Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Official: I'm a Collector

I bought my first old typewriter, a Smith and Corona, soon after I said to myself, I'd really like to have an old typewriter. It'd just be neat. And what should happen, but that one nearly jumped out and bit me whilst perusing a local antique store. I fell over myself getting to it (not really, but can't you just see it?), and knew within seconds that baby was mine.

The shop owner said, upon my approach to the checkout, "I know what you're going to do with this. You want the keys for making jewelry." While I actually quite love the idea of such jewelry, I knew I wanted this machine as is. "Nope. I want it just like this." I think it adds some authenticity to my writing nook.

Old typewriter numero dos came to live with me a month or so ago. Some girlfriends and I had gone to a few of our favorite haunts, and this one's silver case winked at me from a corner. It's much less exciting than the S&C, but it's also much smaller and lighter. It's a portable HermesBaby Featherweight, from the '60s. It's neat because it disappears into its prim little box. I imagine a war correspondent or some such toting it around.

After the addition of Hermes to the family, misterwrites and I had a conversation about how typewriters would be a sticky item to collect. Typically they're big, clunky. And they just sit, doing nothing. I knew I'd not seek out any other machines.
But then...

Last Friday, when I had the day to myself, I went antiquing. I was taking my time, browsing and enjoying the calm process. And then - what is it with catching my eye? - there is was, my new piece de resistance... a dial typewriter from the 1930s. I had no clue such a thing existed! Turns out, it was created as a toy - but a working one, at that. How could I not get it? Tell me it's not cool.

So, I think it's official. I'm a collector.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sharing: Novel Journey

Some of you are familiar with the blog Novel Journey. I can't remember how I happened upon it; likely through one of you.

I found an interview last week to be incredibly inspiring, and today I point you toward its great insights and pieces of advice:

Author Robin Burcell ~ Interviewed


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Introducing the 'Rents

These are my parents, Don and Deb. Isn't it a great picture? They've been married almost 37 years, and they're both retired. But those are bonus details.
What I'm really here to tell you is, they are stellar grandparents. "Grandy and Papa" make awesome efforts to spend quality time with both my girls, one at a time, every couple of weeks.
It's on my mind today, because just Thursday they came to our house for the afternoon. When our visit was over, they took my little one home for an overnight. (And oh! I had a glorious Friday to myself while Biggest was at school!)
I'm forever grateful, because of the "break" it gives me, but moreso because my girls' lives will prove richer, with special experiences and memories to relish. It's such a blessing my parents are willing and able to do this.
Thank you! You rather rock, Mom and Dad.
Do you have special memories with your grandparents - or grandchildren?

Friday, March 27, 2009

[F]oto Friday

He'd been waiting for weeks, months, for snow of the right consistency. It had to be heavy, with just enough moisture, to really pack together well.

And so the day of the perfect snowfall, he couldn't get outside fast enough. In his haste, he forgot to don a hat -- but it really didn't matter, for his thoughts weren't on the bitter cold. Instead, his mind lost itself to the memories of snowy pasts, when he'd built snowmen of grand size, and even grander importance. Each year, he built them bigger, sturdier. He gave them greater personalities, fancier plummage.

Why did he do it? Lots of really good, really deep reasons, just like you'd expect. And I'll give them to you now.

Because the snowmen he created, every year, reminded him of the simpler days of... because it was relaxing to... aw, heck. It was because he had no friends. And the snowmen filled that void. Yada yada.

He stood back, rubbing his hands together for warmth, admiring his newest creation.

"I shall call him Sam," he said to no one. "And Sam will be my best pal."


This is one of my brothers-in-law, from two winters ago. I poke fun because he's a good sport and I know he'll be tickled.

Thanks for making great fodder for my blog, fella. ;)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Husband Says What?

"What are you doing tomorrow?" misterwrites asked. Given our list of house projects and the tone of his voice, I knew what he was thinking: I should tackle the guest room.

She could finish gutting the closet, tape off all the trim and windows, primer the walls, let it dry, and get the first coat of paint on, easy.

But I already had plans; a routine that a full day's labor by myself just wouldn't fit into.

"The usual," I said. "An errand or two, housework, laundry. There's the three-year-old who will likely need my attention."

He nodded with understanding. Those things come first.

"And writing." I shrugged, my shoulders conveying that I'd not get to the room.

