Sunday, November 17, 2013

Revisions! Revisions! REVISIONS!

I am in the midst of revising my ghost story set on Puget Sound…

No, I'm still near the beginning. And I just had a breakthrough that dictates revising will take even longer. I've decided the whole thing needs to be present tense.

THAT makes the whole thing harder. Not because the revision will take longer. It's because I will now need to go through the novel at least twice. Fully?

Why? Because I cannot possibly revise it if I'm concentrating on changing all the verb tenses. That in itself is a HUGE task. I use lots of verbs. At least one a sentence, unless it's a fragment. Even if it is a fragment.

So now, hopefully only through the next few weeks, I need to change every verb in the entire 80,000-word document.

Only then can I start really revising. And revising. And revising.

I won't gripe about it, though, not if it works. I'm sure, some day, it will work. Some day, if I keep revising, ONE of my novels will be worth publishing.

I hope.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Something is Just Not Right

You've heard the metaphors before… about the "shoe" fitting and such.

Imagine, if you will, poor Prince Charming. Start the action before the ball: He's feeling pressure to get married. Dad's overweight and old, the old man has gout and diabetes, and time is wasting. Charming needs to get married soon, and have kids soon, so that the line of rulers can continue without wrangling over succession once he gets too old to rule.

He has a vision of the right girl--not a purely physical image, for he needs more than looks if he can make it through years of marriage and still be able to stand her. He also has a fear: what if she doesn't like him back?

So he goes to the ball, his hands sweating from nerves. Most of the women just feel wrong. Some fawn over him, and he knows a month of marriage to any number of these would either give him a big fat head or make him gag. But then the image he hopes for steps into the ballroom. She's maybe a little shorter than he'd imagined, but still pretty. Her hands are graceful, and she looks so out of place and timid. She's perfect.

Two hours of absolute bliss follow. She seems to like him, they dance together, they talk together like old friends, and he somehow finds himself sharing his innermost thoughts with her. But then his world is shattered--at the first stroke of midnight, she starts hyperventilating, grabs her purse off the table next to them, and runs off.

He chases after her, but she's in far better shape, and suddenly she's gone, leaving behind a mere slipper.

And now he's stuck. He knows what his ideal is, but she's gone, and he doesn't have a clue how to find her. So he takes the slipper around, spending weeks searching the whole kingdom to find that perfect person for him. Sure, he meets all sorts of other ladies, some of them quite pretty, some of them who even sort of or almost fit the shoe. But he keeps searching, willing to keep looking because he wants the right person, the perfect fit.

So goes the search for a writer's group. There may be any number of groups in your neighborhood. You might have a next door neighbor who belongs to one. But ANY writers group won't work. They are all different, and a writers group that isn't the right fit won't do you any good.

(BTW, this discussion could represent ANY creative group, whether painting, sewing, drawing, manga lovers, etc. I once joined a sewing group, but I was the only one who was sewing clothing--everyone else was quilting. It was not a fit.)

I realized last night, as I visited a local writers group for the fourth or fifth time, that though it was a great group of people, it wasn't the right fit for me. I could attend every single meeting from here to eternity, but it would be like dating the same person week after week, knowing our relationship would not work in the long run.

What do I want in a writer's group? I'm pretty picky, so here's my list:

1. I need other serious writers to attend. By serious, I mean that they write all the time, revise what they write, develop their writing beyond short vignettes. I am perfectly happy if they are better writers than I, so long as they are writing. It's kind of like tennis. It's far more fun to play with others who are at or near your skill and commitment level than play with people who are far more or far less skilled. Mismatches are no fun for anybody (except for writers in number 2, below).

2. The writers need to be there for both themselves AND others. Some of the more serious writers are only there as a ego boost, to flaunt their writing in front of other people. These writers take criticism and questions very poorly, and are nearly always silent about other writers' works (unless they open their mouth to say something outright mean). The other writers should be there for feedback, but also be there to help other writers grow. I find that feeling my way through the writings of others makes me better, and I want other members to be just as committed.

3. The group needs to do more than clap. I've been in groups that are only encouraging. And I certainly know that many writers, especially those on the beginning of their writing journey, need encouragement most of all. I don't. I need criticism. I need honesty. I need tough love. If a piece is not good, I need the writer of it to have some clue, and to ask for help. And the others in the group should be honest, without hurting feelings.

4. The group needs to actively encourage further writing. Perhaps it's an assignment for next time. Even better, it's an individual thing--"Now that we've read scenes 1 & 2 of this play, can you bring in scene 3 next time?"--the writers need a reason to come back, some level of continuity. The activity is what matters. I don't need a social group, I need one that inspires me to write more.

