Saturday, October 26, 2013

Chicken by Chicken: Feed the Fancy Bantams

I'm still on cloud nine about my upcoming novel in May 2014 PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance. I hope that my personal journey offers you a creative spark to light the fire of your works. My title "Chicken by Chicken" is a play on Anne Lamott's book title, BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book.

Chicken by chicken is how I roll as a writer. I'm chatting about my instructions for writing and life. This week  my topic is "Feed the Fancy Bantams."  We creative folk are the fancy bantams -- that is the fancy chickens. Don't believe me about fancy chickens? They have a club.  We are fancy chickens and must feed our creative souls to keep the work fresh.

Here are some creative things that I have done lately. In September, Kathi Appelt had a party celebrating some awesome new books. She can sure throw a party! Not the best photo, but here from left to right, Greg Leitich Smith reading excerpts with Uma Krishnaswami celebrating the release The Problem with Being Slightly Heroic,  Kathi Appelt celebrating the release of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, and  Susan Fletcher celebrating the release of Falcon Glass.

These cakes from Cake Junkie were almost too pretty to eat. But somehow we managed.

In September, I also went to the Houston Fine Arts Show with sister Lee Ann and daughter Jubilee. I saw crazy cool stuff.   We saw what I call the headless multicorn. After, Jubilee and I headed to the Hobbit Cafe. Because what else do you do after you see a headless multicorn.

And now it's October and I'm up to more mayhem! This weekend I'm road tripping with Liz Mertz and Candi Fite to Austin, Texas for the Texas Book Fest. I plan to attend the cemetery crawl with R. L. Stine

Need some more chicken feed to fire you up? Here is an awesome book! Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly (HMH) by Conrad Wesselhoeft is on my to-do list. I'm excited about reading this, but I have to wait until 2014. Waah!

In other related news, oh, blogging friends, I am also speaking at a conference in November 9, 2014: KidLit Con Austin  Austin, TX. I will be speaking about "Soft Sell Marketing."  If you are in the neighborhood, you might want to check this out.

Yep. You must feed the soul, folks.  Welcome to the fancy bantam flock!  

Here is the doodle: I'm calling it The CHULK!

Here is a quote for your pocke.

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. Jane Austen

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chicken by Chicken: Enjoy the Good Stuff!

Hi, folks,

I'm still on cloud nine about my upcoming novel in May 2014 PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance. I hope that my personal journey offers you a creative spark to light the fire of your works. My title "Chicken by Chicken" is a play on Anne Lamott's book title, BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book.

Chicken by chicken is how I roll as a writer. I'm chatting about my instructions for writing and life. This week I'm all about enjoying the good stuff! This takes a three skills.

One, value your own work. You must never compare yourself with others. I mean, someone can do it better. Someone will be paid more. Someone will receive greater accolades. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.  You must celebrate your work for what it is -- the true expression of your artistic heart. Don't diminish your work because there are other stars in the sky and some burn more brightly than yours. Every star counts and is part of the great fabric that forms the universe.

Two, take to time to celebrate. Yes, raise a glass! Dance until people think you are mad! Gather your people and say those words of thanks. Fill up your life with moments of celebration. If you find the walls seem very close and there is no sense of the miraculous in the life,  ask yourself, have your taken time to be celebrate for the gifts of life, muse and genius. Loosen up. We are all created with a with a little party in our souls and to deny this is to lessen who we are meant to be.

Three, work out your happiness. Wait for bad stuff to happen to be upset about it. Worry will get you nothing but aching bones. Happiness is so much about a thousand little choices. It's as easy to think the best about every situation as it is to think the worst.  Don't hesitate to ask for help. Talk to someone.  Smile at the people you see. Try new things. Pursue happiness. It's on the list with life and liberty. See, more profound minds than mine have seen the value of openly seeking happiness.

I hope my little suggestions lift you into the winds like someone lent you a magic carpet. Seek your best possible self.  I will be back next week with more of this series.

This week the doodle is: AquaChicken!

Quote for the day:

I find this lyric very mysterious but satisfying:

I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Leonard Cohen

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chicken by Chicken: Writing Every Day

Hi, folks,

Thanks for all the congrats for my upcoming novel in May 2014 PLUMB CRAZY from Swoon Romance. I hope that my personal journey will give you some needed encouragement as you move forward with creative endeavors. My title "Chicken by Chicken" is a play on Anne Lamott's book title, BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book.

