Friday, October 29, 2010

5 Words into Fiction (repost)

The idea of taking five words and creating a post with them [was] floating the internet.

My words, from Wendy Miller of All In a Day's Thought, were contentment, water, childhood, grasp, and art. I wanted to create fiction with them, and I hope you'll enjoy this vignette I wrote.

*** originally posted October of 2009 ***

People ask about my inspiration. Much like the attention of artist-hungry women, I’ve come to expect the question. What inspires you? And I have to steel myself before every show, bite the inside of my lip before I answer.

Of course, they pick up on the water theme woven throughout; it’s plain in every painting. But they assume it’s all borne of contentment, a man’s life spent on the lake. And they want to hear tell of creation spurred by deep, happy memory.

They’re right. That’s part of it, because I grew up at the water’s edge, and in its depths. It defined my childhood, my activity, the cool, smooth personality friends have long insisted is mine. It explains the fluid peace of my outer world. Fuels my art, too.

But what they don’t see, what I ensure is impossible for my audience to grasp, is the loss each piece represents. They’d never guess my work isn’t just from memory; it’s also in memoriam.

My brother’s initials are forever tucked away, whether carved into the fluff of a cloud, hidden beneath a boat stern, along the bushy tail of a treed squirrel. And in the twists and twirls of current, in the blue wisps of slight wave, I again and again feel the emotion of the day he died on the water we both loved.

Sometimes it’s too much. Other times, not enough. And I can’t stop, either way, because I’m driven. It is what inspires me.

It's what I can’t tell them, those people who ask.

**My latest humor post is up at An Army of Ermas.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Giveaway Results

Up for grabs was an assortment of journals and notebooks, and today I have results!
(I should quit touting Giveaway Guy's help, because this time and last I haven't used it.)
Introducing Giveaway Girl! She's smart, she's sassy, and she's seven (close to eight). She helped me draw before her peanut butter waffles this morning. And the winner is...
I kid. Now who's sassy?
The real winner is...
Congratulations, LA! (If you don't know LA, you can meet her at Unabridged and Annotated.) Please contact me with your mailing information, and I'll send your gift this week.
Thanks to all those who played! A post like this is fun once in a while, don't you think?
What's in store for you this last week of October?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nomlicious Recipe

I bought a People Country Special magazine off the newsstand this week, and the best (read: most delicious) part inside was a recipe shared by Trisha Yearwood. This treat is called Sweet and Saltines, and it is so good. So good. So good I have to say it twice (or, um, three times).

You need:
40 saltines * 1 cup (2 sticks) butter * 1 cup brown sugar *
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 425. Line a large jellyroll pan with aluminum foil and then the saltine crackers.
2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter and brown sugar together and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the crackers, covering them evenly. Put the jellyroll pan into the oven and watch closely. Bake for 4-5 minutes, or until just bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crackers. When the chips melt a bit, spread them over the crackers with a knife. Transfer the pan to the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until completely cold. The crackers will form one big sheet. Break up into pieces. Store in airtight container.
Trisha says: Substitute graham crackers for the saltines for a sweeter snack. Use 1 stick of butter instead of 2 for a crunchier snack.
Janna says: I love the little bit of salt with the whole lotta sweet. The butter/brown sugar mixture, once cooled, tastes just like chewy toffee (a personal favorite). I've been keeping the airtight container in the refrigerator so the treat stays cold. (And since my freezer isn't big enough to accomodate a jellyroll pan, the fridge was what I used to cool them originally, too.) I made this while my kids were at school, but plan to make it with their help the next time; they'll love how simple it is. Also, been thinking this would be a perfect dessert to take along to church potluck or a baby shower. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!
*picture is of my first effort (a reward, if you ask me)
**recipe excerpted from the book HOME COOKING WITH TRISHA YEARWOOD
Don't forget to see my last post to enter the giveaway for an assortment of notebooks and journals!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Gift

I'd like to give something away. No strings attached. Just for the sake of giving, because I feel full today, and what better way to celebrate life and happiness than to host a giveaway?

I'm thinking an assortment of notebooks and journals. I'd show a picture, but since I've just decided this on whim I haven't purchased them yet.

If you'd like a chance to win, leave a comment here on this post. And spread the word!

I'll take entries until 9 p.m. CST this Friday, October 22nd. Over the weekend I'll enlist Giveaway Guy's help, and we'll draw the lucky name from a hat. I'll announce the winner next Monday.