Visions of all he'd hoped for vanished. "Writing isn't real work," he muttered.

I gasped. No he didn't. But yes, he did.


He supports me. He knows how important my writing is, and wouldn't question my long-term goals. He just doesn't fully appreciate the time and effort needed to meet those goals. Especially when something on his list takes more precedence.

"It is real work, whether or not you think it is," I said, my voice firm with finality, and whipped him with a fierce look.

We'll see if he tries to utter such things again.

*evil laugh*


Has your significant other (or anyone, for that matter) ever let an insensitive comment slip, in relation to your dream or passion?

How supportive does he/she typically tend to be with your hobby or pasttime?

Monday, March 23, 2009

What Writing Has Taught Me

...about slowing down and being me.

It's not all the time, though I haven't figured out the determining factors, but sometimes I'm the kind who, in person, struggles with what to say. My mind goes blank, with nary a question to ask, a dearth of topics to discuss. Or, it backfires, and I rush to fill silence with whatever inane thing is beating around upstairs.

It's not that I'm uppity - because I'm not, or that I'm not interested - because I am; it's that social settings make me nervous. Even just the small risk of seeing someone I know while running errands, the possibility of a chat with someone at my daughter's school or a phone call with an acquaintance, can turn me into an anxious mass of quivering innards. My thoughts consume me, and my brain locks up. Best I can tell, it's because I put too much stock, too much thought, into the whole thing. It causes me to panic inside, and then bubble up with forced words, in an effort just to get them out and over with.

I've often wished I could edit my verbal words, like I do written ones, so what I say flows beautifully, and my point is well-elocuted, every time. And maybe that's part of my problem: that I can't.

Or can I?

The slow and painstaking process of writing has begun to teach me something: There is no need to rush. Just as I might take a few moments with a carefully constructed sentence, I can pause to reflect upon what I'm about to say. Why not take a little extra time to figure out what is most apt? Because only mere seconds pass in the process, not creeping eons of time, as my self-consciousness would have me believe. I can take a deep breath, collect myself, and say what I truly want - instead of letting my impulses take over. [This is why, after all, I thrive in the written word, and through the filters and securities of the internet.]

I've been running experiments. I give myself pep talks, and slow myself down so I'm in the moment. I think. I respond. It's working well.

I'm trying to remember this lesson, and apply it with consistency.

How are you in social situations?

What has writing taught you?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Meet Kristin Callender, Debut Author

Not only is Kristin Callender a busy wife, mom and avid traveler, she can officially don the author cape. With us she celebrates the November 2008 release of her debut novel, The Truth Lies In the Dark, a book about a woman coming to terms with a past she can no longer trust.

Join in as she talks about her novel, the craft of writing and how she makes it all work.

Kristin, welcome!

First, why don’t you tell us how your interest in writing fiction began. And how did it parlay into novels?

I have a very active imagination and writing has been a great outlet for it. The characters and their stories come to life in my head as I write, like a movie. When I stop writing it is almost like I have pushed pause and the story stops there until I get back to it. I have wanted to write a book for a long time, but my busy life and self doubt kept me thinking it couldn't be done. I am happy to have proved myself wrong.

Your idea for The Truth Lies In the Dark took form a few years prior to its completion, and sat on the back burner as life got busy. What made you sit up and say, “I have to finish this book”?

I was graduating from college (patting myself on the back) and getting ready to apply as a substitute teacher and I kept thinking about the book. When I started dreaming about it I knew that I had to try to finish it before I added another commitment to my list. I gave myself a six month deadline to finish it or forget it...

You say on your website that, once you gave yourself that permission to get serious, it took just three months to complete the manuscript… and then the hard part began. Tell us about that process for you.

I had no idea what to do with this manuscript (250+ rough edited pages). I started researching, bought a copy of Writer's Market and studied it until I found a list of publishers who might be interested. The hardest part of the whole process for me is waiting for responses. This is when an active imagination is not a good thing to have. I was so anxious to hear from a publisher that everything would stop when it was time for the mailman to arrive. After a lot of waiting, and a lot of rejections, I was offered a contract. While I was waiting for it I would meet the mailman out at the road before he could reach my lawn. Then he started looking at me funny, like he thought I was interested in more than the mail. Needless to say I no longer run out to get the mail, I just peek from the window until he gets to my neighbor's house (just kidding). Now I am in the marketing part; which has its own challenges. I am amazed with how much I have and continue to learn about writing and publishing.

