Learning A 2nd Language
Julian Beever is an enterprising artist whose pavement drawings have garnered attention and accolades for over a decade. His amorphous images drawn flat look 3-dimensional when viewed at the correct angle. He has spread his art from England to France, Germany, Australia, and Belgium, and his pop art style mixed with classic has given him a distinctive ‘voice’ within the art community.
A good writer can do the same thing. A mama mouse taught her children a valuable lesson the day the cat became too close for comfort and she barked loudly. As the cat skedaddled, Mama Mouse turned to the baby mice and said: It’s always good to learn a second language.
This is precisely what writers do who wish to broaden their canvases and snag new readers—they do the familiar things their readers expect and love, but they incorporate new ideas occasionally, throw the readers a curve, delight them with new material.
One of the most prolific writers of his day knew how to throw his voice like a ventriloquist by switching genres. As creator of Conan The Barbarian, Robert E. Howard spun tales of savagery as his character went from adventurer to mercenary to ruler of his own kingdom. With Brin Mak Morn stories, the author introduced a Pict chieftain, and with Breckenridge Elkins, the writer donned his cowboy thinking hat and wrote westerns. During all of these, he kept what he loved and admired…heroes with brawn and brains, men who conquered the unconquerable and rose above whatever pitfalls life and their creator pitched at them.
We can do the same, even if we don’t wander outside our genre(s) of choice, simply by introducing something new with the old, whether it’s a new twist, a secondary plot we haven’t tried, new characters, or a different setting, taking care that we put our unique spin on the plot or make the setting as lively and entertaining as a character.
Sometimes it's a matter of looking at the same thing a little differently that turns a flat piece of work into 3-D. The ingredients are the same, but that special touch that only we can give to our manuscripts makes all the difference. Our views are unique; our deliverance of them should be as well.
Planting A Dream
Well, most of the winter holidays are over until next year, and we have 360 days to go before we have to wonder where Santa is or if he'll show up, approximately 150 days until bathing suits and skimpy clothing in the States, 208 days until the next RWA conference (next one will be in Atlanta, for those who aren't familiar with Romance Writers of America), 47 days until Valentine's Day, approximately 68-75 days before the Kids will be on spring break, and 107 days in the States to file our taxes.
Is it just me, or are most of our lives really planned around dodging deadlines and anticipating adventures? Whatever happened to NOW? There's a method to my madness, if you'll bear with me.
I have a friend who has never written a novel who is daunted by the thought of creating that many pages. I've told him every December that one page a day would get him through a completed novel and then some. I've tried to persuade him that five pages a day would net him a novel within a fraction of that time. I've suggested books, such as Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, urged him to create a space in which he feels comfortable to write, nagged him to just try writing every day for a month or sporadically as he can, but he's stymied by his own lack of belief that he can do this.
Writing every day isn't for everyone who wishes to produce a book...or even a few sheets of poetry, a short story, or a blog. We do what we can, and it has to enough for us...until we are published, in which case we have editors asking when we'll turn in our next manuscript. I write because of two things...I can't conceive of not writing, and I like the money, such as it is. I enjoy working from my home and deciding when and where I draw the line on how much effort I can give. I like the freedom to express, hit delete, or save, knowing that it's my arse on the line, that I am responsible for at least this, that I control at least this, even if I'm restrained by health or home issues, the weather, death, taxes, and whatever else life throws at me. I control what I say and how I say it. There are writers around the world who don't have that freedom. What they say can get them and their families killed. For that matter, some who read my dreck want to kill me.
My point is that we control how much time we allot to our writing - not what is granted to us after jobs, families, and obligations, but the time we choose to spend doing what we do once we've planted meat to seat. We choose to sit down with or without the tools we need to do the job--grammar, spelling, sentence structure, ideas to germinate then generate. These tools are all free - we only need to decide how well equipped we are before we sit down to write. If we refuse to learn the basics, then we can't expect to graduate to the plane that calls us. It's that simple--that's the way the world works. The muse is free--she just has a high price for some of us to pay in order to follow her rather than just sit and listen to her whisper in our ear.
