Periodically! – #4 – Time For Fall

cropped-periodically3.jpgSeptember. Now that was a fast month! One day it’s 90 degrees, the next day you awaken to 50 degree weather and automatically reach for the nearest sweatshirt. Because of the brief thirty days and the nearly overnight change in climate, September whizzes by faster than, let’s say February, when you can’t wait for March’s lion’s roar.

Good God. February.

While I shake off that shivery promise of a future, I’ll update you as to what’s been going on in my world.

Write News:

This month saw my Editor for Life return an edit for Virtually Yours Forever, meaning I really should get off my butt and start editing. With the day job and personal family issues to deal with over the summer, I stood back from making any serious changes. I’m now glad I waited until I saw what he said at the end. This is going to take some major thought. I wish I could say the novel will be ready for prime time by the end of the year, but it could take longer. (Damn it.)

However, I’m in the process of coming out with a print version of Virtually Yours. I plan on using the copies in giveaways for the new book.

Can I share with you my feelings about the whole self-publishing scenario? If you’re an artist like I consider myself to be, the entire technical aspect can be daunting. I’m one of those learners who can’t do it by reading. I have to learn by doing. And yes, I realize that it’s the operator. I don’t understand templates and megapixels and the Internet. Remember, it took me at least eight months to learn WordPress! And I couldn’t figure out Twitter for the longest time. If you don’t make the application stupidly easy, I’m lost.

Oh! I have been invited back to the Leon and Lulu Books and Authors Event, to be held on Sunday, October 25, 2015 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. If you’re in Southeastern Michigan, plan to stop by. Meet local authors, and visit the store, which is an experience in itself.

The Guerrilla Urban Garden:

It’s been all-out war between me and the rodents. The squirrels won the battle of the pear tree. Despite my constant tending, my squirrel prevention measures – including bagging the pears, mothballs, shiny, noisy things in the tree, and a Boston terrier on premise, I ended up with NO pears this year. (I really want to hurt someone over this.) I managed to salvage enough cherries from the tree (first time ever!) to make two tarts. DEE-licious.

The potatoes, however, have been a banner crop this year, probably because we had so much rain early in the season. I also mulched with coconut mulch, and that seemed to repel just about everything. Sweet potatoes – just digging these up now. (I planted them in my flower containers, where they trail nicely.) YUM! You can grow sweet potatoes in Michigan, but they need direct, hot sunlight.

Of course, the Swiss chard and hot peppers have been going crazy! No pomegranates this year, but the fig tree is bearing.

Not bad for a person who doesn’t weed much after June. 🙂

Interesting Articles:

Here’s one in defense of light reads. Personally speaking, I don’t know how people can read the same genre all the time. If I want something deep, I’ll reach for it three out of four times, but sometimes I want something light and fluffy and fun. Likewise, I don’t write in one genre either. Not all writing has to be “literary” – whatever that means. Good writing is good writing and makes for good reading. In that same vein, you can really learn a lot from other genres.

And here’s a good article from RachelintheOC about censoring your writing. If you don’t follow her, you should; she posts a wealth of great info online about writing, relationships, and social media.

I’m not against the use of adverbs (obviously!), but when in doubt, a strong verb works just as well.

Music:

As I mentioned a couple of months ago, my husband and I have been watching reruns of The Wonder Years. This has prompted my husband to drag out his old sheet music from the time. I’ve been listening to him pound out classics like Burt Bacharach, Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, and of course, the Beatles. I’m probably prejudiced, but I think the best music came out of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, that sacred space between Top 40 bubblegum and disco.

Read this Month:

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, by Harold S. Kushner. A friend suggested this book as a possible way for a family member to get through rough times. In reading it, though, I realized this is a gold mine of information for me to use in a novel I’ve been toying with since last summer. As a writer, you have to realize that there are other experiences out there beyond your own. It’s difficult to put yourself into another person’s shoes and write about an alternate experience convincingly. (My problem is all my characters act like me and sound like me.)

Quote of the Month:

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the internet. ~Anonymous

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

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Once a Blog, Now a Newsletter – Periodically #1

After spending over a year puzzling over WordPress and wondering how I was going to import/export my subscription list into my current website (virtually impossible, at least for this Internets-challenged senior citizen) and nearly four months trying to figure out how to start an online newsletter, I have decided to make use of the WordPress site I originally started with by turning it into my newsletter. And so, PERIODICALLY was born.

This way, instead of doubling up my posts, I’ll just have a once a month entry into this blog.

Whew! *wipes sweat from brow* That takes a load off.

Introducing the first edition of Periodically!

