Sunday, December 4, 2011

Worst Chistmas Gift Ever

Several years ago, my husband's parents joined my family at my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving dinner. Standing watch on her front steps sits a concrete goose, lovingly dressed up with a cute little hat reflecting the holiday. It stands a little over a foot tall and fits in nicely with her potted plants and whimsical aesthetic. As we arrived, my in-law's commented on the goose and mentioned they liked it.

That was when it started; the moment the wheels started turning, so to speak.

My husband, Mike, starts taking mental notes right around Halloween. If someone on his Christmas list even utters the words "I want..." he will rush out to buy what ever it is, eager to please. Nearly ten years of marriage has taught me to be careful of what I wish for, because if I mention toaster ovens or crockpots that's what I'll get it for Christmas. I'm more of a Coach bag type of girl.

Anyway, a week later we were trying to decide on what to get his parents for Christmas. At the time, they lived in Northern California and we were in Southern California, so we planned to purchase a gift online to be directly shipped to them. We tossed ideas around... I suggested fresh Alaskan salmon, or a  night in a New Mexican B&B, even sweaters, but nothing seemed to ring his bell, until he remembered the goose.

Immediately, I was unsure of his choice. I figured it was far more likely they were just being nice... for example, I like giraffes but it doesn't mean I WANT one.  Not that the goose isn't lovely, it is... it just doesn't fit their contemporary, southwestern style. We went back and forth about it, but eventually I relented. They were, after all, his parents and he obviously knew them better than I did.

We started by googling 'concrete goose' and searching websites. After quite a bit of hunting, we found one in Colorado who not only sold the geese, but little outfits especially designed to fit any personality. We both agreed the little leather biker outfit was perfect for them since riding is one of their favorite things to do. It didn't take me long to get excited right along with my husband, who was on top of the world... in his mind he was envisioning the smiles and joy they would experience as they opened this amazing gift of concrete and leather.  Out came the VISA and within a few minutes and $150 later, it was a done deal. We high fived eachother on a job well done.

A couple of weeks later Mike called me with the news. His parents had received thier custom goose and were anything but pleased. I remember the "What the hell are we supposed to do with this thing?" and sound of my husbands dissapointment as he relayed to me the details of the call.

I felt so bad for him... he actually shed a tear or two. I was angry at my in-law's for their reaction to a gift. To not like a gift is one thing, but to actually get mad about it is, in my opinion, completly rude and inconsiderate. I fought back the "I told you so's..." and lent sympathy to his hurt ego.

A couple of years went by and the goose was all but forgotten. One day we were visiting his grandparents in Hesperia. I was nursing at the time and the baby was hungry, so I went to the family room to sit quietly and feed my son. I sat there looking about the room. We rarely went to that house so I was not overly familiar with it's layout or it's decor, but out of the corner of my eye something caught my attention. I looked over and there it was... the goose standing proudly in the front hall, dressed in all its leather glory... all four feet of it.

It was then I understood why his dad was so upset by the gift. I mean really, who really wants a four foot tall, leather clad, concreate goose greeting their guests? Can we say TACKY? 

I started laughing and called Mike over to where I sat and pointed to the goose. We both laughed about it and made a point of calling his parents on the way home to tell them we finally understood their reaction.

In the end, although the gift was hated by the recipients, it has since provided me with an abundance of laughter. I think we all can relate to getting a gift we less than love, but I can admit I'm guilty of giving one of the worst gifts ever and each year that has gone by, as I order the fresh Alaskan salmon for my in-law's I laugh about it all over again.

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Collars and Commas

Thursday is my favorite day of the week. After the kids are tucked in their beds I have the house to myself. It’s Project Runway night and I’m at peace, armed with my computer, a bowl of pita chips and some orange juice on the side. I always tell myself I’m going to write while I watch it, but I never do. I feel guilty only for a moment for wasting such precious minutes, but brushing it off and savoring the time with Tim Gunn and Nina Garcia is part of this weekly ritual.

