Saturday, December 31, 2011

Bring It On, 2012!


I've enjoyed reading end-of-the-year blogs that summarize 2011 and talk about hopes, resolutions and goals for 2012. In fact, I've been inspired to keep a resolution/goal journal to track (and focus on) my progress--or lack thereof.

I know that in all my successes and failures in 2012, I will be inspired by others. So, to kick off 2012, I thought I'd list some of my favorite quotes I've been reading in the last few days on Facebook, in books, even iPhone apps. Thanks to my friends who have shared this inspiration. I know I'll refer back to this list many times throughout 2012.

May you be defined by your passions
and not your fears.
Facebook, via Kim Corneau Dombrowsky

Never compromise your true, authentic self
to please someone else.
Facebook, via Debbie Fox.

I prefer to describe myself as “delightfully difficult.”
Facebook, via Necia Parker-Gibson

You've got to get up every morning with a smile in your face, and show the world all the love in your heart.
Facebook, via Sharon Guthrie

Do not wait until all the conditions are perfect to begin. Beginning makes the conditions perfect.
Zen Wisdom iPhone app

No mud, no lotus.
Thich Nhat Hanh


Fall down seven times, get up eight.
Japanese Proverb


A frog leaps forward
His mind focused only on
Landing where he's aimed
My New Year haiku from my haiku blog

Here are some links to end-of-year blogs that I enjoyed reading:

Madison Woods - 2011 The Year in Writerly Review
Linda C. Apple - Get a Goal
Beth Carter - Making New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year, everyone. If you have pieces of inspiration to carry us into 2012, please share in a comment. I look forward to spending 2012 with you!

Friday, December 30, 2011

#FlashFriday #Fictioneers "Fly on the Wall"

I love the holidays, except for a few things. One of those things is that Madison Woods took a break and didn't post her photo prompt. Imagine leaving all of us Fictioneers to suffer withdrawals! But, this week,

We're back!!

And wow, did Madison post a different kind of picture! I love it, because I've always wanted to be a fly on the wall. Now, I can buy one! Thanks, Madison!!


Have you ever wanted to be a fly on the wall? Listen in on those conversations you aren’t supposed to hear? Catch someone in the act of doing something they shouldn’t be doing?

Super Fly Spy!

Yes, now you too, can own the futuristic spy device that allows you to eavesdrop in secret agent style.

Got a cheating spouse?
Super Fly Spy!

Want to know what someone’s been doing on the computer?
Super Fly Spy!

Afraid someone’s talking behind your back? That’s right!
Super Fly Spy to the rescue!

Hurry! Hurry! Don’t miss out. Supplies are limited!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Telling Tuesdays 12/20/11

Telling Tuesday. Reminiscent of the days in school when I used to look forward to seeing what everyone brought for Show and Tell and inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."


It's one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.


" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I give a "telling" prompt, then invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.


12/20/11
Last week I drove by my old house in Tulsa. My old home. I lived in that house for 25 years - raised my two children in it. Because it is around the corner from my parents' house, I see it each week when I go back to Tulsa to visit them. That house became a part of me, and when I left it for the last time . . . well, here's this week's telling prompt:

Her mind filled with memories as she shut the door.
Following is an excerpt from Broken Dolls. In this scene, Sachi and her family prepare to leave for the internment camp, taking with them only what they could carry. I began the scene with a haiku I wrote, based on how I felt when I left my house in Tulsa:

My house is empty
But memories will remain
Echoes in my heart.

