Which Books Would You Bring?

It’s the beginning of a Glorious Day here in the Midwest.

Being alone with my dogs and cat and fish and computer and crafts room and my messy closet floor, there will be a lot of things I’ll want to accomplish that I can’t always accomplish with company around.

But you know me. That’s not what this particular blog is about.

I had an idea in the shower this morning, and I’d LOVE to hear back from all of you. The more the merrier.

I really enjoyed the end scene in the movie “The Time Machine” with Rod Taylor, where George comes back from the future to grab three books to take back with him. It goes something like this:

Filby: He must have taken something with him.
Mrs. Watchett: Nothing, except three books.
Filby: Which three books?
Mrs. Watchett: I don’t know. Is it important?
Filby: No, I suppose not. Only – what three books would you have taken?

I thought about throwing you/us onto a deserted island or in an isolated cabin in the woods, but then you/we would have more to worry about than what books to read. Food, tools, medicine, is all too much to think about on this beautiful morning.

So here is the question:

If you time traveled into the future (or into the past), which three books would you take?

This time around I’m going to put restrictions on the question. Like being specific on the time period, (forward OR past), what you have in YOUR library (vs. stopping at the bookstore first), and only three books.

After all, those are the choices George had.

And, as a side, if you feel like it, are the three books the first three that came to mind, or did you think about it for a bit first?

I’ll go first. And it’s really hard.

I ran downstairs, tripping over my Tears crafts bins, and looked at my shelves. Ack! An eclectic mix, for sure. Seeing as they have to be books from MY library, for reading I’d take Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien; for art, the History of Art (1st Edition) by H.W. Janson (1982); and for poetry, The Illustrated Household Book of Poetry Charles A Dana 11th Edition,  1868.

None of these books are “modern” in the sense of the word; I’m ashamed I don’t have any current poetry or updated art books. I tossed around bringing a book of Shakespeare or Edgar Allen Poe stories and poems, but their rhetoric might not be as entertaining after the 375th read.

If I had time to think about it, or had time to run to the bookstore or library, my choices may have been different. But, for what I have, for what I would have to share with others for eternity, would be a little bit of entertainment through the ages.

After all, how could you not enjoy a happy ending?

“At last they rode over the downs and took the East Road, and then Merry and Pippin rode on to Buckland and already they were singing again as they went. But Sam turned to Bywater, and so came back up the Hill, as day was ending once more. And he went on, and there was yellow light, and fire within; and the evening meal was ready, and he was expected. And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap. He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.”

 

 

What Are You Reading These Days?

I am not sure what’s going on around here in my reading world.

I have slowly been accumulating e-books for my iPad/Kindle library. Not a bad thing in and of itself. But when I’ll ever have time to read them all I’ll never know. Although I prefer the feel of a book in my hands, many of these are expensive when purchased outright, so I’ve given in to the e-book versions.

Very few are the quick read romance sorts of books. And forget how-to’s. I don’t think I could get past instruction #3. The one’s I’ve been gathering are the classics. 

The CLASSICS?

Yes — the ones many have heard of and few have read. 

I don’t know if this is a chance to see what grandeur is all about before my generation’s writers become legend. But the scope of my choices are all in the past, all from past masters, and all for free.

I’ve downloaded a lot of H.P. Lovecraft — I love his vernacular. Even if I don’t understand some words. I’ve also been interested in Agatha Christie’s Henri Poirot’s adventures. I’ve thrown in books like the Count of Monte Cristo, The Great God Pan, Tales of Old Japan, and the Great Gatsby.

I feel like a kid in an ice cream shop who doesn’t know what to order so they order one scoop of each. 40 scoops later, I’m sitting looking at the bowl, wondering what the heck.

I do love reading. I’m not what one calls a voracious reader — I don’t spend hours snuggled in a chair with a book. I read at inopportune times — bed time, in the car. My A.D.D. prevents me from absorbing more than 20 or 30 pages at a time. And I have to find time between housework, writing, making Angel Tears, and my grandkids. 

It’s a grand mess, but one I always look forward to jumping into. I think I selected these past works because they seem like time travel to me. Having someone write about shoguns or the Cthulhu or Mansfield Park takes me away to someplace other than here. It allows me to peek into the minds of those who came before me. In some cases, long before me.

I sometimes find myself reading two books at a time, for no singular story has so far been obsessive enough to make me pound through it. But I delight and dismay at all the books I’ve yet to peek into.

