Sunday, December 16, 2012

Blessed is the Life

A life is a story comprised by so many mundane moments, strung together over time, and punctuated by a spattering of majestic milestones.  Many of the most beloved memories are not the most dramatic--a soft smile after the children are all asleep, the squeeze of a hand, a shared sunset.  Those closest to us remember the life...others simply recall a story or two.

Sometimes, History claims a claims a life.  Sometimes a story.  People do the same.  Sometimes a story affects us so profoundly, that the essence of it stays with us forever...if not the specifics. 

As you bend down to tie you son's perpetually untied shoe, you think Remember that man who would have died in the Twin Towers but for the fact that his shoelace broke and he stopped to buy a new pair?  His name is long lost to most of us, but that moment is ingrained forever in your mind.

When you hear the name John Wilkes Booth, you are likely to think "The Man Who Shot Lincoln."  Unless you are a historian, you are not likely to recall much else about his life, or character, or family.

We listen to these stories on the news, enthralled, unable to look away.  We hear bits, little snippets, sound clips designed to grab our attention and pull our heart strings.  We superimpose the face of our child on each victim.  We weep and pray and curse.

This moment, their last terrifying moment, sears itself on our soul.  Years from now we will remember the anguished face that flashed on the television scream, the line of children--hands linked--marching away from the unspeakable.  Each angelic face, their innocent eyes, will haunt us.  And our eyes will still swell with tears of gratitude at the memory of the brave teachers who pulled children to safety--at those who ran towards the gunfire...not away.

Others, however, will remember more than that.  They will remember shared conversations, and laughter, and first steps and first birthdays.  They will recall a myriad of hopes and dreams, and fears, shared in quiet whispers.  They will smile over the petty bickering, the practical jokes, the odd quirks and preferences that used to annoy but are now unspeakably precious.

We will remember the story.

They will remember the life.











Saturday, December 15, 2012

...now and at the hour of our death.

I thought I was having a bad week.  There were sick kids, and a sick me.  Day after day of sharing our lone bathroom as the stomach flu ravaged our family.  At one point, late at night, my middle child and I sat next to one another, perched in front of the toilet, taking turns being ill and hoping this delicate give and take was not unbalanced. 

There was laundry piling up, the normal variety as well as the extra caused by the germs that ran rampant.  The house smelled of sick, and bleach, and Lysol.  Extra blankets were pulled out to counter the chills that seemed to have taken root deep inside, never allowing any of us to feel quite warm enough--despite the fact that fevers raged and brows dripped with sweat.

The ill tempers of three tired children and an exhausted mother made us poor companions as the germs and fevers began to subside.  We were all cranky, and weak, and ready to get back to normal.  So off to school and work we all ventured, still a bit shaky, but desperate for the company of someone who had not thrown up next to us, or stole the remote control, or drank the last of the ginger ale.

A midday call from my husband broke the news of the shooting.  The rest of the day was filled with the bits and snippets that filtered through the news, some true and some not.  The details began to fill in, and the full horror of the Newtown massacre began to emerge. 

There is a desire, in times of crisis, to try to find out more details, more images, more information.  We consume the stories, gorge on them, gnawing on every morsel that the media presents.  Each grainy moment frozen in time, every sound bite.... 

No one wanted to be at work.  Even though there was over a thousand miles between my hometown and Newtown, my mind remained there for the rest of the day.  No one wanted to be anywhere but home, with their family, holding their children, and thanking God that it wasn't their daughter, their son.

I thought I was having a bad week.

Thank God for the piles of laundry, the bickering voices bellowing from another room.  Bless their messy rooms and their hair that needs brushing.  I am so blessed to tuck my sassy, loud, unruly children into bed and to kiss their heads before I stumble over a stray Lego on my way out. 

Tonight, we will have a special dinner, all of us, and I will try not to cry as their voices--always intentionally out of cadence--bless the food.  As they complain, and goad, and talk over one another, I will sit back and bask in the beauty of my wonderfully imperfect family. 

Tomorrow, they can clean their room.  Soon, I will shush them, and sigh, and roll my eyes again...but for tonight, I will remember my blessings.





Tuesday, December 4, 2012

I Want, I Want, I WANT!

In this season of giving, I thought I might casually mention a few items  bunch of stuff that a certain red-headed writer might like for Christmas.  This is also a good list to work off of if you happen to have any geeky writer-types on your Christmas list.

So, in no particular order, I want:

1.  Canned Unicorm Meat.  Count on the fabulous minds over at ThinkGeek to come up with something as horrifically fun as canned unicorn meat.  (NOTE:  take a moment and read their product descriptions.  Seriously...go there now.)  I really want to put this in the break room at work and install a hidden camera to watch all the fun reactions.  Because I am just sick like that.  Oh, come on, I can't be the only one!  Admit it.  You want some, too!


2.  Sonic Screwdriver TV Remote.  This is also from ThinkGeek.  It is a Doctor Who TV remote that you can use to control your television (duh).  Read the description in order to fully understand how amazingly awesome this remote is, and how unbearably cool I would be waving it at the television.  Especially so that it would be mine, ALL MINE!

3.  Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I also need the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, because somehow (unspeakably!) this is not in my library.  I have no idea how this deplorable oversight happened, but I hope to rectify it immediately. 

4.  Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty.  I need this shirt.  Because my kids really do sing it to me when we are at the sad part of any movie and I start getting teary.  And it really does help to soothe me.  Sing it with me:  Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur.....

5.  Gift Baskets.  Also, I love gift baskets--especially the food type.  There is just something about all those tiny boxes tucked inside of a pretty basket.  All those foods and treats that you would never think to normally buy...too expensive, too "frilly" and impractical.  But when given as a gift, well, it would rude not to indulge. 

Check back in for more Geek Gift Ideas, and feel free to leave suggestions for your favorite geeky or writerly gift.  I will keep adding more ideas as the holidays creep closer!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Give Me My Silence

I cannot write with music playing.  On a good day, I can block out the sound of the television--but definitely not the television and the dishwasher and kids playing.  My brain can only block out so much, and then it all comes crashing in, overwhelming me, suffocating me.  Apparently, it is a form of Auditory Processing Disorder. 

I have always known that I was not an auditory learner.  I need to see things, to touch things in order to properly commit them to memory.  Things that I merely hear quickly evaporate into the ether--not because I am not listening, or because I do not care, but because that is how my brain works. 

But things I read or write...well, they are ingrained in my mind for all time.

I never noticed a problem with this while in school.  I never received low grades or strained to learn.  No, I always took meticulous notes and read and re-read them.  I never sat still during lectures; instead, I spent the hours scribbling away the key bits so I could commit them to memory later.  Apparently, even at an early age, I found a work-around--without ever even realizing it.  Perhaps I simply knew my strengths. 

I grew up in a very quiet house.  A product of the 70s, I was a "latch key kid" and spent a lot of time alone.  Alone was quiet.  So, I only realized I had a problem later in life, when my three kids became old enough to create a constant low-roar in our home.  This--combined with the rattle of the dishes washing, the churn of the laundry swishing around the washing machine, the clatter of cats chasing one another through the house, and the hum of the television that no one seemed to be watching--it all seemed...too muchIt was overwhelming. 

Strange that so many noises, which if taken on their own might be considered soothing, or lulling, when combined seem to rankle, to jar, to agitate.  Yet, they do...for me at least.

