Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Confessions and Clarifications

Pablo Picasso's Weeping Woman
Someone recently said to me (and I’m paraphrasing):

"I feel sorry for you and your children. You seem so happy, but really you’re weeping inside."

Now that I’ve had some time to think about this and process it, I want to address their concern here, because if it’s my blog that’s made this person come to such a conclusion, obviously I need to clarify. 

By no means do I write here with the intention or hope that anyone should feel sorry for me.

Confession: I write a lot about my own self-doubt and fear. While I don’t sit down to write with the objective of being negative, I’m not always the most positive person in the world. I use examples from my own life to illustrate points that teeter between black and white, pretty and ugly, inane and intelligent.

Clarification: I do this because –

1. Posting and sharing here is cathartic. Point blank: it just feels good.

2. While I’m writing and hashing and rewriting my first novel, I’m using this blog to flesh out some sort of answer to my own question from my “New Start.” Pamela Redmond Satran and Sally O’Reilly are the only published authors who have directly answered my writing questions thus far (and huge thanks to them). So for the most part I’m doing a lot of my own footwork in rummaging around to find answers. I’m also trying a handful of my own tricks, some of which fly and are colossal successes, and some that aren’t.

Now if I’m garnering all this valuable information, why would I hoard it up for only myself?

Especially since I know there are a huge number of people out there who are in a similar situation – trying desperately to create (books, art, music, school, work, etc) despite their baggage from the past, and the challenges going on constantly in their present – so hopefully something in the information I post here triggers a thought, or helps people push through those rough spots, or makes them laugh. And hopefully it gets them one step closer to accomplishing what they want to do.

3. None of this is in my comfort zone, but somehow admitting it makes it a little more okay. Brene Brown discusses this beautifully here:

Link to video
Now. That being said. I’m not suggesting I own my vulnerability especially well, but I’m trying. It’s all a process. Hopefully sharing my process helps you somehow feel more empowered and enabled in yours.  

So while I appreciate concern for any inner-weeping going on in my life (since I feel that good-energy is always good and I'd rather assume this person's concern is good instead of bad), I very much hope you walk away from reading my blog with more. I hope instead that you feel more comfortable in your own skin, in your own dreams, because by writing and making connections here, I am learning to become more so in mine.

Total pages logged as of today: Wait for it, wait for it...I'll update this on Thursday.

Moment of Magic today:

Speaking of weeping... *sigh* I love this song. Love the stamping.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: The Frog Prince

Alpha, about a year ago -- oh how he hated this suit.
Okay, so what we’ve got is a prince who, for whatever reason, has been cursed to wear a frog suit and it makes him sad.

Now, while I have no problem coming up with a few perks to being a frog – off the top of my head? Strong green legs, for one – our young prince doesn’t like it. Maybe because no girls will kiss him, which I’m made to understand is something guys really like, so. I guess I get why he doesn’t appreciate the frog suit.

But I can also understand why nobody wants to kiss him. When I imagine the texture of something slimy touching my lips, I think of a horrible smell, putrid decay, stickiness stretching into long strings. 

And of course it’s almost impossible to keep stuff out of your mouth once it’s been on your lips (it says here the average woman will consume 6 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime? I have no idea if that’s really true, but I do know one of my first instincts after putting chapstick on is to lick my lips.) 

On top of the slime, there’s also the chance that the frog may be poisonous.  I’ve often wondered if that played a part in the original story.

Regardless, no one’s kissing our prince, though inside he is a sweet, kind, person. Or maybe he’s cruel? Maybe he’s a techy without many social skills. But then, why am I assuming a techy would automatically have fewer social skills? Perhaps that label is a frog suit, of sorts.

Fairy Godmother -- link to original here
Perhaps all labels are curses we put on each other to rationalize our want to disassociate from things we don’t understand. And we’re all just waiting for a fairy godmother to lift the curse and make it better. Or a princess to come along and see past the suit into the “real” person inside, hoping she’ll kiss away the ugliness to make it better.

