Find cover artist.
  5. Format for electronic upload by doing the following (step by step instructions which are no more than two sentences long)

I'm finding most of the "lists" and "advice" overwhelming right now when I want all I want is a simple list I can check off as I go. Details I can go back for.

Maybe this is a case of "if you want it, you should write it." The idea does get me thinking. Not all of us process information in the same way. Perhaps I will journal my experience (away from this blog) and comeback with a list of my own.

Every journey begins with a single step.
Yeah, nice platitude, Shelia. And what if you're standing on a drop-off, huh?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

July. . .and the Bad Poetry Continues

Lupines and Daisies: New Hampshire
"And it was summertime, glorious summer."
The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson
Morning Music

Outside my window
Green darkness, raindrops singing,
Inside, cats amok.

No space sacred, bounding off
Couches, chairs, and each other.

In five second bursts
Then suddenly all is still
But the rain still sings.

Note by note on glass it falls
A contralto voice. Slow. Soft.

Strawberry Moon over Manchester, NH 2014


Sleeping Dreams

Put your dreams to sleep.
They'll find no purchase here.
Better they sleep and not remember,
The clouds dancing by with gray mouse feet.
Let them dream their own dreams.
Have they really been yours?
Did you dream them or did others?
So hard to see even in moonlight.
Put your dreams to sleep.
Blanket them with clouds.
Soothe them with falling rain.
They will forget. . . they will.
Daisies in a glass
Standing soldiers on parade
In bright uniforms
Warm pink and orange listeners
To our laughing discourse


In case you're coming in late and missed it, yes, I consider all of my poetry--bad poetry. Only in the last poetry post have I labeled it "bad poetry". The label on all the other poetry is simply "poetry". The reason I call it "bad poetry" can be found here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Writing the Ending

I know this blog is a bit self-centered. I'm working on it but it seems to want to remain that way. It can't be a writing advice blog or a publishing advice blog. One would need some form of expertise in those areas. All I have is opinion, generally based on what I read in those types of writing blogs. All that remains is what I write and what I discover, sometimes just by playing with an idea.

"I don't plot," she said for what seemed like the hundredth time. "But it doesn't mean I don't know where I'm going, even if it takes me a couple of chapters to discover specifics."

So today I am going to play a little game. I'm going to write a couple of final scenes I already know. No character names included. It may be spoiler-ish but who knows? These are not final. They're rough drafts. Things could change.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Writing with a Soundtrack

I listen to a lot of music while I'm writing. A lot of it triggers memories of a particular era which helps a great deal. It's a submersion thing.

I do believe I have discovered, not one, but two more songs for my current WIP- Snow. Yes, I've been listening to them and not exactly sure why I was enjoying them so much or why they were haunting me even when I wasn't playing them.

It was my male protagonist, whistling the tunes in my head. Yes, the honorable Aaron Johansson, circuit judge, is whistling Dean Martin tunes. I blame Noona, his Italian grandmother. She loves Dean Martin. Aaron was marked. And he whistles when he's happy. [Must update his file.]

Now maybe I can get the tunes going in your head before I get back to work making him very, very unhappy. What can I say? It's what I do.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Character File for Aaron Johansson

I said in one of  my last posts, where I described my character sketches that I would post one from a current WIP. So I decided on the male protagonist from Snow. This is a very fluid document. Things can and do change. Would you like to meet the honorable Aaron Johansson?


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

More Bad Poetry in June--- So Sorry!

I knew this was coming. I knew before I ever got on the plane to New Hampshire. I could have warned you. But I didn't. So sorry.

Sunday Morning in New Hampshire

Time isn't really different here.
The sun creeps up in his usual style
Smiling over the horizon
"Are you ready for me?"
No, not yet!
Dreams, music, and poetry
Are still swimming in my mind
Crowding out coherency
Must I wake up? Be gentle, please.
Let me dream a little longer.

