Periodically! #8 – Too Cold to Snow? and In Memoriam

cropped-periodically3.jpgBack 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.

lydiaThis is Lydia.

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.

dedicationLydia was the last person I acknowledged in Finding Cadence, along with Sandy, my other online mentor.

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.

lfcRest in Peace, Little Fluffy Cat. We’re going to miss you.

You can learn more about Lydia here.

Write News

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…

Interesting Articles

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

 

Periodically #6 – Surviving November and Planning December

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This is a week late coming out. Sorry. I had things to do… 🙂

Are we all ready for December and Christmas?

If you are not like me, you’ll be giddy with anticipation, unable to contain yourself with Christmas joy. However, if you are like me, you’ll say something like “Christmas is just another day.” “I hate winter!” – because I suffer from SAD and I despise snow (it’s already snowed in Michigan 6 inches!) “It’s too commercial for my tastes.” Or my favorite: “Bah humbug!” Winter is the season where I’m in a constant state of hunkering down. The first week and a half of December, I’ll be “dad sitting.” He’s doing better but needs a monitor. I’m hoping the skies will be bright blue in Colorado while I’m there, as blue skies help my mood immensely.

Great news in the midst of the depression that is winter: My son is coming home for Christmas! He was just here, but he hasn’t come back for Christmas since 2007. With my daughter living here now and my son coming back, we’ll be all together for the first time in ages.

Write News:

My NaNoWriMo efforts this year came in fits and starts. I didn’t do much the first few days, made up some time in the middle, and rushed to get the requisite 50K by the end of November in the last few days. However, Real Life got in the way and I couldn’t get to verifying my word count (51,200) until after I’d arrived in Colorado. Throw in Thanksgiving Day and the Leon and Lulu Artist Market (a smashing success), and you can see why I was up to my armpits in Things to Do.

This year’s effort is not a complete novel (NaNo is not meant for that), but the story line of Waiting on Charity has started to really take shape. I’ve decided for all three women to have a secret. One hasn’t told her daughter she’s adopted; one hasn’t told a family that they are moving to the other side of the country; the teenage girl in the story won’t tell anyone who the father is. I used Michelle Richmond’s Story Starter, which is a great tool. It’s filled with writing exercises. I used each one on each main character to build up an idea of who these women are. I don’t know about you, but when I begin to write, my characters seem shallow and stereotypical. They have very little depth. The more I write, the more I think about why they are the way they are, the more threads I can weave into the story line. My plan for December is to let Waiting on Charity rest a month, while I tackle that dreaded re-write of Virtually Yours Forever.

Interesting Articles:

I’d never thought about writing a memoir (really, who’s life is more blah than my own?), but this is a good article which makes me think about doing so more seriously.

For those of you who were having trouble with NaNoWriMo, there’s this sage advice for those who want to beat themselves up if they don’t make the magic 50K goal.

For those of you who shoot from the hip and blurt out what comes to mind without thinking of the consequences, here’s an article about treading lightly on social media. Once you’ve said it online, you can’t take it away.

Reading This Month:

I finished Meg Donohue’s All the Summer Girls on my plane trip to Colorado. Entertaining women’s fiction. A good beach read.

I’ve started reading Elmore Leonard’s Four Novels of the 1970s. These include Fifty-two Pickup, Swag, Unknown Man No. 89, and Switch.

Musical Notes:

Thanks to one of my high school chums, I found out that Jerry Mathers of Leave it to Beaver fame had a short recording career. If you watch and listen to THIS, you’ll know why. I’ll never look at the Beave the same again.

Quote of the Month:

I have never developed indigestion from eating my words. ~Winston Churchill

Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! or whatever you celebrate or don’t.


 

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! – #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

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!

periodically.indd

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.