winter

winter

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Last Diatribe of 2013

Once Upon a Time. As writers, we carry an image in our heads of the scribe, hunched over his writing pad/typewriter/computer, under a dim light bulb in the attic of a Victorian mansion, slaving away at his manuscript. Once upon a time, said writer would have sent the work off to an agent or publisher and then voila! He’s instantly known worldwide, some kind of writing prodigy this guy, and he comes down from the attic and appears on Oprah looking remarkably well rested and smug. Well, don’t count on it. Publicity is up to the author now and visibility is key. Platform, platform, platform. Amazon author page. Facebook, Twitter, website, blog. Post/comment on other blogs and websites. Put a button on your website or blog going directly to Amazon so that your book can be ordered from your site/blog.


It’s becoming increasingly important in our new publishing world to think of yourself as a brand. So, once you are published, make the most of marketing by contacting schools, bookstores, libraries, county fairs, anywhere you can host a signing, keeping the appropriate audience in mind. You wouldn’t go to an elementary school to promote your 1,000 page Scottish historical fiction novel, for example. At your signings/appearances, distribute little niceties, such as refrigerator magnets, bookmarks, or pens with your book’s cover and your information on them. But keep your face out there because, well, we like to see it.

One last point with this, keep in touch with other writers, published and not published. I firmly believe that one way to guarantee your success is to assist someone else in attaining success. Participate in critique groups. Help edit a manuscript. Promote your fellow authors when their books come out. Review books on platforms such as Goodreads. Leave reviews on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Whatever you do to further someone else will come back to you in droves.



Monday, December 2, 2013

Don't be Modest



As writers, we're all different in the subject matter we choose to splash on a page and I understand that so before I go too far and make anyone uncomfortable, just know that I know and recognize that fact.

Our November speaker at SWG talked about the five plus one things he wished he'd known before he started writing a novel. One of the points he raised stuck out for me because, well, I've been known to get on my soap box about this very concept. He said, "write about something that scares you." Now, he didn't mean the "boo!" kind of scary. He was talking about writing about the dark stuff, delving into the unknown, pushing the envelope. And writing it real.

I maintain that no writer worth their own spit can write without coming up against an uncomfortable subject sooner or later. It's got to happen or there is no story, no tension. Your work will be one-dimensional. I find it similar to painting taupe on an off-white canvas. When you finish your great masterpiece, and stand back, crossing your arms over your chest and gaze upon your beautiful work, what do you see? Blah. But if you slam a bucket of wild red across the canvas, ah, then you've created interest. You've created dimension.

You see, I think we worry too much about what others will think about what we write, and I think this happens often within a writers' group. It's difficult to reveal your words, your inner brain workings, to others. What will they think? Will they think it's dirty or lewd, or twisted somehow? Will they be grossed out? Will it be a reflection on me? We should not be so modest.

I believe a writer must write in the moment. If your character is that person who unluckily became part of a convenience store robbery, and his face is pressed against the cold tile floor, you need to be able show your reader what the floor smelled like (all those rubber soles that went before), the hoarse panting of someone an aisle over (must be old, sounds hoarse, like a smoker's breath), how did it sound when the doors to the cold storage shattered as a bullet jetted through them, does he taste his own blood in his mouth because one of the assailants slammed him to the floor (bitter iron paint, spewing from his jaws)?

There are more controversial subjects; i.e., rape, incest, family violence, terminal illness, divorce, death, mental illness, or murder. Point is, at some point you need to pick one and let yourself write about it. Push the envelope. Write about something scary. Let yourself be free with it.

This is your challenge as we finish 2013 and move into 2014. Write about something that scares you to the bone when you go back and read it. And don't be modest. Do you think Stephen King got to where he is by being modest?

Be honest, write in the moment. Write about something that challenges you.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Distant Hours by Sarah Morton v. The Family Sheedy at Springlawn Farm

Has a novel you've read ever reminded you of a real life event, an event you've been intrigued by and studied, without having read the novel in the first place?