5. Writers need to attend consistently. Attendance shows commitment, and it allows writers to bring in novel excerpts, submit plays in chunks, and get feedback on a whole larger work.

Remember, though, these are my stipulations. You may need something completely different. Your slipper might not resemble mine at all. And that is fine. I have only found my perfect kind of group twice, and I would still be attending if these two groups if they weren't thousands of miles away. I have hope, though, that I will find such a group closer to home. I am willing to drive if it means I can find the perfect fit for my slipper.

So I will keep looking, shoe in hand.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Search of Writer's Group

I am in the midst of a LOVELY book right now. It's a collection of short stories by three women, called The Curiosities. And it is absolutely delightful. Below I have posted what the cover looks like.

Even more than the lovely vignettes provided by these three authors is their obvious time spent working together on their writing, reading each other's stories, offering advice, giving prompts, mentoring each other, encouraging each other's writing. The stories have little handwritten comments and drawings in the margins, capturing the sense of these works in process.

The book is well worth reading, but it makes me long for the writing groups I once had. The group I started in Independence, Kansas, which is still going strong thanks to the efforts of Cherilyn Fienen and other fantastic people. The playwrights' group north of Seattle, who were such an ideal group of intelligent writers, who were willing to ask hard questions, who managed to weed out the weaknesses in my writing in minutes, when all I could sense was that something was wrong.


Only I don't have any of that now. The local writer's group is not really a critiquing group. I need some writers on a similar journey to mine. Writers who see the worth in my writing--who can grasp the kernels of truth in it--but who also see what isn't working, who can tell me where I falter, where the prose or dialogue doesn't work, who can help me be better.

Worse still, I need them in person. Online simply won't work for me. I need to see their faces, interact with them in real space, in real time. I haven't met anyone like that here yet. Painters, yes. But not writers.

So I'll keep looking. These people may be here, waiting for the opportunity to find someone just like me… and we will find each other. I know it. And we will help each other create our own collection of "curiosities."

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Get Your Creative Costume on!

Some days I am especially grateful to have children.

Halloween is one of those days. I live in an area of the country where many people do not celebrate, mostly for religious reasons.

I am not one of those people.

It's not the candy, or the horror flicks on television. It's the chance to dress up. I LOVE dressing up. It is a way to fit my love of stories into my daily life, along with my fascination with costuming (engendered in my theatre participation), my love of sewing, and my need for imaginative play all together.

Thankfully, it's my year to take the kids trick-or-treating. I dress up either way (even when I hand out candy), but it's infinitely more fun when I get to walk around from door to door, ostensibly to "monitor" my kids as they do the same, only with pumpkin pails to collect their candy. (The candy doesn't interest me in the least… okay, maybe a little, but only the Almond Joys and Bit-o-Honeys).

So we're starting school as soon as possible this morning, and then prepping splendidly for a night of walking around in character. I'll update this post later today with a picture of all of us!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It's Six O'Clock--Do You Know Where Your Writing Is?

I think I'm going to just make a habit of waking up early.

The whole house is sleeping, and the only noise invading drifting through the early morning is the chime of the grandfather clock every fifteen minutes. It's the most luscious sound, full of calm and promise. The perfect time for writing.

I thought today was packed, but items have mysteriously slipped off my to-do list. And I have hopes that homeschooling will soon get easier. Perhaps not this week, but soon.

So it's time to write. Right now. Write now.

I wish you the same leisure... at least an hour to write/paint/sing/listen to music/dance/or whatever suits your soul.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Absence Makes the Fingers Fearful

Halloween is the perfect time to face my fears. But what could I possibly be afraid of? What have I been most afraid of lately?

It isn't wrinkles. I have plenty of those, and they don't bother me. It isn't really any physical feature. I'm pretty content with all that, and even if I weren't, what am I supposed to do about it? Go under the knife. Please.

Courtesy of
I'm not afraid of teaching. I've been doing that all over my house lately, teaching my kids Latin and other stuff, working them hard, lecturing, writing lesson plans, creating projects for my kids to tackle. It's time-consuming, but still worth it.

No, what I've feared lately is writing. That thing I once loved to do passionately, but which, for a variety of reasons, I haven't done in months. I've considered it millions of times. I've even briefly felt my heart pitter patter with excitement at the thought of starting a new project. But my fear has always overcome me. I would have gone absolutely mad except I threw myself into reading with the same level of passion.

But reading can only tide me over so long. And its effectiveness has passed. I've stopped reading at least a dozen books over the last few weeks, dissatisfied with the characters, the plot development, or even the narrative voice of them. I've suddenly become a listless reader. And that can mean only one thing: Fearful or not, I need to return to my writing, or I will go off the deep end, so to speak. (You see, it's been so long since I've written that I'm using all sorts of bad cliches. AAK!)

