One book leads to another...

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Jackets Optional



Not that it’s happened in my area yet, but doesn’t the very name, September make you think of cooler days?  That alone is something to write about, don’t you think? In whatever form the stimulant arises, be it anticipation, longing, or absolute awe, seasonal colors uniquely present invaluable license to fill your heart and thoughts with restorative outlooks of uncomplicated change.  I tend to write a lot of poems – or move the furniture around, this time of year. How about you?

Now that I’m halfway through the revisit, revise, rewrite and rejoice segment of the project I told you about last month, my thoughts have wandered toward the cover. Perhaps it’s too soon to be concerned with what should be the last concern. However, it is the first glimpse readers have into the world of words you’ve created for their enjoyment.

And cover options are apparently endless: Graphics or illustrations, color glossy or black and white (I rather like the combination of both). Conversely, in one entire section of the family library (maybe a 1000 books), very few had covers as we know them today – let alone graphics. The title and the author’s name were neatly embossed on paper-covered cardboard, and thanks to Lewis Carroll, sometimes on the spine. A room full of mysteries, right? Trial and often shocking error led my young self to realize I shouldn’t always read a book without a cover. And then, beginning with children’s books (rightly so, I say), dust jackets became more than just for book protection. Indeed, they became so popular that nowadays an original jacket of a first edition of “The Great Gatsby” can sell for 20k while the original book itself might only garner a thousand dollars. So, are jackets still optional? Decisions, decisions.

But, hey! It’s Be Kind to Writers and Editors Month and if you haven’t yet finished writing that epic novel, you can sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

As to the Optional IWSG Question of the Month, ‘‘Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing?’’ Oh, absolutely! I’ve giggled myself silly after slipping off a snowflake, followed a homeless hero on the way to make a bank deposit for a ghost, and cried myself to sleep after killing off (Earl had to die) the only fictional hunk I ever truly loved. No regrets, just writing ;-)

Happy Writing!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Getting Back To Moving Forward



Wishing everyone a happy and productive month of August! It’s American Adventures Month, and if that doesn’t give us something to write about, we could always revisit or begin journaling. Perhaps write an article, an essay or a trailer for the last good movie you watched – or your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

What’s on my writing mind? Well,

Photo by: Phil Reeder
For years along a winding two-lane road stood a weathered wooden sign with the word “Serendipity” crudely etched between its jagged edges.  How so? I fleetingly wondered, until summer’s lushness moldered in a bitter winter’s mire and a ramshackle house appeared. Much like the candy bar I’d tucked behind the horseradish where no one else would find it, the barely-discernible tire tracks that led to the crumbling house constantly beckoned my return.  Then life, as it so often does, intervened.
So now, years later, having unearthed the prefacing manuscript to the sequel; sketchily entitled “Serendipity,” I wonder if the story still breathes with the energy I poured into it so long ago. I have the drive, but what if the path has grown over? Only one way to find out, right? Can’t wait to tell you how it goes!  There you have the current scope of my journey, how’s yours?

As to the Optional IWSG Question of the Month, ‘What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?’ I recently read a novel by two authors who, at one point repeated (nearly exactly) the same paragraph from one page to the next. Not sure who was at fault, but I think I’d speak to the editor. That being said, and speaking from experience, the job of an editor seems much like tightrope walking between grammatically correct and creative expression. Either way, words are in precarious balance, and this is where insecurity seeps into the spaces between each word I write when revisions come into play. Will there be anything left of my story? Or dare I commit (writing without revising) “the literary equivalent of waltzing, gaily out of the house in your underwear” ~ Patricia Fuller.  Somehow the old drawing board doesn’t seem as daunting after all ;-)

Fun fact:
Mickey Spillane ordered 50,000 copies of his 1952 novel Kiss Me, Deadly to be destroyed when the comma was left out of the title.

Happy Writing, Reading & Editing!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

A Sentence



Wishing everyone a happy month of July! If you’re getting any rain, send us some out west ;-) Many of us desert dwellers are looking for things to do indoors, and perhaps you are as well. So why not revisit or begin journaling? Write an article, an essay or a trailer for the last good movie you watched – or your next bestseller? You could also sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

What’s on my writing mind? Well,

In a vaguely defined though obviously freak accident at the age of three, the skirt of a future literary legend caught fire. 

While the child was unharmed, her mother was so deeply traumatized that the young girl was thereafter forced to wear boy’s trousers. This attire earned her the nickname ‘Little Jimmy,' by which she good-naturedly called herself until her early teens.  

Already a budding writer at age eleven, she was also designing her own book covers and including her own artwork in an enterprise she called “Urchin Publishing Co.” By the time she was in college she was going by the name ‘Peg’ and had chosen the mythical Pegasus as her icon. 

Regarding her writing, a demanding teacher once told her she had ability if she worked hard and would not be careless in constructing sentences. “A sentence,” she was told, “must be complete, concise and coherent."

She would later attribute her early inspiration for the book that put her name on the lips of the nation to images she’d both observed and perceived while on a buggy trip she took with her mother through devastated farmsteads where only chimneys remained of what had once been, and the solemn descriptions her mother gave.

“She talked about the world those people had lived in, such a secure world, and how it had exploded beneath them. And she told me that my world was going to explode under me, someday, and God help me if I didn't have some weapon to meet the new world”.

Three years after losing her mother to the Spanish flu, and having married a bootlegger, the young writer found she needed income for herself and took a job as a local journalist; whereby the first glimpses of her vividly descriptive style was breathlessly beheld by all.

“The tall white columns glimpsed through the dark green of cedar foliage, the wide veranda encircling the house, the stately silence engendered by the century-old oaks evoke memories of Thomas Nelson Page's On Virginia. The atmosphere of dignity, ease, and courtesy that was the soul of the Old South breathes from this old mansion...”

Being an avid reader came in handy when she had to quit her job as a journalist, due to an ankle injury, but her new and nicer husband grew weary of lugging hundreds of books home for her to read and asked

“For God's sake, Peggy, can't you write a book instead of reading thousands of them?”

And after he bought her a typewriter, she did just that. “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell was published June 30, 1936, and in 1937 won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

“I had every detail clear in my mind before I sat down to the typewriter.”
 
Did you foreguess the writer's identity?

And so, dear fellow writers, my wordy answer to the optional Question of the Month “What is the one valuable lesson you’ve learned since you started writing?” can be found above, highlighted in green

If you’re interested, read about another writer who forged his way in history here.

If you had to give away one thing on your desk or in your writing space, what would it be?