Friday, September 30, 2011

I've had almost a week to think about some of my editors suggestions. Because her initial reaction to the book was favorable, I really was thinking I would not have to do too many rewrites. when Rick finished reading Book II he told me that it was so much better. He claims my writing and thought processes have progressed and he made the remark that maybe I should rewrite Book I. I, of course, scoffed at that (at him really). He irritated me when I showed him the notes from the editor. Of course he had the four most hated words in the English language written all over his face (he knows me too well, to say them out loud) I TOLD YOU SO.

I finished reading Book II and adding my edits. I'm almost done putting my and Rick's edits on Book II into the computer and I can see everybody is right. including my characters, because I keep waking up at night rewriting scenes from Book I in my head.

All of the advice for writers is pretty diverse, but there is one thing that keeps coming up in every advice article and that is join a writer's group. Get the support of other writers to know your not crazy,lazy, totally insecure, obsessive, etc, etc, etc. Kind of like a Cancer Support Group, you can get through this dread disease if you know others are going through it or have gotten through it too. Well, in my circumstances it's a little hard, but I do follow almost exclusively writers on twitter (I know, I know, your thinking; Are you kidding me? Social Media?). Yeah Social Media that's my Writer's Group. I read quite a few of their blogs and yesterday by accident I was lead to the blog of a very successful young woman writing in the same genre. Her blog was devoted to"Changes" and went on to say how hard it was to listen to editors and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite, but she wanted the book to be the very best it could be. I've read her book. It is. It was interesting to note that it was not what or where she started out. Guess I didn't find that blog by accident after all.

So, I'm ready to listen and rewrite. Some of the suggestions have already been worked out, in my head anyway, best to get them on paper. Funny, after all these years I'm becoming a perfectionist. I do want this to be the best it can be.

Whew! Don't worry, 'thinking is still optional.'

Monday, September 26, 2011

YIPPEE! Got an email from the editor yesterday. It only took me a half hour and about a gallon of sweat to open it. She's only about 50 pages in to it and she did not hate it. Many complementary things to say. (Here's where I'm doin' a little ole dance around the room. Back is much better by the way.). There are also many things she wants me to rewrite.

I'm in the middle of the self-edit on Book II. Told her I would take a little time to think about her suggestions and reread Book I. Yeah, well. Apparently Book I and my characters like her better than me. I was wide awake at 3:30AM doing the rewrites in my head. Are you kidding me?

I'm still insisting on finished the self-edit of Book II before I start. I get too confused about where I'm at and what we are doing. That is of course, unless they wake me up again tonight or tomorrow morning. Talk about the voices in your head.

No matter what they say: Thinking is still optional.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The slacker is back. Today at noon-Atlantic Time, I finished writing "Far Away Dreams" or Book II. One more to go. Do I have it in me? I guess we'll see.

This story consumed me. I would forget to eat (Not necessarily a bad thing.), didn't cook much (A bad thing according to Rick), the house is a wreck (eh!) and there were times I could not sleep (Not necessarily a new thing). I have to admit I feel a little bit like a fraud. I started Book I with a general idea of wanting to write a story about Mermaids. I started out with no outline, having no idea where I was going or what I was doing. Simultaneously, I started taking college course, again. (One day I'll actually get that degree. Nah, they still want me to take those math classes.) I started reading blogs and studying like mad to learn how to write. I mean, I want to learn how to craft a good story, something you can't put down. Characters you become invested in. I want you to feel my passion and learn about the things that are important to me. I want to make you cry. I want to prick your conscience. I want you to laugh out loud with tears streaming down your face. I want to embarrass you. I want you to feel the heat of my love scenes without going to far and crossing the line that offends your imagination.

Anyway...back to being a fraud. I don't know where these stories are coming from. I start writing with a vague idea and it gets away from me and the characters start talking and ideas start coming. It's crazy. Sometimes I worry about myself. Some of the ideas that became incorporated into the story were NOT my idea. They wanted to be there and there was no getting around it. These are all ideas that I am very familiar with, with a twist, of course, but I did not intend to include them as part of the story. What is that?

Book I is with an editor. I haven't heard a peep from them in three weeks. I'm anxious. At the same time,no news is good news. I terrified they will say this is the biggest piece of crap I have ever read. Rick likes it,but unfortunately he doesn't really count. He counts on me for dinner. (Most days.) There is no way he would say it was a piece of crap. Book II is better than Book I. Maybe that's not fair. Book I is so much setting the stage, developing the characters. In Book II they get to take off. More action, more danger,more everything.