It was almost time to go. Sachi listened to Mama’s heels tapping on the floor as she rushed around the house for a final check before they’d leave for good.
Tap, tap, tap, tap. Silence.
What did Mama think about as she walked into the kitchen? The living room? The bedrooms?
Tap, tap, tap, tap. Silence.
Sachi did her own wandering, drifting from empty room to empty room, trying to gather memories to hold. Each footstep echoed on the hardwood floor, and she too stopped walking to remember: Getting mad at Taro because he kept winning at jacks. Watching Papa build a fire in the fireplace. Even practicing her dreaded dance lessons in front of the mirror was a good memory now.
The government might be able to limit the number of suitcases they could carry, but they couldn’t make her leave her memories behind.
The hollow echoes swallowed her. She paced around her bedroom, running her hands along the pink walls. Step, step, step, step – like the heartbeat of her home. When they left, the heartbeat would stop.
Mama called from the hallway. “It is time to go.”
Time to go? Time to go? Her heart ached. She didn’t want to leave her room. Her house.
Mama called again. “Did you hear me? It’s time to go.”
Nobu peeked into her bedroom. “Come on, Sach. It’ll be okay,” he said, leading her out.
When Mama closed the door behind them, Sachi squeezed her eyes and thought of all the times she’d heard that door shut before. The fall mornings when she left for school. The evenings when Papa arrived home from work. The afternoons she returned from playing and Mama told her not to slam the door.
Mama wouldn’t have to worry anymore. She’d never slam it again.


Your turn! I can't wait to experience your character's memories of a home.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 12/19/11

MASH-UP

creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.

I hope this week's mashup will take your mind off the fact that there are only five shopping days. Oh. Sorry for reminding you of that.


Grub Street Daily posted an excellent blog called "Reaching Readers via Social Media: Hot Tips for Authors." This post is contains a good mix of things to blog about, as well as resources to help you not be a social media wallflower.

Anne R. Allen's blog post, "How to Blog: Beginner's Guide for Authors" is also on social media. Though she gives a lot of good "how-to" advice, I thought the most eye-opening piece of information she gave came from Oak Tree Press acquisitions editor, Sunny Frazier:

“I don't read the query (sorry aspiring writers!) I look for two things:  genre and word count. I then Google the author. I'm looking for the number of times the writer's name appears on the Internet. I'm searching for a website or any attempt to build a platform.”




ProBlogger.net is a blog solely dedicated to helping you improve your blog. I especially liked "How to Run Two Blogs in the Midst of a Busy Life." Does that not apply to all of us? Once I started using Tip #1, "Keep a clean list of post ideas and update it frequently," I rarely run out of things to blog about.


And finally, I'm adding a new feature to my weekly mashup. Often, simply reading a quote will inspire me to write. Each week, I'll post a quote that inspired me, or at least made me reflect.



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:

"Do not wait until all the conditions are perfect for you to begin.
Beginning makes the conditions perfect."
-- Alan Cohen

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Gifts #fridayflash #fridayfictioneers #100words


I love the sweet simplicity of  this week's photo prompt by Madison Woods. Here's the story it inspired:

Christmas Gifts


     Joey poked his head through the door. “Close your eyes.”
     “Oh, honey. Not now. I’m cooking.” I turned so he wouldn’t see I’d been crying.
     “Come on, Mom. I’ve got a surprise for you,” he pleaded.
     I shut my eyes. They burned beneath my lids.
     “Don’t open them until I say so.”
     “I won’t.”
     I heard him groan a bit, some rustling, the creak of the shutting door.
     “Almost done,” he said. “Okay, open your eyes.”
     A tiny tree. A smile beaming on Joey’s face.
     “Before Dad left, he said to be sure you had a Christmas tree.”

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Treasures

It seems this year more than others, I hear a flurry of "bah-humbugs" from friends and family. And, I am no different. I'm not sure why--whether it's the economy, politics and the constant bickering we hear about on a day-to-day basis, the over-commercialization of Christmas that began the day after Halloween--whatever it is, it seems to have gotten to many of us this year.

In fact, I seriously considered passing on the Christmas decorations. If it weren't for the fact my children would be coming home, I might not have put a tree up. Thank goodness I did.

Every year, when I bring out my Christmas ornaments, I am filled with memories that make me smile. When my children were young, I gave them a Christmas ornament that symbolized something that occurred over the previous year. When they moved away, I packed up their ornaments in a big box and gave it to them.

