Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Writing In the Dark

"To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing." ~Richard North Patterson

I recently read in Alice Orr's No More Rejections that Philip Roth wrote more than 180 pages before he got his opening paragraph of his memoir Patrimony. And that Ann Beattie gave a friend her Chilly Scenes of Winter and he discarded the first 59 pages of the manuscript. Can you imagine what we would do if our crit groups discarded our first 59 pages? I know what I would do. Not a pretty picture.

Barbara Kingsolver once stated that she writes at least 100 pages to trash before she finally begins to work. I don't. I sit down and plug away. I wonder why I think I can get away with that. I'm not so bold as to believe my writing is so fine it can't be discarded. I'd rather blame it on those pack-ratting idiosyncrasies I inherited from my dad. I never throw anything away. C'mon on over to my house -- I'll prove it. :)

Most writing books tell us we should look at each sentence carefully and discard everything that doesn't strengthen our story. That makes perfect sense, but how do we know what strengthens and what doesn't? Five writers can look at the same paragraph and come away with five different suggestions for it, much like the American Idol judges respond to their contestants. There's not a helpful comment from any of them.

1)The song is too big for you.
2)That was pretty boring.
3)When you sing a song by Whitney, it better be good, baby.
4)You are a mediocre singer.
5)I don't like your dress.
6)Pitchy.
and then there's the judge who says:
7)You're a beautiful sweet girl/a handsome guy -- you have talent. I love you.

Isn't this similar to our critiques or feedback from contests?

1) You have too much story here for a novice. Quite an undertaking.
2) Boring.
3) Mary Higgins Clark wrote a similar book. Hers worked.
4) Face it, you're a hum-drum writer.
5) I don't like this kind of story.
6) You haven't found your voice yet.
And that bone of hope they toss us:
7) I see a lot of potential here. I love your plot and your characters, you just need to . . .

Experienced writers tell us that revising becomes easier the longer we write and the more we engage in the process. I don't know about that. It might be an old wive's tale. However, I've noticed in my own critiquing and judging, that beginning chunks can often go. Maybe our first words are just warm-up words. Okay, with that in mind, I challenge each of us to take a close look at our first 59 pages. But I want us to remember - whether we cut them or live with them:

"Success is a finished book, a stack of pages each of which is filled with words. If you reach that point, you have won a victory over yourself no less impressive than sailing single-handed around the world." ~Tom Clancy

Write. Complete the book and bask in the victory.

Looking Back

"We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way. ~John Holt

There are times I believe we're over-educated. Oh, I don't mean we're teaching our kids too much math or history or literature. I'm talking about our writing. I'm wondering if we dilute our passion with too much research, too many how-to books, and too much mentoring/tutoring/life sessions.
I remember when I got pregnant, I ran out and bought every book on pregnancy and raising a baby that I could find. Of course, once I read what childbirth was all about, I realized I should have educated myself before getting pregnant, or just rolled with it, not delved into the intricate details of giving birth. By learning all I could, I pushed myself into that realm of fear that I know so well.
Same thing with my writing. Instead of running toward the finish line with an idea, I tend to pick it to pieces to see if it will work, question what I can add to or take from. I tend to hold back. As a result, many ideas fall short because of doubt. I've noticed that much of my writing is peppered with uncertainty. I see it only after my critique group points it out. I wish I could see it first.
I believe spontaneity is good for writing. It gives the piece energy. One of the best compliments I've ever received was that my writing had energy. The worst compliment I've ever received was, "Out of all of us, I thought you would have made it." A hard fist in the gut, for sure. A statement like that makes one take a close look at the past, the present, and the future.
I used to grab hold of an idea as if my very life depended on it. Get it down, grow it with confidence. That's where I want to be again. That's a good place. That I-can-do-anything-I-set-my-mind-to-place keeps my focus sharp and without a doubt, maximizes my productivity. How does one revisit such a place? By casting off the negatives that destroy motivation and confidence, then sitting down and re-learning.
Write! Do it! Quickly and passionately.
Only then can we layer it with rhythm and tone, and deepen it with wisdom and honesty. And lastly, tweak its heart and soul.


"We learn to do something by doing it. There is no other way. ~John Holt

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Writer In Crisis

I made the comment years ago that trying to get published was a lot more fun than being published. I spoke from experience, limited though it was. Years later, watching my multi-published friends, I haven't changed my mind. They sign 3 or 5-book contracts, and gripe like heck because they're so busy writing and promoting. When that contract is up, they sign another one and then another one. All the while, their agent is trying to garner even more contracts with other publishers.
What part of this picture seems fun?
If Murphy's Law kicks in they're guaranteed to be writing during Thanksgiving and Christmas, therefore being stressed during the holidays. Aren't holidays stressful enough?
Good sense tells us we should seriously pray about accepting those multiple contracts--for our own good. For the good of our family. But somehow we don't pray, we grab that contract and run!
I wonder how much family-time we're willing to sacrifice to achieve our dreams? Husband and kids are proud to share in the book signings for that first book, and maybe the second, but how must they feel when that third and fourth and fifth book comes around and we miss soccer games, Christmas plays, birthdays because we have signings or we're on deadline? Do they truly understand why we fly across the country to attend a 4-day conference? Do they comprehend the importance of keeping our name out there, the necessary networking?
Our writer's mind is constantly spinning with all we have to do and all we have to write, not to mention all we want to write.
Who's gaining?
Who's on the losing end?
In my mind's eye, I stand in the shoes of my multi-published friends and wonder if I really want what they have. A side of me says no. Another side of me yearns for it. I'm working toward it. I'm fantasizing about it. But I'm scared. Fear of failure, yet fear of success. What will I have to sacrifice? Am I prepared?

"Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts." ~Psalm 90:12

Saturday, February 24, 2007

More Than a Mouthful

I write for a couple of hours every day, even if I only get a couple of sentences. I put in that time. You do that every day, and inspiration will come along. I don't allow myself not to keep trying. It's not fun, but if you wait until you want to write, you'll never do it. ~ Dave Barry

The way a long work is completed is by daily tapping the first imaginative impulse. That's got to be so strong that it never dies in the course of the whole performance.
~Paul Horgan


We work in the dark--we do what we can--we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art. ~Henry James

Do not think of your faults; still less of others' faults; look for what is good and strong; and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes. ~John Ruskin

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We have no need to dwell on the negative. ~ Susan Shaughnessy

Must Love Prayer

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Heavenly Father, help me to be available and encouraging to other writers. Give me the sensitivity and wisdom to help them with their hurdles.

Lord, give each of us wisdom to discern what Your will is for our talents. Help us to let go of time wasters. Thank You for the dreams and goals You've placed in our hearts. May we do our best for You and give You all of the glory.

Amen

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Speak Into the Microphone

How does one live without a calendar? There's absolutely nothing more sobering than watching the days fly by. This evening I've carefully examined the remaining days of February and the only way I can possibly make my self-imposed March 1st deadline is to write 20 pages a day. Now let's see . . . what did I tell that editor?

Whoa! Checking my query letter, I see that I told her early March. A reprieve? Not much of one. Let's look at a few things. I received the go-ahead to send the complete manuscript right around Christmas. If I had written just four pages a day during January and February, my book would be finished. I should hang my head in shame. Just how badly do I want to sell another book? Why am I dragging my feet on this when I know the story so well? It's outlined, so when I force myself to sit down to write, it flows -- well, maybe flow isn't the best word to use. Right about now, I could use a few tips from Erle Stanley Gardner on dictation. I believe I remember reading that he dictated all his Perry Mason books to a secretary. I wish I could hear how he did it.

I have a book called Writing Out Loud by Jefferson D. Bates. I bought it at Half-Price books in Houston. (As far as I'm concerned, the best thing about Houston.) The blurb on the back cover states:
"In this age of instantaneous information, when getting ahead means getting there first and fast, it is imperative that anyone whose work involves writing use every moment of their time effectively." That's what sold me on this little book, copyright 1990. I know there are computer programs one can purchase that are the equivalent of dictation, but my Texas-Louisiana accent confuses the little bugger. If I say, "Matthew slipped on a furry rug two weeks ago" I see "Matthew slept on a fiery rub two leeks a hoe". Don't know that I could handle that kind of fine-tuning.

In his book, Bates says, "Good organization is the wellspring of good dictation. Know what you want to accomplish." In my mind, dictating a novel into a tape recorder sounds easy. (We have to remember here the key phrase is in my mind--that's where everything sounds easy.)The hard part would be the transcription. After writing for newspapers and magazines, and relying heavily on my little Sony, I know that transcribing is a time-consuming, boring thing to do.

My husband says I'm always looking for shortcuts. He's right. I'm always looking for something--a magazine article I want to read again, a book with a favorite quote in it, a receipt so I can return something to a store, a safety pin--my goodness, why not a shortcut? :)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Please, I Don't Wanna

ImageChef.com - Create custom images I have a real fear of commitment, and I don't know why. It doesn't make much sense that I'd want to keep my options open. I mean, why can't I volunteer to man the food bank at the church each Wednesday? When someone tells me every Wednesday, I automatically hear Every Wednesday for the rest of your life. Now that's scary. Common sense tells me that nothing lasts forever, so chances are I would never man the food bank every Wednesday for the rest of my life.

We've always moved from one job to the next, hopping back and forth across the Texas Louisiana line. Sometimes Jim goes without me. I've always had the option of joining him when I want to, coming and going as I please. I love options. Now, with Jim in Scotland and daughter in New Orleans, and our parents in questionable health, I find myself really being non-committal so I can hop in the car at the drop of a hat and head out of town. Makes perfect sense to me. Or is it the perfect excuse? Everybody else has kids in school and husbands who work. They have busy lives and are still able to take on additional responsibilities, successfully juggle multiple tasks.

The odd thing is, believe it or not, I'm really good at meeting deadlines. When the newspaper would assign me a story, I never missed a deadline. When my Silhouette editor gave me a deadline for my rewrites, for getting the art fact sheet completed, I never missed her deadlines. And this 21-day Daniel fast I've been on ends today. I stuck with it! So see, when I do commit to something, I work like a demon to succeed at it, to make it good for everyone involved. Ahhhhhh, maybe that's the rub.

