Periodically #3 – The Thank Goodness It’s Nearly Over Edition

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It’s the final day of August, which means summer is one week away from being officially over! Now I love the sun, and especially love summer, but I think I would like it a lot better if I weren’t working 24/7 at my day job. With September comes cooler temperatures and the opportunity to take a deep breath. Plus, I will be able to devote more time to writing. Having my creative juices curtailed is much like having my arm cut off.

The Write Rite:

At last! An agent that gives permission to NOT beat yourself up, while encouraging control of your creative life. I can be done!

It’s Monday. Yes. It. Is. I know, blah-blah, hungover from the weekend, good Lord, I don’t want to go back to work Monday. However, there is one shimmering, shining Monday moment, called Monday Blogs. Follow Monday Blogs on Twitter (@MondayBlogs), and if your head doesn’t spin off from the sheer amount of good info – especially for those who write – you will absorb so many good articles on writing, publishing, querying, etc. You might find a few other interesting, non-writing blogs, too.

If you’re looking for classes, workshops, and/or general support, go over to Savvy Authors. I was given this excellent writers resource by a past president of the Greater Detroit Romance Writers of America, and have taken several of the classes. ALL HELPFUL, and most are at a nominal fee so it won’t break the bank. With my schedule, I don’t have time to commit to classes in the flesh; web sites like Savvy Authors can fill in the gap. The instructors know what they are doing, and the people taking the classes are great.

While you’re honing your craft, don’t forget about connecting with readers. After all, we’re nothing without them.

A Little Music Doesn’t Hurt:

As I mentioned last month, my husband and I are re-watching The Wonder Years, and we are up to 1971. Great times, wonderful music. Most of our TV viewing (only DVDs, never live) has a strong musical component. Take Glee, for instance. I know, dorky, show choir singing Journey ballads that would cause a normal person to tear their eyeballs out. NOT REALLY! For the most part, the show does a wonderful job of weaving the music into the story line. Maybe I’m *ahem* old, but I find myself liking these shows more because of the music.

Art News:

I decided to apply for the Leon and Lulu Artist Market, and was accepted. It was a great opportunity. I love the store (very eclectic and fun), and they are so nice to the artists, feeding us, plying us with wine, ringing up our sales (and subsequently taking care of the taxes). I participated in the Books and Authors day last year, and will again this October. If you’re in the southeastern Michigan area, check the store out. In Clawson, not far from where I am sitting and typing. 🙂 And if you’re interested in shopping the artist market, the next one is scheduled for November.

Interesting Articles:

Here’s one that caught my eye. Supposedly, male writers who submit queries to agents are more likely to get a response than women writers who submit queries to agents. One of these days, I might make an experiment of my own work and try this myself.

I have decided to back Broke Ass Stuart for Mayor of San Francisco. Never mind that I’m not a resident of California, or of San Francisco; however, I love Broke Ass Stuart‘s wry humor. You must follow him! If anyone deserves to be mayor of the City by the Bay, it’s him. I’ve even sprung for an official campaign tee shirt, so you know I’m serious.

Read This Month:

Hum, by Michelle Richmond. A collection of sometimes deeply disturbing short stories. Good God, but I wish I could write like that!

Currently reading The Big Bounce by Elmore Leonard. Can you believe I’ve lived in Detroit since 1986 and have never read Elmore Leonard? I know! Blasphemy. This one was highly recommended, so I thought I’d start my Elmore Leonard library with the Bounce.

Quote of the Month:

A single best-seller can ruin a writer forever. ~John Steinbeck

Not sure I’ll ever find that out for myself, but I’ll keep trying!

Have a great month!


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

Periodically #2 – Dog Days of Summer Edition

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Personal note: Weather. It’s going to change. That is a given. Especially in the Midwest, where each of the four seasons is (or should be) starkly different from the other.

After several years of what I call Bummer Summers (too cold, too wet, too short), temperatures finally hit the 90 degree mark. I am never one to complain about heat. You need a little for the garden to grow. You need some to coincide with a frozen strawberry margarita, to be enjoyed on the deck.

But then the air conditioning goes out. Both units, upstairs and downstairs. And your house was built in 1927. And you learn that because in 1927, the method of heat was radiator and when previous owners later converted to forced air, they neglected to put in enough intake vents. And the lack of said venting strains the AC units which is why we have the painfully brief 11 year life span of a $3000 unit.

Yes! Major appliance replacement AND home renovation in my near future.

My takeaway: Your AC never goes out in November. And, your furnace never dies in July. Preventative maintenance is a pain in the behind, but it is key.

