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Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Writing Process

Photo by Laura Bear
A week of highs and lows. I got a lovely invitation to send my manuscript to a publisher for review, thanks to a kind endorsement by Gregory Norris. The same day, I got another quick rejection from an agent. Polite, but quick!

I have been working on my query letter and finally figured out that I needed to change the font in my manuscript to Times New Roman, but it messes up the format, so I have more to do before I send it out to any more people.

The learning process can be so slow sometimes. I have been trying to learn how to play the mandolin on and off for several years now, but I hit a plateau. My fingers don't move with enough dexterity to play anything very fast. My fingers still ache when I try to play more difficult chords, like the four-finger G so necessary to bluegrass music. I am cursed with fleshy, double jointed fingers that don't hold the steel strings tight to the fretboard. Yet, I can coax a warm resonance from the wood when I relax a little (but not so much that I lose the pressure on the strings). The process can be frustrating, especially when you want to play like David Grisman or Ricky Skaggs or Tim O'Brien or even like they did when they were first learning. Or like they do with one finger. Or, well, you get the idea.

Writing comes a little more naturally to me, but it's still a learning process. How to do it better. How to forge ideas for new work. How to figure out the whole business aspect of writing. How to figure out all this social media and word processing hooey. It can be frustrating when I focus only on publishing. So, instead, I try to focus on the process. Placing one word in front of the other because that's what I am called to do. Just like life, writing is a journey, or it can be. Keep the focus on the trip itself and enjoy the scenery. When you reach your destination, you'll know how you got there so you can come home.

Enjoy your week. May it be fruitful and scenic.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Photo by Laura Bear
I got my first rejection this week from a new, small press. At least they invited me to send something else. I really would like this book to get out there, so I am hopeful it will someday. I can't expect to strike it rich on the first try. The main thing is to keep writing. I am, and I will. It's still a little disheartening to be rejected. I got word that my other submissions were received, so now I will wait. And send out more submissions as allowed.

Meanwhile, the days go on. Here's a quote,

"The world is the mountain, and each action, the shout that echoes back" Rumi

I guess that's the lesson, keep acting for the good and the good will return to you.

Create and contemplate, just don't give up.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Photo by Laura Bear
Some Carolina Wrens have been frequenting the feeders during all this snowy weather. After a morning of sending queries to publishers, I took a break with the camera.
My spouse was sick all day, so we spent the day at home, much to the dismay of Teddy the dog who is always ready to go somewhere. We should have been out cross country skiing. We haven't had snow like this in years. Maybe next weekend, although it's supposed to warm up mid-week and ruin the snow.
A writer friend, Julie Hedlund, has a post of gratitude every Sunday on her blog. Check it out. Not to steal her idea, but it does remind me to be thankful, so here are some things for which I am grateful this week:

My husband who keeps the fire going in the woodstove.

A quiet weekend to work on my writing and submissions.

A good workout on the indoor bicycle while watching Breaking Bad on Netflix.

Technology that allows me to chat with my son and share information quickly, even though it drives me crazy sometimes.

The outdoor feral cat doesn't try to take my hand off when I feed him anymore and he's enjoying his insulated cat retreat during the sub-freezing nights.

The moonlight on the snow last night.

Good books to read.


Acoustic music.

That's all for now. Goodnight.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
Eighteen inches Wednesday then another foot Thursday. We had to shovel a pathway for our little dog. He's not too happy. He loves to roll around in the snow, but now when he tries he just gets buried in it. Ah, winter.

Worked a little on one of my short stories today, FRIGID AIR. We had to go buy birsdseed and groceries, and well, shovel. I have submitted to a couple places for my novel HEARTLAND and am trying to be patient while I research more publishers and agents.

I've had varying advice on trying to get an agent. Some fellow writers say I must have one, others say nay, not yet. So, I have been reading as much as I can about the process and what would be appropriate for my book. I would love for people to actually read it. I am also playing around with ideas for my next novel. It's definitely a process.

I am fortunate to have an office in my home devoted to writing. In truth, it is also devoted to bill-paying, but I figure that's not completely out of line. I hope to be able to pay the bills with my writing some day. Like I said, it's a process. I try to fill the place with things that inspire me: books on writing and books I love to read; pictures from music concerts; handmade pottery, wood shelving made by local carpenter friends; photos of my family and photos my husband and I took of wildlife; not to mention several musical instruments--all things I love. There is usually a cat on one of the desks and my dog at my feet. It could be more organized, but I am working on that. For excellent writing office set up and great reading, check out Gregory Norris's blog: An extraordinary writer and editor, and a wonderful person to boot.