I've come to the conclusion that I don't like complications in my life. However, secretly, I fear I have an ounce of laziness in me. That's sad. I'm not paying any attention to my good common sense--that nothing lasts forever. I'm smart enough to know that I'm cheating myself out of learning more, being blessed, making new friends and a wide range of interesting experiences. Maybe I'll try something new in the very near future. But then again, maybe not. I should probably set myself a deadline: Jess, you must commit to something by March 15th.

Think it will work?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Calmly, Confidently, Steadily - Just Write

I just came from the blog of a mystery writer who is working on her 19th book. Unfortunately, she's blocked. Her editor has problems with the chapters she's read and to make things worse, the author doesn't want to write. She knows she must. She knows she should, and she knows she has too. What's the answer to her dilemma?
I've been blocked - I think. Actually, I can't tell the difference between procrastinating and being blocked. For me, they probably go hand in hand. I'm sure at some point everyone develops writer's block but I think most writers just storm through that barricade by writing, and I mean writing anything. I've always heard we should just sit down and start typing even if it's the grocery list and I agree, though journaling would be my preference over a grocery list. :) I have a quote on my wall by Norman Mailer. Being a writer means being able to do the work on a bad day. I like that challenge, but if we're unable to do the work on a bad day does that me we aren't writers? My heart goes out to this mystery writer who's in a bad place right now. Every post she makes sounds a little more desperate and depressing. She'll be someone for me to watch and learn from--a life lesson from another writer.

Fortunately, I have to force myself not to write. I get up every morning with a desire to sit down and work. My imagination has been overstimulated all my life by life itself. ~ Isaac Bashevis Singer

We should all be so blessed.

I've been searching for Susan Shaughnessy, author of Walking on Alligators but I haven't located her. However, I did come across another very interesting Susan. Check her out at http://www.susantaylorbrown.com/books_writer.html

Grateful Acknowledgments

I lost an earlier entry tonight. My computer froze and I couldn't get in or out so here I am 12:45 with nothing to say. How about some of my favorite quotes?

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateurs. ~Gerald Brenan

That one hits home, doesn't it?

Be careful how quickly you give away your fire. ~ Robert Bly

Sometimes we get so excited about an idea, we can talk it away.

Most of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn't spend half our time wishing. ~Alexander Woollcott

I'll claim that one for sure.

The material's out there, a calm lake waiting for us to dive in.
~Beverly Lowry


Nobody can give you wiser advice than yourself. ~Cicero

Nice thought.

And here's my all-time personal favorite:

If you have a skeleton in your closet, take it out and dance with it.
~Carolyn MacKenzie


These quotes are from a favorite book called Walking on Alligators, A book of meditations for writers by Susan Shaughnessy given to me in July, 1994 by a writer friend in Port Arthur, Texas.

Friends are great. Writer friends are super-great.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Curtain Is Up

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The Groom Wore Blue Suede Shoes was the title of my first book, a Silhouette Romance. What a learning experience. I did all the right things when it came to promotion: book signings, speaking to writer's clubs and women's groups, press kits with complimentary books to newspapers, and of course, the niche marketing. I wrote to almost two hundred Elvis fan clubs. One thing I learned about promoting a book is that no matter what I did, it was never enough. I can't help but ask myself what I would do today if I sold another book. In my mind, I enjoy the marketing end of this writing business, but in reality, it's just too stressful. Still, it's a necessity so I watch and listen to and learn from those who have several books to their credit. I make note of everything they do and absorb all their little tips and suggestions in spite of hearing rumors that they're barely making back their advances and sometimes they don't even receive a royalty check. I have to wonder where that leaves those of us who don't have the funds to do a media blitz or just plain don't want to?
Once thing is for certain. Marketing is a must and s/he who hesitates is lost.

Who's Who?

Hold on to your hat! I'm being considered for inclusion in the 2007-2008____Who's Who among Executive and Professional Women "Honors Edition" of the Registry. I could be among thousands of very important executive and professional women throughout America. And all I had to do to be considered was . . .

Arise at 7:00 or 8:00 or 9:00 every morning
Praise God for another day
Do my Beth Moore Bible Study
Pray
Check email
Drink some 100% all natural orange juice
Answer email
Surf the 'net
Talk to husband on the phone
Surf the 'net
Critique some manuscripts
Eat lunch
Surf the 'net
Drive to post office to get mail
Buy fruit, veggies and more orange juice
Come home and surf the 'net
Write a few pages of novel
Surf the 'net
Talk to daughter on phone
Surf the 'net
Talk to husband on phone
Surf the 'net
If it's Tuesday, watch Veronica Mars
If it's Wednesday, watch American Idol
If it's Thursday watch, Grey's Anatomy and Hitch
If it's Friday, watch Close to Home and Numbers
Surf the 'net
Answer email
Blog
Read a chapter in the New Testament (Today I'm in Acts)
Pray
Think about what I accomplished today
Prepare for tomorrow
Sleep
I'm so excited. I'll have to hurry with my application--just five working days to get it back to them. Oh my goodness! Just can't wait to see if I'm confirmed. I've earned it, I really have. I mean, look at how much I accomplish during each day. Who's Who -- my single highest mark of achievement. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

From One Jess to Another

I've spent the past couple of hours researching blogs and websites, and made an exciting discovery. Check out the following. http://lifeofawannabewriter.blogspot.com/ This young woman, we'll call her Jess -- not messy Jessy because I can identify with that--is going places. Twenty years old and what a list of credits. And, believe it or not Jess has aquired an agent.