Well, this season just started and there is one designer in particular who has grabbed my attention. Just by looking at her you can tell she is super creative, but what makes her truly special is she just learned to sew four months ago. Now, let point out, I am self-taught in the art of sewing and I can say from experience, it’s not easy! Heck, I have pillows on my couch right now that are unfinished and bursting at the seams. The amazing thing about this girl is not only are her designs outstanding, but her sewing is impeccable… I think she will be in the top three.

So, you wonder, how does this relate to writing? Well, last week she was stuck in a technical part of her design, attaching a collar. Fortunately for her, one of the other designers who had already finished their garment offered to attach it for her… so kind, right? I thought so, too. Then, one of the not-so-kind designers made a comment about “that being the difference between self-taught and going to design school.”


That’s it! That is the difference between going to design school and being self-taught. He’s absolutely right. He knows how to sew a collar because he had the money to go to school and learn the proper way of doing his craft, but she was not so lucky and I am astounded by her natural talent. I think it would be amazing to see what she could do if she did have the proper technical instruction, which should not be confused with talent. You can have all the education in the world and still not possess an ounce of talent. Case in point, the designer who was eliminated that week was a design school graduate who sadly, possessed little of the gift.  

Isn’t that what writing is all about?  Writing anything, whether it’s a blog post, short story, poem, or novel is, at the very basic level, design.  Some of the most amazing stories have been brought to life by writers without college degrees… Ray Bradbury and Ernest Hemingway are good examples.  Instead of using textiles, writers use words and commas to sew together plots instead of pieces of muslin and silk.

Like this girl, I have no piece of paper in my possession proving my abilities. I believe I am fortunate enough to have claimed a fair bit of wit from my family’s gene pool, but my comma usage would put my high-school English teacher to shame. As time goes by, I hope this will remedy itself and I will someday look back on my early works and laugh at my rudimentary attempts to entertain those who take the valuable time to read my ramblings.

In the meantime, forgive my comma conundrum and laugh with me when I publish my first book.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Love Letters of Inspiration

I've been hard at work on my novel, Hattie's Leila, although summer has gotten the best of me. Keeping three kids entertained is not conducive to sitting at my computer. I've just finished a chapter in which Hattie, one of my main characters, reads an old love letter written by her first love. This letter is just one of many actual letters I came across. This one was written to my Great-Great Grandmother and has been great inspiration to her part of the story. I've only edited it a touch. Also, the writers name was actually William.  I changed his name to Oliver because it seems the women in my family had a 'thing' for men named William.

Chesapeake, Missouri February 9, 1903
Miss Hattie Kirby, Mount Vernon  

Dear Hattie,
      I think you will pardon me for taking the liberty of writing you. Since I was at Mount Vernon last Saturday, I have been thinking if it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.
I was so disappointed and I cannot tell you why, but I must not prolong this. I had a message for you, however the meeting in the store prevented me from delivering it.
      Will you not think me impolite in asking you to be friends? Yes, friends, that is all.
You seemed to fear me for some cause. While our past life has been painful in many respects, you know me as no other and I would never harm you. In all probability, there have been some very bad things said about me and some are true, but I am willing to do anything to be friends with you.
      If you cannot grant this, please don’t think me rude. Burn this letter, say nothing about it and I will bother you no more. Could we trade pictures, or is that not to your keeping? If this is not satisfactory do not answer. We cannot exchange by mail.
      As Ever,

Thursday, June 30, 2011

WARNING: Pentecostal Revivals Can Be Dangerous -- Just a Taste of Hattie's Leila

Men, women, and children alike, danced wildly around the room in ways you would never see outside the walls of the Mount Vernon Pentecostal Church. Brother Gordon was jumping up and down; next to him was Sister Hoberne, who was rolling on the floor and flopping like a fish out of water, with her undergarments exposed for the for the world to see.

At last, Brother Shaw’s hands found Mrs. Kendall. One of his palms held the back of her head while the other cupped her forehead.

“In the name of Jesus Christ,” Brother Shaw shouted, “you will be made whole again!” At the same time he pushed forward with the hand on Mrs. Kendall’s forehead sending her flying backwards, one fat leg then the other doing their best to keep her on her feet. It was no use, however, for Muriel was on her hands and knees howling to the roof when her mother backed upon her. Mrs. Kendall was going down, but no one around her reacted, for the entire congregation was hypnotized by the energy in the room. Herbert and I put our hands to our ears in anticipation of the impact.

