Monday, December 31, 2007

Words of Wisdom

Check out the latest issue of Esquire magazine for 10 years words of wisdom from some of our most famous actors, sports figures, musicians, comedians, entrepreneurs and many others. My favorite quote so far is by Michael J. Fox:
"My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations."
Think about it...

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Starting Out

For months now I haven't felt like writing--it's as if my entire desire to write had left me. Despite this feeling I always knew I'd come back. I've always known that I'm not a one-book wonder. The call to return to writing has not been for writing children's books, much as I'd like it to be. I feel the need to complete the novel I started during NaNoWriMo last year (which is why I wasn't able to participate this year; I didn't want to start something new).

So, I knew that someone, something, somewhere would draw me back. Today it happened watching the movie, Starting Out in the Evening. This portrait of a once well respected literary writer is a movie every writer should see. It is so engrossing I felt I couldn't miss a moment (even though I needed to go to the bathroom for most of the movie). Frank Langella is devastating in a subtly nuanced performance. I've liked him since the first time I saw him with Carrie Snodgrass in Diary of a Mad Housewife. He's so handsome! Even though he's much older now he still has that magnetism. Lily Taylor as his daughter and Lauren Ambrose as the young woman who reawakens his desire are also both top notch.

Something about Langella's character, Leonard Schiller, and his need to write even when the results are unfruitful (he's spent the last 10 years on his latest novel only to finally admit that his characters aren't going anywhere) has aroused in me the desire to write again. (Go figure!) I must say it is a relief; a writer who is not writing is a sorrowful thing. Two of my favorite scenes are the very beginning and the very end when Schiller is sitting at the typewriter, thinking, looking at the paper with a burning gaze, and then...he starts to type. Every writer has sat like that--thinking and typing, typing and thinking some more. I miss the excitement of having the words say exactly what you envisioned, evoking just the right emotions.

I want to be doing that again. So I went to Barnes & Noble for some more inspiration and found a new book by Walter Mosely entitled, This Year Your Write Your Novel. As the title suggests, Mr. Mosely offers up technique, tips, and advice for completing your novel in one year. I'll write my impression of it when I've finished.

In the meantime, it's good to be back!

Monday, November 12, 2007

No Nano For Me

If you read my blog you'll notice that I deleted the post about doing NaNoWriMo again this year. I couldn't come up with a story to write and any way I haven't been in writing mode in a while. It's like I have no interest in writing whatsoever. A sad state of affairs I know, but I'm convinced I'll be bitten by the writing bug again soon. I just have some issues to sort through. Then, who knows what great stories will flow from my pen?

Oh, BTW, it's my birthday today. So Happy Birthday to me!!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Poetry Workshop

I attended a wonderful poetry workshop yesterday that really opened my eyes about how I can use poetry to inspire my other writing. I seem to remember reading about a famous author who reads poetry before she begins writing her prose. After taking this workshop I can understand why. We read several poems that illustrated things like setting, character and telling details. My favorite part was using the poems as prompts to write. In one exercise I wrote a scene from the past of a character from one of my stories. It was very revealing and helped me to understand her much better. We ended by reading poems and coming up with questions from them that could reveal some dimension of our longer works or help us to create new ones. All in all a very inspiring experience. Here's one of my favorite poems.

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is more sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky

e.e. cummings

Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Doing It Again

Yes, I'll be conducting my children's writing workshop again (newly titled, So You Want To Write For Children!) at the next Black Writers Reunion & Conference scheduled for June 19-21, 2008 in beautiful Tampa, FL. I did my first workshop at last year's conference in Dallas. While no one went running and screaming from the room, it was a sobering experience. Looking back, I think I tried to cram too much information into too short a period of time. So before I perpetrate myself on an another group of unsuspecting children's writers I'll be doing a revamp, making it lighter and a lot more fun. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Fear of Writing?

Check out this site from Texas Public Radio. Each month they provide a writing prompt that you can use to write a story (no word limit). Send it in and if they like your story it will be recorded as a podcast on the station's website. You don't have to live in Texas to participate. I'm not sure I'm feeling this month's prompt, but not to worry, you can use any of the 112 prompts on the website to craft your own unique story.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

I've been neglecting this blog in favor of my raw food blog. Sigh! Today I'm going to a meeting of the Black Writers Guild of Maryland, Inc. in Baltimore. Meetings are held the first Saturday of each month at the Garrison Blvd. branch of the public library. It's a nice get together for local writers most of whom are not children's writers but it's still nice to be among any writers for me, especially since I haven't been writing lately. Here's to being inspired.