Chicken by chicken is how I roll as a writer.  I'm chatting about my instructions for writing and life.

First, a sample day: the alarm at 6:30 a.m., I lay on the floor thinking wishing I could cry beccause I was so tired, but instead I got up and make French toast to ensure the teenager popped out of bed. A lifetime of study has taught me that the male teenager will wake up on time for school if food is provided. No other method of waking up the male teenager is viable.

Next, I headed to jury duty for HOURS (was selected), clipped off to an interview for a job (which I bombed), then topped off  the evening with several hours scurrying around the high school for a parent teacher night. During the day I had 4 asthma attacks, one migraine, and began to run a fever (pretty sure I had a sinus infection -- was right.) At the end of this day, after I made dinner and cleaned house, I opened up my computer and worked  for a COUPLE of hours on my work-in-progress.

Then I turned on my alarm around midnight for another round.

Writing is not convenient. It doesn't happen in a vacuum. There is the occasional glorious day where there is time and major progress, but mostly writing is part of the grind. It's the sum of the work that matters to me. That moment when I write the end, is like topping Everest. The hope that some day my book may offer a moment of clarity, a moment of laughter, a sense of connection, and more -- I live for this.

I also live for the art of writing. I love to up the stakes, find the tone, define the characters, bring the setting to life, delve into the themes. I'm this triptych of sorts: the creative, the emotional, the connector. I'm also in the business of fostering who we are and what we want. Every day. Chicken by chicken. For me, writing is worth fitting in.

I like this book by Leo Tolstoy called What is Art? You might check it out. Hope you write this week with more fervour. Back next week with more Chicken by Chicken.

Here is the doodle. My fav superhero: "Thor Chicken."

Here is a quote for your pocket.

 A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Chicken by Chicken: One Writer Navigates New Publishing

This is one my favorite series every year: Chicken by Chicken. This is a take on Anne Lamott's BIRD BY BIRD, a helpful writing book. The idea is you take the writing journey one day at a time. You take it one word at time, and that the important thing is always the writing and not the publishing. Writing for me is chicken by chicken. That's how I roll.

Writing is a weird business. I spend a massive amount of time creating a viable story. I have a thousand tricks to place that story on the page. After a long while the writing has become more fluid, more entertaining, simply more. Meanwhile the entire publishing world evolved in a game-changing way while I was learning to write. Befuddled chicken.

The way books reach readers has changed - apps, readers, tablets, etc. Self publishing went from the poor step-sister to to the vogue new thing. Bad for me, I'm a joiner and poor church mouse -- not the self-publishing guru type. Major publishers changed their focus too -- almost exclusively to urban stories for sophisticated teens. Hype, slick, and charismatic stories written by hip young authors rule. I flipped  through my heartwarming, funny and wry  pages written by an ordinary down-home gal and thought: Oh, no!  Poor chicken.

New publishing models have proliferated. Many publishing experts view any new publishing model with a bit of sneering disdain, unless that model become uber-profitable. Then it is viewed as the enemy or the bandwagon. Me, I huddle in corners scratching out my words chicken by chicken and experience unease about the state of affairs.  I want someone to read my words and see if they resonate -- that's about it. A confession:  I don't really care how I reach readers.

I send to agents and receive massive stacks of  no-thank-yous. I realized if I wanted to be published in the brave new world, I'd have to try new things. I looked at self-publishing, crowd-sourced publishing, and indie digital-first publishing. And digital-first clicked -- my fangirl rom-com PLUMB CRAZY is being released in May of 2014 by Swoon Publishing. I think I'm changing my name to Indie Down-home Gal. I'm considering buying cowgirl boots to celebrate.

I am excited!  Can't wait to reveal my upcoming cover!  Meanwhile, I'm still doing what I always do, scratching out words, chicken by chicken. See you next week with more chicken scratch.

Here is this week's doodle:  "Princess Chicken".

A quote for your pocket.
I couldn't think of anything I wanted to do or any place I wanted to be more than home. Where I can walk around the yard, sweeping leaves off the slate paths to my heart's content. Sissy Spacek.