When people talk about listening to music when they write, I shudder as I imagine one more noise that I must try to block out in order to hear my own thoughts.

By all means, crank up the music if that helps you.  But for me...give me my silence.  The quiet of a cold winter's night, the gentle whispers of my characters, and the tapping of my keys to keep me company while.  Somewhere, in another room, the rhythmic breathing of sleeping children can be heard faintly. 

This gentle, near-silence surrounds me with peace.

What about you?  Do you listen to music when you write?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Holiday Binge Eating...and Other Accomplishments

I finally finished an article I have been avoiding working on for several months, so I feel a certain sense of accomplishment.  These type of feats deserve a reward.  My reward-of-choice for today is rum cake!  So, at about 9:00 this morning, I helped myself to a large slab of alcohol imbibed goodness, ignoring the fact that I still have plenty more articles I need to work on, as well as my novel, and another (shorter) manuscript. 

I have decided that, in order to survive this holiday season (and as a good rule of thumb, in general), I need to focus on what I have accomplished rather the pile of things still waiting to be done.  I am much happier (and easier to live with) when I change my perspective this way.  And, face it, the holidays can be a handful...a handful of relatives visiting, a handful of to-do lists, a handful of things still left to bake, or buy, or make. 

We put the tree up on Thanksgiving night.  (Another feat that resulted in a hearty slab of rum cake.)  I baked plenty of goodies...all of which have already been devoured.  We all snuggled, and watched movies, and spends days on end in sweatpants.

All in all, there is a lot to be thankful for. 



Monday, November 19, 2012

I am Not Dead Yet

I am not dead (knocking on wood).  I am a bit frazzled and overworked...but happy.  I have my novel, which I am still working on, and a new project that is not-yet-to-be-spoken-of, but perhaps soon...or never.  We shall see.

I am obsessing over Thanksgiving preparations, which can become a bit crazy when trying to accommodate no: gluten, milk, eggs, beef, pork, chicken, pecans, walnuts, garlic, pineapple, and too many other things to list.  I decided to take Wednesday off in order to start cooking early.  I didn't do that last year, and I regretted it horribly!

I made up a batch of Christmas Chutney last week, and my ginger headed son realized that he LOVES chutney.  (I am oddly pleased to find out that one of my children adore it as much as I do.  For some reason, it makes me stupid-happy whenever I find out that my kids and I have something in common, and I proudly tell them, "You get that from me.")

In the meantime, I plan to be puttering away in the kitchen and running errands like mad so that I can hibernate until next Monday.  I do not like getting out and about on Black Friday...the reality of that day is as ominous as it sounds: people pushing and cursing and ignoring traffic laws!

By the time you read this, I will be adding yet another item to my shopping list and contemplating whether I should use whiskey or sherry or cognac or rum in my fruitcake...or make one of each.  And no, I do NOT use candied fruit...real, identifiable dried fruit, thank you very much!

Oh, and I need to make my rum cake.  Rum cake is vital if I plan on making it through the initial holiday rush.  Perhaps I should make two....

Sigh...but then, I suppose all of this fretting is just part of my holiday tradition.

What are your favorite holiday traditions? 



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My Kingdom for a Pen

This is how it always happens...they come to me when I am driving, or in the shower, or in the middle of a meeting.  Sometimes they whisper gently, other times they shriek out their truths.  My characters come unbidden.  Yet, when I beg or implore, they sullenly refuse to grace me with their presence. 

Today, however, as I drove the long trek from home, then to pick up our lovely carpooling friend, then to the eldest child's school, then to the bus stop for the middle and youngest child, then off to work...they came to me. 

Inspiration striking!
(...or perhaps the aurora borealis)
They were eager and anxious--a flurry of information and activity and drama.  They swirled like quicksilver; they struck like lightening.  It was electric.

And, of course...I had no pen.  No pen or paper to memorialize their dire warnings and their realizations.  Surely, somewhere under my wallet...and Epi-pen...and cell phone...and unpaid bills...and the single child's sock...somewhere there had to be a pen and a scrap of paper.  And yet my eager fingers that rummaged through my purse found nothing but loose receipts and change and half a mint.

So I did the only thing I could; I chanted the precious bits of new information like a mantra all the way to work.  I repeated it while stuck in traffic.  I muttered it while I maneuvered through the construction zone.  I whispered it while yielding for pedestrians. 

Then I drove up the six stories of the parking garage, found my self-appointed parking spot next to my dearest friend's car, and scurried in to work so that I could engage in a much-needed "information dump" at her desk before dashing to my own overflowing work space to scrounge for a pen and paper.

My characters tell me things in their own time...much like my eldest daughter, teetering on the brink of tweendom.  And, as with my daughter, when my characters finally relinquish some thought, or insight, or precious bit of their heart...I listen.  I relish it.  I store it away.  They are my children, too.  Their births were also long and  painful and memorable.

Like my children, my characters seem to want to talk when I am in the shower, or making dinner, or trying to do something else that requires my attention. 

But you make time, because they are worth it. 

You stop the world, if you have to.   

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dodge Ball...a Life in the Crosshairs

A friend of mine from grade school commented on her Facebook page today that her life was like a game of Mother May I?  She was forever taking one step forward and two steps back.  Then it dawned on me, that my life is rather like a game of Dodgeball. I never much liked Dodgeball.  The idea that people get to target you and pummel you with a ball while you dodge and weave to avoid sudden impact always struck me as rather cruel. 

I loved elementary school growing up.  Loved it.  I even liked PE.  I did not, however, care for Dodgeball.  It always made me anxious.  It made me feel like I was in the crosshairs. 


In a lot of ways, I guess I still feel that way.  Even though I am forty, I still worry about juggling all of life's commitments and requirements and necessities.  I still get that anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach when I think about something I needed to do...or can't afford to do...or simply wish I could do (but feel like I crappy mother/wife/sister/friend because I can't do it).

I was talking to a dear friend the other day and I mentioned how in some ways, with some people, we would always be 10 years old.  Like when you go home for the holidays and no one takes you seriously, or recognizes your accomplishments, or that you actually do know what you're talking about.

For some people, I will always be ten years old--with hair forever in need of brushing, and braces, with her nose stuck in a book.  In many ways, I guess I still see myself that way...

...and I can hear the whiz of the ball as it just barely misses me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pride and Spite...and a Bit of Obsessing

I have not fallen off the edge of the earth, or toppled over the edge of Hell.  Although it feels a bit as if I might have, since the "Defy the Dark" contest has still not announced the winners.  I know, I know.  It is an exquisitely torturous limbo that I am living in, and I am trying to gear up by preparing for the worst.  This means trying to find another outlet for the story in the event that I am not one of the three finalists. 

And then, I get distracted by obsessing over the numbers:  Okay, so there were 1,242 entries.  So that means I have a 1 in 414 chance of winning.  But, that does not account for how many might actually have been good.  Hm, let's assume that half of them were really pretty good.  That gives me a 1 in 207 chance of winning.  Wow.  I still don't like those odds. 

So I guess I should just stop crunching numbers and start looking for an alternate home for my story.  Just in case.

I am working on compiling a list of leads for future reference.  I am creating a list with hyperlinks to the websites, because I want to make sure that the contact information and such are the most current available. 

I have also made a submissions spreadsheet so I can keep track of what is out pending rejection  review, who I have heard from, and deadlines. 

