Friday, February 26, 2010

Sick Today

I had a good idea for today's post, but have been unable to prepare it. I've been ucky sick, and think it may be strep throat. My husband is taking me to the doctor today (even though he likes the fact I can't talk...), and I hope for medicine and a weekend of recuperation.

Any warm thoughts or prayers you could send my way would certainly be appreciated.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


See that word, in the picture's middle? I have it on display, just skinny wooden letters, in my living room.


The reason is simple.

Those four letters stir thought and intention. They make me consider what I want to have accomplished in FIVE. In the next

FIVE MINUTES? To have read to my daughter(s), or cheered a friend, paid a bill, or nourished myself with a favorite snack. You get the idea.

FIVE MONTHS? I want to have grown in my writing, to be querying agents with one novel, writing on the next. No wasted time.

FIVE YEARS? Movement down the path of novel publication. I want to see it happening. No wasted time, no wasted effort, no wasted talent.

Tell me... If you sat in my brown wingback, saw that word, what would you think?

What are your FIVE?

Monday, February 22, 2010

winning caption AND blogfest fiction!

What's a girl to do when she's committed to one blog post and promised another? For the same day?
If she's on the ball, she combines the two...
To participate in Rafael's scheduled 1K Word Blogfest, in which you write a 1000-word (or less) piece about a picture you've taken, and to follow up with my caption this contest ('cause see, I forgot about the first when I planned the second)... I've smooshed the two together.
Once again, here's the photo I offered up for the contest, and I'm using it for the blogfest, too. It works because, since I haven't got a scanner, I'd taken a digital picture of this old picture for use on my computer. Convenient, eh? (Even if it means I cheated just a little smidge.)
Anyway, here's what became of my 1000ish (fiction) blogfest words...
She looked like any three-year-old, pint-sized, cherubic, that day she came to the school for her picture. Except where the other kids bounced and ran about the lobby, eager for their turn in front of my camera, she was slow-moving with a down-turned face.
She gripped the hand of the man she’d entered with, as though afraid to let go. And yet she strained against their connection, distancing herself as much as she could without breaking the hold.
They moved to the row of chairs along the wall; the girl rooting just at his knee as he sat.
The man had kind eyes, and their attention didn’t avert from the child but for seconds at a time. Each minute or so he’d whisper something, trying a smile for the little darling. Still, there was a rigidity to his back, I noticed, an unease in the lay of his brow, and I guessed they were not father and daughter. The comfort that comes from such a bond was missing.
He was an uncle, I supposed. Or the babysitter, though it was none of my business. Just curiosity. And I was just the photographer.
I imagined he’d had to lay down a rule before entering the building, and that was reason for her mood. Or that she’d left behind her cherished doll, the one she went nowhere without. I had not a clue, of course. I just liked to conjure stories, almost as an extension of my craft. As a way to take my portrait photography deeper, or maybe to get more out of it.
Soon enough it was the girl’s turn. With my assistant’s help she was lifted, placed, posed, before her sad gaze dropped to her lap, lip close behind.
“Hi.” I tiptoed to her side. “I’m Jane. This is my camera.” I held it low, near her line of sight. “Can I take your picture with it?”
She said nothing, twitched not a muscle.
“Let me try standing back here,” I moved to position, “and we’ll practice. How would that be?”
The man stood just feet away, a shrug at his shoulder.
“What’s your name, sweetheart?”
When still she said nothing, the man spoke for her. “Her name’s Valerie.”
I offered him a sympathetic smile. “Rough day?”
“She’s a little disappointed.”
“Mommy sick,” Valerie moaned.
“The flu,” he clarified.
“She ‘pose bring me.” That lip sunk lower yet.
“Aw, sweetie.”
“I’ll take you home in just a few minutes, Val,” the man said. “Can you smile for the nice lady first? Say cheese.”
I lifted the camera to its tripod, began to frame the shot. “Are you family?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“Ah.” My finger hovered, ready, over the camera’s release.
“Mommy ‘pose bring me.”
“And she called me last minute,” Neighbor Man said. "Valerie wasn't happy with the change of plans."
“Oh, I can tell, poor thing," I said. "Valerie, sweetie, I have an idea. Can you be my big helper? Let’s take a picture for Mommy. Something to help her feel better, okay? Let’s make it a picture she’ll remember forever…”
And now for the winner of my caption this contest! Two, actually. We had a tie!
For the picture of Little Janna, the caption winners are:
Stina Rose, from With Pen In Hand, for "I hate CHEESE!!!"
and Travis Erwin, from One Word, One Rung, One Day, for "What do you mean publishing a novel is hard?"
Congrats, you two! Contact me with your book choice (it's fine if you choose the same title, I have more than one of each) and mailing addresses. I'll get them out this week.
And thanks, everyone, for playing along. All the efforts were awesome!
**Note: What I know as truth about this photo of me and its existence is that our neighbor (who was really a woman) had to take me to get it, since my mom had to stay home with my sister, who was sick. The rest was created for benefit of the story.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Caption This

Such a sad, sad day. Look at that frown.
This was me, nearly 30 years ago. Look at that hair.
There's a simple story, but I want to know what your first thoughts are. How would you caption this photo?
Let's make it a contest!
Leave your caption (one per person) as a comment. Entries will be taken until 8pm CST on Sunday, February 21. Best caption will be announced Monday, February 22. Winner will receive their choice of one of the following from me, all of which are new and in hard cover:
Two Little Girls in Blue by Mary Higgins Clark
Hey, Good Looking by Fern Michaels
The Hunt Club by John Lescroart
Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah
All I ask is that we keep it clean, this is Little Me we're talking about. Okay, Big Me likes to keep it clean, too.
Now get creative and caption this!
Photo copyright: ME. May not be used elsewhere without permission.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


You can run from your dreams in fear, or run to your dreams with faith.
author unknown
Can you offer an inspirational nugget today?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Stories to Tell

There was no place I'd have rather been, sitting at the dining table with two old gents, one seventy, the other sixty-five. I was certain of that going in.