It's fear-facing time. Time to face the scary blank white Microsoft Word screen and type something into it. Time to make blogging, playwriting, noveling, and poetry writing one of my four big priorities (FINALLY it will take precedence over "cleaning"!) Time to venture into the web-covered old haunted house that was my writing life. Time to sweep out the cobwebs, the spiders, the red-eyed rats, and clean up the place so that I can fill its walls with some new artwork.

Time to write, write, write every day. Without fail.

And no more cliches! (Okay, maybe a couple. I'm sure you'll see them here and there when you come back.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lynn Viehl's 50th Book!

Just a quick note for all of you!

Here's a writer I've been following for quite a while, and based on her productivity, she's a real one. She's a MAKER. (See my previous post if you aren't sure what that is.)

Lynn Viehl's just published her 50th book! Wow! And this one is steampunk, so I can't wait to read it.

Here's a link to the 50th book, Her Ladyship's Curse. Enjoy!


I woke with an edge inside me this morning, a call to do something more today. It's a lovely call, really, a voice in my brain bent on creating.

Will I listen? I haven't listened to the call much of late. I've filled my world with dishes, trips to the store, paper sorting, and other inane activities. It's as if I wish the voice to just go away, to leave me alone in mundane world and go off to call to somebody else. 

That is what separates an artist from one who is not. I write this, not to chastise you, but to goad myself into action. I'm not a writer if I don't write. I'm not a painter if I don't paint. I'm not a pianist if I don't play. Artists create. If they don't, they aren't artists.

I recently met an painter who, even at a young age, was compelled to paint. Any chance he got, with any medium at hand, on any surface, if given any free time. He listened to that urgent voice early on. And he painted, and painted, and painted. And he's still listening, still heeding, still painting. 

I've been going at this all wrong all my life. I've been locking this voice in a closet, letting it out only when I have a bunch of free time, when all my chores are done (which is not often). I've said I will write/paint/dance/sing/go to the ball only if I get all my work done. I've been my own evil stepmother.

That ends today. Permanently. I'm kicking my evil stepmother to the curb. I'm getting what I have to do done, but the rest of the time is mine. To paint. To create. To play. To turn my ideas into tangible, beautiful reality. I will not die regretting all things I never got around to creating. I am a Maker (as Orson Scott Card would term it), and it's about damned time I made something.

I have 14 hours until bedtime. Plenty of time to make something. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

It's about Damned Time, You Say

I won't apologize.

I have nothing to apologize for, after all.

I haven't been writing here on this blog. Yes, that's true.

But I've been doing so many other things!

I've been reading 3-5 books a week.
I've spent a month in Washington State with relatives.
I've organized and run two art camps.
I've helped plan a year of programming at the gallery.
I've planned out and begun a year of homeschooling for my two children. (That's the biggie).
I've edited a novel (for two writers).
I've half-revised one of my own novels (actually, 2/3 revised).
I've begun working on a collaborative series of novels (more about that later).
I've cooked countless meals and brushed my teeth countless times.
I've played piano (getting better all the time).
I've visited churches (haven't found one yet).
I've cleaned, swept, done a million dishes, vacuumed, scoured, dusted, washed, folded, put away, and pretty much everything else.
I've gotten back into Zumba, signed up for Zumbatomic training, walked well over a hundred miles, and swum nearly every day.
I've figured out why my metabolism is so low, and I'm on the road to fixing it.
I've helped a friend handle hard times and depression (and I've been helped by her, too).
I've drawn/painted/sewn/sung/cheered/laughed/hugged/kissed/praised/admonished/enjoyed the world in so many ways.
I've even slept. A lot. And it's been great.

You see, I've been busy living. And it's been a fantastic summer for it. Now my kids are slowly adapting to the homeschooling schedule, as am I, and the house is growing a little neater, day by day. But my priorities can't just be blogging. I'll do all I can to check in, but my blogs can't take precedence over my life. Living is what I'm here for.

I'd write more, but I need to head off to the store (yes, at 6:30 a.m.) to pick up some things for the gallery before I go to the track and walk for a couple of hours (yes, that means two hours). Then I'll come back, shower, and start homeschooling. Lots of living to be done.

What living will you be doing today?

Monday, June 17, 2013

What's Your Soundtrack?

I brought my Zumba cd's to camp last week. I run an art camp, and the schedule gives the kids a half hour between art classes--for snack. My experience in the public school system means I know that 30 minutes is WAY too long. The kids are going to eat their snacks in about five minutes, and the rest of the time they will be running around, falling and hurting themselves, stealing each other's hats, etc.