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Right Write Tips: I’m currently working on a YA historical (if 1976 is history now) novel I wrote as a serial years ago. This time, I’m using the Paperclip Method by Michelle Richmond. (For those of you who know me, these are the Siouxy stories of 2007-2008.) I’d originally written them to elicit interest, so there’s a lot of way out there adventures. If she was going to get drunk, run away, or find a college-aged boyfriend, there would be plenty of outrageous behavior.

My problem with this tale of adolescent woe was that Siouxy lacked a real story. There was a beginning, but no end in sight. No journey of the soul. No journey period. Siouxy was a wild child without a mission. A true rebel without a cause. She was Mix Mastered into a maelstrom.

Luckily for me, I never threw the story away though. (My husband can tell you I never throw anything away…you just never know.) Finally, after all these years, divine intervention hit me square on the head and I have devised a storyline for my girl.

I usually write in a linear fashion, but didn’t with Siouxy – even though it was written as a serial, sometimes I’d slide back into time, or forward into time. The Paperclip Method – for pantsers like me – seemed like a perfect exercise in getting my story into shape.

So far, I’ve printed all the installments. Some are in a “hmm, don’t need this but maybe later on I might” pile. The rest have been paperclipped and put into an order I can deal with. Now I must weave in the storyline and see what I come up with.

If anyone else has ever used this method, I’d like to know. Does it work? Any pitfalls? Is there a speedier way of working?

Art News: I signed up for the Ann Arbor Art Fair, South University, as part of the Michigan Silversmith Guild next month. I hope to make enough money to bankroll a trip to Asia, but who knows? Speaking of Asia, the last time I was in San Francisco, I *finally* visited the Asian Art Museum. Wow, and WOW. I don’t know how I missed visiting before. I especially loved the Japanese exhibits, my favorite pieces being the netsuke on display. There were also some interesting woven basketry. I will definitely be returning on my next trip to the City.

Music: Two things: One, classic rock will never die. I’m currently listening to my favorite sounds from the mid-1970’s, which puts me in the mood for writing pre-disco era YA. LOVE early Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly. Cat Stevens, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan – yeah, they’re not ‘rockers’ but listening to them gives you a real flavor for the times. And while disco sucked (at the time, I can enjoy it now), I listened to the Eagles, Tom Petty, emerging AC/DC.

Two, my son has his own YouTube channel. This sounds extremely self-serving, but I’d appreciate those who enjoy classical music (particularly the romantic, early 20th Century Russian modernists who are especially depressing) to favorite his channel. Oh, come on. At least, give him a listen. I’d like to think that four years at a prestigious West Coast conservatory is worth something.

Quote of the month:

The most interesting thing about writing is the way that it obliterates time. Three hours seems like three minutes. ~Gore Vidal

That’s all, folks! Sign up or check me out next 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.

Sorrow and Art

Originally posted December 22 at joannehuspek.com. Please follow me there.

I’ve been Facebook chatting with several people who are experiencing difficulties in their lives right now.

Suicides, break-ups, aging parents, adult children with mega-problems.

In my previous post, I mentioned that I have difficulty speaking. It’s not that I can’t maintain a conversation, it’s just that I’m not as coherent as I wish I could be. I rarely say witty things on the fly. Writing is a much better outlet, because if the words aren’t just right, you can erase them, make them better, add some zing and pizazz.

There are some things in your life you don’t want the whole world to know, but there’s a desire in all of us to hash things out, try to analyze and puzzle through to a solution. That’s why I don’t post my sordid business on social media, whether because I’m ashamed or embarrassed or afraid of what people will think of me. I realize that the private chat is more intimate, like having coffee with a friend. My friend with his break-up, I could palpably feel how upset and hurt and depressed he was. (His lady friend, I’m not so sure.) I felt the same with my suicide survivor. My friend whose daughter suffered domestic abuse, yes, I’ve been there with my own children.

What can you do? These are situations that YOU can’t fix. All you can do is listen.

The experts say that if you’re depressed, you should work out, fire up those endorphins. I did that for thirty days straight, and would only feel blah while on the treadmill. The rest of the time, I could have burst into tears at some sappy commercial, or if I couldn’t get a damned weed out of my garden. (Yes, it’s that bad.)

If you’re artistic like I am, you try to channel some of that angst and sorrow into something creative. My best poetry was written right after breaking up with a boyfriend. However, getting creative after an emotional upheaval is sometimes easier said than done. I found it so much easier to force myself to run 6 miles than I could to sit at my computer and actually write.

But I have to.

Because that’s what I do.

