Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Paper

We've had more snow in our area, just over the last week, than I can ever remember having in one stretch over the years. It's a lot of snow, a lot of cold, the need to think about when you're going where, and what you have on hand in case you can't go.

I just got off the phone with my mom, and we talked about those things. About how, because we're to get yet more of this white stuff, a trip to the store for supplies and such is gonna be necessary.

Toilet paper. I need toilet paper and I have to write that down, I said, because I don't want to be snowed in without any.

Which led to a discussion about what if you did run out of it while in a snowstorm, what then? What if you have no Puffs, no Kleenex (or have worked your way through them)?

Paper towels? Too scratchy. Maxi pads? Perhaps, but try talking my husband into that.

Hmm... Fabric would work, though. Say you have flannel sheets tucked away, haven't been used in years. Grab some scissors, cut into squares. And there you have it.

And there it was, the swift realization that one of my characters (in a current WIP) will go through this predicament. She'll be home, alone, snowed in. And she has nothing. But ta-da! A stray thought that, yeah, just might work, will work. It'll be a small scene, and I can already see it building. It'll fit with things, with the story, so well.

My mom, as I blabbered all this in her ear, was quiet. Like why-would-you-put-that-in-your-book quiet.

Stuff like that just doesn't convey well when you share it with others. I'm sure she didn't know how to respond. Maybe she couldn't imagine it.

But I can. Oh, I can. And it'll be great on paper.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Perfect Presents

Did you ever open a gift that, if it could vocalize, would scream your name?

Sometimes there's something you didn't even know existed, you'd never seen anything like, but the second you open it, you know it was meant to be yours.

My sister gave me this box for Christmas. It's heavy with a beautiful bronze finish, felted interior (ideal for stashing, oh, I don't know... chocolate?), a pile of pens on top, and is engraved with the quote THE WRITER MUST WRITE WHAT HE HAS TO SAY, NOT SPEAK IT. - Ernest Hemingway

I'm still speechless. And it looks perfect at its place of honor in my writing space.

What did you receive that couldn't have been more perfect?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Missing Person, A Writer

I already posted today, I know that. Right now I don't even care if you don't read my Christmas story. Read this. Read it first. I've just learned something that devastates me, and I have to share with anyone willing to read about it.

Kathleen McBroom, Kathleen McBroom, Kathleen McBroom. I will continue saying, thinking her name.

She is a mother, an Air Force veteran and a writer. She disappeared in October 2008, just vanished. While her husband and children wait, hope, question, pray, imagine, her case - while still considered "open" - has gotten little follow-up. There's been minimal public/media attention, even at the beginning, and none of the national missing persons websites list her case.

For more informational/background detail, visit Slam Dunk (thank you, new friend). He's a former policeman with special interest in such cases, and he's put a lot of time and effort into Kathleen's story.

Friends, any one of us from the writing community could have crossed paths with Kathleen. She had a blog, dabbled in fiction, wrote poetry. She NaNo'd. Just like you, just like me. I am mourning a friend I never had, but easily could have.
Her posts can been seen here. I ask you to visit the site, to pull the warmth and love from her words. Honor her. And spread the word. What good are we for, dear writers, if we can't spread this word and continue the search for Kathleen and pray for her family?
The last post (first visible when you go to her site) was published by her daughter, just days after she went missing. In the months past, 288 comments have been left, with well wishes and prayer.
This, all of this, I had to share. I will be thinking of Kathleen. I will be praying for her and her family. Won't you join me?
Photo one of her own, from her blog.

Christmas Spirit (repost)

This is fiction, written and originally posted this time last December. I've tweaked it in places, where my year-older written voice wouldn't leave it be. And who can resist tweaking, anyway?

Either way, I'd like to share its message again.


Cranky, that was me. Had been all day, to be honest. Because work hadn't gone well, and I learned my boyfriend would be out of town for Christmas, and I spilled rootbeer on my winter-white sweater at dinner.

Still felt soggy with stick. And I despised looking unkempt. Which was the exact effect of the muddish splatter high across my left boob, given the once-over the ticket counter lady gave me. Made me feel this big.

I crossed my arms, hiding the stain and all it made me feel, as I sat in the auditorium of my niece's high school. Merry people talked in excited circles around me, trapping me in my stiff third-row seat. Who makes that kind of seating anyway? It's so uncomf--

I felt a nubby jab on the tender underneath of my arm.

"Meggie, what's the deal?" my sister asked.

I shrugged but kept my mouth closed, knowing better than to unleash sour complaint.

"Well, perk up! It's a Christmas concert."

Right, I grumbled to my lap. Don't get me wrong - I loved vocal concerts, hearing holiday music, soaking up youthful talent. It was just really poor timing for me. I wasn't open to Christmas spirit.