Maybe this will guarantee my living another 30 years to read them all.

What sorts of books do you read?  

 

Let’s Write That Book! — Writing

Finally the time has come! Hallelujah and do the Snoopy Dance! You’ve done your research, got your computer or notebook ready, put some writing music on in the background, and you are ready to go for it!

Here is my list of to-do’s and an explanation of each.

Where do you start?  Okay, for most writers, you start at the beginning. Set the stage. Set the mood. Share where your character is, what they are doing. Start walking down that path that leads to that big turning point in Chapter 14.

But sometimes a writer’s ideas come in a different order. I once wrote a book where I wrote the last chapter first. I knew exactly how I wanted the story to end; I knew the ending before I even knew how they would get there. So I wrote the final chapter first. Another time an idea struck me about a particular love scene I hadn’t gotten to yet. I had a moment’s inspiration, so I wrote that part before my character even gotten into that situation.

It’s okay to write out of order. But for most of us, we start at the beginning. Introduce the cast of characters. You don’t have to introduce the main character(s) in the first chapter. Just make the people you DO introduce are interesting in one way or another.

Prologue? Epilogue?  There are a lot of “how-to” books that tell you not to have a prologue or epilogue. That they distract from the main story. My how-to says that, if you feel a prologue sets a general feel or a premonition to the story, as long as it’s not too confusing or too exact, go for it. An epilogue sometimes works if you want to show how things turned out after the end of the main story. I have a prologue and an epilogue only in my first book; I have a prologue in the third book, which is nothing more than a paragraph from the second book.

But remember — sometimes people don’t necessarily want to know what happens once the “story” is finished. The story you told is finished. Leave their future to the fates. Or another book.

Do not filter your thoughts. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you feel you need to explain settings, surroundings, set up, go ahead and write. You will find yourself cutting sentences and paragraphs and even chapters later. When the magic hits, go for it. Whether it’s the romantic part, the murder part, or the flashback part, just get into what you’re writing. Don’t worry what comes out. You’ll fix it later.

Set a writing schedule for yourself. I know sometimes that’s easier said than done, but if you bring your determination to write into this dimension you will find time. Stephen King locked himself up in a room for eight hours a day. Other writers wrote when they got home from work or when their babies took a nap. It doesn’t matter when you write, only THAT you write.

Often setting a routine is a good way to get into writing on a daily basis. Set up your writing area with things that bring you inspiration. Coffee, glass of wine, notebooks, other books, reference books, music, snacks – it doesn’t matter what you bring to the table. You’ll forget half of the stuff around you once you get going anyway.

Tell others that’s what you’re doing, and do it. Don’t let others’ opinions sway you one way or the other.

Try not to edit as you go. We all do it, but it slows you down mid-thought. If you must reread your work for coherency, write a few chapters at a time. Know that you will reread, edit, and reread your story a thousand times after you finish writing it. Trust yourself and go with the flow.

Don’t use words that are too big for your character. Ever come across a big word in something you’re reading and find you really have no idea what it means? We often write more spectacularly than we speak, but make sure your characters are speaking within their upbringing and influences. If you want your characters to have an accent, if they come from a different time period, read books from that area, catch movies, and research their forms of speech. Don’t use words that are too big for your audience. The reader will eventually get tired of trying to figure them out. Don’t fake your knowledge. Oh – and a P.S. on this point – make sure you know what the word means.

Dialogue. This is one of the hardest parts of any novel to write. Do your characters speak like normal people? Do they think more than speak? Keep their tone the same speaking and thinking. If one character jabbers, make sure they always jabber. If speaking in half sentences is their style, make sure all their sentences sound the same. Think of how you speak with your family and friends. Your boss. The man from the IRS. You have a different tone with different people. Keep that thought in mind as your characters interact.

Also remember your time period. They spoke differently in Colonial times or Roman times than they do in the 2000’s. Don’t use today’s slang to express yesterday’s emotions. There is nothing worse than reading about days gone by and suddenly a character shouts “groovy!”

Make sure your ending makes sense. Have it conclude the journey your characters have been on. It doesn’t need to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfactory ending. Tie up all loose ends (that is why you write an outline so you don’t have someone dangling out and left to dry). No open endings unless you are positive you are writing a second book. And even then have some sort of conclusion to the adventure they were just on. Let your reader catch their breath. Put yourself in the reader’s seat — no one wants to be left hanging.

Have every book you write be able to stand on its own.

