Genesis of A Twit

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm in!  I'm now one of the crowd.  I took the dive: I started a Twitter account--and yes, it was as easy as pie.  And the funny thing was, it didn't hurt at all.  No.  Painless as an ice cold margarita on a Saturday afternoon.

With all this technology and progress, I sometimes like to look back a little bit.  I don't know if it's genetic or simply the age I grew up in, but I've always felt like I was reincarnated, as if I lived in the Forties and was born again--literally--in 1968 after a long hiatus.  I know in my heart that this is fanciful thinking, but it carries a certain reality for me, and I often wonder how much this affects my writing...?

Simply said, past ages fascinate me.  What was the pace of life like back then?  How did it compare to today.  Was writing a novel a completely different experience without all the world's information and resources at our fingertips in tools such as Google?

I think about the people who populated those eras.  I puzzle and stare too long at the pictures of writers we all admire, wondering what floated through their transom on any average Tuesday, and how that train of thought might compare with my own.  I play games in my head.  For example, wouldn't it be fun to imagine some of our favorite authors--some now long since dead--tweeting?

If you too have wondered these things, then today's your lucky day.  Behold, with a little modern magic, some Photoshop and a little elbow grease, we can see what a few of the best known writer's might have tweeted, if given the chance.

Off the bat, I can see it now: good old F. Scott sitting around with Zelda, jotting off:
Or Hemingway, laying it on thick:
And who knows what kind of crazy stuff Lewis Carroll would come up with:

I can imagine good old Charlie Dickens adding his voice to the conversation:
What about Herman Melville?
Of course we can't leave the ladies out.  Jane Austen might have expressed herself thusly:
No doubt Charlotte Bronte might have quipped:
Standing in the shadow of these literary giants, I am indeed humbled, a condition in which I have spent most of my life, well in advance of the Twitter Age.  Thus, and I understand the meagreness of my offering, upon opening my account today, I could but manage:
If you'd like to come join me on Twitter, feel free.  You can find me here.  Rest assured, I'll see if I can find a way to be a tad more interesting.

Significant Other Blogfest: FurnaceGirl In The Hot Seat

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hi all!

FurnaceGirl here. I'm not nearly as talented or well-versed in this writing gig as J.P., so please be patient with me.

If you haven't already heard what this post is about, go check it out here. I'll wait...

So, now that we are all up to speed here goes: I must be honest and say that I am very proud of and slightly surprised by my dear husband. He talked about wanting to be a writer ever since we met. The tricky part was, that apart from the work he produced when finishing his English degree, he hadn't written much. He had a hard time while in college because he had such high aspirations and couldn't quite make his work match his potential. He needed more practice, and patience.

It was not easy to watch him struggle with the realities of creative writing. He would get so excited about a story idea, then often grasp and fumble to put it on the page. I wanted a better way to help him beyond simply reading and offering constructive critiques, but I suppose that was the best way. I couldn't tell him how to write (I'm certainly NOT the expert in the family!), I could only encourage him to keep pulling it apart and working toward his goal.

I see that he has really blossomed as a writer in the last year and a half. It is really quite dramatic, let me tell you. His writing is on a whole different plane than it used to be (Did you read his excerpt from Daisy?!?!). I believe some of the credit goes to you, his readers. You have offered critiques, feedback, support, encouragement, and comraderie to him along the way. I know that has meant a great deal to him, and to me.

If I could be selfish for a minute, I'll share that there are a few drawbacks to this new blossoming. It's not as much fun to go on our lunch dates when he's lost in thought and dreaming about the idea he's been working on fleshing out all morning. Sometimes he can get a little grumpy when he's having a particularly hard time getting through a plotline. But, like I said, that's me being selfish. :)

I'll take the dreaminess and grumpiness once in a while to see him grow as a writer and fufill a long-time dream of his. I will bring cups of tea, and glasses of ice water when he's hard at work, and not complain...much.

It's A Boy

Thursday, January 20, 2011

This is my Kindle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My Kindle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My Kindle, without me, is useless. Without my Kindle, I am useless--or at the least, very very bored.  :D

This is just a quick odds-and-ends post to get a few things out of the way, share my recent good fortune, and warm up the crowd for tomorrow--so consider this your reminder: don't forget to check back to see my better-half-by-far, FurnaceGirl, hi-jack WSMG and take it for a spin as part of the Significant Other Blogfest.