Speaking of inspiration, the book I'm reading now, My Life in Paris, by Julia Child inspires me more than ever to go to France. It's on my list of must visit places along with Italy, Spain, Africa, Portugal, Turkey, and a host of others. The book relates her experiences while in Paris in the 40's and 50's. It's fun to see the making of great chef. She was determined to be a culinary queen and that's what she had become. Ciao for now!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Local Author Book Fair

A Good Book is once again having it's Local Author Book Fair. Here are the details. I plan to be there. How about you?

A Good Book is proud to announce the start of registration for our 2007 Local Author BookFair to be held on Saturday, August 18th, 2007 10am-6pm. This year the Book Fair will be held at the Woodlawn Recreation Center located at 2120 Gwynn Oak Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21207. Even though this is called Local Author Book Fair, authors from all over are invited to participate.

Portions of the proceeds from this Book Fair will also benefit Patsy's Reading Circle. An innovative reading program developed for homeless men in downtown Baltimore City. It provides academic enrichment, fellowship & encouragement for adult males who do not have access to
educational resources.

Early registration fee is $55, after July 15th the fee will be $75.

I am ENCOURAGING all LOCAL authors who have their books stocked at A Good Book to participate in this event. If you are interested please register at A Good Book

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Write Away

I just had to write my own little review of this wonderful book. It's one of the best writing books I've read and I've read a lot. What Ms. George does is not only let you in on her own (very intricate) writing process but also through her novels instructs you by example on plot, character development, point of view, how to use research, etc. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from John Steinbeck's Journal of a Novel, which he wrote while writing East of Eden. This demonstrates something she suggests doing which is journaling while you write your novel. Steinbeck's musings are an intimate look into his thoughts while writing. As great a writer as he was, you'll be glad to know he suffered the same insecurities we do. Write Away is a priceless addition to any serious writer's collection. I borrowed it from the library but I intend to get my own copy. I know I'll be referring to it again and again.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Why I Write

This is one of the exercises from a book I read not long ago. I've forgotten which one but I found it in a notebook and decided to reproduce it here to remind me why I write. At some point I expect my writing fears will change. In fact, I believe they already have.

I write because I enjoy it and I'm good at it. Writing my last story was worthwhile because it captures an aspect of childhood people can relate to. The fun of writing happens when you find exactly the right words in the right order to convey exactly what you want to say or to evoke exactly the place, time or emotion you want to realize. In spite of the struggle, I'm willing to keep writing because it is part of my God-given purpose. I have something to say that children need to hear.

I'm afraid to write because sometimes it just seems too hard. I don't think I'll be able to say what I want to say the way I want to say it. (Read: not good enough.) I have trouble getting started because I have trouble getting started with most things in my life. Once I do start I have to commit to the thing. Starting means I'll have to finish, or worse, live with the guilt of not finishing. So sometimes it's better not to start. My worst fears about writing are that I won't do it well and that I won't finish what I've started.

Friday, May 25, 2007

My Magnetic Poetry

A few years back I got a Magnetic Poetry book at an office Christmas party. Every year we do a Chinese gift exchange which if you haven't done it is a lot of fun. All the gifts are placed in a pile and each person is given a number. When your number is up (so to speak) you can either choose a gift or take one from someone before you if you like their gift better. The higher your number, the more likely you are to keep your gift. Some gifts change hands many times. This year for instance I really wanted a beautiful little basket someone had brought back from Africa. The poor little basket went back and forth between me and another woman. I'm happy to say I ended up with it and it is now proudly diplayed in my living room along with a wooden bottle opener carved in the shape of an alligator.

Anyway, back to the poetry. I didn't actually get the book during the gift exchange but I talked the guy who won it into exchanging it for my bottle of wine. I'm sure some people would rather have kept the wine but the writer in me couldn't resist another creative outlet. So, here are few poems I found in an old notebook that I think are kinda cool.

#1 Poem #1
The sound of glass cracking
slices through liquid
As you shower love in me
on a wild red summer morning

#2 Poem #2
I like when books grow
from my skin
and blossom like
full song to the wind

#3 Poem #3
Tell me about how these people
see you and what secret
only I can pronounce

Friday, May 18, 2007

Blog Challenged

I'd like to make some aesthetic changes to my blog but I'll be doggoned if I can figure out how. I don't know html very well so I'll have to do some research. The thing is I had to do this with the last blog I had. You'd think I would have written down. Now I have start all over. Oh, well.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

All About Eve

I realized today that I rarely think of her; hardly ever invoke her image in my mind. I can see her now though. Dark, smooth skin and fine features, her hair so soft and light you could see her scalp through it. We were like night and day. Compared to her petite frame I looked like an Amazon. Hard to believe we were mother and daughter.

I remember at her funeral, we (my ex and my oldest son) were cracking jokes at the grave site because it was Halloween. A lot of good material there for smart alecks like us. I should be ashamed to admit it but I’m not. After years of suffering the deterioration of Alzheimer’s, the person we’d buried was no longer my mother. I considered the end of her suffering to be cause for celebration.