Congratulations, you go, girl!

This young woman should be an inspiration to all of us. She's a college student and a writer. Evidently not a procrastinating writer. :) She stated in her blog that her friends party while she studies and writes. All I can say is -- sweetie, you put me to shame.

Follow the links Jess provides. Check out her credits, her bio and her blog. And take a look at her professional affiliations. Now, let's all take a look at our credits, our bio and our professional affiliations. Whoa! This young'un knows what's she's doing. She's got a plan.

Jess takes me back to my early years when I was pulling the East Texas Writers Association together. Our youngest member was thirteen years old. His mom would bring him to the meetings and I would drive him home. Out of our 15 or 20 members, I'll give you one guess who got published first. You're correct. Mark wrote an article on treasure hunting for a national magazine and yes, he got paid.

I love seeing young people racing toward their dreams. They aren't intimidated by anyone. They're brave with their goals. Sometimes I think it would be nice to go back to that time in my life when I raced toward dreams. These days I'm creeping like a 58 year-old arthritic turtle.

Congratulations, Jess, for keeping your goals in sight and not getting distracted by those "extracurricular" activities. I predict that one of these days, you could very well be sitting in an editor's chair reading one of my unsolicited manuscripts.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Writers, Writers Everywhere but . . .

I got an advertisement in the mail today for a writing cruise. If I don't want to float around in the ocean listening to lectures on how to write from people I've never heard of then I can sign up for mini-conferences in almost any state and hear lectures on how to write from people I've never heard of. I keep asking myself -- what do I have to sell? I need a little extra cash too!

I think what really bugs me is that too many people want to be spoon-fed. That's why the writing business is BIG business. Wannabes aren't taking the initiative to teach themselves. My goodness, we have more how-to books than we know what to do with. We have great magazines like The Writer and Writer's Digest. We have the Internet where one can find all kinds of articles on any subject that has to do with writing. And writer's groups are everywhere. In my day, there weren't any clubs for writers. I started my own-just one other wannabe and me. And we grew to three, and six and ten and twenty-five. If you're ever in Longview, Texas, check out the East Texas Writers Association. It's mine. :)

I have no idea where people get the money to enter one contest after another. Twenty or twenty-five dollar entry fees add up fast. Multiply that by five or six. Wouldn't six no-shows be depressing? Conference fees are outrageous and so are professional membership fees. I feel sorry for beginning writers just learning the ropes. For that matter, I feel sorry for my husband who supports this writing habit of mine.

The writing business is big business, all right. And that's okay as long as every young writer who pays for something, gets something worthwhile in return.

As for me and my house, if we had something to sell, we'd probably give it away.


Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity. Leviticus 19:35

So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Romans 14:12

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Meandering Along, Just Singing My Song

I promised myself last year that I would not get involved with American Idol ever again. But I have. I can't resist. I've already sobbed with those who didn't make it, and now I have to go through the entire 24 contestants. Talk about emotionally draining. If it affects me in such a way, how must it affect those precious contestants? Last year I found myself voting over and over again for my favorite singer. I hate that! I hate being able to vote more than once. It just doesn't seem fair. But for all my votes, sweet Paris Bennett didn't win. I wonder what she's doing. Sometimes I scan the CD titles in WalMart or Target just to see if she's there. Haven't found anything, but maybe I should get serious about tracking her down. Check this out:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_Bennett

Today was a good writing day. I put on my CD from the Thinking Music series and I do believe it works. I sat down and started writing. I've always been way too impressionable. Just the name--Thinking Music series--is enough to make me feel creative. I should walk around with my head phones on -- maybe the Thinking Music would help me clean my house. I've never failed to write when I listen to Concentration, Maximize Your Productivity. The Arcangelos Chamber Ensemble in association with Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. I think they should have this music playing in every school in Louisiana. They could do it for one year and be able to determine if it made a difference. Of course, parents would holler that their kids were being brainwashed or something. That's how we parents are. :)

Since this is a rambling kind of post for me--no real point to be made--here's a thought to ponder:

For God is closely watching you, and he weighs carefully everything you do. ~Proverbs 5:21


When I was growing up, I was told that actions speak louder than words. Looks like it's true.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Ignorance IS Bliss

I can't believe I didn't know anything about the tornados that hit New Orleans until 6:00 this afternoon when my daughter called me to ask why I hadn't called to check on her. I have a great excuse. I live in my very own little bubble. And it's soundproof.

I don't normally turn on the TV during the day. However, I do remember looking at my watch at 12:30 and noting that I'd missed the news. Totally unaffected by it, I sat right down at my computer and surfed. Later, I went to the post office and WalMart. I listened to American Family Radio and they didn't mention tornados in New Orleans. I marveled at the beauty of the day and even parked my car wayyyyyy across the parking lot so I could get some badly needed exercise. My checker at WalMart didn't mention tornados. We chatted about all the activity in the store and why it seemed busy like a Saturday instead of a Tuesday.

Looking back at my actions, I can't help thinking about how turkeys look up when it rains, and drown. I don't know if that's true, but I sure did my share of looking up today. When I got back home, my television was out of order. That's when daughter called, upset by my lack of concern. In all her 23 years, she hasn't yet picked up on just how slow her mother is.