Some of us write better before we blog, or our blogging is our reward for having done the number of pages we assign ourselves. Others listen to motivational tapes, jog, walk, or do yoga before they sit down. My ideal start to writing would be get out of bed, jump into a warm pool, swim, sit in my robe sipping my favorite coffee and having a bite of toast, then slipping into my clothes, planning my day's schedule, and sitting before the computer. Truth is, I'm lucky if I take five minutes from bed to bathroom, kitchen for coffee, and plant my butt in the chair bleery-eyed and clueless. I'm lucky if I look up before two o'clock and have done more than smoke, drink coffee, and pound keys, much less eat. The diabetic doc isn't happy with me when I do things this way. Neither is my body, which is why I'm trying to wean myself from the bad things and fill in the time with more energy-producing ones. After all, it takes energy to concentrate and write.
I must have had one helluva potty training, because I am anal about my time and how I spend it. I've had to learn by trial and error what works best for me. I am cranky if I don't have the tools in the toolbox or if there's one I don't have but want. I know that I'll either have to give up time writing in order to master that tool, or I'll have to live (write) without it and face the consequences. Or...there's that third option: Learn it while writing. Practice using it. Remember the value in its existence and what I can gain by having it. Make friends with my need rather than be dominated by it.
I lack patience - I generally want about five seconds after I think of something. I don't want to wait. I want it NOW. By letting that need consume me like a sudden fire rather than let it slowly rise from simmer to boil, I cheat myself out of a learning experience or two. And I want to learn in 2006. I have a list of To-Do and Be and Have that would boggle most minds. But I've found over years of making goals that I can't hit a target I don't have, so...I do the resolutions on New Year's...in fact, I do them all year long. When the desire for change hits, that's my New Year's Day. I don't wait for January 1st.
I love the seasons - winter is preparation time for me. I dislike the ice and sometimes even the snow, but I love the germination period, the time when I concentrate best on coming up with ideas for spring planting, summer weeding (and there are always weeds), and autumn harvesting. I'll give you an example or two. Last winter I had a notebook of ideas that expanded to one of manageable goals (we're talking writing here). By spring, I had two of the three books I wanted to write that winter completed. One has been in New York with a major publisher (requested, by the way) since April. The other two sold, one in April, the other in November. I took the ideas I hadn't fleshed out yet and worked on them in the spring, because I'd already prepared the soil, done the homework, done the research, prepared myself. Those two sold as well. Summer hit me hard because I had to put my money where my mouth was with one publisher - I boasted I could have what she wanted within a month, and I hadn't even begun it. August was absolute hell because of it.
Six books total sold in 2005. I was hoping for 7, but...alas. One crop didn't pan out for me. The one that is taking so long, well...that one is in crop rotation, because I can't afford to put all of my energies into the one project. There are other children needing my attention.
No matter the physical season around you, try thinking of your writing as seasonal. When do you do your best research, plotting, observing, writing? Realize that every idea needs careful consideration, from germinating to planting, repotting, tending, and weeding. Know the gardener - his/her habits, requirements/needs, and capabilities for the "soil" on hand. One good friend told me years ago that a book I wanted to write was out of my capabilities to write for that particular time. She was gentle but insistent that I reconsider putting so much effort into that one project when I had so many others that would yield the results I was after. I listened to her. It was one of the six that sold this year, and that was about 10 years ago that she suggested I wait on it to germinate.
I don't worry too much that I'm not producing everything I want to write. I worry when an idea is bigger than I am, when I haven't the tools to execute the damn thing. I have goals for 2006. They're not grandiose, but they're big enough to keep me busy and hoping and dreaming...and humble. And I've made room for the projects I want to grow that are smaller, because they feed my soul and energize me.
What feeds you during winter? Any good books or music or films that make a difference whether you write or not or how well you write?
Blogging The Bird
Before you wonder if I’m in a rotten mood, I’m not – I’m just in a weird one today, thinking about my friend Kat.
I started my online reading today by a story that caught my eye – a dog frozen on a railroad track
was rescued. From there my attention span flew south, and somehow Emily Dickenson’s “Hope is the thing with feathers”
became stuck in my head. Woody Allen took a different spin and used the word “Life” to lead his diatribe, but admire the old perv’s writing as I do, that’s for another blog. Today’s blog is for the birds.
