Dec 26, 2009

Calling All Writers! Fun for January 2nd

No Kiss Blogfest Jan 2, 2010!

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

Christmas is a day for. . . poetry!

Arkansas is wrapped in snow this merry Christmas morning. City sounds are faint, few, a long distance away. No footprints disturb the lawn, not even those of the white mama possum who searches for cat food in the night. Like fog on "little cat feet", the snow has taken us from the South to the Artic in a few dark hours.

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

How to Write the Perfect Mystery

I love the History Channel. Politics (or at least scheming for gain) are woven through historical facts to make clear a point, often fraught with mystery and controversy. Note, O ye writers, these are not the same and are the backbone of your plots.

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

Watching the Old Year Slink Away

2009 is about to slink away like fried chicken grease oozing into the newspaper in a trash can. If you've never made fried chicken at home, don't worry, it's only worth the effort if you have a seasoned cast iron skillet. And for the modern calorie conscious, it's madness to contemplate. The grease is brown, filled with small bits of crusty flour and seared strips of chicken that didn't make it off the skillet. This gruesome looking sludge smells like every good Sunday dinner or holiday feast you ever had. Sage, black pepper, the near-bacon crispiness -- all are there, hidden in the congealing corn oil and chicken fat.

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
    mixed well

    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 What the Wild Goose Knows

The Canadian Branta is the common wild goose to America. Their honks are a beacon of changing seasons as they journey over Arkansas, and I love to listen. Here's a simple sonnet and reference to a  haunting folk song by Terry Gilkyson (1916-1999) that my mother sang for years. "Flip-flop, hurry up, take to the sky. Wish I had wings so I could fly........Wild goose, brother goose. Which is best? A wandering fool or a heart at rest?" My mother was a wanderer.

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

Slender Currents

At School, we've finished the first Quarter of 9th Grade. We've spent two days hearing counselors drone on about credits and dire consequences and then returned to our classrooms with our prisoners to tackle a new unit. After being brought completely low in spirit and expectations, the inmates sat numbed and dumbed while we tapped and jigged through another chapter opening. Isn't it amazing how districts rely on a teacher's ability to re-create the wonder of learning, the magic of science, the puzzles of math, and the poetry of language, no matter what the message of the day has been from everyone else?

And somehow, for some kids, in some classrooms, with some topics, leading to some success, we do what we're paid to do - we rekindle, we reinvent, we find the key to unlock the resistance. And some students survive. Not all, but some.

Now, in the same vein, Nathan Bradford has asked a fundamental question about writers and the people who love them and read their submissions. Should we encourage everyone to write and assure them there's a success story for them out there somewhere?  Here's my jaded reply this fine October morning.

Perhaps the fundamental question is not whether we should encourage everyone to write, but whether or not we can raise children who are willing to take a risk-to try and fail more than once, but keep on trying-and at some point, move on to another experience--new and challenging in a unique way--without grief or regret. In an era of No Danger sports equipment, No Danger play ground equipment, No Danger science classrooms and labs, No Danger grading systems---no wonder RISK is a 4-letter word.

I suppose if we can lie and tell every child he/she's a college bound scholar and that all the service jobs can sent to China, we can tell every storyteller that she's wonderful and inspiring and will be published someday, someday, someday, in a universe far, far away.

Once more, my friends, into the fray!
We few, we happy few, we band of writers,
We poor souls, unpublished and doubted
We storytellers of indeterminate skills
We risk-takers with eternally cheery hearts,
Once more, God's speed, God's blessings be upon us!

“Good luck comes in slender currents, misfortune in a rolling tides”
We need all the help we can get.

Oct 3, 2009

What is it, Fang?