But how about another thought:

He will shield you with his wings. He will shelter you with his feathers. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Psalm 91.4

The Lord is peace. Judges 6:24

Yeah, I like that so much better. I'm looking up all right. But I ain't no turkey. :)

Monday, February 12, 2007

Hide and Seek, Seek, Seek

Seems like I'm always searching for things. It's an inherited trait. My dad spent most of his time looking for things he'd lost, objects he'd put away for safe keeping, tears of paper he took out of his shirt pocket, and laid on the counter, only for my mom to pick up and trash, or stick in a drawer. He was a weather watcher too--another little something I picked up from Dad. He had a nightly routine: Right before bedtime, he'd go outside, walk around the yard, look at the sky and just feel the weather. Every single night. I'd like to think he was having his quiet time. That he and God were doing a little visitin' back and forth. Now that I think back, that time out in the yard, alone, was probably the only quiet time my dad ever had. He killed mosquitoes too--another part of his nightly routine. He'd roam through the house with the fly swatter and kill every 'skeeter he saw. Wonder how and why one develops those kind of rituals? I really miss those things about my dad. I'm the Mosquito Nazi in this family. I don't roam around outside after dark watching the weather--and I have my quiet time in the mornings--but I do zap mosquitos. Viciously, I might add.

Today is my 25th wedding anniversary. Hubby is in Scotland so I mailed him a package: an anniversary card, a valentine's card, his Running Times that has a 10-day training program in it, the latest Evangel and World Challenge newsletter, and a copy of the "stationary" I made with our pictures on it. Nothing fancy. I just needed something to mail to our sponsored children to show them what we look like. Wrote them funny notes to make them smile. Jaslyn, Jose and Eunice. I wonder what they'll think of us. Eunice is getting old enough to leave the program soon. I wonder what will happen to her then.

We're winding up our study of Java with the Judges by Sandra Glahn. It was good. In week 3, she wrote: "So often we focus on what job to take or whom to marry or where to live, when the Bible says, This is the will of God--your sanctification (1 Thess. 4:3). Where I am ranks as less important to God than who I am wherever I go. My choice of a spouse, while important, is still less important than the character I have as a wife. The company for which I work is less important than what kind of employee I am, regardless of where I work." So, I feel like it's not important whether my book sells or not. What's important is that I write it. Maybe my writing the book is simply a lesson in obedience, self-discipline, perseverance.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Sometimes I have to Pinch Myself

Sundays are nice. Being in a church filled with other believers gives me a sense of belonging. I signed up for the Disaster Relief course today. I'll learn how to use a chainsaw and to mud out a house. Ever since I helped hand out food and blankets at the civic center, I've wanted to get involved with Disaster Relief, but just never took the initiative. I've been thinking about signing up for this course for several weeks, but if that little yellow card hadn't been in the bulletin today, I probably wouldn't have done it. We'll have to see where this leads.

I had my Beth Moore class tonight. I told Roseanna I was 11 days into my fasting. She shared some of her techniques: she juices fruit and veggies. She eats a special kind of oatmeal that has a taste and texture to it: McCann's Irish Oatmeal. I'll get some tomorrow. And I guess I should prepare veggies other than potatoes. I still have until the 21st and then my fast will end. I wish I could stay off the carbonated beverages forever. My stomach feels soooo much better without them.

Tomorrow is our 25th anniversary. Time sure flew by fast. I've said it before and I'll say it again -- because it's true: time flies when you're having fun. :)

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie. Stay away from those Scottish women!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Ideas - 2 for a Dollar!

I wish I could sell ideas. I've always enjoyed brainstorming so maybe I should hang my "idea shingle" and go into business. But that's probably called writing coach. I wonder when the writing coach came into being. Maybe when the market became glutted and writers couldn't make a living writing? I came across a writing coach (also called personal coach) who charges $150 to $500 an hour. Can you believe it? Of course, for those writers who have undefined goals, the more often they speak with their coach the better. And all of this is by phone. I'll tell you now, that certainly wouldn't work for me. I am not a telephone person. I find this entire thing totally unappealing, but I could have a distorted opinion of mentors too. To me, a mentor is someone who freely gives of their wisdom and time. Oh by the way, the person coach that charges up to $500 dollars has a number of books published--by iUniverse.

This is the 10th day of my fast. I can't figure out why I lost seven pounds quickly then gained them back in the blink of an eye. Maybe it's because I started eating baked potatoes for lunch each day, but geez a girl's gotta eat something. I'm not putting butter and cheese on them, just a little Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning. It's great on everything! So... eleven days to go. :) I'm heading to O'Charley's for one of their Cajun steaks.

I've written the rough draft of my 500 word essay for Are You A Writer Mama? Writer's Digest contest. The deadline is March 31st so I still have some time to work on it. It's ba-a-a-ad. I can't seem to focus on what I'm trying to say. The topic is: When Parenting and Writing Collide. Great topic and one that I'm very familiar with. . . but I seem to be putting too positive a spin on it and I'm wondering if other moms can identify. I'll have to give it more thought. I'm a big fan of Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama and creator of the Writers on the Rise online zine. It's great. Check it out at www.writersontherise.com

Today was one of those pleasant days that flew by. I met Barbara and David at I-Hop. Watched them eat while I sipped water with lemon. Christa called and we had a quick, pleasant chat about cozy mysteries. Jim called from Scotland. I found out my daughter drove into Baton Rouge to watch LSU whoop Arkansas. :)

And here I am alone trying to sell ideas - 2 for a $.