Given the competitive nature of the publishing business, what drove you to keep at it until you succeeded?

Pure stubbornness and the fact that I did not really grasp how competitive it was until I was already knee deep in it. From everything I read and advice I had received from other authors, I knew to expect a lot of rejection and a lot of hard work before I would see any success. My family and friends are also very supportive and help me get through the frustrating times.

With the publication of this, your first novel, how have demands on you changed? How have your own expectations been altered?

Since The Truth Lies in the Dark has been published I have been very focused on marketing, which has become a full-time job in itself. It is difficult to step away from it some days to get back to being mom and all that comes along with that. My life has always been demanding (with 4 kids, husband, house, job...), marketing a book and planning tours online and in real life adds to that but is also exciting.

As you're seeking representation and/or publication for your second novel and write your third, can you give us an idea as to your long-term writerly goals?

I know I will continue writing. I have so many stories going through my head that will keep me busy for a long time. I would also love to do a non-fiction about traveling with children by train. We took a train trip from Connecticut to California. There is so much to see and so many funny stories to share.

The premise of The Truth – that a woman’s true identity has been hidden from her – is fascinating. How did this idea originate?

I thought is was interesting to have a grown woman not know anything about her past. The way we were brought up and our life experiences are what makes us who we are as adults. Then the idea that everyone she loved and trusted all knew something about her mysterious past made me wonder how anyone would react if it were them. This is what I was thinking as I wrote and why I chose to portray Amanda the way I did.

In the book, Amanda begins a personal journey of discovery as she follows her husband on a business trip. How did your love for travel play into this aspect of the manuscript?

I do love to travel and wish I could do it more, but I chose the locations for the story to show the great lengths and miles her grandparents went to separate Amanda from her past.

What other parts of you appear, in some form, in the book?

I like to believe that my characters are all completely fictional, but every once in a while something slips in from real life. Just simple things that I thought would make them real, like how Nick always pours the cream first then the coffee so he doesn't waste a spoon. My friends laughed because that is my husband. A very big part of me is on the book though. My oldest son painted the portrait that was used for my cover. I am always proud to share that.

The craft often causes writers to do a little soul-searching. What have you learned about yourself through this journey?

When I am writing I can get lost in the story; sometimes the whole day goes by before I realize that I didn't even stop for lunch. The public part is more difficult for me. I like meeting people and am always quick to find the humor in life, but being up in front of everyone is very different. I just had my first Meet the Author/ signing and I was a nervous wreck. I did survive it and even sold some copies of my book, so I know there is hope that I will be able to relax and enjoy public appearances someday.

What themes and messages, if any, make continual appearances in your works?

I don't think that I have written enough books to have a theme yet, but I am working on another mystery about a woman suffering memory loss. This one is drug induced and it is the present that the woman can not remember. I think the way the brain works and fails is interesting, and of course I think love can overcome anything.

How do you balance writing with family life? And what kind of writing routine have you found yourself able to stick to?

I write the best when I am home alone, which does not happen often in my house. An ideal writing day is, as soon as everyone leaves for school and work I grab my laptop and a comfortable pillow and settle into the couch and write. I do not have Internet access on my laptop because I get easily distracted, especially when the words don't come out so easily. If I need to go online I have to go upstairs and use the family computer. I love the Internet, but there is so much to do and so many great people to chat with that it can suck up all of my writing time.

Oh my gosh, I know that to be the truth!

What’s the best writing advice you were ever given, and then, what advice would you yourself give to aspiring writers?

The best advice I have been given came from a college teacher. He had written a book and had submitted it to publishers and shared some of his rejections from them. He was so open and honest about them and said that they were a natural part of the process. I remember thinking, wow, I would never show anyone those. We are all programmed to think that rejections are somehow a personal reflection on ourselves instead of what they really are; just someone else's opinion. So I have kept every one of my own rejections and maybe one day I will share them with other aspiring writers. I would pass on the same advice, that they are a natural part of the publishing process. Don't let them stop you from writing, but also be willing to learn from them to make your writing better.

Very wise words. Kristin, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts with us. It's been a pleasure! And best of luck in all your endeavors.

For more details on Kristin or her novel, you can visit her site, Kristin Callender Books. Or, follow her Book Blog Tour.