 

NEXT: Editing

Let’s Write That Book! — PreWriting Considerations Part I

Alrightie, writers. Let’s take a look at some outside basics.

Length of your book.

Now, I’m not an editor. Publisher. E-Book guru. But this is Basic Writing 101. Things you should know up front. This information is important as you get lost in the world of writing.

According to a combination of several websites, here are some average book lengths:

  • Children’s picture book: 5 – 1,000 words.
  • Children’s chapter book: 4,000 –10,000 words.
  • Middle grade: 30,000 – 50,000 words.
  • Young Adult (YA): 40,000 – 70,000 words.
  • Flash fiction: 500 words or less. Depending on contest/publication, can be as few as 100 words or as many as 1,000 words.
  • Micro-Fiction: 100 words or less.
  • Short Story: 1,000 – 10,000 words.
  • Novella: 10,000 – 40,000 words.
  • Novel: 50,000 -110,000 words.
  • Epics and Sequels: 110,000 words or more.
  • Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000 – 100,000 words.
  • Memoirs, Biography, and Autobiography: 80,000 words.

Then there are average genre lengths:

  • Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000 – 120,000 words. Anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers.
  • Historical: 90,000 – 120,000 words.
  • Romance: 50,000 – 100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the number of sub-genres available: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.
  • Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000 – 90,000 words.

These “averages” are based on a page with 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New Roman font, and minimal spacing elements. A good rule of thumb is 500 words for a single spaced page and 250 words for a double spaced page.

The “cosmic” way of thinking is that your book will be as long as it needs to be. Period. While that is true, it’s always smart to keep some general guidelines in the back of your mind.

Now, the guidelines about are just that. Guidelines. Estimates. These are usually based on how long a reader is willing to spend on reading. On their attention span. A children’s book that goes on close to 10,000 words would put most children to sleep. A murder mystery will make a reader shake their head if it comes in under 40,000 words. Stephen King’s Carrie is about 42,385 words. His book It comes in at about 444,414 words. Length can make or break a book. It’s hard to keep a reader’s interesting with anything past 100,000 words (unless you ARE King).

Then there is the book’s time frame.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf take place in one day. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J. Gaines takes place over 110 years. Both books are more or less 200 pages long.

Just remember the original purpose of your story. Tell what you want to tell, no more, no less. Don’t worry about what happens before the first chapter, nor after “the end.”

Decide your point of view.

There are four primary POV types in fiction:

First person point of view. First person is when “I” am telling the story. The character is in the story, relating his or her experiences directly.

Second person point of view. The story is told to “you.” It includes pronouns you, your, and yours to address readers or listeners directly. This POV is not common in fiction, but it’s still good to know (it is more common in nonfiction).

Third person point of view. The story is about “he” or “she.” This is the most common point of view in commercial fiction. The narrator is outside of the story and relating the experiences of a specific character.

*One note on third person point of view: If you are writing from one person’s point of view, your character cannot know what the other characters are actually thinking. There are ways to bring other character’s motivations and thoughts into the main character’s story. Your character can guess, surmise, suppose, infer, but can never say “she thought” or “he thought.” You can indicate other’s intentions by gestures or direct quotation, but you cannot write what you do not know directly.

Third person point of view, omniscient. The story is still about “he” or “she,” but the narrator has full access to the thoughts and experiences of all characters in the story.

*Note on third person omniscient: Be sure if you go down this path that you show the thoughts and conversations of all your characters, not just the main one. This version gives you the freedom to say, “She thought he was a cad. He thought she was domineering.” But be sure to continue their thought threads through the whole book so we follow their reasonings from beginning to end.

For non-fiction, The Pen and the Pad says: A non-fiction story can also be told from the points of view present in literary fiction. A memoir or autobiography, for example, is a first-person account of personal events, while a standard biography is written by a third-person narrator who has investigated or interviewed subjects before writing from a more distanced perspective. Non-fiction may be written in second-person, using “you” as the subject, especially if it is in the form of a how-to guide or instructional manual.

There are other points of view floating around, but a beginner writer usually u is concerned only with the first or third person.  

The point is: Pick a point of view and stick with it. One of the biggest mistakes a writer can make is saying “he went/she went” then five chapters later saying, “I went.”

Basic Premise

If you are writing a fiction piece, you need a beginning, a middle, and an end. An introduction, turning point, and conclusion. Your character(s) needs to change the world – or at least themselves. The main character(s) needs to learn something so that the reader learns something.