I'll admit, the first couple of Christmases following, my tree felt a little empty. But Stephen and I have carried on that tradition, and now we have our own tree full of memories. And besides, I have to admit, I kept a couple of ornaments of my kids' childhoods. Not sure if they've noticed.

Here are some of my favorites:

I've had this Mr. and Mrs. Claus for almost thirty years. When I unwrap it each year, it always makes me smile as I recall Andrea and Adam gawking inside the cozy little house lit by a single twinkle light. I like to peek inside myself.






I've had this handmade ornament for even longer. A friend who I used to work with made it. There's something about miniature "little worlds" like the one captured in this ornament. Santa laughing in the snow. How could I not smile?











This is one of my very favorites, because Andrea made it for me and gave it to me when I learned to sail "Haiku." Handmade gifts are always the best, but I've always loved the thoughtfulness and creativity of this one.




And though this is a simple little ornament, "Baby Jesus" always goes at the top of the tree, right under the star. I keeps the real meaning in perspective for me, no matter how many bah-humbugs I say throughout the season.

When I stand back and look at our tree, I see that it represents the blessings in our life. How could I ever consider not putting it up each year?

What are your favorite ornaments, and what do they mean to you? I would love to see pictures. If you'll email them to me with a description of why they're your favorites, I'll add them to my blog. Send them to me at:

jymorrill(at)gmail.com   ---use @ for (at).

I hope your Christmas will be filled with lots of good memories and memories in the making, too!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Telling Tuesdays 12/13/11

Telling Tuesday. Reminiscent of those days in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought to show and inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."

It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.

" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

This week's prompt was inspired by a passage in a book I'm reading, Life of Pi. Here's the excerpt:

     Richard Parker has stayed with me. I've never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares, mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. That pain is like an axe that chops at my heart.


So, here's this week's "telling" prompt. What can you "show" us?

She was sad when he left.

Here's an excerpt from a story I wrote several years ago (Voices, Volume I, High Hill Press, 2008) about a couple and their sailboat called "Haiku":

     He pulled away from her driveway with Haiku in-tow, leaving her feeling as empty as her now vacant garage. Sadness hovered like a gray cloud when a realization fixed itself in her heart - a realization as clear as the 800 pound gorilla that stood in the corner, its arms crossed in mock satisfaction.
  
  Their dance was nearing an end. Like the sailboats she'd watched on San Francisco Bay, their souls had moved toward each other, but never touched.
  
  And sailing Haiku wouldn't change anything.
  
      Her bed is empty
      Train whistle cries far away
      She hugs her pillow.


I'm looking forward to reading your "show" part of show and tell!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 12/12/11


MASH-UP

creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.


Now that many of you have finished your Nanowrimo novels, (or for any other novel that needs some rework,) this is an excellent article on how to work through what Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird, calls the "shitty first draft." I like to think of first drafts as the seeds to a flower, eggs to a chicken, a trickling stream to the Grand Canyon. Oh, forget it. You get the picture. Three Ways to Work Through a Difficult First Draft was written by guest blogger, Christi Craig, on Suzannah Windsor Freeman's Write It Sideways.






Kristen Lamb's blog post, Is Your Novel a Spineless Weakling, was another good follow-up for Nanowrimo, and one of the best articles I've read on the necessity of an antagonist in your novel. In Broken Dolls, there are two antagonists -- Society, and Mama. Who is your antagonist? (Big newsleak: Watch for news of a guest appearance by Kristen Lamb at a future Ozarks Writers League meeting!)


And, if you are having a tough time even coming up with a "shitty first draft," here are a couple of links with writing prompts:




I'll close this week's mashup with a quote by Elmore Leonard, who defined the difficulty of editing in a deceptively simple way:

"I try to leave out the parts that people skip."

Friday, December 9, 2011

#FlashFriday #Fictioneers "Who Needs It?"


I have to admit, this week's photo prompt by Madison Woods was a challenge! But, here goes:

Who Needs It?


