Post Thanksgiving Gratitude

Well, I just figured out how to fix the web problems I’ve had these past several years. And, I’m a techie. Ugh.

The way I look at it I have 4 days to write 35,000 words and complete my novel. That’s what prompts me to write of my gratitude. I’m so happy that the next 4 days extend before me like a marathon route. As soon as I finish this, the gun will sound.

Next year I’m making my main character be a blogger. The whole novel will be written in blog posts…hmmm.

When a character takes over

I have to be careful these days; I’m looking for work and Samantha, Sam, the funny but sharp-tongued twelve-year-old I’m writing about tends to speak through me. When I’m writing this is fine, wonderful in fact, but when I’m at a job interview or teaching I’m not sure that a sassy teen is exactly the best tone for me. Especially since I am an adult, cough, very adult, woman.

On the other hand I love seeing how my characters act in different situations. It’s nice to take them out in the “real” world and let them loose. Sam isn’t one to write a journal, or letters, or perform any other of the common tricks for learning about a character…she’s a kinetic learner and personality…she needs to do things.

I’m a little worried how I might redecorate during this period of time, besides that, I’m just glad Sam makes me laugh.

The Best Season of Survivor

I’ve already confessed to be a Survivor fan so there’s no use pretending I wasn’t fascinated by Parvarti’s play of two idols on one night, both gifts to other players, or by Sandra’s silence about finding an idol herself, or JT’s ridiculous decision to give Russell an idol. I loved it all.

I’m glad Sandra won. She may have been brilliantly planning a strategy of being able to say that she was trying to get Russell voted off so that she could use his vileness as a way to attract jury votes. That may have been the most brilliant play ever. It was certainly Parvarti’s relationship with Russell that killed her chances. She is by far the other master player and one who earned my respect.

I wish someone would explain to Russell that not only is he not the greatest player to play the game, he isn’t even very good at it. He doesn’t understand the game he’s playing. Everyone wants to take him to the end because he doesn’t get jury votes. Anyone can go up to everyone and say I’ll ally with you and use that to their advantage. The reason most don’t is because turning on an ally spells failure in the end. Russell doesn’t know how the game is played and I despise his arrogance. The fact that he thought he was carrying Parvarti around is so laughable.

Any Survivor fans out there? What did you think?

The blog hazard

I haven’t been well, but even so you’d expect an update on a blog more frequently than once every 6 months. A thousand times over I apologize.

I’ve been teaching more than writing and now have two novels desperate for my attention. They both have great characters that deserve to have their stories told. Perhaps this mea culpa of a post will be the trigger I need to turn the page so to speak.

If I publicly commit to finishing the revisions on Blindfold will that be enough to motivate me to get it done? I surely hope so.

In the meantime, as a confessed Survivor fan I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode. This series has been awesome even though I hate Russel and can’t stomach the fact that he refers to himself as the greatest player even though he wasn’t able to win because of a lousy social game. It will bother me, believe it or not, if he wins this game. Parvarti is the greatest player to ever play…hands down.

Running for My Life — the movie

I was surprised and awed when Jennifer Wolf a writer and video magician showed me the book trailer she made for Running for My Life. It’s wonderful.

To top it off her daughter, Sabrina, loves Running for My Life. That means the world to me. While I know there will always be people who don’t like what I do, and what I write, still a sharp negative review like the one I received on Amazon (One negative out of 16…so it’s not like I don’t have plenty of good to counterbalance.) stuns me. But, my floundering in that negative pool was short lived because Sabrina loved Pedro and the story and she matters more to me than the negative, anonymous, critic of my book.

Anyway, check out the trailer…it’s awesome and I’m grateful:

Running for My Life

Revision number three

Okay, I’m getting close. I ran into a problem where I revised my revisions so often that I lost track of my main character. So, I spent several days listening to her remind me what the story is about and what it is that she wants to say about it all. In essence, I stopped revising from some sense of “correction” and allowed the main character to address the issues my agent was concerned about. Sarah, the main character, she’s quite smart. I’m not sure how she puts up with me. I know she’s restraining herself from a long diatribe of “I told you so”s.

