Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Our Internal Critic

I know why I've always liked this old poster of Garfield and why I've kept it safely rolled up and tucked away. It reminds me of how my father raised me.

My sister died of Juvenile Diabetes at one and as I understand it, Daddy didn't want to go through that again but gave in to my mother's pleas to have another child and voila - me. As much as Daddy loved sports and the outdoors, I know he secretly prayed for a boy. But it didn't stop him from taking me to the Redskins games, to see the Senators and and the Terps of the University of Maryland. Nor did it sway him from teaching me to golf, bowl, play softball and basketball, drive a standard shift at 12 years old, fish (you don't hunt living 8 miles from D.C.) and anything else he could think of. (No matter their talent the men in my life couldn't teach me to throw a softball; it goes straight up or straight into the ground, but I can drive the hell out of a car. Even won a racing competition once in Houston.)

But it wasn't so much what he taught me to do as how he taught me to think. Being a girl shouldn't limit me from believing I could do anything my heart desires. And it didn't. I never gave my wide array of jobs any second glance. If there was a job opening, I went for it.

I started out as a waitress at the Big Boys and Marriott restaurants around the D.C. area, went into kitchen and dining room supervision, ended up in Mississippi where I worked for an oral surgeon and an insurance company. Then to Natchez, where I ran a restaurant with DH until we divorced. Then out of sheer relief, I picked up my guitar and started singing and ended up singing professionally by night for about ten years while I did VARIOUS jobs during the day. (I even got to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir during a very special rehearsal after the Columbia disaster.)

I worked for an architect, sold mobile homes, long distance service, cars, trucks, cosmetics, sold burglar bars, pools, fences, placed students from a business school, taught computer at the trade school, owned a tailor shop where I did manual monogramming, made mens shirts, and sold workwear. I've managed a manufacturing plant and worked for a disaster assistance organization and sold insurance. And now, I deliver mail. I can't remember anything else.

The point is - yes, I know you were thinking, get to the point, Marley - that nothing ever had me doubting I could do something until I started writing. The author's internal critic is a monster. If we were to listen to everything he says (I contend that our internal critic has to be our opposite gender, doesn't it make sense?) and then everything we read about rules and the preferences of our critique partners and contest judges, we'd never get a paragraph of our bio written, much less a fiction piece.

The romance genre has got to be one of the most difficult with all the unofficial and offical rules in place. When I read about another author who has broken one of them, well, why don't we call it awakening the publisher to the possibilities, I cheer and take another look at my latest wip. I ask myself once again, am I stuck in a box? How can I make sure my writing is a unique, creative reflection of my voice?

I'll bet my poet friend, Michael Malone, struggles less with it. It takes great originality to create poetry like his which is romantic and "Raw". And poets seem to already have this sense of rebellion. At least that's how it seems to me.

I wonder if that the struggle ever ends once you start writing.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson dies

One of my favorite artists, Michael Jackson, died yesterday at the age of 50. He was one of a kind.

From Michael Jackson's Official Website:

'Five of Jackson's solo albums – "Off the Wall," "Thriller," "Bad," "Dangerous" and "HIStory," all with Epic Records, a Sony Music label – are among the top-sellers of all time. During his extraordinary career, he sold an estimated 750 million records worldwide, released 13 No.1 singles and became one of a handful of artists to be inducted twice into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized Jackson as the Most Successful Entertainer of All Time and "Thriller" as the Biggest Selling Album of All Time. Jackson won 13 Grammy Awards and received the American Music Award's Artist of the Century Award.'

He was a tortured man with great sensitivity toward mankind whose legacy will include the expressions of love and unity he brought to his work. My all-time favorite, Man in the Mirror, I think, reflected his soul.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Blue Diablo

Okay, I'm not shy. I want to win a copy of this book. It's a fascinating new series by author Ann Aguirre who is being interviewed at Patricia's Vampire Notes today. Check it out.

Patricia's Vampire Notes: Ann Aguirre - Interview and Contest

Patricia's Vampire Notes: Ann Aguirre - Interview and Contest

Back on the treadmill again

Ever since Dusty arrived we've had one end of the kitchen walled off to protect him from himself. Unfortunately, this included the treadmill. A couple weeks ago, I unburied it and have been intending to start exercising again. I've been procrastinating.