     Don't know what I said to tick Marylou off. Maybe I pinched her love handles too hard. Maybe it's that time of month. These days, seems like it's "that time" more than it's not.
     Alls I know is, just as I was thinking, "Women!" she started in on me like she could read my mind.
     "Yeah, I'm a woman," she cried. "W-O-M-A-N. And I'm dang tired of doing it all. Tired of bringing home the bacon and frying it up in a pan." Then, she left, slamming the door behind her.
     Heck. I can cook bacon too. And who needs a pan, anyways?


Thanks for jump starting my brain this morning, Madison. Now, I'm hungry. I think I'll go fry myself some bacon. Think I'll use a pan, however.


Feel free to post a link to your blog with your comments!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An Interview with Author, M.G. Miller

Unsettled bliss. That's how I would describe the return of Mike Miller to the Northwest Arkansas Writers Workshop. Bliss, because listening to Mike read is like listening to an accomplished musician. Unsettled, because his skillful writing takes the reader to dark places--you know, the ones you want to turn away from, but can't?


I've enjoyed getting to know Mike over the last several months, and recently read his book, Bayou Jesus. Here's the review I posted on Amazon:


Since the release of the book and movie, The Help, there has been much discussion of whether or not a writer can capture the voice of a character outside of his race or gender. M.G. Miller answers that question in his book Bayou Jesus. His portrayal of Miss Zassy, Frank, Jolene and Alice -- each outside of his gender and/or race -- is gripping, not only in the dialect he writes, but also in the internalization of thoughts and feelings. But then, aren't so many of our thoughts and feelings universal, regardless of gender or race?

Bayou Jesus is a provocative and insightful read. I highly recommend it.


I think you'll enjoy getting to know Mike, too:


1) Your book, Bayou Jesus, is full of wonderful prose that brings your characters and settings to life. Excerpt:
       Gleaming faces filled the hall, all smiles, brows damp, the women with paper fans to cut the air: hot, moist, sliced through with excitement. Wooden benches lined the walls, children dodged between the colorful billows of skirts, around long trouser legs. Food lay heaped on three tables at the far end: red beans and rice, shrimp, fried chicken and pork, rolls of fresh-baked bread, desserts. Nearby, a band had set up: two banjos, scrub-board, a fiddle and a drum. Music was a spirituality in itself; it pulled out one’s soul so that it might dance free of the bonds of earth, it brought one closer to God. And this night seemed made for rejoicing.

This is a skill that develops over time. What first influenced you to write, and how have you developed your writing skills?

Thank you, Jan.  It was the love of books to begin with that influenced me to start writing.  I’ve always been rather a loner, and even as a child I preferred the solitude of my own room.  We didn’t have the internet or video games in those days, all I had were books and records...and puppets.  Strange phase, but ultimately the seed of utilizing creativity to entertain myself, because I’d tell stories through the puppets, and eventually I wrote them down.

In Junior High, I read my first adult novel, Harold Robbins’ A Stone for Danny Fisher, and knew I wanted to write like that too.  It’s still one of my favorites.  So at the age of twelve, I wrote my first novel.  Of course it was horrible, so I wrote another one, and yet another.  At this writing, I’ve now begun novel number 21.

But it was only through joining a writer’s group in the 90s that I really began to hone my skills.  I took what I wanted from the suggestions offered (constructive criticism that didn’t interfere with the voice of the story) and that’s when I really got a grasp on editing and tightening.  For instance, when I completed Bayou Jesus, it was a meandering 1,000 page manuscript.  I cut it in half, then cut that in half, and continued to edit until it was a virtual machine, with no sentence wasted.

Edit.  Period.  It’s the only way.

2) Would you share something brand new with us? Write the opening paragraph to a book that begins:

            It must have had something to do with Daisy.

