Monday, June 27, 2016

Here's To Turning Up The Thermostat

I'm not a viral type blogger, it takes too much of my time and energy to be writing blogs everyday,but it is ridiculous that I haven't written anything yet this year. That it's almost July is scary enough. Does everyone else wake up six months into a year and also suddenly scream, "OMG, it's almost over. If time continues to go by this quickly."

With the group of ladies in rehab, that I lead in a storytelling workshop,  I try to emphasize that they should not let their days pass by in a blur, that it's essential to grab onto each day, each hour and consciously squeeze all the juice out of it. And here I am blurring through the months. Except for my new novel. That keeps me grounded to the hour, if not always to the day.

Almost 1/2 to 2/3 through the first draft and working with Linzi Glass, I may be able to only need one more edited draft after this one. The early 1900's is rich for research, full of problems, catastrophes, new allegiances, women speaking up, protesting and organizing, with a little romance thrown in for good measure. Such fun. As Janet Fitch, my first mentor always pushed, make your characters suffer, turn up the heat, always higher. Another quote I found from Catherine Mackenzie, "Write what makes you frightened, what sets you on fire."

Blaze on everybody, it's going to be a long, hot summer!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Read As If Your Writing Depended On It - It Does

It's hard to believe I haven't posted since July 2, but life and writing have continued at a fast pace. After a week in Idyllwild's Fiction Writing this summer, I actually went back to my novel. I should say I re-began my novel and have been at it ever since. Now in the middle of a UCLA novel class with Mark Sarvas, it's all beginning to make sense. His insistence on our reading as a writer has opened up ideas and the realization of how much deeper I have to go with my characters. Reading a book a week is a big commitment but it does pay off. At least in the thinking about the writing. I strongly recommend it. In some cases it may take more than one reading to really understand the author's process, but even in the first read, you begin to see how your own exposition was really superfluous and the scene needs more action or the  backstory should be dispersed where it's necessary and not just a ramble through the character's history. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Keeping the writing flame alive

I've been thinking about the next book for forever it seems, without getting much on the page.  I still have a lot to research it's true, but something keeps distracting me from consistent time at the computer.  I'm sure every writer has had the same problem.  Well, maybe not Every One, but those who are honest will admit to occasional blocks. Writing in public with a friend helps, reflecting back on the proposed characters keeps up the connection, even leading the group of ladies in rehab keeps the writing bond strong, so I just have to trust that this book is taking a longer time to gestate than the first two.  The most hopeful prospect is my upcoming Writers Week at Idyllwild which happens in two weeks.  It's probably foolish to put all my writing eggs into the Idyllwild basket, but I am someone who sometimes needs to be kicked in the rear to get me moving.  I hate being the kind of person who says they're a writer without actually writing.  Past accomplishments don't help.  I have to prove myself today, with this next project. What helps is the encouragement form some of you who have read Sown in Tears and want me to continue the story of the main character.  Leah still lives, if only in my imagination.

Monday, February 9, 2015


I have been wanting to start a writing group for female military vets, hoping that writing their stories might be beneficial to them. After many weeks of research I finally was put in touch with a group (Volunteers of America) who are setting up a housing and full service project for homeless female vets and their children. But until it's actually opened I've started working with a group of women at a rehab facility that VOA also supports. Next to writing myself, I've never had a better time than working with this group of women who after their initial shyness, have opened up their hearts and souls, and seem to be enjoying the process as much I am. Everyone has a story, whether they share it as fiction or memoir, putting it on paper can be so good for them. For the first two sessions, we've concentrated on what they're doing or what memories they have to share. Now I have to make sure I figure out how to keep this all going and keep them all engaged.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


It's so easy to be grateful on the first day, when the doctor says "it's not your hip, the fractures are not displaced and you don't need surgery." Wow, gratitude just oozes out of me.  I am introduced to the wonders of a walker, I can get around my apt., a piece of cake.  But after a few days of painful movements, every trip across the room needing planning as if you're going a trip or you're a mother taking a baby for a ride where you pack every conceivable item you might need along the way; you get a little cranky.  That's when you have to recite the mantra: I'm grateful that it isn't my hip, that the fractures aren't displaced, that I don't need surgery.  My cats have witnessed my lack of patience (sometimes it's a good thing to be living alone where no one else hears your blow-ups).  So many people deal with so much worse than what I'm dealing with. Only 7 more weeks to go (I've lived through the first week intact).  Of course, the fact that I was stupid in trying to do something in workout that I knew I couldn't do properly or that my trainer encouraged me to push myself- just makes me mad.  So mad is okay, but ungrateful is not.  I can finish the books I'm supposed to review, I can think about the writing that never seems to get done, I can work on my inner self, which seems to need a lot of work and come out a better person, right?

I'm grateful that it isn't my hip, that the fractures aren't displaced, that I do not need surgery. Okay, once again with spirit.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Why do all those eureka moments only come at three am in the morning?

I had written narratives of the characters, description of the location, background of their history- everything but a story.  For months this had gone on, while I fretted that nothing new was occurring to me, that it all seemed so dry and stale. Been there, done that.  Until one late night that turned into sleepless agony and it all became very clear.  I was not going to write a sequel to SOWN IN TEARS, not continue the saga of Leah, her children, her brothers, her former loves. I had not figured out a story-line because I had nothing left to say about them, at least for now. But miraculously  I had a totally new idea (still no definite story) and it was a bit more contemporary than early 1900's. It's still a little fuzzy in my head, but very promising.  No I'm not telling yet (what does it matter, I never believe that anyone is reading these blogs, if you are give me a sign) because talking about it helped to dry the old idea into dust.  This time I'm keeping it quiet, mums the word. If creative inspiration doesn't happen, it could be just a temporary writer's block, or it could mean that you should move on.  It's hard to do when you don't have anything to replace the idea with, but if the dry spell goes on too long, you begin to lose confidence and interest in writing.  It starts to be a chore, not a passion.  With any luck, you'll have your own eureka moment, even if it does come in the middle of the night. The fact that it occurs in the midst of insomnia doesn't make it any less valid.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


I'm finding it difficult to remove myself from daily events and isolate myself into writing.  It's been hard enough trying to define the story of the next book although I have the characters, the location and the time, it's just not coalescing.  And so I'm much more vulnerable to the effects of everyday horror.  Daily there's a mass shooting, the Republicans constantly roil the waters with repugnant challenges, climate change deniers continue to prevent our taking appropriate measures and the country rises up against a soldier and his family before we definitely know the facts.  My mood swings from anger to sadness to complete dismay at the state of our country's reaction to anything, anymore, anytime. And I don't even watch Fox News.

I'd like to take refuge in a world of my own making, where I get to control the issues, the conflicts, the desires of my characters, but I can't. I want to say something profound about the state of our world.  I watch episodes of "Cosmos," and I wonder how our universe has survived and will it continue with the human species alive and well.  I've always lamented that left to me we would still be in the cave because I wouldn't get the significance of watching a rock roll down the hill and turn it into the wheel or what do do with that hot stuff that started burning after a storm and could there be use for it, like cooking. Or rotten fruit, what to do with that? Somebody says drinking it will make you loopy. Patterns of stars up above would just be pretty to me, not informative as to how to move around the planet or what the seasons will be. Recognizing patterns in the midst of chaos is not my forte.

And how could TV bring back marathons of Law & Order, just when I thought I was weened away? It's like comfort food, I know it will all be solved or at least resolved in an hour and I won't have to worry about real life encroaching upon me until I switch it off.