We laugh when we hear about “the moral of the story,” yet that’s what readers want. They want gold at the end of the rainbow. Payback for evil deeds. A hard heart that has softened. A soft heart that has learned to toughen up. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a happy ending, but it should be a satisfying one. One that makes sense.

Non-fiction books such as biographies, family histories, self-help, and therapy books should stay in chronological order. The story should ebb and flow with beginnings and endings as the character(s) life evolves. You should put heart into those stories, too. Make us feel what the person was feeling. Avoid flashbacks, at least with your first book. Writing it step-by-step is hard enough.

This is where a handy dandy notebook comes it. I have one for every book I’ve written. Be sure to write down the order of events. The ups, the downs, the turning points in their lives. It’s so easy to forget this point or that point. And nothing is more distracting that crisscross information.

 

Next: Pre-Writing Considerations Part II

Let’s Write That Book! — Prologue

If you are lucky enough to say to yourself, “I’ve always wanted to write a book,” then this is the blog series for you.

The website Worldometers says there are 2,336,295 books published so far this year worldwide (as of November 16), and their meter is ticking upwards as we speak/read. And the site Bowker stated  that more than one million books were self-published in 2017.

That’s a lot of books.

Don’t let the numbers discourage you, though. There is plenty of room out in the universe for your book. Trust me.

Not everyone writes books to get published and make money, although that’s the most popular scenario. Some people write to preserve the past, to tell a story, to make a point, or to share advice. Some want to put their series of short stories into an anthology, and others want to write a how-to book to help others.

No matter what your reason is, there should be only one reason to write your book. You write a book because you enjoy writing.

I love writing. I love bringing ideas to life. That is why I blog. I truly believe that we all have stories to tell. Lessons to learn. Adventures to share. And if we feel the urge to write, that we should do so.

I am a writer, proofreader, and occasionally an editor, but like many writers, I have been writing for years. Diaries. Journals. Contest entries. Blogs. There is not a day or month or year that goes by that I don’t think about some part of writing.

This series of blogs referred to as Let’s Write That Book! are reflections of what I’ve learned through years of writing. Things I look for as a proofreader or an editor. What I tell people when they ask me how to start writing. What I’ve read and heard from other writers and things that just make sense.

These blogs will be running longer than my regular blogs. There’s a lot of information out there, and I’ll try to jam it all in under 1,000 words every day. But you know me – I’m quite windy at times. But this is the place for all that wind.

Your first decision is to come up with a story line.

I’ve been asked where I get my ideas. My friends, ideas are everywhere.

One story line of mine came from my role playing days years ago. One idea came from going to writer conferences. One story was a thinly disguised revenge homage to a sales manager who drove me crazy. One story was based on wondering how a modern-day woman would survive in a parallel alien world.

That’s just me.

Most likely you already have an idea. Let’s develop it. Work on it. You can make up worlds, streets, and encounters, or it can be based on real people, real events, and real history.

Whatever you have decided to write, you will need to make it sound real. Have it make sense from the beginning to the end. Sounds simple. But you’d be surprised how hard that can be.

Preplanning is the easy part. Working through the mechanics is the tough part. But it is so worth it.

So before we start, I’d like to make something clear.

I am just one of many who has ideas and suggestions on how to get started. There are hundreds of books and websites and blogs out there that will give you pointers on how to start writing your book. All have good information; all are full of practical ideas and ways to open the mind and get something done. Some people charge you for the info, others give it to you for free. It’s all part of the big circle of writing.

I suggest you start the simple way. The Free Way. It doesn’t matter if your final goal is to get published or to Xerox copies and hand them out to friends and family. The basics should be free and available to everyone.

And that’s what I hope to share with you. My ideas and suggestions are nothing you haven’t heard before. No magic pill, no secret instructions. Just have a good story line, good grammar, and a good time writing it.

Writing is good for the soul. So let’s get going.

 

 

Next:  Pre-Writing Considerations Part One.

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Getting Published Part 2

The wonderfully exciting and exhausting adventure of printing my own book goes on.

As many of you know, I’m planning on publishing 4 of my novels. I want to give them to my family and friends so they can see what my writing is all about. I’d also sell them through Amazon and WordPress and any which way if someone was interested in the time-travel thread.

But I have started the process three times and have stopped dead in my tracks every time.

I am thinking of going through CreativeSpace. It’s a division of Amazon, and you can publish your book with no  bells and whistles for a very reasonable per-book price.

But then the bells and whistles start going off.