My initial reaction to the label/frog suit idea is: “Duh, just do away with the labels. Obviously what we’ve got here is a prince, not a frog.”

But I know that’s not a very realistic approach to life because, even if something seems obvious, it’s hardly ever entirely the way it seems. Theories are always good in theory, eh?

Labels have their place in society. They are a great organizational tool, among other things. I suppose what I don’t like about imposing frog suits on people is that we use the suits to justify cruelty and hate. “It’s okay if I’m blatantly offensive to this guy, because he’s    (fill in the blank)   ."

I don’t know what the answer is. Do you?

I do know, though, that I hope someday my little prince will be loved, frog suit or not. I hope he will be accepted and encouraged, rather than pushed out and discouraged. I am his mama, and I see the prince; but even if others see a frog, I hope they’ll respect him anyway. 

And lest you be disappointed at my (mis)handling of “The Frog Prince,” take a look at a punnier version put on by the Fractured Fairytale folks:

Total pages logged as of today: 160 (Apparently the pep-talk worked and I'm that much closer to deadline. Counting down to 5 days, 4 chapters left.) 

Moment of Magic today:

Here are some of my visuals for tonight's writing --

Again, what stories do they create in your mind? I dare you to write one down and see where it'll take you... 

Link to original here

Link to original here

Link to original here

Thursday, February 23, 2012

300 Words or Less: Dog Eat Dog

300 Thursday again? Yes. This last week has felt somewhat Twilight-Zoney. I can't tell if it's gone by fast or slow. Regardless, here I am again posting bits of original work -- teasers from the novel I'm working on, some of my favorite poetry or prose I've done in the last few years, maybe some flash fiction or short essays, etc. -- all within 300 words or less. 

Today's quickie is again a poem I wrote a couple of years ago. While reading through my older stuff last week I bumped into this piece, making me do a mental "Huh. Interesting?" but then I decided to do another poem instead.

Still, I've been thinking about the last lines of this poem ever since. Which makes me think maybe someone else(s) out there needs to hear it too? Or maybe I just needed to see it again? I don't know. So without further ado:

Link to original here
Dog Eat Dog

Dog eat dog,
so They say.

Who has the last word
at the end of the day?

Is that all that matters?
Seems like power

is all that matters.
But who has power?

The person with all the money?
The person with all the sway?

The person who believes in themselves,
no matter what They say?

Seems like most just want to be.
What does it mean

if I just let you eat me?

Total pages logged as of today: 152 (Still? What? I know, I know...life happened, and now I'm panicking just a little bit. Bah. See my Moment of Magic for more on this.) 

Moment of Magic today:

Link to original here
I'm getting a sneaking suspicion that unconsciously I'm trying to sabotage myself, which I have been known to do in the past, because one: I'm getting close to the end of my first draft; and two: I'm getting close to my self-imposed due date.

These two things are a big deal, if to no one else, to me.

But if I bungle it up? Ha! I'll be a failure to myself, yet again, and oh how much easier it is to fail at something than to succeed. And if I'm always failing, then why try? Ever?

Of course there's this and there's this. Right.

And there's the bit about how I really want to be a published writer someday so I want to prove to myself that I can do the deadline thing. Even when life happens, or storms hit home, or the doubt seems bigger than my abilities.

So here's the plan --

I have 6 nights left before March 1st. I have 5 chapters left to write. For my first draft I'm trying to get around 10 pages in per chapter (*gulp* So do you see the self-sabotage I'm talking about? Because usually it takes me about an hour per page).  I have them outlined, though, so it's really just a matter of getting the story out of my head...

Aha. And there, my friends, is my magic moment. It seems simple right this second, I know. But consider how magical that really is -- having something in your head, and then you put it down on paper, or mold it into clay, or create the perfect photograph. Whatever. And it takes on a tangible "life" of its own.

So back to the plan.

Ah, hell. Scratch the plan. This is the first draft and I just need to get that infantile version out of my head, into the computer, and then I can go back afterward to make it pretty. Have you ever noticed newborns are not so cute? Not when they first come sliding out and...and I'm not a blood person so even imagining it in my head is making me a little queasy. My first draft can be a scary-looking blue, covered in vernix, and gasping for air?