WRITE RIGHT TIPS

If you’re a writer and you’re not currently hooked up to these web sites, you are operating at a deficit. Check it out! Subscribe if it’s an option. Writer Unboxed is a great site. Lots of good information, from the perspective of the author and of the business of writing. An email from Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents lands in my inbox weekly, and I read every one. Here’s a good site I love to visit – Janet Reid, Literary Agent. There’s of course the great information on the state of the publishing world, and writing prompts, and contests. And did I mention that Janet Reid is the Query Shark? The Query Shark scares the bejesus out of me, but when I have time, I read the archives. You can learn from the mistakes of other writers.

As for me, I’m still struggling, and I’m good with it. All creative types must struggle; if art were easy, the world would be a better place. I’ve put down my reconstruction of Siouxy for now. I began reconstituting the story and found after three chapters that it was too unnatural. Forced. So I’m rethinking how to tell this story. There’s a great story there, many, many pages, I’ve just got to whack at the extemporaneous to get to the pretty.

So it’s now on to the umpteenth edit of Virtually Yours Forever! Thanks to a former employee who is also a Federal Marshall, I should have the governmental aspect of my subplot down quickly. This novel is so close to ready, I can feel it.

READ THIS MONTH

Feathered by Laura Kasischke. This is the book my Boston terrier ate. Not completely, but Millie found the binding to have a piquant aftertaste, as well as being quite chewy. After I yelled at the dog, I reassembled the cover and the first two chapters. I’m reading quite a bit more YA these days, and found this tale interesting. Definitely worth a read, but don’t leave the book where your dog can get at it.

’89 Walls by Katie Pierson. Another young adult novel. I’m heartened to learn that teenage stories set in 1989 are considered historical. Now I can consider my own YA set in 1976 the same. I loved that the author included a bibliography at the end, as well as suggested reading material available at the time. Oh, and a glossary of terms! I won’t divulge the story except to say it’s a romance of sorts, during one of the most trying years of the last century. Please, please, please have Kleenex available for the last four chapters. You’re going to need it.

ART NEWS

The Ann Arbor Art Fair was a success. Not enough to quit my day job, but I managed to sell quite a few pieces. The temperatures were hot but not sweltering, and while tornado warnings were sounded north and south of us, we had a bit of welcome wind and about ten minutes of light rain – not enough to dampen anyone’s enthusiasm. I have put away jewelry for a while to concentrate on writing. (I did, however, enter a competition of sorts – more on that later…especially if I win!)

REDISCOVERED

In a fit of nostalgia, I decided to purchase the box DVD set of the Wonder Years, and so we are now in the process of watching. I’d forgotten what a great show this was, until I read a review online and was reminded.

A couple of reasons why this TV show resonates with people my age: 1. We grew up during the “wonder years” and 2. Modern TV is lacking true creativity and inventiveness. I can’t remember the last time I followed a network TV show, comedy or drama. Like a lot of people, I wait to see if the reviews are good before I decide to commit to any time watching TV. The current wave of “reality shows” on every channel from ABC to TLC and beyond boggles my mind. Where’s the writing? Where are the interesting comebacks and the witty jokes? (And I don’t mean crude jokes, but truly funny ones.)

The Wonder Years did not sugar-coat the ’60’s and the ’70’s. I might sound like a curmudgeonly Baby Boomer, but those were the good old days. Sweet in simplicity, but with looming change just out of arms’ reach. Life is like that now, but when you are coming of age in a time…well, that hits home. I was the same age Kevin Arnold was, during the same time. It’s the same reason we so enjoy That ’70’s Show.

Both shows capture the spirit and essence of what it was like to grow up back then. Plus the music is fabulous.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH

First you’re an unknown, then you write one book and you move up to obscurity. ~Martin Myers

Stay cool, my friends!


 

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

Why I Am NOT Participating in NaNoWriMo

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which starts November 1 and ends November 30. If you’re a procrastinating writer like me, you need every cattle prod or device out there to kick you into the writing mode.

This is not to say I don’t enjoy writing. OF COURSE, I enjoy writing. But having other responsibilities, what ends up being short shrifted is my writing time. This year, there’s been other factors as well. Family members in dire health. Business in flux. An incredibly Bummer Summer which resulted in lots of rain, an extraordinary flash flood, and resulting damage, which of course, takes me away from pleasurable activities and instead has me planning out construction worker schedules.

Here is why I love me the NaNo… It’s an extremely useful tool. Just like jumping on a treadmill exercises your body, jumping head first into the waters of NaNoWriMo exercises your brain. It introduces you to keeping a schedule. It gives you a not unreasonable goal of 50K words in 30 days. There’s a camaraderie of fellow writers, across the internet and across town, that cannot be beat.

I’ve participated in NaNo many times. In fact, because of it, I managed to complete three manuscripts that turned out (with much editing and fine tuning) to be decent novels. (Still in the editing phase on two of them.)

