"What do you plan to do with your one, wild, precious life?" -Mary Oliver

Friday, December 27, 2013

All The Way To The Top

When the ice storm hit on the night of the winter solstice and the power went out, we rediscovered things we enjoy but seldom have time for, and it’s remarkable how much time is freed up when there are no electronic devices to captivate your senses.

We paid close attention to daylight hours and the sun’s position in the sky; we minded time by the path of its progression. At nightfall, we lit candles and hauled an old kerosene heater out of the attic and kept track of the matches. We played cards and dominoes by candlelight. With the television off and internet down, the piano regained its rightful place at center stage, and rusty fingers turned nimble over the course of the outage.

When the skies cleared and the sun came out, the kids took to the outdoors with boots and camera. They climbed the slide on the dock at the pond,




all the way to the top.


And saw the tracks leading across the ice.
But I, wrapped in sweaters and scarves, read the first few chapters of hard copy, changed a few good words for better words and found errors that I missed on the screen. I call it monitor blindness. 

I considered a story of mayhem and murder in a two-hundred-year old barn. You can research a novel in a spooky barn, but do it before the sun goes down. 



Just saying…it’s not all bad when the power goes off. And when it comes back on, you have another experience to write about.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Ghost of Red Rover (Friday Flash 55)

The girl's locked in the outhouse,
a boy climbs a tree.

Hiding in the brambles,
two maybe three.

Merry-go-round twirls,
ribbons in her hair,

teeter-totter trembles
with a weight that isn't there.

A wistful wind whistles
through the lilac hiding place,

telling of those who huddled there
when they were young and scared.



This is a Friday Flash 55 for the G-Man. If you write a flash piece on Friday, let him know. This is written in rememberance of playgrounds with steel slides and wooden teeter-totters. Playgrounds that were a refuge and a curse, playgrounds that instilled bravery when we were young and scared.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Self-Service (Fri. flash 55)

The man's stump
hangs at his side like a tuber.
He pushes his cart
and stands in line.
The stump is hairy, like an old man's ear.
 
I watch my mother
struggle from walker to bed,
the laborious lifting of a leg,
the settling in.
The collective exhale
when she opens her eyes
and smiles.


Written belatedly for the host of Friday Flash 55. Here's to hearth and home and lingering at the table. Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Elmore Leonard on the Mortal Sin of Dialogue Tags

Elmore Leonard needs no introduction but his rules of writing bear repeat. I particularly like Rules 3 and 4 and need to be constantly reminded of 3 and 4. So I'm herein reminding myself at the same time I'm reminding you.
 
 
Elmore Leonard’s rules of writing.
 
Rule 3. Never use a verb other than“said” to carry dialogue. The line of dialogue belongs to the character; the verb is the writer sticking his nose in. But said is far less intrusive than grumbled, gasped, cautioned, lied.
 
Rule 4. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .he admonished gravely. To use an adverb this way (or almost any way) is a mortal sin. The writer is now exposing himself in earnest, using a word that distracts and can interrupt the rhythm of the exchange.
 
It’s better to convey your characters emotion through their actions, odd habits (ie. biting bottom lip, etc.) and that the word 'said' disappears to readers
 
Despite the overwhelming temptation to do otherwise, use the word, “said,” a lot. The classic dialogue tags,“He grimaced,” or “He chuckled,” or “He snickered” draws attention to the tag line and away from the purpose of the dialogue. Use them sparingly.

If you feel the snickering or chuckling is necessary to move your story forward, fine. Just put it in a sentence of its own.

“No, you don’t,” he chuckled.

vs.

“No, you don’t.” He chuckled at the notion.


Turn your inappropriate tags into enhancing sentences to improve your writing.

Finally: Don't let your characters sound the same.


I know I shouldn't stick my nose in a character's line of dialogue, but like any mere mortal writer, I often buckle to the temptation. How about you? Are you guilty?
 
 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Make A Green Gesture

When we think of carbon emissions, we think of coal plants and motor vehicles, but the truth is, computer and internet usage are emissions culprits as well. I participated in the original German Carbon Neutral Blog Campaign several years ago. It was so successful, they are now doing an American launch. The Green Gestures campaign is a large-scale reforestation initiative here in the U.S., by bloggers, for bloggers, in collaboration with the Arbor Day Foundation. Participation is easy and free, and a native tree will be planted for your blog in an American forest to double the positive impact your efforts will have on the environment.

