Monday, May 31, 2010

The Magic of Revisions

I hope you've had a delightful Memorial Day and have recovered from the grilled food, cooled beverages, summer sun, and swimming pools.

Instead of a post today, I'm going to direct you to Michele Young-Stone's post "The Best Part of this Book Has Yet to be Written." Michele's debut novel, The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors, just came out from Shaye Areheart, and she's typing furiously on her second book.  Her determination is an inspiration as I work through revisions. 

What do you think? 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lessons From the Baba Yaga IV

In leau of last week's non-existant post, I have decided that I will double post this week. So be looking for another entry tomorrow! All I will say was that last Thursday-Sunday was a bit of an emotional roller coaster. My apologies! Thank you for baring with me. Now! On to more Baba Yaga!

The intense heat of summer had finally set in. It was no longer cool in the mornings and I found myself waking up drenched in sweat and falling halfway out of my bed. Trying to detach myself from the sticky heat while also trying to fall back asleep I imagined myself levitating somewhere between the bed and the ceiling.

In the end, no matter how much I imagined myself levitating, or floating, or flying I still had to get up and out of bed. If I didn't Yaga would be waiting at the bottom of the steps with her hands on her hips and a scowl on her face.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Summer Fiction

Let me tell you, internet, that with all the aggravations that life has to offer I sometimes find myself wishing that I lived in Dren, child luring honeysuckle and all.

I could really use a rain like this now.

Prompt No.5: Rain

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dreaming of Concrete Images

From Clip Art 

I'm a little late posting today because I've been drooling over the web pages for BookExpo America, New York Book Week, and the Book Blogger Convention like a kid with a Sears Wish Book before Christmas. I'd love to go to any-- or all-- of them, but I'm not ready financially or in my career, which leads me to this week's post.

Back in September, I read an awesome blog post about having a concrete image of your dream. (Sorry, I can't remember who posted this originally. If any of you know, please link.) The writer offered her concrete image as an example. She went to a book conference and an author came in with an arm-load of her books to give away. That visual became the blogger's concrete image. She wanted to be the author with the arm-load of books.

So, I offer you my concrete images:

1. The original: In college a professor put one of her books on the reading list. Normally that seems self-serving, but she told us that all the proceeds from the book were donated to charity. She received no financial reimbursement from her work. I want to be a writer who can donate the sales of books to a charity.

2. Tonight's image: I want to be one of the book professionals who can go to these awesome conferences, feel like she belongs, and write it off on taxes.

If you had to pick a concrete image, what would it be? 

P.S. I'll add my first fiction post in the coming week. Gulp!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Summer Fiction

Greetings, all! I trust you all had a pleasant weekend? I know I did. I went shopping with Miss Lucy and whilst out and about I found a little bit of inspiration.

No one can resist the smell of honeysuckle.

Prompt 4: Smell

Monday, May 17, 2010

Homemade Magic

 Photos by the wonderful husband, Adam

I love my town, but when I came here five years ago, I didn’t.  I wanted to put in my three years and get out.  I thought it was crowded with derelict strip malls, SUVs the size of destroyers, and people who built the present on the tombstones of the Confederacy. 

Perhaps some of that is true-- I’ll wager more than some--but this city, I’ve learned, is so much more.  It has noteworthy authors, passionate booksellers, aspiring writers, and voracious readers who’ve knit a literary community.  We have art galleries, sports teams, gourmet restaurants and dives, unicycle riders, and quaint strips.  On Saturday the husband and I went to Carytown to stop by a local music store, browse an independent used bookstore, and buy homemade milkshakes at the shop next door.  Then, on the walk to the car, I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in over a year.  That is when a revelation hit me: the city hadn’t changed, but my interaction with it had, and I’ve fallen in love.

Four years ago I went to work and back home, to school and back home, to the grocery store and back home (you get the idea), and the tasks of daily life showed me a mundane, unattractive place to live, but once I dug in, I fell in love.  Sure, there are things I dislike.  There are still abandoned shops while Short Pump continues to grow, there are still people who romanticize the Lost Cause, and there are still vehicles that could be used to invade small countries, but there are many more creative people who’ve reinvigorated the River City

I know I’m not the only one to rediscover my home.  The lovely Lucy introduced me to an arts community in her home that I never would have guessed existed, and I grew up there.