There’s giving the bird, a little bird told me, Bye, Bye, Birdie, Four-and-twenty-Blackbirds, and The Birdman of Alcatraz. Did you know that giving the bird
dates back over 2500 years, for instance? The story of Caligula’s assassination was interesting.When the Romans imported the art, music, and culture of the Greeks, the finger came along, too. Roman Emperor Caligula, a pioneer in perversity, frequently shocked his citizens by forcing them to kiss his middle finger instead of his hand. One of his subjects, Cassius, who Caligula often taunted as being too effeminate, finally had enough humiliation and assassinated him. Clearly, the bird was not to be taken lightly.
As for “a little bird told me”, this is what I tracked down:A LITTLE BIRD TOLD (WHISPERED TO) ME - "One scholar suggests that this familiar saying may have originated with the similar-sounding Dutch expression Er lif t'el baerd, which means 'I should betray another.' More likely the idea behind the phrase is in the noiseless flight of a bird, reinforced by a biblical passage from Eccles. 10:20: 'Curse not the kind, no not in thy thought.for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter'." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). ".The earliest form of the saying was included in John Heywood's collection of proverbs (1546). In 1583, Brian Melbancke wrote in 'Philotimus'" 'I had a little bird, that brought me newes of it.' In 1711, in 'Letter to Stella,' Jonathan Swift came close to the current version: 'I heard a little bird say so.'." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).
A little bird told me. This "little bird" implies a secret or private source of knowledge. Most authorities believe in a Biblical origin, found in Ecclesiastes 10:20 which includes "for a bird of the air shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall tell the matter".
There is an alternative explanation involving King Solomon. All the birds of the air were summoned to him but the Lapwing did not appear. Later the Lapwing explained that he had been with the Queen of Sheba and that she had indicated that she intended to visit Solomon. The King began to make preparations for the visit; in the meanwhile the Lapwing flew to the Queen and told her that the King had a great desire to see her. As history records, such a meeting did take place, but the role of the Lapwing is less clear.
Robert Stroud, The Birdman of Alcatraz
, used to fascinate me as a child. That a murderer with such a violent past found his calling in prison and became one of our foremost experts on birds…well, it was intriguing. Stroud’s life sounds like one Zig Ziglar
might illustrate during his motivational talks. Stroud might have been one of those people whose real talents could have made him a fortune and fostered an exemplary life without crime had he been more interested in Tweety than Tootsie back when he was pimping.
One of the strangest bird stories
I’ve read involves a little old man who has been called a bird whisperer—he literally gets rid of birds without harming them, freeing up major cities where birds dive bomb pedestrians and stink up the town.
If you’d like a reason why my attention turned to the birds today, all I can offer is that it started with that canine-lover chick flick I watched over the weekend that Doug hated. “Must Love Dogs”. Then today I saw where that poor dog was frozen to a railroad track, and the segue began.
At least I didn’t bore you with “the same ole thing” today, so if you’re just gonna grouch about it, find a Sylvester & Tweety cartoon to cheer you.
…till next time…Happy Birthday to Kat, one of my dear Capricorn friends who is battling chemo for liver cancer – she just beat colon cancer, so we’re hopeful. Knowing her, she’ll give it the bird just as she did before.
And now I’ve come full circle. Have a great week, everyone.
My Favorite Things
Raindrops on roses, and whiskers on kittens…bleh…okay, they’re cute. But my favorite things this season are SPAM FILTERS that keep me from seeing email messages (sometimes 60-100 per day) from the likes of Charlotte Reed whose subject line reads: Are you in search of the che ap Iicensed (yes, a capital “I” instead of an “L”) dru gs? – and that’s exactly how it all appears. Or then there’s this one from Jesus (no last name – who knew?) whose subject header is: Re: [/]: Antyihng u need 4 Ises. I’m also delighted not to be subjected to ads asking if I’d like to enlarge my penis or “perscribe” to “farmecuticles” from some place I can’t pronounce and doubt is even on any known map.
Then there are movie reviews – I have a penchant for liking just about anything that Picks ‘N Pans at People Magazine
doesn’t like, but I take to heart whatever my local Blockbuster Video recommends. I like foreign films and strange foods, but then I also delve into whatever John Cusack
appears in simply because the boy doesn’t just appear in any ole thing he’s handed, and a great cheeseburger with onion rings can’t be beat when I’m in the mood for going blue-collar. One of the best places to get these is at Bricktown Brewery
in Oklahoma City.