So I have pledged to get through this damned edit of Virtually Yours Forever by Christmas. I’m going to sit here for as many minutes, hours, and days as it will take and conquer this, to the exclusion of all other things. I love my characters, I love the plot and where it’s going, but like all writers, I have a fear of not being able to accomplish my goals.

But it’s the final trimester, and it’s time to push this baby out. And I’ve done that before.

Wish me luck.

Why Writing is Better Than Talking

My good friends know that I’m depressed this winter, partially because of SAD and partly because of family issues.

I think of myself as a warrior woman. Machine gun me with nails, I’ll spit them right back at you. Say I can’t and I’ll prove that I can. I create out of a deep need to express myself, and with a vengeance. You can try to chop me into pieces, but like the burls of a redwood, I’ll just multiply and conquer you a little at a time.

But not this time.

Depression has kicked my ass.

So I have sought out help. I have medications, which don’t seem to be helping one bit. I have a therapist, but confronting the things that are bothering me results in a sob fest. I’m not sure if talking helps.

I’m not good at speaking. I never have been. I signed up for Mr. Dionysio’s speech class in high school and spent the entire semester in silence. When I took speech in college, I had one successful speech, one that was rather “meh”, and one where I bombed completely – end grade, B-.

I couldn’t speak on the phone, and therefore gravitated toward factory jobs instead of those involving customer service. I thought I didn’t like people, and that people didn’t like me.

(Imagine me now, on the phone all the time. You can teach an old dog new tricks.)

I’m not stupid, I’m in the low Mensa range. I have coherent, cogent thoughts. I read smart books, funny books, inspirational books. But speaking, either publicly or privately…I’m the stereotypical writer, an introvert who’d rather hole up with my laptop or pen with a hot cup of green tea by my side.

So I have decided to write (again) about these deeply seated feelings. Get them on paper. Because I sure as heck don’t want to burden my friends and family with the intimate details.

Plus I can’t.

Last night, I had a Facebook “conversation” with a friend in a similar position. I received more insight in that thirty minutes of back and forth than I did the last time I saw the therapist. Why? Because we were typing. I don’t think I could have the same conversation in person. I cannot verbalize my sadness. Not yet.

And this is why writing is better than talking.

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.

 

Finding Inspiration Everywhere

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While I feel writing is my artistic outlet, there are times where producing actual writing is hampered, by real life, by other interests and responsibilities, by the lack of time. This happens to be one of those two week periods where finding a good, solid block of writing time is just not possible.

It’s not that I’m lazy – well, yes, I’m kind of lazy, although I’m trying to reform myself. It’s not like I’m lying around eating bonbons and watching daytime TV (which I guess is now NOT soaps and might be Judge Judy). I work – a lot, in fact, it’s a holiday and I’m taking a break from work right now (and the phone is ringing off the hook! Shouldn’t they be barbecuing or something?) I have a huge house and a bigger yard that I maintain on my own (with the help from the other half), and there are other commitments that eat into time. It’s not unusual, in fact, you could say that outside influences are a prevailing factor amongst us “struggling” artists. It’s a monumental struggle to create.

Still, you can find inspiration everywhere.

I force myself to do writing prompts. I’m currently doing 21 Moments (I’d link you, but this month will be the last set). Short writing prompts are the easiest. They take about 30 minutes to complete, perfect for those days where a block of three or four hours just doesn’t exist.

Even without the prompts, life gives you plenty of opportunities to explore your creative side. I have a huge vegetable garden, and have had to devote many days recently (thank heavens the days are sunny and clear!) to tending it.

At my age, I rather enjoy gardening. There’s something organic about the human hand digging in dirt, getting rid of the weeds, planting new material and seeds. There’s an order, a certain Zen about it. It’s the circle of life, and hopefully in a few months, I’ll be able to bring the fruits of my labor to the table. In the quiet of the early morning hours, I can entertain entire conversations in my head, play out plots and scenes, and think about the larger picture.

During breaks, I scribble down the meat of the moment. I’ll uncover it later, and use it in my writing.

It might seem strange, but I find cooking gives me a similar artistic charge. Many modern people think cooking is a bore, that it takes a lot of time, that you can nourish yourself a lot quicker through a drive-through or with ready-made meals. Not me. Home cooking takes a little forethought but it’s not difficult. There’s a care and love in making a meal, and the machinations always translate into tasty literary morsels. In fact, I’m working on a story with food as an underlying theme.

(I used to be able to write at work; unfortunately, things are more stressful now than they used to be.)

Art can be born of any action. The artist has to take a germ of an idea and go from there.

Any art takes a commitment. The artist has to be able to carve out time from the day to create.

It’s a daunting task, but you can find inspiration everywhere.