This makes me sound oh-so-much-more-organized than I really am.  My real life consists of writing articles at the kid's bus stop at 7:30 a.m., writing on my lunch break, writing when no one is looking, and writing at home after the kids go to bed.  I try to work in 500 words of my novel each day, and I am also scouting about for short story contests that might be promising.

That's a lot of writing.  I wish more of it could be dedicated to my novel, though.

It seems a bit strange to me that I can get paid for my words, that my words have actual monetary value.  So strange.  As in I-am-going-to-wake-up-any-minute strange, or soon-they-will-realize-I-am-not-a-real-writer odd. 

Oh, oh!  I also have a print article coming out in a local publication in January.  This makes me deliriously happy.  It makes me ponder whether there is a discreet way I can "accidentally" leave the magazine (conveniently open to my article page) at several family members' homes.  Not out of pride or spite, mind you, but just to prove the nay-sayers wrong.  Okay.  Um...maybe there is a bit of pride and spite there...  Rats.

At any rate, I am plugging along.  If any of you know of any good horror/fantasy markets for short stories, or can offer any words of encouragement, or ways to deal with the endless waiting, please let me know...maybe you can help curtail another pointless round of number-crunching.

And, since I am too lazy to find a more appropriate photo to somehow neatly wrap up the non-existent theme of this rambling post, I offer you this:


My cat's eyes glass over at my incessant number crunching...


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Edge of Hell

Writers' Hell
I am in Limbo.  (Which, I just googled and found out was Latin: limbus, meaning "edge or boundary, referring to the 'edge' of Hell.)  Okay, maybe I am not literally in hell, but as close as a living, aspiring author can get to Limbo.  You see, I currently have a story entered in a contest over at Figment.  The winners were supposed to announced "on or about September 12, 2012."  So, like...any minute now.  But they haven't been announced yet.  I have nearly worn out my keyboard hitting the refresh button, to no avail.

I also have a short story that I just submitted to Shimmer magazine.  I am currently waiting for the lovely, Shimmery People over there to find it in their overstuffed inbox, read it, and (fingers crossed, knocking one wood, wishing on a star) decide they want more than anything to include it in their publication.  We shall see.  It takes three weeks or so to hear back.  In the meantime, I will write other things, and read, and obsess, and hit the refresh button, and wonder if my inbox is broken.

If you are so inclined, you should feel free to cross your fingers as well, maybe knock on wood, say a prayer or offer up a good intention.

I could use it!

For those that are, likewise, waiting to hear back on submissions, please let me know how you are coping and keeping your sanity...assuming, of course, that you are maintaining some precarious hold on your mental health.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

I was supposed to update everyone on Friday about how I had rocked everything last week, how I had slayed it, how the week had NOT gotten the better of me.

News flash:  It did!

I spent the long weekend sniffling, sneezing, coughing, taking medicine, giving kids medicine, and otherwise not reveling in my awesomeness. 

Never fear, though.  I am feeling moderately better.  I even got an article cranked out today, and started a pitch for another publication, and I worked a bit on the novel. 

In other words:  Life goes on.

This minor setback won't, however, keep me from dreaming big and making impractical assertions of how I am going to do it all and have it all...what fun would that be?

But for now I will be content with the fact that I can breathe out of both nostrils, and be thankful for decongestants and kleenex with lotion.  It is the little things, you know?

I will play catch up more later.  For now, I am going to get a bit more rest before I go back to the day job tomorrow. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cat in the Headlights

This is the week that I finalize my short story for the contest.  It is the week that I start working on a pitch for an article that will bring in more freelance funds.  This is the week I am giving up soda.  It is the week that I finally get back to the novel and see how much closer to done I can bring it.  This is the week with two Back to School Nights spread over two days. It is the week before a long weekend, which means the day job gets even busier.  This is the week I decided to start getting back in shape so that my blood pressure (hopefully) goes down (and why, why does even typing those words make me immediately crave a honey bun?).


This week has me feeling like a
Cat in the Headlights!
This week is already kicking my butt.

(I will let you know on Friday how it all turns out.)

I do want to thank all of the beta readers that so generously volunteered their time and experience to help make my story stronger.  No two readers read it exactly the same way, and everyone noticed different things that they either liked or that could stand to be tweaked.  Their input made the story stronger.  I will find out mid-September if all our hard work paid off for this particular contest.  But if not, I think I will try to find a good home for this story, because I have grown quite attached to it.  (Geez, this makes the story sound like a stray kitten.)

One thing that this entire journey has shown me is that the hardest thing about writing (other than the actual writing) is that it pits my greatest desire and my greatest fear against each other.  You see, I really, really want to share my stories with the world and have them be read and appreciated; I am also terrified about sharing my stories with the world and having them read and judged....

But, I decided a while back that my fortieth year is to be The Year of Doing.  And, as such, I am pushing ahead.  There will always be people who don't care for a story.  Perhaps it isn't their preferred genre.  Maybe it touches a nerve.  Maybe it is too flowery for them...or to stark.

But then...then, if you are lucky...you find someone who is genuinely affected by your words.  Someone who takes the time to actually TELL you that your story moved them in some way.  Then it is all worthwhile.  A writer can live off that kind of thing for YEARS.  When the bad reviews sprinkle in, those are the moments that sustain them.  So I treasure every bit of encouragement that my readers have given me.  I tuck their kind words away and hold them close to my heart.

In the meantime, I will keep juggling.  I will take the good with the bad...and I will keep tending to the small stories, the wounded characters, and stray kittens that inevitably find me.

If not me, then who?


Thursday, August 23, 2012

This is Not Normal...

I have a short story that I just finished.  It is not my "usual" genre.  This piece is rather...paranormal/horror.  I would love it if some of you might be willing to beta read it and give me feedback.  It is just over 2,000 words.  I am hoping to enter it in a contest next week, and I would appreciate all the input I could get.

If you have the time to help, please contact me at gingerlovinmind(at)gmail(dot)com, and I will send it to you.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I Know Better

I know better than to watch sad movies (right now it is Shadowlands) right before bedtime.  I know this, because I do it with alarming regularity.  I know that I will end up crying and one of my children will have to come to my rescue with a handful of crumpled tissue.  I know that I will end up with a splotchy face, a running nose, and one of those blasted after-crying headaches.  I know that my husband will roll his eyes, because he has seen this all before. 

I know better.

But sometimes you know something...and you do it anyway.

Especially on the first day of school, when your daughter comes home to tell you about a classmate who wasn't there because he has leukemia and his white count was too low to be around the other children.

Especially when you want to hold your children close and let the tears fall into their hair while you breathe in their smell.  A smell that is clean, and warm, and nothing like a sterile hospital room.

Especially when you have spent the day worrying about trivial things like messy rooms, and packing lunches, and lamenting the lack of air conditioning in your car.

Especially when you don't want to have to explain to anyone that what you are crying about has absolutely nothing to do with what is playing out on the television screen.

And so you look over the television listings and choose a channel.  You wrap yourself in a warm blanket like a cocoon, and you weep over Joy Gresham's cancer, and C. S. Lewis's loss, and little Douglas Gresham (and David Gresham, too, even though the movie doesn't mention him).

And you weep for the little ten year old boy who can't go to school on the first day.  You weep for the mother and father who had to tell him that he couldn't go.

You weep out of guilt at the all-encompassing relief you feel when you slide silently into your child's room and kiss them goodnight for the seventh time. 

