Saturday, October 31, 2015

He can't act. He can't sing. He can dance a little.

Did you read my title? Well, that was what a studio head said about Fred Astaire before rejecting him. Ha! I just read that fact in an essential book for aspiring writers. What is it called? The Essential Guide for Getting Your Book Published. It's so helpful that I put a permanent link for it in my side bar. Rejection. Boy, that topic was covered over and over again throughout the eight writing guide books (and counting) I've read for my part time job. I love my part time job. It's reading! 

Guess whose debut manuscript was rejected 30 times and yet went on to become a best seller. But not only that, it launched a mildly tepid writing career. Well, I just requested a copy of this author's take on a guide book from the library. It's called On Writing: a memoir of the craft. It turns out, this guy knew a thing or two about writing. I can't wait to read it. You know, Stephen King's guide to writing. Of course, I was kidding about his tepid career. Boiling hot is a more simmering word choice. Here's a fun link of rejections that will shock and amaze. 

Stephen King is the perfect muse for this Halloween post. Did you know that he couldn't even afford a type writer when he was starting out. He may have married his wife for one. Or so the story goes. And not only that, do you know what he purchased for his wife to celebrate his first literary windfall? No, not a typewriter. A hairdryer. The horror! It was all he could find on a Sunday when all of the businesses were closed in Bangor, Maine. But don't take my word for it. Here's a link for the low down on Stephen King before he was the master of horror. King was getting his feet wet in the nudie mag market. He was more like the  apprentice of smut! Visit Mental_Floss for the rest of the story.

I started my horror research with Carrie and The Shining for my part time job recently. My book The Chorus of the Crows has an element of fear. A smidgen of scary. So I wanted to learn from the best. I didn't love Carrie. But I'm glad I read it. The Shining, however, was illuminating. In fact, I just had a nightmare or basically a succession of nightmares last week related to the book. Literary success in the horror genre! Nightmares. The only part of my dream I can remember was the Redrum part. It's always Redrum, right? I was in what appeared to be my childhood bedroom. And I instinctively knew it was demons. My eyes were focused on the ceiling and the small opening to the attic above my bed. There was something there. I just knew it. Basically, I was scared shit-less. My husband came sauntering in and nonchalantly spit out the word Redrum. As a joke. I told him not to utter that word. But it was too late. Eventually, after a nerve rattling silence, a child's demonic voice eerily choked out...  rrr...eee...ddd rrrr...uuu...mmm. The I woke up!

My absolute favorite part of The Shining, other than the great character Halloran,was when Jack drank his martians. I'll never order a martini without thinking of the book again. Let's all raise a glass this Halloween to Stephen King...

"Makes you, for a little while, a child again" Stephen King on the creative use of fear.

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ordinary Inspiration

I had lunch with my cousin Jane a few weeks ago. We had a lot to talk about. Jane recently blazed through a major down sizing. She had an estate sale. Her home and a lifetime of goods were up for grabs. A hard pill for anyone to swallow. I know. I had to auction off my family farm and at least two lifetime's worth of possessions several years ago. But Jane isn't down and out. Don't worry. She took the best of her worldly wares to a pretty new apartment.

Jane was a traveler. And at almost 90, she's been around the block a time or two. I inherited her large box of signed, sealed and delivered postcards. Where did she go? Budapest? Perhaps. The Bahamas? Maybe. I love to travel too. So I can't wait to dig into all those cards. Who knows where they might lead? And speaking of leading, I finally felt ready to navigate our conversation to some literary news I had in my back pocket. I decided to tell her about my novel.

There was an awkward silence and then the subject was changed. My news fizzled like some discarded plastic wrap thrown into a roaring fire.  But, sometimes, I'm sneaky and tenacious. So I offered up that literary gem again a little later.  This time she bit. Or maybe her defenses were weakened by the cognac we were sipping.

After I told her about my story, it reminded her of a wonderful book she had just finished. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. And indeed there are definite similarities. One of my main characters is a Methodist Minister. Just like in Ordinary Grace. My book takes place in a small Wisconsin town. O. G. takes place in a small Minnesota town. My book deals with some devastating deaths. So does O.G. In a masterful way. So of course I borrowed the book and read it immediately. I've been devouring good books in my quest for every and all inspiration. And it was a great book.  

I knew early on who did the what in the book. I have a devious mind. So there is little I don't figure out when I'm reading a book or watching a movie. I hate that! But it didn't matter. I was just swept along with the well crafted characters and small town visuals. I eagerly followed the train of sorrow till the very end. But I probably don't have to tell you that. It's already a best seller! 

 There is a big difference in the two books. Well, of course the obvious. Mine is unfinished, unpublished and being written by a blogger of dubious accomplishments. But the path of my characters leads to a completely different and disturbing place. The central conflict in my story revolve around the Hallucinations of Oren Walton. A prosperous farmer who has already suffered in so many ways. The rest of the important characters orbit around this central struggle. A struggle I'll hint at through out my path to publication.

 If you are a writer and would like to contribute a post about your own unique path, be sure to contact me. Or if you have ideas, resources or writing tips to contribute. Let me know!

 Here's a tip from Teymour Shahabi about YouTube  Do you think an empty, barren, word challenged page is scary? Then imagine putting your mug on YouTube. Yikes! I don't know if I could do it. But it's my tip of the week for marketing a book.

Lastly, head over to Springtime in Magnolia for my book review on Ordinary Grace.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In the beginning there was an empty page...

I've always had the secret dream of writing a novel. But then again, a lot of people have had this seemingly impossible dream. Grammar? Ghastly. Sentence structure? It just might implode like an old casino in Vegas. But there is one positive thing that finally set my writing ambitions apart from the dreamers and the not so serious dawdlers, I became a doer. The rules be damned!

Last spring I was going about the serious creative business of blogging, painting and taking lots and lots of photos. And I was doing the one thing that took up most of my valuable time on any given day. What's that you ask? Well, waiting. Just waiting around for an elusive freelance illustration job. Yawn. 

I've had a lot of story ideas. I'm a creative person. So the inspiration came easy.  But there was one idea that I couldn't shake.  It was very personal. I kept going back to it like a favorite television repeat. Sort of like when the Shawshank Redemption is on T.V. You just can't help but watch it. Right? Well, my idea was inspired from the very real hallucinations that my father struggled with throughout his battle with Parkinson's. And come hell or high water, I hope to make my parents proud with this book. May they rest in peace. 

So here I am at page one hundred and eight. I passed the hundred page point. Hooray! I'm having the time of my life creating a work of fiction. I'm writing what I know. But it is what I don't know that is the fun part. The imagining. I'm weaving together a tale of what I do and don't know like Rumpelstiltskin. Hopefully him. If I end up like the hapless Miller's daughter, then I'm screwed.

I researched writing for several months. So far, I've read eight books on the subject. Along with a succession of best sellers and old masterpieces. It was hard, back breaking work, but someone had to do it! I created an outline for my story first. Then I decided on characters. No easy task. I joined two writing groups. And most importantly, I just started writing. I've never had so much fun creating anything in my entire life.

So what will this blog be about? I'm planning to document my path to publication. Oh, yes. I plan on being published. And if all else fails, there's always self publishing. They'll be ups and downs. Editing. Yuck. Book teasers. Snippets. Favorite resources and guides. Inspiration. Maybe even guest writers. And if I ever create a worthy blurb, they'll be that. I plan to post weekly. So please come back!

And most importantly, stay tuned for more on my future book. The Chorus of the Crows...