Sound good? Have at it. And good luck!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

In the Aftermath

How 'bout a meme that's making the rounds?

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have? Why?
The ability to communicate with angels. There are some important ones I'd want to keep up with.

2. Who is your style icon?
My friend Marie, in personal appearance and home decorating. She seems just ahead of the curve most of the time, and she's brilliant with both.

Writing-wise, Elizabeth Berg is the author whose (women's fiction) work I remember first identifying with so strongly (it was her novel THE PULL OF THE MOON).

3. What is your favorite quote?
Oh, this is tough, I've been collecting so many. I think I'll share this now:

When you understand yourself, you open yourself to a better understanding of others.

That's my own observation, and I think it's an important one. It is the crux of self-discovery.

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?
That someone has been thankful or proud I'm their friend. Can I share another thought here?

I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere. (MLL)

5. What playlist/CD is in your CD player/iPod right now?
I'm sure I'd find Adam Lambert's debut CD in my car's player. I love the song called Aftermath, which has a strong message about being true to yourself, being strong, even if it means going against the grain; that in the end you'll be alright despite having done so. The line I like most is this:

Tell a stranger they're beautiful, so all you feel is love, love...

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
I'm awake early for the sake of my kids, but am most productive mid-morning. Like to go to bed by 9 or so of an evening.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Dogs. It's always been dogs. Nothing against cats, though.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?
Back when I first started writing seriously, I wanted to have a name to associate my self-employed freelance work with. My mind kept playing aroung with the phrase murder, she wrote (from the Angela Lansbury show), and I thought, it needs to be something she wrote. But what's the something? Wait, that is it! Something She Wrote. And it carried over to my blog nicely, I thought.

How would you answer these questions?

If you missed the video I posted earlier this week, please check it out. It's so worth watching.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

RQ #14

These boys are amazing, and I am infinitely inspired by their purpose.

What do you want to do before you die?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What I Do Know

Even if I don't know where my path is taking me, how fast or how far, I know two things for sure:

I love connecting with and relating to people. That gives me satisfaction, makes me feel sincere and honest and open, and full of love and acceptance.

And my creative passion tends to weave around the discovery of self. Mine, yours, friends', my characters'. Like a niche, like it's my specialty.

I've decided that as long as I'm mindful of these two ideas--I think they're part of my calling--no matter what I'm doing, my journey will be perfect for me.

What about you? What do you know for sure?

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

The poor quality of this picture may leave something desired, but the book I'm holding, Jody Hedlund's THE PREACHER'S BRIDE, certainly doesn't.
THE PREACHER'S BRIDE, Hedlund's first release from Bethany House Publishers, is a beautiful book on the outside, and the content within its covers is a perfect match. Jody Hedlund gives us a heroine of strength alongside a hero of substance, wrapped together in a phenomenal story of intention and inspiration. I can think of no better package for this novel's message of standing up for what you believe.
From the back cover:
No matter the sacrifice, Elizabeth Whitbread would serve a wounded family.
No matter the danger, John Costin was determined to speak God's word.
Neither expected to fall in love.
As enemies threaten to silence Costin--and those close to him--will following their hearts cost John and Elizabeth everything?
THE PREACHER'S BRIDE is historical, taking place in the mid-1600's England. It's a romance, bringing together two unlikely characters with--as all great romances have--sizable obstacles to overcome. And, full of faith and strength, it's a moving story for its readers.
THE PREACHER'S BRIDE, an incredible debut by this writer, is brilliant and it's perfect. Don't miss your chance to read it.
Visit author Jody Hedlund today, and go to Jill Kemerer's site for a book party, too!

Monday, October 4, 2010

I Confess

My goals are clear. I want agent representation. And I want to be published. But those two goals, they're not so easy.

I've been writing with books in mind for something like five years. Since the beginning I've been honest with those around me about the feat that it is. It takes time, time, time, to write and rewrite and ready a book. And then it takes time to prepare for agents, and seek them, and get the right kind of attention from them. And then to compete against other writers, and carve your way. And then do it all over again with editors and publishing houses. So many steps, and not a one is flawless.

It takes practice, lots and lots of practice, and hard work and growth.

I've wanted my friends and family to understand all this--it's like I'm saying, See what I have to go through?--so that they're prepared. So that when months and years have passed and I'm no closer to novel publication they know why. So they don't see it as failure, that I simply wasn't good enough, or that I wasn't doing my best and trying my hardest, but so they knew it came down to more than my own accountability. Because it was merely the way of the literary world.

