face to face

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December is the face to face month, the month when I look myself in the eye and ask “What have you done for me lately?” meaning how did the writing go this year? I’m in the middle of preparing my assessment for the end of year accountability. My writing progress is much like the weather–cloudy with a little sunshine one day; overcast with occasional rainfall on another day; hot and sunny on some days. Each year I aim for hot and sunny.

La Muse is drifting about with her hands in her pockets, pretending like she doesn’t care if she gets credit for the successes, casting sneaky looks my way. Honestly. What does she expect me to do?

There are a few sparkles: finishing Shadow Walk (again), and then shelving it, and completing Broken for NANO. And returning to work on A Lamentation of Swans, I’ve made considerable progress on Sleight of Hand, which is now at 10,360 words. I probably shouldn’t tot up the failures, but can’t help doing that. Besides, the unfinished fictions are not really failures (not really dead), just in the first stages of growth–seed and bud, no leaves or flowers just yet, and their day in the sun will come.

It’s been a discombobulated year and I hope I have it more together–writing-wise–in 2014.

Meanwhile, Thanksgiving was wonderful, went to my sister’s. My nieces are a kick–all three of them are witty with a great sense of humor. I spent a lot of time laughing in between happily stuffing myself on my sister’s mouthwatering turkey, eggplant stuffing, potatoes and gravy, cheesy biscuits, and I contributed a favorite–cranberry-tangerine relish, which my sister expects at Thanksgiving and Christmas. And then there was pie–pumpkin and pecan, earthquake cake, and ice cream. I confined myself to pie.

We usually go to the movies after dinner, but this year we stayed in and watched a double feature from my sister’s dvd collection: The Wolverine and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Enjoyed both, particularly liked The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. It made me want to buy the books. Friday I joined a friend for sushi lunch and another movie: Philomena. Very good. Recommended. Dame Judy Dench is a marvel.

It was wonderful to take a break from writing, and reconnect with the energy of just plain living.

in the desert, in the heart, in the hollow

Mermaids with Sea-Green Hair, Arthur Rackham, The Wonder Book

A caul-like marine layer has settled over July, gray and oppressive. Once again summer struggles to breathe. Last year Winter wrestled Summer to the ground and sat on her. This year she’s trapped in a caul–temporarily, I hope. Each night when I flee Los Angeles and make it home to Long Beach without raising my blood pressure, I work on Shadow Walk, typing in a scene written during my morning session, adding to a scene, or starting a new scene. I began one last night. I’m uncertain about it, but I’ll soldier on with it. I really do have a reason for writing it, but the words are falling stupidly on the page–still, there’s something there and the reason I can’t see it yet is because my lack of confidence gets in the way.

Something strange has happened to the font size all over my computer; I didn’t do anything, didn’t make any sort of change,  so I don’t know why it’s coming out so tiny.  Since I didn’t do anything to make it change, I don’t know what to do to switch it back to normal, readable size.  Apparently a gremlin has escaped its cage. Annoying. I don’t like it when the computer decides it’s going to be this way instead of that way.

So the writing of Shadow Walk goes on, and even though what I’ve written so far isn’t good, I know I can improve it, and all I’m doing right now is creating the raw material of story. I notice how I’m not paying much attention to my outline, except for the major plot points acting like guideposts along the way. Good enough.

Writing in the first person is new to me, and I struggle not to “I” the story to death yet I want to avoid falling into the narrative twilight zone that arises when the first person voice disappears beneath the words and I realize I’ve lost the thread of Juli’s voice. But for all that, it’s going better than I expected. This tiny print is really annoying me; no response to trying to change the font size either. (HUFF & SIGH!)

July 4th was my birthday. I spent a fun day at my sister’s keeping my rugrat nieces from drowning in the pool. Good thing I didn’t have Michelle’s gift, Polly Schulman’s The Grimm Legacy with me then or I might’ve missed a few panicky splashes. Sorry; I’d link the Amazon page but that not’s working well either. It’s an entrancing and wonderfully written book. If you’re looking for a good book for yourself or any tween you know who likes reading magical stories, I recommend it.