My heart was sore at Jacob, who'd changed plans on me. Despite the fact we'd never been apart on Christmas Eve, not in eight years, and I'd been hoping for a special night, and a special proposal. Instead, he and his siblings were all going home, he'd said, without extending an invitation to me. I had--

The house lights went all but black, signaling the sea of audience to fall quiet.

"Mama!" A small boy's voice broke through the still. "There's somebody back there!"

Heads turned, short of unison, to the rear of the auditorium. Choir members in black robes slipped through the doors, and goosebumps poked my arms when I saw each held a candlestick. The small dancing flames lit their carriers' faces and they sang, the sound of their a capella voices rising with the room's acoustics. As they made for the stage, the pace of their single-file lines matched the unrushed tempo of the first song.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant...

I saw my niece, Jem, whose strong alto voice I heard melt into the hymn's harmony. The slightest of smiles appeared in the flicker from her candle, hazy, and my heart warmed.

O come ye, o come ye to Bethlehem...

The rich voices - amazing, they were coming from teenagers - hugged me, and I pulled comfort from the lyrics.

Come and behold Him...

And suddenly my brain, that little part responsible for my mood, flipped as a switch. Love blew past the grumps, settled in. Contentment took its place. And gone were my cranky thoughts. They were replaced by... by... the Spirit.

Who cared about a rootbeer stain, really? And work was work; I'd no reason to dwell on one day. Jacob? I'd tell him I wanted to go on the trip with him. If he had some problem with that, well, then I'd stay with my own family, and reassess my relationship with him later.

Born the King of angels...

It was Christmas, after all. I should have been happy, focused on my God-given blessings.

I reached for my sister's hand and gave it a squeeze. She smiled and brushed a tear from her eye.

"I feel it, too," I whispered. "I feel it, too."


The 'nets have already slowed, and I think I'll be adding to its silence for a bit. Will catch up with you in a week or so.

May each of you be blessed. And Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Coming Clean about Carols

I'm going to admit it. Right here, online.

*deep breath*

I get tired of Christmas songs.

No, no, don't get me wrong. I fully love and understand their intent. The hymns tell the most important of stories; they remind us of the season's purpose. And the fun ones just liven things up. But every year (earlier and earlier, it seems) they begin playing on the radio, and it's like I've heard Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree each day of my longish life. And too, hasn't every recording artist claimed their own version of a classic carol or two? Why would Mariah Carey and Josh Grobin and Bon Jovi and Dolly Parton all have to rehash the same lyrics? It can be too much.

Still, don't think me Scrooge. Christmas is important to me, and so is its song. There are some, like O' Come All Ye Faithful or O' Holy Night, that pump appreciation and awe through my veins, no matter the arrangement, no matter the delivery. And every once in a while, somebody comes out with something new, and I sit up, take notice.

Like this one.

This one gives me goosebumps. It starts straightforward, traditional. But then something happens, and you realize it's different, kinda cool. And when it's come to an end, you want to listen again. And again. Again.

Straight No Chaser, 12 Days of Christmas

[My efforts--multiple times on different computers--to imbed the video have been unsuccessful. Something, somewhere, has gone wonky. Please follow the link to experience the song. There's some talking at the beginning, but the goods will come, so do stick with it.]

So, what did you think?

How do you feel about radio play this time of year?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nail Your Novel

Author and blogger Roz Morris, she of Dirty White Candy, has a lot of experience. Not only have several (almost a dozen) of her novels been published, she freelances for a huge critiquing firm in London, too.

Me thinks she knows what she's doing. And now she wants to help others do it!

Roz graciously says:

I'm giving away FREE copies of the pdf of my book, Nail Your Novel.

Many writers fail to complete their novels because they don't know how to organise the work or solve the inevitable problems they encounter. Nail Your Novel tackles this problem head on. It's a complete methodology for writing a novel. It's aimed at any writer, experienced or not, who would like a coach to take them from the blank page to finished manuscript with submission documents. At around 100 pages, it's about half the length of other writing books - for effective writing advice without the waffle. Readers are telling me it's helped them battle through with manuscripts they thought they would have to abandon.

In theory the process should be simplicity itself - no registration, no need to give any email addresses or personal details - just download, save the file and start to enjoy! (If you try it and find otherwise, do tell me - and that includes the enjoyment part too...)

Sounds great, right?

To take Roz up on this fantastic offer, or learn more about her, visit her Nail Your Novel site. (Peruse her sidebar to find out why Dirty White Candy.) You can also see warm and informative advice from Roz, here, where she talks about writing, revising, and going on submission.