After the hurricanes in 05 I went to D.C. and Atlanta to work fro 6 months. I'd been so faithful with my exercise regimen until I left. But it's been hit and miss ever since.

Only one excuse besides procrastination. It's HOT, as HADES. Today 105 heat index outside and probably 80 inside. But we put up some foam insulation on the ceiling of a couple rooms this morning and now the air conditioners are able to keep the house at a reasonably cool temperature - mid 70s?

So I'm gearing up. If you don't read by Thursday that I've got two days under my belt feel free to ask. Tomorrow's the day. Tomorrow's the day.

Join me?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Weekly Funny

I'll admit I stole this from Writer, Poet, Michael Malone who blogged about this on his blog, May Contain Nuts. Get ready to laugh...

You think they need to take donations for a better uniform?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

BIAW - Back in the Saddle Again

Finally, after months of inactivity due to the crawfish season, I'm writing forward again. Looking back I can see that those long trips to haul crawfish allowed me to brainstorm the characters, their world and the genre. Something was missing. This was to be a contemporary romantic mystery and I'd already written about 15k. When I decided it needed a paranormal twist, the twist took on a life of its own and now, it's an entirely different book.

Barbara White Daille's Book in A Week, BIAW, which is offered one week out of each month, began this week. If you're interested you can contact Barbara at BIAW@barbarawhitedaille.com.

I had never participated before because I thought it was like Nano, only allowing you to write a new story, all new material. Barbara cracks a gentle whip and encourages writing forward but also allows revising/editing, outlining, though no research, blogging, tweeting, etc. which makes sense since those activities are such time hogs.

It felt good when I began the week with 11,000 words in three days. Once I'd completed a synopsis/rough draft, I had to stop, split my scenes up in scrivener and then create my outline from those scenes. That took a day. Then I was able to write a couple scenes to wind up with around 12,500 words for the week.

If I hadn't joined BIAW would I have been as productive? I don't know for sure but doubt it. I readied myself for the starting gun. If not for the Monday goal, it may have been Wednesday or next week before I stopped researching and planning and started writing.

It was wonderful to be creating again. Even better than singing for a small intuitive audience who loves guitar and ballads. With singing, the feeling comes from fine tuning the sound or in rendering it in a new way. I don't write the songs. Writing is a newer passion. It's hard. And it's pure joy!

Have you tried BIAW or BIAM. How did you find these shorter programs in comparison to NaNoWriMo.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Writing Sprints

Wow, I'm brain dead. Been writing since 8 this morning. This was the day I planned to get back on the RCM/paranormal. I signed up for BIAW and was determined to get my research done in time to move forward.

Then our DSRA chapter sent a post that they were sprinting. Cadence and Cora and I had heard about their sprints from Delilah and I was looking forward to trying the timed writing. They open AIM and go 45/15 all day, depending on what everybody has doing. Delilah finished editing a book she wrote yesterday on a sprint!

I managed 5,552 words today. First words I'm written substantially in a couple months because of crawfish season. I'm soooo happy with that. It's very rough at this point because after Nola Stars I decided to drop back and reevaluate what I'd written, paying closer attention to the character motivations and turning points.

I'm not finished with the research. A fellow writer and blogger of May Contain Nuts, Michael Malone, a talented poet and writer, sent me a link to an online Scottish Dictionary. I've been trying to come up with the names for the towns in the book. So today, in order to keep moving, I just had to put three Xs for one town, 4Xs, 5 and so forth. Tomorrow I'll try that suggestion Michael gave me for naming the area.

I figured if I wrote awhile the plot would help me defind what some of the characters need to be and whether I need more of them. I do.

If you're struggling with finding time or getting the words down, you might want to try timed writing. To stimulate your brain, pop new ideas and push the work forward. I'll clean it up and go in more depth with what I wrote tomorrow then try it again when I'm ready.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bad Boy, Dusty

This morning, I'm drinking my coffee through a straw!