Heh. I can do that.

Here are some of my visuals for tonight's session (initiate all-writing-tricks mode): 

What stories do they evoke in your mind? I dare you to write one down and see where it'll take you...

Link to original here

Link to original sends you to a lost page, sorry.

Link to original here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

But What Does it Look Like?

My friend's short story was so good I literally went, "What?" at the end. I wanted to know more. So when I suggested (read: begged) she keep going, she said she was really busy right now but she was interested in doing more with it this summer when her schedule opened up a bit. She went on to say:

     “…The time lapse [between now and this summer] will help me flesh out exactly what I want to say as well.  I may do outlines and notes in between now and then to keep my hand in it though. Any advice?”

Yes. First of all, thank you for saying you'll keep going. I think you've got something.

Second. Honestly, time is probably one of the best things you can do for a story. If you have time to allow for time, good. 

What is this? Find out here

Simmer the story on low. Constantly let the heat slowly pull out the delicious flavors. Yum. But of course, with that comes the obvious – the heat must be on. We can’t just put the pot on a cold burner at the back of the stove and expect it to cook. We've got to be thinking about the story, the characters and their histories, their relationships, and writing about it…

I've done my research on a lot of writers and all of them, all of them, say writing daily is the key. 

For some reason I used to discredit this, most likely because I was reading it and hearing it so much. Now I’ll affirm it. In fact, I can’t stress it enough. Here's the difference, though -- everyone says to write, yes, no one ever says what that looks like. Do I have to be sitting down at a computer? Does it have to make sense to anyone else but me?

Something you want to get published will need to be legible, so most likely on a computer/typewriter, and if you want an audience of any kind, it should probably make sense to them on some level.

But that's not what I'm discussing today. I'm not talking about the final-draft. I'm just talking about the daily-draft, the bit we do for habit, our due to the muse. Whatever you want to call it.

That can look like many things:

I had a professor once who suggested I always keep a post-it pad with me, and that worked for awhile, in conjunction with one of those little black books? Easy to slip in a back pocket or bag...but I found that if I left it somewhere, for some reason -- Ugh! -- it would completely throw off my gig.

So I suggest instead that you always keep a sharpie with you, because then you can write on anything that’s handy – the infamous napkin, the side of a box, winding around a multivitamin bottle, your hand/arm/closest body appendage…

Of course traditional journaling is good. Traditional sit down and write in a book I found in the "Journal" section of my local bookstore type stuff. This works. I still do this, though in my current version I'm more likely to write in a steno I found in the "Office Supply" section of my local dollar store.

For awhile writing in cookbooks was my thing. I loved writing sloppy tid-wits in the section labeled "Fish," and sweet, gooey gossipy things in the "Desserts." 

I'm a visual person, so I like finding images to go along with my stuff, sometimes. Or better yet, finding interesting images to flesh-out with words. Yes, I'm well aware this is an old stand-by of creative writing classes. But it's an old stand-by because it works.

If all else fails, and I absolutely can't find words, I draw a picture and try to caption it. Remember, habit is the key. It doesn't have to look pretty, you just need to feel good about dedicating that time (be it 10 minutes or 10 hours) to yourself and your craft.

Also, a couple of quick bullets:

  • Practice writing short, powerful excerpts. My “300 Words or Less”  days are done for a reason – when it feels like you’re just too busy, at least try for 300 words or less.
  • Outlines are helpful, but be flexible. I’ve written and rewritten the outline for the book I'm working on four times now. Each version has the same general idea as the one before, and I already know how the book ends, but the outline is a tool that becomes more clear as I continue to plow through. If an outline just complicates things for you, drop it and keep writing.
  • Know and use your primary learning style(s) to help you write. Like I said before, I'm visual, so to make my story come to life and seem more real, I visualize the scene, the dress, the action that I’m trying to portray, and then I try to fit words around them. I am in love with "Google Images." If you’re a tactile person, find objects that will help you make it more real. If you’re an audio person, find music and sounds that help you create the scene, the dress, the action...kind-of like a movie soundtrack or something.