Pick a size –6×9 is most popular. Well, of course, I knew my page count would increase. No biggie. But then I flash through the pages and wonder — should I cut some copy? Are there any mistakes hidden between the pages? Now this is a book that’s been around in one form or another for over 15 years. I think by now if there were any typos I’d have found them. But the thought of putting those words down permanently in a book forever and ever just gives me the heebee geebees. Like I need to proofread it one more time. Well, if I want to get this and another book done by Christmas, that ain’t happening.

Then you have to pick a cover. Sounds easy. But suddenly I have to figure out what kind of impression I want my book to first have to readers. Like WordPress, I can’t afford a custom design, so I go through the free templates a dozen times. Dark blue in a circle? Field of wheat? Flowers?

And what if it’s a series (which it is)? Do  both covers look alike? If it’s a set of two, how will anyone tell them apart? It’s not like there’s a choice of shades of same here.

Should I go with the name Claudia Anderson? C.A. Anderson? A pseudonym? If I go with a pseudonym, how will my friends and family know it’s me? Who is Dream Regret, anyway?

Then there’s getting my book out there. Do it with Amazon and they will list my book. Great. But for an extra fee they will send out notices to libraries, book stores, etc. Is my book that interesting that a library in Montana will want it?

So although I’ve made the decision to publish my book, now that I have to put my foot in the water I’m afraid of an alligator biting it off.

In a day and age such as we live in now, that should be the least of my problems.

Let me know how your publishing dreams went — or are going.

Sunday Evening Art Gallery Blog — Library Interiors

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
~~Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

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George Peabody Library, John Hopkins University

george-peabody-library-at-john-hopkins-university-baltimore-usa

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 Grand People’s Study House, North Korea

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The State Library of South Australia

he-state-library-of-south-australia

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Royal Danish Library

royal-danish-library

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José Vasconcelos Library, Mexico

jose-vasconcelos-library-mexico

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Abbey Library of St. Gallen, Switzerland

abbey-library-of-st-gallen-switzerland

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Royal Monastery Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain

royal-monastery-library-of-san-lorenzo-de-el-escorial-spain

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Admont Abbey Library, Austria

admont-abbey-library-austria

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Bibliotheque Nationale de France, France

bibliotheque-nationale-de-france-france

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Salt Lake Public Library, Utah

salt-lake-public-library

Does Your Main Character Look Familiar?

JESSFBDSC02464I blush to admit, the first time I really heard and understood the word “epiphany” was in the 1991 movie Hook:

Smee:
I’ve just had an apostrophe.

Captain Hook:
I think you mean an epiphany.

Smee:
No… lightning has just struck my brain.

Captain Hook:
Well, that must hurt.

According to Meriam dictionary,  an epiphany is a “moment in which you suddenly see or understand something in a new or very clear way.” My epiphany was kinda like that.

Let me ask you first. For those of you who write — in any form — do you have a face or person in mind for your main characters? I often need (or want) a general idea in the flesh of what my peeps look like. Not exact, of course, but a basic form from which I can expand.  Through the years I’ve used characteristics of Clark Gable (Gone With the Wind), Derek Jacobi (Hamlet), Jafar (Aladdin), Maggie Smith (Hook), Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones). I’ve changed hairstyles, eyes, and personalities. I don’t use faces whose personalities I can’t stand, or whose character I can’t stand.

This blockage can almost be a writer’s block in terms of the ebb and flow of the story. It’s not the do all/be all, but let’s just say it helps. And I’m sad when I just can’t picture my hero/heroine.

So to my epiphany.

I’ve got this novel I’ve GOT TO FINISH EDITING, and all this time I cannot find a real face to match the heroine of my time travel space odyssey. So on my drive home from work I asked my Spirit Guide(s) to give me an idea of face to go with my astral traveller. And who popped into my head but my best friend.

Now, that may seem stupid. It may seem that my friend was the basis for the character all along. If so, it was oblivious to me. But once I put two and two together, I kind of freaked. After all, she is my soulie mate. My bud. My creative and laughing counterpart.

And I’m not sure she will be thrilled.

Oh, I know, book characters are louder and brighter and meaner and crazier than real life. They need to be in order to keep one’s attention. But sometimes the parallels become distorted between the two, and the model is afraid that’s how one really sees them. One of my blogger friends based a character on her mother, and her mother loved it. Other writers have barely veiled the horrors from their childhood or failed marriages or teachers they had in school and don’t care who knows it.