One more day to the weekend! Writer’s lunch with Janet on Saturday; so happy I’m not driving north–this weekend’s the shutdown of the 405 for the demolition of the Mulholland Bridge. Traffic in LA’s streets will be nightmarish, especially since Sepulveda Blvd. will be closed to all but the locals who live in that area, and I expect other freeways will be impacted, although I’ll be eastbound on the 91 so probably won’t run into trouble. They’ll start closing freeway ramps about six on Friday–getting out of the westside is going to be a crush!

gone, but forever in our hearts

 

Today Mom would’ve been 72. She was a leap year baby but we always celebrated the 28th until February 29th rolled around. This October will be the fourth anniversary of her death. My sisters are going to Riverside National Cemetery to place flowers on her grave. She loved roses and richly fragrant lilies–I used to send them on her birthday and for Mother’s Day, and take her out when I could. We miss her so much.

uncertain

A chill and misty Tuesday morning, the day so uncertain weatherwise–you’d think it November instead of July. Lovely weather through the long weekend. I celebrated the 4th, also my birthday, with my sisters, nieces, and cousin. We laughed a lot talking about the eccentricities of our great aunts, sisters from a large family of 11, all born during the final years of the nineteenth century and the first years of the twentieth, and who ranged from middle-aged to elderly when we were children. They’ve all passed on now, but we have fond and funny memories of how they were.

We saw ECLIPSE on Saturday, enjoyed it immensely, and on Sunday, me, my younger sister, and my cousin went back for another viewing. This one was done much better than NEW MOON, and they finally got the make-up right for the vampires–all of them were appropriately beautiful. The story was well done, and I was delighted to see they managed to weave in Jasper’s and Rosalie’s backstories. And oh yeah the wolves were magnificent! And the battle with the newborns fast and furious. All in all, I think they did a great job on this one. (And a friend of mine hadn’t seen it yet so yesterday I saw it again with her. Loved it.)

Last week I worked on Silk River ( a title I won’t be keeping), no writing, just story notes and lots of thinking, about the characters, point of view, where to start, and what to say–keeping in mind that every scene must have a purpose, and turning over idea after idea, feathers and leaves. My main character is Jewel Garcia, a young woman who has suffered trauma and who comes face to face with a particular anguish of choice in the story. I’ve got my own anguish of choice going on as I think about Jewel and her dramatic situation.

My other stories are calling, but I’m trying to focus on Silk River; the rest of them will have to languish a while, ‘though I do have to consider this month’s short story. Come to think of it, how have I done with those?

  • January – Breath of the Grave, finished and sent out.
  • February – Submitted Shadow to market.
  • March – Breath of the Grave went out again, and worked on Three Heartbeats.
  • April – Wrote Parting Gift for the 24-Hour Short Story contest.
  • May – Began writing Werewolf, Zombies, Sunrise.
  • June – Still writing Werewolf, Zombies, Sunrise.

And now it’s July. I suppose WZS could be it, but that last scene just won’t present itself.

sunrise

Creeping toward mid-May, had a fabulous weekend spent with friends on a fun jaunt to the Huntington Museum and Gardens, visited the Cactus Conservatory, many of them flowering with blossoms in neon colors–hot pink, acid yellow, blood red–one particular cactus sprouted vines studded with vertical rows of tiny white flowers resembling eyes. We also visited the Clash of Empires exhibit about the Seven Years’ War, which lasted longer than seven years, had many names, and, this I hadn’t known, was a global war–some historians consider it the first world war. In this country it was called the French & Indian War.

Drove out to Moreno Valley on Sunday to visit my sisters and nieces, took Mother’s Day bouquets of roses and lilies, chocolate and strawberries, for each of them. My nephew and his girlfriend joined us for a  laugh-filled meal at Applebee’s, and then we went to Mom’s grave site to lay a bouquet of roses and lilies, and share memories. Cold, rambunctious winds shortened our time. We walked back to the car, hoping the wind didn’t tear the petals off the roses.