Time now to spend some time away from the computer. As Stephen King says in his excellent book ON WRITING, (forgive my paraphrasing of it) it's not about living to write, but about writing to live.

Stay warm.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Photo of author by Kevin Tomasello
When we are wholloped with winter weather, I don't think of tropical beaches, I think of Maine. Summer in Maine, or fall or spring. Stonington, to be exact. A sweet little secret for those who love the rugged coast, but want to avoid the hoards of visitors. Not a luxury vacation, but a memorable one. Full of hikes on rocky trails, the fresh breath of the ocean, savory seafood, careful kayaking with an eye on the tides, rugged terrain with heart-stopping views on Isle Au Haut accessible only by mailboat, and endless photo opportunities.

Writing is a sort of oasis, too. Even when I can't really get away, I can create a get-away through words on a page. Just as writing can transport the reader, the act itself can also transport and transform the writer. So, when you're laid up or housebound for any reason, turn to the story within. You might find a hidden wonder. Then, when you do get out, you may be better able to wonder at the outer world.
Photo from Isle Au Haut by Laura Bear

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Photo by Kevin Tomasello

White weather of the North, I beseech you to grant us reprieve.

Okay, all that gibberish about having faith that the sun will shine again and that winter helps us appreciate spring--well, at least it's not below zero any more. But, really? 

The snow once said to the tulip bulb, I got you covered.

Submissions, submissions! I am in the process of submitting queries for interest in my book. This work that demanded to be written is now asking for publication. Ah, the muse is unquenchable. Let there be snow, and snow shall we reap.

Stay warm and safe, my friends.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
Another sub-zero morning with a snow storm on the way tomorrow. Part of the inspiration for my short-story work in progress FRIGID AIR, no doubt. I love snow, but I am a little tired of winter this year. So, I'd like to ponder some warm thoughts:

A fire burning in the woodstove and two kitties toasting by the hearth.

A cup of hot Chai tea by the fire with Gregory Norris' THE FIERCE AND UNFORGIVING MUSE or Jodi Picoult's THE STORY TELLER on my Kindle.

A soft kiss from my husband.

The memory of a kind and talented man who fought his way back from a devastating stroke and cancer, but died too soon this year.

People who take a moment to be kind.

A message from my son.

Readers, people who love books!

A friendly community of writers.

The greeting I get from my dog every time I walk through the door.

And, yes, winter. For it's stark beauty and frigid cold that make spring seem like a glorious celebration!

That's all for now. May your winter be the catalyst for creativity and a symbol of faith that the sun will warm the earth again soon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Photo by Kevin Tomasello
Well, I've started a blog, so a short introduction is in order. I just finished my first novel, HEARTLAND. I have a full-time career as a speech-language pathologist, but writing is my nourishment--my fuel. The problem is, it's been on the back-burner. It's been simmering for too long and I'm hungry. Time for dinner!

Two years ago, I decided that I would pursue the writing life head on. I went to a writer's heaven: WHEN WORDS COUNT RETREAT in Rochester, Vermont. A magical place in the Green Mountains where my muse began to stir. I was immersed, baptized, annointed and there was no turning back. I signed up for some refresher courses in advanced fiction writing through my local university. I met some fellow writers at various stages of their careers. I found a delightful online newsletter called FUNDS FOR WRITERS. I met some amazing writer-friends and they have encouraged and supported me in this new venture. A fantastic writer in his own "write" GREGORY L. NORRIS, with too many credits to list in this short space, cheered me on and agreed to edit my book. ELENA GREENE, a writer of engaging historical romance, has spent numerous precious writing hours answering my many questions. JULIE HEDLUND, an energetic children's picture book author and writing-entrepreneur-FORCE-OF-NATURE and MARI COOPER, entrepreneur, psychic, author and radio talk-show host of THE AHA MOMENT and FORCE OF NATURE TIMES TEN continue to inspire me as I strive to do even a fraction of what they do. I am moved by this community of soul and support. I am thrilled to be a part of it.

Although I need to write and I would write even if no one ever read it, WRITING needs the reader to come to life. I want my writing to live. To touch a reader. To breathe. I would like to invite you on this journey with me, to make the writing come alive.