On the Make A Green Gestures site (the sister campaign to Make It Green) there are links to easy steps we can all take to help out, like ways to opt out of junk mail (phone books) and all that paper, and ideas for avoiding petroleum based products.

If you want to participate, all you have to do is write a short post about the campaign and link to the Green Gestures site. Email them with the url of your post and they will plant a tree for your blog.

 
 
Because we can never have too many trees. Thanks for reading and participating. Have a Green day!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Death Of A Writer (friday flash 55)

The writer's cabin
built atop a dune
was supposed to inspire
the writer.
Now it is empty of the writer.
Only clutter
that doesn’t belong
to a writer
remains.
The wind reshapes the dune.
The dune grass bows to the wind.
Its roots hold the dune in place
but the writer was not to stay.


If it's Friday, it's Flash 55, (a short in exactly 55 words). If you want to read more, or if you've written one yourself, go here.
Don't worry, be happy. It's Friday.

TGIF

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Scarecrow Has No Face

Three whitetails paw the earth,
ignore scarecrow.
Heads lift to danger, nostrils flare.
Breath plumes in the morning air.
Crow feeds in the middle of the road,
red hawk circles the coop and dives for a kill.
Two whitetails dash over the misty field,
like schooners escaping under full sail.
The scarecrow has no face.


This is a Friday Flash 55, the weekly writing exercise sponsored by the G-Man, aka Mr. Knowitall. If you have a story to tell in 55 words, let the Maestro-of-Flash know.

Happy Halloween

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waxing The Floor and Counting Matches

Writers are notorious for using any reason to keep from writing: over-researching, retyping, going to meetings, waxing the floors-anything. -Gloria Steinem

If you’re feeling stymied as a writer, don't wax the floor. Pick up your pen and describe what you see. Eavesdrop and write it down. Straight up. Feed the fire, shelter the flame, and count your matches. Don’t let yourself run out of words. Store unusual words up your sleeve, like fanciful and ornery. I like ornery. I like my ornery protagonist and his ornery adversary. I'll like them to the end. 
With hunting season upon us, gunshot and scattered quail, I unlocked my keyboard and reconnected with my troubling characters. I’m fleshing out their peculiarities and trying to suspend disbelief, which brings me to a notion I’ve stored up my sleeve. Schooling is good, but I believe there are three things a writer needs which can’t be taught: empathy, unbridled imagination, and the ability to suspend disbelief. If you have that, you can learn the rest. You can entice a reader to stick with you to The End. As Mickey Spillane once said, “No one ever read a novel to get to the middle.” And we’ve all heard said: there’s no such thing as writer’s block. There are only writers who run out of matches. There’s no such thing as a failed writer, only writers who quit before they get to the end.

I'm off to the north country to stand on the shore of Lake Superior. No waxing floors. I'm going to eavesdrop in pubs and study facial expressions.  I mean I'm going to walk the shore and study tide lines, search the horizon for freighters and collect driftwood.  I have my journal, pencil, and ID, should I lose myself.  I'm not afraid of getting lost. How silly. I'm not afraid of that.


Monday, October 28, 2013

What's Your Typing Speed?

How are your typing skills?  I found this link to a speed test thanks to Lydia Kang at The Word Is My Oyster, and decided to test myself. I used to be pretty fast in college (80-100wpm depending on how much dorm craziness went on the night before). I clocked in at 70wpm, with no mistakes, so I guess I still have it. When you think about it, the keyboard is rather marvelous, one of the few technological advances that have not changed since its invention.

If you want to clock your speed, here's the link. It's easy and fun and I figure good practice.

http://www.typeonline.co.uk/typingspeed.php

My writing didn't take off until we bought our first computer and I discovered Word. I LOVED it. My words could finally keep pace with the thoughts in my head. That's the kind of writer I am. What about you? Do you, can you, write stories in long-hand, the old-fashioned way?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

RUBY (Friday Flash 55)

My hair falls out in front of my eyes
but the sun breaks through the frosted glass
of the shower and hot water sluices
off my shoulders and breasts.
I twirl strands into tufts on the tile,
like locks in a baby book.
Baby’s first haircut.
It doesn't even hurt, and I towel myself dry.