I have degrees in education, music, and English out the wazzoo, but I rarely turn down a good Jeff Foxworthy or Larry The Cable Guy spot on Comedy Central
I’ve never met a diamond, a Godiva chocolate, a Mercedes or a week in Reno that I didn’t love, but there’s nothing like a handmade piece of jewelry that a child or a friend makes, a bag of M&M’s when I’m writing, a city bus trip through downtown St. Louis, or a weekend watching movies with The Kid.
Other feel-good favorite things:
A phone call from Lex
in Australia on Christmas Day and hearing she’s had an advance 4 and ½ star review from Romance Junkies on her first book debuting with Samhain
Seeing my friend Merry’s 5 star review
on her 1st book with By Grace Publishing…
Knowing that the check really is in the mail…
Still getting a royalty off of e-books that were published in August and September…
A full refrigerator that doesn’t consist of leftovers…
The security of knowing that the bills are paid or semi-paid…
Pets who are so spoiled that when I come home from shopping their noses are in the bags before I even get my coat off…they know Mama has a bag of rawhides with their names on it…
The little boy who knocks on my door wanting to sell a dollar bar of chocolate to a diabetic…because he’s raising money for his school…
Still having both of my parents, seeing them past their golden wedding anniversary and watching how Poppa can’t leave the house without kissing Mom or patting her butt…
A five-year-old niece who loves movies and thinks that “Chicken Little”
is an educational film…
My sister-in-law who never forgets a birthday, even when I’m continually late remembering hers…
A ratty old pair of slippers whose shape holds the contours of my feet…
Knowing that despite our cultural, socio-economic, psychological, and political agendas contained within, the country where I live is still strong and free and defended by a military who sacrifices so much for my freedom…
I like the blank screen that greets me when I sit down to begin a new novel or short story – it’s there waiting for me like a canvas anticipating whatever “art” I toss, opening up possibilities and creative venues, giving me one more chance to express myself.
I like THE END when I’m done with a piece, because by the time it’s there, I’ve vented and spewed; I’ve thrown the clay onto the wheel and constructed what was in my heart at the time.
Dinner with friends, good books, inspiring music, photographs and paintings whose messages are either clearer than words or so intriguing that I have to think before I form an opinion…
Really good recipes from friends & family, unusual cookbooks, kitchen gadgets Tammy sends me, then the opportunity to put them all to good use…
I like it that my son and I have a tradition of sharing a movie moment or two every Christmas. This year we have Season Four of “24”
to watch. Plus he bought me a chick lit/hen lit flick called “Must Love Dogs”
that was delightful (John Cusack, again, plus Diane Lane).
These are a few of my favorite things. Feel free to share yours.
Happy Holidays, Everyone.
A Snowball's Chance
One of my dearest friends has the crappiest luck when it comes to publishing. She’s had editors collapse before her eyes and have to be taken to the hospital just before their meeting can be concluded. She’s had dozens of manuscripts “lost” by the dears. Requests for her material followed by an immediate form rejection, as if they’d never heard of her. And now…the capper. Her Christmas book that was to be out December 2 has been moved to right before Christmas, and the publisher’s warehouse is closed for distribution until the 20th. Considering Saturday is the 24th and most businesses are closed on Christmas Eve as well as on Saturdays, this doesn’t bode well for the promises the writer has made potential customers.
So this Snowball Fight
from the movie “Elf”
is for her. Hope she pictures her not-so-professional editor’s face and fires away. But…for you others wanting to take a couple of shots, don’t hit Santa or he’ll swear at you (plus you lose the game after you hit Santa 3X).
My writer friend is one of the sweetest, most caring, give-you-the-shirt-from-her-back people you’d ever meet, and this is a Christian publishing house that has screwed her so unmercifully. The only advice I could muster for her was not to submit to them again. Any thoughts from the rest of you, other than submit her seasonal material for summer publication?
#1 Son is sick with a miserable cold. I’ve looked everywhere for my homemade cough syrup medicine recipe from A Kitchen Witch’s Cookbook
and can’t find it. Kewl cookbook for those of you seeking the unusual. Lots of information included about wiccan culture, herbal cures and medicines, holistic remedies, and their holiday celebrations.
