Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Cat Tale

Hi folks! Hope the summer is humming for you. I'm still need to pack for LA and I have 11 more articles to write before Monday, three movies to watch and one book to read. You could say I am busy.

Anyway, a few years ago I promised my kids that they could have a cat, but I wasn't making good on that promise. My daughter found a starving flea-bitten kitten under a house. He was born to a feral cat. She didn't tell me she saved him, but just brought him home fleas and all. I didn't know for weeks until I discovered that our home had an awful flea infestation. I called the exterminator and they found the cat. We call him Mr. Tibbs.

And of course he is one my best buds now. He's one of the kings of the Earth. A naughty king and full of tricks. Pure evil. When he goes outside, he sometimes kills a pretty bird and leaves it on the step for the family. He does not share lizards. Any allegiance to humans is over if it is about a lizard.

If I'm in my office, he sits on my printer or behind my laptop. He knocks over every bottle of water that I keep with me while working. I've long since given up on cups and glasses. If I work in my favorite spot on my bed, he sits on the ottoman and he stares at bugs through the window.

He's watching me type right now. Oh, he just nipped my toe. I'm not scratching his neck enough. I've never seen a creature so pleased with his life. I am always letting his wise ways sink in. He gets hugged so much I've often thought his fur will rub off. Oh, dang, he knocked over my water bottle...

I hope that you share your pretty birds this week, let folks know what you need and generally get into all kinds of rowdy trouble (at least on the written page!) Seize the day.

I'm skipping the doodle this week for a photo of my daughter with the crazy cat she saved.

Quote for the week: I have studied many philosophers and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior.- Hippolyte Taine

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Better Angels

Hey, folks! I hope your work is humming! I'm gearing up for my trip to SCBWI Summer Conference in LA. I'm making sure I am well read for the event and hence I'm on a reading jag. Lots of good stuff -- John Green, Carrie Ryan, Jennifer Donnelly, Matt de la Pena and a few just-pure-pleasure books like Gail Carson Levine's new mystery and a couple of books that have not even snagged contracts yet, but I am sure will.

I love it when the books have some meat. Reading them is like a workout. I become a better writer just for showing up. What a gift! I also love the part where I am transformed into a a better person while reading them too.

The news headlines are a little more chilling that usual with the massacre at the the camp in Norway and the way talented girl Amy Winehouse losing her life because of the avarice of drug dealers. People are fragile, so fragile. A part of me hopes that just as many good things happened in the past 24 hours that were not reported on the news.

As I writer, I feel the pressure to make a difference. I hate when I stumble and find a littleness in my heart. I desire respect for my work. I desire that my hard work be rewarded. But ulitmately I find these desires get in the way of the true purpose of the work. The goal is to get the ideas out there. I think that our creative gifts are a calling. Humility. I breathe it in. We are searching out the better angels of our nature. Let's be diligent and persevere.

I hope that you reach deep within this week. Draw out the meaning and mystery of what it means to be human. We are in all in the midst of great battles. Our art might help turn the tide in the best directions. Work hard. Don't let anyone tell you any different. See you next week.

The doodle this week is one I've posted before. It comes from my illuminated manuscript phase. It's called: Girl Holding a Tree.

This week's quote comes from one of my heroes:

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature. — Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Little Details

Hi, folks! Short post this week. Lazy days of summer. Rained yesterday and it might rain today and I'm feeling so happy! I bought news glasses. I love new glasses. It makes the whole world look crisper.

Anyway, I tried on like 30 pair, enlisted the help of Bo -- the best accessorized person in the store, bemoaned the days when I went to a stylish boutique in Woodinville, WA for perfect glasses, and finally found a pair of glasses that looked like the ones I lost in the Gulf of Mexico last year. I'm am not one for reinventing the wheel.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, great writing is about the tiny details. I think about how my glasses express me and how they represent my personality. I like a dash of fun, mixed in with some smart cookie, and add to that a splash of capable.