Driving home Sunday afternoon, I let Junior follow the 91 West through hills of oak-studded ravines on the left and rocky yellow hills on the right, while I worked out the details of the May short story.  Started writing it yesterday, wrote 499 words. Have decided the end will have to show up on its own.

30,000 ahoy!


A Maid in the Kitchen, David Emil Joseph de Noter

Day 18, and I’ve reached 30,000. I want to be as far along as I can before the Thanksgiving break ’cause I really don’t know how I’m going to fit in the writing time between food, my sisters, and jaunting off to see NEW MOON–again! (Can hardly wait until Saturday for my first viewing.)

Yesterday, for the first time in what seems like ages, a wonderful thought about Sweet Taboo popped up from the swamp. I’ve now got a theme for Deidre’s arc, and a starting point for a whole sequence. I have not had a thought, wet or dry, about Sweet Taboo in…months? It’ll have to keep until December, when I’ll have a chance to squeeze it alongside A Haunting of Roses.

stargazer

 

Water Lily

Got an idea for a fantasy novel where the hero is a gargoyle. Must think about that one a bit. Like the idea, have scribbled a few notes about the hero. No story yet.

Spent a glorious 4th of July birthday with my sisters and nieces (the demonettes). Watching the youngest demonette (she turned 5 on Sunday) in the pool, I realized the child is a bundle of annoyances–in the way of mischievous, energetic children. She insisted on belly-flopping into the pool, sending tsunamis over her mother and me; spitting water at her older sister, throwing things at her, harassing her with the water toys, standing on the edge of the jacuzzi and giving her mother visions of her falling off and breaking herself–that got her a time-out for a bit–and generally having a good ol’ time, to our amusement. My sister offered to give both of them to me–delightful as they are, I politely declined.

Sweet Taboo is on the sideline for a moment. Shadow Walk has lured me into working on it for a little while–writing the second draft. I roughly finished the first draft years ago; roughly ’cause I left a hole near the end; now I’m hoping to finish it again without a hole. Who knows–might have two manuscripts ready by the end of July!

There’s an interesting Nora Roberts interview at Borders (link below) that reminded me of the value of the discovery draft. I tend to start writing as soon as I get a story idea, and of course, I get into trouble. My first drafts are definitely discovery drafts since I often do not have a clue to where I’m going with a story when I start it. I’m really trying to break that habit–somewhat–and teach myself to outline first. Then my discovery drafts won’t be so nightmarish.

Happy writing, d:)

<a href=”http://www.borders.com/online/store/ArticleView_robertsnora2?cmpid=SL_20090707_RWB”></a>

moonbeam

Beatrice.Maria Spartali Stillman
Beatrice, Maria Spartali Stillman

Michelle asked me if I was still walking on moonbeams over the acceptance of The Baby by Dark Fire–well, just one moonbeam. I’ve been lax here at pendrifter ’cause I’ve been writing. I finally figured out what to do with A Haunting of Roses, another short story I wrote several years ago. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending so I put it away and left it in the dark of the files.

Last week I added it to my list of stories I shouldn’t give up on. I re-read it, and re-titled it ’cause I’m going to use that title for one of my Angharad fantasy novels. Over the weekend I cut, revised, and edited it, baptised it Ghost of Roses, and submitted it Monday night to a chosen market. At last, that birdie has flown the nest–for a few weeks anyway.

I’m waiting for summer to strike. The days have been fair, sunny, warm, but the winds zip through, sea-chilled and rambunctious, frightening the sun so it hides behind the clouds, and I’m afraid to step outside without my blankie.

Sweet Taboo is coming along nicely. I’m going to pause a bit in Kenny’s storyline to do a little reading on ghosts, occult magic, and alchemy, while doing some contemplative work on the Deidre-Randall arc. I feel a title change coming on for this book too.

My birthday’s Saturday. I’m going to spend it at my sister’s by her pool, G&T in hand, and Eclipse, which I’m re-reading. Or maybe, since Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is about to pop, I may take one of the HP’s with me. Since it’s Moreno Valley, I know the weather’s going to be hot!