Total pages logged as of today: 152 (so I'm behind on my goal, but pushing, pushing. If I do an extra page here, another there, I'll make it. Still 8 days...)

Moment of Magic today:
For Mardi Gras, I suggest you find some way to make your way into your very own Fairy Paradise, whatever that may look like to you. Here's one version...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: An Alternate Sleeping Beauty

It’s really all just a big open space, with the only thing distinguishing our kitchen from our living room being the different flooring. Purple shag for one (don’t be jealous) and wood-laminate for the other. I’ll let you guess which is which.

This makes it relatively easier to keep my eye on Alpha while I prep dinner. For this story he was wrapped up in a blanket on the couch, and riveted to Disney’s 1973 version of Sleeping Beauty because he’d never seen it before. Granted, he’s only two, so he hasn’t seen a lot of things yet. 

Now, bear with me please. This is one of my top five favorite fairytales, so even though we’ve already gone over it somewhat here, I can’t help but bring it up again.

Especially when the following happened:

Hubs came home from work all cheery and jovial, which meant the minute his bag and coat came off, he was cracking jokes. Only, I was making dinner and Alpha was watching a movie. Even for the most innovative of entertainers, that’s not an ideal audience. 

Of course his jibes turned then to the movie. This is about where it was at:

Swords and fighting and dragons, oh my! This is the “boy” part! And yet he was still making fun of it.

One of my favorite fairytales of all time. 

I’m going to go ahead and admit, here, I was feeling a bit rankled. Needless to say, our vegetables ended up being a little more finely chopped than they needed to be.

Now fast-forward the video to around 7 minutes and 45 seconds. This is the “girl” part. Pitter-patter, pitter-patter goes my heart. Sigh.

Hubs is saying, “Oh, gross! Alpha, don’t watch.”

Alpha is watching anyway.

“Alpha. Don’t even think about that kind of stuff til you’re, like, 20.”

I wonder if Alpha understands.

“Ew, they’re kissing. Uuugh!” Hubs won’t let up.

 But Alpha stands up to look over the back of the couch at me. Pointing back at the movie he says, “Mom!...something, something…” (He’s still working on his full sentences).

I just smile at him cause, guh, he is so cute.

“Yeah, that part’s for Mom,” Hubs says.

Alpha is still trying to communicate a point, though, only I’m not sure what. So I keep smiling at him, and he keeps pointing back and forth between the movie and me. 

Finally his eyes take on a determined look and he gets down off the couch, walks over to me, and takes my hand. With a little-boy tug he pulls so I’ll squat down to his height. When I do, I’m rewarded with a kiss on the cheek.

A very princely kiss, and a, “Cute, Mama.”

Suddenly I was awake to the lovely glow of the evening, and how great that moment felt. Awake and alive. And grateful. Alpha went back to finish his movie. I went back to finishing our meal. Hubs went back to his fun-loving jests. 

Now I have another reason to love the Sleeping Beauty story.

Life moves on. But fairytales, and the memories embedded into them, are forever.

So what stories do you have connected to fairytales?

Link to artist here

Total pages logged as of today: 145

Moment of Magic today:
I'm very tired. If I can get a nap in today, that will be magical. This is me making a wish.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

300 Words or Less: Sacred

300 Thursday again, where I'm posting bits of original work -- teasers from the novel I'm working on, some of my favorite poetry or prose I've done in the last few years, maybe some flash fiction or short essays, etc. -- all within 300 words or less. 

Today's quickie is a poem I wrote a couple of years ago, though it still very much applies:
Link to original source here

You are sacred.

I am speaking to the earth,
to the trees.
I am speaking to the people who
are on their knees.
I am speaking to the woman who
called me a bitch.
I am speaking to the ones who
could really care less.

Friend or foe,
I'm glad to be here with you.
Most of you I don't know,
or maybe I do.

But we are connected,
just by being alive.
And we are all sacred parts
of the bigger hive.
I may never get to taste the honey,
but I glow to know it's there.
You are proof of it,

As am I.