I have a tanka roughed out and in need of editing but I will save that and the other one for next month. There is only so much pain I'm willing to inflict on others.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Character Dossiers: What goes in my Character files

I've read a lot about character development and downloaded a boatload of questionnaires and other tools. Some of them boggle my mind. One hundred questions for your protagonist to answer? An MMPI (Multi-Phasic Personality Index) would be far more accurate and only take a couple of hours. I spent three days (on and off to be sure) doing that one for one of my characters.

Finally I came up with something of my own, with those things which helped me see the character clearer, hear their voice, know where they came from, and where they are going. Although not as detailed as those one hundred questions, it works for me and, yes, I plan on posting one of my actual dossiers later. Just for the fun of it. Care to take a look at the working file?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Why Kill a Heroine?

She's right. So many male writers who write love stories do kill off the heroine. I remember a best seller in 1970 called "Love Story". The book was, of course, made into a hit movie. Everyone was talking about how grown men were coming out of the theater with tears streaming down their faces. Exaggeration? No, not really. I recall seeing the movie, not being super impressed, but both of the guys (it was a double date) had traces of tears on their faces.
Sparks does it. Segal did it. Shakespeare did it. A lot of notable male authors do it. OK, Shakespeare killed off the hero, too.  Come to think of it, didn't Sparks kill off the hero in The Horse Whisperer?
But why do they do it? I mean why do they kill off heroines? Predominately, anyway. I have a little theory of my own which may or may not hold water.
One word: perfection. It's probably not the best word but it's the best word I can find and what I am thinking may be just a little 'anti-male'. But thinking back on stories I've read I cannot help but draw the conclusion. If the love interest dies she never changes in memory. She remains beautiful, loving, intelligent, and full of laughter. Back to the original word: perfect, whatever attributes she embodies. The love remains perfect. It's never tested by time, marriage, children, and age. There is weeping for her removal at the peak of her life---the 'potential' of their possible idyllic life together. As a couple, they will never bury parents or (heaven forbid!) a child together. He will never forget her birthday and she will never forget he hates green peppers. Time will be frozen while everything is still perfect.
Killing off the heroine preserves all the romantic perfection. It will never change or be challenged by life and its circumstances. It does make for a beautiful love story, doesn't it? Romance . . . love. . . tragedy.
I can't even say I will never write such a story. I might. But I will confess that even though I have said my stories do not start with a theme a writing friend recently found one. After practice pitching both Rain and Snow with her, she found one. Yes, running through the both of them and so simple I was taken aback at first--- Love Endures.
She was right. It's there. I didn't consciously start out with a theme; I was just writing a story.
No, I probably will not kill off a heroine. It goes against my nature and doesn't fit my writing or my philosophy currently. I prefer love to change, grow, and endure.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Flurry of Activity:

DFW Writers Conference

I should have a post up on the DFW Con I just attended in May. It was awesome. I didn't overextend myself and sign up for a bevy of stress-inducing and draining workshops. I signed up for a pitch session but instead of pitching Snow, which wasn't finished anyway, I had a nice natter with Margaret Bail from Inklings Literary Agency.

The workshops I attended were great. Though a series of domestic snafus I missed the pre-conference workshops I had paid and signed up for. Ugh! But I did catch Donald Maass at his presentation/workshop on Micro-tension. "Rock Star . . . legendary . . . no pressure. . ." Wonderful presenter. Those are his quotes, by the way. He made me laugh out loud then preceded to rearrange some of my thinking. And, yes, it was his pre-conference workshops I missed. Darn it!

I must have added a dozen folks to my Twitter account and it seems, in the aftermath of the conference, I've been added to a few. The fact makes me blink. My Twitter account was started for fun and I was thinking about starting a strictly professional one before the conference. Too late now.

But I must say I enjoyed and learned more at this year's conference than I did the one I attended last year. Maybe it was because I didn't overextend myself. Maybe it was because, once faced, some of my anxieties were gone. Maybe it was both. But I think it simply felt different and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Now I'm waiting on the announcement for signing up on next year's conference. And, if anyone reading this pitched at the conference, the purple Hershey's kiss scattered on the tables in the waiting area? That was me. :) An act of encouragement, support, and pure fun. You're welcome. Next year? Absolutely. My pleasure.

