Stephen King

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Writing in Winter

It is again winter in Michigan. The streets are sheathed in a white dusting of snow and every window and eave is resplendent with colored bulbs and glittering decor. It has been an amazingly warm, dry winter thus far and you will hear few complaints from the locals who rejoice in leaving their snow boots and thermal underwear in the closet for another week or two. Despite the collective feeling that we are only on the precipice of a long winter, we officially passed the shortest and darkest day of the year yesterday - the winter solstice. As a lover of all things Gaia, I had the wonderful opportunity of celebrating the solstice with a candlelit yoga session offered by an amazing and insightful teacher (Angela) while musician Jeremy Arndt played the Halo. It was an inspiring and therapeutic experience and I am unbelievably grateful to live in a place where such amazing people offer their gifts!

In the world of writing and work, I left my job in early November to return to writing full time. It was a short-lived gig that simply did not resonate with me and fortunately, I have discovered a myriad of ways to make life work without the 9 to 5. I received a first and then second set of proofs (edits) on Ula and have completed and sent both back to my publisher with a hopeful date of publication in three to four months. Other writing has been stalled in lieu of the Holiday Season and the Fabinelli's Candy season. This year, I built the candy maker a new website, which was great practice, in addition to updating their blog, creating a new Facebook page and starting a small SEO marketing plan. It has been a success and great fun!

Happy Holidays :)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Writing From the Heart

I write a lot these days. To give you an update, I started working for a digital marketing agency writing copy and doing SEO a few months ago. I had discovered over the last few, mostly jobless, years that time had become this rubber band that could stretch hours into weeks, days into months, and weekends into nothings because every day was simply another day. I lost touch with the schedule that I diligently adhered to when I first quit working to get writing and in losing that structure, I lost a lot of productivity. I needed to find that again and, to be honest, I tried to do it on my own. I tried to use a planner, set hourly tables for writing, go to the coffee shop or library to force write a thousand words, but in the end, I chose the easier route: a job.

In making this change, I have sacrificed my endless time, naps in the afternoon, getting chores done while everyone else is at work and always being able to open my laptop if inspiration strikes. I've gained a steady paycheck, more writing and SEO experience, human interaction and.... my coveted schedule. I wake up to an alarm, take scheduled breaks and clock out at 5 PM. It is not all perks nor all perils, but instead that strange combination of what we need during the time that we need it. It took a while to get this job - a month of interviews, writing samples and contemplation. As the roller coaster of waiting cranked me up and dropped me again and again, I came to a wonderful conclusion: what ever happened was what I needed to happen.

This may seem like a strange sentiment to some of you, but as an avid meditator, practicer of yoga and embracer of living in the now - I relish the belief that the universe delivers to me the experiences that I most need. Sometimes those experiences are challenging and easily labeled bad luck, but I no longer subscribe to such chaotic views of life. Instead, I choose to embrace the moment that is before me and roll with the waves rather than resisting them. It is has made my life much easier and much better, though I still find that I occasionally get caught in past and future thoughts. My job has demanded that I let go of past perceptions about working full time. It has demanded that I release the belief that being a writer means writing only what I love and doing it all of the time. Wait, let me correct this, I have demanded these things of myself. This is the beauty of living in the present, recognizing that we are the creators of our life, our story, our happiness.

I find with my schedule that I am writing for myself again, more than I was before I started the job. I am envisioning the path that my writing will take rather than facing the unravelling hours like thread in my palm. I hope to come here more now that writing has again taken precedence over many of the distractions in my life.

To give a brief update. I recently received a final round of edits from my publisher for Ula and hope to see publication soon. I am still writing the sequel, editing it in my writer's group and staying current on my other blog Writing in Michigan. Thanks for reading and I hope that you too can enjoy this present moment.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh Summer - How I love Thee

It is summer again in northern Michigan and it is perhaps, the most beautiful that I have ever experienced, or that may simply be that it is now and now is all there is. Writing has been a miniature roller coaster of procrastination, but I am involved in a writer's group again so at the very least I'm talking writing - if not doing much. Well fiction that is. I have written more articles than I care to remember at the moment, duty calling in the form of rent etc. so the keys have been clacking, just not the imagination. I have also read a seeming bookshelf of books and novels lately, ranging from spiritual guides to fictional mysteries. I will list some below with a short review.

