Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Crossing The Doldrums (IWSG July 1, 2015)

The Insecure Writer's Support Group
This is my monthly post for IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click for the link).  Alex J Cavanaugh (may his tribe increase) started it and it has, for me, provided wisdom, understanding, laughter, and a lot of thought.  Sign up!  Read!

I've been giving a lot of thought to The Doldrums, recently.  It's a word most people have heard, but I doubt they know what it means.  The Doldrums is the (maritime) name for region in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans:
The Doldrums are regions of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans that have little if any wind.  This was a particular problem for sailors in the past when they depended on the winds to propel their ships, a problem that could be potentially deadly.  The Doldrums are caused by solar radiation from the sun, as sunlight beams down directly on area around the equator.  This heating causes the air to warm and rise straight up rather than blow horizontally.  The result is little or no wind, sometimes for weeks on end.
The Doldrums, in the Atlantic, are near the Sargasso Sea, reputed to be the graveyard of hundred of stymied, drifting, abandoned hulks:

The old maritime term for an unmoving sailing ship, stranded and helpless, is 'in irons'.  It's a good description.  Weighted down, immovable, bound, tied to one place, stagnating...
Like someone in the grip of writer's block, maybe...
Haven't we all been that way?  At a standstill, no inspiration blowing through our imaginations, helpless, watching our energy drain away, knowing in our heart of hearts that it will never ever come back, and there is nothing we can do about it.

I've been there.  Haven't you?  Thinking that any energy for writing is a self-existing gift, almost like a happy guest that comes in, sits down, regales me with stories that I scramble to jot down...and then departs to leave me helpless.

The Doldrums or, if you think about it, Writer's block.

I'm emerging from a slight case of The Doldrums.  I've been going hammer and tongs on a story that is slated to come out early 2016.  It's coming along nicely, but not nicely enough, and I have spent so much time staring at the pages on my screen, reading portions over and over again, I ended up blunting my own creativity.  Basically, I sprained my muse.  Or, to be a little more plebeian, I burned myself out.

I think once you've powered through one of these times (once you remember that they're just a bit of time and not the death knell of your talent, drive and writing) you can recognize them and deal with them.  At least I can... After a couple weeks bewailing my fate, longing for the surge of inspiration, staring at The Most Boring Thing Ever Written. 

The only cure for that, which I offer to all, is the writing equivalent of getting a jump-start.  If you're like me, you have  plenty of projects sitting around.  Put  down the current one that has you tired and grumpy, rest and relax, and then pick up another story and get going.  Use pencil and pen and highlighter.  Go to town! seems to be working.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Small Celebrations, June 19, 2015

Today I am 'Celebrating the Small Things' in this delightful blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.

Today (Friday, June 19) I am celebrating surviving a hectic week at work, the advent of the weekend, and the feeling of renewal that has come to me in the past few weeks.  It has been a time of hurry, bother, harassment (as in crazy busy), and wondering why on earth I'm doing this nonsense when I would so much rather be somewhere else doing something else.

John Denver was associated too much with 'Thank God I'm a Country Boy' to be taken seriously by many.  He had a lot of depth to him, and he died too young.  His song "Looking for Space" expresses how I sometimes feel:

What's the point of puzzling over things?  the lyrics express it well:

              On the road of experience, join in the living day.
              If there's an answer it's just that it's just that way,

That's good enough for me.  I just keep on keeping on, chipping away at projects, savoring the good moments, and trying to convey the peace.

What are you celebrating?  

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

That's Why I'm Here...

I was taking a break from some intense (not writing-related) work, and decided "I've got a minute, I'll check my email."

So I did.  There was a message with the title:

New Form Entry: Contact Form

The message starts:

You've just received a new submission to your Contact Form.

There is a name and an email, which I will not retain after I respond to the contact. (I promised)

And a message:

I have read the 1st two books in the Memphis cycle and enjoyed the story lines. My daughter loves studying about ancient Egypt so will pass along to her.

I looked up with the start of a smile.  How lovely to receive this!  It is funny how these seem to come when they're needed.  I'm going flat out to finish the crocodile story (see upper right of the screen), have little time to do much else, even posting and commenting.  This is like a sip of cool water.  Or perhaps a glass of red wine.

That's why I'm here.  That's what I live for, in part, knowing that someone enjoyed what I offered.

James Taylor says it beautifully. The fortune and fame will probably never find me, but still:

     Fortune and fame's such a curious game.
     Perfect strangers can call you by name.
     Pay good money to hear fire and rain
        again and again and again.
     Some are like summer coming back every year,
     got your baby got your blanket got your bucket of beer.
     I break into a grin from ear to ear
     and suddenly it's perfectly clear.
     That's why I'm here.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Silent Soliloquy - Cover Reveal!

I am delighted to participate in the Cover Reveal blog hop for L. G. Keltner's new novella blog (address below).  L.G. Keltner is a regular contributor on her blog, and her observations and point of view are always enjoyable.

She is now preparing to release A Silent Soliloquy, a Sci Fi/Dystopian work that has me intrigued:

TIPPIE was created to be a weapon. By all appearances, she's an ordinary girl of 18, and she uses that to her advantage in her work for The Facility. What no one sees is that there's another girl buried deep inside. She can't speak or control the movements of the body she inhabits. As TIPPIE's silent passenger, she can only observe. She uses the details she learns from TIPPIE's work to reconstruct the stories of other people's lives. It helps her feel a little more connected to the world she can only watch.
When TIPPIE's work leads her to David, a young man with a haunted past and information that The Facility wants, TIPPIE uses her skills to earn his trust. The silent girl beneath the surface knows that TIPPIE is only going to hurt him, but she can't help but feel for him. Those feelings only grow, but she knows all too well that TIPPIE's work will soon come to an end.
A Silent Soliloquy is a 29,000 word novella.  If you enjoy Science Fiction/Dystopian work, this one is definitely for you.  And if you are not sure, it's a wonderful way to try the genre.