Not for my father, of course. He’d just lost his partner of over 40 years. My dad amazed me with how tenderly he cared for mom. He demonstrated a level of caring and compassion I mistakenly thought was beyond him. But even he got impatient at times and who could blame him? Getting mom to eat took a good chunk of the day, she wouldn't open her mouth. At one point she wouldn’t go down any steps, shrinking away with large, fearful eyes as if she were looking down the slopes of Mount Everest. I found I could barely stand being with her more than a half hour let alone live with her. That was where my shame lay. After all the care and concern my mother invested in me and my well-being over the years I couldn’t cope with her when she needed me most.

In my youth, we constantly butted heads; my tomboy ways forever clashing with her desire to transform me into a “young lady.” For her part, my mother was ultra-feminine and always well dressed. Dad was quite disappointed that after she died I couldn’t take any of her clothes or shoes which were much too small for me. He had to send them home to Antigua. They could use them more than I could anyway.

Mom was highly ambitious and believed in keeping up with the Joneses and surpassing them whenever possible. I resented her comparisons of me with other girls she admired—especially Diane who lived a few blocks away from us in Brooklyn. Diane’s smug, holier-than-thou mother, Mrs. Brown, had been my Girl Scout leader and an acquaintance of my mom. It was bad enough being told how inadequate I was in every way next to Diane, but on top of that she always had the coolest toys including Barbie with all the trimmings. To this day I’ve never owned a Barbie. (No wonder I came out the way I did.) I got the last laugh, though, when Miss Pure as the Driven Snow got knocked up before I ever knew where the point of entry was.

Seeing Mom in my mind’s eye I also recall she was always busy. I’m sure that was the result of the West Indian work ethic. Virtually all the West Indians I know, including my ex and his family, are hard working folks. Think of the white tornado in the old Mr. Clean ads and that would be my mom. If she wasn’t cleaning, cooking, ironing, washing or sewing she was tending her prize-worthy garden (now wild and overgrown since her death). In fact the entire house fell into disrepair after mom died. It was thanks to her that the house was a home and Dad didn’t walk around in a holey t-shirt and slippers everywhere. (I once thought of moving to Richmond to live with my dad, you know, to help out. Thank you Lord for not letting me make that mistake!)
To be continued...

Friday, May 11, 2007

Writing About Mom

Yesterday afternoon on the way home out of nowhere I started to think about my mom whom I haven't thought about since...since... Anyway, my thoughts turned into this essay that I started writing on the bus this morning. So far it's about 3 1/2 pages and I'm not finished yet. I plan to post it here as a Mother's Day tribute. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Have You Ever...?

Have you ever looked at a manscript you just knew was ready for submission only to realize that it still needs work? That happened to me today with a story recently returned to me (After about 7 months. I was beginning to think they either didn't get it or were seriously considering publishing it. Wrong on both counts) . I began tweaking it here and there but I believe it may need more than that. It's definitely weak in some spots. Like Winnie the Pooh says, "Oh, bother!"

I shouldn't be surprised though. It took two years (on and off) to finally get Has Anybody Lost A Glove? up to snuff. It was well worth the effort as evidenced by the fact that it was published. Still it's difficult to accept that something you thought was finished, isn't. Like Glove, I'm hoping to find that angle that'll make the story come alive. Then the birds will fly and the angels will sing and I'll know for certain that I have another winner on my hands. Yeah!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I Wrote Last Night

This may not be exciting to you (especially since it was only about half a page) but for me it's huge!!! It is amazing the things I'll do to keep from putting my BIC (Butt-in-Chair) to write. I cooked dinner, watched TV (hey, it was Inside the Actor's Studio!), played online Family Feud with my son (great game BTW) until finally...FINALLY I sat down to write. It was a bit painful. As that famous quote goes, I was sweating blood but I got some words down--the beginnings of a new PB. Hopefully, this is the start (or should I say re-start) of a beautiful friendship.

Also, thanks to Miss Vicki for her comment. I don't know how you found little ole' me but I'm glad you did and I'm glad I inspired you to put your own BIC. For those who need that extra push I offer the following link from Margot Finke's May Musings column on procrastination:

Peace and blessings <*{{{><

Sunday, May 6, 2007

I Got A New Attitude!!!

A new writing attitude that is. And a new blog look. I've been idle long enough. It's time to put another book on the shelves, and I'm just the woman to do it. So stay tuned as I blog about my continuing writing adventures.

My current state of affairs is I just got a rejection for one of my pb's. I'm looking forward to sending it someplace where it'll be appreciated for the masterpiece it is. Also, working on two other stories that are closest to being in publishing shape. One of my problems is I have so many stories and ideas that I get bogged down and end up not writing anything. So that's something I need to work on while I work on the next Newbery winner. (If you don't believe in yourself who will, right?)

Ciao for now!