 
A Friday Flash 55. Fifty-Five words for the G-Man

TGIF

Saturday, October 19, 2013

After The Knifing

he avoided her father.  
But when the wound started to heal,
he knew he’d be left with a scar.
He’d never been cut,
and he wondered why
his uncle, a veteran of undeclared war,
hadn’t warned him about the aftermath of that.
The crushing humiliation of having one’s mortality
laid open for all to see.


It's Friday. It's the mean season (the writing season), and time for a Flash 55. If you have written a short story in a sparse 55 words, post it and let the world know. Or at least let the G-Man know.

Hello fifty-fivers!! TGIF!

After I posted this, I realized I was a day late, lost in time . . . but not a word shy. So, TGIS!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Teacher

It's time for what seems to have become my once-a-month post. If I want time to write these days, I must get up at 4 o'clock in the morning. The children here in Michigan are all back in school and it seems appropriate to finally post this poem that has been in my drafts folder since last winter. I think most everyone has a teacher in the family, or as a friend. This is for them, the real heroes of today.


The kindergarteners have to pee all the time and want their mothers.
She plays her piano for them and buys crayons and gold stars with her own money.

The first graders have learned to lie
and she takes away their stars.

The second graders build alliances and rat on each other.
She buys maps of the world and teaches outside the test.

The third graders are clothes whores.
She works up their lesson plans to the sweep of the janitor.

T
he fourth graders invent new allergies and disorders
and she pleads for more recess time to make them fit and strong.

The fifth graders forge their parent’s signatures
and she steels herself for the conference.

The middle school students pierce their bodies and experiment.
She pleads for music in the classroom and a place for art.
But they took away her piano and told her to teach to the test.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Garden Thunder

Thunder rumbles in the distance and circles around, seeming to come from all directions. Thunder helps the corn grow, or is that lightning? I believe that is true, what the old folks say. The interaction between the atmosphere and the soil is an important connection, the feeding of the sod under our feet, the fungi and organisms that nourish the grass that nourishes the animals that trod the earth and enrich our lives.

The corn grows at night, you can hear it if you sit by a field when the wind is still. The tomatoes are trellised and we had our first BLT last night. The cucumbers sprawl across the ground and tangle with the summer squash: the patty pans and crooknecks. The pie pumpkins are rambling into the sweet corn which is growing as I write, now that it's warmer and now that it's raining. No, it's pouring. God bless this piece of Earth, this good ground and clean soil.

One of our CSA members has a food blog ,which I just discovered, and she's been posting pictures of our boxes along with recipes. This is one of them from about 5 weeks ago when the French Breakfast radishes were at their peak and the lavender was perfect.


I thought you might like to know what I've been doing this summer. You can check out Nicole Dula's blog here, with more pictures of our vegetables and some ridiculously delicious recipes.

So, what's your weather been like this summer? Obscenely hot? Desert dry? Flooding with unusual amounts of rainfall like they've had in Calgary and the Dakotas? The jet stream is jacked out of shape, or so I've heard the expert experters say. Here in the Great Lakes basin we are bordering on boring normal. And that's good.

Today is my dad's 93rd birthday! I'm going to make him a jam cake, an old recipe from my grandmother who was a cake hound. She always made our birthday cakes when we were growing up. She would buy the big colored marshmallows and cut them into the shape of flower petals and decorate our cakes with them. I miss her.

Have a fruitful August. Believe me when I say I've missed writing for my blog and reading yours and posting what I hope are welcome, helpful comments. Summer is so busy, so full, bulging at the seams like the garden, sprawling into the driveway and crowding the flowerbeds. Summer.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Blackbird and the Strawberry

Observe the girl eating a strawberry. Observe the cattle observing her. They line the electric fence bordering the patch and watch with unblinking eyes. Some become bored with her repetition and chomp on grass, others chew their cuds as the calves scamper to and fro. They follow her progress along the 300-foot row and jostle each other for a view. Their fence runs out. Her row continues. She leaves them behind. 
Her fingers seek the silver dollar-sized berries hidden under the leaves in the center of the plant, heavy with ripeness and replete with moisture, nestled out of sight of the most keen-sighted blackbird. She holds them by the stem and drops them in the box.