In the meantime, I'll share some mental meanderings with thee.  I've given it some thought and decided that I'd like to share more of myself on this blog. 

Now before you go backing away from your computer--oh gawd, here it comes, you're thinking--let me explain what I mean: I don't talk a lot about flying or about living in Sicily or some other fun things I do--and I am reticent to do so under the rubric that folks are probably not interested. 

This blog is about writing, no? But as I was putting together my recent post reviewing the last year and getting an overview of my posts in toto, I realized am a great user of the "royal" we.  We, as writers, should do this.  We, as readers, should consider that.

Frankly there hasn't been a lot of the "I think..." or "I struggle..." or "I fail..." going on, if you know what I mean.  And I think that is what we(!)...I really want to be better about talking about, to share these daily tales with you guys more often and in ways that are riskier and not so safe.

Strangely enough, putting myself into my writing is something I think I struggle with in my fiction too.  :)

So I am going to broaden this blog's scope somewhat, pull in more of the personal, tell--no show!--more, to make the ride a tad more enjoyable perhaps, and learn to let my guard down.  After all, many of these things are what make me who I am as a writer, so talking about them in this forum should be a natural development.

In that spirit, here's a recent piece of fun and excitement in my world.  Look what FurnaceGirl got me for my birthday!

Yeah, it's pretty sweet.  I know, I know.  I am light years behind most of you.  As one of my old coworkers, a retired Marine Corps Colonel who flew Hueys in Vietnam, used to say: somebody needs to drag me kicking and screaming into the Twenty-First Century (for the record, the Colonel could run circles around me on any Microsoft product, bar none).

I told the Le Donna De Furnace that this device is downright dangerous in the hands of someone like me.  Our monthly book expenditures are gonna skyrocket!

Yeah, and Stormy the dog (his real name) had to get in on the action.

So you see, FurnaceGirl is a pretty cool customer, especially after hooking yours truly up so well.  Check back tomorrow to hear her side of the story.  BTW, any of ya'all out there in the blogosphere have a handy-dandy tip or two for this here new Kindle user?

P. S.  Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention: we've got a little one on the way--and it's a boy!  :D

:nv:s:ble :nk

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

~Vladimir Nabakov




Monday, January 10, 2011

I think setting goals and staying passionate and motivated is a huge part of being a successful writer.  We can have all the talent in the world, but without the stick-to-it-iveness to sit down on a regular basis--preferably every day--and actually pound out those words, especially when we don't feel passionate or motivated, we'll never reach our true potential.

Despite the importance I put on this idea, I still struggle with staying disciplined and sticking with it.  Sometimes I blow off writing.  Sometimes I decide to do something else--procrastinate!--like play a video game or watch the television.  I know it's not what I should do or need to do or even what I want to do, but I do it anyway, and ignore the nagging voices in the back of my head saying I'm letting myself down.

There are no easy answers to this problem.  The cure to "not writing" is to "write", as often and as much as possible.  But it is also easy to let days and weeks slip by and not be honest with myself about how little I've actually done.

So, to address this troubling dilemma and find a way to stay on target, like many of you, I occasionally identify goals and then measure my performance accordingly.  Publicly stating my goals works well because either I'll show you all what I'm really made of, or I get to stand here and admit my embarrassment. 

I've said it before: fear of failure is a huge motivator for me, but I've found over the years that the way to make the fear real is to ensure there are witnesses.  Making the possibility of failure public helps me succeed.  Sounds twisted, but it works for me!

So without further adieu, here are my writing goals for 2011:
  • One hundred WSMG posts
  • Ten draft short stories
  • Five short stories ready for critique
  • Three shorts submitted for publication
  • One short story published
  • DAISY ready to query
  • First 50k words of SHOOTER NUMBER ONE (my next novel idea) completed/Win NaNo 2011
  • Start Twitter account
  • Climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Kenya
  • Read a ton of good fiction
  • Support my fellow writers
Obviously this list is pretty ambitious, but I guess I've always been a "go big or go home" kinda guy.  Call me crazy.  Anyone got any pointers on getting a Twitter account set up?