Somewhere along the way, I've stopped being honest with myself.

Somewhere in my head I've shoved that reality and accountability away. Inside I've thought haughtier thoughts. Secretly I've somehow thought it wouldn't be that long and arduous for me, that my path wouldn't follow the rut of so many others. I'm ashamed to admit it, but here. I'm admitting it.

Even at this early stage of my journey--so so early, friends--I've already begun looking past the practice, the learning, the writing, and I've projected myself to the next level, and I think it's been without fully realizing the work that's due. I might have a chip on my shoulder. Like somehow my writing is already where it needs to be. Like, somehow, I've just happened upon a marketable storyline, or that I've captured an awesomely awesome character, or a print-worthy written voice. Like maybe I could skip through all that work I've told everyone else to expect, because my writing's that good.

I've lost sight of so much. (I think it's why I connected to what India Arie had to say.)

My efforts first need to be about the writing. Because I love words and the things they mean and the messages they relay. I love the stories and themes and life that can be drawn from them, and because I can write. And shouldn't that be enough?

I've made myself believe it's about the end of the race, and claiming the gold medal. Saying I won, instead of focusing on the conditioning, and endurance.

How about I just write? And then I decide how good it is, and whether I can make plans to finish the race. Instead of at the outset saying, It's lap 1, Janna. See that finish line way out there? It's yours.

I made a brave claim in September that I'd have the current draft of my novel-in-progress finished by November, so I could send it to beta readers and research agents. I believed it for a time, that I could make it happen, but it won't happen.

Now I see I'm not ready. I love my main character in this novel, and I love the story, but I've got to set it aside. I need a healthy distance, and I'm starting to see that maybe I've gotten out of it all I was meant to. It was more practice, you see? I really found my style with this book. I learned a lot more about the craft through it, and because of the other things I wrote and read simultaneously.

But I had myself convinced of perfection, or near-perfection, anyway, and I shouldn't have. I'm not ready.

I still believe in myself. My goals are still the same, and I will keep at this until I make it happen, because I know it is in me. It's just I have to peel back those assumptions I've allowed myself, and see the real work beneath. With humility, and a big pile of elbow grease. And really good running shoes.

Maybe this explains the questions and struggles some of you have seen in me of late. It's starting to make sense.

I've a long journey ahead. That's my confession.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Debuts and a Query Call!

Today is the official release of my friend (and birthday buddy!) Jody Hedlund's debut novel, THE PREACHER'S BRIDE. It's historical Christian romance (Bethany House), and it's wonderfully written with a strong and relevant message--STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE.
This is the first of Jody's three-book contract from Bethany House, and it's only the beginning of her success!
Go to any major bookstore (or visit Amazon) and buy your copy today. I know I'll treasure mine.
Also released today is Christine Fonseca's EMOTIONAL INTENSITY IN GIFTED STUDENTS. I'll be buying it not just as a writer friend and supporter, but as the mom of a gifted child. What an important resource this will be! Christine is an expert, a warm soul, and a champion of gifted kids everywhere.
For anyone who bristles at the term "gifted"--because aren't all children special?--know that I do, too. I use it sparingly, especially with my daughter, but it's the term recognized by educators and organizations in our country. It's a term used for children who may excel wonderfully in some areas but not all, and whose minds need creative and alternative methods of learning. Emotional Intensity is a spot-on topic to cover, and I was thrilled when news of Christine's book came out, because it's something my husband and I deal with in our daughter. (And it's something my husband has to deal with in me. Poor guy...)
So there you have it, both a fiction and non-fiction title to seek. Aren't they both just beautiful covers? Go! Buy! Read!
Also, regarding that QUERY CALL I mentioned... I've a friend who is soon launching the first issue of his brand new high school sports-themed magazine, and is looking for future content! He'd like articles with general content, ie. Is Cheerleading a Sport?; Drugs in High School Sports; Injuries in Our Players, etc... If you're interested in writing for this upstart, contact me for more info, and I can put you in touch with the publisher. Send an inquiry e-mail to jannawritesATyahooDOTcom. Thanks!
And last, but maybe not least, I've a book review and author feature up at ROSE & THORN LITERARY JOURNAL blog. Check it out!
And have a fantastic weekend.