Archive | November, 2013

BACK AGAIN!

23 Nov

My last post was six months ago.  I’ve missed all of you.  DSC01687

My excuses?  Being back in Corvallis where we can hang out with dear friends and family; several birthday parties including my own; two Saturdays of highly successful fiction writing workshops (See the underexposed photo of Linda Elin Hamner and me, both of us excited about sharing with a roomful of writers).  Add in several delightful Monday afternoon memoir workshops — a new teaching setting for me — each writer with an important  story to tell.

My last session of chemo was in mid-July, and so, now with new energy, I’m walking, swimming, and getting many things done for the first time since last December.  What joy I took in pruning the neglected roses, washing some musty windows, doing research on how to self-publish the fourth Katie book, Second-Chance Summer. By the way, my first step was to read the manuscript through — the first time in a year.  I was overjoyed to find it’s still a good book!

Some self-publishing companies mark up their printing costs to cut into author royalties.  Some have unfriendly contracts.  CreateSpace offers a direct line to Kindle and Amazon and uses its own printer; the others use Lightning Source as a printer.  BookBaby seems to be user-friendly, mostly because fellow writer Margaret Anderson says a real person will answer the phone when you call.  I’ve almost decided, however, to go with Wasteland Press because of its friendly contract and ratings, and because it has a policy of a good number of “free” paperbacks to the author, which recoups some of the cost.

The cover artist, Tuesday Mourning,  has sent the new cover artwork, and it is beautiful.  When Second-Chance Summer is available in paperback and e-book, you’ll see fireworks in this part of town.

DSC01705The newest member of the family

Salty, a rescue dog, came to us in late October after a long search.  She’s too big to be on Jerry’s lap (notice her long legs dangling off), but try telling her that!  Seven months old, and growing.  Yes, we call her “Salty Dog” after the bluegrass tune (and the drink).

Some good books

DSC01690The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts by Maxine Hong Kingston.  (One of the “Top Ten Literary Memoirs” on a website I found.)  I’m a third of the way through and am captivated by her ability to tell stories.  Her message, which isn’t immediately apparent is a powerful argument against the denigration of girls in Chinese culture, and for recognizing the worth of writers.

I also re-read The Grapes of Wrath along with Working Days, which is the journal John Steinbeck kept while writing the novel.  He wrote the entire book during the summer of 1938 after doing what must have been a marathon of mental plotting.  His goal was to write 2000 words a day.  I loved it that he lost confidence in the middle of the writing and had to force himself to continue.  Sound familiar?

A Powerful Prompt for Memoir Writers

The writers in my summer memoir workshop could not stop writing once they got going on this.  Furthermore, the resulting drafts were good ones:  filled with emotion — anger, understanding, compassion.  This three-part prompt will also work for you.  Try it!

1.  Write for ten minutes about the mysteries that existed when you were young.  Begin with “When I was young, I didn’t know . . . “

When I was young, I didn’t know why my dad scolded my mother for loading up the kitchen cupboards with canned goods.  “One of these days, they’ll fall down,” he said.  I also didn’t know why Mother insisted that I dress up more than all the other kids.  Hat and gloves?  Sheesh!  Or why I could invite some children in to play, and not others.  The more I think about this, the more questions come up.

2.  Write for ten minutes about what you DID know about those cupboards or the dressing up or whatever.

3.  Finally, write as long as you can, beginning with the word “MAYBE.”

Maybe my mother remembered the depression and thought we might run out of food.  Maybe Dad thought she was hoarding, and did she think he was going to lose his job? Maybe he was embarrassed by her need to hoard . . .

If you can write in response to this prompt, I would love to hear how it went.

Happy Thanksgiving!  And to all of you who are participating in the “Write a Novel in a Month,” I send the best of luck.  You’re almost done!

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