What I’ve learned? Let the narrator handle the revision. Share the revision letter with the main character and let him or her suggest solutions. I wish I’d done it months ago, but there’s no time for regrets…I’ve got a novel to revise, and a main character who is dying to revise it.

This manuscript has to be complete by November 1…because Nanowrimo is just around the corner. I’ve got another main character who has a whole other story he or she is eager to tell. (I’ve got two…one by he and one by she. Any suggestions on how to figure out which novel to tackle next? Flip a coin?)

I hope you are all writing well and enjoying yourselves. In Seattle, most of us are eager for some rainy writing weather.

A free and independent press no longer

Let’s face it — journalism is dead. It started to fail under the Bush administration and its last breath was taken sometime during 2007. I’m worried for our democracy and all democracies. Campaigns and elections will never be free and fair without an honest and independent press.

Consider it — do we know what is happening in Iran? How can we? Who won the election?

Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama went into the Democratic convention essentially tied for nomination. Obama led in pledged delegates and Clinton led in popular vote. And, considering that Obama’s delegate lead was obtained by disenfranchising FL and MI, Democrats should have gone into the convention with an opportunity to pick the best candidate for the presidency. If the press hadn’t made the decision that Obama was to be the nominee and repeatedly portrayed the nomination battle as a landslide victory for Obama, we would have. Instead, we were told that the nomination selection was obvious, and clear, and unanimous, and overwhelming, we were told that Obama won before the votes were even counted.

Is that any different from what is happening in Iran, or what has happened in any number of democracies in recent years?

Without a free and independent press there just elections are a challenge and accountability impossible. Without accountability democratically elected leaders become despots and there’s nothing we, the people, can do about it.

We need the press…we need a renaissance of journalism. That’s the hope and change we desperately need.

Ah, the job is done.

I’m doing the happy dance. I just completed revising my second novel and, thanks to my agents revision notes and the magic of nanowrimo, it’s much better than I ever imagined it would be or that I could write. That’s the bizarre thing about writing for me — I don’t know the stories I want to write until I write them.

It’s exciting to read and write at the same time. Problems are easy to spot when I’m so bored that I’m perfectly happy to end the story right where I am. It’s a sure sign I need to increase tension and mystery and heighten the stakes for the characters.

This moment is short lived. I need to work on promoting Running for My Life (thanks to those who have purchased a copy and written reviews. It’s terribly difficult to create buzz.) and my wonderful students to attend to, but for right now I feel complete, satisfied and relieved. What a feeling.

Back from my haitus

So much has happened since I last posted here. Too much to recount. Besides the release of Running for My Life, the most exciting thing to happen during my sabbatical was, ironically, I began teaching. Teaching, for me, is a triumph over the arthritic condition that has disabled me for much of the past two years, and it is a great love.

In my online writing class I have the best and nicest students. They are writing great stories, putting the ardour and struggles of their teenage protagonists onto the pages of their novels with incredible skill and craftsmanship. It doesn’t seem like I do anything as their teacher because they came to the class already knowledgeable and talented. Nevertheless, they assure me that they are getting something out of the class. As long as there are students who want to work on crafting stories for young adults and teenagers, I’m happy to help in any way I can. It’s been the most fun I’ve had since forever.

If it took a disabling illness to get me to leave my job and take-up writing and teaching for a living…then, this illness has been a blessing.

It’s the community of writers that make it worth it

There is no way any rational person would take a job where for every 1000 reprimands and criticisms of his work he received one, however faint, “nice job.” That’s a writer’s professional life — rejection after rejection after rejection, with the acceptances typically tossed in at the point just before you give it up for good.

I’m convinced there wouldn’t be any writers if it weren’t for the community of writers. I for sure wouldn’t be able to handle the isolation, and the challenges of the profession, if I didn’t have the benefit of knowing, and being a part of, a group of people that awe me with their talents and great hearts.

Maybe it’s simply that they know what it’s like. When I need it most, it’s a writer who will listen a little more attentively, crack a joke that gets me laughing despite the knot in my gut, or who will tell me a story of her own struggle, to reassure me that I’m not alone.

It is my sincere hope that I am able to be to others, in the writing community, what they are to me. Because without them, I would be driving a truck and wishing, above all else, that one day I could write.

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