Conversation started simple enough: jokes from the one who showed up to our beans and cornbread with his overalls on; the other explaining with vim the difference between a bowl of beans and soup.

But it really became so, that I'd not trade my spot to anybody, when talk took a turn. When their memories sparked at one word, maybe two, and the past was revived. Right there in front of me, the stories lived.

They were stories from forty and fifty years ago, somehow relevant -- if only because recollection stirred -- as we sat together. I heard about days when these men were just past boyhood, working like horses, starting families. When their lives were touched by good people or bad crime. When they had fears and worries, or knew they would be okay. I heard about the days they lived, before life now.

As my belly filled with the old-timey meal, my ears listened. My heart engaged. And my writer's soul, too, was fed. I took in times gone by, the human condition as it spanned decades, insignificant little details that work together to create important history.

They are stories that will live on, because I've tucked them away. Because I'm a writer, yes, and some of this stuff may end up in my fiction someday. They are stories to tell. But, too, I've tucked them away because they came from my family, and they are my history.

They've become, in a way, my stories to tell.

This post is dedicated to my dad and uncle Bob, these two old gents. Life-livers and storytellers, they are. Love you both.
And thanks, too, to my mom for the old-timey meal...

Friday, February 12, 2010

Good Stuff for a Friday

There were great things to be found at Rafael's place this week. First, this picture. A Scrabble-playing dog? Love it.

Then was the idea for an exercise, in which you attribute one word to the characters (up to five) from your current project. One word? Let's see...

Besty: living
Charles: arrogant
Tom: out
Timothy: unfocused
Meggie: fragile
Think about your characters. Could you describe their essence with just one word? Just doesn't seem enough when it allows for no background detail.
And then, Rafael announced his 1k Word Blogfest. Take a picture, write 1000 words about it, and post it all. If you're interested in participating, visit his blog Neither Here Nor There and let him know. Posts will coordinate on Monday, February 22nd. Sounds like fun, don't you think?
Now how 'bout those character words? Leave yours in comments.
And have a great weekend!
Thanks to Rafael for providing my content today. ;)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This Weather

Snow, so much snow. And cold, too much cold.

I'm dreaming of spring. No, I'm begging spring to come rescue me, from this same ol' same ol', these winter doldrums I can't shake.

But what does that mean, spring?

For me, it's green grass on our sloping yard, budding flowers in the galvanized buckets out front. Shouts from my girls as they play on the jungle gym in our yard, look for the bunny who used to live under the wood pile. Hiking up the back field to the water tower, dog along for the journey, or down the hill to the cove, where fish swim and slide, give us a show. Capri pants, my favorite denim ones. Cute canvas slip-ons or, if really warmish, flip flops, my favorite. The sun through the window panes, open to the air, for some fresh in the house. A picnic on our deck, maybe sandwiches and "Daddy chips," and then watching our girls run with the dog. Settling in at evening, lungs alive, body warmed, day productive.

It's energy, warmth, life, renewal.

What's spring for you?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Feeling a Connection

I read a novel last week. Devoured it, actually. Turned out to be one of those gripping pull-you-in stories. With an endearing I-could-know-her main character.

It was The Pilot's Wife by Anita Shreve. Have you read it?

I hadn't read anything of hers before, though she'd been on my list. She's one of those names, you know? When you're a writer trying to be a novelist, you have to be aware of those names. Especially in your genre. And when I saw this title at an antiques store, stuffed among paperbacks marked for a dollar, I snatched it up like a good girl.

One of the best bucks I ever spent, the book was so great.

And can I tell you something? I identified with Shreve's writing, with her style and flow. They clicked for me. Like they were, well, similar to mine. Comparable. Not as a wannabe to an acclaimed author, not anything so presumptuous. But from one creative to another, in expression, in method. Do you know what I mean?

It was exciting, charging, inspiring. And neat, to find one whose writing feels familiar to what mine is becoming.

Have you ever felt that way?

Friday, February 5, 2010


I'm inspired by:

*a song
*motion pictures
*fiction, good or not
*others' success, ideas
*revulsion, because still, there is beauty
*a man's love
*the heart of a child
*my own frustration
*support from others
*merely a word
*visual prompts
*color, or lack thereof
*warmth, or none
*a dream

and so much more.

By what are you inspired?

Painting by Donna Downey, picture of which was found on her blog. I'm inspired by her, too.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


I finished the rough draft of my second novel!

It took almost 8 months to write. And there is still yet much more work to do. Edits. Rewrites. Fleshing out. Filling plot holes. Tying it all together.

It's almost overwhelming.

But not quite. Because the thing is written, and now I get to move on to the rest. Yay!

Celebrate with me?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Keys to Wear

Say you've got an antique typewriter. It's not worth much, despite its age. But the keys, they're something else. They show wear from years of use. You imagine the papers, documents, stories written for decades. It's inspirational. And you can think of nothing cooler than to... wear them on your wrist?

I would. I keep my eyes open not only for typewriters to fill my collection, but for one from which the buttons could be used to make a bracelet. I might have mine say believe or write often, something visual that would encourage me to press on.
What would you have yours say?
Photo from Google images.