I live in a house with two Alpha males. Crawfish Man and the Duster. As I've mentioned, Dusty has a little testosterone problem, too much of it. At six months, he's like a spoiled toddler when he doesn't get his way. Though the toddlers probably don't bite. We've had three female Pomeranians before Dusty, Brandy, Sunshine and Spider. They all came to us at just under a year. That means... that they are very hard to put up with until they are raised. I knew that but it still doesn't make it easy.

I've been working with treats, a leash, reverse psychology. But if he has a toy he doesn't want to give up or if it's time to do something he doesn't want to do, he will try to bite you to get his point across. Some of it is bluster, but he does have a problem. And he's marking his territory everywhere. This morning I turned my back and then felt a warm stream down my leg. That's not the first time. He's very intelligent and learns quickly but much of the fault lies in my not knowing how to train him out of these bad habits. I'd like to take him to an obedience class but they are 75 miles away.

Last week, we went to the vet to have his heartworm treatment, a new kind given every six months. (If you aren't giving your dog heartworm meds, you're signing his death warrant, especially in Louisiana.) I discussed neutering with the vet who said it might calm him down a little. After all, even though he has papers, I don't think I'd want to risk passing this bad temper on. Though they say it doesn't always. And you can't wake him up from a sound sleep, he comes out of it like he's in another world, barking and snapping.

Well, CFM said, we're not having him neutered. He'll calm down. I got the impression it was a man thing. You're not cutting the Dustyworks! I said, we're not giving him a lobotomy!

I've struggled with this because he is beautiful and smart and has a lot of personality and loves people but I think I've finally had enough. I have to pick him up from behind sometimes when he doesn't want to go out and last night he bit me - in the face. Tore my lip, left teeth marks on my skin above the lip. I love him and don't want to have to do something tragic in the future so we may have to neuter him. I know, I need to try the training first. Maybe two days of them teaching me what to do would help. I could afford that.

So, I'm standing there trying to piece the pieces of my lip back together, sorry, no pictures for a while, and CFM says, "Oh, you'll be okay. I've had mine split many times. You won't look like a monster or anything." He was a boxer and football player so I guess he knows. But his standards are a little different than mine.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

May Contain Nuts

One of the writers on our Scottish loop ran across this fantastic blog, May Contain Nuts. A Scottish poet and writer by the name of Michael Malone from Ayr, Scotland. I asked, where is Ayr? Here's the map. (I'm having trouble finding a bigger one.) Ayrshire is the parish in Scotland on the southwestern coast.

Nothing is sacred on his blog - parenting, travel, boobs...

As I've mentioned before, I love everything about Scotland. If it hadn't been for my husband, and it was touch and go then, I probably wouldn't hae come home from my trip there. I even got to sing the tavern closed in exchange for a bottle of Sheep Dip Scotch which sits on my sofa table to this day.

Ooops, slipped. Ach, but I loved Edinburgh, could hae slept in the streets in the drizzling rain.

The scenery looks beautiful.

So if you'd like to experience a little of Scotland, the language, the culture, visit Michael's blog and if you like fishing - looks like a great place for trout or salmon fishing.

If you'd like a taste of Michael's poetry, go here.

Friday, June 5, 2009


My friend, Leah Braemel, was blogging over on Coffee Time about Firsts. I commented that one of my firsts is writing a paranormal. I was referring to my current WIP but I discovered recently that I'd written one when I was a kid that I'd forgotten about how freckles came about.

It involved a mad Greek god, Persephone and a pomegranate.

Where's the pomegranate?

Multi-tasking, River Update

Well, you could call it that. I always wondered why I was good at doing many things at once. Took years to figure it out. The ADD thing. I simply can't sit still long enough to finish one thing. I have to do several at once. God, I wish I were different but I've learned that it is not to be. At least I recognize it now and can work with that knowledge instead of wondering and feeling stressed over something I just can't change.

I have such a short, no, short is not the word for it, lightning quick attention span, I washed two loads of water in the washer this morning, down to the spin cycle. TWO. It's new and requires the water...then the soap......fill a little....THEN the towels or whatever. Well, you can imagine, I've never been able to dry a pan on the stove or cook bread in the broiler and have run the tub over countless times.

