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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trivia anyone?

I've committed now and am Nanobound. One of the stories that has been kicking around in my brain will get its chance in the sun, at least 50,000 words of it anyway. This story is full of quirky character ideas I've been jotting down for about two years, residents of a small town. Anyway, one of them is named Cameron Bellows. The thing about Cameron is that he is quite socially awkward and likes to spout useless, random trivia. Things like that the romans had a room, called a vomitorium, where they would go to purge after eating so they could eat more or that when a coffee seed is planted it takes five years to yield consumable fruit. There are tons of websites that have this type of information and I have a book too.

Lydia Kang's site alone (http://lydiakang.blogspot.com/)could probably fill up most of his conversations. (Will someone tell me how to make it a link when I type someone else's name who has a blog?) A friend of mind in college used to memorize the trivial pursuit cards so that she could never lose. I had previously believed that to be somewhat of a waste of time, now I could put it to good use. I wondered if any of you have any favorites that you'd like to share? What strange facts, that you can think of no good use for, take up part of your brain?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whew!

When I logged onto my account tonight it said I wasn't following any blogs. My heart skipped since I have just added a bunch and am enjoying them. Had everyone decided to unsubscribe me? And could they even do that? It must have been some sort of a glitch because in a few moments they all popped back up. It was strange how abandoned I felt in that short period. The crickets started chirping. However, that was not the point of my short blog this evening.

The point is the deadline date for the contest has been extended because my writer's group did not meet tonight. At this point, I'm pretty sure our next meeting date will be in November so I am extending the deadline to Halloween. If you want a chance to win a great book for free, spend a few moments and send your entry on in. Make me proud, writer peeps. Reminder-maximum length 500 words, use the words Jackson and Central, in any context. They don't have to be together.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two days and counting

We have two days left for people to enter the contest outlined in the post "Drumroll, Please," to win a copy of Jackson and Central-An Anthology. I hope to get a few more entries. I'd really like to see some Halloween ones or Thanksgiving..

I may have to enter it myself since I've realized I no longer have a personal copy of the book. No, don't worry that is against my ethics. But I really would like to re-read so will have to get myself one too. I have had three copies that were mine since it came out. Each time I have lent them out only to never get them back. I don't even remember who has them now. Perhaps, they were all people who thought I ought to have given them a copy in the first place? I think it is always hard when promoting in terms of people you know. Especially, people who aren't familiar with the publishing industry. I wish we got  a whole bunch of free books but the kind with a cover cost money. We got a discount. So I gave copies to immediate family and a few people who were beta readers but mostly I just encouraged people to buy them.

I think it was easier with that book because it was an anthology that I loved. So, even if Joe Schmo hated my stories there were some in there that I knew he would like. I wonder how that will work if I ever do get a novel published. So far, all my published work has been joined together with other writers so a sale for them was a sale for me. It was easier to market when I didn't feel so much like it was completely on the worth of my work. Knowing how I can not read a story of mine without wanting to make a few changes, EVERY TIME, will I ever get to a point where I think it is great enough to really push it to the people?

I know publishing has changed. The author is responsible for so much marketing now. I have a hard time even asking people to sign up as followers for my blog. Does that ever change or do you just push through?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Quantity versus Quality

You still have five days to get in an entry to the contest. Don't stress too much about it. You could even consider it a mini-nano to get you in the mood. One entry came from someone's i-phone and I have to admit, it wasn't too shabby. I mean, check it for spelling, but even something not done to perfection gives you a better chance of winning than not submitting at all. I just like seeing people's creativity.

There are Nanwrimo rumblings on some of the blogs I am visiting. I have yet to offically sign up because I am a competitive individual and if I sign up, I will finish. So, do I want to commit?  I have completed it four times now and only done something with one of the projects. The something I did was clean it up, get some critiques, re-write, get more critiques, re-write, collect bucoos of rejection letters from agents, re-write and then get some more rejections. The fifty plus versions of it still clutter my hard drive. I don't know if I will ever approach that novel again. Although, I still love the concept, the idea of going back to it again is wearying.