You weep because, for a moment, everyone under your room seems safe.

You weep because you know better.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Authorly Admissions

The past month has been a whirlwind of writing and deadlines and interviews and back-to-school madness.  The good news is that I have been cranking out articles and getting paid to write.  The bad news is that I am not getting to spend nearly enough time working on the book.  I am still trying to find that ever-elusive "balance" that I hear so much about.  I am beginning to doubt its existence.  I believe that it is more likely that we teeter back and forth, vacillating between neglect and obsession, for all eternity.

Okay, perhaps that is a bit melodramatic, but I am feeling a touch dramatic at the moment.  Geez, this would be a good time to be working on the book...channel the drama into something productive.

I am taking some time off from my day job later this week, and I am hopeful that I will get some work done on the novel.  If you catch me online, feel free to scold me and send me back to work.

Here are some things I have learned this past month:
  1. You cannot please everyone all the time...especially not yourself.
  2. When you have no time to write, the ideas will come fast and furious.
  3. At some point, every writer will write something simply for the money.  Kids have to be fed and bills need to get paid.  There is no shame in this, but don't let the money make you forget the things you actually want to write.
  4. Sometimes you will have to burn the midnight oil...but when you realize that you are the one getting burned out it is time to turn off the lights and go on to bed.
  5. When all else fails, turn off the computer and go outside, then take off your shoes, walk barefoot in the grass, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. 
  6. And this quote, that I stumbled upon and which rang so true that it nearly brought tears to my eyes (which, to honest, isn't some great feat...I have been known to cry at certain Simpson's episodes, a particular poignant LifeSaver commercial, and a fair number of Doctor Who episodes).  At any rate, for what it is worth:

I have had to take a few walks this week, and more than a few deep breaths.  But I am still here.  Still writing.  Still holding out hope that this story that haunts me will find its way to people that will embrace it, and dog ear the pages, and copy out a line or two that means something to them.

Author August: An Interview with Laura Hughes

Since I have been laying low writing, lately.  Tomorrow is my long promised update about me and my projects.  But today we are graced with presence of the lovely and talented Laura Hughes.  Laura was kind enough to share her thoughts and wisdom with us, along with an excerpt from her current work in progress. 

1.      What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?

Wow. I don't remember. Are we supposed to remember stuff from when we're ten? I have a vague memory of fourth grade, and learning about Florida and the Everglades, but other than that, not much. I know I read a TON of nonfiction that year, to write a massive report on the Everglades. I know I was fascinated with the local wildlife, especially after my dad chased a couple of panthers out of our yard. It was probably a book about the Glades, or the local birds.

2.      Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now?

Perhaps, since half of my WIP takes place in and around the Everglades! Gee, I never really thought about that before. I suppose it's true. Huh.

3.      What character have you had a “book character crush” on?

Too many to recount here. The current book character crush is probably Harry Dresden. Poor tormented soul. I just want to take him on vacation someplace quiet for a while. He really needs a vacation.

4.      Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why?

Probably my main character, Thalia. She's sort of like me in a lot of ways, and sort of what I wish I could be in others. She's a little less worried about the little things than I am. I wish I could learn to let go of the unimportant details as well as she can. Then again, I'm relieved as heck that I don't have her problems! I'm just a plain old human being, after all, and most of the folks in the world are content to quietly ignore me. Thalia, on the other hand, draws a lot of unwanted attention. Being a shapeshifter is bad enough, but if they knew she was really a dragon, she wouldn't have much to worry about for very long.

5.      Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

I used to require silence, but then I started training myself to ignore background noise while I write. I wanted the atmosphere of music, but I didn't want to be distracted. Now, I don't even mind having the TV on the background. I don't even hear it anymore half the time.

6.      Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure?

When I start writing I always know where the story will end up. I have no idea what route the characters will take to get there. I mostly let them lead the way. I've tried plotting before, but I find myself stuffing every possible detail into the outline, which sort of defeats the purpose of outlining. My outlines tend to resemble finished novels, so I don't bother with them.

7.      It can be hard to feel like a “legitimate” author when you first start writing.  When did you first call yourself a “writer” and not feel like a fraud?

When I got my first rejection letter. Seriously.

8.      Are you publishing traditionally or indie, and what nudged you in that direction?

I'm querying agents, so I guess traditional. I think I'm mainly looking for just one publishing professional to give my work their stamp of approval. That would definitely be the thing that canceled any lingering feeling that I'm a fraud!

9.      What part of writing is hardest for you?

The Murky Middle. This is the part of the novel where I start second guessing everything I've written to that point. It's usually where I start skipping around, editing and changing things, instead of plowing through the rest of the story before I bring out the red pencil. This is where I start doubting myself, and doubt is really unhealthy in writers.

10.  What is your currently work in progress about?

Here's a short blurb of the novel I'm querying, Running Down the Dragon:

Shapeshifters have been allowed to stay in the U.S. in exchange for their loyalty to the government. They use their skills to handle military operations and criminal investigations that are beyond the abilities of the human soldiers and cops they work with.
Thalia Drake has been hiding her true identity to blend in with the shapeshifters. Dragons are able to become any animal they choose, and Thalia has spent the last six hundred years living as a werewolf. If anyone knew she was really a dragon, the shifters could lose everything. Her mother's disastrous and fatal attempt to convince the world that dragons were a force for good only convinced Thalia that it was safest for everyone to keep her secret forever.
When a murder investigation uncovers a serious threat to shifters, and an ancient dragon relic, Thalia's first instinct is to stop the killer at any cost. Revealing the truth could prevent a shifter genocide, but it's equally likely to doom them to her mother's fate. History is repeating itself, and Thalia must unravel the killer's motives before she crosses a line that could turn the entire world against her.

I'm editing the follow-up novel to this one in preparation to send it to the Critique Partners of Infinite Gloriousness. I started writing a third novel in the series, but it's mired in that Murky Middle at the moment. Between polishing the first novel, and editing the second, I figured I had enough on my plate at the moment!



Find out more about Laura, and join her in her journey here:

Blog: http://mittensmorgul.blogspot.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MittensMorgul
Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/mittensmorgul I occasionally reblog things I like, but not very often. Just a warning.
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LauraHughesAuthor One more warning, I haven't really done anything with this page yet, but it exists! Now I have to figure out what to do with it...

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Author August: An Interview with Terri Rowe

We have several more authors scheduled for interview this month.  This week, we are lucky to have author Terri Rowe join us.  For those who have emailed to check in on me, I will be posting an update on me this coming Tuesday.  I am still busy juggling the book, the freelance articles, and the family responsibilities, but I feel like things are all headed in the right direction (knock on wood!).  I am also going to be off work (from the day job) for a couple of days next week, and I am hoping to get a decent chunk of time to work more on the novel. 

The Talented Terri Rowe

One of the writers that I have met through my blog who has been incredibly supportive of my one year project is Terri Rowe.  Terri is incredibly talented and is dedicated to pursuing her dream of writing, and I am so grateful to have met her.