My book’s heroine is a great personality, just like my friend. But she is way kookier, more impulsive, and more off base than most people I know. She is bigger than life. Her gestures, her vocabulary, are just a part of her over-exaggerated personality.

And I love her.

But is it my friend? Does it matter that my heroine is bits and pieces of a number of people I’ve known in my life?

I suppose if I made my characters pedophiles or torturers it might offend the model they’re based on (if they ever read the story). But seeing as I can’t really write agony and horror and desperation, I don’t think anyone will be offended if my characters of kids or widows or bank tellers look a little familiar.

I believe every character we create is based on someone we’ve met on our journey though life. Whether it’s in a book somewhere, a movie, or in our actual lives. And I believe this fertile base is ours for the taking.

I still feel bad that I only now realize I’ve tapped into my friend’s physique and charisma to create a brand new person. I wonder if I should tell her. Or let her read the book and figure it out for herself.

Either way, look around you. Inspiration is closer than you think.

And, after all, I doubt if a former sales director will see himself as the crazy, stressed out, flipped out  salesman that gets into poison violet candy…

Know Any Spooky Books to Keep Me Awake At Night?

thIn the cold, crappy days of winter, I find myself wanting to be entertained while I’m stuck indoors.

TV gets old fast. I’ve limited favorite shows to all the Chicago’s (Fire, PD, Med), Face Off, and, if I can stomach it, Hell’s Kitchen. I’m also a fan of Grimm, which always opens doors to my other cold weather passion — reading.

I’m in the mood to read something spooky. Something heart-pounding. Something that keeps me up until midnight (like I need that). I have read a few of Stephen King’s earlier works (The Stand, The Shining, Carrie), and a couple of Dean Koontz. (I can not get through his Intensity; family and friends have all read it and praised it but it gives me the creeps.)

I always wonder why milquetoasts like me want to read something that nightmares are made of. I know I’m not alone — good scary movies and good scary books are talked about long after the mediocrity of other books has passed. And, like movies, not just blood and guts. Anyone can talk Dissection 101 and make is painful.

I look for books that creep me out without scarring me for life. Ones with twists and surprises and a satisfactory, if not super positive, ending. For being a writer, I know it is one’s imagination that needs to be taken care of first. If your scope is narrow, so is your experience of the world. If your imagination is fertile, your imagination takes wing. You can imagine things before you see them. Which is the basis of any good book. Things don’t have to be spelled out in black and white to be understood.

So the purpose of this little Tuesday night gathering is — do you have any books that fit the above criteria? Creepy, scary, adventurous, fun? Books that keep you awake at night?

Also — has anyone read H.P. Lovecraft’s works? I’ve been thinking of ordering them, as he was ahead of his time in his ideas and writing.

Like blogs, Twitter, and movies, I think recommendations from friends are far more enjoyable than those from an advertiser.

And maybe, through your suggestions, NONE of us will get much sleep.

 

 

 

the beginning is the most important part of the work…

questionmark

…Plato

I don’t often get many responses to my blogs, as most of my readers are very busy and read on the run. For those of you who do like to drop a word or six (for which I am eternally grateful), I have a question for you.

Would the following prologue make you want to read more?

 

       “You cannot live in both worlds.”

      The words echoed in the back of Anna’s mind like waves hitting the breakwater. Soft, rhythmic. They made no sense, at least not in their current context. She tried to hold onto the silver threads, but they slowly faded into meaningless whispers. All her mind could focus on was the slow, continuous beeping that radiated from some distant point.

      Beeping. Then silence. More beeping. More silence.

      God, she wished her mind would clear. That her eyes would open. That the throbbing in her head would stop. A lot of demands for a brain floating in a pool of thick, cold porridge. Anna thought about sitting up, getting up, but her body wouldn’t respond. More pain, more porridge. More voices, more beeping. Red flags were popping up throughout her consciousness — something was wrong. Too many mumblings, too many voices at the edge of her hearing. Voices that had no business being in her bedroom.

      “Anna, can you hear me?”

      Hear you? You are right here in bed next to me, Adam. Of course I can hear you.

      But her husband’s voice had a disquieting tenor she’d never quite heard before. His muffled words echoed in her ears, softly insulating her against the harsh beeping that tried to distort her every thought.

      A different voice followed. A deep, dark, musical voice — a voice rich with temptation.

      Do not close this door we have opened.