I find myself in such a place, having read The Distant Hours by novelist Sarah Morton, and being fascinated with Springfield history, having done some research on our local Sheedy family and Springlawn Farm.

The Distant Hours concerns three spinster sisters, one of whom is certainly crazy, and maybe the other two are just as crazy but on another level of crazy. The sisters live in a castle in England, the estate of their forefathers, a place the sisters share a passion for. None of them ever married or had children, although the youngest sister had the opportunity to marry her true love but that opportunity was later thwarted by her eldest sister who murdered the girl's one and only by accident. Eventually, after much intrigue and drama, the castle was burned to the ground, and all three sisters perished in the blaze. Never more, never more, to sound like Poe.

Well, Springlawn Farm, here in Springfield, belonged at one time to Mike Sheedy, a potato farmer from Ireland, who brought his substantial family over to the US and eventually settled in north Greene County, prospering like a maniac. He had sons, of course, but for whatever reason, it seems the sons died young. He had daughters also, the last three of whom remained on the Sheedy property, known as Springlawn Farm until their deaths. The last Sheedy daughter, Helen, passed away in 1979 and in 1980, a mysterious fire engulfed the beautiful Sheedy home and the place burned to the ground, only stone pillars and a stone fireplace remain.

Supposedly, Mike Sheedy committed suicide on the property and his ghost now haunts it. But, I have to ask, are we referring to Mike Sheedy the original purchaser of the property, or his son, Mike Sheedy? Can't find any details on that, but it's intriguing just the same.

Springlawn is a mysterious place now. If you drive out North National, past Greenlawn North, and take the first left after the cemetery, you will find a new subdivision named aptly "Springlawn." Just a mite farther from the last house in that subdivision, on your left, still heading north, you will notice the stone pillars, and the stone entrance to something on the property that was at one time important. The barn, much prized during Mike Sheedy's time, has been destroyed. Only the silo remains. You may notice a path over something that could have been a creek once.

Sad that such a magnificent footprint has been erased.

Driving out past the new Springlawn subdivision, I am heartened by the glimpse of a street sign, Headley Place. Nice. Mike Sheedy bought the acreage from someone named Headley and so, history remains.

Back to The Distant Hours and a comparison. Whether or not the stories are related, and most likely they are not, it's a fascinating sketch into the past and the passions governing the characters sought.

Have you had such an experience? The melding of the past into the present? If so, do tell.
 

Apple Crisp

I haven't posted a food post in I don't know how long but I had to today because it's autumn, and I particularly love the autumnal spices and herbs, the bounty, the whole crisp deliciousness that speaks to autumn.

So, today, we're making an apple crisp - perfect for fall, a great compliment to a meal of pork and potatoes and root vegetables. But enough about that. Let's get to the apples!

Okay, here is what I do.

Now, if you know me at all, you know that I support local growers and I urge others to do the same. So for my apples, I went to the local farmers' market and purchased five big Honey Crisp apples from a local grower.

So now we have apples. Goodie. Let's move on.

Like me, you are in your kitchen now, pulling out your casserole dish, assembling the items from your pantry and your refrigerator and here is what you will need:

1 lemon, make it a good one, large and medium soft
1/2 cup of white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger

So, peel and core your apples, cut them into generous chunks. Squeeze the lemon juice over, partially to prevent your apple slices from browning and partially because the lemon adds a clean, fresh element to your dish. One caveat here - do not, and I repeat, do not, buy the reconstituted lemon juice stuff from the local grocery store. Buy real lemons and squeeze. It's better.

Throw the rest in and stir. Give your baking dish a generous swipe of unsalted butter. Drop your apple mixture in.

For the topping, you will need, and here it gets dicey because I don't measure anything, so go with your gut.

3/4 cups of flour (3 or so palms)
1/2 cups of white sugar (or maybe two palms)
1/2 cup of brown sugar, or possibly a bit more if you're like me and you like the brown sugar action more than white
1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt
Oatmeal - how much depends on your take on the flour but I'd say a cup
Unsalted butter - five or six tablespoons according to the packaging.