WriteClub 2014

Yes, I'm participated, with what I consider a vengeance. Not one entry. Not two entries. Oh, no, I had to send in three entries. I posted this self-made meme on my personal Facebook earlier this week.

Will I make it into the ring? I don't actually think so. I really don't. There were over 150 entries at last tweet. It would be flattering in the extreme but not going to happen. Funny thing. The rules stated you couldn't submit anything previously published---and this blog counts. So I had to pull out work from my project list, not my current WIP. All of them rough drafts hastily edited. But, on a cheery note, I found the courage to submit some of my writing to a bevy of professionals, which is a biggie for me.
Along with that I have applied to join a critique group. I can't talk about it right now. It's in process so I will maintain silence until I hear something. Yeah, that took either cockiness, courage, or chutzpah, too. What can I say? Sometimes I'm full of it and sometimes I hide under the table, shivering.

Off to New England

Now I am in the midst of preparing for another trip to New England next week. I will meet up with friends, many of who write. We will chatter, laugh, go new places and old, discuss books and ethics, and take pictures. I will come back with some of the latter, memories, and perhaps some new poetry. Yes, I will be writing while I am there. I need to warn them.
I will be writing and tweaking a couple of blog posts to be published while I'm gone. I'm not certain of Wi-Fi coverage everywhere I will be going.
Now there is more writing to be done, lists to make, laundry, packing, a little shopping, and, if time allows, maybe some baking. After that----------more writing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

June's Bad Poetry

I have more posts waiting to be completed and published but it's June. The bad poetry continues to come out my fingertips so maybe it's best to get it done and over with this month.

Random Haikus in No Particular Order
I really don’t like
You. I don’t. What can I say?
The nights are so cold.
Reality is
Overrated. Fantasy
Sticks best to old walls.
Slowly marking days
Sunrise to sunset may be
Still too fast for me.
Remember? I wish
I could forget but I can’t.
It’s such a bother.

Hide and Seek

No, I don’t know where
But still I will look in places
I’ve found you before.
On sugar sanded beaches
By the running mountain streams
Not in the desert I think
Unless it be in the center of night
Where the Milky Way dances
Across a deep cobalt sky.
Yes, I will find you
Laughing, dancing, spinning round
Welcoming me home.
Wait for me.
Please wait.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Dallas WRiTE CLUB by Joan Reeves

I do have a posting about the recent 2014 DFW Writers Convention in process which I will be posting on Saturday.

I do believe I am going to do this. Full details at www.  I think I am becoming very brave. I know the caliber of those who have won this competition before. Not to be defeatist in any way, but I would be very happy to make it past the first round.

But, as my mother was so fond of saying: "Nothing ventured--nothing gained."

Now to go find the best 500 words I have. Where did I put them?


Friday, May 2, 2014

Peeking at Other Bookshelves

I am heading out to get ready for DFW Writers Conference today. Pre-conference workshops tonight! I thought I would share something I thought was awesome. Do you find yourself studying other people's bookshelves at parties? What would your bookcase look like?

You Are What You Read: Bookshelves of Famous People infographic

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Some Writing Memes: Part Deux

I finished my first revision of Rain then left it alone while I got some important scenes done for Snow. Now I'm back chugging away at Rain again. I don't know why some things didn't occur to me on the first revision but they certainly have this time--with a vengeance. And it's still darn hard work for me. Maybe one day I will understand or get to the point where I actually can start to enjoy it like so many people seem to.

So, in desperate need of something to make me smile and since I bit the bullet and paid for an upgrade of my graphics program, I made a few more memes. What can I say? They relax me. Ok, they torment me, too, as they whirl across my screen when I've stopped writing for more than five minutes. The scoundrels!


Ah, yes, my two favorite prejudices. . . again.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's Going On: A Music Video

I'm working on Snow, which takes place in this era, but I don't think I will, can, or ever be able to give it the justice it deserves. I love and hate this video in ways too numerous to mention. So, yes, it's going on my Snow soundtrack.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Writer's Questions, the DFW Writers Convention, & a Snippet from "Snow"

Designed at Bitstrips

It's spring. After all this mind-crackling, bone-fracturing cold, it is spring. I suppose most people are cavorting with great abandon with the vernal equinox, warmer temperatures, and the promises of blooming flower beds. I love the season, too. But something comes with it.