I have confidence I have a good story. I hope I'm good enough to write it.

I don't promote my blog. Primarily it's my Journal. I write here for myself and I don't worry about where the commas go (That would be because I have no idea where they should be. I'm just a storyteller.) I do know that some of my followers picked me up from my Twitter page, so anyone, everyone, let me know what you think.

Next step slash and burn on Book II, it ended up at 110,119 words, probably a little bit too long. When I hear back from the editor, hopefully I will be able to make "minor" changes and start to sell myself by querying agents. Wondering who I can get to help me edit Book II. Editors for Book I are working for a week stay with us in the Caribbean. I'm sure they will want $$$, that I don't have for Book II. Can't really blame them. Finally, I guess I'll start on Book III (Hopefully the final in this series.) The characters are already calling to me. I'm not sure where they are going, but I know they want to get started on the journey.

When someone asked me what the books were about I told them: "Strong women with strong values. Ancient customs and rituals. Value of family; first the immediate family, next the global family. And Mermaids,of course." My take on mermaids may be a little different and shocking to some.

Titles were the hardest. I have finally settled on "Far Away Eyes" for Book I and "Far Away Dreams" for Book II. Of course, if I find a publisher who is interested, changing the title would not be a deal breaker for me. Changing some of the story would.

For me; Thinking is still optional.

Monday, September 19, 2011

I admit I've been a little whiny lately. OK I've been a lot whiny. This backache thing is getting old real fast. Sitting against the heating pad helps. Imagine sitting against a heating pad when you live somewhere with an average temperature of eighty-five degrees in September. Yeah, I'm a lot whiny. Anyway...

I decided yesterday,that I should take the day off. Lay around and try to get better. I force myself to stay away from the computer and not write on Sunday,it is work for me. Anyway...I finished reading the book I have been working on for almost two weeks. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett. This was such an amazing, heartfelt book I want to leave a little review, in hopes that you all will take the time and read it. I love almost anything that will make me laugh out loud. I am impressed by those that make me feel. It is rare that I'm reading with tears streaming down my face. This story was able to accomplish all three.

Simply put it's the story of upper middle class white women in the south during the 60's and their maids (The Help). It's a work of fiction with characters so real you expect to see them on Oprah.(OK, I do know that Oprah is no more - even if we don't watch TV, but you know what I mean.) As their stories unfold, my heart broke for some, for others I cheered and there are a few I wanted to slap silly.

I grew up during the 60's. I grew up real fast during the 60's. I also grew up in Chicago in a house where the word "nigger" was not considered a bad word. As a matter of fact, my father, a Chicago Cop used every possible euphemism for people of color. Some, I'm sure if I told you now, you would never have heard. Even then it made me cringe. Don't worry Dad had ethnic slurs for every nationality and race. I remember a few years ago at church when a sweet lady was talking about how she loved all of Mr.Twain's books even though some of them contained (whispers here) the "N" word. I had to ask someone what "cuss word" starts with N.

Anyway...that's just a little background on me. Where and how I was raised. The reason Ms.Stockett touches my heart today is that I currently reside on an island in the Caribbean where, by the color of my skin, I am the minority. Actually only 8% of the population here share my skin color. I hear, daily, the complaints about the work force on the island and it is not dissimilar to what I read in this work of fiction. I meet people regularly who do not like me because I am white. They are sure all white people can't be trusted, are out to exploit them and their nation. We kidnapped their ancestors and sold them into slavery. Unfortunately,some of my ancestors probably did. At least I do know that they were salve owners in the South who fought on the losing side of the Civil War. This is not what touches my heart, only my conscience.

What touches my heart is the Sister from church who called today, because I was sick yesterday to see if the "bush tea" she sent home with my husband helped me to feel better. The other Sisters who give me a hug and kiss on the cheek (typical Caribbean greeting on my island) and tell me that they love me. The acceptance I feel from the youth that I work with. The advice and protection offered from some of the people who work at the complex where I live.

I remember my Dad once saying to me that so and so would call me "everything but a white woman". Well now I have been called a "white woman" and more than once it has been meant to be just as derogatory at the "n" word. Other times it is just a statement of fact. I am a white woman.

Thank you Ms. Stockett for putting into words and print some of the facts. The fact that all women everywhere share the same hopes and dreams for their children. The fact that all women everywhere want to beloved and cared for.The fact that no matter what color our skin, hair or eyes women everywhere want to make their little part of the world a better place.

I have never thought of myself as a feminist but I do know that it is women who will change the world. One child at a time.