A few years ago My Hero told me - "Don't dry the skillets on the stove. I'LL DRY THEM FOR YOU." Guess that about says it.

I'm sitting outside in the cool by the bayou, guarding Dusty from the alligators and working on my wip. Well, actually, checking email etc. first. That storm and cool front came though and it's fifteen degrees cooler than yesterday morning.

I'm learning to listen to the birds and other critters. When I hear the birds go off the deep end, there is usually a snake or alligator pulling up, at the very least a squirrel attacking the nest.

I went to BIG CITY to use the library or book store's high speed internet yesterday and can you believe it - the internet was crashed both places. Doesn't bode well for International security does it? Everything wireless. And the satellites don't deliver in bad weather. BooksAMillion said their internet has been very undependable. So I'm going to run to MISSISSIPPI and use the coffee shop's wireless to upgrade and do my big downloads and a little searching, then back home.

A new pic of the river from the Ms River bridge looking at the tourist center. It got within a foot and a half from last year's record. Look how close it is to the bank. The corp of engineers laid heavy rock all the way down the bank while the river was low because it had cut into the bank so close to that facility. There's very little rock out of the water.

OH! Update:
I just realized I've just sort of ignored the river situation this year even though there was an actual levee break near Monroe an hour away from us.

This is the river along the levee I travel to get crawfish. That is land that is underwater on the river side.

And they have now placed relief valves along the levee to take pressure off the river so that if it got too bad they would make sacrificial lambs out of us instead of allowing New Orleans to flood. How do ya like them apples! And no one knows if they knew what they were doing when they constructed these pipelines going under the levee to the Mississippi. They may have created a way to let the monster loose inadvertently.

Last night I dreamed that the water was above the house and Dusty and I had climbed up into a tree. He was sitting dutifully - my dog sitting dutifully, you know that was a dream - by my side awaiting rescue. It was a very long night.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Still Awestruck

When my mother worked for NASA in the 60s and 70s I was lucky enough to visit Goddard Space Flight Center many times, meet astronauts in the early years of the program. My dream was to be the first woman astronaut. Unfortunately, they landed on the moon without me...

Every time a shuttle goes up on some mission, I'm excited to see the successful results. It's still unbelievable to me what these men and women have accomplished and the praise they receive isn't enough IMHO.

Wally on the Crimescenewriter loop shared this link with us to some awesome, awesome pictures of STS-125, for those of you who don't know the lingo, that's the Mission designation for the Hubble repair and upgrade. Take a couple minutes to appreciate the fantastic pictures at this page.

Way to go, STS125 crew! You made us proud.

If you've never seen how the Shuttle gets from one coast to the other watch this YouTube of the takeoff on board a 747. Un be leevable!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Satisfied Feeling

I know you've been there. You know you have a good idea for a story but there's some indefinable something that you're hung up on. Been scratching my head over my wip, RC ever since taking Delilah Devlin and Elle Jame's Blotting Bootcamp in March. Bad timing. I was about 15k in the story, trying to figure out what to pitch for the Nola Stars conference.

After taking the class I realized I didn't understand the characters well enough to move forward. Since I've been bogged down in crawfish season anyway, I've used my infrequent snatches of time to look at characters, plot ideas, writing new beginnings, a few new scenes, gradually getting closer to what I wanted.

All along, I've thought, if I could just figure out the twist that would make this more than just a contemporary romance mystery. I had an agent and a publisher request it after I pitched it on the spur of the moment, but I knew I needed an extra spark.

Last week I decided to place the story in Louisiana, after all, I know the area and I'd been looking for another region that had alligators and swamps. Then...Sunday morning I dreamed about RCM. A scene popped into my head that has changed the entire complexion of the book. It will be a paranormal. Now, I'm excited about it. Looking forward to moving forward.

My goal had been to do that yesterday but now I have to revamp my Scrivener file to allow for new research, consolidate old files, and do the research on some of the changes. I finished the mechanics in Scrivener of pulling the files together, now I have to read through it all again and figure out what is going to work and what to trash. Tomorrow, it's on to Big Town to use the high speed internet and do my research. Hopefully, by end of week or Monday next, I'll be back on track. Yes!