Now really, it's all about your taste buds and your flavoring so work the ingredients to your specifications. Mine are simply general.

So, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter your baking dish, doesn't have to be huge, just a nice baking dish, not a 13 x 9 baking pan. You want the topping to bake down over the apples to soften them so no big dish is required.

Put your topping ingredients together, use a fork and combine and drop it over your apple mixture already in the baking dish. Bake for one hour until the apples are tender and the crust is browned. Serve with ice cream or a nice home made whipped cream.

Shop your local markets, folks. Fresh is better, support your local growers.




Sunday, November 3, 2013

Good News for Local Writers - Local Publishing House Opens


It's starting to rain for unpublished, local writers, like you and me. I really believe that. We can self-publish, we can epub, we don't necessarily have to submit query after query, only to receive the form letter - "it's not you, it's us" kind of thing.

I believe there are more opportunities for local writers than there have been, well, ever.

One of those opportunities comes in the form of a local publisher, Paperback-Press.

I don't know about you but the big publishing houses wear me out. What they've done, I believe, is pay outrageous royalties to authors, and then failed to recoup the money in sales. One by one they're folding, merging, doing what they can to keep that bottom line. But, problem. They're now afraid to take a chanced on anyone who isn't Stephen King, or a celebrity (gag). Celebrity-authored books in print make me cringe. I know there's an audience for celebrity work but I mean, it bothers me that good stories aren't being published by the big guys, stories that could potentially save the book business, but the big guys seem all too eager to publish a missive written by a rock star/actor/porn star, etc.

Thankfully, there is an alternative for the little guy, and that is an auxiliary publisher. Paperback-Press is such an entity. Paperback-Press is owned by Sharon Kizziah-Holmes, a former road musician and current Master Barber. Her passion is to help local writers become published without the high overhead and demands of the big publishing houses.

What can she do for you? Sharon is able to format your manuscript for e-publication, soft cover and audio book. She can do cover art and artwork for your CD/DVD/Audio covers.  Her prices are reasonable.

Check her out at www.paperback-press.com or contact her at Sharon@paperback-press.com.

Take care and keep writing!





Sunday, October 20, 2013

October


A few days ago, I posted something on facebook, something like, "I wish October would stick around just a bit longer." Not only is it one the most beautiful months of the year, but it's the most inspiring and reflective months for me as well.

Last evening I was perched on a hay bale, witnessing two beautiful young people pledge their commitment to one another in the middle of a corn field. The sun was just setting, a chill was invading the air, solar lanterns were beginning to glow. It was a beautiful night and a beautiful, albeit short, ceremony. The bride came riding up in a hay wagon (45 minutes late but well, that's her style), the groom stood pink-cheeked and patient. I thought back to the forced poses of my wedding photos, the awkward stance, the crooked bouquets, and I watched how naturally this bride and groom reacted to one another. It was a pleasant sight. If I was to ever marry again (highly doubt it), I'd like the same type of ceremony, the same naturalness, the same lack of pretense.

Just some October thoughts. The leaves here aren't turning as quickly as usual, maybe because we've had so much rain this summer, but they're beginning to tip red and gold. I noticed the backyard was damp this morning when I took Ella out, My marigolds are thriving again in the cool damp air, but my sage and coneflowers are done for the season.  It's time to put some things away, time to pull up impatiens and put my clay pots back in the garage.

October goes by too quickly for me. I've just gotten back into my cooking groove - I found some beautiful gala apples at the farmers market the last few times I've gone and some tasty apple crisps have come out of that. A bowl squats on my kitchen counter filled with acorn squash, winter squash, fresh garlic and sweet potatoes. Yesterday, I concocted a chicken pot pie, with carrots and onions  also from the farmers market.  October's kind of an organic time for me, as they say, farm to table.

So, I'm looking forward to bonfires, soups and stews, wool sweaters and heavy socks. I'm  thinking of red and gold plaids scarves, carving pumpkins, football and cider. And maybe I'll get the chance to perch on a hay bale at some point again before month's end.