So I'm way better at this accessorizing in writing than in real life. Details carve out the shape of your characters. I am totally aware of the stuff in their pockets, the clothes they like, the colors, the fabrics, even if my characters like buttons more or define themselves as zipper types. Great writing is in the details.

This week delve into these details. Make each detail a crisp representation of your characters. Think about this and come back for more next week.

Here is this week's doodle: Tree Sketch #1.

Here is quote of the week.

It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.
John Wooden

Saturday, July 09, 2011

The End of the Tunnel (AMENDED)

AMENDMENT: I've been caught red handed spreading salacious falsehood! Below I make this lovely analogy about Ferdinand M. sailing around the world and the feeling you get when you finish writing a novel. "Ferdinand Magellan didn't make it around the world. He was killed in battle in the Philippines. A fraction of surviving sailors did, however, complete the voyage. Your Magellan Theory works well for them." -- Writes a savvy reader. Sorry, folks. I do blame this utterly on my small town Texas education.

Oh, I read over for over 60 hours in the past two weeks and then I wrote 20 articles. I also revised an entire novel from end to end. I've got seven more articles to plow through and then I'm going to treat myself to fab reading jag. I really need one. I'm going to buy some new pajamas, and I'm going to sleep extra.

Someone asked me if I was "a lady of leisure" yesterday. Small town Texans always wonder what to do with me, not many writers live on this part of the prairie. I'm even working in the doctor's waiting room -- writing emails. I'm not exactly sure why so many people think I don't do anything because I'm a writer. Will someone explain to me how that rumor got started?

Anyway I've been trudging through a tunnel of work and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I call this that "Magellan feeling", you know the one he got when he came into port for the first time after circling the world in a wooden ship. You got to know every book journey is like that. The thing inside you is true and real but it takes a monumental effort to get it out of you into the world. Be sure to dance when you finish a project because it is a good reason to celebrate.

I hope that you keep at your projects. I hope you don't listen to voices that mock you or discourage you, wherever they may come from. I hope that you focus on that imagine burning so brightly within. Open up and let it shine out to us all.

See you next week with more of the good stuff. Seize the day!

This week's doodle is "Deer". This is my interpretation of a photo I saw a long time ago. But I did see a real deer just on Tuesday.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end. Ursula K. Le. Guin

Saturday, July 02, 2011

"Blank Page" Syndrome RX

Greetings! Have you ever been stuck on a blank page. I'm there today. The big white box of my blog is staring at me and I've got nada -- a big bad case of "Blank Page" syndrome. What's the RX? So here I am doing what I've done a thousands times before. Not worrying about it and pressing on anyway. Fill up the page with gosh awful work. Sometimes it'a all you can do to fill up some white space on a page. That's an achievement.

Another thing to do for "blank page" syndrome is go read a book. Go look at some art and call it work! Try taking a walk and soaking up the sights and sounds and smells. Listen carefully to some music. This process is a little interesting because you don't feel it changing you. Just disappear into the activity and when you come out of it. It will have fuelled you. Creative energy will surge inside you. I don't understand this process fully but it does work.

Finally, in the throes of "Blank Page" syndrome, I copy something. I mean, not clip and paste, but actually writing each word that someone else has written and feeling what they felt when they put those words on the page. I draw every line, copy every brush stroke of some provocative piece of art. Something in me me likes to mimic. I feel myself learning when I do this exercise. My muse comes back to me and more, the things I've learned are there in me, shoring up every word I write.

I hope you are helped by my "Blank Page" RX. I hope that you create your best works yet. Peace. See ya next week.

Here is the doodle. Thousands of years ago, an artist decided to draw a picture of a bird on a rock. Here are some thoughts I had as copied this at the Petroglyph National Monument. The artist saw the soul of this bird as a smiley face and that seemed right to me. This was one happy bird about to snag lunch. And that is it, isn't it, the joy of having another meal and existing another moment. This exercise is fuel for the artistic soul. Go copy something.

My quote for the week:

Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings so that you shall come easily by what others have labored hard for. Socrates