Friday, November 27, 2015

Shhh! Writers Writing!

The Bucket List
From the bucket list compiled several years ago, one more item has been checked off:  I have spent a week at The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Located more or less at the end of Spring Street between historic downtown and “the most haunted hotel in America”, the Crescent, WCDH is a writer’s dream come true.
When I applied in May, I didn’t have much hope of being accepted, but then the email arrived saying I would be welcomed in November! It’s been at the forefront of my thoughts and plans ever since.
The Reality
Arriving on a rainy Monday after driving through virtual pea soup most of the way up Highway 21, I unloaded everything but the kitchen sink at “505”, a Usonian, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired house. The director explained how, when they’d acquired the house, they’d literally had to pull it up the hill with ropes before renovation could begin!

As it turns out, I had the entire house to myself, though there are six suites available. Two other writers happened to be  in residence for short periods of time, but they were billeted over the office and dining area in the main building. My personal space included a bedroom and bath and separate writing area. In good weather I might have made use of the tiny patio overlooking the park.
Once unpacked and settled, work began on Blest Be the Tie, the novel I’ve only  been working on for some 40 years. Why it hasn’t been finished is another story, but in the following week I edited/rewrote/added new words to the tune of over 45K. 

The silence, lack of distractions such as household chores, and only my classical music CDs for company inspired me to focus on the task at hand in a way it’s impossible to do in my study at home. Of course, the internet interfered occasionally, but I also needed it for some research.

The Care and Feeding of Writers
At 6 PM every evening, I trekked to the main building where another artist had been busy--Jana, the chef, whose cuisine rivaled anything I might have found in any of the restaurants in town! (Not to mention it was fresh food and very healthy!) I especially enjoyed going early and visiting with her in the kitchen while I watched her work her magic. (On the evaluation sheet, I politely asked if I could take her home with me, but I already knew the answer!)
After helping put away left-overs and clean up, I returned to my room for more writing and often just to shower and climb into the comfortable bed with my Kindle.
An Experience No Writer Should Miss
When I left, I learned I could return as an “alumnus” without the formal application process--definitely something to look forward to! Visit the website to learn more and take a chance on applying for an experience no writer should miss.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Ten Commandments of Writing

Disclaimer:  No Sacrilege Intended

1.  Thou shalt carry a notebook in thy pocket or purse at all times. Thee never knoweth when a good idea for a story will presenteth itself.

2.  Thou shalt doest careful research when writing about a subject thee knowest naught about or a time period in which thee hast not actually lived. (Thee canst not fool the savvy reader!)

3.  Thou shalt write by the seat of thy pants if it workest well for thee--or planneth much or little—thee knowest how thee writest best.

4.  Thou shalt not utter vain and foolish words like, "My muse hath deserted me" or "Yay, I am not inspired" or "Writers Block hath crept in to torment me." (Getteth over thyself.)

5.  Thou shalt not write that with which thee is not comfortable but rather be true to thyself.

6.  Thou shalt not fear hitting the delete key on that which is not working.

7.  Thou shalt understand that a first draft stinketh.

8.  Thou shalt not search vainly for 'voice'. Dost thou not speak in thine own voice? Dost it not follow thee shalt write in the same?

9.  Thou shalt takest all writing advice with a grain of salt--preferably two grains.

10. Thou shalt understand rules are madest to be broken, not to stuntest a writer's progress.

Keepeth these commandments and findest joy in all thy writing undertakings!

(I've seen many versions of the Ten Commandments of Writing, but these are original with me.)

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Haunted by His Past

Profile:  Tom Morgan

Vital Statistics:
·       Born April 5, 1855
·       Two brothers (Jem and Cart), one sister (Laura), three half-sisters (Virginia, Pet, Polly)
·       Attended school  until age 15
·       Has “understanding” with neighbor Mariah Whitby
Person He Admires Most
·       His father, Thomas Harkness Morgan, who died when Tom was ten
Greatest Challenge:
·       To get his mother, two brothers, and twin half-sisters away from the cruelty of their stepfather/father
Price of Success:
·       Reliving those Four Summer Days every year for the rest of his life
What He Loves
·       Family
·       Mariah
·       The old family home place on Morgan’s Mountain

Releasing November 30
What He Hates
·       Stepfather Micah Baker
·       Cruelty and injustice
His Greatest Regret
·       Not realizing what was happening to his sister Laura
Greatest Strengths
·       Determination fueled by love
·       Gentleness
·       Ability to recognize the worth of his brother Cart who is mentally challenged
Greatest Weakness
·       Inability to forgive himself
What He Wants Most
·       To keep his family safe
·       To marry Mariah and establish his own family
Greatest Encouragers
·       His half-sister Ginny (his father’s daughter) married to his mother’s younger brother Randolph
·       Ex-slaves Hoag and Sam who return to the home place when the situation changes
Greatest Success
·       The succeeding generations of the Morgan family

Friday, November 20, 2015

Conversation with the Small Person Regarding Reading Matter

  I’ve said before I don’t want to write anything I wouldn’t want my grandchildren to read. A few weeks ago, “out of the mouths of babes” it became crystal clear why I shouldn’t read what I didn’t want them to read either.
  I belong to a book club which reads mysteries. Most I’ve liked. Others, I’ve plowed through. The discussions are always interesting and instructive, whether the book has rattled my cage or not. A few weeks ago, we were assigned a book by a very popular contemporary author. I’d never read any of his books, but I was game to try.
  So, when I went to stay with the Small Person and the Wee Bear Cub one Saturday night, I took the book along to read while they were otherwise occupied and later asleep. The WBC had succumbed to a gentle back rub and several songs, and the SP was snuggled in bed indulging herself in her own reading matter. I hadn’t read much of my book before I realize it was, quite plainly speaking, filthy.
  Enter the SP--my eight-year-old little buddy who’s so much like me it’s spooky. She came into the den and glanced at the cover of the book--which I hadn’t even looked at. (I tend to jump in and start reading.) Her little eyes grew round. “Oh, Mimi, are you reading that?”
  I launched into an explanation of the book club and assigned books and all that. She wasn’t buying a word of it. “Oh, Mimi, don’t read that book. It’s not nice, is it?”
  Then I looked at the cover and cringed. When I got home, I put the book away.
  Fast forward to Monday when I picked up the girls at school. With the WBC amusing herself in another room, I knew it was now or never. So I said to the Small Person, “Do you remember that book I was reading the other night?”
  She nodded, her eyes again round with horror.
  “Do you remember what you said to me?”
  “I said don’t read it. It wasn’t nice, was it?”
  When I told her I’d decided not to read it, her smile lit up the room--and my heart.
  “Remember we’ve talked about how God gives us nice clean minds and hearts and souls, and how it makes Him sad if we don’t take care of them.”
  She nodded. We’ve had the talk many times before when she’s told me something she’s heard at school.
  “If I read something like that, I can’t tell you not to read similar things, can I?”
  She shook her head.
  So the conversation ended, but she will remember it forever.
  And I will, too.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Looking for a good clean read? 
These authors have them!

Katy’s Book is FREE on November 16!
Katy Huth Jones

E. J. Willis

Christine Campbell

Margaret Skea

Frances Hoelsema

Dyanne Gordon Green

Meg Welch Dendler

Deborah Garner

Blanche Day Manos

Liwen Y. Ho

Christine Nardi