What is it, Fang? What black cloaked wickedness has crept into my consciousness? Have I morphed from a simple-minded science teacher to a blithering idiot? It's been awhile since I watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone...and it's opposite the brilliant Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl...and I'm flipping back and forth to savor both. Harry, Ron and Hermione are SO very young, so tiny. Barbra is huge, filling the screen with voice and eyes. When she's off screen, I want to wait without breathing until she returns. But there's the stranger who just happens to have a dragon egg in his pocket. And zap! I'm humming the music to put Fluffy straight to sleep. Then zing! She's in the basement of the theatre, wrapped in leopard skin suit and cap. The stage is dark, the red velvet seats empty and she sits on the piano and fingers, "People, people who need people." Oh, I remember about 1962 in Austin, playing a part in the bridge playing neighbors singing, "If a girl isn't pretty, like a Miss Atlantic City." That's it. I know the songs; I've danced to them all, swished long skirts and sang about being a Ziegfeld Star and marrying Omar Sharif.
      So you'd think Fanny Bryce would keep me locked in....but the key flies are twittering and Harry's on the broom and the secret chamber is just through that next door! And it's the most wonderful scene in the movie--the Chess Game. Where Ron is the hero and the villians are playing for keeps.
       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

Tooting Jo Lightfoot's Horn

Good better-than-yesterday-than-a-week-ago morning! Chris is rallying and coherent and will fight off the fever surges for a few more days, but is expected to go home by end of week. Chris 98.6  Gall Bladder 0

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

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:
different history
different shape
different dance.

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

September Morn

Today is the 30th birthday of Rosie Lacy, my adopted daughter, the one who made us "a real family" as Chris said at twelve, the one who made Adrian "her slave" at the age of seven. She is off in the wilds of southern Louisiana camping in rain and thunder, and I hope, waking to a calm September morn.

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

Waiting for the Dawn

Has anyone else ever considered the odd fact that James Michener's Center for Writers is at home in J. Frank Dobie's lovely little white cottage along Waller Creek in downtown Austin, Texas? Could two writers have been more strikingly different in both their choices of subject and their styles? Is this a display of honoring two, or of merely preserving one? Only UT knows, I suppose.

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

A First Impression

Once in awhile I am struck by a guilty conscience. I am having so much fun learning to be a WRITER that it seems illegal. And I haven't even had a nibble for publishing yet. Perhaps that's the secret, that the HEAVEN of writing stories is in the details of the stories themselves. Will publishing be a greater thrill? Maybe it doesn't really matter. I yam what I yam and that's all what I yam. (Popeye)

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

Between a Rock and the Next Chapter

What a thrill it is using Twitter and Facebook to peak into the lives of people around me, my family and critique groups. Today I am waiting to hear the announcement of Roz's new little Zane, have shared the excitement of Dave's finishing the first draft of his third novel, and I am thrilled that every single other person has submitted readings for the Kidstuff Saturday morning meeting-- but me.

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

My Brain is Full

I apologize for borrowing from Far Side cartoons with my lead line, but when the can not get past the JDC door into the real world without spilling either blood or ink struck this month, I had no choice. I began to read and reread: Gordon Korman, Juvie Three, and Chris Crutcher everything all over again, and Elaine Marie Alphin, selected scenes, and Thick by Colin Neenan...and a bagload of adult mysteries.

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

North of the Border, down Mexico Way, la la la la

The first thing a writer has to do is be able to take the heat. Down in McAllen, it's hot enough to fry a brain -- any place, let alone on the sidewalks. So now that the family is on the road and the dogs have all been properly medicated and walked in the opposite direction of the distracting boxer in the yard next door, I have all the time I want to produce my planned 50 pages in 15 days. Not a bad goal, 3 pages a day plus a few extra now and then.
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

6 of one.....

Oh the irony! The humbling recognition that writing a story is the same task as cleaning the garage. The garage that is filled with a Moose Beer plaque and favorites gismos left by Chris, with Great Books of the Western World, with 1000 alphabetized Science Fiction paperbacks nobody will buy, with four coffee tables from Rosie's apartments, three bedframes, two student desks, and one beautiful wooden marimba that only Adrian can play, all sprinkled with the debris of my mother's ins and outs and dying dreams.