            I don’t usually write on the fly, but here goes nothing:

            It must have had something to do with Daisy.  Everyone in Danfield knew she’d been carrying on with Oscar Highsmith for at least a year.  And Oscar a married man.  Even his wife, Della, had to have known.  Although Della traveled a lot for her realtor’s job, which gave Oscar and Daisy ample opportunity for their trysts, she simply had to have known what was going on between them.  A woman can’t be married to a man for twenty-five years and just not know.  But on the day Daisy packed her bags and bought a bus ticket to Memphis, no one in Danfield had yet to lay eyes on Oscar.  His tobacco shop never opened, he didn’t stop in Gloria’s diner for his usual toast and fried eggs; in fact, he’d apparently never even left the house, for the morning paper still lay on the front stoop of the Highsmith’s modest brick home.  Yes, it had to have something to do with Daisy, because a mere hour after the Memphis-bound Greyhound rumbled from the Danfield depot, Della returned home from three days at a realtor’s convention in Little Rock and noticed the morning paper, too.  She thought it odd.  That’s when she unlocked the door of their modest brick home and discovered all the lights were still turned on too, which was odder still.  When she noticed an overturned chair.  A broken glass.  A pair of rusty scissors.  And something staining the stairwell carpet.  Something that resembled a human ear.

3) Recently, you said you’d found your home in the Southern Gothic genre. Wikipedia defines the genre as:

The southern Gothic style is one that employs the use of macabre, ironic events to examine the values of the American south.

Indeed, some of your most powerful writing is dark, macabre. Would you mind if I ask about the seeds of such passages?

I’ve always been at home in the Southern Gothic genre, whether I realized it or not.  Before, I’d always dilineated my works into Literary Fiction, Horror, True Crime, and Experimental.  It was only recently, however, when I discovered the importance of branding oneself that I realized all of my work could, indeed, be considered Southern Gothic because of the settings, the grotesque characters and the macabre events that take place.  But why Southern people and places?  That falls under “write what you know”.


As for the dark side, I’ve always been an avid horror reader because I love how the genre gets your blood pumping.  I guess you could say that in terms of books, I’m rather an adrenaline junkie.  However, I’ve always preferred more realistic, “quiet horror”; i.e., the horror of everyday occurrences with ordinary people, and not particularly of a supernatural nature.  In my opinion, Flannery O’Connor, Shirley Jackson and Joyce Carol Oates are the best of examples of “everyday horrors”.
  
4) If you were to teach a creative writing class, what would you try to communicate to your students?

            Write.
            Find your voice.
            Edit.
            Never fall in love with your words.
            Grow a thick skin.
            Leave your ego at the door.
            Persist.
            Never believe anything until the check has cleared the bank.
            Don’t quit your day job.

5) Recently, you commented on my blog, “What Is Your Life Sentence”:

            He took a licking, but kept on ticking . . .then wrote about it.

That was one of my favorite comments. But it made me wonder. When I consider writing about events where I “took a licking,” fear often prevents me from finishing the story, sometimes prevents me from even beginning. Sometimes the fear is of what others may think of me. Sometimes the fear is of offending someone still living. Sometimes the fear is that it simply won’t matter to anyone else. Do you have those kinds of fears, and how have you overcome them?

You can’t worry about what others will think of you or you’ll never get anything written.  And if you do write with your internal editor turned on, you’ll compromise the integrity of the work.  Let the work speak for itself.  I guess I’m fortunate in that I’ve never worried what people will think of me as a person as reflected by my written work.  If people get offended, it’s their problem, not mine.  I just point them to the front matter of the book where it says, “This is a work of fiction.”  Over the course of the years, I’ve put a lot of unsavory characters and events on the page, but does that mean that I’m:  a racist?  a murderer?  a junkie?  a practitioner of the black arts?  Hardly.  All it means is that I’m fascinated by the human condition and that I’ve attempted to try and convey ordinary people coping with extraordinary circumstances.

6) Thank you for helping us get to know you and your writing, Mike. What’s next for M.G. Miller?

December 25th will see the reissue of Bayou Jesus from Southern Exposures Press.  It will be available exclusively as a Kindle ebook through Amazon.com.  Sometime after the first of the year, SEP, in association with Grand Bayou Entertainment, will also release the audio version, although an exact date has not yet been announced.