Ula is still with the publisher waiting for edits. It is several books down the list and thus I have no publication update; however, this is preferable because my sequel is continuing to hover in the 15,000 word range. I have largely fleshed out the plot - at least in my mind - but the sand dunes and the bursting trees keep calling me away from my laptop and into the woods. I will return again to update, hopefully sooner than later, but I do so much personal journaling that this space gets sorely neglected.

Books
Rose by Martin Cruz Smith: I loved this. It's a historical mystery with a good vein of romance and gives a plethora of information about coal mines in Lancashire during the late 1800's. Suspenseful plot, vivid characters and many twists.

The Little Friend by Donna Tart: I am a huge fan of Donna Tart's wordy, descriptive literary novels. I enjoyed this novel for about the first 300 pages. It then continued to drag on - largely commenting on scenery and decor with a mixture of psychological angst by the young protagonist. It could have been great, but as many literary novels do - it simply petered out with no resolutions or deeper understanding of the forces at work behind the characters' thoughts or the strange events occurring. For me, it lacked the magic of life and reduced the world to a series of images that felt flat. However, I still love Donna Tart and highly recommend A Secret History.

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles: This novel is a classic and is considered one of the great England novels published during the 20th century. It is very character-centric with frequent forays into the minds of the two mains - Port and Kit - as they travel deeply into the Sahara Desert. The foreshadowing was very obvious and somewhat cliched; however, for its time, it was exceptional. The landscape of Africa takes on a life of its own and becomes something of a nemesis and abusive lover for the two main characters. It was painfully indulgent with the characters' (often shallow) thoughts and preoccupations with themselves. Overall I enjoyed it.

Okay that is enough reviews for now - I will add more w/ my next post.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sunny South

I am writing this post from Florida - perhaps I'm writing this post because I am in Florida. The hot sun and lush vegetation have thawed my frozen brain. I have longed for a notebook here to jot down the constant array of exquisite stimulation. I have wondered if I would remember upon returning home the way the pigeons, who frequented the beach, had iridescent feathers that shimmered in the sunlight or how the Cypress Trees stretched like barren skeletons dotted with brilliantly colored air plants. In Michigan in the cleansing winter months, our eyes seem to fail. Gone are the wide prairies of buttery dandelions and sugar sand dunes. My sight begins to feel buried beneath a frosted layer of ice until even my inner vision starts to see only white, endless glittering nothingness.

Today I look forward to returning home. My mind has had its fill of this glorious dream, so brilliant and overwhelming that I long for the silence of the north woods. I look forward to the blank page and my newly opened mind. I have much to do, mainly Book II in my Born of Shadows Series. Ula: Book I has been turned into the publisher and may need future revisions before publication, but it is blissfully out of my grasp. I also need to begin edits on the chick lit book that I finished months ago and have not looked at since. I have written a few short stories, outlined a few articles, but largely I have allowed the words to fall into the cracks in my sofa and fester with the cat toys and crumbs.

As for reading, I just finished last night Alexandra Fuller's Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight - a memoir about Africa that was deeply moving and left me longing to feel the dry grass and see the bougainvillea. I cannot list any of my other latest reads right now because it is time to begin our final day of the trip and their titles slip my mind.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Publication

Well this is an exciting post because I recently received an e-mail from a small publishing company that wants to print Ula first as an ebook and later in print. I have to say that this was much needed news as the last few months have been difficult in the writing world for me. I always believed that the rejections and the solitude were minor issues on the path to writing full time, but the truth is that they are at the forefront of the process. It's a wonderful feeling to be embarking on the next leg of this journey. I will update with more specifics later, but suffice it to say that right now writing has returned as the central character in my life.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Burr.....