What's your favorite month or time of the year and why?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Certainty


 

As writers, we step out into the unknown every day. Each time we sit down, fingers poised over the keyboard, ready to type out our missive, one foot and then the other steps off the well known path and we free fall. We free fall into a place less certain.

Someone said today, about a life changing move he made some time ago, that had he known at the time how much bravery it took to make that move and then, after realizing he was really there, to work that move, he possibly wouldn't have done it at all. He would have remained at his 8-5 job, made babies with his wife, looked forward to a retirement someday, but he would have never have known what it was like to step off that cliff and let himself experience a place less certain.

We overvalue certainty is the conclusion I am coming to. I had to stop and think about that concept for awhile, not just in my writing life but in my personal life as well. I was fairly certain at one time that my parents would live forever, that nothing would change and they would always be in my life as the head of our family. In February 2011, as I stood helplessly by, watching my mother slip away, that concept was shattered. I was no longer certain. Then, in January 2012, my beloved lab and pal of 12 and a half years, Sunny, left me after suffering a stroke, and again, certainty was ripped out of my hands.  Here in 2013, I'm standing on the brink of a coming circumstance that is going to change my life for the rest of my life, and I find myself in a place that is not certain. Changes and decisions I am going to have to make are not going to be comfortable for me and some of the things I was certain of are now off the table.

We become dependent on the routine of our lives, the rising and setting of the sun, the turning of the seasons, foolishly, we believe that nothing is ever really going to affect us.

But as writers, the circumstances that do affect us are part and parcel of what we write and how we write and why we write. Probably we should never be in an absolute certain place because, wouldn't we become complacent? Self-satisfied? Could we miss an opportunity for growth if not for being shaken up from time to time? With change comes growth, and growth is the raw element of all things, isn't it?

Growing as a writer is of paramount importance. Personal growth is important. How do you find the two concepts mesh? How does it affect your writing?


 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Welcome, Autumn

She's back.

I caught a glimpse of Lady Autumn this morning, passing through a doorway. The claret hem of her skirt barely brushed the floor, leaving behind pale yellow winter squash, deep orange pumpkins, tied herbs, green brussel sprout stalks, and sweet potatoes rattling across the floor, as she strides forward in search of the Mistress of Summer.  I sneak behind into the forest, chasing after her. Of all the Ladies, she is my favorite. I want to hear  her farewell song to the Mistress, but I can only catch the barest of glimpses of auburn hair tumbling down her back. Lady Autumn's skirt is changing color now, to golden yellow. She has reclaimed her territory, it is now her turn to watch the world spin and take care of the days and nights. I watch her pour a glass of something rich and sumptuous from the sideboard that seems to sprout from a tree, and as she raises her glass, she smiles, maybe at me?

It's raining now but she doesn't seem to care. Her laughter is carried on the wind, and as she opens her arms and spins in her now forest green dress, she seems to be lifted up into the rain and then gently lowered onto a bed generously thick with comforters and down pillows. She turns her white face toward me, oblivious of the rain dotting her face and clothing.

"Surround yourself with beautiful thing, my dear, useful things, the things you love," she says although her mouth doesn't move. "The winter is coming and you will have need of them."

I sat straight up in bed, on that cusp of just asleep and fully awake, feeling as if I'd lost something tangible. Rolling my hands around my bed, I felt something odd. I wrapped my hand around it. Pulling the object to me, I was most surprised to find a crystal wine glass with a drop of red at the bottom and one crimson colored maple leaf stuck to the inside of the glass.

A gift left for me from the Lady? Perhaps.

Or maybe it was just a lovely dream.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Next Leg of the Journey


I'm sitting here tonight, absolutely stunned at the good fortune that's befallen me. So happy and blessed I am! And so very, very grateful to the powers that be and to Rick East, the author of the book we've published together.

Several months ago, Rick approached me and said he had a story to tell but he didn't quite know how to tell it. He asked for my help; first, as an editor but then later, he came back and informed me he thought I'd be happier as a co-author. I jumped at the chance, astonished that anyone would choose me to be their co-author!

