Monday, October 16, 2017

Bingo and Birthdays and Books! Oh, My!

I've got a birthday coming up soon. Sometimes this makes me cranky, but this year I came across a cartoon that made me smile (and okay, a little teary) for a few reasons. 

It reminds me of my maternal grandmother. The woman loved a good Bingo game. Whether it was at the church hall or at an Atlantic City casino, she was ready to play. 

It reminds me of my godmother. Sometimes for my birthday, she took me into Manhattan to what felt like a giant Barnes and Noble store and let me pick out lots of books. And she never questioned or censored my choices. 

It reminds me that I am not alone in my love of all things books and reading. 



(Check out the Introvert Doodles website and the book - which I own and love! - available a number of places, including Barnes and Noble.)

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How do you feel about birthdays? Any big ones coming up? Any favorite birthday memories? How do you celebrate? (For me, just let me loose in Barnes and Noble with a gift card in one hand and a chocolate cupcake in the other and I'm good. I am soooooo good!)

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trust The Talent


TRUST THE TALENT.

WHAT THAT MEANS TO ME IS,
WHEN YOU'RE AT YOUR DARKEST MOMENTS 
AND YOU THINK YOU'RE WRITING 
THE WORST THING THAT'S EVER BEEN WRITTEN, 
AND IT'S GOING TO BE A FAILURE,
YOU JUST WANT TO GIVE UP AND GO TO MADRID,
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO IS SIMPLY 
GIVE YOURSELF OVER TO YOUR INSTINCTS.
(Robert Crais)

I hate to admit it, but I don't trust my instincts enough. I second guess my writing choices fifty-two times (or would that be "fifty-second guess my choices"? Ugh, too much math!) First person or third person POV? Present or past tense? My protagonist can't say that . . . or can he? My antagonist can't do that . . . or can she? This idea is too creepy/too weird/too out-of-the box . . . or is it?

But usually, if instead of agonizing, I just stop and listen, I hear the answer, I feel the moment. It's like when two puzzle pieces fit together - on the front, a picture starts taking shape while on the back, the seams all line up. When that happens over and over - snap, click, snap, click - I end up with a 500 piece puzzle, a 1000 piece puzzle, a story connected and constructed by a writer's instinct and trust.

As many of us gear up for NaNo next month and some of us begin to plan writing goals for the new year (overachievers!), please remember to trust your storytelling instincts, trust your talent. Trust yourself. You've got this! 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

IWSG: Bending vs Breaking


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When does pushing yourself, challenging yourself, turn into something else? When we beat ourselves up instead of cheering ourselves on? When we thrash and sink instead of swim with a strong, steady stroke?

I'm tired of not accomplishing what I set out to do. Some of it is not in my control - and I'm okay with that - but a lot is. I decided to do something about it. In addition to the usual things life throws at us, including a physical and a date with the scale I am so not looking forward to, I'm working on time management, decluttering, prioritizing. I'm in the middle of a number of writing projects, including prepping for NaNo. I'm stretching my social muscles by actually going out into the world. (Gasp!) I'm going to Sisters in Crime meetings, taking some art and exercise classes, trying some new activities.

And I want to crawl back inside my shell and hide.

The writing part is hard for many reasons. (I don't have to tell you all that!) The social part is hard for other reasons. (Anxiety, anyone?) But if I want to do better and be better, be the best me I can be, then I have to strive. I don't mind bending. I just don't want to break.

Where do you draw the line for yourself? When is enough, enough? How do you know when to take a break, take a breath?

Monday, September 25, 2017

My Kind of Art

I'd like more art in my life. More color. More texture. More . . . LEGO?

Yes, you read that right. LEGO. 

My husband and I recently attended The Art of the Brick exhibit by LEGO artist Nathan Sawaya, and we were totally blown away. Who knew you could do all of the following - and much, much more! - with LEGO?

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Made up of almost 4,000 pieces, this is Sawaya's Lego version of Munch's The Scream. (Hmm, this looks a lot like me on a bad writing day.



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Speaking of writing, this next one is called Writer and is made up of about 3,000 pieces.