I did find a place online that has various homemade cough & cold remedies
. Not all of us will have on hand things like slippery elm powder, pleurisy root, or wild cherry bark, but…it might be fun to try at some other time. This one
has ingredients in it that more of us are likely to have on hand. Then there’s always the hot toddy, of which there are several recipes…ones with tea
, and ones with mainly liquor and water
. For the rest of us, there’s NyQuil
, rest, and comfort foods. What’s your favorite comfort food when you have a sore throat?
Just had confirmation from one of my editors that she’s recommending the Egyptian time travel I submitted on Sunday night to the publisher and that she’s confident they’ll buy it. That makes a total of six manuscripts I’ve sold this year since April (yeah, I submitted it on April Fool’s Day – so don’t get superstitious, people – sometimes it’s good to break rules).
We Need What?
|Your Christmas is Most Like: The Muppet Christmas Carol|
|You tend to reflect on Christmas past, present, and future...And you also do a little singing.|
So I couldn’t sleep and went blogging. Found this at Kathy’s site
: What Movie Is Your Christmas Most Like?
My maternal grandmother went blind a bit early in life. Diabetes-related. So every Christmas for years, my gift to her was to take her to a movie. She couldn’t see the television well, but Mama could easily hear and see what was on the screen in a big theater, so we took in the likes of Nine To Five
, something humorous but not too raunchy. My son picked up the tradition when he was about six years old, taking me to movies using his own Christmas money, movies like Beverly Hills Cop
. To this day (he’s almost thirty now), he still treats me to a movie or two for Christmas. Sometimes, the movies last a bit longer, because we watch them at home. The year before last, he bought me season one of Six Feet Under
. Last year it was the DVD collection of Dead Like Me
. (Okay, so our themes are a tad more in keeping with my personality than Mama’s.)
I would generally start “my” season by putting on some music, specifically “We Need A Little Christmas”, as a background for my decorating. I loved volunteering for Meals On Wheels, to take lunches or dinners to shut-ins. Then one year, I became the shut-in, as I recuperated from an accident. That’s really the year that I began seriously pursuing writing. I’d belonged to online writers’ groups for several months by then, and I had the “tools” – sometimes I just needed some incentive. My son had been invited to his girlfriend’s house, to spend time with her family. A couple of friends heard about this (and don’t get me wrong – I had encouraged him to go do this), and they put their heads together. On the 23rd of December, gifts started arriving from around the world. Phone calls from Australia and Sweden, flowers and gift certificates, spa baskets, afghans, Godiva chocolates, DVDs, CDs, books from published authors, you name it. So, yeah, I think The Muppet Christmas Carol
pretty much fits my mood any more during the season. It’s when I spend time reflecting more than anything else.
My first “career”, for lack of a better word, was in music. As a performer, there were tons of parties. One year, my vocal coach’s wife gave me a recipe for eggnog that I still make every year.Fran Michel’s Eggnog Recipe
2 jiggers of rum per quart
8 Tablespoons of sugar
4 cups of milk
Heat to boiling, stirring constantly, remove from heat. Stir in 2 Tablespoons of vanilla (or to taste). Add ½ pint of whipping cream and beat a couple of minutes. Let thicken a few minutes, then serve hot, or chill in refrigerator a couple of hours and serve cold. (A Cajun friend told me stir in a pinch of ground hot chili pepper if you like spicy drinks, but I’m a woosie and like my eggnog simple.)
I still partake of whatever is going on—the occasional party or dinner with friends, gift exchanges, etc, but the highlight of the season for me is the movie with #1 Son.
How about you? Any holiday traditions you'd like to share?
Don't forget to stop over at the recipes blog to pick up this week's recipes. http://authorlyncashrecipes.blogspot.com/
Food & Fiction
Christmas tidbits from fellow romance writers:
My friend Pamela Payne
in Texas did the near-impossible. She managed to snag a contract with Woman’s World Magazine
, with a story called “The Christmas Wish”, and it’s out this week on news stands and in supermarkets all over the nation. In 2004, Woman's World had an average circulation of 1,662,062 according to Kate
. WW is an inexpensive weekly publication that is jam-packed with several articles, one quick mystery, and one short romance in every issue.