Friday, February 9, 2007

What's It Gonna Be?

I'm truly torn between writing fiction and writing nonfiction. Seems like I continuously bounce back and forth between the two. I know it takes a lot to be a freelance writer, more work than you would imagine, but the up side to it is the immediate gratification--especially if you write for newspapers and regional magazines. The down side is that you hear more complaints from the small town and area markets. I checked out a book at the library called Sell & Resell Your Magazine Articles by Gordon Burgett. I learned that the best on-hand source for article ideas is the newspaper. That news is public domain and there will be no 'rights' problems. All you have to do is take the subject or idea, the sources, re-interview them, add your own sources to the article and write it. I've often wanted to do that but never had the so-called gumption to try it.

Once, I saw a human interest story on the evening news about an elderly woman who has everything under the sun relating to Elvis Presley. She lives in a retirement home and her room is like a museum. Would an Elvis magazine be interested in her? Maybe.

Nonfiction -- something to think about because a lot of little checks coming in sporadically are certainly better than no checks at all. Yet, I remember what it was like writing for the Beaumont periodicals. {sigh}

Went to critique tonight. They truly have a lot of problems with my inspirational romance. Of course, this go around, Jan was hesitant to comment. Lena didn't care for the chapter and Marymarc is just totally turned off by inspirational/Christian writing period. We ate. I took my own salad and fruit while they ate poboys from Darryls. I'm not sure I'm doing the right thing by being in their critique group. Most of the time I don't understand where they're coming from and they sure don't understand me. Are we doing more harm than good?

The weeks are flying by so fast my head is in a constant spin. If I think about the calendar pages flipping, flipping, flipping... I get an anxious feeling in my chest. I have to inhale several deep cleansing breaths to calm myself. Guess I'm prone to anxiety attacks in my old age. :)

The CD I ordered -- Volkan Orhon's Multiplicity came in today. I tore into it at the post office and listened all the way home. It's different. I've never listened to bass and can't begin to explain how and why it speaks to me, but it does. Check out his website at http://www.volkanbass.com/ . He has a new CD coming out this summer.

Another side of me? Willie Nelson or Volkan ORHON? Go figure.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Are We There Yet?

My stacked-up, messy office is destroying my creativity. I've decided that's what my problem is. I'm talking real mess here. My bookshelves are filled to capacity--not in a neat manner. Stacks of boxes overflowing with magazines, papers, books--you name it!--block my ability to even reach what's on those shelves. There are two desks, two computers, and a marble top coffee table that supports a six foot tall social studies project that took my daughter to state. I can't bear to part with it. I think when she marries I'll give it to her. She can always re-read her interview with the two psychologists to remind herself that men and women have different ways of communicating. Her project title: The Differences in Male/Female Communication. And there certainly is a difference, but we won't go into that. I love some of her headings:

WHICH ONE OF US IS THE OPPOSITE SEX?
&
DO YOU WANT TO SPEAK TO THE MAN IN CHARGE OR THE WOMEN WHO KNOWS WHAT'S GOING ON?

But as I said, we won't go there.
I think I'm gaining the few pounds I've lost on this Daniel fast. Can't imagine why. Surely it's not because I eat constantly: fruit, nuts, brown rice, baked potatoes, pineapple. And drink a big glass of all natural orange juice twice a day. No, that couldn't possibly be it.

I love the Book of John. I can't explain why. John just speaks to me. I like his story telling style, I guess. Jesus and the disciples come alive for me in the Book of John. I find myself thinking of them all through the day.

Well, against my better judgement, I entered the Genesis contest this evening. I should have waited and let Jan, MaryMarc and Lena go over my submission but I didn't. It's gone. Now, I can put it behind me. I'm entertaining a crazy thought of entering another category. Last night I re-read Psalms of the Sisters. It was a finalist a few years ago. On re-reading, I noticed a place where the story really bogged down. I need to revise but I hesitate to take the time. However, if I did take the time to revise, maybe it would once again make the finals. Something to think about.

I wrote a page for Miranda. I suppose a few words at a time is better than nothing. I'd love to really get into the swing of it but I'm not there yet.

Oh, good news! Today, Marilynn Griffith called to tell me that she finally sold Rhythms of Grace. I love that book. I spent a lot of time with those characters when Mary and I were critiquing each other. But she's dividing it into two books. Honestly, I don't know how I feel about that. Oh well, double the pleasure-double the fun. She's a go-getter. Wish some of Mary would rub off on me.

As I said -- Not there yet. Mybe I need a road map. :)

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

The Seventh Day

Nope, no 10 pages from these fingers. I did some editing, gathered our tax info, answered the phone alot, and went to the post office to see if my Volkan ORHON CD had arrived. Not yet. I hope I like it. I visited a website that played some of his music and loved the little bit I heard. Check out his website: http://www.volkanbass.com/

Last night I found myself craving a chili cheese dog. Haven't had one in years but all of a sudden, I sure did want one. Must have been those Sonic commercials I saw while watching Veronica Mars. Wow! isn't she something? I love how she connects the dots until she solves a case. And speaking of cases . . .