I believe the windows rattled, and the floor dipped in the spot where Mrs. Kendall landed. There was for sure, a crack on the pew where her head hit.

They said she never felt a thing, poor Mrs. Kendall.

I walked with Herbert on the way home from Church that day, still in shock over the events we had witnessed that morning. Our mother’s had gotten far enough ahead and were so bereft with grief over Mrs. Kendall’s unfortunate demise, they never noticed us with our pastries. The normal after service socializing put most people off from the thought of food, but not Herbert and me. We had both managed to grab an apple tart from the basket on our way out the door.

“Poor Mrs. Kendall,” Herbert said, between bites.

“Poor Muriel, she killed her own mother!” I replied,  as I sucked the sweet glaze off each of my fingers.

“I suppose that would be pretty hard to live with. I wonder if she’ll come back, to church, I mean?” Herbert began pondering that very thought when the idea came to me.

“I’m going to do it,” I said, stopping in my tracks.

“Do what, exactly?” Herbert stopped, interest showed in his eyes as his left eyebrow rose in anticipation of my newest brilliant idea.

“I’m going to get healed,” I announced, as if this was some fantastic idea no one had ever thought of.

“What if you end up knocked out dead, just like Mrs. Kendall?” He asked, bringing up a good point. Judging by the outcome of Mrs. Kendall’s experience, healing was more dangerous than I had previously thought.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Litopia and the Value of Critiques

Before I started writing Hattie’s Leila, I never had reason to give the word “critique” much thought; well it has been four months and I have gotten to know the word well. You could say it’s my ‘favorite word’ these days. I sent pieces of my story to a couple of family members, but only heard crickets in response… not very encouraging, but it is what it is, which is a different story altogether. Desperate for help, I thought it might be a good idea to find a writing group, a place to commiserate with other’s who are on the same journey.  After searching online I came across a group called Litopia.

When I first signed up, I immediately recognized its value. Members are comprised of new writers like me, seasoned authors, agents, and editors from all over the world. The advice and support I have found there has been inspiring as well as informative. Membership is graded, so when you first register you have access to a few of the message boards, but after a while you can request full membership status and submit a chapter to the all-powerful beings in charge. They will read it and either accept you as a Full Member or throw the pages back at you, telling you to try again.  The prize at the end of that tunnel, other than the warm fuzzy feeling of acceptance, is the chance to put your writing out there for critiques. Not everyone gets that warm fuzzy acceptance, some try several times before they succeed, and some never make it.

Well, I am proud to say I made it on my first try! I was taken aback by how emotional I felt the moment I read the email telling me I’d made the cut.  I cried and then walked around the house aimlessly for a day or two, with my head in the clouds. I suppose just the validation I felt knowing someone out there saw something in my writing made me feel the way I did, because truthfully, putting your work out there leaves you feeling vulnerable and at risk for rejection. For a writer, knowing someone is actually reading what you write is very important. There is nothing quite as depressing as when you send it to someone who never gives you even an indication they’ve looked at it, especially when they asked to see it in the first place... again, different story. Well. after the happy dust settled, I wasted no time submitting my first chapter—my hearts soul – for critique.  What I received both inspired and taught me.  I was lucky, for the reviews were positive. They liked my ‘voice’ and the story was good, however, the critiques also brought to light areas where perhaps I was leading the reader off in directions I hadn’t intended and places where backstory could be replaced with dialog; let’s not forget misplaced commas, those nasty little things I hate so much…  The result so far has been a completely different beginning to my story with fuller chapters and more dialog, as well as deeper character development. Oh, and don’t forget better comma placement—those damn commas!

Writing a book is a challenge to say the least, my characters are real in my head, they sometimes ramble, they sometimes do crazy and unexpected things leading my story on different roads than first imagined. Oh and timelines—do not get me started on timelines!  In the end, with my friends at Litopia, I know this story I am weaving will turn out better because of them; I am grateful every day to have such a talented group of comrades to walk with me on this journey.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lessons Between the Covers

I’ve been challenged to write about a book that has changed the way I look at something. Ironically, the hardest part of this challenge, at least for me, was choosing the book. How do you name only one book that changes you? Some books have taught me lessons in life; some have walked, hand in hand along with me, as I’ve learned my own lessons. There is a book of poetry, which without, I do not believe I would be writing today. There is also a book about God, which gave me peace in my heart, and showed me it’s OK to say, “I’m just not sure…”

There are classics, which gave me a deeper appreciation for writing. There are books of historical fiction, which have taught me something fascinating and at the same time, entertained me to tears.