The Truth Lies In the Dark is available in paperback at Amazon, or through her publisher, Blue Water Press.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Vlog Vollow-Up

Boy, do I have you guys fooled. I've got you thinking I'm a cool cucumber from Minnesota, with a great bedroom, a sweet voice and a penchant for video recordings. *evil laugh* My plan is coming to fruition.

Alright, alright.

Truth be told, I'm a nervous imposter (fake it until you make it, right?) from the Show-Me State. But while I do have a great bedroom, and my voice is quite girly and light, this was my first run-in with a video post. You should know I didn't get it in one take, or even two, and there are parts that make me cringe from the inside out.

You should also know how touched I am by your overwhelming praises. You humble me, and you make me want to never take myself too seriously. I shall not get a big head.

Thank you so much, you amazing people, you.

In other news, the Type-A Mom article I mentioned earlier in the week is up. You can view it here, if you like. [ETA: The linky is broken. If so inclined, visit Type-A Mom and follow links to Mom Stages -> Children -> Mommy's My Name, Don't Wear It Out.]

Make sure you come back tomorrow for an interview with debut author, Kristin Callender. She's got some great thoughts to share with you!

In the meantime, have a super day. And thanks again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

YOU tell ME

Well. I, uh, hmm...

I had hoped to post today with the link for something I submitted to Type-A Mom, but it hasn't been published yet. I'll have to get back to you on that.

And then there's the flash I submitted to Flash Me Magazine, and it's in the running out of almost 300 entries (!), but final voting won't be done 'til next month. (Check out details here - you can still submit! - on their blog.) So I don't have any concrete news on that.

Or! I could mention I'm still plugging away on the WIP, but my new widget thing attests to that. (I don't truly expect you to keep a close eye on it, by the way.)

So that leaves talk about... hmm...

I know! How 'bout you tell me? Is there a topic you'd like me to cover? A question you'd like me to answer?

The floor is yours.

Friday, March 13, 2009

[F]oto Friday

So after last Friday's post, which included a picture game, I had an idea for a new blog feature. And without further ado, allow me to introduce...

[F]oto Friday!

Each Friday (unless I forget, because it's been known to happen - and with the exception of next Friday, since I'll be sharing a special author interview), I'll post a photo pulled from somewhere in my computer's files. And then? I'll write about it. It could be a small blurb about the photo itself, or the person in it, but, more than likely, a short fiction piece based on what I see.

It'll be fun using my own pictures, plus the exercise will keep my thoughts fresh, and allow creative breaks from my WIP. I welcome you to join me!

And so without further a-- wait, I already said that...

I'm gonna do it, Mom. I am. I've got my bag packed and loaded in the cab. My map is right here, and my thermos is filled with the good stuff: chocolate milk. It'll keep me goin'.

I've been waitin' a long time for this, Mom, and I'm ready. I've been studying daddy's driving. I can turn the wheel like he does. I even know how to honk the horn, like you.


See? I think I may--

Wait, Mom, what's wrong? Why do you look so sad? Aw, I won't be gone long, I promise. I was thinking of going--


Mom, I'm a big girl, now. Remember, I just had my birthday? It's time. I'll be okay. Look, see? I'm buckling my belt now.


Oh, alright. Alright! You wanna go with me? I guess that's okay - I've got enough chocolate milk for two. And, um, my foot won't reach the gas.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Writerly Quotes

Worth sharing...

"Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon." E.L. Doctorow

“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.” Catherine Drinker Bowen

"There's a word for a writer who never gives up... published." Joe Konrath

"Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." Mark Twain

"Becoming the reader is the essence of becoming a writer." John O'Hara

"The task of a writer consists of being able to make something out of an idea." Thomas Mann

"If a book is not alive in the writer's mind, it is as dead as year-old horse-sh!t." Stephen King

"Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer." Barbara Kingsolver

"Write like you mean it." me


Got 1000 words out Monday and 1600 yesterday! Hoping to keep at it today, though some necessary errands may put a dip in my numbers. But it's okay - any numbers are good, right?

I've added a word counter widget to my side bar, so you guys can help hold me accountable. If you don't see it climbin', knock some sense into me! Deal?

How's your project coming?

And which quote from above did you like best?

Monday, March 9, 2009

I Appreciate You

All of you! Those who offer encouragement through comments, and those who lurk, supporting me by mere presence.