1.       What was your favorite book when you were young?  Do you still go back and re-read it?
I had so many favorite books as a child. I loved the All of a Kind Family series by Sydney Taylor-about a family of five Jewish sisters growing up on New York's upper east side-set just prior to, during, after WWI. I loved all the stories about the Melendy family-The Saturdays, The Four Story Mistake-by Elizabeth Enright The Prairie School by Lois Lenski. The bunny book was a favorite when I was a small child along with The Monster at the end of the Book. Every summer my mother read us Marion Holland's No Children, No Pets. I actually have a page devoted to Favorite Childhood Books and happiness on Pinterest. I often go back and re-read No Children, No Pets. It has become a family summer tradition. As a gift for my mother-I am writing her the sequel-I give her a chapter at each major holiday throughout the year.

2.       Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now?
I think it did influence me a lot. I love to write about families, kids, and mysteries. Those were all things I loved reading about. I was also a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock's the Three Investigators, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, and Nancy Drew.

3.       What character have you had a “book character crush” on?
I had a pretty large crush on each of the three investigators at one time or another-Pete Crenshaw, Bob Andrews, and especially Jupiter Jones.

4.       Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why?
I am working on a youth or tween novel. I really identify with Jenna, the protagonist in that story. I also have a screenplay that I have submitted to some contests and really identify with Petra. It seems to be a natural occurrence-to have some of my traits rub off on the characters I am writing about. The reverse is true as well. I want to try to be the type of person that they seem to be as well.

5.       How do you fit writing into your life?  Do you write early in the day? late? whenever you can squeeze it in?
I try to write whenever possible. I like to write early in the day when the rest of the world seems to be peacefully asleep. That is also why I like to write late at night. I am fortunate right now-I have been having layoff time for one week a month. This allows me to do some of my writing during the day. For one glorious week each month I get to pretend that my job and career is the one I have always dreamed of-being a full time writer.

6.       Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure?
I develop characters and write out some plot points and ideas. I need to have a basic guide to get to where I want to be in telling the story, but I do like to try out different ideas and see where the characters take me.

7.       Where do you get your ideas for stories and characters?  Do your characters tend to come first or the plot line?
I get ideas from people that I meet, from situations I find myself in, from dreams, and from my interpretation of my memories. The characters tend to come as a result of the story ideas or from my need to tell a story about a subject. I am forever writing notes on bits of scrap paper. I did this often over the years while working in the factory on production lines. That type of work affords you time to think. sometimes too much time to think-just not enough time to write.

8.       Tell us a bit about your path to publication!
I happen to follow a page on Facebook that has to do with an NPR contest called Three Minute Fiction. Last year I saw a post on their page about another contest for the MeeGenius Author's Challenge-for storybook authors. I had not had any success writing a story in 600 words or less-but I love writing stories for kids-so I thought I would try the MeeGenius contest. I made it through the first round-which was where the editors decided if you had a viable story and could follow the formatting guidelines they wanted adhered to-then my story was put in with 400 other stories for a popular vote. You sort of had to market and promote yourself through Facebook and other media. I made it to the third round-and my story was paired with a talented artist/graphic designer-and then my story earned a publishing contract from that experience.  It is currently on the top ten list for MeeGenius through iTunes.

9.       What part of writing is hardest for you?
The hardest part of writing for me---is dedicating time to the process and being honest with how much editing I might really need to do on a piece-because that is so time consuming.

10.   What is your currently work in progress about?
I am currently working on three more storybooks that I submitted for consideration for publication, a youth novel, a new screenplay, and I have a screenplay I am trying to shop around. I also have a blog that I try to write for at least half a dozen times a month.

I appreciate Terri's encouragement.  I respect her dedication.  I am so thrilled she agreed to join us and share her experience an enthusiasm.  Check our her story Green Goo, and make a note of her name--I am certain that you will soon see more work by her as you wander through your local bookstore!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Author August: An Interview with Lauren Ritz

The lovely Lauren Ritz
This week I am fortunate to be interviewing fellow writer Lauren Ritz.  Lauren is a wonderfully supportive and talented writer with a knack for building worlds that readers will delight in getting lost in!   

1.       What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
By the time I was ten years old I was reading five to ten books per week (my max was 7 in one day, but I was pushing it, and I'll now admit that two of those were picture books), sometimes staying up all night reading.  I really don't remember many of them (quantity vs quality, you know?) but I think I was deep into Anne McCaffrey at that point.  I had also just discovered The Witches of Karres, which remains a favorite.

2.       Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now? 
Absolutely.  I was voracious, reading anything I could get my hands on as long as it was fiction.  I've never shaken my prejudice against non-fiction.  I eventually narrowed that down to mostly Sci-fi and fantasy (real life was just so BORING), so now I write both, and often in combination.  I have a difficult time with fiction set in this world because I have to follow someone else's rules.

3.       What character have you had a “book character crush” on? 

Hehehe.  Miles Vorkosigan (the VorKosigan books by Louis McMaster Bujold).  Aside from being short, he's smart, flawed and just all around fantastic.  Stubborn, deep and I just can't help it.  I'd probably hate him in real life.

4.       Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why? 
I think there are actually two.  The first is Merla.  Through her I'm trying to come to terms with history.  Because of what happened to her she doesn't think like other people, and I find working through that very interesting.  I hope the story can eventually show people what the result is when someone is consistently bullied over a long period of time.  It's been difficult to make her real because my brain does backflips to keep from going there.

The other is Enna, a semi-aquatic shape changer in a world where difference is not acceptable.  The rest of the people around her are human, mostly.  She has a hard time dealing with people, dealing with the problems that come up because of who and what she is.  She is stubborn, a non-conformist in a world that demands conformity, and has a difficult time taking orders that don't make sense.  She's in a semi-military position and is always arguing with her superiors.  :)  I've been writing about her for a couple years now so I think she's the character I know (and like) the best.

Merla is closest to who I used to be, and Enna is who I want to be.

5.       Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence? 
It depends on the story.  I have a file of mood music, and if I'm stuck I might pull up the file that fits the mood I want, but for the most part I don't think about it.  If I'm deep into the story I won't notice, and if I'm not it's distracting.  Although come to think of it, that might be a way to get more emotion into my writing...

6.       Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure? 
Oh, I am definitely a pantser.  It makes for more editing in the long run, but I find it very difficult to follow an outline.  I have tried.  Real life isn't plotted, it doesn't have foreshadowing, and plot holes are the norm rather than the exception.  In real life secondary characters snip in for a few hours or days and then disappear.  So I have to fix all that while editing.  My characters run the show, with periodic detours when they try to do something exceptionally stupid. 

7.       It can be hard to feel like a “legitimate” author when you first start writing. 
When did you first call yourself a “writer” and not feel like a fraud?  I remember once talking to a friend about my writing and I started to say "that's what I do."  It came out "that's what I am."  I've always been a writer.  I remember in 7th grade an English teacher gave me credit for an assignment even though I hadn't followed the instructions--we were supposed to write a half-page description and I handed in 24 pages.  :)  Being an author--I probably won't feel like a legitimate author even after I'm published. 

8.       Are you publishing traditionally or indie, and what nudged you in that direction? 
I'm actually thinking of going in both directions.  I have a series of six books, five of them complete (although editing will continue) that I want to do electronic and probably through Createspace or something like it.  Build myself a platform while I'm trying to get the others published traditional.  I read the information on the publishers websites and most of them don't take unagented submissions.  The rest seem to want exclusive for anywhere up to two years.  With four books completely edited and seven more finished, I can't have each book with a publisher for two years--I'd be eighty before I got through them all.