So, I wonder, if nano is worth my time? Clearly, finishing, for me, doesn't translate into turning out something publishable. The only things of mine that have been published have been articles or short stories. I know I love doing it. I allow writing to be in first place for that one month and there is a feeling of accomplishment when I print out my certificate. Yes, I do print it out. I also usually find how easy it is to crank out 2,000 words a day and still get my responsiblities completed. Then, at the end of that time, I slowly move back into the hit or miss writing habits I had before.

Who am I kidding? I know the fact that I am considering it means I will be jumping into the heady love affair with words again. Maybe it is like relationships, at some point, one of them stuck. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Drum roll, please

Here are the contest details that you either have no idea what I'm talking about, have a vague interest in seeing, or have been waiting for. The contest to receive a free book Jackson & Central- An Anthology will be underway as soon as the first entry hits my inbox. It is to be a flash fiction piece, judged by myself and members of my writer's group, with a maximum length of 500 words. Two word minimum since the only other stipulation is that somewhere in the piece must be the word 'Jackson' and the word 'Central', not necessarily together.  You have up to one week to complete your entry (next Tuesday night, October 25th). There is usually wine flowing at our meetings so humor is always good but we love sci-fi, thriller, and other genres too. Consider this a what-have-you-got-to-lose challenge. Please send your entries to nancygraveswahler@gmail.com

To whet your appetite for the prize, let me tell you a bit about it. First, I can guarantee you will love at least one story in this book.  I just don't know which one because I love all of them. The poetry, I think I am not smart enough to get the nuances that make people love poetry but, some people really like it. But the short stories are awesome. From Rusty Webb's tale of lost love and war, to Jayne Morgan's story about a blind, mountain healer who may be one family's last hope. There's also Mahaila Smith's spin on two Mormons getting more than they bargained for after knocking on one door and Toni Powell's powerful telling of how childhood leukemia can define how life is lived (she writes this so well, one of her readers insisted it must have happened to Toni which made her very irritated that the reader didn't seem to understand the concept of fiction). If you don't love at least one of these, well, since you're getting it for free I guess you can just feel very superior and thumb your nose at me while I sit in shock and secretly think to myself that you didn't really read it. Fair warning, it is probably not a book to give to grandma (unless you have a very liberal grandma) as there are adult language and themes in some of the stories. In the front, it tells you which stories those are. Although to be fair, my sci-fi story got a warning just because of some brain removal and eugenic type government policies.

I'm looking forward to seeing your spin.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Agony and The Ecstasy

of watching your six-year-old play baseball. Three weeks ago, my son made his first (and to this date only) run at his little league game. He came running over to the chain-link fence after it, his face bright and hopeful. He grasped the fence and yelled to me.

"I did it, Mom. Did you see?" His joy became complete when I assured him how wonderful he'd done. I also know, as his parent, I could have beaten his joy down. Words are powerful which is why so many of us love to write.

 I don't know how many of you saw the Mel Gibson movie Forever Young but in it, there is a line where he says about his girlfriend, who has gone into a coma, that nothing is real until he tells her about it. I think that is why I miss my mom so much. Tomorrow, she will have been gone eight months. She was the person who made things real for me. Sometimes a little too real like when she would read a story of mine and then say, "it's not my favorite," without ever sharing what that favorite might be. But also letting it be okay that if I take the time to write and parent then my house will never be without toys, backpacks, or dog bones that must be stepped around to traverse most rooms.

I know I write my stories because I like to take the ideas that are running around in my head and see if I can make them coherent on paper but I also crave that external validation. I also wonder if that is why many writers seek publication. Too few authors make a living at it for it to be for the money. Maybe I need someone else's approval to make me a "real" writer.

Speaking of which, ideas are percolating about that contest I mentioned yesterday, details to come soon.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Suggestions?

I need to come up with a contest. There is a link at the bottom of my page to a fantastic, little known, book called Jackson and Central. It is an anthology that really does have in it something for everyone. I probably wouldn't know anything about it except that I am one of the contributors.

While I have to admit, I love the two stories I have in there. I've even been approached about turning one of them into a short film (not that I have written the screenplay yet- refer to the weeks of blogs about deaths of parents and grieving for explanation of what I have been doing instead). Although when I look back at them now I see so much I would change but I don't think my stories are the best ones. So I want to offer to send out ONE copy, completely free, including shipping to anyone that can .......what? Or the first person that....?