For this challenge, I’ve chosen Margaret Mitchell’s, Gone with the Wind.

I was given the book by my mother, when I was around twelve or thirteen. I had already seen the movie, so I was familiar with the story. There was no doubt I would enjoy it. There was only one problem with the book, as far as my twelve year old self was concerned… It was too big!  I was judging the book by its cover, afraid to start it, because I was foolishly afraid it would never end.

The book sat on my shelf for at least three years. I looked at it now and then, turning its heavy hard cover around, flipping through pages.  Only to set it back on the shelf, until the next time it caught my attention. Finally, on one of those exploratory ‘flip-throughs’, I found the courage to actually start reading it. I struggled with the first sixty or so pages. I found them lacking in interest, leaving me bored and wondering if it would ever get better, an opinion which I still stand by today.

Page by page, I continued to read it, and before I knew it I’d fallen so in love with the story and the people Mitchell created, I could not put it down. By the time I had finished it, I was sad to say goodbye to Scarlett O’Hara, for the movie did not do her justice.

Never again would I judge a book by its length.

This is a lesson I’m teaching my oldest son, who at the tender age of eight, still sees reading as a chore. I see him when he picks a book, the way he holds it and judges it. Sometimes, I will suggest an old favorite, I think he might enjoy….

Does it have pictures?” He asks?

The words will paint the pictures for you.” I tell him.

How many pages does it have? He flips through it with apprehension.

Does it matter, if it’s a good story?” I reply.

Right now, on his shelf in his room, is his version of Gone with the Wind. It’s titled Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was mine, I gave it to him last year. I’ve caught him turning it over, feeling its weight, and flipping through its pages. He knows it’s a good story; he’s seen the film, but like his mother, he’s judging the book by its cover. Eventually, he’ll find himself willing to give it a try. He may put it down, but I have no doubt one day he’ll finish it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Submission for Critique... Scary Stuff

This book is the first thing I've ever written with the intent to share. I desperately want it to be perfect. When I read the words, I LOVE it; I GET it; and I hope anyone who would share hours of their life reading it, would be entertained enough to say the same, then pass it on.

My point is… my dream is to share it. Which means letting someone else read it. So far, I've only shared it with a few select people who I KNOW will say they love it.  There are two others, both relatives, who said "Hey, I'd love to read it..." then, never said a word about it. That makes one wonder... “What if it's crap? What if I'm one of the people out there who think they can write but can't?” You know, like the ugly girl trying out for American Idol.... What if I'm her? Or, what if I'm not?  What if, I truly have what it takes to get published?

What if? Those are big words to me today.

A few weeks ago my membership on Litopia, an online group for writers, was upgraded. I have access to critiques… such valuable insight. Then yesterday, a gentleman from cyberspace commented about the paragraph I blogged a while back. He liked what he read, made a rational and very good suggestion on how I may want to enhance it… and offered to critique a chapter, if I was interested.  Good news right? I am so grateful for both these opportunities, and yet I’m scared to death!  It’s those darn ‘what if’s’ that keep getting in my way.

I am proud to say, I fought my silly fear, and sent the first chapter off for critique. Who knows what will come of it. Hopefully, my dreams won’t come crashing down around me. I hope I have what it takes to hear what the readers have to say. Above all, I hope I have the common sense to listen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Memories of a Royal Wedding