Total pages logged as of today: 141 

Moment of Magic today:

When The XX is playing in the background of whatever else we're doing -- coloring, playing with home-made play dough, trying to get Beta to laugh -- Alpha will stop, crawl up into the computer chair, and watch. Mesmerized. Some part of me hopes he's a musician someday. A bigger part of me hopes he's whoever he wants to be someday. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Panic Mode + Coffee

So it works itself out to be something like this:

A. Most debut novels are somewhere between 300-400 pages. Generally speaking.

B. When you actually count out the number of words per published page, it averages out to around 260. Generally speaking.

C. So that’s between 78,000 and 104,000 words. Ish.

I’m not a math person, so I’m already losing myself in this, but let me try to keep going. I have a point here:

My average page of writing has somewhere between 400-500 words per page.

That’s nearly double the average 260 words on a published book page. 

So I’m saying all this because I was freaking myself out about my goal amount that I want to write for my first draft vs. the amount I’m going to need to be able to start querying agents with (after I’ve bled out my third/fourth/tenth draft).

My goal for draft number one is 200 pages by the end of February/beginning of March 2012. I’m going to need to write 4-5 pages per day to reach that goal. Okay, I can do that. I am the little engine who could.

But I was worried 200 pages wasn’t enough? Panic mode with too much coffee is never a pretty thing. Hubs was patient. He suggested I do this math problem that blahdedyblah-blah basically works out how many words per page in published books, blahdedyblah, I’m still not a math person. 

We figured out my 200 pages times 400-500 words is between 80,000 and 100,000. Which if you’ll refer to line C above is just about right.


So everything’s fine, here. We can all move happily along in our day. This is just another example of writerly worry-bits and things to think about in the trade of the writerly business. Though I don't know if any of this is really accurate according to an actual agent and/or publishing house, it helped stop the panic for now.

If anyone out there in the ether is reading this who has more authentic, concrete, insider tips, and is willing to share, please let me know?

Total pages logged as of today: 136 + 2 pages of other writing. 

Moment of Magic today:
In tribute of Valentine's Day, I'm resurrecting an oldy-goldy...

*Disclaimer -- the version of this song that I'm familiar with uses the word "brother" where the original version (and because the song is so old, all I can really find is variants of the original) uses the N-word. I have mixed thoughts about this, but I still love the song. If anything, it intensifies the message. So. I'm still including the video, but if you object to hearing that word used, please don't listen to this song. Or at the very least, skip to the end somewhere around 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: Princess and the Pea Revisited

Last Friday I suggested we go back to a pre-Hans telling of this story and asked for renditions of alternate versions. Here are a couple of the responses I received:

 First is a short-short story told in the children's book collection of "The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales" by Jon Scieszka.

And I love this book.

This version may still rely on the idea that a true princess will be extremely delicate and sensitive, but it's a twist. Points definitely go for the twist.

I love that in this version the prince is an avid enough bowler he has a ball hanging around he can use for just such an occasion. Of course, right?

Next is a Broadway musical comedy, "Once Upon a Mattress." Again, it is an adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen story, but again, it's a little bit twisted.


Here's a good place to get started on that version if you're interested:

Finally, since no one else was biting at my bate to create an original pre-Hans version, I decided to have a little go at it. For the sake of time management, and child management, I tried to keep it to a page. Here's what I came up with:

About a Pea

The embers glowed orange and red as she held her hands out to the warmth, listening. Her father snored loudly from the back room, his brother competing with him even in that. Uncle Jeffery was visiting for the weekend from his service at the palace, and the two broad-chested, loud-mouthed men had roared late into the night getting drunk off each others’ stories and her father’s dark ale. She didn’t want to be present for their hungover beatings when they woke.

And this time she wouldn’t be.

Standing up, she tucked her long, thick hair under her hood and dusted off her dress where she’d been kneeling in front of the fireplace. Though it was her best, the gown would look worn and tattered where she was headed, so she stilled her hands in resignation and quietly made her way to the door. 