So I came prepared. The first time I turned on the music, only seven kids danced with me. The next day, pretty much EVERYBODY did (except for a few hold-outs who insisted on running around, falling and hurting themselves, and stealing each other's hats, etc.). Nearly everybody wanted to join in, to move around the room to a fun song.

We use music to exercise all the time. We use it in the car, sometimes singing at the top of our lungs. We have it at parties, watch it in concerts, and infuse it into several finite parts of our lives. We hum songs when we don't have any playing.

But what are the songs of our lives? We had a wedding song, if we got married. We might have even shared a song with each person we dated. And then hated that song when we broke up. But what songs determine how we think? What songs run through us and fit the way we walk, the way we interact with the world around us?

Here are some songs on my personal soundtrack:

Wake-up song: "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning" from Oklahoma
Song to sing with kids: "La-La-La-La-La-La-La" from Nightmare before Christmas
Song to vacuum to: "Roxanne" from Moulin Rouge (great for tango dancing, too--or tango vacuuming)
Song to sing when all alone: "Gethsemane" from Jesus Christ Superstar or "Wishing You were Somehow Here Again" from Phantom of the Opera (actually, I have LOTS of songs I like to sing along--all of them kind of eerie--love the minor key)
Song to sing in the car with the windows down: "Love Shack"
Song for writing a gripping climax: "Night on Bald Mountain"
Song for writing a romantic climax: "Seduces Me"
Song for exercising: "Rocky Theme"--or "Flashdance" or "Faith" or any Irish dance music (I know, weird, right?)

I'm still toying with the idea of writing a book with an accompanying playlist--each chapter gets a song to go with it, and you can choose to listen to the song as you read the chapter. It would mean writing some rather short chapters, but it would be an adventure trying to get it right.

I don't yet have a theme song for my life. Do you? What music would you have as your soundtrack?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Soap Box Sunday: Advice for Writers Who Self-Publish

*Steps on Soapbox*

I understand your desires, writers. I really do. I'm a writer, too. I understand.

You don't want to wait years to find an agent. Then wait years to find a publisher.

And it's so easy to do now. Go online, and you have a hundred places at your fingertips that will walk you through, step-by-step, the formatting and online publication of your manuscript. You can even jumble together a cover for it, and then there it sits, gleaming like a new promise, online.

You are published.

But not so fast. What are your goals for this little book? To get ten people to read it? Ten of your relatives, who will all write glowing reviews of it online and entice hundreds of others to read it? But what about those other people, people who buy it for a steal at 99 cents? What about those people who put it on their Kindles so that your book is walking around electronically all over the world?

Before you get all giddy and giggly, please realize that these new people are not your relatives. They paid for this book hoping it would be worth reading. They may have even assumed it would be edited. By a professional editor, not your mother.

But it wasn't. Nope, you were cheap and in a hurry. You wanted the book up NOW, dammit.

So these new readers get, for whatever price, a rough, lame book. The first 75% was boring (they didn't get any farther to know whether the last bit was). Commas are either every three words or nonexistent. The thing is impossible to read. Or at least difficult. And nothing really happens except that every character goes wandering around moaning and groaning, just for the angst of it.

If your goal is to chase readers off and make sure they don't TOUCH any future (crappy) novels you post up, then you are well on your way. So stop reading this blog entry.

If you want to gain a following, a true following, people who await your next novel with desperate longing, people who buy one of your novels, read it, and then buy every other thing you've written because they LOVE your stuff, then you need to do some things. Even if you have novels up, sitting there and getting a couple of people to buy them each month, you need to do these things. You MUST do these things.

Don't think you have some mojo that makes these not a requirement. You are not special. You are just like all the rest of us. And even if your stuff is good, you need to do these things to make it better.


1. Revise. No really, revise your novel. If you read through it the first time around, and it sounds great, then sit on it for a month or two.

2. Make other people read it. And don't pick your mom, not unless she's an overly critical mom. Moms do not make good readers, for just seeing your by line on the novel makes them all teary-eyed and they can't see anything else. Not friends, either, unless you have a VERY honest relationship where they can tell you anything. Choose readers carefully, and pick the ones who are the meanest. You don't need a cheering section. You need criticism. Especially if you are still rereading your work and thinking it's brilliant.

3. GET AN EDITOR. Not your mother. Not some friend of yours who writes poetry. Someone you have to PAY to edit your novel. And if you think you're getting a steal when the editor costs $100, you aren't. No real editor would work for so little. If it doesn't cost you at least $500, you aren't going to get what you need. Better yet, the editor will cost $1000, and will work on your book for a freakin' month. And fill it will comments, and tell you when characters are discussing nothing, or are being stupid, or when your descriptions are non-existent. This is the most important step. YOU HAVE TO DO THIS. 