The strawberry plant is the perfect camouflage, the perfect fruit. It needs no fungicides or chemicals. It needs no genetic tinkering. She regrets her father's position.
The odor from the animals wafts on the whip of their tails, earthy and fungal, not unpleasant, but memory-laden. The cattle, the grass, fresh cut hay in the air and holding hands in the night. A memory.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Cocoon

I've been gone so long I can scarce find my way back. I've missed coming around and reading your blogs and participating in Friday Flash Fiction and Magpie Sunday Tales. In case my blog should disappear from lack of interest, I click on it ocassionally to look at the water. But all too quickly, I'm called away to my lettuces and radishes, radicchio and kale, picking asparagus and tending finicky peppers that need this and that and tomatoes that must soon be staked. And then there are the weeds.

I fall into bed at night, earlier and earlier, like the most boring person on earth. In the wee hours of morning I look at my manuscript, portions stacked here and there (cause I'm a hands-on-paper kind of writer), and wonder how long I can persevere in my search for the perfect agent who will love its strengths more than they dislike its problems.

Spring and summer are always like this, no time to write, guilt-ridden at nightfall, but too tired to do anything about it. Achy legs find surcease between the sheets and achy heart burrows into the soft cocoon of blankets and dreams of water, an orderly garden, and a writing life.

But wait....have you ever had Canada geese fly overhead so low you could hear the whoosh whoosh of their wings? I was standing on my front porch admiring the idyllic scene of cattle on grass, when I heard the familiar honking of a resident pair. They flew in just over the power lines with their necks outstretched. I was surprised at the intensity of sound, much like the flapping of a dozen sheets on a clothesline. Geese fly slow and methodical, and the air displaced by their wing span left a tremor in the air. I watched as they disappeared over the tree line, wondering at their destination, wondering what they see from up there.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

What They Show For "Show And Tell".

Please see Frances Garrood's post sharing a letter from Texas death row. I don't care what someone has done, nobody deserves to be treated like this.




Pictures only scratch the surface. The sad truth is in the letter.

Where is the outcry? The shame? The sanctimonious are content as our prisons become storage units for the mentally ill and the addicted and the veteran.

We have our own gulag. Lets own up to it. This is how we treat the least of our citizens. We reap what we sow and the granary is full. Prison construction is robust while schools are dilapidated and underfunded.

Yeah, I'm a bleeding heart.

Friday, May 10, 2013

On The Threshold Of Fame

As a writer, you aren’t anybody until you become somebody. -James Salter
Is there a classic you feel is overrated? Novelist, James Salter, says “The Great Gatsby” is. I never did understand the acclaim Gatsby received, but now another movie is coming out with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy, the iconic object of desire. It promises to be a lavish production, and with the central theme being the quest for money and power, it should have a popular run.
But back to Salter, the true subject of this post. There was an interesting article about him in the  April 15th issue of The New Yorker, and I've been wanting to write about him ever since. I have a couple of minutes this morning before I take off for the exploding asparagus bed and all the other demands of spring. 
Salter is not famous but he is renowned for his sentence building (he labors over his paragraphs) and depictions of sex and valor. While he has not been a prolific writer, according to friends he is always working on something, scribbling on matchbooks and hotel stationery, taking notes on the people around him, writing away under the table. Nick Paumgarten, the author of the article, surmises that his best books might be too dirty, or too adult, to become fixtures on college syllabi. Too dirty? That got my attention. Like when a book is banned, I immediately want to read it.   
Salter wrote “Light Years”, which many readers and writers consider a masterpiece and “A Sport and a Pastime” a tale about a Yale dropout and a French girl who travel around provincial France in a convertible and make love in hotel rooms. The novel was initially rejected by publishers as being too repetitive with unlikeable characters (this rang a gong with me). Though Salter says he figured it was the sex that put them off. Happily there are editors out there who are not put off by sex. Now he has a new novel, his first in more than thirty years. It’s called “All That Is.”  It is about a World War II veteran who becomes a book editor and seeks love, the universal human preoccupation and subject of much angst in novel writing.
Says Salter, “I like to write about certain things that if they are not written about are not going to exist.”  What things might you write about that if you didn’t, they wouldn’t exist? Things that nobody has a memory of except you? I have a memory of a girl on the threshold of knowing, on the hunt with her dog  in an open field under a night sky with the sense of a universe within reach, an undercurrent of expectation underfoot. The dog has his nose to the ground but the girl can't put her finger on the source of contentment she unconsciouly knows is fleeting. Can the snapshot of a memory be enough to base a novel on? A memory nobody else has?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Friday Flash 55 - Faith Or Reason