She ran back through her story: she’d explain away her disheveled appearance by saying there’d been a shipwreck down south, unfortunately she was the only survivor, and it’d taken her over a month to make her way up to the Capital on foot. 

It would be easy enough to convince them she was one of the Emperor’s many princesses from the kingdom across the sea, where this country garnered spices and slaves for a cheap price. She had the olive skin and black hair to confirm her story because her mother really had come from that warm, far-off place. They would look at her dark full lips, her big almond eyes, and nod, like people did in the market when she traded her father’s wares and her own fine embroidery for grain and vegetables. 

No one at the palace would question when she said she’d heard about the royal couple’s search for the perfect bride to marry their sole son, prince and heir to the throne, and that she had come to try their mysterious test. At least she hoped they didn’t.

Pausing at the door, she listened again, turning to a small hand tapping at her arm. Kneeling down, she scooped her little brother into her arms. The little brother whose birth had finally released their mother from this torment, her relief to be leaving them preserved for all time on her stiff, dead face.

“I’ll be back for you, I promise,” she said, kissing away his silent tears. He hiccuped and hid his head in the crook of her neck. They rocked together, but finally she pulled back. “I have to go.”

“What if the prince doesn’t like you?” he whispered, his somber almond eyes wide with worry.

She almost laughed. Of all the reasons she had to fear tumbling through her head, she hadn’t even thought of that. “Nothing can be worse than Papa, huh? Stay away from him today until the worst has past,” she said, holding him close one last time and then putting him on his feet. “Be brave, little mouse. Remember our plan, and I’ll be back for you within a fortnight.”

He nodded, shutting the door softly behind her. 

Sliding into the shadows she hurried quickly upwards, toward the palace, shuffling through quiet cobbled streets past dirty shop fronts and rancid refuse. All this could change. Looking around, she shook her head, angry, and made a promise to herself to take care of this; to care for these people. She would not forget where she came from. She’d fix what was putrid in her life, then she’d fix what was rotting here too.

She smiled deep, hope blooming in her belly for the first time since their mother had died. Maybe she didn’t have royal relatives, but now, thanks to Uncle Jeffery’s drunken rants, she had a royal secret. A very important one, about a pea.

Total pages logged as of today: 130 + 3 pages of other writing. Points?

Moment of Magic today:

1. Stare at the red dot on the girl’s nose for 30 seconds

2. Turn your eyes towards the wall/roof or somewhere else on a plain surface

3. Keep blinking your eyes quickly

Thursday, February 9, 2012

300 Words or Less: Movie Trailer

And it's Thursday again, where I'm posting bits of original work -- teasers from the novel I'm working on, some of my favorite poetry or prose I've done in the last few years, maybe some flash fiction or short essays, etc. -- all within 300 words or less. 

Here's some more flash fiction, today's quickie:

Movie Trailer

Olivia was walking slowly home from her appointment, soaking in the break from her children. She bought a soft pretzel dusted with sugar and sat down on a bench in the park to piece at it. The warm bread hung from her hand turning cold.

Link to original here (plus the recipe? What? Now you gotta go)
“You know what they put in those, right?” Her sister plopped nearly on top of her, paper bowl in hand with a single scoop of icecream. She licked the spoon like a lollipop.

“Abi,” Livie turned with a half-smile. “How’d you know I was here?”

 “Pfff. I know you like we were the same person.”

 “You want some?” Livie offered the pastry.

 Abigail’s nose scrunched. “No. I want to live through the day.”

 “And I don’t?”

 “I don’t know. Do you? What’d the doc say?”

 Looking away, Livie shrugged. “Same as usual.”

 Abi waited for her to continue, but Livie changed the subject. “You know. My little Philip only wants to play with whatever his sister’s got.”


 “I watched a trailer for a new movie coming out. I got all weepy just during those two minutes. I want to be loved like that.”

 “It’s a movie, Liv.”

“I know,” she looked at her hands, dropping the bread and wiping her fingers. Ants converged immediately.