Read it, you will like it. "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett.

Maybe one day I'll tell you about the two years I lived in the South. The Deep South.

Whew...that's an awful lot of thinking from someone who lives by the motto; "Thinking is optional."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

OK, I'm really a boob. I have been busy with the magnificent obsession. closing in on the ending of Book II, it is exhausting. I know you're all just dying to hear about my 'so called life'. I promise I'll post on the weekend.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Tremendous back ache yesterday and today. I can just imagine how much fun I am to be around. Forced myself to sit in the chair and write today. Doesn't hurt too bad when I am sitting down, getting up is another story.

Going to bed and hope to sleep this pain off.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Today is overcast, the air is still and the humidity is great. Apparently TS Maria is passing us by to the North. That's the good news. People on the island are still flipping out. I hope there isn't something they are not telling me. Then just for good measure a few minutes ago the power went off. Are you kidding me?

Maybe no you see why you are better off when "thinking is optional".

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Interesting day. We have been under a Tropical Storm Warning and Flash Flood Warning "High Alert" due to the approach of Tropical Storm Maria. The locals are freakin' out. I think they saw a two headed chicken or something. Everyone is predicting a big hurricane. Stores are boarded up and there was a curfew imposed on the island at 3PM today. So far,it's a little windy and we have had a few showers but nothing out of the normal weather for this time of year. The Weather Channel is refusing to downgrade Maria but it looks like it is falling apart. If they downgrade a storm they might lose a few ratings points.

We're wondering if we should bring the patio furniture in before we go to bed. I really don't want to be doing it at 2AM in hurricane force winds, but then I don't want to be doing it early either, if it isn't necessary.

Ah life in the tropics. Trust me, this is a place where "thinking is optional" by all.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ya All know my new magnificent obsession is the second book. I sure hope someone wants to read this stuff because I can't seem to stop myself. Anyway...several people have asked when they get to read it. I figure if I let ya all see too much of it, and I actually ever get it published, all what, ten of you who either love me enough, or are curious about me enough, or just want to see if there is someone who looks, sounds, or smells, like you in it; won't need to buy it. (I promise there are no sentences this long in the book. Rick helps with my self edit and he keeps messing it up with punctuation).

To make along story short. In just a few more sentences, well maybe paragraphs I'll give you a little scene from the book. First, I want to tell you something about Rick. He proofs everything for me and is my sounding board. I know I'm making him crazy, well, more crazy with all of this but he is, for the most part a good sport. The thing that makes him the most nuts; he keeps looking for himself in one of the characters. When I killed someone off, he was sure it was him. The truth for me and probably most writers is that every character comes from our minds, add to that the people and experiences we have had. In my books there is not a single character that is anyone person I know but a conglomerate of all people I have known,met or observed somewhere in the past however many years.

Yesterday I had to write a small scene to give my character motivation to leave the room and seek out her grandmother. I started to write a minor disagreement. By the time I was through I was laughing so hard I had tears running down my face. I'm not really that funny but this scene was so Rick. He actually does some of these things (the light fixture thing). I really believe anyone who has ever been married, had a son or a male roommate can relate. Men cannot find anything by themselves and they get crazy looking for things.

Don't be afraid to let me know what you think. (It has only been edited by me - a scary thing -so it's pretty raw and there may be typos, but you'll get the idea.)

Oceanna help me find my dark suit,” Alex asks pulling everything out of his duffel bag.

“I sure hope it’s not in there. I don’t think it’s here. The only time I saw you in the dark suit was your first night back. We stayed at your Uncle Stavros’ house that night, maybe it’s still there,” I offer.

“No, Jared brought it here with the light suit. The one I wore at the wedding. I must have the dark suit for tomorrow. Do you know where the dark blue shirt is?” he says, looking around the room, like he’s going to see it hanging from the light fixture.

Is he kidding me? “I don’t know anything about the suit, but I do know where you dark blue shirt is, if it’s the same one you wore for the wedding?”

“Yes, that is it,” he says and looks at me like I saved the day.

“Alex, that blue shirt is stuffed in the backpack at the goatherd cabin. Don’t you remember I wore it when we left?”

The look on his face says I had better stop what I’m doing and help him find the dark suit because now I’m the spoiler of blue shirts. Besides, I can’t find my little black dress or my black jacket.

“Is there a closet in this room,” I ask.

“Of course,” he says showing me an old fashioned tall chest with large double doors.