Even better, you need to LISTEN to what the editor says. If he says the scene is unclear, it is. If he is confused, your working is making him confused. If a character's motivation doesn't make sense, listen. And fix it, for God's sake. No, for all our sakes. The editor says these things, not because he's a big fat meanie, but because he reads a LOT of other books, too, and he doesn't want sucky books out there in the marketplace.

I'm not just trying to drum up business. I could edit non-stop if I took all the jobs I was offered. But I can't tell you how many torturous books I've read on my Kindle that might have been readable if someone had just edited them. Yes, it costs money. I know. And it will take time to make that money back once you put the book up for sale. But it will also keep readers like me from giving your book one star and saying we can't really review it because it was UNREADABLE. Those non-friends who pick up your book and hate it will post their hatred online, and people surfing through the books will NOT BUY YOUR BOOK because they read that review.

But it's your decision. Be cheap and in a hurry if you wish. Just hope I don't wander across your novel's page and buy it. Hope no other stranger who likes GOOD, READABLE books does, either. It won't be pretty. Then again, it might be a learning experience. Learn the easy way, and pay for it up front, or learn the hard way, and pay for it in the end. You pick.

And that's all I'm going to say about that.

*Steps off Soapbox*

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Take Time

Take the time

Though your list is long
And cares weigh down
Of all still left to do

Take the time

Though it is late
And you are tired
More tired than you can imagine

Take the time

Forget the past
Forget tomorrow

And drive a few miles
Past your house
Your cares
Your past
Until the road bends
And you see
In the great dark starless sky
The perfect

(It never looks as good
Through the thick trees hanging over
Or through the rear view mirror.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Prayer for You

This week

May you see the trees more than the traffic
May you see your cute dimples more than your cellulite
May your mind be filled with dreams, not self-doubt
May your heart feel forgiveness, not resentment

And may you know the magnificence
To be found
In each tiny gesture

So that you may act in the little ways
That make the world oh so worth living in

And may you see
That all around you are human too
That they all need to feel love

And may you give it

And feel it in return.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Shadows follow me
Gliding with soft whispers
Along the walls

I hear their calling
When they reach out
But I pull back

I float through the months
Fearing to touch
What I do not understand


And the world opens to me
As I open to it
To the shadow of it
Of me

I see everything
And it is more beautiful
Than I imagined.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

So Much Joy

I've had a rough spring, for oh, so many reasons.

But it's all over. Sure I got a few more sets of papers to grade, and two more sets of final exams... but my classes are fine. Good students, people trying hard, a bunch of people who are really getting into literature. And that makes me happy, willing to grade whatever comes my way.

That's not why I'm better.

In reality, nothing has changed. Only my mindset. I'm doing what I love, and I'm making time every single day to do more of it. A friend of mine here, walking one morning with me, was listening to me telling her (during spring break), "I'm mostly done with my grading, and then I just have my writing and painting."

She corrected me, called me on the destructive word I had used: Just.

Thank God she's an artist. She understands too well how easy it is for artists to negate their abilities, to lessen what they do, to push it off into the corner because it isn't work.

But it is. It's my work. It's what I do. It's real, and tangible, a mixture of artistic ability, perception, insight, and meaning. It's hard to do. It takes practice, revision, lots and lots of work.

She made me say it: "I am a writer."

That statement has made all the difference. I'm writing now. I'm starting on one book, revising, and then I'm attacking the next one. I'm going to send one off--time after time--while I revise the next one, and the next. I have four novels, each one of them with some kernel of truth worth working on.

So I will work. And work. I can't promise to love every minute of it, but I love what I do.

I am a writer.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Having It Both Ways

I am both writer and editor.

Being a writer makes me a better editor, too. Not because it makes me a better writer--oh, no, I don't delude myself in that--but because I understand what a writer is going through during the editing process. Though I've taught English for 20 years, I have never forgotten the feeling of receiving an essay back--with comments and a grade--assessing the effectiveness of what I've written.

I know what a writer wants when he or she has me edit. That is the very thing which makes editing so hard. The writer wants two things, always two things. The problem is that these two things do not exist together. One cannot have it "both ways," so to speak. In fact, the very act of seeking professional editing guarantees that one will not receive one of the things one desires most.

What do writers want? Well, if writers are willing to spend hundreds of dollars having me edit a novel, it's because they want someone to examine their work for holes, errors, weaknesses--anything that might lose a reader's interest, or get in the way of the suspense, or confuse, or irritate. They want my insight--as an honest, knowledgeable outside reader--to help them see what they can't see on their own, so that they can fix it.