She saw a falling star and made a wish. But it was probably only a piece of space junk and the wish negated. Tons of junk were in orbit and sometimes stray pieces drifted too close to the boundary between turbulence and calm, falling to Earth if they survived the inferno. All the time falling.



If it's Friday it's time for flash fiction in 55. Visit the G-Man, the maestro of Flash, to read more.

TGIF. May the rains stop and the water recede.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

No More Hurting People

Martin Richard was with his family at the Boston Marathon to watch his father cross the finish line. Martin was killed in the blast and his mother and sister were grievously wounded. For them and for all who were killed and injured, we must run faster, stronger, harder and more beautifully.

 
 


Peace, Martin. You are beautiful.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Wage Theft At Sea (a friday flash 55)

Snake climbed the ratline and glassed the ocean. He wouldn't be free until his bond was paid, but asylum in Cuba awaited if he could escape the capitalists and their dangerous shortcuts. He cut the anchor rope and waited. The island’s bluff rose from out of the sea, and he silently slipped into the ocean.


The above flash fiction is 55 words for the G-Man.

TGIF and hello, Havana!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Me In Me

This week's poetry prompt from Willow Manor is Degas' "Woman With A Towel".

Woman With A Towel, 1898, Edgar Degas

This morning she discovered herself in the mirror
and lost her religion.
She looked at me in the beveled glass of her hand mirror
with the mother-of-pearl inlay
and it was good.

Have a clean heart, said the church billboard.
Take care of yourself and love me, I say.
The preacher preached from the pulpit
with arms asunder.
The Lord said a woman shall not
take a scissors to her hair!
So she looked it up.
The tool was manufactured in 1760.

The woman in me is not a dupe.
Her vulva is a pearl and her heart is sound.
It beat under the ultrasound
like a trooper in heat.

She cut off the bracelets, but she won’t stop there.
She cut off a hank because they told her she couldn't.
She cut off the rest and readied the bath.


You can go here to find more links to the prompt. Thank you for coming here. Degas is a personal favorite. Happy Poetry Month!

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Rental (Fri.Flash 55 )

They took the house before they saw
the stones hanging from the trees,
the fire pit and the stick formations
and the window that wouldn’t open
and the one that wouldn’t shut
and the frogs that came in
and the path in the woods that led on
and on.
And the woods.
And the woods.


Just a little story for the G-Man. TGIF!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Owl and the Compass (Flash 55)

With bloodied hands and twilight gathering, he lost himself on a road without name. Gnarled roots of ancient hemlock clogged the ditch like Gretel’s wood, and the dashboard compass spun like a weather vane. A shadow separated itself from the spinning dial and buried itself in his neck.  An owl watched from above and blinked.


The above is flash fiction in fifty-five words for the G-Man. Visit his site for more Flash 55's, and if you write one, let him know.

TGIF and Good Friday to you all.

Happy Easter.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dust It Off and Send It In

There's a feature in Poets and Writers called "Ask An Agent" wherein they pose questions to some of the best literary agents in the business. I've seen a lot of my questions answered in this forum, especially in regards to the all-important query letter.

Do you write short stories? There's a great contest at Narrative you might want to check out, but you only have until the end of the month. Ploughshares is also taking submissions for their Emerging Writer's Contest until April 1st. Write in the winter, submit in the spring, eavesdrop in the summer (and take notes), and travel in the fall. (The kids are back in school and the tourists are gone.)

Wouldn't it be nice to stick to that routine? Well, if you have a short story you never quite finished, dust it off, wrap it up, and send it in. Listen in on the world around you and write it down.

