Dec 26, 2009
This is a chance to polish or blow the lid off your skills in writing a near-miss, an accidental faux pas, a fantasy, a real life, a sorrowful, a thankful, a scene in which the characters almost kiss, need to kiss, want to kiss, are soooooooo close to kissing- BUT don't!
January 2nd is the POST DATE.
Things You Should Do To Prepare For The Ultimate Non-Kissage Festivities!
1) Sometime between now and Jan 2, 2010 write a post about the No Kiss Blogfest to let everyone know you are participating and that they should too. Why? Because it's awesome!
2) Sign up for No Kiss Blogfest by filling in the Mr. Linky below. [on her blog page] Because Mr. Linky is awesome.
3)Tweet about No Kiss Blogfest, using the hash tag: #nokissblogfest because #hashtagsareawesome
4) After you've recovered from New Years Eve and are over the shock of not being able to write 2.0.0. for the year...but must now start all dates with 2.0.1. write a blog sharing your Almost Kiss, No Kiss Blogfest entry (either one from your WIP, one you just wrote, one from a book, movie or tv show)and post on January 2, 2010!!!
[Kate again] What a challenge! I totally missed the Kiss Festival at Writer Wannabe, another terrific blog, so I'm serious about having fun with this one!
Tweet, Facebook, blog....enter...and get your juices flowing!!
Dec 25, 2009
The sun rises, glaring, curious as to what poet has written out of place to change the greens and rusts of autumn to winter. The roads will clear later, leaving snow ripe for rolling and stacking into snow families. Soon our neighborhood band of little boys will race through the slush, kick their balls, and swagger into loaded bushes to watch the white flocking fly into the air.
Now is the moment to write poetry, while neither warm air nor visitors distract.
Merry Christmas! May your household be full of surprises.
Dec 23, 2009
Dionysius determined Jesus' birth in 753 of the old Roman Calendar, then rewrote the Julian Calendar to begin with the supposed date of Jesus's birth, December 25th, the Celebration of Mithra. How convenient that settling the celebration of the Christ child on the same date would accelerate the overthrow of the Mithra religion. Dionysius thus established the January 1st New Year.
But Dionysius forgot that the stories refer the reign of Herod around 4 BC. Another complication is that Herod and his advisers didn't know of the STAR of Bethlehem. Apparently only the Magi could 'see' them. He called the Magi to him and asked when he could view the Star. Perhaps it was not a comet or nova, but the conjunction of two planets to create temporarily a brighter "star." The visit of the Magi, no matter when or how many there were, no matter that Jesus may have been two years old, seems to have been a pilgrimage from Babylon (Iraq), a nation that once nearly destroyed the wandering tribes of Judea.
Is this not a Best Seller? Mystery, misdirection, vanquished on the run, conquerors on their knees. What more could a good plot need? Of course, there were terrors as when Herod heard the Magi ask about the "King who is born this day" and after murdering his own sons, sent his army to murder all make babies of ages two and under. An angel warns Mary and Joseph and they escape at the 11th hour. Your mystery may or may not have a terror this dramatic, but terror helps.
I am reminded that over and over again in the Bible there are confrontations and escapes. Daniel survived the Lion's Den, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego walked among flames in the furnace, and the vision of Jesus appearing to Paul saved him from his life as a persecutor of Jews.
When we read and are consciously checking the language, the plot structure, the ebb and flow of energies and conflict, I suggest that we have ignored that which is most important: charisma of the main character and the dangers that befell both him/her and those other characters who are the supporting cast.
Think action, think conflict, think misleading peaceful moments before the roller coaster rises again. Perhaps the Bible, both Testaments, is a bit wordy and tends to include details that we would edit out in the Current Era, but the story is one that grips the heart, endangers the complacent, faces many characters with life and death threats, and in the end, takes from us the main character for whom all have worried, protected, and tried to advise. We would weep if we did not know the story already. And though it seems trite to say, there is the promise of a sequel. We are able to believe that the pivotal character will return, though the event of his death is described in great detail.
So that is how to write a mystery:
1. Find a character intelligent, pure of thought and heart, flawed with indecision and human foibles,
2. Set the unsuspecting hero on a quest for the benefit of others,
3. Throw him screaming into fiery furnaces, teetering from heights, dodging swords, racing from falling buildings, bumping into others who love and assist him, and generally fighting against all odds.
4. Make the breather moments short and the progress toward success or failure clear in each event.
And you'll have it.