With spring comes something else on the all-too-soon horizon. The DFW Writers Convention is coming up and , yes, I'm going again. Will I pitch Snow, my current WIP? I don't know. I have a pitch session scheduled again. I will research the agents I've asked for. Look at their biographies. Chase down their tweets. Read their blogs. Oh, I'll look for every piece of information I can find on them. I don't know which one of my three choices I will end up with.

I'm not as anxious as I was last year. The situation could change as the date grows closer. But I did manage to get through a pitch last year. Strange, isn't it? Someone who expresses themselves best in written form attempting to express it in spoken form---and evaluated accordingly. To me, it is very strange. Even in my former profession I hated doing performance art; although they called it BCLS, ACLS, and Clinical Competencies.

But the pitch for Snow will depend on whether I finish the rough draft in time. I don't like the idea of pitching something that isn't complete. If it isn't complete by then I suppose I use the time just to natter and ask questions.

Now there's a quandary. An odd one for me. I've labeled myself a Pochemuchka (Russian for someone who asks a lot of questions) but I'm afraid when it comes to asking actual people actual questions which would do me some good----I am terrible. It's so important to have the right questions. So what questions? I will only have ten minutes. Those questions will be the most difficult things I have ever written. I think finishing the rough draft of Snow will be easier.

So I think I will share a scene from Snow. An excerpt, not a snippet. This is one of the first scenes I wrote for it. Yes, it's one of the pivotal points. And , if summarized like a logline, it can be read almost like a comedy. I dislike writers who explain their writing but I will simply say Snow is not a comedy, romantic or otherwise. It is a love story and this scene happens midway.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Bad Poetry Abounds! It Must be the Season.

Winter on the Arkansas River

© 2013 SE Hudnall
Tell Me When the Dogwoods Bloom

Tell me when the dogwoods bloom
And the violets peak out from under their leaves.
I know the wild plums have come and gone
And I missed them.
Let me know when the azaleas come out.
White, pink, orange or red.
I don’t care which ones come first.
Oh, do say when the wisteria hangs thick and fragrant
Straining heavy on the vine.
Winter’s beauty is in ice and crystal
A thousand colors bound in one.
I won’t deny its beauty.
And I love it for its silence and earthbound light.
Yet it’s started to fade to gray by now
And the cold has sapped my heart
So please . . .

I don’t care about the tulips
And roses don’t mean much to me.
But do tell me when the dogwood blooms
It’s the dogwood I want to see.


A Winter-Spring Trilogy

In between now
And then the slumbering earth breathes
Winter, winter, spring.

Can’t tell which one will be the last snowflake. Perhaps this one? No. That one!

Ephemeral they
Said as snowflakes little liars
Not so this winter.


Pranksters in the Churchyard

Giggling beneath
The unswept leaves of autumn
Violets gather

Imitating melting snow
Joke’s on them. I saw. Did you?

Friday, March 14, 2014

What No Vacation? Writing Every Day

Someone posted this meme to my Facebook page and I started to respond to it there but decided not to. I'm responding here instead.

I've really kind of realized that over the past year or so. When I go on an adventure* I'm thinking about writing. When I went to Vermont last spring I was thinking about writing and actually writing. The first Christmas Day, after I made the Decision, I wrote over 800 words. So yes, I do this. Every. Single. Day. Yet I feel less deprived of leisure than I did before when I was employed at a 'regular' job. It's so strange.

No, I don't always get 800 to 1000 or more words out every day; I have had days when less than five hundred are written down. No, my fictional work doesn't always get all the day's words. Sometimes this blog does. Sometimes it's simply a collection of snippets and notes for what I am working on. But it happens every day before the darkness of night fades into daylight brightness and, with a few exceptions, stops by lunchtime. The only days in the past year it hasn't happened I was anaesthetized for major surgery then hooked up to a morphine drip. (How's that for an excuse, Chris?)