9.       What part of writing is hardest for you? 
I never thought it would be this way, but the hardest part of being a writer is being alone, working alone.  I never considered myself a social person, but I find myself retreating into my own little world and have to force myself to go out and meet other people.  Otherwise I retreat more and more, I start getting depressed and it's reflected in my writing.

The hardest part of the writing itself is having to cut characters I love.  I usually compensate by telling their stories in a separate novel.  Which is part of why I have so many incomplete novels floating around.


10.   What is your currently work in progress about? 
I usually work on more than one.  Right now it's a duo (is that the right word?)--working titles "Lord Bar" and "Lady Silva," about a husband and wife who have to go in different directions, working toward the same goal.  I haven't written the query yet, but here's a basic outline.  It's set on another planet, where a small human population carved out a safe zone from an alien wasteland. After 500 years, that space is shrinking and humans may find themselves extinct. 

Bar stays in his Keep, trying to protect his people, while his wife takes their children to her ancestral Keep, which was swallowed by the wasteland several generations past.  Both work against the superstitious violence of the humans, who have been killing the one thing that can save them.  Both find that truth and reality are two very different things.  Lord Bar is at 78 K at the moment, and Lady Silva is at 73k.  Lady Silva may actually have to split into two, so it may turn into a trilogy.  Not sure yet.

That's one problem with my writing--novels tend to divide, like an amoeba.

Here's a short excerpt from Lady Silva--a description of the natives of this world.  Part of the scene this was taken from is here
, if your readers are interested.

Lady Silva had no words for the thing approaching through the trees, no words for the shape or the color, but it was well over two meters tall, and had claws. With that small familiarity, she was able to identify the things attached to the claws as limbs of some kind.

It was furred--she could see that much, and had a bump on one end that might or might not be a head. Perhaps those bulging protuberances ringing the base of the head were eyes. It helped, to find one more thing that she could identify, and if they weren’t eyes the thing had none.

It was a nightmare, a shape hidden and incomprehensible because her mind had nothing to compare it with. It stood silent, letting her look her fill. Others, smaller, appeared around it, scuttling on legs that bowed upward like a spider. The big one settled to the ground facing Lady Silva.

She turned her head, hoping not to see another, but was disappointed. The one behind was larger, and had its own attending band of large spider-shapes, each with a double-barbed tail arching over the back. The big ones had no such tail but walked on segmented, claw-tipped legs covered with a fur-like substance that wasn’t fur.

The claw-tipped arms moved aside from where they had been crossed in front of the...barrel, and Lady Silva knew that her assumptions were all wrong. The moving arms revealed a face, and it poked its head out of the body to look at her. What that swelling at the top might have been she had no idea, but because it was not swathed in fur she’d assumed it to be a head. 

If you would like to help Lauren with that dreaded writerly isolation, seek her out here:

Twitter:  LaurenRitz1
Facebook:  LaurenRitztheWriter
Blog:  Eclectic

Her website isn't up yet, but she is working on it!  You can also find additional samples of her writing here.  I appreciate Lauren taking the time to share some of her talent and wisdom!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Author August: An Interview with Jessica McKendry

One thing that I have humbly learned over the years (all FORTY of them!) is that talent and generosity transcends age.  Since embarking on this writing journey, I have met so many talented people from all walks of life and all ages, and I am amazed at how giving they are of their time and talent.  One of those people is Jessica McKendry.  Jessica is an old soul with a knack for creating worlds that draw the reader in and force them to stay up late to turn just one more page...then one more...and one more. 

Jessica was kind enough to allow me to pose some questions and her thoughtful answers are here:

1.       What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?When I was ten... well... that was quite a while ago.  But it was probably Star Wars Attack of the Clones by R. A. Salvatore or Star Wars Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover.  (Yes, I admit to being a super Star Wars nut.)

2.       Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now?
Definitely.  Because of my early sci-fi and action/adventure habits, I honestly find it hard to write outside of those genres!  I guess that means I should read some different books!

3.       What character have you had a “book character crush” on?
Does Anakin Skywalker count?  I've always had a crush on him.

4.       Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why?
Definitely Jaina, my Main Character.  I mean, she's sixteen, so we'll be the same age in a few months.  How can I not feel a connection with her?  Although, she's less clumsy than I am, and not as awkward, either.

5.  You are a talented young writer, but do you feel like your youth is an asset or a hindrance as you pursue your goals?  Do you feel like you are taken seriously?
I guess it's a little bit of both.  It could be a hindrance, mostly because yes, some people won't take me seriously.  But it's also great because getting an early start on anything is great.  So I'd say it's more of an asset than hindrance.

6.       Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure?
Well, I've written two full novels so far.  The first one I plotted it out completely before I wrote it.  The second, I mostly plotted before I wrote it.  But the last quarter I just sorta let it happen.

So, I'm not sure what my strategy is yet.  Maybe it depends on the story I'm telling.

7.       Where do you get your ideas for stories and characters?  Do your characters tend to come first or the plot line?
Ooh.  Tricky.  I get my ideas from just about everything.  I got the idea for my current story about four years ago.  It came as a mixture of Poptropica, Star Wars, 1984, The Hunger Games and a few other stories and life events.

And characters or plot line... again, it's hard to say.  I've only written two novels and they're part of a trilogy, so I count it as the same story.  Though for this story, I think the plot came first, then the characters.

8.       Are you publishing traditionally or indie, and what nudged you in that direction?
Indie.  For the plain and simple excuse of time.  I mean, I want my story to be as good as it can be, so I'm definitely not going to rush it.  But I want to still be a teen and a published author.  And finding a publisher or agent that's right for you could take a LONG TIME.  And I won't be a teen for much longer.  Besides, you have more freedom to do what you want and can keep it the story you want it to be.

9.       What part of writing is hardest for you?
Descriptions.  Imagery.  Yep, that's the hardest part for me.  I think I've got dialogue down pretty well, but there's only a number of times you can say "she smiled."  "he laughed."  Thinking of new ways to describe things is so difficult for me.

10.   What is your currently work in progress about?Thank goodness we're not doing this interview in person!  I always choke when someone asks me that. 

Okay so here's a brief summary:

They are chosen at birth.  The ones who are strong.  They are the gifted.

Trained to be highly skilled in both physical and mental abilities, they have potential to become a Superior.  They could live out their lives in the Crystal City, the richest, and by far the most beautiful city in the galaxy.  But becoming Superior has a deadly price to pay.

To gain the title, they must all survive the Trials.

Jaina Indera has been training at a Gifted School for sixteen years, waiting for her moment to prove herself worthy of competing in the Trials.  Those who choose not to compete or don’t make the competition will me marked as Inferior.

Yet being selected a competitor is only the beginning.  Each school sends a team of eight students to compete in a battle of both physical and mental challenges against other Gifted Schools around the galaxy.

Not all will survive.

In a world where mercy is a weakness, and only the ruthless prevail, Jaina must discover who she is and what she’s really fighting for.

I am grateful for Jessica to agree to this interview and to share some of her insight with us.  (I always like having a window into writers' creative process!  I am nosey like that.)  Take a moment to check out Jessica's blog and offer some encouragement to this up and coming author!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Author August: An Interview with Jen Veldhuyzen

I have decided that the month of August will be an "Author's Month" here at my humble blog.  I will be interviewing writers and posting writing quotes and inspiration.  And, since I can't play by the rules (not even when I am the way making them up), I have decided that I am kicking it all off a bit early.  As in...NOW! 