One summer day when I was eleven, my mother woke me early in the morning. We lived in town called Alden, a small suburb of Buffalo, NY. I remember it was still dark outside when she gently shook me awake and urged me to follow her. Thinking back, I believe I may have been slightly peeved at her pulling me out of bed so early to watch some people get married. I am sure I was likely grumbling as I made my way downstairs to the family room.  
Still rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I sat on the carpet in front of the television while my mother tuned in to NBC. With a bowl of raisin bran in front of us, we had front row seats as Jane Pauley and Tom Brokaw took us live to the beautiful spectacle that was Prince Charles, and Diana Spencer’s wedding. As soon as it began in all its glory, my grogginess quickly vanished. Swept away with the romantic illusion in front of me, I was in awe. Diana's splendid gown was, without doubt the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Prince Charles was a prince after all, and he brought with him the princely splendor a girl could only dream of. It truly was a fairy tale wedding and from then on, I was a fan. I loved Princess Diana and I loved everything Royal.
After the wedding, I like many people I loved everything Diana. If she were on the cover of People magazine, I would buy it. I dreamed of going to England one day just so I could visit the places I'd seen on TV and read about in books. When Princes’ William and Harry were born, I was thrilled. Their births only added to the happily ever after, the Royal family represented. When Diana died, a part of me died too. Glued to the TV, I was drawn to her, just as I had been for the day of her wedding. I was broken hearted and I cried for her. I cried for them all.
Looking back, I realize that wedding had a profound effect on how I envisioned love. When I first got married in 1990, the train on my dress was long, long, long! I never connected the dots at the time but I can see now why that long train swept me away. It was like hers. The poufy sleeves, the lace... the princess-like qualities I saw in its satin.
And here we are, just about thirty years later. I've paid attention and watched those boys grow to men. I have kept up with their lives, education, and romances just like I always have. When I saw the Diana's sapphire ring on Kate’s hand, it brought me joy. With the recent coverage on TV and all the retrospective glimpses of Diana's wedding I can see now, with my much wiser vision; there was no love between them. It is plain on each of their faces. William and Kate however, they wear their love openly and I hope their wedding is just as beautiful and memorable to me as his parents wedding was. I cannot wait to wake up next week and watch it, just like I watched his mother's wedding on that hot August day back in 1981.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A paragraph I love... What do you think? A teaser from my novel...

The horse seemed to know the pace and direction he was meant to follow. Oliver dropped the reins from his right hand leaving only his left in charge.  My hands had been folded neatly in my lap when his free hand invited my left hand to join it. It accepted and remained, entwined with his for the rest of our ride home. There was no need to speak, for everything we felt for each other could be translated through the way his thumb rubbed my hand while he held it securely in its palm. My fingers returned the sentiment with a squeeze of their own. This dance repeated the length of the ride, until we pulled into the drive. His strong hand gave mine its ovation before dropping it gently back on my lap.  The smile in my heart almost betrayed me, for I wanted to laugh out loud with happiness and yet at the same time, cry as our day was fast coming to an end.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crossroads and Strawberry Pie

As of this moment right now my novel stands at 23,125 words in length.  Now, taking in consideration I've never written anything this long in my entire life, I am really quite proud of the accomplishment.  What I find even more fascinating is the fact there is still so much more floating around in that mushy head of mine.  I feel very confident my WIP will reach my completed 90,000 word goal. 

Aside from goals and numbers which are all really completely boring unless you are the agent who is going to fall in love with my wit and honesty, ultimately begging for the opportunity to represent me.... like I was saying, aside from that, I'm at a crossroads in my story. For the first 7 chapters I have just "known" when to end it with a line that sung to me.  Personally, I love reading a book where the end of the chapter makes you hungry to start the next, so naturally that's the path I have been taking.  So, far it's been working really well but for some reason I have found myself stuck and may end up scrapping some pages... basically I don't want to start out taking the readers on a really great ride only to let them down. 

And then I walked away from the project. 

Ate dinner…Carnitas from Las Golondrinas in San Juan Capistrano... it was very yummy indeed. 

Pondered having some leftover strawberry pie... but, summer is right around the corner and there was that bag of cinnamon-sugar pita chips I practically married last night...

When it dawned on me...  the way to end the chapter keeping the reader hooked... got a great idea and I'm going to write it down... right now.  Sometimes just walking away, giving the mind time to marinate in itself is all one needs to see things clearly.