Now it is a part of me like the way I make a pot of coffee in the morning without measuring the grounds or water. When something tries to intrude I feel uncomfortable. . . strange. I don't sit down in front of my laptop with twittering delight every morning. Some days I feel like I'm scratching the words directly out of my skin with a warped, over-used razor blade. But if I try to stay away it feels even worse.

Do I feel deprived writing every day? Oh, no. I feel deprived if I can't. Big difference. It's not always easy or easily achieved. But it does feel good, in and of itself. It feels good to be doing what I actually love doing. It feels good to finish a project, a blog post, or a chapter.

Vacation? One goes on vacation to break routine, get fresh perspectives, to get away from stress-makers, to find or see something new and different, and perhaps to make new friends or visit old ones. I do that all the time when I'm writing. I'm never at home; I'm always somewhere else. What is happening around me is interesting and new. Visiting friends? Oh, yes. Writing to discover new ones and editing to visit old ones. It works for me. I don't do vacations anymore; I do trips and when I do the writing goes with me. And I have the added pleasure of writing down descriptions of new places, thoughts, and people.

*adventure- a series of actions or process used to clear mental pathways and/or induce reticent fictional characters via vehicular kidnapping to disgorge crucial backstory, plot points, and/or dialogue. The process consists of choosing a cardinal direction via random methodology, filling up the gas tank of a vehicle, and heading in the chosen direction, and not turning back until the aforementioned fictional character starts disgorging the needed information. Primarily used by SE Hudnall when frustrated with characters, storyline, and other more generalized forms of writers block. Oddly more effective than would be rationally expected.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Poetry: Still Bad but Spontanous this Time

Not too long ago a friend posted something on Facebook I can only call a meme poem. That's not unusual. Lots of people post memes from other places for a variety of reasons but, in the main, they tend to be either political or personal. I have a few friends who post nothing but memes. I generally just click "like" if I agree with the viewpoint or find it amusing. Sometimes I click "like" just to make sure Facebook keeps my friends in my newsfeed.

What he posted was this:


What he couldn't have guessed is what things it struck in me. My written response  came out in what I can only describe as spontaneous poetry. I do that from time to time.

A Child’s Response
The best of you is not gone,
It lingers in my heart
Where you dwell laughing and whole.
It doesn't matter your stories are incomplete now.
I can finish them all the same.
What matters is you are here with me.
It means the world to me.
Please don't worry about remembering.
I will remember for both of us.
For I need to be with you.
No less than you with me.
For you see, I lost my mother to the thrice-cursed, debilitating disease of dementia five years ago. 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Break-out Character: Does It Happen in your Writing?

Not too long ago I commented on another writer’s blog. Well, I actually didn’t comment–I asked questions since she had asked for questions. The questions I asked at the end were fairly simple:

·       Just how often does a secondary character morph into a primary character for you?

·       How often were you surprised when that happens?

·       Does it not surprise you at all?

When I look over my own project list I can see that happening. All. The. Time. Right now I’m revising Rain and working on Snow. His Honor, the honorable Aaron Johansson, came directly out of Rain and now has his own set of troubles in Snow.  Summer Heat will feature two characters from Rain, albeit in an earlier time period. And as if there isn’t enough characters from Rain jumping up and down and waving their arms–well, there are the kids! Fatherhood I will have to create a file folder for so I can keep the kids corralled and quiet for a little while.

Even in Dani’s Song, my fairytale, I have characters in the back of my brain waiting to have their story told. I simply refuse to listen to them right now. I know they are not happy but there is a limit to the number of voices I’m willing and capable of listening to at a time. Get all of them into my living room at the same time and I’d require a DSM-IV diagnosis with treatment plan and appropriate medication.
Troika has even more but Jerome is the most insistent of that group, aggravating pushy male that he is. I don’t care how much he grins at me or how charming he is! He will have to wait his turn as well.

Every single one of them is a love story, not always a romance but always a love story. At least they’re consistent.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Always Coming Home: A Touch of Memoir

A few months ago I posted some poetry I had written while on a visit to Vermont. The poem I started thinking about was "Always Coming Home."