Seems March is going out in these parts the same way she came in-like Old Man Winter with a toothache, a bad attitude, and an ingrown toenail.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Demon Query

When you begin to query agents, it’s much like starting your own seedlings.  Some seeds sprout quickly, like kale (four days!) and some are slow and can take two weeks or more, like onions and parsley. Some are finicky and require perfect conditions, like peppers. 
I worry about my seeds almost as much as I worry about my query letter. I check them daily. There's so much to worry about. Did I use the right medium? It there enough light? Heat? Water? There are mistakes, like dropping a flat of newly planted basil seeds upside down on the floor. Will they ever recover and find their way up to the light?  When the fragile shoots first break the surface, you feel a joyous delirium. Your time and effort has been rewarded. To see the spindly stalks grow and develop their first set of true leaves is like developing your manuscript to a publishable level.
You don’t think you’re every ready to query. You wonder if you’ve done enough agent research. Does your hook hook? Will they like the premise or hate it?  Is your protagonist unlikeable? Your finger hovers over the send button.You pull it back and breathe. How could anyone not like him? Your finger finds the send button. You do it.

Then there is the glaring error you discover after you’ve sent out your first round of queries. You played with your first essential five pages, because you can't leave them alone. You fooled around with the first page and changed a phrase. Then changed it back because it was really, really stupid. But you forgot to save the correction. You sent the really, really stupid first page. You go to bed, happy, not knowing how stupid you are.

You awake and drink coffee and go to your other job, knowing you'll soon be a full time writer. You come home and open your documents, check email and drink something. You open up your sent folder and browse your amazing query and your agent-grabbing first pages and you see what you’ve done. The all-time most stupid phrase is right there on page one. You lean over your screen like a surgeon over the operating table. You can't believe what you see. Now what? Should you send a quick apology and explanation to the dream agent? Should you leave it alone and think they won’t notice the all-time most stupid phrase on a first page ever? 
You send the follow-up email. You kick yourself and go to bed. In the morning you soak parsley seeds in warm water. You turn on the computer and you wait.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Campfire People (A Fri. Flash 55)

The buzz of the chainsaw
interrupts her bird watching.
They cut down the woods
so they’d have a meadow.
They build fires at night and
move trees by day,
plopped here and there so prettily.
Buildings she never wanted to see
emerge through the trees.
They invite her to their campfire.
They built a meadow.


The above is 55 words for the G-Man's Friday excercise.  If you write one you should let him know so we can all read it. The sun is shining, the snow is melting off the sunny side of the porch, my basil on the windowsill has germinated, and the puppy is eating my socks and chewing on my electric cords.  Life is full.

TGIF!!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Next Big Thing

Tricia O'Brien, who blogs at Talespinning has tagged me for the Next Big Thing blog hop. Tricia is currently working on a dark fairy tale, PRINCESS CHARMING: A DIFFERENT KNIGHT’S TALE and shares a snippet of the story in her interview. I was delighted she asked me to share some details of what I’m currently working on, so without further ado,  here are my answers to the Next Big Thing.
What is your working title of your next novel? BLACK RIVER

Where did the idea come from for this novel? I can’t answer that question, because I’m not sure. I was sitting on the couch one night with my laptop and started writing about this guy who sets out across a wintering field to see what the vultures circling overhead are after. And then...things started happening. I think it came to fruition partly because of a secret desire I had to write a loose sequel to my first novel.
What genre does it fall under? I see it as a crossover between literary, commercial and contemporary NA.

Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? I hate to hitch up the horse when I don’t have a cart to sit in, but that said….my female protagonist should be played by a gutsy Girl-With-The-Dragon-Tattoo type, (minus the tattoos and the piercings) and the male protagonist would best be portrayed by Ben Affleck with Argo hair or someone like that guy who led his gang safely back to Coney Island in The Warriors.  
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your novel? The comfortable life of the son of a landed fourth-generation farmer collides with that of the daughter of an itinerant migrant worker with a troubled past.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I hope to be represented but I have not yet queried. This has actually been a good exercise for me in preparing to do so.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? The first draft took me five months to write.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? That’s hard since this novel is a crossover. I’ve been told by some that my writing reminds them of Jodi Picoult. Personally (don’t think me pretentious), I see this novel as a blend of Picoult, Scott Spencer, and Andre DuBus with a bit of the grit in All The Pretty Horses, and I hope it appeals to those readers who like those books.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? The earth under my feet, the world around me, and the climate change that threatens to overtake us and bury us.