For those into erotic were stories, buddy Kate Douglas
has a debut with Kensington’s new Aphrodisia line
with Wolf Tales. Man, oh, man, what a cover. Can’t wait to read this one! I was fortunate enough to receive some bookmarks to send to my bats. Thanks, Kate! (If you have time, read Kate’s story of how she convinced her own son and his girlfriend to pose for one of her book’s cover art projects
. I can’t read it without cracking up over her daughter Sarah’s acting as prop girl/director.)
I managed some productive writing time last week and completed (and mailed, whoo hoo) two novels Sunday and Monday. Don’t have pub dates on Just Desserts
, a romantic comedy, with Ellora’s Cave or Promises To Keep
, an Egyptian time travel, with Loose Id, but I’m betting that my timing lands me two simultaneous sets of edits right before or after the holidays. Still haven’t received edits to do for Leaving Mama
, my mainstream with Samhain, so that makes three sets of edits staring at me. Thank God for Lex, who emailed me a simple spreadsheet I can use to track everything.
* * *
The chapter headers for Just Desserts are recipes. Here’s one I’ll offer you in advance, for those who don’t take the Kinky Kruisin’ newsletter (this was in an early issue):
River Rat Rum Balls
2 Tablespoons cocoa
Dash of cinnamon 1 1/2 Cups powdered sugar, divided 1/4 Cup rum 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup 2 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers 1 cup pecans, crushed
Sift cocoa, cinnamon, and one cup of the powdered sugar together. Stir in the rum that has been combined with the corn syrup. Add wafer crumbs and pecans and mix well.
Roll into balls by the teaspoonful, and dredge in the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar.
* * *
When researching for PTK, I found a site online where you can make your own cartouche
. Weirdo in me would love to see mine on the spine of my book. Type in Lyn Cash at the site and see if you don’t agree.
* * *
I haven’t taken the time to set up the décor over on the recipe website
, but Merry
left me a gift: a recipe for Peppermint Cocoa. (It looks great, too!)
Merry Stahel's Peppermint Cocoa
3 candy canes
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup coffee creamer
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
Mix until fine in a blender.
To serve, 1/4 cup in a cup of in boiling water.
Garnish with a candycane as a stirrer and serve.
Store in a sealed jar or vacuum pack.
* * *
Ahem. What are the rest of you waiting for? - lol. I’m a cheap date…swapping recipes is an inexpensive thrill for me. Found a delicious-looking one on Cece’s 12/9/05 blog
the other day that I want to try, a Southwest/Mexican soup with no name as yet. (Post is called “Yummity”.)
* * *
Ann Wesley Hardin
’s new publication with Ellora’s Cave looks good—check out the cover. She has a tasty and quick fudge recipe that she gave me about a year ago that she says I can share with you.
Ann Wesley Hardin's Easy Fudge Recipe
3 cups chocolate chips
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1-2 teaspoons vanilla
Melt over low heat, stirring continuously. Pour into a greased dish and let cool.
She says this dish freezes nicely, too, and that some folks like to add nuts and/or butter to the mix.
* * *
Last minute stocking stuffers:
For the diabetic or weight-conscious in the family, Godiva has some scrumptious sugar-free chocolates
in gift boxes. I put in my request last month for a box of them. Okay, so they’re a tad expensive. I’m worth it. Doesn’t mean I’ll get any of them, but…I did ask.
Be on the lookout for flea markets in your area. I found tiny leather-bound editions of classics like Dicken’s A Christmas Carol (think I purchased 4 separate titles) for a dollar each one year…printed in 1901, I believe. You read that correctly…for a dollar each.
Serendipity is my friend. One person’s junk is quite often a treasure to someone else.
What I’m currently reading: Lost Light, by Michael Connelly
. I just watched Blood Work
, based on one of his novels, for the umpteenth time last week. I’m a sucker for Clint Eastwood and Jeff Daniels movies anyway. (Have you seen Daniels in “Chasing Sleep”
??? – OMG)
Till next time…
…A Study In The Absurd
Adults with brain injuries, parents of children with A.D.D., and old 60’s hippies who haven’t come down from the rafters may understand this blog. The rest of you will just have to give it your best shot.
What self-respecting female makes an effort to find a writer who’s a Dick? This one. I kept running into Philip K. Dick at the movies, in conversations, on the written page. PKD wasn’t the first Dick I encountered. There was another one earlier…a young comedian called Timothy Allen Dick, who was forced by show biz to shorten his name to Tim Allen.