I'm southern by birth and blood--over five or six generations worth. I can claim that much but even now when someone asks me where I am from I still equivocate. The question is not meant to ask you where you were born but where you grew up.

My high school graduation class Facebook page sometimes has postings where someone talks about the elementary schools they attended and with who. Do you remember? Have you seen so-and-so who played Little League with us? Or that time we did something in elementary school? So many reminiscences and questions. I read those postings with a kind of longing. Those kind of memories I don't have with any of those there.

Where are you from? Definitely a question to equivocate with. I can't answer it with any kind of conviction.

I grew up in many places as a child: my place of birth, West Germany (yes, West Germany, not to be confused with East Germany at the time) , Washington State, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. From birth to the age of 13 I never lived any place longer than three years and even when I did manage two or three years I never attended the same school two years in a row. Time was I could name every single one of them but not anymore. Memories fade as new ones shoulder them out. It's an inevitability and fourth graders don't keep diaries.

I am an army brat---a military gypsy who followed a father from post to post. Changing schools, making friends I knew I would not have the following year, and knowing that a house was just a house, all of them just shelter. Life was very temporary. Some of us did not thrive in such an environment; some of us learned to adapt. And with that adaptation came a few shortcomings.

I've never done the research; I can only relate my own experience and epiphanies.

Changing schools so often led to abrupt changes in curriculum. One would just start to learn something, enjoy it, and look forward to the next part—then wham! Not at the new school. They thought something else was more important. I recall being tested in late elementary school and placed in a group being taught the ‘new math’.  It was an abysmal experience, trying to twist my mind into different pathways after I had managed to finally make the ‘old’ system make sense. Then I entered junior high after my father’s retirement and some enthusiastic academic decided I needed to be exposed or something to advanced mathematics. The experience sent my brain into mathematical seizures and I’ve been mathematically brain-damaged ever since, always squeaking by, in high school and college, on the absolute minimum necessary.  And did I mention lucky? My college professor wanted to pass us math morons so much they rewarded constant attendance, laboriously completed homework, and graded on a curve. Bless him!

Making new friends and leaving old friends? Ah, friendship is the most difficult task of all. New post means new school, new neighborhood, and new faces. If you’re housed on post everyone understands and friendships form quickly. You have so much in common. Off-base is harder. You’re always the new kid. You can only do the best you can. But after a few changes you learn friends come and friends go. You can promise, once you’re literate, to write but it rarely lasts when you’re only eight or ten years old. I learned friends are not life-time figures. I’ve learned how hard it is to hang on to those you want to keep. And I’ve accepted I will never reminisce with anyone who can remember that tree house we found or singing at the annual May Day Festival. No one person, other than family, runs through my lifeline.

It all sounds kind of sad, doesn’t it? Not really. I remember all my friends with affection and a bit of nostalgia. Any one of them could walk into my life right now and I would be happy to see them. No anger parted us---just life circumstances. My welcome back would be as warm as if we never parted.

And ,yes, houses are just houses. Something composed of brick, wood, natural stone with tin roofs, asphalt roofs, and shingled ones. Some were larger than others. Some were prettier. I do remember most of them. Some of them were pits. One of the reasons we had so many addresses was my father could not be trusted to find a decent domicile. He took the first and cheapest place he could find without a thought there was a wife and two children who needed to live in it as well. My mother corrected his mistake on a frequent basis. The man could take care of a platoon of men but had no idea about what it took to take care of a family.

More than the houses, I remember the places we lived---the geographical and natural space that contained us. Snow and tall, looming mountains. Trees which shrunk me down to the size of Gulliver. Turquoise waves lapping against gray-white sand. The smell of ginger flowers. The sound of rain on coconut trees. A sky full of bright stars. Warm, green forests with spring-fed streams. All of these and more are the images of my childhood. I do not understand to this day why they impressed me, a small child, beyond any reasonable expectation. But they are there, indelible and full of wonder, just behind my eyes.

Now when I travel some place hits my mind and heart with just one word: home. I look out around myself and my heart says “home”.  I suppose since I don’t have a single place to say I grew up in this is a good thing. Perhaps it is a gift, this adaptation. I will never be lost. Wherever I go I am always coming home. So where am I from? I'm from here and I'm from everywhere.