So I have a question for you.  How do you feel about where you live?  Was there a defining moment when your opinion of your town changed?       

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lessons From the Baba Yaga III

"Well, are you just going to sit there, Child?" I heard Yaga yell from inside her hut. It had taken me about three afternoons to finally short through all of her canned goods in the cellar. I had reached the very end when I found a jar full of something I had never seen before. I wasn't quite sure if it should be on the side with the herbs, or if I should put it with the food. I wasn't even vaguely sure of how fresh it was. How long had it been sitting back there in the dark, gathering dust?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Summer Fiction

Hello all you happy internet people! Why, you may be asking yourself , am I in such a good mood. Well, I'll tell you. I had breakfast for dinner, M*A*S*H has returned to the supper time slot, and I finally finished this bleeping story! I swear, if this story had fingers it would have been flipping me the bird. But I triumphed in the end.

And now I must crave your indulgence. This is, partially, a beginning to a story I've had rattling around in my head for something like four years. I liked it, but coulnd't figure out how to get it going. With the help of this blog, though, I've been able to find a solution and hopefully something fun will come of it.

Right! Enough of the explanations. Hopefully, Blogger will cooperate and allow me to stick this beast behind a cut. Here we go!

Prompt No. 3: Friends

Monday, May 10, 2010

Being Resolute Or Holy Snot A Third of the Year is Gone

Photo by The Husband, Adam

Happy Monday to all.  Do you remember when I went on about resolutions?  Perhaps you tried hard to forget my soap-box-standing, motivational-speaker-quoting bluster, but I am back to remind us all of what we promised ourselves a full four months ago.

When I realized the year was a third gone I had a moment of...well, I'm sure you can imagine the language when I found that I'm 24 books behind my goal for this point in 2010.  I'll give you a brief update on my resolutions so anyone who isn't fulfilling hers will see she's not alone.  But here's the catch: I'm not quitting.  I'm gritting my teeth and recommitting to the goals.  Foolhardy? You betcha.

  • I will read at least 100 books this year.   I'm sticking with this one.  I might start counting the nonfiction books I've read, but I'm not going to resort to picture books.  At least not yet.
  • I will finish my current rough draft and take it through my editing process. This one I can give a solid check.  The rough draft is done, the editorial letter is done, and I'm going through the chainsaw massacre stage of rewrites.  I'm not as far along as I'd like but hey, I'm happy. 
  • I will let at least five people read the finished manuscript. Um, this one might depend on whether anything is left after the aforementioned massacre.  I'm freaking out about letting people read my work.  How do I handle it?  Tonight I sent email inquiries to people starting critique groups.  Yes, I am a masochist, a determined masochist.  
  • I will post to Fantastic Spatula before 9 pm every Monday.  It is 9:10 now so this one gets a FAIL.  I'm recommitting to no longer being a nocturnal poster.
  • I will write over 500 words every day, come hell, high water, or family reunions. Hell and high water I can handle, but those family people, they are wily.  Like hiring a satellite installer to walk through the front door when I'm up early on a Saturday dressed in a crappy tank top with a towel around my freshly scrubbed hair so I can get to work before the distractions begin.  You've got to get up really early in the morning to beat these people.
Oh, I've added another biggie.  In March I decided to launch River City Fiction, a blog dedicated to the community of authors, readers, librarians, and booksellers in Richmond.  I plan to have it up and running sometime in July.  Loco, no?

What about you?  How are you progressing on your resolutions?  Have you added new ones?  Don't be shy. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Summer Fiction No. 2

How time flies! I turn around and suddenly find myself in May. Well, then, I'd best get on with it. No sense rabbiting on when there is a story to be told.

Prompt: Sunset

She felt like she should be crying, but Angelica didn’t have any tears to cry. She didn’t have any angry words to throw at the empty woods; she couldn’t even feel happy that she was out from under her husbands thumb. She stared out among the trees and listened to the soft susurrus of the forest. Angelica sat with her back to outcropping of rock that had started everything.

She sighed and, from the corner of her eye, Angelica saw the tree branches bend, as if they sagged under the weight of her memories. She was only six years old when she first came upon the rocks. They jutted out of the top of a hillock deep in the middle of the woods. At one time, Angelica would have sworn they looked like an old doorway, a portal to some other land, some other time. Now they simply looked like rocks, gray save for splash of red from the fast setting sun.

