Back when I lived in Minnesota, where one must be brave or crazy to live in the winter, there was a saying there that it if the temperature reached a certain level of cold (like 10 degrees and below), it was too cold to snow. Such bromides must only occur in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Either that, or this saying doesn’t work in Michigan. For I can tell you, after a fairly mild winter (where I admit, I was spoiled with temperate weather and rain instead of buckets of snow), when the polar express heads to Hockeytown, it doesn’t matter how cold it is – it’s going to snow.
I’m reporting this from San Francisco, where the area is experiencing a strange heat wave. *ducking stones*
The last few weeks have been sad ones. We’ve lost great musicians (David Bowie and Glenn Frye – my city, where he grew up, is naming a street near the high school where he graduated after him), great actors (Alan Rickman), and now, a great friend of mine.
Known online as The Little Fluffy Cat, I met Lydia Ondrusek online over ten years in a now defunct website called gather.com. Gather was an up-and-coming social network, which was launched as an outlet for writers and artists. Well, it became much more than that. Unsupervised for the most part, the site was like an unruly high school classroom full of bullies, geeks, and the popular cliques. Despite some troubling aspects to the site, the upside is (besides the fact that I got paid, and handsomely at the end) that I met an incredible group of writers. When the End loomed, we all jumped off the Gather ship and Lydia found a private place (Glitches) for us on Ning.
Then came Facebook (which I was already on) and the rest is history. I met Lydia in person (along with some of the other Glitchers) in Ohio a few years ago. As I find when I meet all my online friends, they are just as wonderful in person as they are online. Instant connection. Like we knew each other for years and years In Real Life.
Lydia was a writer, so adept at flash fiction, which I admired. I have a problem writing, in that I tend to go on and on (and on). Some of her short stories bordered on the supernatural, the out of the ordinary. She also wrote touching poetry, and her haikus were beautiful, concise and full of imagery in so few words.
Lydia was a great cheerleader (and occasional cattle prodder) to a wannabe writer like me. I hated to bother her, but I trusted her instincts, and she would never blow me off, even though I knew she was busy, with writing and with her family. I would send her short stories, most of which were flawed, and she let me know right away what the problems were. She pointed me to resources like books and classes, and urged me to find a writers conference. After she’d cheered me on for the two years I’d been working on my first novel, Finding Cadence, I sent her the first chapter for an edit, as that week I was going to attend my first San Francisco Writers Conference. (She lived in Texas, so almost all our communication was done by email.) She returned it less than five minutes later, full of red lines. I wasn’t finished yet, not by a long shot.
I was full of fear before that conference, especially after the red lines, but Lydia encouraged me.
She was really into the Internet, and encouraged me to join Twitter. (Actually, she also invited me into WordPress, which lead to six months of headaches for me, but that’s another story. You can scroll backward to the beginning, to see where I started in 2009.) I couldn’t get Twitter for the longest time. I’m still not adept at it, but the great thing about it is that even though I might not add anything to the conversation, I can eavesdrop and gain so much information.
Lydia once sent me a draft of a manuscript she’d been working on that I found intriguing. Except for a few chapters in the middle, it was almost finished, and I wondered why she hadn’t finished it. Like all her work, it was good, really good. (I hope she got the chance to finish it. This is my greatest fear, leaving work undone.) Later, I found she had attended HER first writers conference, and was amazed that she had never attended one before.
Lydia also knit (or crocheted) all sorts of wonderful things. I have one of her hats somewhere. In return, I sent her some of my (first attempts at) jewelry. The last thing she sent me was an assortment of amber. I’m going to have to think of something very special to wire it into.
Lydia lost her battle with bad health a few weeks ago. Our online community has been totally crushed with the news. But I will carry on, in her giving spirit, and remember what a beautiful, talented woman she was, and strive to help others in the same way.
You can learn more about Lydia here.
Follow this blog! I discovered a ‘new’ writers resource from the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. If you write, you must follow.
As followers know, I sometimes suffer from writer’s block. Or other excuses. Here’s a post on how to keep going, even the writing isn’t linear in nature. Just write!
I found a very interesting blog called Writing Sideways. Many good links. A writer cannot have too many resources.
This is an EXCELLENT post regarding your characters’ personality traits. Your characters can’t be all good or all evil. Even the evil ones have to have a redeeming quality and even good people have a dark side. Now to get that into the writing…
Is it live? Or is it Memorex? Chuck Wendig discusses depression versus writer’s block in this compelling post.
Here’s some good information on marketing for writers. If you read all the way through, there is a link with free PDF on how to build an email list. (I obviously need all of this help, as I am clueless. And slow.)
Totally unrelated to writing, but rather interesting to fierce women, is this article about wearing black.
Reading This Month
On my iPhone, I’m reading Today a Better Way, a self-help book put out by Families Anonymous. Every day, there is a brief passage to read. While intended for friends and family of substance abusers, these short readings are helpful for anyone feeling stress and hopelessness.
This month, on my way to San Francisco, I read two of my dear Internet friend Arthur Wooten’s novels. On Picking Fruit is a bittersweet but humorous journey of one man’s journey to find his perfect soul mate. And Birthday Pie is an equally entertaining look at a man’s (reluctant) return to his Southern hometown to say goodbye to his ailing father. Both novels (well, all of Arthur’s novels) are populated with the most unusual, likable and oddly flawed characters you could ever imagine.
Question of the Month
Writers: This month I’m taking an online class with Michelle Richmond. I’m also attending the San Francisco Writers Conference. I do both to keep learning, to stay motivated, and to nurture my community. My question is, if you write, what do you do to improve your writing?
Readers: Any pet peeves in what you are finding on the shelves these days? Feel free to answer here, or email me.
Quote of the Month
The writer’s job is to get the main character up a tree, and then once they’re up there, throw rocks at them. ~Vladimir Nabokov
Here’s the real action: check it out.
Find me on Facebook! I’ll friend anyone. Ask anyone. I even approve the weird guys from another country who IM me to ask about my life but clearly have never read my profile.
I’m a Goodreads author! Honest to God. Ask me a question, I’ll be happy to answer. Even if it’s a *stupid* question. (Or a questionable question. Those are the best kind.)
Follow me on Twitter! I’m not sure I have anything wonderful to say. I will say that I follow some interesting people. I can’t believe I can say this, but a few interesting people follow me, too. Twitter: the cyber cocktail party – alcohol not necessary.
I’m also on Pinterest! Rarely, but I do hit up the boards every now and again.
Periodically!, PO Box 207, Royal Oak, Michigan 48068
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