November 29, 2010

Putting Myself Out There

Tomorrow night our Relief Society (our church's women's organization) is having a dinner and talent show. Our writing group signed up for a table and that will be kind of fun to display a few rough drafts, rejection letters, and, of course, the acceptance letters, along with our "how to write books" and incentives. But I took it a scary step further and signed up to do a reading. GAH.

I have no idea what I'm reading.

Okay, I have a few ideas, but I need to pick one part and then PRACTICE it without cringing, because as my writing group knows, when I am reading something of my own out loud (which every author MUST do in the editing process, PLEASE. See here.), two odd things happen:

1) I cringe. I just cringe and grimace and shake my head and giggle. UGH.

2) My voice gets deeper. I don't know why. I go from sounding all womanly and pleasant to sounding like Sylvester Stallone. "Yo, Adrian."

But I'm still going to do it. I just need to pick the perfect part and remember to breathe. Right?

Anyone have any advice?

Wish me luck.

November 10, 2010

Rings and Seasons

It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men's hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanates from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.  ~Robert Louis Stevenson

I recently read something about trees. How, in studying their rings, scientists can guess what climates and growing conditions surrounded the tree at given seasons, even hundreds of years ago. When conditions are ideal, trees grow at a normal rate. But when climate becomes harsh, extreme, exceptional, trees slow down their growth and put everything they have into surviving.
How is this like writing?
Right now, I have a lot going on. This "season" of growth I am experiencing a climate of kitchen remodel, a new calling in church planning and executing the holiday parties, hosting Thanksgiving, 4 children involved in school, community, and sports/music, a volleyball tournament, a husband heavily involved in the community and church. I wouldn't call it a harsh climate, because these are things we choose and enjoy and look forward to. Still, our current schedule is full, and added to these things are the stress and turbulence of having a large family, health issues, my husband's absences as he travels a lot (yeah, I miss him). I might worry that this season's ring? Looking a little meager.
When I get to write, everything slows. I regroup. I clear my head. I focus. Writing is part of my survival. Writing group is manna. When I get quiet mornings for writing it's nourishment to my soul.
And then I can pace myself with the other stuff. Sort of. More like scramble to keep up, but I'm not falling behind. I do my best with the important things. Writing isn't extra. Along with my faith, writing maintains balance, keeps me warmed up. So, my meager rings? I'm still going to be thankful for what I was able to get done. Sometimes we just have to hunker down, keep warm, take care of the important things. Survive. Climates change, so do the seasons.

I know a lot of writers would agree with me.

What do your rings look like?

November 8, 2010


In conjunction with National Novel Writing Month, and because I was inspired by my sister's latest blog post, I declare November "National Pie Poetry Month", or NONAPIPOMO.

Ode to Pie (or Pie a la Ode)

Oooooohhhhh, Pie!
Pie that hath melted on my tongue with cream both whipped and iced . . .
Pie that bursts with berry, or lemon,
Dances with banana or tempts with chocolate . . .
Forget all thought and crumb of cake,
For who eats cake with such pastries displayed? Nay, but bow-
Pumpkin, thou queen of Holiday; Custard, repast of peasants--Ooooohhh!
Apple Pear Ginger in the perfect crust, let me not miss thy fleeting season!

Oh, that I were a spoon, that I might touch that french silk.


Let's hear your NONAPIPO.

November 1, 2010

Revising With Passion

While what seems like the rest of the writing world participates in National Novel Writing Month, and the pup attempts to disembowel an un-stuffed plush squirrel (the head was the first to go), I will be revising another novel, called Grace & Chocolate. I have received delicious, stomach butterfly-inducing feedback from my loverly friend from the Great White North, Kimberly Vanderhorst, and after getting some "have-to's" out of the way, I can now open up her edits and re-work the raw into the submission-worthy. I hope.
Because this novel means a lot to me. They all do in their own way, but this one is a little more personal for me.
The story was inspired by my mom. It isn't biographical. It's not based on a true story. But my mom is a survivor. Her sisters and brothers are survivors. My mom was the oldest of five children in a house where alcohol turned a gentle, charismatic athlete, a friend and a father, into the embodiment of hatred, fear, and anger. Rage. He couldn't fight the demons of World War II alone. He would try. I love my grandpa. He slowed the drinking as I grew up, and finally stopped. He was goofy, could make us laugh so easily. And then they found the cancer. He always told us how much he loved us. I'm so glad he did, because when he died two months before my daughter, his first grandchild, was born, it was easy to imagine how much he would have loved her. Considering my mom's upbringing, that is an amazing gift.
But my mom was a fighter.
And so is Jill Parish.

Grace & Chocolate
Jillian Parish works at a busy publishing house in Portland, Oregon, is writing the novel of a lifetime, and goes home alone every day to a little dog, a spotless apartment, and a piece of 70% cacao and sugar. Her life is described in four words. Escape and stay busy. She has the second part down. The first one is getting more and more difficult as people from her past keep reminding her of what she has fled, and how dangerous it has become.
When Scott Gentry moves to town and spots Jillian at church, he learns her reputation as a lost cause. But something compels him to get Sister Parish's attention, no matter how difficult that may prove. As Scott stumbles, crashes, and falls, he finds himself with more attention than he bargained for, and more willing to do anything he can for the woman who is not made of stone, but of strength.
And she'll need it, because Jillian Parish's protective boundaries are about to be shaken. They're about to explode.

I hope I can make this one work. Man, I love being an author. All of it.
Good luck to all you Nanowrimers!
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