Have you ever lost that lovin' feeling?

Love seems an appropriate subject as we go into February.  I think I may stick with it for a few weeks. This week I'll address love lost and how to get it back.

As you may be able to tell by the image above, I'm talking about losing the book love (Neal, honey, you can breathe a sigh of relief).  I think this past month or so I'd lost my way a bit in regards to writing.  I am beginning to recognize a pattern in myself.  And the pattern in this:  I get close to finishing a manuscript and I stop writing.  I haven't analyzed exactly why yet.  Maybe it's burnout, or maybe subconsciously I don't want the project to be over because I worry it won't be good enough or worth all the hours and hours I put into it.  Maybe I'm just a huge procrastinator.  But whatever the reason I found the cure...again.

Why do I say again?  Because every time this happens it seems I have to re-remind myself of what made me want to start writing in the first place. Reading.  I Love books.  I love reading.  I love sitting on the floor between the dusty stacks of the library and looking at spines with names of authors I've never heard of  and thinking I might just find a jewel among them. I wonder if my new favorite book is waiting to be discovered.

Over Christmas I decided to do some reading.  I set aside my writing and picked up a few books.  I started with Catching Fire (are you all gasping, no I had not read it yet).  I LOVED it, as much or more as the Hunger Games.  I just have to give a shout out to Susan Collins (though she'll never see this, I'm sure), Thank you for reminding me how awesome a book can be!  It seems that the title of that first Christmas read was appropriate because my desire to read was rekindled.  For months I'd only wanted to write, but that changed.  For the last couple of weeks I've been reading three of four books a week and I am in heaven. Oh, reading how could I have neglected you so?

What's more, my reading motivates me.  I want to write after reading a good book.  For some reason it's just a natural progression for me.  So, though I don't know why I get the end-of-book-writer's-block,  I now know the cure.  Find something to read, duh!

How do you rekindle your love of writing or reading?

A continuation of my "weekly" post

First, I want to say thank you to Tiana for giving me the Happy Blog Award.

Tiana has a wonderful blog that I suggest you check out!

Secondly, I would like to encourage you to go enter Jessie's Cowpie contest!  If you like talking about the end of the world and eating giant poo shaped chocolate than this contest is for you!  Who doesn't love that kind of stuff?

In an effort to avoid writing the end of my book (I've been like two chapters from finishing for almost a month now), I decided that it was imperative I enter her one paragraph contest with a three hundred word story.  Yes, I totally cheated, and know I probably cant win as a result, but the important thing is that I found something I  "needed" to do more than finish my book.    And since I only posted a semi-blog yesterday, I thought today I would post my contest entry.  Only this version is a spell checked, unlike the comment version. I call it:

Dairy Apocolypse: The Tragic End of Cowpies and Chocolate

Barbie and Kenneth laid on their backs staring at the sky.  The ash and smoke swirled above them in hues of russet and auburn.   Barbie thought it looked like rows of giant cow pies melted together by the heat of the sun they blocked out. 
                Kenneth reached for her hand and interlaced his fingers between hers.  “In a way it’s beautiful.  Like a sky of molten chocolate.” 
                “Yeah,” she said, “that’s just what I was thinking.  Except just there,” she pointed to a particularly swirly section of sky, “that one reminds me of cow pies on my grandpa’s ranch right before the war broke out, and all the cows were killed. I used to love the way the smell of manure hung in the air and mixed with the scent of cut hay…” The last word was muffled by the lump that rose in her throat.
“It’s okay,” he said.  “Let it all out.  Talking about your feelings is the first step to healing.” 
She felt so lucky to have him.  He was the only one she could talk to.  Even if he hadn’t been the last man on earth she still would have chosen him as a confidant.   She took a deep breath and continued.
“Now that cows are extinct…” 
She let the implication hang between them.  Kenneth gave her hand a squeeze.  She knew he could hear the pain in her words.   He felt it too, the loss of cows meant there would be no dairy for chocolate.  The swirls in the sky would be the closest to cow pies or chocolate they ever came again.

A tear rolled down Barbie’s face.  Kenneth pulled her to him and pressed her head against his chest. 
“We’ll survive.  We’ll adapt.  We have each other.  That’s all that matters.”
He was right.  She was strong.  They lay listening to the absence of sound around them.  There were no crickets chirping, no grass rustling, only the wind.  Then something broke the silence.
“Do you hear that?” Kenneth sat up so fast Barbie’s  head hit the dry dirt with a thud.
“What is it?” she said sitting up and rubbing the back of her skull with one hand.
“Be quiet.  Listen carefully.”
She held perfectly still and strained her ears.  Then a faint noise was carried on the wind.  It can’t be.  But it was.  Her heart soared they were saved, for amidst the dry desolation and absence of sounds of life could be heard the faintest reverberations of a,  MOO

If you want to enter to win what Barbie and Kenneth both longed for  click here to go to Jessie's contest

What's a picture worth? Depends on who's drawing it.