Personal information:

L.G. Keltner
L.G. Keltner spends most of her time trying to write while also cleaning up after her crazy but wonderful kids and hanging out with her husband.  Her favorite genre of all time is science fiction, and she’s been trying to write novels since the age of six.  Needless to say, those earliest attempts weren’t all that good. 
Her non-writing hobbies include astronomy and playing Trivial Pursuit.
You can typically find L.G. lurking around her blog, on Twitter, or on her Facebook page.

Interested?  Of course you are!

Pre-Order Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Time's A-Wasting (IWSG June 3, 2015)

This is my monthly post for IWSG = Insecure Writers' Support Group (click for the link).  Alex J Cavanaugh (may his tribe increase) started it and it has, for me, provided wisdom, understanding, laughter, and a lot of thought.  Sign up!  Read!

I used to like a song, quite a few years back, when I was convinced that life was dire and laughter was an accident.  I think it was sung by Connie Stevens.  At any rate, it had a line in it that stayed with me:

(Tick-Tock) If time is so fleeting
(Tick-Tock) Why wait?
(Tick-Tock) Too soon we may find it's
(Tick-Tock) Too late.

I was still in my teens, was going to be around forever, and like the poet said, I  'Shined in my angel infancy'.  I was invincible (well, if my Dad was on my side) I was wise (if I didn't look too closely at what I did and said) and fabulously talented (like a whole lot of other people).

Time passed, as it will, years passed, and on my last birthday, mulling over things that had happened and would, I hope, happen, it occurred to me that, based on my genetics and my family history, I had perhaps twenty-five (that's 25) years left to me.

Hm.  That's not a lot of time to someone who has left their thirties behind.  And I could mention a lot of things that I would love to do, but speaking as a writer, I have to say that my first thought was:  Omigosh!  I have to finish...  And I ticked off, on my fingers, my actual works underway.

That last book of the trilogy I'm working on, with #2 due out soon.  The...let me see...four books that I know of in my Egyptian series.  The notes I've assembled for the paranormal mystery set in Philadelphia.  The children's fable (which, actually, will be coming out in about a month and a half... must get cracking).

And I can dawdle like anyone.  Worse than anyone, in fact.  When would these get written?  And how could I not write them?  I had no time!

No time...

Or do I?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Small Celebrations May 29,2015: a Small Vacation and a Large Doofus

This is the Celebrating the Small Things blog hop, started by VikLit and now run by Lexa Cain, our fearless leader and her two wonderful co-hosts L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge and Katie @ TheCyborgMom.

Over the years this wonderful hop has made lots of people pause, consider, smile, often laugh outright and, maybe, mist up.  I think gratitude often has a touch of tears to it.

Map of the coast of Maine, with Boothbay at center
View from my hotel
Today (meaning Friday, May 29) I am celebrating by driving about 250 miles north and east to the Maine coast, to visit Boothbay harbor.  The Maine coast is full of inlets and islands, perfect to moor a boat or explore.  I encountered Boothbay quite by accident on early June day when I agreed to travel to a Maine-based potter (Edgecomb Potters, founded by a man and his wife who grew tired of teaching and became potters.  And very fine ones they are, too.  Nice people, as well. 
View of the little church in Boothbay
As it happened, they had a store just up the coast from Boothbay, and when I was through  transacting my mother's business ("Would you pick up a birthday gift for your sister, dear?  I have an idea for it, and you know the area.  Thank you so much!") I drove into the little harbor town and stopped at a restaurant to have a bite of lunch.  Would I like to sit on the terrace?  Yes, I thought I would.    

So I disposed my bags and boxes, straightened - and looked out into a little harbor in mid-afternoon sun.  The water sparkled like diamonds, in the middle distance a sloop was heeling over in the cool wind, and the pines were dancing in the breeze.  I'm afraid I fell in love.

I've gone back nearly every year.  Tomorrow is the day.  By the way, the photo at the top is the view from what will be my deck in the old, refurbished house.

As the ads say, "I need it bad."  What are you celebrating?  

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day, 2015

Some years after the American Civil War, some women went to the local cemetery, bringing flowers with which to adorn the graves of the war dead.  Over in a corner they saw graves of the soldiers who fought for the other side, all unadorned.  Almost with one accord they went over there and placed flowers on the graves.

"There are others, back at their homes, who mourn them and loved them," someone said.  And the tradition of Memorial Day began.

Where did it start?  I've heard several accounts, all believable, and I have concluded that it was something spontaneous in its truth and its generosity.

          By the flow of the inland river,
          Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
          Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
          Asleep are the ranks of the dead:
          Under the sod and the dew,
          Waiting the judgment-day;
          Under the one, the Blue,
          Under the other, the Gray

          No more shall the war cry sever,
          Or the winding rivers be red;
          They banish our anger forever
          When they laurel the graves of our dead!
          Under the sod and the dew,
          Waiting the judgment-day,
          Love and tears for the Blue,
          Tears and love for the Gray.
Lincoln's second inaugural address, given in 1865, the year he died, closes with this sentiment:
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.