It looks like an old fashioned tall chest with double doors not a closet. I roll my eyes and open the doors. Sure enough, it’s a closet, and there is Alex’s dark suit, the light one, my dress and jacket all hung up neatly. Now I am the savior of suits, but he still needs a shirt and the next crisis is a tie.

“Just wear your shirt open at the neck. I have never seen you wear a tie,” I try to console him.

“This is a funeral. I must have a tie,” he says.

“Alex, you don’t have a shirt. Who gives a damn about a tie,” I say, giving him what I hope is my death stare.

Alex looks at me and starts to laugh. So much for my death stare.

“What is so funny,” I ask and hard as I try not to; start to giggle myself.

“I think we are fighting,” he says.

Humm,” I say not wanting to agree. I know he is right. “I’ll be right back.”

I head straight for my grandparents room. Sam gave him a shirt that fit a few days ago, maybe he has another one and a tie.

I tap on the door and whisper as loud as I dare, “Grandma are you guys still awake?”

She opens the door so fast I wonder if she was standing behind it waiting for me.

“What do you need, honey?” she says drawing me into the room.

“Alex needs a shirt and tie for tomorrow. Does Sam… Grandpa have something he could borrow?” I ask.

“Sure,” Sam says and nods his head toward a ‘closet’ like the one in our room. I did not even notice him sitting on one of the couches.

I look in the closet and see that there are several dress shirts. I glance over my shoulder at Sam and shake my head. For eighteen years I don’t think I ever saw him in anything but a t-shirt. The first time he dressed up was at my mother’s wedding and then again at mine. I can’t shake the feeling that I don’t know these people at all.

“Maybe I should bring Alex back and let him pick. He’s stressed out about what he’s wearing and everything I do or suggest seems to be wrong,” I say.

“Come over here and sit down a minute,” Grandma says.

“I should go back. I’m sure he needs me to find his shoes or something,” I say and sink down into the couch opposite Sam.

“Honey, Alex is worked up about something bigger than his wardrobe,” Grandma says.

That's it. Your comments are welcome and appreciated, but be kind.

Keep in mind, when I write 'thinking is optional'.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Perspective and enduring to the end. Do you really want to know about the fridge. It fixed itself. Yep, it truly did. The Property Manager suggested we try something. Turn it completely off and let it defrost. She explained to us that sometimes the fan,which is external, gets frozen up (how is that possible in this climate, remember I just said it was external) if this happens the cold air can't circulate from the freezer to the fridge box.

OK I'm two weeks with that hunter/gather crap so I'll try anything. We got everything out, turned it completely off. Cleaned the whole creepy thing too. Started her back up and guess what. Oh yeah, works like a dream. It's colder than it ever has been (like since we moved it) and there is no frost build up in the freezer. PERSPECTIVE.

My property Manager is a little dingy and often she tells us some of the most rideculous things just to shut us up, therefore I was not gonna buy this whole "frozen up fan deal". Yeah, well,who look a little dingy now. Rick is fit to be tied.

This brings me to what I really want to talk about (yeah, I'm just getting there). Perspective - you know"one man's ceiling is another man's floor" (Particularly relevant when you live in a condo or apartment).Anyone who has read this blog in the past knows that I've written one novel and am working on my second. The first is with an editor and I'm waiting with baited breath to hear what they have to say. Then I get to start the process of looking for an agent to represent my work - Let the rejection begin. But I digress. Anyway...I follow a lot of authors on TWITTER and various blogs. They all seem to have a universal problem. A strange lack of perspective.

I read a TWEET once that said "capture your readers imagination" to me that was strange. I want to set your imagination free, let it soar. I intentionally give just enough physical description of my characters to give you an outline and let you fill in the blanks. After all we each have a different idea of what the romantic lead should look like, Right? Otherwise, you ladies would all be after my husband. Same thing with places. The difference for me is with emotions, that's what I try to use to define my characters and even their surroundings. Do you want to "feel" when you read? I do.

Now here comes the hard part for an author. Letting go. If I'm willing to only give you enough description and let you fill in the blanks, I have to let you "think" what you will. A complete respect for your agency. We all want to be like that, but do we really. Most of us want the validation that our ideas are the _____(right, best, only, etc, etc - insert your own word) ideas on the planet. Well, I want some of that validation too kinda, but I'm coming to the realization that if you want to write something that people can connect with, you have to give it to them and let them make the connections. We only do this on our,you cannot do it for someone else.

It's like salvation. We are each responsible for our own. Art(my father) used to say "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink". I've owned horses (still do, as a matter of fact) and there were never truer words spoken. Hope Art can hear me say that.