Sometimes, the END is the reward of a great effort. END your story and know the joy. Then go back and rejoice all the way through that you have succeeded in your "great effort."
Happy New Year....there are eleven more writing days until the New Work Year takes over our lives again.
Dec 21, 2009
Is it any wonder that gravy became as important as the meat? Not only was the smell the most seductive odor since night-blooming Jasmine, the fat and seasonings lingered on the tongue as reminder of a full belly in a cold climate when food between then and spring was sure to be dried jerky and boiled vegetables slowly shriveling in a cold room under the ground.
So since I am not frying chicken, but am planning a spicy rubbed turkey breast for the holiday, let me share something that the Hankerson-McCoy-Lacy families have kept on file, long after we stopped frying chicken. I take that back, Molly still fries and savors every bite.
Remember, even if you grill or bake, one thigh fried in a 6 inch skillet will afford you the opportunity to taste the Promised Land in small doses.
Seasoned flour for the chicken (washed and dried)
1 C flour, dash of salt, goodly amount of black pepper
dollop of sage - leaves or ground
smidgeon of thyme
dash of onion powder
whiff of chili powder (really, a whiff!)
put it all in a brown lunch bag and shake well
1/2 C milk
1/2 C water
1 egg beaten smooth
Chicken is to be rolled in the liquid and shaken in the bag, one piece at a time.
Grease (Crisco in a perfect world since lard is not to be considered, corn oil, whatever)
1/4 to 1/2 inch deep-must be hot enough that water skitters when dropped in, but NOT smoking!
Fry with a venting cover to protect you from popping grease and to add some pressure inside the skillet. No venting cover/bacon frying cover? Got one of those pizza bakers with hole in them? Got an old base plate from a pressure cooker with holes in it? Got aluminum foil? Poke it with a large tyned fork.
Turn the heat down to medium, gently turn the chicken in about 12-15 minutes. Cook about 10-15 minutes per side, depending on the size of your pieces and whether or not they have skins.
Chicken should be golden brown, crispy and if you're worried, cut open a thigh to see if it's still pink.
Remove the lid for the last 5 minutes.
NOW, the GRAVY!
Allow the mess to cool just a bit while you put the chicken into the oven to stay warm. Use a piece of bread to soak up a little oil, grease if you have dogs. Otherwise, spoon it off. While the skillet is warm, scrap the singeing bits off the pan so that the stirring can be smooth.
If you've fried chicken for one or two, there's not much goop there, so add about 1 heaping tablespoon of flour and a dash of salt and pepper and sage directly to the warm grease. Stir until it smooths together. (roux) Heat it a little until small bubbles are starting.
Pour in milk (1 C for two folks, more depending on your amount of sludge in the beginning) Basically 1 C of milk per spoon of flour. Stir while you're pouring. Heat until the mixture boils gently. It won't really "make gravy" without getting to the near-boil state. If it's too thin, let it cook a bit. If it's too thick, add milk and keep stirring. If you must add more flour, dissolve it in cold water in a cup and drizzle it slowly while stirring. I also use WondraFlour and that doesn't clump like regular flour, but not everybody has it on hand. It is okay to taste the gravy and season again. Unlike a corn starch gravy, flour based gravy thickens while it cools.
That's it. Southern Comfort. Serve with anything on the side you feel the need for and LOVE.
And after it's over and no one can speak for the sated pleasure of it all, sit right down and write a short story about the anticiaption, the memories of dinners past, loved ones near and far, and if none of these inspire, draw doodles on the paper (see, I meant write) until one speaks to you, and suddenly, the day is recorded for all time in faces and music and smells and tastes and words that share your life with the world. All the ups and downs of 2009 be memories in your heart, on your paper, in the forests of doodles, on your tongue as you sing in the New Year.
May a few forbidden pleasures surprise you from time to time.
Happy New Year 2010.
Dec 13, 2009
My Heart Knows…..
Sing your rough song, o wayfaring Branta
Which at grey dawn and dusk, pulls at my heart.
Far rhythmic discordant tune of patois
Pulls me up from my chair; seeking, I dart.
A patch of clear sky, wings glimpsed; stroke, move on.
In darkness of night or slick icy sleet
No iron compass guides the living chevron
From Canada's stone to wide meadow sweet.
The doors of this house, my shackles, fling wide.
I follow your trail, freedom seductive.
I sing of your courage, faith mystified.