Good night my few followers.  I'll never forget who you are.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pulling Genius Out of My Head

So, I've been sitting here for half an hour trying to come up with something witty to blog about today. I've typed, re-typed, and deleted more than once. Why is it some days the words just flow like water from a spring and others it seems the only thoughts in my grey matter are comprised of what level I'm on in Assassins Creed or did Sharon Newman get released from jail yet?  My fellow Y&R fans will know what I'm talking about.

What I've learned over the last couple of months since I started my novel is this... writer’s block is real.  I've discovered it is not just a figure of speech or an excuse. However scary it might seem at is nothing more than a simple block.  It's not 'writer’s wall' or 'writer’s dead end'. It's a block; a step if you will.  I've found I do my best writing when I just go for it, push through it, and start typing.  Before I know it I have the bones to something I believe has great potential to build upon.

The first time it happened I felt slightly defeated.  “Oh... NO!”  I thought to myself... “I'm going to get blocked, pick up my PS3 controller and find myself hooked on the game.  My writing will fade away with my list of other creative endeavors I've started but never finished! Oh, and please, when you sit on my couch go easy on my pillows for I never hand stitched the last holes closed.”

Do you see how easily I am distracted?  I'm like a fourth grade boy with ADHD trying to do a jig-saw puzzle while watching SpongeBob at a birthday party. 

Well, back to writing! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost

From as early as I can remember I've had a love for poetry.  My shelves were lined with the likes of Walt Whitman and Edgar Allen Poe.  There are numerous poems I can call my favorite on any given day... from little lymerics, ballads, and ode's  but, Robert Frost's, The Road Not Taken is the one my heart can relate too... at least today.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Ahhh!  What a journey I am on! 

When I made the decision to write a novel I went into it with no practical experience to call upon.  I got about a paragraph in when I realized there would be research involved.  So, I called up Google and Wikipedia to begin my journey back in time.

Over the next few days as I continued to write I grew more and more anxious!  Information was everywhere in the form of hand written scribbled notes and websites I had saved to my computer.  My mind was abuzz with the story in my head braided toghether with the voices of my mother and grandmother who have been lending me their recollections....  I sat in the midst of all of the chaos and realized I needed to get some sort of organization figured out or there would be no book. 

Before I had even really begun I almost quit.... But I didn't.

It's been about a month or so now and I'm still going strong.  I've gotten a rhythm that works for me and I've stuck to it.  My research notes are still not filed alphabetically and the huge favorites file on my PC not only still exists, but it's grown tremendously and used often.  In addition I also received some WONDERFUL books from my grandmother filled with the historical information specific to my story and the people in it. 

When the dates and seasons began to blur I realized I needed a timeline....  So, I also created a timeline.  It began to get difficult trying to remember each place I referenced a can't switch one without switching them all...   I'm one of those people who add dates up in my head to make sure the author was paying attention... Sandra Gulland, you have always passed the test...

What I've learned so far.... 1.  there is no right way or wrong way to catalog your notes, go with what works for you.  2. Writing is like a croissant... it's just layers upon layers of goodness.  I write and re-write, tweak and touch-up and my story is morphing and breathing life on it's own.  3.  Don't research too much on how to land an agent... it will only intimidate you.   

So, I'm just about 60 pages (18,000) words into my novel and I LOVE it!  My life long love of poetry seems to be paying off and I'm sure I'll have no problem of reaching my 90,000 word goal.  For now, I'm going to just keep on writing until I'm sure it's perfect and then?  Well, I'll cross that bridge when I reach it. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Writing in the Middle of Life

The room is small.  What some would call cozy.  The walls are covered in white wainscoting and the floors are wood.  There is a large picture window overlooking water...  lake or ocean... a body of water is all that is required. 

The room is quiet... except for the TV which is set to Young and the Restless... OK, you have to forgive me for that one, but I gotta keep up with the Genoa City crowd.  Let's pretend I said Jack Johnson is playing softly in the background.  He would go nicely with the waves...

The furniture is comfy with lots of pillows on a sofa.  The desk and table are mahogany.  I have a laptop because I may want to sit at my desk, on the deck, or on my sofa.  I would like a fireplace.  Wood burning... they smell good and give off nice ambient light.
There is a bathroom attached, with a blind Bradley Cooper just waiting to take dictation.  For I get all my best ideas in the shower.  Don't make me explain why he has to be blind.  Bradly can make coffee too.  Mochas, just the way I like 'em.