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.



Sunday, January 26, 2014

Oh, my. . . the "Rain" Revision is done? It's done!

Somebody needs to pinch me or dance with me. I really can't decide which right now. But, oh my, my revision of Rain is complete. I thought I had three days, maybe even a week, before I would or could make that statement. But it's done. The first revision is done.

Over the next few days, while I continue to work on the first draft of Snow, I will be checking the formatting. Just the formatting. Some would tell me I should put the whole thing away for awhile then go back over it again. I have little doubt that if I did that I would find more things to change but what I don't know is if those changes would be absolutely necessary. Nothing one does is perfect and , sooner or later, it must be finished. Sooner or later, the work has to go out.

Rain has been in process for twenty years.  Like a child you've raised, it's time for it to leave the house. You've tried to do the best you could and now it is time to see how it makes it on its own. The house swarms with other children and, frankly speaking, you need the room. There will be some things left behind in the attic or the basement. Perhaps those things will be asked for later. Who knows? Some of the other children might claim them---to wear or play with. Hand-me-downs are not a bad thing.

So I will send Rain out next month and , to my total amazement, meet my self-imposed deadline. I wonder how often it will come back to me with bumps, scratches, and bruises. That's OK. One can't protect them forever either. I will need bandages, peroxide, and maternal antiseptic. Treat its hurts and send it back into the world. I can do that.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

More Music to Write By

I've posted this on Facebook so I guess I will go ahead and blog it. At the end of the tunnel a light glows, pale and ghostly but there. Only a few chapters of Rain remain on my "revision" list. When those are completed I will give them a final run-through then stuff them into a file called "Completed Chapters-Rain" and let out a big sigh of relief.

After that I will be converting it into a complete PDF file for a friend who has been bugging me about it. Trust me, if Rain comes out in more traditional form she will be buying it! And I will ask another friend if she would like a copy.

A query letter will be written after that as I start down the list, sending Rain out into the publishing ether. I'm not really looking forward to that. Oh, not the getting it out there part! The query letter writing part I'm sure will have me gnawing at my remaining three fingernails. And I've been trying so long to grow some!

But this post is entitled "More Music to Write By" so how about some theme music? Yes, I have a completed (for the most part) soundtrack for both Rain and Snow. This one is one I discovered for Rain many months ago and I thought it would be appropriate here. Yes, it caught my ear then my eye when I saw the title.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Music to Write by

I'm still working my way through the revision for Rain. Yes, the process is still an arduous one for me but I think it's getting better. I hope I'm not too optimistic when I say the revision should be finished by the first of next month. At that point, Rain will be sent out to publishers and agents for their consideration. And sent out again and yet again. I have a number and/or a date on my query history sheet and if nothing happens by the time the number or date is reached. Well, I've kind of made up my mind---I will be publishing it independently and online. I want it out there somewhere and in some form.

Snow, the rough draft, is getting done as well. At least the primary love story is proceeding nicely. I'm working on the secondary arc now a bit more slowly. I want to get the facts and the tone right historically speaking. The time period can so easily become ---stereotyped? 

Both come from the same time period and I've been listening to a lot of the music I loved as a teenager: Motown, bubble-gum rock, and war protest songs of the late sixties.

I've also been thinking about that romance rule that says you have to have something keeping your couple apart for anything from 60% to 94% of the story. I've never liked that rule. I've always preferred letting them get together then spend the rest of the time trying to wreck havoc with them or the relationship.

"You think you're in love. Life is wonderful and nothing will ever hurt again? Bwa-ha-ha!" She cackled. Not a chance! I'm mean, ugly, and my mother always dressed me funny.

Back to the music, an old favorite of mine popped up on my playlist and I thought . . . perfect! Falling in love should be easy----but??? Will it stay that way? Should it? Can love persist or even grow deeper when things change? When challenged? Oh, yes, me and my questions again.

So I give you Mr. Len Barry and my personal trope that falling in love is easy.

Now I must get back to work. I have a very patient critique buddy who has been waiting far too long for her feedback!