Too swiftly you fly, I stumble, submissive.
Oh come again, wild grey feathers and song,
I shall plant new wheat and deepen the pond.
The links are Frankie Laine singing the song....though folk singers
sang it slower. And the bio for Gilkyson.
Oct 22, 2009
We few, we happy few, we band of writers,
Oct 3, 2009
You're a stronger heart than I if you could turn it off!
Even for the Roller Skate routine where Fanny destroys her first chorus dance line!
Hope the batteries hold out in the remote control!
Sep 20, 2009
Today--in light of this most welcome of news from DC, I want to cheer for the poems of Jo Lightfoot, everyday poet.
You can find her lovely works on her blog at http://everyday-poet.blogspot.com/
Here are a few to tickle your senses!
Even in September Autumn grasses
crows complain. bristle their tails.
Fallen leaves Today's wonder
curl up to sleep. is weatherful.
For each leaf:
My, how I love this last one. Are we not all falling leaves from the day we are born? Are we not all shaped by genetics and life, bent and warped, smoothed and hollowed, cradled and fed--as seasons and emotions take us through our different dances? Perhaps, this is why a handful of us turn to writing. As we write, the twists and puzzles are unraveled. The dreams are given muscle. Songs wafting around in the little grey cells are set to whistle or hum. Tears are used for watercolors. Kisses are blown into the air so we can carress them as we trail our fingers along the back of a couch, up the tall smooth frame of a doorway, over the curve of the carvings on an ancient, battered Voss Brothers piano. Visions given voice.
We are the characters of which we write; we are the stories, first, last, and forever.
Sep 6, 2009
Those who are of a "certain age" remember our mothers teasing as we came from a hot bath, "Oh, you look like September Morn!" For ages it made no sense, and later as we learned she was referring to a risque and popular painting, which we had never seen, it made us laugh. To us, being wet and pink and naked from the bath was a normal state of being--how could anyone think it was risque? We just repeated her "ooolala" and danced down the hall with our towels fluttering like the cape of a matador.
Good September Morn 2009--I sit on the back porch, pink from a steamy shower, watching a gentle rain and a new kitten leaping from floor to couch to piano back and forth across my living room, and sipping a hot cup of double strong Chai tea. Whoops! Something in my past two years must have taken root, that should be a cup of hot, double strong Chai tea. I may be waxing eloquent under the eaves and waning yet another day toward oblivion, but the writing muse insists on consciousness.
Consciously, I know your September morn may not be my morning at all. . . and we all need to remember the dark side of the moon, and of mankind, on a beautiful morning in the Ozarks.
The Day is a Poem
September 19, 1939 by Robinson Jeffers
This morning Hitler spoke in Danzig, we hear his voice.
A man of genius: that is, of amazing
Ability, courage, devotion, cored on a sick child's soul,
Heard clearly through the dog wrath, a sick child
Wailing in Danzig; invoking destruction and wailing at it.
Here, the day was extremely hot, about noon
A south wind like a blast from hell's mouth spilled a slight rain
On the parched land, and at five a light earthquake
Danced the house, no harm done. Tonight I have been amusing myself
Watching the blood-red moon droop slowly
Into the black sea through bursts of lightning and distant thunder.
Well: the day is a poem, but too much
Like one of Jeffers', crusted with blood and barbaric omens,
Painful to excess, inhuman as a hawk's cry.
September Morn 1939. So long ago, 71 years, and still we shiver.
Peace on Earth, Happy Birthday Rosie, September 6, 2009.
Aug 26, 2009
I think, as I fight the guilt of not writing my daily dozen pages, of the enormous number of contradictions I have encountered since I picked up my fingers and sent them across the keyboard.
I can write from the heart, but it's only one point of view and shallow. I can tell a totally fictitious story with no basis in fact at all, and it reads like a personal diary.
The characters of my dreams do indeed, bring me stories that are better than my own. On the other hand, I commit to my own and set aside such ethereal plot lines--perhaps, in case I cannot find the way from side to side without more help from the other world? Indeed, what do I know of voodoo in Chicago? Or teenaged killers in Fort Worth?
And yet, I cannot write FANTASY - all my stories are rooted in the earth herself. How can this be when all I read from ages 12-30 were fantasy and science fiction and the trials of journeymen searching with dragon and wizard, fighting troops and monsters, stretching the bonds of human law and the strength of human religion?
Is there any wonder I am so easily distracted?