Last year, I tried it for a week, and then decided that editing the work I’d been suffering over since 2007 (Finding Cadence) had to take precedence over any new material. So I put that idea aside. For later. I like the story, I just can’t have three completed novels in various states of disrepair hanging over my head like a black cloud.

This year, my problems are much the same. I’ve been toying with Virtually Yours Forever (completed during NaNo a few years ago) for… well, forever. It’s time to clean up this tale of moms, the internet, and high intrigue and get this story nailed down and move on to the next project.

I can no longer tell myself that I’ll write more when I retire from this business. The sad truth is that I might have to work until I die. But I’m also a writer, and I’m not going to sacrifice my art for outside influences.

Not anymore.

So to all you writers out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo – Bravo! or Brava! Keep pushing on. I’m there with you in spirit, and I hope will have my edit complete by November 30.

 

My First Books and Authors Event

Yesterday, I attended my first Books and Authors Event at Leon and Lulu‘s in Clawson, Michigan. This store is trendy, hip, and sells everything from jewelry to clothing to furniture to toys. It’s one of my favorites, as my husband can tell you from our VISA bill.

I can’t even believe I went through the event; hell, I can’t believe I filled out the application. And then sent it in! And then was selected as a participant! As you might know, I’m rather lackadaisical about selling my work. (I’m also rather lackadaisical about writing – sometimes.) But, I’ve been in a slump since summer, so I’ve signed up for writing prompts, classes, and have committed to (somewhat) weekly Skype conversations with my editor to sort of kick start my juices. So I figured, might as well throw this event on the pile.

I had NO IDEA what to expect at this event. NONE. I had hoped to sell a few books, get my name out there. As with everything new that I do, I was petrified. And as with everything, in order to get rid of the petrification, one must dive in head first.

Leon and Lulu’s does a fabulous job of making all 50 of us authors feel comfortable. They provide food, coffee, water, even hot dogs! The friendliness relieved some of the sting. 🙂 After being shown my table, I set up.

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We had an hour after that to look around. While all of the authors were from Michigan, amazingly many of them were from Royal Oak. I found I was speaking with authors who were neighbors!

Some had many titles to choose from. Some, like me, had the one physical book, and the eBook. Some were traditionally published; many more were self-published. Most of the books were for children, picture and chapter books, many were mysteries, there were some non-fiction, and just a few novels.

If you’ve ever been to Leon and Lulu’s, you’ll know that walking into the store is a total assault on your senses. Bright colors, things hanging from everywhere. Add to that 50 authors and their many books, and even I was shell shocked. It was a long day, but it’s what I needed. Suddenly, I’m energized to get that manuscript out and start editing in earnest. I sold a few books, handed out a ton of business cards for those who wanted to buy the book in eBook format (one woman did it from her phone while chatting with me!), and made a few new author friends. I enjoyed it so much, I’ll definitely do it next year.

The only thing is, I need to have another book for next year.

Better get to work.

Latest on the New Blog

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There’s a Reason I’ve Been Mostly Quiet…

It has to do with the fact that I’ve been busy getting my novel ready for release.

Can we say “YAY” or SQUEE? Or sympathize and pray for my soul? 🙂

Yes, I’ve decided to publish FINDING CADENCE myself and I’ll go into the reasons why in a later post (I keep saying I’m going to do that, but my notes keep getting larger and larger and I might have to chop my one post into three more manageable ones), but today I will tell you a little about my book by using the world-famous Chuck Wendig’s Ten Questions About [Fill in the Title]. I hope he won’t be mad that I lifted his device from his web site, but I figure if an author can’t answer the ten questions, he/she should probably find another line of work.

So without further ado, I’ll get on it.

1. Tell us about yourself; who are you?

Wife, mother, business owner. I MAKE time to write. I began writing as soon as my mother put a pencil in my hand. (Cliche, I know. She regretted it, especially after I was expelled from Catholic school for…writing.) I enjoyed some local success in high school, some journalistic endeavors in college, 100 pages of a first novel (still in my basement – somewhere).  Then came life and I figured eating and putting a roof over my head was more important than art. Marriage, babies, when the babies went to college, I started writing again. It’s a full circle.

2. Give the 140 character pitch.

Recent widow learns ugly truths about her husband, her best friend and herself. She overcomes financial and personal hurdles to find peace.

3. Where does the story come from?

While obviously the story is fiction, you may pull threads of it from my life. I drew much on what has happened to me, my time in Michigan, Colorado, and my love for San Francisco. How music has played an important role in my life. There are parallels with the son in the story and my own son, both classically trained pianists, both attended the San Francisco Conservatory, both with a soft spot for Rachmaninoff. The list goes on and on, but remember…this is fiction.