Thank you, Roz! You're great.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lobster Talk

I've had (and love, love) crab. I know its taste, what it takes to get at the meat. No so, lobster, which I've had only a taste of (and didn't care for). Which poses a pickle, because the main character in my WIP has just ordered one for dinner. This scene ties to a lot for my protagonist, and I need to build it right.

Say you've ordered a whole lobster.

How does it come from the kitchen? What's it look like? How in the world do you crack into it? What are those little crab-crackin' tools even called, and do you use the same thing for lobster? How's it taste? Does it come with butter? Anything else? Do you risk shots to the eye, as with crab? Doesn't a cheddar garlic biscuit sound delish right about now?

Tell me what you know.

Friday, December 11, 2009


"Do you want another waffle?" I'll say, as I hold a pancake inches from my daughter's plate.

"Honey, I need," I've said to my husband, pointing across the room, "that doohicky."

Sometimes I find it near impossible to verbally express myself.
Picture from stoshmaster at photobucket.

But give me twenty minutes with a keyboard, and I'll tell you exactly what I mean.

Know what I mean?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Housekeeping (and a House)

For all those who are followers but don't comment... I'd love to visit your blogs! It's not always easy (or possible) to access your blog by linking through my followers window. Would you mind leaving a comment, so I could find you that way? I'd love to return the favor of a looksee, and say hey in your neck of the woods.

And speaking of...

Yesterday I got a beautiful picture in my neck of the woods: My house with freshly fallen snow, framed by trees. I'd like to share it.

But first, some of you remember we've been doing a full remodel (in and out), so let's look at the before...

And now, three years later...

I'm thinking maybe these pictures can serve as a reminder about writing. First drafts? They can be ugly. Like aged and unkempt houses, they often need a lot of work. But if the structure is good? If we focus on potential, and put forth what it takes, we can absolutely get beautiful results.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Old is Your Soul?

I'm 31. I don't mind admitting it. It's young in the grand total of ages.

Sometimes I wonder if my soul isn't older.

I can be old-fashioned in my thinking. Sometimes I feel out-of-touch with my own generation and its wants, its pastimes. I might feel more comfortable among women twice my age, in conversation and connection, rather than those of my own generation. I've gone on and on here before about antiques--anything of age, really--and my love for them.

The main character in my WIP is 82; her kids, all in their fifties, are satisfying to write about. And I'm reading The Bondwoman's Narrative, which was written by a slavewoman sometime around the mid-eighteen hundreds. Her speech and words, the flow of her thinking, draw me in as if we communicated with such prose every day.

I once took a Facebook quiz about my soul's age, and it suggested 42. Part of me thinks even that's too young.

Not that I'd ever know for sure, because I'm 31. Ask my mom.

Do you ever wonder about your soul's age?

Friday, December 4, 2009

About Those Comments

I love your comments. They are as much a part of my day as my morning chai, the need for a shower, kisses from my family. Your shared thoughts provide me with continual moments of respite and reward.

It's always been important to me that I reply to you individually, within each post's comment section, and I've liked bringing the comment circle to completion. It's been my small attempt at hospitality, letting you know I appreciate the time you took to say something about my post.

The time has come for me to rethink this. I didn't want it to, but it has.

Between family, household, holidays, writing a novel, visiting others' blogs and all those other things that make up a life, responding in such a way isn't always going to be possible anymore. And I hate that, because it feels kind of like I'm taking away my part of a life line so crucial to, well, my life.

Sappy, ain't? (That's me, in a nutshell.)

I know you haven't expected it, anyway. I know this will be no skin off your noses, and I'm not trying to place some psuedo self-important purpose on this thing I've always done. I just wanted to be clear with you all that I will continue to relish your words. That your comments will feed me, they will bring warm and lifted moments to my days, even if I don't call attention to it by replying.

Thank you for being my readers. And please, do keep those comments coming. I appreciate them, and I appreciate you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Something Like a Legacy

Once upon a time this sweet Barbie ride was mine. I enjoyed it very much while it drove my imagination; while I dreamed life-like scenes and situations for my dolls, breathed them into some sort of reality.
Now I have girls of my own who play with Barbies, and the Corvette has been rediscovered. Sure, it's a little dated. Styles have changed. Our idea of entertainment is not as it once was. But there's still enjoyment to be found with this toy. Its worth shines as it carries the next generation of dolls, and my daughters' own imaginations.

Photo from Idhanka

I hope the same for my writing. That while my words will over time will be forgotten, put away to storage as many toys are, they'll someday be rediscovered. My girls will come of an age when they can find new purpose, enjoyment, appreciation in the things their mother has written.

Styles will have changed. The life I've breathed into my characters, and what I've created as some sort of reality, may not shine as brightly in the years to come. Not as it did for me.

But if my writing is worthy, it will carry the next generation. Carry my daughters' imaginations, much like it has mine.

What does legacy mean to you?