What turns you on as a writer, or an artist, or a photographer, or a ??? Do you, like me, wander around in fog and streams of light that doesn't fall from a simple sun until a deadline traps you?
My very curiosity is both a bane and a salve.
Aug 21, 2009
The trigger to this self-appreciation was the advent of my 30 year with 9th graders. I played the Toreador's March from Carmen as the classes wandered in with glassy eyes Wednesday. They couldn't have named it in a million years, but it got their attention. I won Wednesday.
Thursday they knew my name, and there was Willie and Lobo playing water music - gypsy boogaloo - Spanish guitar and viola. Again, I could see them giving themselves a mental shake.
I think it was a draw.
Today they will write and identify the thinking skills that make us scientists as we communicate.
And then we will design and identify how we are scientists in art.
And Monday we will PUBLISH, present our newspaper article reviews for all the world to see, lalalal. They'll fill a whole wall of illustrated manuscripts and be able to babble about analysis, collaboration, design, revision, rank ordering, and explanation.
Seriously, just like writing with my two groups of pen and ink artists, I believe this surely must be the most perfect example of a WIN-WIN situation.
Aug 12, 2009
Summer was too calm, too sweet, too cool, and too short. Somehow the garage is cleaner, the carpet is scrubbed, and the hall is painted a fine medium khaki. But the stories are sitting on the dining room table getting no more than a few minutes a day......and damn few pages built of those minutes.
I am hereby taking the best advice I could find in the last two minutes: "Begin at the beginning," the King said, and go on until you come to the ending, and stop." Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.
I have set Suzzanne's story in motion--now to go back and tell the beginning as I am commanded.
If you are also starting over, starting again, or starting in a new doorway, write me and we'll share hugs and pats on the back. That's what Facebook is good for!
Aug 2, 2009
Finally I turned to the wonderful stories of Fiona the Photosensitive Flamingo, and Henry, the child who plays with food, to Tala and her trees, and Rossi and her lost diamond witchstone, flanked by Kari and the voodoo she do so well, Adis and the rooftops of Maddingbrew, and Agony Illyria and her illusion-wielding sidekicks.
Here is my inspiration: Mandy Silberstein, Kristin Gray, Karen Akins, Wild Silas Johnson, Tim Whirled Peas Koch and Justin "Mr. Minkle" Blatherbrain.
No writer is an island and when I am stranded, these fine characters pull me back to the mainland.
Thank you all.
Jul 6, 2009
But have you ever noticed that when you're southern born and bred, the AC in an empty house puts you to sleep mentally? It's cool, it's a little dark in the house, the dogs are sprawled out on the tile floors and snoring....I have to get out of this place!! I'm packing the laptop and running for the car.
Jun 27, 2009
Writing a story, no matter how long demands that we (a) begin and (b) finish.
I haven't finished dividing the inhabitants of my garage into trash and treasures, really finished, for the last 21 years. We moved in with no one but three 8th graders to carry for us over a Thanksgiving that rained without ceasing. Everything was damp, so most boxes and trash bags of last minutes items were left in the garage while we scuttled in with mattresses that went onto the floors, with dishes cramped into whichever cabinet was open, and clothes that went right into closets. Then we closed the big double door and didn't open it until summer. So in 1986, I cleaned the garage, created a shady place for a little girl to play, a safe haven for a daschund and a couple of cats. When winter came and icy rains slithered in from the north, we closed the big door again. Everytime it opened after that, something new was added, older residents were slid this way and that, stacked and restacked. Garage sale after garage sale only skimmed the immediate surface. In 2002 I closed the big door for the last time.
Today I need to write.........today I am cleaning the garage instead. It consumes me, the decision to select the protagonists who will remain and the antagonists who will be defeated, thrown away, or sold. I can only pray at the end there is a car-sized path when the story is revealed.
Jun 25, 2009
What makes one person seek longer survival and the next person succumb? I've always heard that mean agressive women outlive the meek. Hmmm. I am becoming more determined to finish what I start, this second novel for example--I find that telling the story is not satisfying me. I want to explore Suzzanne's being, how she came to be that girl with so much anger and so little street sense. Well, I'm writing and certainly this will keep me healthy for another year or two!
Writer's Rule: The more layers you weave, the healthier the story.
Jun 19, 2009
Jun 13, 2009
Now, on to Resurrection where Suzzanne is suspected of murdering a highschool rival. More as she appears on the small screen, one page at a time.