4. How is this a story only you could have written?

See #3. Plus I’ve felt that ultimate betrayal in the way Cadie experiences it – enough of a blow where it leaves you incapable of functioning. I wanted to get that across, as well as the healing.

5. What was the hardest thing about writing FINDING CADENCE?

There were many. The first one, getting to “The End.” It took two years. After that, cutting and editing. My first draft was 175K words. It took some convincing for me to see I didn’t need all the words. After that, editing became a matter of tightening.

6. What did you learn by writing this book?

Everything! This was my first completed novel and I made all the rookie mistakes you can think of. I took classes, I bought reference books. Somehow I turned a mindless stream of consciousness blob into a story with an arc, a reveal, and everything!

7. What do you love most about this book?

It’s cohesive and makes sense. It’s a book about adversity and hope. I love how it’s finished (finally!) and I can move on to other projects.

8. What don’t you like about it?

Dare I say it? I don’t know if it’s “literary” enough. I know it shouldn’t matter, I should write my best story and let it go. I went for literary with this one, and don’t know if I succeeded.

9. A favorite paragraph from the story (the fourth paragraph):

Carter, consistently late, would be later still because of the storm. A fine pinot, first a glass, then more, kept me company. Hours of waiting on my husband turned my annoyance to vexation. Outside, my wind chime collection banged hard against the garage wall, the once soothing tinkles replaced with dissonant clatter. I remember thinking, if Jackson were here he could name the pitches of each steel and copper rod, contralto A flats clanging against high C sharps. Behind the discordant score, the wind’s relentless, anguished caterwaul vying for attention.

10. What’s next for you as a storyteller?

I have two completed manuscripts to edit and query. One is Virtually Yours Forever, the sequel to my first novel, and a YA tentatively titled Acorns and Oaks. There are other 100 page starters that beg to be completed too. I’ll be busy, no doubt.

Hunting and Bagging the Elusive ‘Write’ Time

It’s Monday, and my Real Life plate runneth over. Our office survived four days of painters, which is no easy task.  (Think trying to paint around an explosion, and you’ll know what the painters had to deal with.) Today’s enrollments are way up (must be between sport seasons, or the fact that the snow is finally melting – now everyone wants to drive). It’s a payroll week. Last Thursday, we got our curriculum approved by the state (finally), so I’ve spent the last three days making manuals – through the obstacle course that was my office full of painters. The house hasn’t seen a thorough cleaning in I don’t know how long, which caused my husband to dust my bookshelves yesterday. It was either that, or the spider building a high-rise cobweb condo was going to make his digs permanent.

When I tell people I write, they wonder how I can squeeze it into my day. I can firmly attest that it’s not easy. Making time to write is like going on a safari. There’s only so much time to get things done.

Writers write. Dreamers talk about it. ~Jerry B. Jenkins

As a writer, you have to do more than WANT to write. That part is easy. The hard part is sitting your butt into a chair and making it happen.

You don’t find time to write. You make time. It’s my job. ~Nora Roberts

The thing I’ve learned since beginning to write again: Writing is a commitment. It’s a flower you have to water, it’s a pet you have to feed. That means daily, people. I find if I skip a day, I feel terrible, like I forgot to breathe.

If you don’t write the book, the book ain’t gonna get written. ~Tom Clancy

Unless you are fabulously wealthy and have gobs of money to live on while you write, you’ll have to work. This means there must be a conscious effort to carve out a niche for your “write” time. For example, I’m doing it right now. I’m taking a half hour break from the disaster that is my life to write this blog post.

A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit. ~Richard Bach

Your “write” time doesn’t have to be hours. You can find it in shorter segments. Right now, I’m doing the Writer Mama 21 Moments, because right now, 250 to 400 words a day is all I can spare. I find myself looking forward to the prompts each day. The upside is that my little moments are shaping up to be the basis of my new novel.

Technique alone is not enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder. ~Raymond Chandler

It’s true that the more you write, the more you write. I’ve spent the last year in a massive edit. There was an urgency to finalize my work. At first, it was hard to commit to an hour or so (or more) a day in order to see to the end of my goal. With practice, exercising your mind on a regular schedule is much like exercising your body. It gets easier. You get an adrenaline rush.

Writing is hard work; it’s also the best job I’ve ever had. ~Raymond E. Feist

The best thing that a writer, like any other artist, can do is to fill your time with creativity. I’ve given up on most TV. I don’t have time for it. I’d rather fill my head with my own creations, or the creative works of others. If you’re serious about writing, you’ll keep your eye on the prize. Use whatever precious moments you might have to hone your craft. And if you need a word of encouragement, reach out to other writers. Yes, even me!

You’ll find putting yourself on a schedule will be time well spent.