The journey since has been wonderful. I've learned a bit more about the publishing industry that I knew before. I've made a new friend in Rick East, the author. Quite honestly, I have had a blast working on his story and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. From first draft to second draft to galleys, to cover art, to press releases, it's been a blur of hard work and exhilaration!

I gave this book my heart. I wanted to give it the voice it required with the emotion his story needed. Rick was fantastic to work with, I could not have asked for a better author to stand beside.
And so, today, at exactly noon, Rick texted me and said, "Our book is on Amazon. I'm so excited!" I remember gasping audibly in the hallway at work before shutting my phone off and then turning it back on again to read his text again! Seriously? Are you kidding me right now? We are on Amazon?

Back in my office, I clicked my mouse impatiently and waited, seemingly for an eternity, for Amazon to pop up. My heart began to race. It was hard to breathe. I struggled finding the book on the site and then, I typed my own name in and there it was. "A Glimpse of Glory: My Journey to Heaven and Back."

I was mesmerized; couldn't stop looking at it.  Reality began wisping its finger around my face. I'm a real-life bona fide published author. It's what I've wanted, what I've dreamed of, all my life, since I was a little girl. I clicked off Amazon and tried to go back to work. Not possible. I clicked back on the site. I have a book on Amazon.  Reality began digging me in the ribs, pretty hard. It's really happening.

Oh, all those months of writing and working and talking about press releases and book covers, it seems now I didn't realize back when we were putting this all together, that what I was staring at on my computer screen today would become a reality. I've read all about nearly-published authors whose deals fell through at the last minute, leaving them disappointed and desolate. Maybe the publishing house closed. Maybe the agent pulled out. There are a thousand "maybes." I pulled out my camera phone and took a picture of the Amazon page with my name and book cover on it.

And of course, then I had to text people.

Driving home, I found myself awestruck and so very grateful for all that I've been given the past several months. My hope is that Rick realize his vision for this book, because if that happens, then the book's done what it was supposed to do. And you'll have to read the book to see what it was meant to do.

I'd be happy for any of you reading this to order "A Glimpse of Glory: My Journey to Heaven and Back" on Amazon. Happy and pleased. Here is a link to Amazon: www.Amazon.com. Look for Rick East or for me or for "A Glimpse of Glory: My Journey to Heaven and Back."

Thank you.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

Market Day

It's Market Day in Springfield and the sun is already high in the sky. Customers throng the aisles and booths lining up, waiting for the 8:00 am bell before they can purchase their breads and peppers, flowers and tomatoes. I pass a solitary guitarist perched on a stool, his glass tip jar at his feet. Throngs of people pass through, undaunted by the heat and humidity. The market is filled with incessant babble, some of it Indian, or Latino, all mixed sounds reminding me of our common root - food.

A local bread vendor, Katie Made, and I get into a discussion about Anadama bread, which I used to make for my kids when they were young. I haven't made that bread in years and I wonder why. When your kids are little, you think you don't have time to make homemade goods but you do anyway, or I did. Now my kids are grown and one is away and I still don't make homemade bread. It was a great pleasure of mine too. At any rate, the vendor and me laugh at the origin of the name, Anadama, and I pick up a loaf of something I've never tried before - Van Staden Mosbolletjies. She tells me it's a south African bread and has a hint of licorice. She says that people resist it at first because of the licorice flavor but once they try it, they come back and buy two loaves. A new bread, a new taste adventure.

My favorite pepper growers are here now. I spy glistening green peppers as big as a man's fist on their table and I quickly buy four, along with some onions. I see stuffed green peppers on my table in the near future.

I run into a vendor, someone I knew in Mountain Grove, and he tells me again that I sure look like my daddy. I guess it depends on who you talk to because I've heard that I look exactly like my dad and I've been told I look exactly like my mother. Either way, you can tell who I belong to.

A quart of blackberries (for a desert I'll have to find the recipe for), two pounds of green beans and a bouquet of pink and white gladiolas later,  I'm ready to head for the car and my water bottle I left there accidentally.