I need a title for my cozy mystery. If you saw a book with the title The Praiseworthy Case of the Apple Blossom Runaway what would you think? Mmmm, that just jumped into my head. I think I'll keep it -- at least for now. I want to enter a contest and I want the title to be interesting. :) Titles are super hard for me. But then, so is the middle. After I write the first three chapters, I have trouble going anywhere from there. I almost always know the ending. It's that darned middle that gives me trouble.

I have to say though, I don't even have three chapters of The Praiseworthy Case of the Apple Blossom Runaway. I don't even know how it ends. I was writing great guns and stupidly saving to floppy disk when all of a sudden, floppy flopped and I couldn't retrieve any of my information. Thankfully, I still had what my critique partners had viewed in my email, but I lost all my notes, my research and my timeline, and all my what-if questions. I could have barfed. So... that's why I don't have more than a chapter.

I'm supposed to be working on Miranda. That's the one the agent requested. Should have written 10 pages today. Shoulda woulda coulda as Barbara says.

I'm doing well with my fasting. I'm reading several chapters of the New Testament each day. That's one resolution I haven't broken. I'm praying daily. Jim calls each morning and evening, and during the evenings he reads a Verse of the Day and then he prays.

Godly husbands are the best. The very best.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Why Didn't I Write That?

Today seemed like a busy day, but really, it wasn't. I look back now and in hindsight I didn't do much at all. I ate fruit, nuts and a baked potato without butter. I went to the post office where I found that self-published book I ordered from Amazon. Have no idea what got into me. Why did I order it? I knew it was badly edited and things like that drive me crazy. But I like the title and I love the cover. Unfortunately, the author has an agent who sold to a self-publisher. Go figure. I traded a couple of emails with the author. I'm certain I offended him but why on earth would anyone hire an agent if he planned to self-publish? Oh well... his business. Not mine. At least he's writing. At least he's doing something about his publishing career.
Tomorrow.
Tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life.
I'll write 10 pages tomorrow because if I don't it will be too late.

Monday, February 5, 2007

The Life of a Quote

I like this quote:

Waiting for inspiration is like standing in the airport expecting a
train. ~Leigh Michaels

Day five went well. I guess I'm getting the hang of doing without cereal, bread, meat, ice cream, chips, pasta, salsa, diet coke. I wish I could start a walking schedule but that's kinda hard to do when I never leave the house. Guess I could march around the coffee table for about 30 minutes and call it a mile. I'm blowing my writing schedule too. Waiting for inspiration just doesn't get you very far.

Amateurs hope; professionals work. ~Garson Kanin

That just about says it all, doesn't it?

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Day 4 and Hanging In

I really didn't want to get up this morning. Seems like every other morning is difficult. I watched Charles Stanley. He surprised me when he said that many people believe all they have to do is except Jesus into their hearts and that's it - they're saved. He said there's more to it than that. Well, yeah, but according to Scripture, they are saved, and now they need to grow and learn and develop that relationship with Christ.
No breakfast, other than an orange and water and a banana. Not my idea of a great way to start the day but at least my stomach didn't howl and growl in church or Sunday school. In fact, the music was extra good today. At least, for me it was. But there's a problem. Once we get into the spirit of the praise, really feel God's presence and 'communicate' with Him, seems like there should be some kind of 'silence' after the music and before we go into the sermon. We don't even have prayer separating the music from the sermon. Bro. Randy prays earlier. Anyway, just seems like I'm still 'in the spirit' of praise and not ready for the sermon.
Martha and I went to lunch. I'd planned to come home and fix the squash and zucchini but O'Charley's sounded good. I got a side salad--lettuce and tomato--and a side of steamed veggies. Grrrreat! Came home and haven't done much of anything. Had good intentions but my life is nothing but good intentions. And I hate that! I want to be a do-er not a procrastinator.
This is day four. I sure hope I don't get tired of eating nuts.
Tonight was Super Bowl Sunday. Brings some sad memories of our friend Fred. Last year a lot of Jim's Sunday School class went over to Fred's to watch Super Bowl with him. This year, Fred's watching it with Jesus.
The days are passing so fast I can hardly keep up. Makes me realize just how important it is to make use of the short time we have here on earth. I have so many ideas for books but what am I doing about it? Absolutely nothing -- unless you count thinking about them something. Oh well, you know what they say: today is the first day of the rest of my life. And tomorrow when I wake up and lift hands to the ceiling and thank God for another day--if He blesses me with another day-- then it will be the first day of the rest of my life.
But I'm wondering . . . what's for breakfast?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Everybody loves a Nut . . . and Brown Rice?