As my last post indicated, I was feeling some doubt about my writing. Your thoughts kicked me into gear, and I was able to take advantage of my family's quiet, restful time yesterday afternoon. I wrote 1500 words on the WIP!

I feel renewed, and assured of the fact that just writing is the most important thing. It occured to me that what I'm doing with this manuscript right now is laying the groundwork: It doesn't have to be perfect; I just have to get the basic gist out. Later I can go back and make it "flawless."

So today I set out with plans to open the WIP again - and avoid the internet as best I can. *tries not to hyperventilate*

Go me!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Size Matters

I like the immediacy, the instant gratification, a blog offers. I love the fact that I can sit a short spell, hash out my thoughts and share insights or my flash fiction (1000 words or less - see side bar for samples), and that within a few hours, people are reading my words. I'm getting feedback. It keeps my fire burnin', you know?

And then there's my novel writing. It's such a long process, one in which I continually get bogged down. I wonder if it's because, in part, no one is waiting nearby, ready for my next output. No one can offer a comment, to let me know how I'm doing, or if what I've written is worthwhile. The return is way off in the distance.

What's the best way to slog through? How do we forge ahead, knowing we're after something grand - even if we can't see it yet?


There's a fear I have with my novel-length projects. (Well, there's more than one, but this is what I'm focusing on today.) Am I capable of something so extensive? What if I can't I pull it all together, make the pieces fit smoothly, like I can with a polished blog post?

Is there a chance I succeed best with the shorter, smaller stuff, like blogs and flash, but not the heftier stuff? And how does one know?


And why do I put so much thought into this stuff, instead of just writing?

Curse my over-analytical tendencies.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Friday Fun with FringeGirl

FringeGirl has started a new thing for spring. It's Friday Spotlight, a post in which she interviews a fellow blogger. This week? It's me! I'm so excited to be a guest over on her blog today.

To see the interview, visit here. I promise you'll like her place, The Domestic Fringe. Tell her I sent ya!

But wait, don't go yet.

Barbara recently tagged me with one of the circulating picture games. I'm to find the sixth photo in the sixth folder on my computer, post and explain it. That folder is 2007 Fourth of July, and the picture is this:

Each year our lake's association hosts a big event for Independence Day: a special breakfast, craft bizaars, organized sports and boat parades, live music and, at dusk, an amazing professional fireworks show, displayed over the lake.

We make a day of it, inviting family and friends to come to our place and kick it. We splash in our cove [okay, I don't - it's dark, murky water, and I'm just certain something will nibble my toe any.minute.], ski and tube, grill and eat, eat and eat, play games and visit. When night falls, we take boats out to the main channel and sit under the fireworks. One boater always plays Lee Greenwood's Proud to Be an American, as loud as he can. It's an incredibly good time.

I like this photo for two reasons: It shows me how far we've come with our remodeling. This is the front of our house, which leads into the basement at this level, and is now covered by a stout timber-frame deck. We've since put barn-wood siding up, and have painted everything a great moss green. My, how it's changed. Oh! And the number two reason? My hubby's cute. He's there on the right, manning the grill.

And now, I'm to ask 6 others to do this same exercise. Won't you share your photos? Jessica, Josh, Joy, Jen, Janet, and Joanne. Notice a theme? Yep, it worked swimmingly. (Jewel, I think you did this one recently?)

Show us your shots! And don't forget to head over to FringeGirl's to see the interview. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tell Me Why

I've mentioned in past posts that I'm reading Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel. (Yeah, still. I'm slow with non-fiction.) In it he poses some great questions, and I'd like to share them with you. They're important for any fiction writer to consider.

Why tell your story?

What does your story offer? What would one gain by reading your book?

Conversely, what would happen if you didn't write the book?

Maass says the answers to these questions may go a long way in telling us if we're on the right path with our writing. And if you can't answer them at all... well then, you may need some clearer direction.

How would you answer these questions? Feel free to do so in the comments for this post, or just mull them over on your own.

Monday, March 2, 2009


As I helped my littlest brush tangles from her hair the other day, I thought about how much the process is like writing.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a confused mass of words, unable to work through them, thinking it impossible to make them smooth and beautiful.

But just as with my three-year-old's curls, the tangles need to be approached with patience, a little hard work and elbow grease.

With a little faith in knowing what could be, and our best in persistence, beauty awaits.