Angelica had seen faces in the rocks all those years ago, and not just tricks of the light. These faces had moved. They had smiled at her and, being only a child, she was not afraid. The rock faces had never spoken any words to her, but they hadn’t needed to. The expressions of their eyes spoke plainly. She had seen happiness and sorrow in their eyes. Above all else, she saw kindness and understanding. Angelica and the faces had needed each other.

It was all nonsense, of course, but to a small girl those golden afternoons spent reading to the faces in the rocks had been magical.

She’d rarely thought about it later; Angelica had spent the time since then just trying to fit in. She did nothing out of the ordinary so that people would not call her “that odd girl” anymore. She had become ordinary for the sake of living in peace.

Another sigh and Angelica pulled her knees closer. There was a chill in the air, but the rocks were still warm from the day. She knew she would have to leave soon; she didn’t think she could find her way back in the dark even though she used to. Angelica could have walked the woods blindfolded when she was younger. There wasn’t an inch of ground she hadn’t explored, no tree she hadn’t attempted to climb. She never could, but Angelica’s imagination more than made up for her lack of brawn. In her mind, she’d been at the top of every tree and had seen the entire forest laid out before her in a million shades of green.

Angelica knew she should leave, but she suddenly didn’t want to. The warmth of the rocks and the color of the setting sun were bringing back memories that should have made her sad though all she could feel was a lightness in her heart. She suddenly felt as she did twenty years ago, childlike and whimsical. Angelica turned to look at the rocks behind her and saw the faint traces of the old doorway.

Also, rather alarmingly, she saw a face.

Part two, next time!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Books for Mom's Day

In honor of the great women in my life, I present a list of recent reads and long-time favorite books that feature moms or mother figures I love.  Some of these might make good gifts, while others are books I read to appreciate the sufferings and joys of motherhood.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak  
Long-time Favorite 
A classic kids' book, this story makes me thankful Mom loves me even when I'm a Wild Thing and shows her love with hot dinners. 

Stuart Little by E. B. White 
Long-time Favorite
True motherly affection is loving a child even when he's another species. 

Are You My Mother? by P. D. Eastman
Long-time Favorite
I remember Momma reading this story to me at bedtime.  No one fits and makes it all better like Momma. 

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare 
Long-time Favorite
Aunt Rachel takes in main character Kit when she has nowhere to go.  Hannah, the solitary old woman beside the pond, gives me the feeling of soft protection, enveloping warmth, and supporting grace that comes from Mom.  

Milagros: Girl from Away by Meg Medina 
Recent Read 
Milagros learns to treasure her mother despite Rosa's odd ways, and Rosa goes to extraordinary and magical lengths to find and rescue her daughter. 

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
Long-time Favorite
Mrs. Murry is a single mother of four when the story opens.  She is a scientist who still finds time for hot chocolate with her wayward teen.  You can see why Meg later becomes a great mother. 

Long-time Favorite and Recent Read 
Maybe you shouldn't give these to mom until after you've read them.  These books capture the sufferings and sacrifices of motherhood as Mrs. Lev loves and supports her son and husband who are often at odds. 

Letter to my Daughter by Maya Angelou
Recent Read
Maya Angelou's letters to the daughter she never had illuminate a sliver of what we can learn from all women, not just those who raise us or have children. 

Changes by Jim Butcher
Recent Read
I'm waiting for "one of these things isn't like the others" to start playing, but this book shows how a mother's selfless fight for her child can transform her from a character I loathed since page fifty, book one to a sympathetic character whose actions moved me to tears. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen 
Long-time Favorite
Mrs. Bennet is the picture of batty devotion and I-know-what's-best, which is why she's endured as one of literature's most lovable moms. 

And in a tie for my favorite mom book....
Long-time Favorite
This book changed me.  It helped shape me into who I am.  I think that is mom-worthy. 

A Live Coal in the Sea by Madeleine L’Engle 
Long-time Favorite 
Three contrasting mothers and embodiments of motherhood form the heart of the novel.  It starts off with the question, "Are you my grandmother," and becomes an emotional, paradigm-changing search for how to define a mother. 

What about you?  Who are your favorite literary moms? What books changed, expanded, or shaped your thoughts on motherhood?