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At 80,000 pieces, Dinosaur Skeleton is, according to Sawaya, "...one of the largest sculptures I have ever made...After seeing so many kids flock to my first solo exhibition, I wanted to give something back and create a sculpture that children would enjoy. What is better than a dinosaur?"




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Grasp, made up of about 17,000 pieces, totally creeped me out. So, of course, I loved it.





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And because I live in Florida . . . Flip Flops (about 700 pieces.)




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As a reminder, this magnet now hangs on the refrigerator -




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Do you enjoy going to museums, exhibits, shows? Are you drawn to any particular style or medium? Are you artistic? Do you dabble, like I do, by taking an occasional art class, picking up one of those crafty, creative magazines? 

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Writing Path: Keep Your Machete Sharp and Your Cake Fork Handy


"THIS ISN'T GOING TO BE EASY, AND THE PATH IS NEVER GOING TO BE CLEAR. THE BEST YOU CAN DO IS KEEP YOUR MACHETE SHARP AND WHACK AWAY AT THE FOLIAGE TILL YOU CLEAR YOUR PATH."
(Janet Reid)

So, how's your writing path looking lately? Is it neat and edged, lined with flowers? Or is it more like mine:




I recently took a blogging break in the hopes of organizing my writing and writing-related work, of making huge progress on my novella, of revising and submitting more stories, etc. Well, for a number of reasons, including one that blew away my focus and rattled my nerves - I'm looking at you, Hurricane Irma! - little to nothing got done. Throw in a few rejections and a possible new project I'm torn about pursuing, and I might as well grow roots I'm so stuck.

But I'm starting to see some sunlight beckoning to me through the brambles and the branches, and I know my writing and I will be okay. Eventually. I just really hope there's some cake and a big glass of milk up ahead for sustenance. (Hey, you have your path, I have mine. If you want boring old trail mix, that's your problem.) 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

IWSG: The Creep Factor


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How important is it to you that a writer's blog/website match the genre he or she writes in?

As you can see, my blog is not creepy or dark or edgy. It's relatively pleasant in terms of colors and pics and overall content. 

Now, if you had read my published stories or my flash fiction collections then paid a visit to the blog, how would you feel? Deceived? Disappointed? Would you wonder if you were in the right place? Would you be expecting darker colors, more horror-related posts? Would you wonder if this was really the online home of the person who wrote about ghost children and spiders as man's best friend? 

Or does it not matter at all? Would you just be relieved to know that some light does manage to get through all my mind shadows? Would you enjoy the photos of the beach and the palm trees and the tortoises? (Who, let's face it, are really in charge here, and I'll need to run any blog changes by them first anyway....) 

I'm not trying to promote stereotypes or anything like that. For me, it's more about expectations. And what I really don't want to do is let my readers down.

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With the tortoises' approval, I'm taking a brief blogging break (go ahead, say that five times fast.) I'll pop in and out but won't post anything new until Monday, the 18th. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Go the Distance . . . Then Keep Going

Many of us have been at this writing gig a long time. Some of us, a very long time. (Hello, gray hair! Where did you come from?) We often worry about not writing quickly, not having enough work out in the world. We worry that if too much time elapses between one published work and the next, our readers will forget about us.

Sure, this is possible, but "Publishing Moves On. Do Readers?" by Jael McHenry over on Writer Unboxed makes an excellent point. Even though "publishing coverage is about the new" that isn't always the case for readers.

She talks about how her debut novel was published six years ago, but she still hears from readers today. Even now, "...the book lives on in thousands of copies in thousands of places: on readers' nightstands and bookshelves, in Little Free Libraries, for sale at used bookstores and in church basements, and, of course, eternally available in e-book with just a few clicks."

I absolutely relate to this! My flash fiction collections have been out for a few years now, but just the other day, I heard that a family member and two blogger buddies recently read and enjoyed my work. I was thrilled!

So, please don't beat yourselves up or rush your work or think your words, your stories don't matter. They absolutely do. Like Ms. McHenry says -

"I'm here to say this: whatever happens, you'll have readers. You may hear from them and you may not. They may number in the thousands or the hundreds or the dozens or the ones. But any book that you put out into the world will have a life longer than you can know, and it'll touch people in ways you never foresaw."