Jun 12, 2009
http://www.classof2k9.com/ You'll find it mentioned, but they haven't filled in the jacket cover yet. I've read her bio and she has more energy than a chihuahua. Congratulations to her!!
*%*#*@*^*** That's my little grey cells thinking of a new Title!
I'm open to suggestions!
Jun 11, 2009
KIDSTUFF is a wonderful writing group! Thanks Mandy, Kristin.....welcome to Karen.
Jun 10, 2009
Jun 9, 2009
*Publishing is better than not publishing.
*You can't believe how long it's taken some major authors to land a contract.
*There are no guarantees in the book market. One contract does not guarantee another.
*Marketing is more successful if you get in the car and drive.
*Sales are higher if you know your bookstore sales staff - in every town you ever visited.
*Critique or reading groups trump trying to reinvent the quill pen.
Excellent weekend. Bill Bernhardt: master mind, host, motivational speaker
Speakers from Science Fiction to Scriptwriting, from legal drama to historical fiction, agent to authors to legal advice.
May 31, 2009
Break a leg!!
You do know that's for good luck, don't you?
May 23, 2009
Then I'm seriously cleaning the pantry and painting over the ultimate beige left there by the previous owner. I'm am so not an ultimate beige person!
Happy Memorial and Mailing Weekend!
May 18, 2009
What a BLAST! You must meet and hear the wisdom of Martha Mahalick (Greenwillow) and Jen Rofe (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) if ever you have the chance. Direct, down to earth, serious, passionate and best of all for us who are fledgling writers, infectious!!
And I must give equal time to Anastasia Suen, who is indeed a moonbeam of delight. If you're a picture book writer, find her online and take her class. It's going to be something you can really use.
I came home, purchased Cynthea Liu's Writing for Children and Teens book, and spent most of Sunday preparing my three chapters for Jen Rofe. My first request for more!
Happyhappyhappy - for all five of us who were asked for more.
There is nothing so joyous as a challenge!
Mar 27, 2009
Out of the darkness, jagged electrified spears slammed into a dogwood tree. Flames in the night filled the hollow with a burnt char. The boy woke, frightened by an enormous crash of thunder that shook the car where he slept. Rain and wind blocked his view through the windows. The Man must have left him here.
He was hungry. Cold and hungry. He needed to pee. He lay down under the quilt again, afraid to move. There were rules for leaving the car, and he knew better than to break the rules. On the back of the driver’s seat, a shadow flickered. A red light blinked through the rain, on and off, on and off. What was it? He leaned over the back seat and spied a sign. S-k-i-l-l-e-t.
Skillet. Chicken. If he hurried, he could be back before the Man was finished eating. He pulled up the hood of his jacket, scrunched up the blankets and pillow, slipped out of the car, and ran along the building to the back. Garbage cans. He was a good scavenger.
Halfway into a tall aluminum can, grabbing bits of bread, chicken, and finger scoops of mashed potatoes and gravy, he stopped to shake the rain out of his hair. The Man would be proud of him for feeding himself, as long as he came back to the car quickly and didn’t whine about being wet. He knew how to be quiet. He knew the rules.
“Grrrrrrrrrruff!” A monster jumped up, hairy paws on the edge of the garbage can, teeth bared. The boy leaped back out of the can and cowered against the ground. Covered his head with his arms. Played dead. It worked before. After awhile, dogs always left him alone. Rain trickled into his jacket, along the exposed skin on his back, down behind his ears. Cold. He shivered and waited. A hot raspy tongue licked his left hand. He jerked it into the sleeve. The tongue licked his right hand smeared with gravy. When he tilted his head up, the tongue slapped against the mess on one cheek. No monster. A big shaggy, hungry dog who liked potatoes and gravy.
Reaching deep into the garbage again, the boy grabbed chicken and steak bones, a hunk of what looked like chocolate cake, and a plastic cup to scoop more potatoes, gravy, and a biscuit. He followed the dog to a wooden shelter and spread the feast out to share. When the rain slowed to a light strumming against the metal roof of the dog house, they were best friends and sound asleep.
The Man slung himself into the car, revved the engine to warm his feet, and pulled into the night. He had a long way to go before morning. Good thing the kid was still out cold. After a few miles, he opened the take-out box. You snooze, you lose. Smacking his lips, he ate the chicken and fries. Couldn’t let food go to waste, and a kid who didn’t wake up and ask for it, didn’t deserve it. Let him sleep.