I've just described to you my dream writing environment.  Now let me walk you through my reality.

The room is large and decorated nicely.  I did decorate it after all. Warm, earthy tones with pops of red make it comfortable and fun.  Toys are scattered across the ceramic tile floors thanks to my three children, usually one or two of their friends, and two cats who are a foot.

The TV is very large and it's on constantly.  Rarely does it find Y&R but is usually tuned in to Peep and the Big Wide World or a video game of some sort.  I don't own an ipod and all my Cd's are in my car so, if I do listen to music these day's it's been Swingers and Swing on takes me where I want to go.

My shower is upstairs and down the hallway.  So, when I get my best ideas I usually scribble them in the shower steam on the glass doors.  I do find as long as I write it on something it sticks in my head better.  Let's face it though... some of those buds of brilliance are lost forever.  Where is Bradley when you really need him?  (George Clooney could easily replace him... he is more mature and has a proven record of staying power.)  Showers are usually taken with a two year old who likes to draw in the steam too.  She enjoys playfully screaming while she does this.  So, it's rarely a quiet event.

Someone always needs something... a drink, a snack, clean clothes.... so, if I'm lucky to sit in peace for an hour in front of my PC which sits firmly stuck on a desk, I consider myself blessed.   

I was thinking about all of this earlier and wondered, where did the great writers do their best work?  Did Steinbeck do his best work in a peaceful perfect writing environment or did he manage to write Grapes of Wrath while mowing his lawn and working on his car?  Did Lisa See write Snow Flower and the Secret Fan while doing dishes and vacuuming? 

Someday, if my writing makes it the way I hope it will, people may envision me sitting in that shabby chic room with a wonderful view telling Leila's story.  I will be laughing, hopefully all the way to the bank, because I know the truth... This book is being written in the middle of life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Inspriation and when it smacks you in the face....

I've always wanted to write.... I just never had the guts to do it until now.  I don't know exactly what changed in me, but over the last few weeks something inside me certainly did. 

I was given a shadow box made by my Aunt.  It was filled with old trinkets that once belonged to my Great Grandmother, Leila and her husband, Bill.  An old photo, abalone clad salt and pepper shakers, a fountain pen engraved with Bill's name.... an old pocket watch, a class pin from 1924, and tucked behind some dried flowers was an old letter... addressed to Leila.

For months I've walked by this shadow box always glancing as I passed.  The old photo of Leila at about three years old, in a bonnet, coat, and boots, walking hand in hand with a little boy taken in about 1909.... always makes me smile.... but it was the little fragile letter tucked in the back that really piqued my attention. 

One night, after tucking all three of my kids in bed.  I went to the den and took the box from the wall.  I gently slid back the glass, being careful to not disturb the contents, which have not been touched for more than 20 years I'm sure.... Carefully, I pulled the letter from where it sat, relieved it was not held down with glue or anything that could damage it.

It was addressed to my Great Grandmother before she was married.... June 1925 on the postmark.  I carefully opened it and was at that moment inspired to write. 

The letter was from her first love... a love she walked away from but in her heart always wondered "what would have been?" 

After folding it and slipping it back in the shadow box I called my mom to tell her what I had found.  I was pleasantly surprised to hear my mother had even more letters, from the same boy, to Leila... In addition, another letter existed, which made my story only richer.... a letter to Hattie, Leila's mother.... it was dated February 1903... from a Will Smith... her first love who broke her heart, almost leaving her an old maid.

So, here I am.  One month later, completely obsessed with the women in this story.  It's a story set in a rural Missouri town and it's a story worth telling. 

Who knows if my dream of being a published author with my works lining the shelves of Barnes and Noble (hopefully, the ones right when you walk in the door) will come true or not... but, I'm going to take the chance.   So far, I'd say it's pretty good!  Heck!  I want to keep writing it and hopefully you'll want to read it.

In the meantime I'm going to blog my way through as I take the journey through the turn of the twentieth century and beyond.  I hope you enjoy the ride as much as I do! 

Oh, if you know a good literary agent... send 'em my way!