But The Big Dick was a whole ‘nother animal. Consider this quote for an insight to the writer:
In our society a person might frequently have to choose between what he thinks is practical and what is ethical. He might choose the practical, and as a result he disintegrates as a human being. ~ Philip K Dick
The first story I read of his was “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, and I was hooked immediately. I studied PKD as one writer to the other, and it fascinated me how anyone could give such depth of character to a machine with so many other writers struggling just to make their humans pop off of the page in 3-D.
It made a better than average film, as well, “Imposter”, with Gary Sinese as Spencer Olham. Most of PKD’s sci-fi fans probably got turned on to the Blade Runner
series and movies. With me it was the stories in which he positioned Everyman in surreal circumstances that made him question his very existence.
Stranger still was the writer’s ability to convey confusion and illusion without losing me. And, trust me, I get lost pretty easily. But then I’m easily persuaded when a writer can toy with the fundamentals of human existence and
force me into a corner where I question my own beliefs on things such as reality. Isn’t that what all writers do to a certain point—ask others to suspend their disbelief long enough to get hooked into our plots, our characters, to dip far enough into the worlds we create to make the entire journey?
Some of you may not even know of Philip K. Dick, but I’m betting you’ve seen movies based on his works or his influence:
The Truman Show
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Info about an upcoming movie based on “A Scanner Darkly”, starring Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, and Robert Downey, Jr. can be found at PKD’s official site run by his children: http://www.philipkdick.com/
. Here is a copy of the original book’s cover. The movie poster is at the top of the blog post.
PKD was a writer way ahead of his time. He died in poverty, yet his estate is worth millions twenty years after his death because his children saw to it that Dad’s genius was taken seriously.
Sometimes when we’re not taken seriously, I think we need to ask ourselves why we do what we do. For me, finding a story is pretty much a matter of eclectic farming, using my own experiences and dreams to construct with words something to share with a reader whose imagination happens to coincide with my desire to express myself. I’ll never be a Dick, but I think I can be happy just being the best me that I can be. Reading good books, watching good movies, talking with interesting people…all serve to round out what I bring to the table.
And that’s why I’m sharing PKD with those of you who might not know him. Whether you write erotic romance, science fiction, mystery, or mainstream, I think he has methods we can all observe and absorb. Who knows? Maybe something you write will influence another writer in twenty years. But does it really matter if it’s twenty years or twenty minutes from now? I don’t think that PKD’s goal was to garner an audience—I think it was to express himself, and that is why he is remembered and revered. It takes genius to open ourselves and honestly portray what we think and feel.
Works for me, anyway. Here are lists of PKD’s novels and his short stories.
Happy writing, all.
Do You Floss?
Using writers-speak here, of course. Whenever you think you’re done with a project, do you go back through to make sure you’ve flossed out all the cracks, gotten rid of the junk in between scenes? Bob and I were discussing this topic the other day, when Janet offered two photos to illustrate something—that you use a rope when there’s a lot of junk, and a thread when there’s but very little. The photos were so graphically gross that I won’t put them up here, but I’ll tell you what they were – two women wearing butt floss/thong underwear. One weighed about 400 pounds and the other maybe 110. I think her other point was to cover your ass before you send something out for public consumption. She didn’t say as much, but I think that was the intent. The image of the cat was cuter by far, so you get that instead of half-naked ladies.
I'm such a bare bones writer that I rarely get to floss. If anything, my CPs complain because there's not enough meat in there to chew on.
Others go caroling this time of year – I went blogging last weekend. Found a new writer friend in Samantha Winston and was immediately hooked on these two posts: Today I’m A Grape and Teaching Kids the Value of Money. Sam’s an interesting lady – I linked her so I can easily go back to find her.
Devon Ellington is another new one for me. Check out this one: Her post for Saturday, December 3rd. I think we've all had "those days" when life was difficult to the point that writing was even harder.