They were silent for awhile, watching a black dog galumph around the park sans leash. It stopped to sniff people, wagged its tail when someone paused to scratch it, but dashed off as soon as they showed too much interest. There wasn’t an apparent owner anywhere.

“Can I have a bite of your icecream?”

Abi handed the bowl over. “Sure. The guy’s just right there, do you want me to get you some?”

“Nah, it won’t taste as good if it’s mine,” Livie smiled. “I just want some of yours.” 

Total pages logged as of today: 128 (I feel like I've done more than that lately? But the numbers are what they are. Huh.)

Moment of Magic today:

Harps, by default, make anything magical. But how she closes her eyes to sing is magical too. Their pauses are magical. My little boy sitting on my lap to watch this video, swinging his leg to the beat, is magical. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bumbling and Believing

Today we went to get our taxes done. Barton Moody is our go-to guy, and he makes tax season magical, because where I used to get this awful, sick feeling in my stomach pretty much from January to whenever I finally turned them in, now I look forward to getting them done. Barton is really good at what he does, yes, but he’s really nice too.

When I told him I was working on a book he actually believed me. This took me off guard for some reason. I mean, I am working on a book. But while Hubs, my close family, and a few friends have seen the “proof,” I haven’t really talked face-to-face with anyone else about it.

So when he asked me what the genre was, I just looked at him dumbfounded, as if I’d never heard the word before. Ha.

With very little grace, I stuttered, “Uh, I guess it’s fantasy? I mean, not really science fiction at all…(I’m kicking myself inwardly, here, cause I know I’m sounding clueless)…but it takes place in present day…”

His look is still interested. Encouraging. I don’t know what else to say so I look desperately around the room as if the answer is written on the wall or scrolled across one of the windows, “But it’s about angels? And demons…?”

Obviously I was floundering. Yes, I know exactly what section I’d find my book in at the store, but in that moment with Barton I was just so shocked that anyone outside my immediate circle would truly consider me to be a writer. A real one, who publishes and stuff.

But despite my suave detailing he nodded and said, “Well I look forward to reading it.” His expression didn’t change the whole time – as if he still believed me at the end of my bumbling as much as he did when he first asked the question.


What’s my point? Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you too. 

Total pages logged as of today: 127

Moment of Magic today:

(my favorite part:) 
"Mother don't worry I've got a coat and some friends on the corner
Mother don't worry she's got a garden we're it planting together
Mother remember the night that the dog had her pups in the pantry
Blood on the floor and the fleas in their paws
And you cried 'til the morning

So may the sunrise bring hope where it once was forgotten
Sons are like birds flying always over the mountain."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Fairy Tale Friday: The Princess and the Pea

Link to artist here
They say Hans Christian Anderson was the guy who made this fairy tale popular, though there were other versions circulating before his rendition. They also say he was the first to include the idea that the real princess was sensitive to even the tiniest discomfort, and that's why she felt the pea under the mattress.

Previous versions suggested she was clued in on the farce by a helpful insider, so the next morning she passed the test because of her ingenuity and foresightedness. Huh.

If you ask me, I'd rather have a queen who's cunning and smart than one who is squeamish and tender. I want to be proud of my strong queen (hello Ms. Obama on the Ellen Show recently?); not shrug and sigh, hoping the next one will be better.

So I vote we go back to a pre-Hans telling of this story, if anyone out there has a good rendition? Better yet, if anyone wants to write a pre-Hans/pro-proud Princess story I'd love to host it in my post next Friday. Anyone? I dare you, if that helps.

Until then, sigh, here's a pretty version of what we've got (I love the creator's voice):

Hours logged today: 1/researching   Pages logged today: 1/researching    Total pages logged today: 126

Moment of Magic today:
In the dead of winter, I'm reminded of when this bee came to hang out with us in our kitchen. It was a warm night, the smell of sun still in the dark air, baby (only one at the time) in bed, and time to just breathe. 

I love summer. I love the memory of this bee.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

300 Words or Less: Exactly

Back to Thursday, where I'm posting bits of original work -- teasers from the novel I'm working on, some of my favorite poetry or prose I've done in the last few years, maybe some flash fiction or short essays, etc. -- all within 300 words or less. 

