Saturday, April 24, 2010

April Showers: Reading

Hello, friends, it rained yesterday and it is freaking cold here. My big cross country trip is to begin in a little more than a week. My posts will be very short and sweet during May, chat about books and shout outs.

Today, I will chat about one of the great passions of my life. I'm a reader. I love to read more than sleeping (honestly). I'm a currently book rich. I'm like a millionaire currently when it comes to books. The following is a list of the first four fiction books by the bed and just a little piece of the story of why I am reading each book. These are in no particular order. If a book is by my bed, it's there because I'm freaking intrigued.

First, STEALING DEATH by Janet Lee Carey. Janet's writing is like layer cake, full of meaning and nuances, stuff like this: "Stars salted the night sky...","Night dies. Day is born.", "Beyond these towers and the song of time, the dragons fly."

Next, EPITAPH ROAD by David Patneaude, I own most of David's books. He's always surprising me. What hooked me this time? "Tuesday, August 9, 2067. 2 billion dead." Oh, my!

Next, CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins, Katniss and I are old friends. I had to have sequel to the HUNGER GAMES. Reality TV gone wrong, so wrong. Gotta love that.

Next, an ARC (you'll be able to get this book in the fall). First, ADIOS NIRVANA by Conrad Weselhoeft. Conrad is a brillant novelist. I cannot say enough about the emotional heart and poetic language of this book. Was a truer thing ever written?

My reading list will continue next week. Four books is enough for one week. Perhaps one of these books will look interesting to you. Perhaps this crazy book fan-ness of mine will make you read something awesome. You will not regret it.

Here is the doodle for the week. I've posted it before. I love this one. "Girl and Goat."

Quote of the week:

"To live is to swim toward the shimmer. To die is to never try." from ADIOS NIRVANA by Conrad Wesselhoeft.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April Showers: Mulch

I don't have time, but it's a long post this week. Spring, glorious spring, and me moving across country, I'm going to miss the whole planting party this year. Boo.

In the spring time, it's a good time to chop all that rich mulch into the hardscrabble dirt. I thought I would share the current stuff I'm cutting into the soil of me to make beautiful stories bloom in my heart.

Here's the deal, folks. I'm out of control with the books. I have been, am, and always will be out of control with the books, so this week I will discuss only the writing books I'm reading. Next week, I will jump into the fiction I'm reading, and the week after I will cover the rest of it.

Currently the stack by the bed:

Scene & Structure: How to Construct fiction with scene-by-scene flow, logic and readabilitiy by Jack M. Bickham. I like this book. It's my think-about-that-before I snooze book. Chapter 7 on sequels after scene particularly rocks for me because sequel is one big weakness in my writing. The disaster happened! Now my character must react to this: the gut emotional reaction, then truly my character must think about what the disaster meant, then they have to make a decision that will hopefully make the disaster all better, and last, my character needs to rock his or her world with breath-taking courage by acting on their decision. I learned this from this book. Good stuff. Agh, Writing is hard work.

I also have Self-Editing for Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King. Doesn't the title make you want to grab a red pencil and go crazy? My characters think, ponder, and consider entirely too much. Want to cut the fat? This is a good book for that.

I have a new book on the shelf that was given to me by the wonderful Katherine Grace Bond. SHOUT OUT. Katherine just got an agent. Read about it at Holly Cupala's website. So Katherine gave me Finding Water: The Art of Perserverance by Julia Cameron. Considering that the prologue made me cry, it's probably going to be a good read. It was the idea that something in this universe really cares. This something watches out for us, hears us when we cry, and is determined to guide us to good places and pure words. I need to go look for a tissue.

Hope something here gets you enriching the soil of you with some excellent mulch. :) Seize the day. See you next week.

I'm moving back to where my creative spark started. This week's doodle was painted 25years ago or so at the Texas A&M campus, back when I thought Chemistry was a calling. This is a detail of a larger work I'm calling this "H20". I wish someone would have given the girl painting the Chemistry building instead of studying her Chemistry a darn good shake. Wrong major, Chickadee. Live and learn.

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. Mitch Albom

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April Showers: Give

Hi folks, welcome to the blog this week. I'm attending the SCBWI Western Washington Annual Conference this weekend, so the post is ultra short.

Thousands of volunteer hours go into preparing for a huge conference like this. A conference like this is a great gift to the local writing and illustration community and has led me to today's topic. I think one of the best things you can do as a creative person is to practice generosity. GIVE. There it is, folks. Give your time. Give your talents. On my creative to-do list, there is space for pouring into the work of others. This is at the core of my work. No one is an island. Be a rainmaker, instead of someone waiting for the rain.

I've become a better writer by offering myself up as a muse, guidance counselor, cheerleader, or just the "unmoving rock" (this is gonna sell). By helping others, I've been challenged to be more, to dig deeper, and to reach for the stars. Being alone doesn't work for me. I turn inward and my light bounces around on the inside of me and never gets out.

Consider this week, what can you give to your artistic community?

Doodle of the week: "Star Picker."

Quote of the week: Be generous: Invest in acts of charity. Charity yields high returns. Eccl 11:1, The Message

Sunday, April 04, 2010

April Showers: Living

Ah, April! This month my series is going to be "April showers, bring May flowers." I'm going to chat about prewriting. The stuff you got to do to do the stuff.

Something about Ernest Hemingway has always provoked me. He really lived a dynamic life. Not one that I wholly admire, but one that I see was a great breeding ground for vast stories. He, like many artists I've known, was feeling a lot of pain from living -- a sort of live wire sparking and electrocuting, dangerous. To write you must live.

So many writers, famous figures in history to friends I've known, there is this common thread -- they are all so damaged. Now you may be a writer and not be damaged (yet). I honestly don't think you can make it through life without dings, dents, cracks, and breaks. The sooner you embrace that you will have to do this writing from the shattered places with a basket under your arm to help you pick up the pieces, the better. Understand that all this shaping from the winds of time is what is driving your stories.

Let living, the glory and the pain of it, guide you and enrich you. And for those that share my belief in a power greater than the swirling galaxies, the loving heart of the universe, God with us, Emmanuel, the Christ, let that treasure of the divine shape your words just like water carves the valleys, wind shapes mountains, volcanoes raze landscapes, sunshine powers the great storms that traverse the planet and the currents of our oceans. Don't resent the days you do not have time to write, know that these days are probably the most important ones for your creative journey.

Thank you for dropping by. Come back next week for more April showers. Seize the day.

This week's doodle is "Moses looking at the burning bush".

If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good, and the very gentle, and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry. Ernest Hemingway