And that is no problem.

But that is not only what writers want. I would say that this is only a practical want. What writers want, deep in the recesses of the most secret part of their hearts, is something else entirely.

We all want it. We want it in other areas of our lives. It's called validation. Appreciation. That joy others express when they view something we do as wonderful.

What my poor authors want is for me to write back and tell them I would edit their work, but it's already perfect as it is--that I wouldn't change a thing, and I'm sending back their check in the mail this very day.

But if I told them that, I wouldn't be doing my job. My job is to tell them what isn't good. Sure, I also get to tell them what is good, and I do, but they don't need to know that as much as they need to see what isn't. I might be able to suggest effective ways to fix what isn't good, but that doesn't make it hurt any less.

Believe me, though. I know it. I know it because I am there, too. That's why I have sat on four completed novels all this time. I go back to my work, time after time, and I see that it still isn't ready, that it still needs work.

That is why I don't trust the reader who only sends me good feedback. I know the truth, and I know this reader isn't telling me the truth.

She is only telling me what, deep in my heart, I really want to hear.

But that is not enough.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Not sunny skies
Not rain
Not snow
Not your personal preference
Greeting you

It's the smile
The willingness to feel
The world as it is
No matter what

Not success
Not praise
Not togetherness
Alone time

It's the balance
One feels
Being wherever one is
At that very moment

Not outside
Not the fault of others
Not determined by the day
The list
The goals

It's the mere joy
Of living
In a world brightened
By the magic of one's mind.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Things I've Learned

I had a whole rant written.

Yup. I wrote it about two weeks ago. It was snarky. It would have made you raise your hackles (whatever that means), get righteously angry, and feel all sorts of sympathy for me.

But it won't be happening. I don't really need sympathy.

No one died. No one was seriously damaged. In the end, we finished the play, and it went okay.

Suffice it to say that I'm done. Absolutely done. I'll be going this morning to the theatre to clean up the costumes, put them all back where they belong, and be finished with it.

And then I'll put myself back where I belong. Which is not at the theatre. At least not that theatre.

I've learned a great deal about myself through this, too. Some good things, some bad.

  1. I don't give up on things very easily. If I've given up on you, or on a project, it was only because the project was simply impossible to complete. I'll keep my claws tightly grasping a wall on a climb up even if you're throwing bricks at my head. And not missing. I'll just grit my teeth, wipe the blood out of my eyes, and keep going.
  2. I can give up. Watch out if I do, though. It's likely going to be permanent. I should warn the hubby right now that if we ever divorce, I will likely never speak to him again. Not ever. My family figured that one out 20 years ago. I'm sure they think I'll relent at some point, but every year I second guess my decision less and less (i.e., not at all). 
  3. I don't waste my time on people who hurt me. I especially don't waste my time on people who hurt my kids. And my kids are my first priority, so they trump everything else. People who think I'm going to be okay with them slapping one of my kids (figuratively) across the face, or throwing bricks at my eight-year-old son while he is trying to climb a wall better be ready to have bricks thrown back at them. 
  4. I will take the high road. But I'll only do it once. And you'll never have the chance to make me do it again. See #2.
I guess that makes me determined and stubborn, and, like Mr. Darcy, "My good opinion, once lost, is lost forever." 

Now, though, I have time free--free enough to walk, exercise, play with my kids, paint, and, THANK GOD, write. 

Off to walk. Then shower. Then write. 

It'll be a good day.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Light at the End of a Very Dark Tunnel

Six more performances, and the current torture of my life will be over.

It should have been brilliant. It should have been sheer joy. It should have been so many wonderful, fantastic, amazing things.

Instead, it has just be pain, betrayal, and lies. Lots and lots of lies.

I have kept my mouth shut, but stay tuned and you'll get the whole skinny.

Next Sunday. After the last performance. When it's all over.

When I can breathe again. When I'm out of this dark tunnel and back in the open air, back in the sunshine, back in the true world.

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Another Birthday

Well, I've made it to another milestone. Funny how time still passes, even when I don't feel like I'm getting anything done. It feels like just another long day at this point, but I finally see an end to the emotional turmoil I've been in.

The play is in its last week of rehearsal, and first week of performance, so my kids and I will be in the thick of it all this week--every single day until about 10:30 p.m. It'll wear on them, I know, but it'll wear on me, too. I am old, after all, and not used to staying up past 10 p.m.

Two more weeks, though, and this OLIVER! will be over. I'll miss the music, and I'll miss wearing my costume (I'm keeping the cap to wear around the house, just for fun), but I don't think I'll miss anything else. Pretty sad, really. A lot of work, and the payoff this time isn't close to worth it. But we stuck it out, despite everything, and I can leave it behind on my own terms, without (too much) bitterness.