Here's some flash fiction, today's quickie:


“To top it off,” I’m regaling my friend on our way to the movie with my latest failed-date story. She’s leaning over, head down, slapping the dashboard and laughing so hard she’s silent, shoulders shuddering. I snort, continuing, “She told me the odd collection of jars on the shelf above her cups are in fact not empty. They’re full of air. Her supply for the apocalypse.”

My friend had sat up, making an attempt at self-control, but she doubles over again.

“I left pretty much right then. She asked if I wanted a hit. I mean, really?”

“Stop!” she wails, rolling down the window and sticking her head out sideways. “I’m going to piss myself!” I know she’s directing this at me, but the bundled-up couple holding hands, walking slowly as we drive by, do not. 

They look at us dirty.

So I honk and wave. 

“I kid you not,” pulling her back in and rolling the window up from my side. It’s February, for god’s sake. I hate being cold. “I don’t know where I find these chics. Hot is not, apparently.”

My friend is wiping her eyes and hiccupping. “Ah,” she sighs. “Maybe you should try dating on the other side of the fence. Guys aren’t so bad, eh?”

I snort again, but when I look over I realize she’s being serious. As serious as she can be with dark makeup-streaks tracking down her cheeks, residual laughter bubbling up.

I’m not interested in my friend, whatsoever, but I run my fingers along the inside of her thigh. “Maybe I should try dating you.”

“Please, girl,” her look is slight and she rolls her eyes, moving her leg away. “You know I’m not like that.”


“Exactly what?” she says, still grinning, fixing her mascara in the passenger-side mirror.

Hours logged today: 3   Pages logged today: 5    Total pages logged today: 125

Moment of Magic today:
I love the red, the flower.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Of Beatings and Barmaids

While writing my last two posts I had this gentle sinking feeling in my stomach that somehow what I was writing seemed familiar? "Where have I read/said this before?"

Uh, yes. I’ve skimmed back over my previous posts and noticed how many hovered timidly, some more boldly, around the idea of “self-doubt.” Right. I think it's fair to say we've established the fact that in my writing process I deal with a lot of uncertainty. So. Lest I attempt to fixate again on what’s apparently my favorite topic anytime soon, I’m making an official note:

(Though in retrospect I believe the correct phraseology is "kicking," not "beating." Bah.)

But now on to more positive mental images. SookieStackhouse.

Let me first say I’ve never watched any part of the True Blood series, so my comments are specifically for and about the Sookie Stackhouse books. I love them. Okay, many people love them, but these are some of the reasons I love her character specifically:

link to artist here

1. She is funny, realistic about her “disability/gift,” giving, hard working, curious, open-minded, but knows her limits. Most of them, anyway, which leads me to…

2. She grows emotionally and experientially through the books so that when she asks herself questions about some of her preconceived notions, we are made to ask ourselves those things also.

3. She bounces back from everything. Sometimes it takes time, and a little physical therapy, but she keeps going like we all have to do. 

And I love the author of the Sookie Stackhouse books, Charlaine Harris. Okay, many people love her, but these are some of the reasons I love her specifically:

1. Her smile, and general demeanor in interviews, is real. When I was young I was told that if I ever got lost, I should find a grandma or mother with children to ask for help. I would definitely have gone to Charlaine Harris.

2. Her blog, which can be found here, is full of wisdom and wit. Read it all, piece by piece, I dare you. You'll feel better for it in the end. Like a spoon-full of sugar.

3. Her interviews are golden: 

Hours logged today: 2   Pages logged today: 3    Total pages logged today: 120

Moment of Magic today:

Rocking little Beta to sleep this afternoon took longer than I'd expected, and so ate into what meager blogging time I've set aside for myself, but it was soft, sweet, slow. Humming.

It's magical that he is small enough still to fit in the crook of my arm, head on my shoulder, tiny puffs of breath on my neck, and we are like puzzle pieces. Perfect together.

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