      Suddenly a swell of emotions overwhelmed her senses. It was as if the dam had burst; the dam that held back her energy, her very soul, releasing a flood of wordless images that pulsed to the beat of her heart. Anna felt a smile spread across her lips, even though the rest of her body refused to respond. How she wanted to linger in the warmth the memories promised. But the voice, the melody, disappeared as the scent of antiseptics whiffed across her nose. Bleach, perhaps. Or ammonia. What happened to the cinnamon potpourri in the crystal bowl on her nightstand?

      Anna’s head hurt just putting sentences together, and she still couldn’t open her eyes. So willful her thoughts, so unwilling her body. She could feel her pulse rise, her heart beating faster, her automatic fright/flight instinct taking over.

      “She is coming around, Mr. Powers.”

      Whose voice is that? In my bedroom? Who in the world would be calling Adam “Mr. Powers” anyway?

      More voices now. Closer. Louder. A squeaky high-pitched one and another with a sweet southern drawl. A shadow blurred the indirect light that fell upon her unopened eyes as she heard Adam’s voice echo from a tunnel off to her left somewhere.

      Damn, Adam. Speak up! Quit mumbling. And what are all these people doing in our bedroom?

      A moment of silence, an eternal moment, until suddenly a soothing sensation danced across her mind, melting her thoughts into puddles of warm milk. Anna thought she heard Adam say something about dying, but perhaps the word was “crying”.

      Either way, she decided she would try and open her eyes later. Yes, later. She was so sleepy, so content, that she’d rather follow the whispers that called her name.

Curiouser and Curiouser

writing-a-bookI have been having a Renaissance of sorts lately in my writing world. I’m having a blast with my blog, fine tuning a few older poems and short stories, but most of all, editing my latest novel. I think it will be a blast-off-the-planet sort of book once it’s published, throwing together a little sci-fi, a little romance, a little murder, a little sex — you know — your run-of-the-mill blockbuster.

Of course, I’m only on my first edit.

I wrote the story back in 2010. Unfortunately, a lot of interruptions, distractions, illnesses, and depressions got in the way between then and now. But I always knew I’d come back to it some day, fresh and ready to do business. And boy, does this novel need some business.

I’ve decided to break my full-length dissertation into chapters, using quotations to introduce each chapter. A heady idea, seeing that I need to edit the book at the same time. So the Great Revival of Art and Writing  movement (a.k.a.Renaissance) has started in earnest. And I’m having a great time.

So the question for you is: Do you ever revamp something you’ve created? Keep the basics but rearrange the frills? Did it make it better? Or just mess it up more? It doesn’t have to be writing — it can be designing jewelry or designing a quilt or changing the emphasis in a poem.

Most things I write I keep the same. Maybe a tweak here, a sentence there. I do a lot of clean up — I do have a bad habit of over-using certain words or phrases. But for the most part structure remains structure. So this is a new thing for me.

Let me know if it worked for you.

Movie Stars Apply Here

rhettI am an avid reader, along with being an avid writer. I love stories that jump out and surround you from the very beginning, making you feel what the characters feel, understand why they think and feel as they do. Writing is an arduous undertaking, cutting volumes of text in order to be able to turn on a dime.

Many great movies were great books first. Some movies, such as the Bourne Series, were nothing like the book. But both were great in their own way. Others, such as Shogun and Gone With the Wind, took a highlighted version of the facts, toning it more towards a visual, rather than a cerebral, experience.

Certain movie stars had the ability to assume and consume the main characters until you couldn’t tell the difference. For better or worse, Rhett Butler will always look like Clark Gable, Harry Potter will always look like Daniel Radcliffe.

Now. For all you writers of novels, poems, short stories, and blogs. Have you ever had an actor or in mind to play YOUR main characters?

I have written three novels (unpublished…any one know a publisher?  Ha…) Two of them are a set of stories about a middle-age woman who crashes her car and wakes up in 1880, and falls for someone half her age.  My wandering mind always tosses this guy or that girl around as to who would be perfect for Anna and Darren. But there’s some blockage in my brain that I have yet to find someone who matches my daydreams.

My third novel is about another kinda middle age woman who travels with a visitor to his planet half way across the galaxy to help him find a murderer (see a pattern here?)  Also a  zero on those two, although a younger Derek Jacobi might work for the man; one of the King’s Consuls looks like Jafar, and the King could be an Aragorn lookalike. But the woman?