2012 will also see the reissue of Her Grave Embrace, an historical horror novel, as well as Murderous, a novelization of a true crime.  Seven Devils is in the pipeline, too, a literary sequel to Bayou Jesus.  My current work in progress, The Serpent, is also based on a true crime; I hope to have it finished by the end of next year.  As of this writing, the likelihood of releasing audio versions of all my titles seems imminent as well.

Thank you for inviting me over to chat, Jan.  Now if you’ll give me another cup of coffee, I might tell you why Daisy cut off Oscar Highsmith’s ear.


Thanks, Mike! I'll definitely accept your invitation to another cup of coffee and can hardly wait to learn more about the mystery of Daisy and Oscar!


Leave a comment by noon Wednesday, December 21, to be included in a drawing for an autographed copy of Bayou Jesus!


Visit M.G. Miller at his website:
http://www.mgmillerbooks.com/
Or his blog:
http://mgmillerbooks.wordpress.com/
On Twitter:
@m_g_miller
On Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/MG-Miller/165654790177878

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Telling Tuesdays 12/6/11


Telling Tuesday. Reminiscent of those days in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought to show and inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."

It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.

" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

This week's prompt came to mind when I watched the first snowflakes of the season fall yesterday morning:

It was snowing.


I'll go first. This is an excerpt from my manuscript, Broken Dolls. In this scene, on the anniversary of her father's death, 10-year old Sachi has been running from something all day, trying to keep a thought from coming to consciousness. Here's part of that scene:



She started to run, as if she could escape the thought. But it was too strong this time. There was nothing to drive it away. It burst into her mind, full force. She stopped. Breathless.
If you hadn’t begged Papa to take you to the park that day, he might still be alive.

Tears burned her eyes. It was her fault. She covered her face with her hands, hoping darkness would hide her from the bitter realization. It didn’t. There was no escape from the flood of emotion. The dam had burst.
Mama had warned them—told them it wasn’t a good idea to go to the park that day. Papa had probably agreed, but he took Sachi anyway.
It was her fault.
If she hadn’t dragged Papa there, those boys wouldn’t have found him. And if Mama and Nobu blamed those boys, surely they blamed her, too. It all happened because of her. Her fault.
 I’m sorry, Papa.
Something cold tingled on her hands, trickled down her collar. She took her hands from her face and opened her eyes.
White flakes drifted all around her. Landed on her eyelashes. Her nose. Her tongue.
Falling, falling.
Softly.
Gracefully.
Unbelievably quiet.
     Snow! Her first snow.


Your turn! I'm watching and waiting to experience your snow scene.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 12/5/11

Welcome to Monday morning! This week's mashup will test your resolve. I started and ended with positive blogs, but the meat (gamey as it may be) is in the two posts on slush piles. I dare you to chew through them. Then, be sure to follow Chuck Sambuchino's blog. Better yet, come meet him at this year's Story Weavers Conference!

Ready? Here we go . . .

I like lists. They are easy and quick to scan over, and as I tick off items on the list, I feel like I’ve accomplished something. Here’s a list of books of interest to writers. When I reviewed this list, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I’ve already read a few—Bird by Bird, Writing Down the Bones. I’m looking forward to reading several of the others.





Many writers are in the querying process and have received the kick-in-the-gut rejection letter. Admittedly, this post will not do much to make you feel better about a rejection, but it will clarify the many reasons for rejection. Yes, the list makes the odds of being accepted by an agent sound insurmountable, but at least after reading this post, you'll know just how “wowerful” we have to be. http://agentcarlywatters.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/why-agents-take-on-less-than-1-of-all-queries/



I’m afraid this is another distressing, but necessary blog post. Though cynical in tone, guest editor and former slush reader, Ruth Harris, provides us with a bird’s eye view of what it feels like to go through a slush pile, and therefore teaches us what NOT to do. Still, she reminds us that great writers have risen, even from the bottom of stack and stacks and stacks of manuscripts. http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2011/11/confessions-of-big-six-editor-triumph.html



This blog by Chuck Sambuchino is one of my favorites. He regularly posts information on new agents, which is an invaluable resource to writers who are trying to obtain representation. As Sambuchino says, “Newer agents are golden opportunities for new writers, because they’re likely building their client lists.” And here's some big and exciting news: Chuck Sambuchino will be presenting at the Oklahoma Writers Federation (OWFI) 2012 Story Weavers Conference May 3-5 in Oklahoma City!

