One book leads to another...

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Getting Back To Moving Forward



Wishing everyone a happy and productive month of August! It’s American Adventures Month, and if that doesn’t give us something to write about, we could always revisit or begin journaling. Perhaps write an article, an essay or a trailer for the last good movie you watched – or your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

What’s on my writing mind? Well,

Photo by: Phil Reeder
For years along a winding two-lane road stood a weathered wooden sign with the word “Serendipity” crudely etched between its jagged edges.  How so? I fleetingly wondered, until summer’s lushness moldered in a bitter winter’s mire and a ramshackle house appeared. Much like the candy bar I’d tucked behind the horseradish where no one else would find it, the barely-discernible tire tracks that led to the crumbling house constantly beckoned my return.  Then life, as it so often does, intervened.
So now, years later, having unearthed the prefacing manuscript to the sequel; sketchily entitled “Serendipity,” I wonder if the story still breathes with the energy I poured into it so long ago. I have the drive, but what if the path has grown over? Only one way to find out, right? Can’t wait to tell you how it goes!  There you have the current scope of my journey, how’s yours?

As to the Optional IWSG Question of the Month, ‘What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?’ I recently read a novel by two authors who, at one point repeated (nearly exactly) the same paragraph from one page to the next. Not sure who was at fault, but I think I’d speak to the editor. That being said, and speaking from experience, the job of an editor seems much like tightrope walking between grammatically correct and creative expression. Either way, words are in precarious balance, and this is where insecurity seeps into the spaces between each word I write when revisions come into play. Will there be anything left of my story? Or dare I commit (writing without revising) “the literary equivalent of waltzing, gaily out of the house in your underwear” ~ Patricia Fuller.  Somehow the old drawing board doesn’t seem as daunting after all ;-)

Fun fact:
Mickey Spillane ordered 50,000 copies of his 1952 novel Kiss Me, Deadly to be destroyed when the comma was left out of the title.

Happy Writing, Reading & Editing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Sentence



Wishing everyone a happy month of July! If you’re getting any rain, send us some out west ;-) Many of us desert dwellers are looking for things to do indoors, and perhaps you are as well. So why not revisit or begin journaling? Write an article, an essay or a trailer for the last good movie you watched – or your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

What’s on my writing mind? Well,

In a vaguely defined though obviously freak accident at the age of three, the skirt of a future literary legend caught fire. 

While the child was unharmed, her mother was so deeply traumatized that the young girl was thereafter forced to wear boy’s trousers. This attire earned her the nickname ‘Little Jimmy,' by which she good-naturedly called herself until her early teens.  

Already a budding writer at age eleven, she was also designing her own book covers and including her own artwork in an enterprise she called “Urchin Publishing Co.” By the time she was in college she was going by the name ‘Peg’ and had chosen the mythical Pegasus as her icon. 

Regarding her writing, a demanding teacher once told her she had ability if she worked hard and would not be careless in constructing sentences. “A sentence,” she was told, “must be complete, concise and coherent."

She would later attribute her early inspiration for the book that put her name on the lips of the nation to images she’d both observed and perceived while on a buggy trip she took with her mother through devastated farmsteads where only chimneys remained of what had once been, and the solemn descriptions her mother gave.

“She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them. And she told me that my world was going to explode under me, someday, and God help me if I didn't have some weapon to meet the new world”.

Three years after losing her mother to the Spanish flu, and having married a bootlegger, the young writer found she needed income for herself and took a job as a local journalist; whereby the first glimpses of her vividly descriptive style was breathlessly beheld by all.

“The tall white columns glimpsed through the dark green of cedar foliage, the wide veranda encircling the house, the stately silence engendered by the century-old oaks evoke memories of Thomas Nelson Page's On Virginia. The atmosphere of dignity, ease, and courtesy that was the soul of the Old South breathes from this old mansion...”

Being an avid reader came in handy when she had to quit her job as a journalist, due to an ankle injury, but her new and nicer husband grew weary of lugging hundreds of books home for her to read and asked

“For God's sake, Peggy, can't you write a book instead of reading thousands of them?”

And after he bought her a typewriter, she did just that. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was published June 30, 1936, and in 1937 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“I had every detail clear in my mind before I sat down to the typewriter.”
 
Did you foreguess the writer's identity?

And so, dear fellow writers, my wordy answer to the optional Question of the Month “What is the one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?” can be found above, highlighted in green

If you’re interested, read about another writer who forged his way in history here.

If you had to give away one thing on your desk or in your writing space, what would it be?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Dream or Two Ago




June is so full of celebrating the act of not working, i.e., Leave Work Early Day, Take a Hike Day, or Please Take My Kids to Work Day, the urge to enjoy might be too much to resist. So why not revisit or begin journaling? Or write an article, an essay or a trailer for your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

A dream or two ago I had one in which I desperately searched, sometimes found and chased - my own creativity. Distracted by the ring of a telephone, I stepped into a phone booth and answered a busy signal. “All circuits are busy now,” a recorded voice droned as I awoke with a hammering heart and added one more line to my eleven page To Do list: Try Again Later.  Yeah, life is like that sometimes. No worries.

Funny, the things you think of while climbing shelves in a grocery store Benjamin Franklin evidently had the same problem reaching books in 1786 and proceeded to invent what he called the Long Arm: a long wooden pole with a grasping claw at the end. I could have used that invention that day at the store. Or, the tall woman who asked me to get my cart out of the middle of the aisle could have just reached what I was climbing for. If there is a “Be Kind to Short People Day” I’d sure like to know about it.  Have you ever had a Long Arm moment?

They said it couldn’t happen; that one could not survive. But here, my friends is proof that while not the fittest, my Jacaranda is alive! Wish I could say the same for my house plants. 

Over time, the ritual of hanging our flag as soon as we arrive at the cabin has become the self-appointed responsibility of our grandson. He even retrieves my little solar-powered Honey Bear from the closet and sets it on the porch rail. My heart swelled as I watched him go about these tasks (oblivious to the nearby gaping car doors with bags and boxes still inside), for as soon as he’d placed the flag just right he proceeded with a hand over his heart, to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  Had I even had a camera, tears might have bungled the shot, but the memory shall always remain etched in my heart. What’s your ‘etching’ moment?

The Cup Cafe'
Two years and 4 days ago, I wrote about a debonair outlaw named John Dillinger and his infamous misadventure at the landmark Hotel Congress. I was woefully remiss not to have mentioned the legendary Tap Room bar and its devoted bartender, Tiger. Having taken the job back in 1959, I can only imagine the captivating conversations he must have had over the years with iconic leaders and western legends alike. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top fame still calls the place his favorite bar.  Thomas “Tiger” Ziegler turned 84 last month and still works at the Tap Room!  Next time I’m having a cup with friends at the iconic penny-floored Cup CafĂ©, I think I’ll sneak across the hall and see who Tiger might be talking to these days ;-)