For you writers searching for direct links to some of Harlequin’s sites, try these:
The Spice Rack
The Next Big Thing
Making Steam, Writing for Blaze
And if you’d like to enter a contest, here’s a good one that Harlequin is sponsoring:
The Intrigue Pitch Challenge
I like reading various types of stories, and it never occurred to me not to try African American romances. Renee Luke had something interesting to say about them over on Romancing The Blog with this post called “Does Color Really Matter?” last Saturday. You can read the 40-some responses, but I’d like to hear your opinions if you’re up for responding here, considering the other post over on RTB is an old one. One of the most interesting responses I read there was from a woman who said she didn’t particularly like blond heroes and that with her the color of skin and hair wasn’t so much a prejudice as a bias. I’m reworking what she said, but I think that was the gist of it all. Another said that with her, she as reader had to fall in love with the hero to enjoy the book, so if he wasn’t her cup of tea (cocoa?) the book wasn’t something she’d pick up.
Maybe I'm showing my age here, but sometimes I just like to read for entertainment, not voyeurism or to put myself into the book.
If you want information on writing erotic romance, excerpts, and the occasional naughty recipes, you’re welcome to join my Yahoo Group Newsletter, Kinky Kruisin’.
…and I’ll leave you with another gem from Janet. THIS one I can post.
A Lovin' Spoonful
Did you ever have to finally decideSay yes to one and let the other one rideThere's so many changes and tears you must hideDid you ever have to finally decide?
Well, I have, and the older I get, the easier it becomes. You see, I've learned that I'm a better writer when I let the muse take a chill pill and allow myself some down time.
I've learned the value in a good cup of coffee, the delights in burned fudge, cookies, & cakes (they make great biscotti when they're burned just right and not too hard to cut with a knife), and the importance of nesting within my own mind. It's not as scary a place as it used to be.
I've sent this one to Kate already but thought I'd post it here as well since I haven't heard back from her as to whether or not she's using it, but...Mark Fiore
is a talented artist & writer you might like to visit if you haven't. Check out "While You Were Sleeping" (aka "Slumberland) - lol.
One of the "bats" from eharlequin.com's "bat cave" thread has a new website and blog. Nell Dixon
writes for Moonlit Romance
--her 1st novel debuts next summer. I've corresponded with Nell off and on the past couple of years, and a more delightful lady can't be found. Her blog
is new, and looks like she'll occasionally have information for writers on how-to if you'd like some new material.Daisy Dexter Dobbs
, a new visitor to Lyn's Licks & Laughs yesterday, is someone else you'd love to read. Her post on the old ladies at Weight Watchers
had me in stitches. She's one of those sassy writers of women's fiction that easily mixes erotic pleasures with tons of laughs. Check out Polly’s Perilous Pleasures
If you like coffee plus a good read, The History of Folgers
is pretty interesting. Of course, my favorite coffee for years has been Java Dave's Snickerdelicious Whole Bean
(I grind my own, thank you, because I think it keeps better).
I have a tradition now and then where I like to indulge on the cheap--my gifts sometimes to and from my friends are shared recipes. You are more than welcome to share yours at Lyn’s Licks & Laughs Recipes
. The place is brand spankin' new, no decorations as yet, but for those of you who'd like to share your favorites, I'd consider it a real pleasure this year if you'd gift me with something special you enjoy making, drinking, or eating. THANK YOU in advance. I'll link that blog to this one later today for those who'd like some time to think about it and revisit.
No, it's not writing per se, but 'taking a gander', as my granny used to say, at something new will often recharge the emotional batteries and kick start the writing. A lovin' spoonful of nourishment for the brain, if you will.
My last good news of the week is that Star Struck
, my 1st publication with Liquid Silver Books, just got its first review, a 5 out of 5 ribbons from reviewer Connie Spears with Romance Junkies
For those of you who wanted a brief listing of writers articles from this blog, here are a few:
Drop Your Pants - on knowing when to release a book that's not working
Higher Designs - on knowing when to keep a book despite the obstacles
Make Friends With Fear - how to combat self-destructive thought processes
In Praise of Age - the importance of layering
Mama’s Quilts - framing a story, getting it to fit within its design
There are worse ways to spend your time than stressing over what can't be done. I’ll leave you with this little tidbit from a fellow writer. It’s for all those of you who actually like to enjoy the holidays and despise the bah-hum-buggers who trash the season: First turn up your sound. then Check out Ill Will Press.
Have a great weekend, everyone.
Star Struck ~ available now @ http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/
LEAVING MAMA ~ Coming Soon w/Samhain Publishing by Bobbie Cole