Keeping things in perspective is sometimes the hardest thing. Enduring to the end, with or without the proper perspective is always hard. Fortunately, I have James Blunt crooning out of the speakers telling me "You're Beautiful". On another subject that song actually happened to me one time. Ask me about it sometime, maybe if you ask enough I'll have the nerve to tell you .

Later. From a place where "thinking is always optional".

Sunday, September 4, 2011

It's late. I'm probably not coherent. Need to vent. Half way through the second book and the characters are making me crazy. They are worse than my kids. Stubborn, belligerent, things like that. I want them to say certain things to take the story in a particular direction and they refuse and say something complete different and here we go,somewhere I wasn't planning. Starting to understand why for so many writers "the rum is always gone". Fortunately,that isn't a problem for me,but I can see how it happens. If I don't keep my wits about me these guys (the characters) will run away with my story. I wonder if they know what they are doing. Could this be a good thing? I'm better on days when"thinking is optional".

Friday, September 2, 2011

Today is for all my survivalist friends back in Idaho. We have recently flung ourselves back to a time long ago and are learning to live the "Hunter/Gather Lifestyle" with a Caribbean twist, of course. Now before anyone gets all excited and is thinking I have lost it completely, keep in mind you all thought my brain took a permanent vacation about sixteen months ago when we moved to the Caribbean. Well I guess technically all of my body took a permanent vacation, and anyone who wants to put a negative spin on that is just plain jealous. But I digress...

Let me give you a rundown of how our days begin a al "Hunter/Gather". First upon waking, bleary eyed and groggy you must stealthily approach the kitchen counter. Our kitchen counter is a veritable jungle of junk not the least of which is my cell phone that remains constantly plugged in, because the signal here is so weak that the battery runs down in a matter of minutes if it is not continuously tethered to the wall. Therefore, in order to get any calls at all, it is constantly on charge and call forwarded into the house line so you can call me. I, of course cannot call out, but that's another blog entirely. Back to the counter...after shuffling aimlessly through the assorted other junk that Rick insists on accumulating on said counter you might get lucky and find "The Key". Ah, "The Key". The source of all life giving sustenance. Just so you understand this key is as important as the high powered rifle most traditional hunter/gathers use or maybe their trusted "skinning knife". "The Key" is your salvation to either eat for the day or languish in the depths of a growling stomach and nagging pain in your gut. "The Key" is the end all, be all for us as hunter/gathers.

Following the finding of "The Key"comes the preparation. Remember it is the wee early hours of the morning. The sun is barely up and you must carefully prepare. You must choose your wardrobe appropriately or you may have to endure the endless shrieks of the dreaded"neighbor ladies". Laugh if you will, but a shrieking "neighbor lady" has been know to send the most fearless of hunting men to a dark cave to hide quaking in their boots, praying for her to stop. After "The Key" preparation is of the utmost importance.

Next is the trek. If you are lucky enough to find "The Key" and prepared enough to pass the "neighbor ladies" you must show bravery and endurance beyond compare and begin on the trek. Thirteen large stairs through the jungle and two fierce walkway over and four stars down into the pit, cross a suspension bridge and you have arrived at the golden destination. The place where all your efforts will come together and your mission may be fulfilled.

Finally you must enter a dark sealed cave. Where no ray of sunlight can enter. There may be large hairy things that will jeopardize your success, but you persevere. Finally, you see it. The large white vault that contains your salvation. You creep over and secretly work the combination, suddenly a light comes on, it's as if all the glory of your find is illuminated for you to enjoy.

Without a second thought your wrestle your prey into your arms hoping you can carry it all, back out of the cave and do not forget "The Key", over the suspension bridge up the stairs down the paths and down more stairs. Finally your safely back at your kitchen counter where you carelessly toss "The Key"with a devil may care attitude, knowing that your are capable, you are invincible, you are the master hunter/gather and will eat for another day.

All this because the power outages of Hurricane Irene fried our fridge and we can't get a repairman until next Tuesday September 6th, Are you kidding me? Our food is two buildings over in C bldg and we live in A. You have to be fully dressed, no easy feat for me that early in the morning on a hot sticky day and alert because the unit we are using in Bldg C has the hurricane shutters closed up because it is unoccupied. It's creepy going in there. Trust me most days is feels exactly like I wrote it. Ah paradise! "Weather is here,wish you were beautiful." All kidding aside I am lovin' it.

Remember, this is my journal, where I write primarily for myself commas, like thinking are always optional. Just be glad I have spell check.