They say a picture's worth a thousand words.  I figure they're probably talking about the Monalisa.  So by my estimation that means my picture should be worth a sentence or two.  Last week I used my desk to illustrate the evolution of my day.  This week I present to you my night stand.  I think it's pretty self-explanatory.  See you all next week


Evolution of a Desk : a graphic novelette

This is really just a story with a few pictures, but graphic novelette sounded so much grander.

Candice was an aspiring author with a jovial disposition, supportive family, and writing habits of an irregular nature. One morning she woke up feeling fresh and full of hope, and thought to herself, perhaps I should tidy my work space today and provide my story a calm environment in which to grow.  

She walked into her office and stood, hands on her hips like the champion of cleanliness she was about to become, and made a heroic statement.

"I shall clean my desk and office," she said.

Her eyes took on a valiant gleam as they passed over the dimensions of her adversarial foe. The small room, which since the beginning of her novel writing had mysteriously become the hub of the entire home, would not get the better of her today. For today was a day for victory!

No, nothing could discourage Candice from her goal of ultimate spotlessness, not the toys on the floor; not the unmade guest bed; not the fifty glass votives that her husband had unpacked and left on the bed because he "needed the box"; not the stacks of papers rising higher than a congressional health care bill; not the duffle bag full of unpacked clothes from Christmas; not the piles of laundry both dirty and clean; not the  dirty dishes sitting on the printer cart; not the trash, over flowing with paper, that must be dragged down the stairs...

"I shall clean my desk!" she cried and let her eyes wander no further than the confines of the small wood and glass desk.  

The muscle under her eye twitched once. Like a pro, she gave it a decisive jab with her index finger, and it was still. She went to work.

Fifteen minutes later she splayed her hands on the cool surface of the clean desktop which was held up by strangely fawn looking wooden legs. Her breath was coming slow and steady. The serenity of her bubble of cleanliness worked its magic, and her imagination was freed. She sighed and closed her eyes. Her characters were there, vivid in her mind. They made jokes and did heroic deeds at her command. She laughed out loud. For the first time in many a week it was an actual sound and not an acronym on a computer. It felt good to be living in the real world again, just her and her make believe friends.

The scene was set in her mind and at her desk. It was time to write. She focused on her computer screen through her one good eye and ignored the throbbing from the one she had blackened.

"Better black than twitchy." The motto was as familiar to her as the back of her twitch-poking finger.

Her hands poised above her keyboard.  They flexed and stretched preparing for the marathon of brilliance that was about to be channeled through them.   But something was amiss.  The exertions of her ten minute cleaning had left her throat parched like the desserts of the Sahara after a millennial drought.

"Water," she choked through her nearly cracked lips.  "These working conditions are insupportable.  I must have a cold drink.  Then the proverbial creative juices will flow in vats, when I am no longer dehydrated."

She walked down the stairs, getting in her exercise quota for the day, and searched for her lucky green cup.  It lay in the sink under the cutting board used to prepare the chicken for the previous evening’s meal (another heroic achievement).  She smiled.  Then she frowned.  Was it too dirty to use?  People always talked about Salmonella like it was bad thing.  Perhaps a blue cup could be lucky today.  Yes! A blue cup for a new luck!

Back at her desk the great American novel beckoned to her from the depths of the blinking cursor.  She would answer its call.  But wait, there was a noise.  A grumbling that couldn't be ignored.  Clearly all the cleaning and exercise had awakened a monster within her.  One that needed oatmeal.

She walked back down the stairs. 

 "At least I won't have to work out tomorrow," she said, ever the positive Pollyanna. 

Preparing the instant oatmeal took precious minutes off her writing schedule.  Perhaps she should just write the good American novel, she thought.  Clearly the GREAT American novel required more time than her tight schedule allowed her.

On the way back to her den of sanity and cleanliness she passed her ipod.  The battery was dead.  Her heart skipped a beat as she realized how narrowly a tragedy had been avoided.  The ipod needed to be charged and ready in case of a writing block emergency.  How could she have started such a strenuous endeavor as writing the good American novel without her writer's first aid kit?  She wondered what else she had forgotten.

Her phone! It was impossible to seek emergency validation without it.  The internet was just too slow.

