Enjoying the Writing & Publishing Journey

CarolsBookDisplay

I’m actually on vacation for the week but I’ve had a great past week working on promoting A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief, and Passion.

Last week I took copies to The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes then to Card Carrying Books & Gifts in Corning. The manager of Card Carrying Books set up a reading and signing with me for Sunday, September 9th at 3 pm. I can’t wait!

Yesterday, I took a little display of books to Carol’s Coffee & Art Bar in Owego, N.Y., shown in the picture. It’s one of my favorite places to hang out and write. I stopped in at Riverow Bookshop down the line and the owner also agreed to carry some books!

If you’re in the area, I recommend checking any of these places out for fantastic artistic and literary finds.

This week I am focusing on editing my new novel, Earthbound. Allyson is a vet and raptor rehabilitator with healing in her hands who is being stalked by monsters, not fully of this world. But then, neither is she.

So much fun!

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Cover Appeal

Don’t judge a book by it’s cover? I’m counting on mine to sell the book!

This past weekend I was attending a craft workshop at my library and talking about my book, as usual. (Come on, it’s a new and shiny experience for me!)

As it happened, the woman sitting near me runs a Christmas tree gift shop during the season and asked to see the cover. I showed her on my phone and she offered to carry some copies in their gift shop during the season. Score!

Thank you, GreenDragonArtist!

Now, of course I want people to read the book but I have to get it in their hands first.

Food critics talk about eating “with your eyes” first. The plate appeal is real.

Real Estate agents talk about curb appeal. Here’s my curb appeal and my real estate, from my head.

SanctuaryCover

Shonda Rhimes and Grey’s Anatomy

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One of my modern writing influences is Grey’s Anatomy. Yes, I’m as influenced by movies and televisions as books. It’s all about stories to me, wherever we find them. Some people like to say that there is nothing good on television anymore but I think that if you look for it, and if you don’t just zone out when you watch, there are some great and inspiring works. Grey’s Anatomy was one of those for me.

I started watching Grey’s Anatomy, created by Shonda Rhimes, back when it first went on the air and was immediately in love with the writing. I adored the characters of Meredith Grey and Christina Yang. I loved George. I watched it every Thursday for years, until life intervened. Six months ago, I started going back and watching it from the beginning, as time permits. (Which means I’m only through episode five or so.) But the writing still inspires me.

I read her memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, this past year and it was just like her writing on Grey’s Anatomy. Now, Rhimes starts out by saying that she loves to lie, but I find more truth in her fiction than a lot of other places in life.

Her tone is completely conversational, as if you were right there with her. She talks about her writing –

“There’s a hum that happens inside my head when I hit a certain writing rhythm, a certain speed. When laying track goes from feeling like climbing a mountain on my hands and knees to feeling like flying effortlessly through the air. Like breaking the sound barrier. Everything inside me just shifts. I break the writing barrier. And the feeling of laying track changes, transforms, shifts from exertion into exultation.”

I call it the writer’s high. It’s incredible and I totally agree.

Shonda is an introvert, an extreme introvert, highly gifted with words and, it seems to me, highly intelligent. Saying yes to things is terrifying, but she begins doing it anyway, even if it finds her “licking the dust at the bottom of the Xanax bottle because oh yeah, I don’t take Xanax anymore, it’s been twelve years since Xanax was my friend.”

 “I was just an unusual kid. Lucky for me, my parents held unusual in high regard. And so when I wanted to play with the cans in the pantry for hours on end, my mother didn’t tell me to stop messing around with the food and go somewhere else to play. Instead, she declared it a sign of creativity, closed the pantry door and let me be.”

Lucky for all of us.

“As Watergate played out on the tiny black and white set my mother had dragged into the kitchen and balanced on a chair just outside the pantry doors, my three-year-old imagination made a world of its own. The big cans of yams ruled over the peas and green beans while the tiny citizens of Tomato Paste Land planned a revolution designed to overthrow the government. There were hearings and failed assassination attempts and resignations . . . Man, that pantry was fun.

This memoir is a window on her world –  vivid, honest, engaging, funny and wonderful. I’m so glad she decided to share it.

Writing Inspiration

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I decided that on Tuesdays, I would share something about what has influenced me as a writer. (Of course, I’ve already missed that mark and slid into Tueswedthursday, but that’s what happens when you have a day off from work.)