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest? The characters wrestle with some of the most contentious social issues of our day while dealing with a small matter of murder, cover-up, and police malfeasance and then there is the forbidden love that the main character treks through the Canadian woods across thin ice in a warming world to claim.
And since Tricia shared a snippet, here’s one from BLACK RIVER: He’d never been cut with a knife before, and he wondered why his father hadn’t warned him about the aftermath of that, the crushing humiliation of having one’s mortality laid open for all to see.

As per the rules of being tagged, I hereby tag the following authors to share their next big thing.  J.B. Chicoine, Anne Gallagher, Deborah LawrensonStina Lindenblatt, and Liza Salerno.  Deborah has already done this here  but has agreed to post an update.

I can’t wait to see what these talented writers are currently working on.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Bad Girl

Venus de Milo with Drawers, 1936, Salvador Dali


At the age of twelve
I was instructed to wash my hands
when I got up in case
I'd touched myself in my sleep.

Curious at what I should be doing
but wasn't doing
I touched myself
here, here, and here.

Nobody else knows what they did
with my arms
but I can't touch myself
anymore.



The writing prompt comes to us from Magpie Tales,


A blog dedicated to writers and poets for the purpose of honing their craft. I hope you enjoyed my Magpie Tale. The Venus de Milo has always mystified me.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Better Than Jumping Off A Bridge (FF55)

Her albums are arranged
in alphabetical order facing left.
The silver is polished
with serrated edges pointing right.
Bottles in the rack are arranged
with the labels facing up.
Her life is a pattern pinned to the fabric
so as not to waste an inch,
edges cut with a pinking shears
so they won’t unravel.


It's fictional Friday and time to tell a story in 55 words. Check out the G-Man for links to more of the same, or better yet... post one of your own and let Mr. Knowitall alias G-Man know.

TGIF

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Magpie Dreams

Wind of History by Jacek Yerka
My recurring dream of water
sloshing in the wheel wells
on a drive along the crumbling beach
forested wtih trees which would never be
to swim without a suit like a hedonist
in waves crashing over the breakwater
 
gave way to a fork in the road
and a house of many rooms
waiting to be refurbished,
like an antique in need of buffing,
a loving hand to awaken the patina of wood
harvested from the property
and you under the covers in a room with a dormer.

If dreams are to be minded,
I will die of drowning and you and I
will never lie under the covers in the bedroom
on the property of a dream.

The image comes to us from Magpie Tales.  Follow the link to join the Mag Creative Writing Group and read other poems and vignettes using the Wind Of History for inspiration.
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

How To Make Mary Stay

Mary will stay
for days and days
if we pour boiling water
on her head
and strip her naked
like a dead thing with no privacy
in the cemetery of the living.

Mary comes but never stays
breezes in and bakes brie soufflé,
polishes the floor then off she goes
because Mary can never stay.



This is fifty-five words for the G-Man's Friday Flash 55. He prefers it be fiction, but it doesn't have to be, but he will rap your knuckles if you don't have exactly fifty-five. If you have a story you can tell in such a succinct fashion, you'd best let the big guy know. Enter his fold; he won't let you go.

TGIF!!


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Arrest Me! New Agent On A Rampage & Eros Sleeping

It seems that some notable authors are willing to be arrested for a cause. Citizen involvment is alive and well, and who better to lead the charge than poets and writers?  There are more causes to stand up for these days than books to be read.

In other news, Ethan Vaughan, who did a reader's report for me some time ago and has recently been promoted from intern to agent at Kimberly Cameron and Associates has made himself available for private editing, a task for which he comes highly recommended. Check out his blog here to see testimonials and get further information.

This morning there is a warning here from Jessica Bell in regards to CreateSpace. It appears there is no end to the trouble we face. Can one never let their guard down?

I leave you with this image from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There is something very moving and sensual about the sleeping Eros who has been out all day shooting arrows and now rests.