I love coming to the market. It's a reminder of who we all are on this planet and what we all want, which is to be loved, nurtured and accepted. And it's part of the writing life, I believe, to surround yourself with the things you love and appreciate  and allow those things to nurture your soul.

What do you think? Do you agree?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Marketing - Who Knew?

Yesterday, I attended the Ozark Romance Authors meeting. Local author, Beth Carter, was the speaker and her topic was Marketing.

It seems that, as writers, we shy away from marketing and Beth talked about this in her presentation. We're a bit reticent to even say, "I wrote a book," fearing maybe that eyes will roll and we'll be dismissed as "that dreamy type." Now, we all see the television ads from lawyers, or lawyer/surgeons, window installers, roofers, insect removal services, the best chef on the planet, etc. We take all that in and we don't think another thing about it as far as relating it to writing. In fact, Beth mentioned yesterday that in her 20-year career in marketing, working for a bank and then for a hospital, that she never saw that type of reticence in any field, except for the writing field. She's worked with and for doctors, bankers, attorneys, all types of professionals who just love to promote themselves and their work and are not shy about doing so at all.

She said something yesterday that put it all in perspective for me. Beth said, "Marketing is not bragging." And she made us all say it three times. Marketing is not bragging.

It's a simple statement.

At the same time, it's astounding.

And, it's empowering.

Beth talked about "targeted marketing." In other words, know your target audience, and market to that audience specifically. A Facebook post leads to a Twitter tweet, a blogpost to a website, leads to a mass email list, leads to asking for reviews on your book, leads to a booth at a county festival, on and on, the list is endless. Probably the most important advice from Beth here is to think outside the bookstores.

We, as writers, have so many opportunities to market ourselves and gain credibility to get the attention of an editor or agent. The internet, technology, it's amazing and it puts us anywhere, everywhere, for that matter.

Marketing is critical for the writer. And remember what Beth said, "Marketing is not bragging."

At the end of her presentation, Beth had all of us sign a Marketing Pledge, which I thought was a really clever and unique way to end the presentation. I learned a lot from Beth yesterday and I'm going to put what I learned to use as I continue on this writing road.

How about you? How are you marketing your work?

All quotes, advice and references given remain the property of Beth Carter. Beth graciously gave me permission to restate her words, "Marketing is not bragging," as well as using other pieces of her presentation.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Surprise, surprise, surprise!!!

I'm struggling with the title of this post; don't want to come off as a know-it-all, a fabulous someone writer who's ARRIVED, and therefore, no longer needs the unwashed masses, because truly, seriously, someone previously unknown to me, handed me a break.

And I never expected it. And I'm not sure I even deserve it.

Oh my gosh, no, I didn't see this thing coming.

So, to cut to the chase,  a friend suggested to his friend who was writing a book at the time, that he should contact me to edit or give the manuscript a look over or whatever. My expectations were, when I was contacted, that I would be the unnamed, unknown editor, happily, I would stay behind the scenes and just help this manuscript on to be published and no big deal to me. I was happy and pleased to help. I was content to stay in the background and allow the real writer, the person this experience happened to, to write the book.

But. Isn't life funny with the "buts?" I often say, "We plan and God laughs." Because He does!!! No joke.

So, I worked the first 25 or so pages, sent it back to the author and he responded and said, "Would you consider co-authoring this book?" My first reaction was, "No, no, this is your story, no, I cannot take any credit for this." We worked awhile longer together and he again said, "Would you consider being a co-author?" I again resisted. But, he persisted; he told me to give it some thought, and eventually, I gave in. And here is my news, I am going to be the co-author of someone's book.

I never thought I would work a project such as this. He is a Christian author; I am not. Now, I do understand the thoughts and feelings he puts out there in his manuscript and I can go with it. I understand being the last kid picked for kickball. I understand being held as different by my peers. I understand being excluded because of religious perceptions, and so knowing that kind of hurt, I can write about it. Maybe this book is cathartic for the both of us. The writing is coming to me easily; there must be a reason for that.