Where to start? Everything influences me. Someone once asked me, “Where do you get your ideas for writing?”

The truth is . . . EVERYWHERE!

Every book I read, every news article I see, every interaction I have in the library where I work may spark an idea for me and start my brain off down some rabbit hole – scaffolding onto old knowledge, combining thoughts and ideas into something new.

It’s how I process the world.

I saw a book dedication on Pinterest recently that said it was to everyone who thought the author was writing about them. It’s much more tangential for me, I’m not usually writing memoir, and my perception of any one event or person probably would probably not be recognizable to someone else but . . . “Life is strange, and so we write.”

Tornado Dream

I tend to find that when I am struggling with something emotionally, if I don’t talk about it out loud, or try to deny my fear, it invariably ends up in my dreams. Well, back in 2011, at the end of May, a tornado struck our house when I was home alone with our one-year-old daughter. It took me quite a while to write about it. This is one of the things that came out of it, a dream that I had afterwards.

TornadoDream

A Sanctuary Built of Words in Art Show

The framed version of A Sanctuary Built of Words has been submitted to The ARTS of the Southern Finger Lakes for the Spring member show that starts this Friday in Corning, New York. I’m pleased I got that far. Now to finish the book so it can be there for sale too!

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Cover art for A Sanctuary Built of Words!

Finally! Cover for the forthcoming book . . .

What if sanctuary isn’t always a physical place?

Sometimes it’s located in our heads and sometimes

sanctuary can be found in the stories we share . . .

SanctuaryCoverGeorgia

Mrs. Bell’s Cat: A Short Tale for Halloween

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Mrs. Bell’s Cat

 

One fall day, Mrs. Bell opened the bay windows in her sitting room as she was dusting. She didn’t notice the lithe little shadow that slipped in, slid through the doorway into the dining room and up the stairs to her guest bedroom on the second floor, where it found a nice dark closet to rest . . .

Sorry, folks. Took this one down to publish it.

 

And the refrigerator too – a Father’s Day memorial

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My father died last October. On the last day I saw him, in the hospital, I said good-bye and told him I loved him. I said, “see you later.” It seemed to me like he wanted to say something but couldn’t get it out. Instead he said, “later, later.” But later never really came.

My mother called at 12:45 in the morning to say that she had heard from the hospital that he had passed. We were grateful that Hospice had been able to send a gentleman in to sit with him over night but it seemed that my father had waited for everyone to leave, then left himself.

I went to work the next day, to wrap things up so I could be away for several. As I walked back to the break room at lunch time, I passed a cart of books waiting to be shelved. The last book on the cart had fallen over to lay face up and the cover was a beautiful watercolor of a rainbow trout, the title said “Trout Reflections.” I grabbed it. My father was an avid fly-fisherman and had taught me to fly fish as a teen. It was probably the time when we had connected the best, and was undoubtedly the most harmonious time in our relationship.

That night, I got home from work and was in the next room when my refrigerator started making an odd growling noise. It would growl on an up note and then stop, growl and stop, growl and stop. It continued for several minutes. I walked into the kitchen and listened. It made me think of how my father, dressed in the tiger print bathrobe my mother had made him, would tease me as a child saying, “grumble, grumble, growl.”

Feeling slightly foolish, I said out loud, “Dad, if that’s you, please stop messing with my refrigerator. I need it to keep working for a while longer. It’s okay, I know you loved me, I love you too.” It made the noise two more times and then stopped. It never made that noise again. Unfortunately, the next day it died too. My Dad always did like a good laugh.

Shhh . . . I’m writing.

Yes, I’m still out here. Still writing and submitting, which is why I haven’t been posting. There are times when you realize that if you want to actually accomplish your goals of being published, you have to shut up and write.

I recently heard about a wonderful web site called coursera.org where you can take courses for free from professors at top universities around the world. I signed up for the Science Fiction and Fantasy course, hoping it would help me look at the literature a little more deeply. It required reading a full length book every five days, doing a short assignment and then responding to assignments from four other people. I quickly realized that the timing was really not right. I can either write or do a course, along with work and family. Both is just too much.

Right now I have about a dozen short stories that I’ve started and a couple novels to edit. I’m sending things out and hope to have some good news soon. I’ll post when I think of something useful or interesting to say.

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