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 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

perhaps, growing old

Today Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson both passed away. Surely other writers, actors, composers, singers, illustrators, musicians.......artists of all genres, of all talents, have also been lost, whether or not I know of them. My mother, quiet and cheerful, lived to 92. I'm not at all sure what that will take in the way of clean living, dynamic planning, or healthy behaviors.
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

Writing Camp

Just spent two wonderful days with ESOL kids in the Springdale Writing Camp. Short stories about sports and family and career dreams. Poetry about the Marshall Islands and hungers and loneliness. Brave words, common themes, no fear. What a terrific group of students are coming to my junior high next year. I can hardly wait!

Jun 13, 2009

Writing - a little like marriage!

Yesterday was a real eye-opener. I suppose we all think we have a "new" story. But last night I read Elaine Marie Alphin's Counterfeit Son and found another boy battling a predator. Thank goodness for cheery critique groups. They reminded me that we share something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue--in marriage, in business, among friends, and in the world of storytelling!

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


Kristin Gray, besides being an expert of Fiona the Flamingo, is a first-class web trawler. She's found a new book with the same title! Haven, Beverly Patt. Just being released. 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


The WRITE TIL YOU'RE HUNGRY Day went very very well. We met at Panera's at 10:00, fortified w/ beverage of choice, shared writing news and family news for 30 minutes flat (just came back from Hawk Pub. conf and another writer just back from 10 yr anniv trip to London and Paris)and then we set up laptops and went to work. Stopped at 1:00 for lunch, joined by a new writer wanting to join the group, said goodbye to her at 2:00 and wrote until 3:30. Whew! Worth every minute. 6 good pages for me, 2 Fiona the Flamingo PB stories for one and mucho action pages involving a wicked witch, a troll, and a warlock teenager for our third writer.
KIDSTUFF is a wonderful writing group! Thanks Mandy, Kristin.....welcome to Karen.

Jun 10, 2009

Getting Published

I love stumbling over concurrent advice. The authors and editors at Hawk Publishing all had the advice I posted last time. Today I found this at Insomniac Press:
Get published somewhere else. We love new authors, but some sort of track record helps a lot. If you've finished a brilliant novel and have never been published anywhere else, keep your shirt on and start sending short stories or excerpts to literary magazines; most of them accept unpublished authors, and we'll look a lot more closely at authors who have been in print before. (If you have a truly stunning non-fiction proposal, however, you might be able to bypass this step.)
So I compiled a long list of publications that pay for articles, stories, essays, opinions, reviews, etc. Sign up as a follower and I'll send you a copy if you're interested. Remember being published is better than not!
Have a great day!

Jun 9, 2009

Hawk Publishing Conf

Some gems from the Hawk Publishing conference.
*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

School's Out, Let the writing begin!

Tomorrow is the very very last day of school! All the excuses are erased. All the lists of "what must be done first" are crumpled and tossed. I challenge those with the "Manana" Syndrome to HANG UP, SIT DOWN, and WRITE. Make no promises, pledge no pledges, start in the middle if necessary--but load up your favorite white noise (music, etc) in the player and WRITE.

Break a leg!!

You do know that's for good luck, don't you?

May 23, 2009


M for Mailing!! After the smart folks in my crit groups have checked over the periods and dashes, I'm sending my 3 chapters to Jen Rofe, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. WooHoo!
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

Fireworks!! Racing pulse!! Deep breathing!!

My fellow writers -- Justin Minkel, Dave Johnson, Mandy Silberstein, Kristin Grey, Rachael Solh and Linda Norman -- and I have just returned from the SCBWI Conference in Conway AR!
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

A new blog, another commitment, another long-armed reach through the ethernet. Here's a snippet of my baby, my first. Enjoy.

Kathryn Lacy


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.