Happy Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Novel Should Break Your Heart

The only story that seems worth writing is a cry, a shot, a scream. A story should break the reader’s heart. – Susan Sontag 1933-2004

I’ve often wondered if I could write such a story. I have a hate/love relationship with sad endings. Should I challenge myself to write one? Would it make a masterpiece out of a cheesy, happily-ever-after? Have you written a story that Sontag would approve of? One that breaks your heart?

 As writers, should we be purveyors of escape at the end of the day?  Dealing out lighthearted romps, whodonits with neat endings, and happily-ever-afters, floating comfortably above controversy and reality? Or should we be shining a light into the dark corners of human existence and misfortune? There is no harder profession than writing and no higher calling than to tell the truth as we see it. But what is truth and do people want to read it? I don't want or even expect a happy ending, but I want a satisfying one.

Atonement (remember that one?) broke my heart. (I hated it!) Cormac McCarthy breaks my heart every time, yet I return to his stories again and again. I’m a glutton for tragedy, so why can’t I write one?  I fear it’s a flaw, the sign of an immature writer. And while it’s true, that I hate novels with sad endings, those are the ones that stick with me, the ones I can’t forget. So I wonder…do I have it in me to write the only story that seems worth writing? I fear it would break my heart.

Friday, February 8, 2013

The Dance (Fri.Flash 55)


Daddy taught me how to dance
how to step and how to follow
how to twirl like a top,
knowing he would find me. 

I collect the scattered coin
from off the floor and search
for the hearing aid remote
that gets lost
like the cane and the thoughts
and the steps for the dance.
 
 
This is 55 words for the G-Man's Friday Flash 55.
 
TGIF and may you always have someone to dance with.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mud Angels

"I was twenty-nine years old when the Arno flooded its banks on Friday 4 November 1966." Thus begins the novel, "Sixteen Pleasures" by Robert Hellenga. It takes place in flood-ravaged Florence and sweeps you through frescoed chapels, museums, bookstores, and, finally, to the waterlogged library of a  Carmelite convent where the heroine discovers a priceless Renaissance volume of sixteen erotic poems and drawings, and we are immersed in the painstakingly delicate work of a book conservator.

They say that there are no new subjects to write about, only different ways to tell the story. Hellangra proves this to be untrue. At least I have never read anything like this before, a story that centers around the craft of book restoration while giving us a glimpse of the Renaissance and taking us on a delightful foray into the pleasure of erotica and human sexuality (our conservator is inspired to sample each of the sixteen) with an intriguing look at monastic life, all the while holding forth the recurring theme of home. "Home is the place where when you have to go there, they have to take you in."

I adored this novel and highly recommend it. It's one of those exquisite books that will stay with you long after you've closed the cover and turned off the light, satisfied.

One final thing: Robert Frost died fifty years ago yesterday. Master of the metaphor, he was admired then and now for his depictions of rural life. He was ambiguous in his writing and didn't answer the questions for you. "A poet lays out a metaphor and let you wrestle with it." That was Robert Frost.  He deserves his own post, but because of time constraints (I really am trying to ready my manuscript at long last for querying), I'll leave you with a few lines from my favorite Frost poem.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Friday, January 25, 2013

The First Time (Friday Flash 55)

She bent over him, and her breath was warm and sweet as summer. He bit down on the back of his hand to stifle a moan.

It was late when he left. The moon had set and the sky pulsed with stars. The Big Dipper lined the edge of the world and the world was still. 
 
This is 55 words for the G-Man's Friday Flash 55.
Keep warm and TGIF!

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Mole - Magpie Tales



 

In training for the veil,
she nails the claustrophobia

but mourns the loss of her peripheral
vision, the dance classes and the wind

in her hair. She sips life through a straw
like one trapped under ice and practices

the art of being servile. They say she is lucky
to be one of but three to share his house.

She should have married Jesus
while she had the chance and slept alone.

She peers through her nose hole
and imagines life in a bell jar, contained.
 
 
 
Image comes to us from Tess at Magpie Tales, a blog to nourish the muse, one dedicated to the enjoyment of poets and writers, but I take responsibility for the rest. Tess's poem can be found here.