Still, in the end, we did it, all of us. Maybe in a few years, in a different venue, when the kids are a little older and I'm still not too old, we'll do something like this again. Until then, I'll look forward to getting some rest.

Hope you all have a great week. Sleep for me, okay?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Tell Me What to Do

Go ahead, boss me around
I know you're in charge here
That you have all the expertise
To know what's best for me
For us
For my son
For everybody
I know I don't have a choice
I accept that

But don't tell me I have to like it
Don't tell me to smile
Don't insist I be your friend
Or thank you
Or caress fondly
Or laugh about
The still raw sting on my cheek

Some day I will
Remember this with
You say

Some day I will
No longer feel the pain
From the cracked, leaking hole in my chest
And forgive you
I say

But not now

Sunday, February 3, 2013

This Fall Apart

Achebe was right
The earth spins on
And on
In relatively perfect control

But we all spin out of it

We think its just a pirouette
Our own perfect dance
And if everyone else would only spin
The very same way

It will all go well
The perfect

But we all spin
Every which way
Refusing to bend
Adjust a foot
Trip a little more slowly
Or let someone else in line

So people spin away from us

Serves them right
We think
They should not have spun like that
They should adapt
To the best spin possible

We grin our knowing smiles
Go figure
Shows they lacked the talent
Or determination
Or understanding
Lacked the dance ability

It feels good
To be better
To dance the right way
While all around us spin off

No need to bend
Or touch
Or stay
Or wait for them

Better just to spin

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Update

It's been over a week since I checked in... and, as usual, I've been busy.

I spent the holiday sifting out a bunch of activities, but, lo and behold, I've managed to add a bunch of other activities in just as swiftly. I've set up and opened an art gallery show, developed two college courses--one in-class, one online--and I've started on a new theatrical journey with my two little ones. 

Believe it or not (for those of you who've been checking in some lately), my brave little son sang well enough that he's been cast as OLIVER TWIST. Yup, he was floored, amazed, and a bit overwhelmed at first--as was I--but we're settling into this new evening pattern of rehearsals and singing and practicing lines. Kind of cool, actually. Nope, it's flat out AWESOME! This is the beginning of a long-running involvement in theatre for him, I think. Even better, my daughter has found her place in the company, and I have a part, too, so we all get to attend rehearsals together. 

I'm also about to attack the project of costuming the show--hurray! Costuming is my favorite kind of sewing, and the added bonus of outfitting Dickens' characters doesn't hurt, either. It'll take some time and prep, but it's going to be truly fun as I work through it.

Plus, I'm gearing up to work again on my spirit book, and I'm in the cogitation stage for a whole series of novels set here in Bainbridge. The research I do for this other book will be helpful in creating the atmosphere of the series, and I hope to eventually do a great deal to add to the tourism possible in this particular area. 

I'll let you know how it all goes. I know it sounds ambitious, but I can't help that. My life is too short not to get stuff done.

Anything ambitious on your plate lately?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Choose Your Headline

Bitter mother takes 
anger out on children
Woman fosters
confidence in all around her

Employee makes all meetings 
utterly excruciating
Manager builds rapport and 
encourages the world to grow

Man afraid of failing 
fails to try at anything
Man tries and fails
and tries again

Look at the world 
and see only the hate
and hate the world for it
See the pain in us
but see the hope, the charity
see the world for what it can be

What would your headline be
If you could choose?

So choose. 

Don't doubt for a second that
It's your choice.
It is.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Travels

Remember when you first ventured to a new place? You were half excited, half nervous. Would the place be as exciting as you'd hoped? Would you find fun stuff to see or do? Or would it be boring? Would it smell like urine there--or mold--and would the hotel have cold running water or hot running roaches?

You were probably filled with anticipation, expectation, trepidation, and even abject fear.

Okay, so I can't speak for you... but I've felt all of that. And I feel the same thing when I'm trying something new. Say I decide to join a choir, or learn to knit, or take a class on photography. I could totally suck at it. It happens to all of us (or most of us, for those of you in denial). And the more new things we try, the more likely it will happen.

But it's important to travel into that new territory anyway.

Let me use the travel metaphor again to illustrate why. Say that you go on a cruise to Cozumel. And it was fun. And Cozumel was fun. So the next time you think about going on a cruise, you go back to Cozumel. You know you liked it, and you are afraid the other ports of call won't be as good, so you just keep going back in the same direction. Over and over.