The photo I posted is beautiful, nebulous, everything about writing that writing is meant to be. It's an example of what I'm feeling right now; the bursting of excitement, the thrill of doing what I want to do with  my life; the dimensions and color of hope and expectation; but it's the feeling of certainty too, of fulfilling a purpose, my life's purpose.

Whereever this book thing came from, it came from a providence that I am only beginning to get to know. I am astounded, eternally grateful, and very, very pleased. I so miss my mother right now; because I would have told her about this; we would have talked for a very long time, and she would be so happy, so pleased, about it. My mother would have been so excited and happy for me. I hope somewhere, somehow, she knows and I'm hoping she's jumping up and down in gloryland or wherever she is.

Tell me about your experience with writing and becoming acknowledged, and achieving your writing goals.




Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring

She comes like a ghost, spring's sprite, nymph, fairy, whatever you wish to call her. She is the earth coming alive after a long slumber. Midnight blue monarchs cling to her gown, she carries lettuce ripe with the scent of deep earth in her hands, her eyes are as blue as the sky. Her youth and beauty cannot be described for she is young and untried; she knows nothing of the wantonness of Summer, the busyness of Autumn, the wiles of Winter.

Spring brings with her the colors of enchantment; pastels, pink, pale blue, gentle green, yellow and apricot.  She glides easily amongst emerald green spinach, white-green lettuces, green asparagus tight heads tipped in deep green or purple. Spring is charming and generous, bringing rain at night and sunlight in the morning. Her desire is to please, whether it be with generous rainfall to further plantings, or the prettiness of blooming forsythia, redbuds, dogwoods, or tiny bluebells at the foot of a budding maple tree.

Spring Sprite is in love with beauty, and why not? She is in love with herself and so by bringing herself joy, she brings joy to mere mortals as well.

Springtime is the time of fairies; fairies flexing their wings and prancing under primroses, of twinkling lights in the dark, when vague wishes can come true. Spring promises hope, the promise of good things to come. If only she could stay with us longer....

What is your definition of spring?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Sweetness of Success

Sometimes something happens that is so stupendous, so wonderful, so staggering, that it makes you sit down and take a very long breath. So much can happen in the blink of an eye, yes?

Yes. Yes, it can.

I am so pleased, more than pleased really, I am estatic to report that my online writer friend, Julie Kibler, had her debut novel published February 13th, and a month later (to the day I believe), Warner Brothers picked up her manuscript to adapt for a movie!

Here is the link, if you are interested.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/warner-bros-picks-up-rights-427984

Now seriously, how often does this happen? I'd wager, not too often. It's incredible news, fabulous stuff, and Julie deserves every accolade she is receiving. Julie's worked hard on this manuscript, giving up her job, working as hard at writing as she did at her job and now, after all the toil and trevail, Julie triumphs!

And here's another really great thing about this whole situation. Julie is a nice, credible, warm, wonderful person. I can't say enough nice things about her. She's just great.

Have I read the book? Absolutely.

Do I like it? I can tell you this, I worried about the characters after I closed the book for the night. I surmised and imagined and wondered, and looked forward to my next engagement with the book, and as I read the last few paragraphs, I burst into tears. That's how invested I became in this book. So, did I like it? Yes, yes I did. Very much in fact.

Julie's debut novel is a smashing success. Kudos to her.

It can be done. The dream is not dead; it's just waiting for you, the next fabulous writer to make the scene. It's coming for you.

What will you give it?

Friday, February 8, 2013

After a Dry Spell Comes the Rain

The most interesting things happen sometimes when you're not even looking, when you least expect it, and isn't that what makes life interesting? Sometimes it seems that we endure spells as dry as the Sahara and then, out of nowhere, it starts raining. Not just raining but torrents of water pouring down.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on a presentation by the original editor of the first volume of "Fifty Shades of Grey," and in listening to her speak, I realized, marketing your brand is the most important thing, I think, maybe even more important than having a quality product. I mean, everybody knows "Fifty Shades" is a trainwreck but one thing E.L. James understood was the market. She understood she had to get to the market and corner a huge chunk of it to get her brand to sell, to keep her in the driver's seat, and make her a, well, a millionaire. That was what she wanted. And yes, that does sound crass but I believe that E.L. James, like many of us fledging authors, was looking at the grand prize and not so much the product. She couldn't have been looking at the product.