I was recently interviewed over at petrepan.blogspot.com and Jen Veldhuyzen was gracious enough to answer some questions for me as well.  Here are her really thoughtful answers to my questions:

1.  What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
10's a hard number! I'm not sure if I was still in C.S. Lewis phase or StarWars books. I do remember when I was 8, though: I loved 'The Indian in the Cupboard' by Lynne Reid Banks so much I decided to write my own story, back in elementary school. I wrote about a little girl who found a magical Easter Egg that transported her to other dimensions!

2. Do you think your early reading habits influenced what you write now?
Sure! I read everything and anything when I was little, from the dictionary to the encyclopedia to fairytales, so my writing kind of carries a wild blend of ideas and facts. My early reading habits also hurt my writing, though, since some non-fiction books made me think longer words=better writing. Not true! It's also taking me a long time to disavow myself of the idea that more convoluted sentences meant more poetic writing.
 

3. What character have you had a “book character crush” on?
I'd never actually had a bona-fide "crush," but the dark and adventurous Peter Pan from J.M. Barrie's book "Peter Pan" quickly became my favorite boy in high school, like a brother or something. I carried that book everywhere I went, right in the same pocket I carried my Bible. (Is that weird?) Right now, I've written about a superhero who shoots his author--is it okay if I say I think he's pretty hot? I love his handsome attitude and free-spirit as much as I love his nerdiness and vulnerability.

4. Which of your characters do you feel the most kinship with, and why?
Lem Benzaran's an undercover assassin who must brainwash herself so that her target, an enemy mind-reader, can't discover her. She must think and feel like her enemy, not just look and act like it, so when her best friend finds her in enemy uniform, she can't explain to him why she's helping the people who tortured him the year before. Ouch!

I feel like her because sometimes, life's a 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' proposition, and I just have to have the faith to choose a path and plow onward. Sometimes I have to balance self-control for the good of others with the fear of losing myself and my beliefs, just like she does. Sometimes I'm not sure if it's possible to reach my goals, and I hate failure as much as Lem does. Sometimes I have to stand alone, and yet I often find, like she does, that I'm never REALLY alone when I stand strong. Does that sound creepy? It's meant to be comforting.

5. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?
It depends on what I'm writing!

6. Do you plot out your stories or let your characters drag you on their adventure?
At first, I just kind of write. Things just come to me, and then they slow and I have to plan and nudge things along a bit. Sometimes it takes a few pages--and sometimes a few chapters of failure--to get to know the characters well enough that the story takes off naturally. When it does, the characters just do what their nature determines in each situation. Then the problem is harnessing them so that I don't include absolutely every conversation they might have or every action they might consider important.

7. It can be hard to feel like a “legitimate” author when you first start writing.  When did you first call yourself a “writer” and not feel like a fraud?
I started calling myself a writer when I got paid to write non-fiction, and when rejection letters for fiction began coming back with actual unique-to-me copy instead of form drivel.

8. Are you publishing traditionally or indie, and what nudged you in that direction?
I want to publish traditionally because 1) I need the feedback, critique, obstacles, and purifying fire to make my work shine and 2) I'd like to reach a wider audience with "the Man" on my side.

9. What part of writing is hardest for you?
Cutting things out.

10.   What is your current work in progress about?
I've written about a comic book character who shoots his author; after losing four girlfriends and his parents for the sake of entertaining the fans, he becomes bitter. The story follows his slow healing as he struggles with loss and tries to figure out whether shooting another author will save his world from supervillains or damn his soul.

I've also got a story about a teenage soldier, Roz, who catches his best friend Lem in enemy uniform. (That's the story I mentioned above with the mind-reader.) Roz decides between the friendship and his long-time enmity with Lem's grimey new boss; when he chooses poorly, he nearly costs Lem her life, and the enemy swindles Roz into a mental prison. He must break free of mind control and Lem must find the strength to complete her mission alone--before their common enemy eliminates everyone they love.

They both sound a bit dark, but really they're quite hopeful. I like hope, love, and healing, so that's what I write about.

You should definitely check out some of the amazing work going over at petrepan.blogspot.com.  It is wonderful to find someone who is as talented as Jen Veldhuyzen is who is also so encouraging and supportive of other writers!  You can check out some of her other projects here, here, and here.

If you are interested in being interviewed for the "Author August" series, email me at gingerlovinmind (at) gmail (dot) com.

Friday, July 20, 2012

I Wish I Had Known...



I  wish...

  1. I wish I had known that you can't make other people happy.
  2. I wish I had known that it was okay to go to bed when I was tired.
  3. I wish I had known that it was not weak to ask for help.
  4. I wish I had known to stop and play with the kids in the rain and not worry about the extra load of laundry it would cause.
  5. I wish I had known to give more hugs and kisses.
  6. I wish I had known when to bite my tongue...and when to speak up.
  7. I wish I had known when to walk away.
  8. I wish I had known how to hold on to my dreams instead of setting them aside until "a more convenient time."
  9. I wish I had stopped what I was doing and listened more.
  10. I wish I had taken better care of myself...and the people and things that I care about.
  11. I wish I had tucked away more money, and ideas, and surprises, and memories.
  12. I wish I had worried less about what people thought.
  13. I wish I had worried less about failing.
  14. I wish I had laughed more, and smiled more, and done more cartwheels on the lawn.
  15. I wish I had sang more without being ashamed of my woefully out-of-tune voice.
  16. I wish I had not been my own stumbling block.
  17. I wish I had called my parents more.
  18. I wish I had insisted on more family meals.
  19. I wish I had told more stories.
  20. I wish I had set aside my fears.
Now that I am forty, I know better.  There is so much  more that I know now that I never understood...could never understand...at twenty or thirty. 

Now it is time to make some changes.

Look out world!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Up to No Good!

Things are looking up (knocking on wood wildly here!).  There, I said it.  I have been plugging away on the book during quiet moments when the kids are asleep or playing on some-or-other electronic device, and I am happy with my progress and how things are coming together.  I hope to start revisions soon and am now shooting for an autumn launch date.  Which is fine...I love autumn.  This will just give me yet another reason to look forward to it!

I am also doing some freelance articles.  Which takes up a lot of time, but it brings in money FROM WRITING, which  makes me happy.  It still amazes me that people actually get paid to write things!  (It amazes me even more that I get to be one of these people!)

I am also planning some Author Interviews starting in August.  I have a couple lined up already, and I hope to schedule a few more.  So, without further ado:

CALLING ALL WRITERS: 

If you are interested in being interviewed, please email me at gingerlovinmind (at) gmail (dot) com.  Seriously!  Don't worry if you not (yet) published, or if you only have three followers on your blog and  your spouse and your mother are two of those people.    I just really dig the idea of talking to people about their writing, and their experiences, and their method (or lack thereof), and their inspiration.

So, as summer blazes on, this is where things stand in my world.

Oh and, lest I forget...tomorrow I turn forty.  To commemorate the occasion, I am posting my very last photo from my 30s


Why do I always look like I am up to no good?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Art Doesn't Come Cheap

Today has been a day full of juggling.  I have juggled schedules and budgets and my mental focus to accommodate the giant back-to-school beast that is looming a month away, as well as other life-stuff and, frankly, it is making me cranky. 