Now she was ready to sit and work at her nice, clean desk, as soon as she grabbed her notebook off the night stand and reviewed the midnight inspiration that had struck right before she’d fallen asleep.  Putting the notebook next to her bed had been a stroke of genius.  Now she would never again wake up and mourn the loss of a cleaver phrase or description of the variety that could only be thought up when her brain was too relaxed to hold it back. 

She looked at the writing, ready to be amazed by her own intellect.  What would it say?  A single word sprawled three lines.  AUM.

AUM?  What could it mean?  A name perhaps, or a place.  A sound that would be bellowed by her hero at just the right moment.  Maybe it was an abbreviation.  What could it stand for?  She pounded her fist on the notebook.  Only something life-changingly brilliant could be this vague and forgettable.  In desperation she typed it into her MS Word sidebar. A definition popped up.  Success!

AUM- Another spelling of OM. Indian Religion Buddhism.

Could that be it, she wondered?  Was she going to write about a monk?  Maybe her next scene would take place in a monastery. She would have remembered that, wouldn’t she?  In a final desperate attempt to trigger some sort of memory she opened Firefox and Googled the word.  First result, Auburn University Montgomery—no.  American Utility Management—no. Hindu symbol of absolute—no,no,no!!

Wait…American Utility Management.  It all clicked into place.

“The gas bill,” she exclaimed and pounded her palm against her forehead.  It was late and she’d almost forgotten to pay it again.  

She grabbed for her check book and scribbled out the necessary letters and numbers, congratulating herself on another catastrophe narrowly avoided in the dead of winter. Little did she know what lay ahead...For all of her heroics had eaten up the morning hours, the time of good cartoons. And just below her the four-year-old had become bored…

The demands and requests began:

“I’m hungry, so very really, hungry.”

"I miss Louie.  He misses me too.  He’s my own special dog that misses me.  Mommy, will you please find a picture of him?”

“I have a tummy ache in my head.  I need a dinosaur vitamin.”

“I cut my hair like daddy’s.”

“I’m hungry, hungry, HUNGRY!”

Perhaps today was not the day for even the good American novel.  Candice knew she needed to be sensible.  What could her brain realistically accomplish after half a day of heroics and disaster avoidance?  A chapter, no.  A poem, maybe a haiku. She laid her head down on the desk.  The surface was soft, almost squishy.  Inspiration struck swift and strong, like an arachnophobic woman with a fly swatter killing spiders in the jungle.  When motivation had fled there was really only one answer.  She had to find a way to get it back.  She had to clear the chaos.  The answer was staring her right in the face.   

She stood, hands on her hips like the champion of cleanliness she was about to become, and made a heroic statement.

"I shall clean my desk and office," she said.

The Bullet, a token from my holiday season.

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. I know I did. I just returned from three weeks in Arizona, otherwise known as the land of eternal sunshine. I was so happy to escape the cold of Ohio that I didn't even mind not having a white Christmas. But now I'm back and the weather gods thought they would play a funny joke and send a storm my way. We're supposed to get four inches of snow today. The only bright side is that my husband may get sent home early from work to avoid the storm. Anyway... I ramble. Back to what we all love, writing.

I set a goal this month. Not a New Year's resolution, but a goal for January. I am about to finish my second book (Jaded, the one pictured in the post below), and I've decided that I'm ready to enter the world of querying in earnest before the month is out. To do that I'm going to finish the last couple chapters, re read my manuscript a couple more times, do some final fine tuning, and then send out my book to readers in ten days. Most of my beta readers are really, wonderfully fast and send me back edits within a week, so I'm planning on sending out queries before January is over. Wish me luck.

Soon I will be getting plenty of rejections and hopefully a few requests. I'm so lucky to have lots of friends who have gone through this process before me and shown me the way. Many of them are now represented and some even have publishing dates, but I know it took a lot of work and waiting to get there, so I'm expecting the same, but I'm hopeful.

In other unrelated news I would like to say that I left the the holiday season with a something I would rather not have, a new haircut. After six months of avoidance I decided I had to find someone to cut my hair, so to be safe I went to a nice salon and paid way to much for what I got. In fact I think the stylist should pay me remunerations for my pain and suffering. Frankly I could have done a better job with my own kitchen utensils.

  If you want to know what it looks like imagine the melding of a bowl cut with a mullet. So attractive. I call it the Bullet.

I would show you an actual picture, but I don't want to burn your eyes.

Let's just say there's no dressing this thing up.  If I wear blue to try and bring out the blue of my eyes, I just bring out the bowl of the bullet.  If I wear a hat I bring out the mull.  The bullet is like Niel Diamond and Broadway tunes it's a combination of two thing that should never have met, but once they do the result is unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

Can you think of any other combinations that are so unnatural their unforgettable?