I plan to come up with the contest by the end of this week but would love some feedback on what you have seen work other places.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Eternal Monday of the cluttered mind

Yes, the title is a nod to one of my favorite movies but this is what I wondered. If one worked five different jobs, each on the next successive day, would that be like having five Mondays? Each morning struggling to pull on the role needed for that day. I guess fifth Monday would still be the end of the work week so a cause for celebration, so maybe things wouldn't be that different.

I feel like I have so many different things going on that I never get a good handle on the first thing. As soon as I get one role to fit well, I think it is time to try on another. Then it gets to the point where I have all these roles lying around- (mom, wife, writer, teacher, friend, social worker, director, homemaker) and I can barely begin squeezing into one suit before it is time to abandon it in favor of a different one. Hey, maybe that is where the extra weight has come from, wearing too many roles.

It's on my mind because, even though the calender says Tuesday, it really feels like a Monday to me and not in a good, look how much time I have to accomplish things, way. It is gray, chilly, and raining outside. Environmental mood setters that rarely bring spontaneous joy, unless you are a vampire who sparkles in the sun I guess. I'd ask Stephanie Meyer, if I knew her.

I have three things on my must do list today, in addition to the general child care things. The first is to finish this blog (almost done), next to do my karate forms as I am preparing for the black belt, and finally to write at least one paragraph on my new story. I hope much more will flow forth but I plan to do at least one. Surely, I can fit two more things in. Oh yeah, and a shower since we had three extra kids sleep over last night and I had to make lunches for all of them this morning.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Religious Persecution-really still?

I am probably one of the most apolitical people you will meet. Don't get me wrong. I have opinions, lots of them. But most of the time, I know, I have absolutely no factual basis for what I believe (not to say there isn't one) but I haven't taken the time to find out one way or another so I won't argue much.

However, I will say, without fear of being accused of ignorance, that putting someone to death because of what they believe theologically is WRONG. You all may be completely aware of this if you are not a news ostrich like me. There is a Christian pastor in Iran that has been sentenced to death for not recanting his faith.  Here is a link to a blogger that does seem like someone who has done his research.
http://blog.chron.com/partisangridlock/2011/09/iranian-pastor-sentenced-to-death-for-apostasy/

I was shocked to hear about this. I'm still wondering if there is an angle to this story that I don't know about. I think too often I insulate myself in my safe bubble of familiarity knowing that stuff like that doesn't happen in my country. But, is it really okay to forget that it still happens other places?

I went to church today and practiced my Christian beliefs. I didn't have to. I could have stayed home lying in bad. Or I could have gone and met with the group that is building the mosque a few miles away or listened to Hebrew in the synagogue or to the top of the mountain to sing Kumbaya. People could judge me, talk about me or if they wanted to say I couldn't worship with them, but nobody is going to kill me. At least not about that and not in a government sanctioned attack. So, whatever you did today or yesterday or anytime this year to celebrate your God or lack of it, be thankful you live in a place that isn't going to kill you over it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

I hate the frappin cold

First, let me say, Welcome Chris. I was very excited to see a new follower along with my beloved 12. In part, because when narcissitically blogging, as I do, I want numerical verification that someone is willing to read the words but also because she is one of my best friends from Knoxville. Comments from any and all would also be great. But I digress from my intended plan of griping about the cold.

When my husband and I were first dating he discovered I had an interesting habit during cold months. I would get in the car and scream. This was usually a reaction to my pants touching the back of my legs when I sat down. Followed immediately by saying, "I'm cold, I'm cold, I'm cold, " at escalating volumes.

This ritual to deal with the weather dated back to childhood in emulation of my mother. I also did it if in the car by myself. He tolerated this in the early days but, this habit of mine, was one of the things that had to go in pursuit of an actual relationship. Jeff couldn't handle the screaming in the confined space. I guess that bodes well for me in terms of never having to worry about him murdering me in a closet. But he no longer has to hear it, only my children. I still do it when I'm by myself too.

Which leads me to discuss the weather. I realize it has only gotten down to 40 but that is just a precursor of the cold that is to come. Months and months of potential chapped lips, searching for gloves, and chill bumps. The only good thing I can say about it is it kills mosquitos.