I think I've reached the point where just about anything tastes good to me. Anything, that is, but oatmeal. Even sprinkling pecans or walnuts doesn't help the taste. I need SUGAR! Desperately, I even tried adding a little juice - arghhhhhh! Bad idea. So, no oatmeal for me which means breakfast is a total bust. But oddly, I felt energetic today. Woke up at 5:00 A.M. and couldn't go back to sleep. Read in the book of Luke. I'm saving the last day of Beth Moore for next week. I like to savor her.
Today was the Bayou Writers Meeting from 10-12. Jan went with me. We all went to eat afterwards and while everyone there thinks I'm just trying to eat healthy, I confided to Jan that I'm doing the Daniel fast. I told her that she's the only person in the world who knows that I'm doing it. I don't know if she felt flattered or put-upon. I mean, goodnight, Irene, what a secret! :)
It's very hard to pass up Piccadilly's dessert, but I did. My meal consisted of a pale green salad w/ tomato--no dressing, and some broccoli. Not bad. Tonight, I finished off the brown rice I made yesterday. And yes, I did had some olives. Had to, but I think I could get used to eating brown rice. I think.
This morning, the scales showed that I'd lost four pounds. I've nibbled on so much fruit and nuts today I feel as though I've gained. We'll see in the morning.
Lunch tomorrow will be a challenge. Oh, yeah, I have squash and zucchini in the 'frig. How exciting! Oh, no, how will I get it down without butter and cornbread? I think I'm dwelling too much on food. I'm supposed to be focusing on scripture and my writing. Mmmmm, time to take another look at my goals and my reason behind them.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Second Day Observations

My night was hectic. I feel as if I flowed in and out of consciousness - restless all night. I woke up feeling crummy, tired and sore. I wonder why. I awoke at 5:30 A.M. and forced myself to go back to sleep. I can't remember what time Jim called. Around 9:30 I forced myself awake and started my Beth Moore. Yes, I did lift arms to the Lord and thank Him for another day, but I wasn't quite as exuberant as I was yesterday morning. Prayer time didn't feel as heart-felt either. I wondered -- surely I'm not crashing and burning this soon! Father, give me strength!
Today has been water, juice, fruit, brown rice, nuts. That's it - wow! I really haven't eaten alot. Hopefully, when I weigh in the morning, I will have lost a few pounds.
I discussed names for our Christian writers club. Our small group of six came up with several suggestions. Best of all, F.R. sent me a friend. We exchanged a couple of emails and she's already joined ACFW and she's entered the Genesis contest. I'd like to enter my cozy but I think it needs a new title. Preparing entries for contests takes time. I don't have it to spare. I still want to finish my book this month and I'm down to the wire. :( I'm probably spitting in the wind.
Today wasn't productive. I'd planned to finish chapter 5; I didn't. Maybe tomorrow. Until then, I'll visualize the scene in my head. Until then . . .

Thursday, February 1, 2007

First Day Introspection

I awoke at 8:00 A.M. With anticipation, I might add. I immediately raised my arms upward and thanked God for another day. Nothing like starting off on the right foot. With praise. Then, I crawled out of bed, got down on my knees and prayed for a number of people. My plan was to pray until Jim called at 8:20 or 8:30, but he surprised me by calling at ten after. I wondered if God was giving me a treat because of my good intentions. :) Maybe He thought He'd make things a little easier for me on my first day of the Daniel fast. It's somewhat disconcerting to know that God already knows if I'm going to succeed or fail, if I'm going to sip a little diet Coke or open those pretzels that are in the pantry. But I didn't cheat today. After I spoke with Jim, I got a cold bottle of water and crawled back into bed to do my Beth Moore study - Daniel, of course. We're on Week 9 in the study and I'm always amazed at Beth's insight. God has truly blessed her. She can say the simplest thing that we already know but it seems so profound in the midst of her study, and coming from her. For example, she pointed out that "Daniel's search of Scripture prompted interaction. Scripture reading was the way Daniel allowed God to speak to him ... then prayer was the way Daniel spoke back." I like that. I want that interaction with God and the only way to have it is to read His word and pray. I want to be holy and godly. But how can anyone live a holy and godly life when they have a television in the house?
So, after my Bible study, I noted some things in a journal before coming to the computer around 10:30 with a bowl of yucky oatmeal. No sugar! no pretend sugar! but heavily loaded with unsalted pecans. Believe me, I didn't think I would get that stuff down. Whew! Another bottle of water as a chaser. I know, technically, I should be boiling the water or drinking distilled, but God didn't impress on me to do that. I feel He's happy with my attempt. I'm not pushing the envelope when it comes to eating fruits, veggies and nuts and water. I had a salad for my evening meal and I wanted to pepper it with black and green olives, and croutons. I wanted to dip my fork into the Thousand Island but I didn't. I love chips and dips, and toast lathered with butter and apple jelly, and King Cakes, and Popeye's fried chicken and ice cream. Ohhhhhh, how I love my ice cream. But I didn't have any cravings today. Thank the Lord! I had peace. I answered emails, critiqued Lisa's chapter 8, researched some things for my own story, and best of all -- I wrote on my own story. I'm making progress. Slow as it is, it's still progress.
It's great how writers can and will help each other with critiques, research, encouragement. I sent questions to Sandra and Christa today, and they were quick to respond with answers. Christa called to discuss my scene and we ended up talking for about an hour. Got emails from Lena and Debby, and Terri and Rachel. Baker Publishing sent me an author gift: Tangerine by one of my favorite ladies-Marilynn Griffith.
What do writers do when they have no writer friends?
What do women do when they have no women friends?
How do men make it if they have no pals?
How do non-believers function with no faith?
Can I write a novel in a month?
Can I fast for 21 days eating only fruits and vegetables?
Can I go 21 days without my diet Cokes - just water and 100% all natural fruit juice?
God knows.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
Thank you, Lord, for a great day.