I feel like every moment is being sucked away, and that it is being squandered.  You see, I do not have set writing time.  I have a "write at stoplights" kind of life.  I have been known to scribble on the back of an envelope while in an elevator.  I have texted myself ideas and lines of dialogue so I don't forget them.  I have written on my arm when paper was scarce.  Because ideas are precious, and they cannot be taken lightly. 

Writing (or Art of any kind, really) comes at a steep price.  I am not talking about the price that the consumer pays for the product, but the price that we as artists must pay in order to create Art. 

"Big Heart of Art" from qthomasbower on Flickr

At the moment, as my eye twitches a bit spasmodically, I am realizing just how much sleep I have been deprived of lately.  I have also been forced to say, "Hang on, sweetie.  Mommy is almost finished with this article" a few more times that I would like as of late. 

We pay in time, in lost opportunities, lost lunches, lost sleep, and lost sanity as we try to bring to life this thing that we can imagine so clearly in our mind.  It is all of these lost bits that help to give Art its value; the value grows exponentially with all the blood and sweat and tears.   

To all those people who claim, "You know, I could write a book" and to those who tear apart a work that encompassed four years of late nights and missed moments and peanut butter sandwiches...I wish to offer you a challenge:  If you really think you could do it, or do it better, but all means:  DO IT! 

But don't try to devalue our Art with your pettiness.

 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Feast or Famine

I am an “all or nothing” kind of gal.  I tend to embrace the philosophy of “go big or go home.”  I am “all in or all out.”  (Apparently a lot of clichés define me…that can’t be a good thing.)  I realized (about five minutes ago…and I immediately decided that I should share it) that either I am writing madly…or I am mad about not having written.  My desk is either immaculate…or overflowing with papers.  I am either riding high and full of energy and ideas and enthusiasm…or I am struggling along, sapped of strength, getting by on sheer dumb luck.  There is not a lot of middle ground in my life. 

This tends to make things…dramatic.

I wonder how much drama in life is chosen and how much is beyond our control.  There are certainly some things that fall into our lap…car wrecks, illness, loss…but there are also things that we bring on ourselves.  Whether it is from a thoughtless comment, a long-held grudge, or an impending deadline long-ignored, we do have a hand in quite a bit of what happens to us, whether for good or for ill.

As you may be aware, the countdown has begun for my 40th birthday.  In fact, it is in exactly TWO WEEKS.  I had hoped to have my rough draft completed by now.  I don’t.  I have about three more chapters to finish.  Maybe four.  Possibly five.  But I can’t rush it; I don’t want to compromise.

One of the reasons that I decided to blog about this whole book writing process was that I needed some structure, some deadlines, and some accountability.  Also, turning 40 seemed like a turning point, and I wanted to make sure that my life was headed the direction that I wanted…toward a life where I can write for a living.  Whether that actually happens or not, I don’t know; I suppose time will tell.

Also, I hate birthdays.  Not in that Oh, woe is me, look at the wrinkles!  I have squandered my youth! kind of way, but because (as of 2005) the day that marks my birth also happens to be the day that marks the death of another young woman.  On my birthday, in 2005, my uncle walked into a diner and murdered someone.  For those who don’t know that story, you can find more on that here.  I have gotten somewhat better about my birthday the past couple of years.  I no longer want to spend that day in bed with the covers pulled over my head and refrain from any outward demonstration of joy, but I do think about it.  Probably more than is healthy. 

Sometimes events in the past tend to entangle us.  They keep us from moving forward, from changing, from growing.  Sometimes dramatic things happen, but we don’t have to keep feeding the drama.  Sometimes, we have to let things end. 

Good and bad…it all settles down eventually.

For me, I hope to set down this particular burden this year.  I have carried it around too long.  This is the year of change.  The year I disentangle myself from so many things that have hindered me. 

I am ready for change--not just with how I handle birthdays, but with how I handle life. 

When I look around, I see such possibilities.  There is so much that I want to do, and I don’t want to look back someday and realize that the only thing that was ever really holding me back was me.

So I will end this rambling jumble of thoughts with one more cliché:  Feast or Famine. 

I can see the possibilities, and I realize that I have gone without for long enough; now is my time for feast!


I don't mind a rocky path
as long as there is beauty along the way.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Glamorous Life of the Writer...

Just to fill everyone in, I have been busy working on cranking out the last few chapters of the novel...which seems to keep getting "just one more" chapter added to it each week as I delve deeper and deeper into the world I am creating. 

I have also churned out three freelance articles in the past week in an effort to keep up with the steady stream of appliance-break-down (knocking on wood) that seems to be plaguing our home.  (Clearly I owe a huge karmic debt.)  For those keeping tally, we are currently enduring the following: 
  1. Leaky roof
  2. Leaky kitchen faucet (this one is new as of today)
  3. Broken dishwasher
  4. Broken closet door
  5. Broken air conditioner in my van (with 100+ degrees common in the foreseeable future)
I did somehow (I suspect sheer, dumb luck) manage to fix the broken toilet last weekend, and my husband did manage to fix the broken washing machine a couple of weeks ago.  (Hey, I will take whatever small blessings I can get!)

Ah, the glamorous life of the writer...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Imagination Drain

I have encountered several people lately who seem to think that there is something wrong with encouraging our children's imagination.  If these individuals are to be believed, we should not encourage our children to read certain types of things because "they need to focus on the real world.

There are people who seem to think that cartoons are a "normal phase" for a child, but that encouraging them to read the Harry Potter books, or discover Narnia, or Middle-earth is irresponsible parenting!  And these people seem to gravitate toward me and then lecture me endlessly in an effort to "enlighten" me about this perceived parental shortcoming.

Um...yeah, right.

Book have always been my refuge.  When school was unbearable, I read.  When faced with the endless summer of a latch-key kid, I read.  I have ALWAYS read.  And my kids read...a lot.  They see me reading, and they grab a book and join me.  Sometimes we read aloud and sometimes, as my seven year old son puts it, "We will read quietly, in our heads, and snuggle next to each other."

My children have learned friendship from Harry Potter, bravery from Bilbo Baggins, self-sacrifice from Peeta Mellark, and--here is the most important part--we TALK about what they read.  We read some of the books out loud in order to touch on things that might need explaining.

Yes, my children have cried through books when characters die...and I cried right along with them.  In life, people die.  Encountering death in books gives us a way to talk about some of these big life-things before Life dumps them in our lap. 

This "real life" of which the naysayers speak also has death and betrayal and sacrifice and hard choices (or hadn't they notices?).  I am trying to help equip my kids to deal with these things.  So we read about it, and we talk about what we have read, because reading has never failed me.

So, yes, my children may know an insane amount about Harry Potter, and they may be able to quote huge chunks of The Hunger Games, and they may know more about Middle-earth than some might consider healthy but...along the way...they also learned a few other things, too.  Things that I am darned proud of.

Rather than pull the imagination drain and trying to tell my ten year old (who HATES the sight of blood) that she "needs to be a pediatrician because it is a steady field with a good income" rather than "following your mother's fantasy of becoming a writer," maybe you should actually LISTEN to her when she tells you that she loves books, and loves words.  Maybe you could even encourage her a little when she tells you that she has a story she "simply has to get out." 

I have always told my daughter that words are powerful and that they can be used for good, or used for evil, and that she had a responsibility to watch her words to make sure she used them wisely.  To those who try to deny the importance of a child's imagination...OF ANYONE'S IMAGINATION...I say to you:  You need to watch your words.