I end this mashup with Chuck Sambuchino's blog so that you won't be discouraged. When I was querying agents, upon receiving a rejection--once I regained my composure--the first place I visited was Chuck's blog or his book, Guide to Literary Agents. From one of those sources, I'd pick two more agents and send out two queries for every rejection I received. But, I found my agent, Kathleen Anderson, when I shepherded and pitched to her at the 2011 OWFI conference. You see from the posts above how difficult it can be to get out of the slush pile--another great reason to attend the OWFI 2012 Story Weavers conference!




New York Times Best Selling author, Jodi Thomas, taught me that triumph comes through perseverance. As you can see by the above posts, without perseverance, you are likely to remain squashed at the bottom of stacks and stacks and stacks and stacks of manuscripts.

So persevere!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

#FlashFriday #Fictioneers "Leaving Little World"

I especially liked the photo prompt by Madison Woods this week, because it reminded me of a dream I had once. It came at a time when I was so afraid to make a decision, I compared it to jumping from a cliff. In my dream, I finally decided to jump, believing it was my only choice. At first, I fell, but only for a moment. Then, I grew wings. And flew.

The next day, I made the decision, and I've never regretted it.


Leaving Little World

Mama didn’t tell her to stay put this time. How long had she been gone, anyway? And her sister? Her brother?
She was hungry. Alone.
She stared into Big World. Bright sunshine. Big.
All she’d ever known was Little World. Cozy. Warm. But . . .
She was hungry.  Alone.
She stood on the perch, her heart pounding as loud as the clap of thunder from The Storm that almost destroyed Little World in the spring. There was only one thing to do, because . . .
She was hungry. Alone.
She jumped.
Flapping!
Falling!
Flapping!
Until . . . she flew.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Trek Nation


I loved--still love--Star Trek. So today, when I learned that in celebration of Star Trek's 45th Anniversary, the Science Channel will broadcast Trek Nation, a tribute to Gene Roddenberry by his son, Rod, you could have beamed me to Trekkie heaven.

The two-hour documentary explores the impact of Roddenberry's unique vision for the future and will be broadcast at 7:00 p.m. CST.

As a child, I looked forward to it every week, ready to leave my house on Coolidge Street for space, the final frontier; excited to see what strange creatures might enter my living room. I'll even admit to some sort of subliminal attraction to Captain James T. Kirk, though as a little girl, I didn't really understand why. And perhaps because I was often discouraged from showing too much emotion, I also liked Spock, figuring if the always logical Spock could show emotion, certainly so could I.

As an adult, I looked forward to nightly reruns of Star Trek, and came to understand that my attraction to Kirk was based in large part on his "other side," his human, imperfect, "non-captain" side. Oh, okay, he also exuded sexuality, whether implied or not. I realize my fondness for Star Trek is quite different from other Trekkies, but for me, beyond the sci-fi magic of the series, the multi-faceted characters were the appeal.


Now that I write, I look back and can see several techniques that made Star Trek a success. Each episode revolved around the conflict of one or more characters. The protagonists and antagonists were three-dimensional -- not all good and not all bad. The settings were unique and interesting.


My favorite eposides? It's a toss-up between The Trouble with Tribbles and The Menagerie. How could anyone resist the cute, fuzzy, purring creatures called Tribbles? As a child, I slipped on my fuzzy slippers and pretended I had Tribbles following me around.


Though I haven't seen The Menagerie for many years, I remember being saddened by the image of the burned Christopher Pike, touched by Spock's loyalty, and teary-eyed at the conclusion, when Pike is finally beamed to Talos.

Who was your favorite character? Favorite episode? Will you be watching the Science Channel at 7:00 tonight?