But after a while Cozumel gets old. And in the end you realize that you've missed out on a ton of other places--and that's just in the Caribbean. No telling how many other fantastic places you've missed. Even if you cruise other places, but never travel any other way, you will miss out. Can you truly see Europe if you don't go inland? Nope. You miss too much. Can you see it in a week? Nope. What about Asia? What about Africa? How will you know what places truly resonate with you if you don't try them out?

There's the two kiddos...
bet you didn't know my daughter had purple hair, did you?
(graphic courtesy of
I write this, not because I've ventured into new territory lately--and not because I've been on a cruise lately, either--but because my kids have done something truly new. Last night they both auditioned for our community theatre's production of Oliver! I auditioned, too, but I'm a bit more experienced with it than they are. I could tell they were nervous. And even a little scared. My son  couldn't sit back in his seat, even after he had sung his little piece.

But they both did it. They both stepped up on that stage--by themselves, mind you, not holding my hand or anything--and sang a song. And they both got back up there and learned a little dance routine so that the choreographer could see whether they could dance at all.

Will they get a part? No idea. I'm not sure whether that really matters (at least not to me). I'm bursting at the seams with pride that they tried out, that they had the guts to step up there and do something new and radical. I hope this is just one of many new things they try this year. Whether they get parts or not, they have added a notch to their confidence, have realized that they wouldn't die from fear, and have proven themselves a bit more independent than they were last year.

Now I have to consider what new things I will try this year. Where will I venture? How will I keep myself from staying within my travel comfort zone?

Come to think of it, what new travels are you planning?

Monday, January 7, 2013


You remember when you could just drive around and enjoy the scenery?

That's how I feel right now--now that I have my syllabi done and all my classes prepped for the semester. I'm looking forward to all of it, too. It's going to be fun, even (except the grading).

I probably shouldn't feel this happy and upbeat. After all, I still have other tasks to do today, like taking down ten boxes worth of holiday decorations, and auditions for Oliver! are looming (why, oh why, do auditions always make me so nervous!)...

But I'm happy.

Who said happiness had anything to do with logic? I believe I'll spend the rest of the day NOT overthinking this... just going with the flow.

I will, however, be thinking about what snippet of a song I want to sing for auditions this evening. My son will be singing "Silent Night" (anything else made him too nervous), and my daughter will be singing, "Castle on a Cloud." I can't say I'm leaning in any direction, and it helps to know that the main female lead in Oliver! has a range too low for me. I just want to be part of the action.

Here's hoping your day is as full of singing as mine will be...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kinds of Writing

I keep saying I'm not writing... but I'm continuously working on my craft.

It's just not in the way one traditionally deems to be writing. I'm not, for instance, outlining a new novel. I'm not sketching out characters before I go back through a draft, not revising a current WIP so that I can fix verbs, add detail, or tighten the language.

But I'm still working on writing. Here's what I've been doing:

1. Putting together my syllabi for two classes, both of which begin next week. Why is that writing? Because I'm getting other stuff out of the way so that I can make time to write. And that's something lots of writers have to do. Very few of us (i.e., NONE) have the luxury of doing nothing else in the world except write.

2. Reading. Yup, that's definitely preparation. I've been abandoning books a lot lately, too--more than ever before. If I hate something in chapter three, then I drop it. What's the cliche? Beating a dead horse, or something? But I've managed to mix the terrible books in with really good ones, and all of them add to my understanding of what literature should and should not be.

3. Thinking. My books have been drifting through my conscious and subconscious minds. They've popped up in dreams, unbidden, and crept into my early morning thoughts. And that's a good sign. It means I'm truly gearing up to write.

4. Painting/Drawing. Nothing helps my imagination more than drawing out characters (in full costume, for I love costumes, even if I rarely describe what characters are wearing) or painting out scenes. In most of my novels, the setting is crucial to what happens.

5. Researching. I'm actually going on a cruise in February with the hubby, and we planned out where we were going AND what excursions we were taking based on the needs of my Mermaid novel. Really. Isn't it sweet that the hubby's willing to go along with that? I did have to choose a historical tour over a ride on a pirate ship, though, and that stunk, mainly because I could have used both. But books in the library and internet searches are also leading towards answers and plot twists and details I would not have otherwise.

I hope to get to the tactile act of writing very soon. But in the meantime, I can't say I'm not writing. I'm moving in the write direction, even if I can't yet return to my manuscript.

All in good time. When I'm ready, I'll know it. What a beautiful day that will be, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Year, Day, Moment

No resolutions
This year

This year
Is too long to face

Today is all I know
I can count on
This very hour

This hour
I'll do all I can to be
This minute

This swiftly moving minute
Is all I hold, just a point in time
The briefest moment
In my trembling hands.