Sadly, that is a trap that too many writers fall into these days and since it is so easy to upload to Amazon and Kindle, polish and professionalism have suffered. Is that a stamp on writing in general? No, I don't think so. I believe that earnest, hardworking, professional writers are still out there. Or at least, I am, and I know I'm not the only one.

Now, another interesting thing happened to me. As the president of the Springfield Writers' Guild, I rub elbows with a lot of writerly people in the community, and one of these people told me recently that she would send me an invitation to the Missouri Writers Hall of Fame banquet, to be held in March. I jumped up and down with glee but deep down inside I wondered, would she remember? With all of the other, more important people she deals with every day, would she remember little old me? Well, I was estatic when I spied that silver grey envelope in my mailbox addressed to me, and the invitation to RSVP. Inductee this year: Ridley Pearson. Oh boy, this means a new dress, a new hairdo, some perfume. It's gonna be a blast and I can't wait.

And then the last thing (so far). A publishing company in St. Louis randomly emailed me and wanted to advertise their services. Did this fall into my lap or what?

It's moments like these that reaffirm what we're meant to do, why we're here. If writing is your passion, it's going to find  you. You can't hide from it. It won't let you.

What are the odd and wonderful coincidences that have happened to you?

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Quieter Life

I saw this photo the other day and I found myself staring, not at it, but into it. I couldn't help but think, I could live this way, just this way, so simple, so quiet. The thought of pulling my boots on, wrapping up in a Macintosh, carrying my bag to the market, padding quietly over cobblestone streets, the ding of the bell on the market door, the pleasant, welcoming faces within. "Oh, are you back so soon? I have something I've held back just for you," the proprietor/proprietress would exclaim, as he/she drops the present customer's items in his bag.

Wandering around the fresh produce, I choose maybe some brussel sprouts or a long necked squash, some walnuts, a couple of pears, and then onto the meat counter, where I would select a chicken breast or a nice piece of fresh fish. A bottle of pinot grigio in my bag and I approach the counter, where the owner slips a beautiful piece of cheese into my bag and winks at me.

We have a good community feeling here in my daydream. I wave at the owner of the market and the door bell dings as I walk out. Maybe as I walk back home to my cottage, I'll take the long way and spend a few minutes gazing at the sunset lying gently over the ocean.

Wal-Mart does not exist here. No bright lights, no running, screaming children, and no screaming parents either. No stop lights, no traffic crush, no urgency to carry out unfulfilling obligations. In fact, what this place has to offer is peace, calm, and a gentle comfort.

What about you? Has a photograph ever inspired you to think, I could live here?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January Cometh, Again

I was standing in the grocery store aisle this morning, waiting, grocery items gathered in my arms, and as I stood there, I began scanning the glossy magazines lining the checkout line.

The screaming headlines seemed to lead me to believe we are in some sort of personel jam here, at the end of 2012 and at the beginning of 2013. It seems imperative that we follow: "50 Ways to Organize your Closet," "How to Get the Most Out of the Smallest Space," "Organize Your Life in 2013 - Here are Tips!"

Oh, that's great.

My closets are overflowing, I have no space to speak of, and my life, such as it is, continues on along its turbulent stream of blue-green chaos. And it all seems to work, as best it can anyway, and I, me personally, continue on from challenge to challenge and so far as I know anyway, I'm doing okay without all this streamlined organization stuff.

I'm not changing anything. I don't care if it is January, the month of re-organization and new resolves and changing one's ways.

The only thing I will resolve to is to be a better human being, and a harder working writer. Other than that, I'll just let my socks drape out of their drawer, and I won't worry too much about that.

You?