Archive for the ‘In the Works’ Category

Nannie, pastor’s wife, operated her own business: virtuous woman.  I sat beside her, second pew.  She taught me hymn-singing harmony: my alto, her soprano.

Her house didn’t welcome children–busy street, scant yard, multicolored oval rug: indoor playground.  She reclined, exhausted, while I occupied my mind, exhausting dictionaries, encyclopedias, Vanderbilt‘s tome on etiquette.  Nannie rewarded me with Old Maid, Go Fish.  She taught me Chinese checkers.

Retirement released her like an aging rose.  I inhaled.  She taught me stiff rosebuds can become soft blooms.  She taught me to appreciate the subtle fragrance seemingly sealed behind her enigmatic smile–and mine.


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Mammaw shared coffee with Kathy, diluting the ten-year-old’s with “sweet milk” and sugar: “Boston coffee.”

Kathy kicked her chair’s metal legs, squirming when splits in its plastic seat snagged her nylon nightgown or pinched her bare legs.  Mammaw’s eyes smiled through black-rimmed glasses, shaped like butterfly wings.  They chatted like old friends between sips.

“Get your britches on, young-un!  We’re fixin’ to fetch you a purty from the dime store!”

Kathy grinned and scampered off.

Her dime store “pretty” lost to time, her memories of Mammaw last.  Smiling, she pours her grandchildren juice.  They chat like old friends between sips.

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New Year 2013 (PNG) | PSDGraphicsI’ve always resolved never to make New Year’s resolutions.  The reason?  They’re like rules, made to be broken.  Take my resolution not to make resolutions for one.  So why did I deviate from my norm this year?  Resolutions tend to be irresolute due to a lack of execution.  I decided to back up my resolutions with a daily and weekly plan to attain weekly, monthly, and annual goals.  I even made myself a weekly checklist.  For the sake of public accountability and in the interest of promoting writerly hubris, here is a summary of my 2013 Resolutions:

  • DAILY, I will open my Milky Way Home (sequel to Man in the Moon) file and write SOMETHING (even if it’s just the word “something”) and save it. But seriously, I’d better do more than that to meet my MONTHLY goal of 1-2 chapters and my ANNUAL goal of finishing the first draft by year’s end.
  • DAILY, I will accomplish one of my WEEKLY or MONTHLY tasks so I stay on target to accomplish these goals.
  • WEEKLY, I will “chat” with the characters of my dual-contemporary-historical fiction project and take notes to help with plot development; I will record a chapter of Man in the Moon for eventual mp3 audiobook download; and I will blog, post, and tweet here, there, and elsewhere.  Oh, and I’ll have to make progress toward a MONTHLY or ANNUAL goal each week, as well.
  • MONTHLY, I will complete a query or draft an article, which I’ll submit to a magazine; I will complete one brief audio “lesson” in a non-fiction series; tend to professional social networking; and accomplish at least one definite marketing task to promote my book and myself as a writer.
  • ANNUAL goals include 1-2 contest entries, at least 1 more story in my Mothers & Daughters collection, and some speaking engagements. I also want to resurrect my publisher’s web site and sell a Kindle version of Man in the Moon.

Gee, I’m tiring myself out just thinking of it all.  Of course, it’s all contingent on GOD willing and by His grace, but I can’t blame GOD for any laziness on my part.

I’m on track so far!  Chugga-chugga-choo-choo-I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can!  Now, if I just don’t run out of steam … . free Trains Clipart - Trains clipart - Trains graphics - Page 6

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First Drafts–Rough or Ready?

Thinking or Writing?

Thinking or Writing?

I know, I know … a first draft is supposed to be a rough draft.  I’m not supposed to stop and edit, take time to tinker with word choices and sentence structure, and rewrite my first chapter a dozen times before moving on to the next.  How can I expect to finish a novel that way?  No way!  I’m supposed to write as if running a sprint, not a marathon–full speed, stopping for nothing, not even to catch my breath.

Then, when I’ve reached the finished line … I won’t be finished.  I will discover I’ve been running the first lap of what is a marathon, after all.

I’m beginning to think this is hard for me because it isn’t the way anything else in life is supposed to be managed: marrying, raising children, cooking supper.  Is it?  Imagine if I ran a payroll (my day job) that way–just get it done and then fix the errors afterward.  But running payroll isn’t a creative endeavor … not like marriage, child-rearing, supper, art.

Art in Action

Art in Action

Watching a video of a young artist, drawing a face from out of blank canvas, helps me find my answer in a question.  A hint of a face, a rough sketch of a face, an almost face, a recognizable face, a remarkable face … what if she had to get the chin just so before she could let herself go … on … to freedom … to free the face, to free herself … to finish?

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What Makes a Novel?

A novel without a plot is … a story without a purpose … is a character without a goal.

As Antoine de Saint-Expury stated: “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”  To which I add: “A plan without a deadline is just a wishlist.”

What makes a novel?  A purpose-driven character and a writer with a deadline.

My first novel, Man in the Moon, sprang from my first writing assignment and budded during my final writing assignment of a course by the Institute of Children’s Literature.  I had a goal, plan, and deadline.  So, too, did my main character.

Now for the sequel, Milky Way Home … .  What does Rory Shaver, my main character, want–what are his goals?  How will he attain them and against what odds?  How long does he have–the deadline?  When and where do these events transpire, and with whom does he interact?  The answers will take my idea on its journey to becoming a novel.

But I must travel the same path to become the novelist … again.  My goal: to write this sequel.  My plan: hmmm … need a basic outline, a framework, flexible but providing direction.  And voila!–what I’d been lacking: a deadline.  I have determined, if my LORD GOD is willing, to complete the rough draft by 9/18/13.

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Fans Fan Flames

Last spring I gave an author talk to an AP 6th-grade class. Boys and girls hugged me and shook my hand, naming my book (Man in the Moon) as their favorite. They asked thoughtful questions about the characters, plot, and how the book came to be.  They asked for a sequel.  What more could an author want to light the spark of creativity and fan the flames of inspiration?

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