I finished LKH’s Skin Trade a week ago. Have got some thoughts about it; maybe I’ll share them. The concluding scenes made me go EWW!.

yesterday’s silent light

 

Yesterday my sisters, nieces and I visited Mom’s grave. We took her roses, big fat cabbage roses in peach and scarlet and elegant American beauties in hearts-blood red swooning in fern. Riverside National Cemetery was sunny, breeze-swept, and full of other families paying respects and leaving behind bouquets of roses and lilies and tulips. We told Mom we loved her and missed her, and my four-year old niece asked if grandma was down there beneath the plaque, and we said yes. I was very glad to have given Mom roses every Mother’s Day. When going through a collection of old photos my sisters and I found the papery petals of aged rose blossoms.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

-Edna St. Vincent Millay

soliloquy

victorian-roses.jpeg 

Mom was a leap year baby, and today she’d be 68. Nearly five months have passed, and not a day goes by that I do not think of her. This weekend we’ll place fresh flowers on her grave.

*************

Going through my old manuscripts, I found this little two-pager. So I’ll let it see the light of day…
CROSSING

The traffic light flashed “Walk” before Jamal reached the curb. He ran the last few steps to the crosswalk, and slowed abruptly to a stroll, behind the old lady ahead of him. In the blush of Sunday afternoon sunshine, he ambled across, his hands in his pockets, tennis shoes scuffing against the pebbly asphalt. He should have called Calvin and made sure he was home. But he’d probably be there since his car wasn’t running anyway. That meant killing a six-pack and watching basketball on television. Perfect.

The old woman ahead of him cast a sidelong glance back. He glimpsed the turn of her sallow, veined cheek. She traveled fast, her cane not slowing her down any. She probably wanted to make it across before the “Walk” started flashing, before the two lanes of idling cars were ready to roll. Her quick stepping, the cane crunching smartly on the pavement, reminded him of the way his Grandma Vivian used to cross the road, her cane stamping along briskly like this old lady’s. Ain’t no thing, mama, he thought. They ain’t gonna run us over even if you still crossing when the light changes.

But he could see why she was hurrying. They never gave you enough time to cross these long intersections before the light began blinking. If you were old and couldn’t move too fast, there you were, trying to get across with everybody staring at you. He wasn’t hurrying. He would get to the other side when he got to the other side. That’s all there was to it.

He caught her looking back at him and looked behind himself. Nobody behind him; nothing to see. What’s up with her?

Wherever she was going, she must be running late. She ought to have somebody taking her around, but he guessed she didn’t. Otherwise she wouldn’t be out here with her cane trying to get to the store, or wherever, and home before her knees started hurting her.

Right on cue, the “Walk” light winked frantically. Jamal tsk’d, watching the old lady quicken her steps as best she could. They must know how many steps it took to get to the middle, and then they made you nervous, tried to rush you across. They ought to put a little more time on the clock for old people. He glanced at the waiting cars, didn’t hurry his walking in the sunshine pace. They’d just have to wait.

The old woman reached the curb and looked back at him. Sunshine flashed on her wire-framed glasses. Her mouth trembled, lips parted as if she were about to say something.

Did he know her? Did she know him? Was she one of the ladies who shopped at the FoodMart, who came through his line regularly? He smiled at her, but let it crumble as her look struck him like a hard flick of sand in his face. He stepped past her, staring at his shoes, away from her frightened gray eyes, away from the sharp clefts at the corner of her thin lips. The sun fell hot over him, its heat barely cut by the flat brush of breezes. He didn’t want to look back, didn’t want to care, but he felt her gaze burning the back of his neck. He turned his head, looked back anyway. Her glare slapped him like a clop of thrown mud. Calvin’s house was another block down the street. That first beer was going to taste too good to be true. He was just taking a walk, going somewhere like she was going somewhere. It didn’t mean a thing. He strode on, but her face hung in his mind, white and glaring like the sun.