Well, for me, I can’t see my leading lady looking like Angelina Jolie or Kiera Knightley. I just can’t see those women playing women with age issues or body issues or insecurity issues.  They don’t seem … vulnerable. Plus they’re way too skinny for my books.

What about you?

Who would you like to see play your leading man or woman?

Merlot at the Lake House

Quick.  Name a handful of your favorite movies. Not the “great” ones that are in your library ― the ones that define you. The ones you don’t admit entertain you time and time gain.  Are you what you watch? Are you big enough to admit that you are what you watch?

 It’s Saturday night: the boys are sleeping, the dogs have had their bonies, and I have settled down with a glass of merlot. Been a long day, a long week. Having just come off of my father-in-law’s passing and pressure-filled days at work, I find my emotional state still dancing on stalagmites. So I pull out a movie ― one I haven’t allowed myself to watch in some time. The Lake House.  Why is that?

There is nothing wrong with movies and books that reflect our inner selves. We are, of course, a reflection of many things around us — movies, books, the weather, the heart.  We develop our creativity based on what we’ve learned and what we’ve experienced. That is why self-help and raw human confession books are so popular. We are a world lost in the chaos of ego, everyone needing to be heard, no matter what the cost.

But back to movies and books. Both are tools of escapism; both reflect a little bit of what fascinates us deep inside. Not that we would live that life ― just that that life seems to resonate a bit with something Freud or Nietzsche would have had a field day with. Some connections are obvious; others are as nebulous as the morning fog.  My husband is nut when it comes to John Wayne ― any form, any era. Is he a big, larger-than-life hero type? Maybe not, but I can see flashes of the Duke in the way he struts sometimes.  Another good friend of mine loves books by Stephen King; I don’t think she is off on some modern-day blood and gore pilgrimage, but I can see her fascination ― the impossible becoming possible.

So what about The Lake House? Does this genre define who I am?  Am I lost in the fantasy of two time periods communicating through a mailbox? I am a preacher that we are  all multi-faceted diamonds in the rough. That we are so much more than the whole of our parts. And we are. But there are still signs in the universe (and in the media) that are plainly obvious.  Some resonate louder than others. Let’s ramble off a few of my favorite movies: The Lake House, Passion of Mind, Practical Magic, Chocolat. I’m sure that says a whole lot about my inner and outer spirit. That I am an escapist, a romantic, a time traveler. Funny that I also write about time travel, modern day women thrust into arenas not of their choosing:  alien worlds. Does my writing parallel my movie and book preferences? Does yours? Not just your writing, but your artwork; the books you read, the homemade cards you design, the jewelry you make, the dishes you cook when you are free to be yourself.

Sometimes we fall prey to pressure from the outside to be or think or watch what everyone else is being and thinking and watching.  As we get older, we fear we will be made fun of if we do not get the meaning of Barton Fink or Super Bad, or we don’t get rap or MTV, or we don’t laugh at movies filled with stoned characters or girls with their breasts hanging down to Brazil and back. I myself tremble at the thought of telling others I enjoy listening to Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra as much as Gaelic Storm or Steely Dan or Metallica. How can I be spread so thin over the planet? How can music and movies and books reflect who I am, who I’d love to be, when I’m in a hundred places at one time?

 As we get older our needs change. What thrilled us at 20 bores us at 50. Not that our youth is invalidated; on the contrary. We have evolved, just like everyone else. The things we thought risqué at 25 make us smile knowingly at 40. I suppose that’s because the world ever evolves, ever moves forward. And even though we move forward as well, we have the ability to focus on whatever era we wish. I have a friend who loves science fiction; the science part, the infinity part. This person works with computers, a field infinite and definitely scientific. Is sci-fi merely an extension of their reality? What about another friend who is very logical during the day yet hooked into murder mysteries all other times? Is her enjoyment of figuring out “who did it?” a reflection of working things out in her life?

 I suppose the point of this story is to encourage you to follow whatever direction your spirit guide sends you. When I was younger I questioned everything. “Does this mean something?” “If I turn right and go through the woods, instead of left and down to the field, does it mean something?” Now I know that every decision is just that. A choice. Turn left, turn right. It doesn’t matter. It’s neither good nor bad. It’s just a choice. Both turns take you back to who you are. Just like whatever movies you watch, whatever books you read. Enjoy adventure, enjoy historical sagas. Enjoy accounting manuals. It doesn’t matter.

 Having found that contentment regarding my decisions, I wonder what it means that my other favorite movies include Boondocks Saints and Con Air.

 Put… the bunny…back in the box…