Winter here again in Michigan. My husband and I went for a long snowy beach hike and dune climb today. The wind whipped snow into every crevice of my coat and by the time we reached the end of our hike (which concluded with a bumpy slide down a very steep dune) my face was raw and red. It was a wonderful, in the moment, experience that I hope to repeat many times in the upcoming months. Writing has been sluggish at best, lost in the throes of my seasonal job at the Cherry Republic, a very Michigan Company that specializes in all things Cherry. It has been a great break from my books and has given me another angle with which to view the world of fictional characters and places. I am working on my third novel, approx. 12,000 words in and hoping to dive back in after the first of the year. I have also been querying for Ula and Skidmarks on My Heart. I recently received a rejection from a small print and web publisher for Ula, which contained extensive feedback (not happy feedback, but any suggestions are welcome) so although it was on some levels disheartening, it was great to get constructive criticism. That's all in the land of writing updates. As for reading, I'm working on Middlesex by Jeffrey Euganides, which has successfully pulled me in. I'll list a few other good reads below:

We Don't Die by Joel Martin and Patricia Romanowski : Really interesting story about the medium George Anderson with some inspiring true stories.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson: I liked it, but honestly, I found the first book much more compelling.

The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult: I've read a few by her and really enjoyed this one. Picoult created a unique comic scenario that paralleled the story and added dimension to one of the central characters.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Fall in Northern MI

Summer has edged away and been replaced by falling amber leaves, breezes loaded with the sweet scent of foliage in decay and morning walks that call for mittens and wool socks. It is a transformative time for nature as she shrugs off the heavy boughs of summer and begins the slow crawl toward a long winter cleanse. We have frequent fires in our fireplace, spiced cherry wine and ample time to reflect on our own transformations as we too transition with the seasons. Driving down our street, I am renewed by the corridor of gold and red that flecks the leaves like a child's paint project en masse.

As for writing, it transitions as well with the seasons. Fall is a new beginning, it is also an end. Colder temperatures mean more time logged with this keyboard, more words into the world - hopefully some that make a difference - and less face time in the world when the snow drifts pile too deep for driving. All in all, I am embracing this time. The summer, though it is glorious, is packed with family, friends, lake outings, beach days, travel, festivals and more than seems humanly reasonable in a span of several months. It is often a long choppy break from writing, speckled with bursts of productivity, but surely bringing my average down.

On my other blog, I wrote about a conference that I recently attended and I will mention it here also. It is called the Great Lake Bioneers Conference and includes several days of amazing speakers beamed in from California as well as local speakers covering a range of critical topics from global warming to spousal abuse in India. The speakers are activists, a dying breed I fear, who have devoted their lives to informing people of our impact in the world. They are scientists, researchers, hippies, mothers, teachers and even children. One speaker, who was only sixteen, had a standing ovation for his pleas that his generation stand up and begin the changes that are necessary to bring harmony back to this planet. The conference also includes work shops. My husband and I had the pleasure of experiencing a Tibetan Bowl meditation with Mark Handler and having an open discussion about acceptance of painful world news with Diane Osborne. This conference revitalized my spirit and thus my writing for that, after all, is where the words come from.

As for more technical updates, I recently had a request from a small press to submit my manuscript for Ula. I finished the submission packet yesterday and sent it out. I have several queries circulating for Skidmarks on My Heart, my chick lit book. I just realized that I may not have mentioned the title here before and I chose it because it is a Go Go's song and my main character was named after their lead singer. I am also keeping a blog for Writers, which I update a couple of times a week with jobs and markets etc. I have not written many articles lately; however, I did have a rant published in Urban Garden Magazine which won my husband a turbo cloner. I will end this by listing a few good books that I have read lately below:)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson - Wow - non stop action - riveting
The Girl Who Played with Fire " " - Not finished, but so far very good, less action in beginning
Naked by David Sedaris - hilarious as usual with Sedaris

About Me

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I am a freelance writer living in northern Michigan. My fiction novel Ula is under publication contract and I am currently writing the sequel. I also write a variety of other SEO articles, short stories and blogs.