Friday Link Love: Electrical Storm

Friday, January 7, 2011

This whole day has been really atmospheric.  There's certainly something in the air, or maybe its only in my head.  I'm stuck late at work trying to finish up a last few things this Friday evening--and I am truly ready for the weekend, and stoked to the core with the way 2011 is pregnant with possibility, on the writing front and otherwise.

Does this ever happen to you: You wish there was some way to connect a cable up to your brain and project the contents up on a fifty-foot tall screen, like an outdoor movie theater, only it shows all the goings-on inside your head instead of the latest Hollywood film?  There must be some tangible way to get a handle on the ebb and flow of all the byzantine forces swimming around in this little skull of mine.  Maybe there's a patent idea in there somewhere.

But right now I'm feeling pretty electric.  There's no other word for it.

So it felt right to get a Friday Link Love post out!  I know, I know.  It's been forever, but here's to hoping it becomes a regular occurrence like in the old days.  But first--and quick--a joke!

Two cannibals are eating a clown.  The first one turns to the other and says: "Does this taste funny to you?"
I didn't say it was a good joke, now did I?  Without further adieu I bring you some Friday Link Love, 2011-style!
Anyway, thanks gang for playing along.  Here's hoping you have one downright blast of a weekend, and to get you started off right, here's a shot of U-2, song apropos as all get out!

One Year Gone

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Then as it was, then again it will be
Though the course may change sometimes
Rivers always reach the sea
Flyin' the skies of fortune, each our separate ways
On the wings of maybe, downing birds of prey
Kind of makes me feel sometimes, didn't have to grow
But as the eagle leaves the nest, it's got so far to go

                           ~~Led Zeppelin
It's impossible to believe, but one year ago yesterday, I started this blog.  Have a look at my first post and you'll see it was a pretty humble beginning--blathering on about nothing to no one.  I chuckle now realizing, in some sense, that is how all things begin.

One year and 142 posts later, it feels like one hell of a journey, one I never would have predicted when I began to write that first post.  At the time I struggled with my creative future.  Who was I anyway?  Who was I going to be?  I certainly didn't know, but somehow I understood there was only one way to find out: get out there and write, see where it takes me.  And this blog was born out of that simple desire.

I stumbled around a lot, trying to figure out what I was doing.  That first month was all bluster and excitement.  I received my very first comment (thanks Emily!) on this short post, which I am still kinda proud of:
One last note before the day fails.  The path to writing has taken me far from my original course.  Not too long ago, I felt like a lighthouse keeper in a fog, caught out in a storm.

That's changed.  I can't remember the turns, the places where I might have paused to reflect, the dead-ends and the jaunts and the switchbacks.  But it seems like this spot is a pretty nice one.

I think I'll stay awhile.

Other posts followed with dispatch.  It felt good to struggle with the writing and share thoughts on my trouble in this forum--especially because the fight to stay focused was real and tangible and something I knew I couldn't talk my way out of or ignore (actually, I feared my motivation would leave me more than anything).  Along the way, I interviewed myself, posted some of my fiction and talked about the Moment.

I also began to discover a great community of writers out there who blogged and who I felt akin to--writers like Liza and Postie and Heather and Elana and Brian and Roz and Schmidty--and the day to day interactions helped keep the fire in my belly burning and kept me focused on the writing at hand.  There were dark days when I would have packed it in for good without their encouragement.

February and March flew by.  I started my Friday Link Love series (which I plan to resurrect in 2011), mourned the tragic loss of a family of seamonkeys, hosted my first blogfest, and celebrated my return home from Iraq.

In April and May, I shared the worst poem ever written (by yours truly!) and continued to be introduced to awesome writers who blogged, like Claire and Donna and Lydia and DL and Lola and Summer and Tara and SJS and Courtney and Portia and Valerie and G. G. (an old friend, new blogger) and Meghan and so many more!--and stumbled into an awesome Critique Group, a fact which still blows my mind every time I think about it.  Love you guys!

In June I moved to Sicily, where this blog fell silent for a few months, chiefly because of a drastic and unanticipated lack of internet access.  September and October found me pondering steps.  November and NaNo was a total blast, and everything since has been icing on the cake.  It truly is a wonderful life, and worth fighting for!

To tell the truth, I am surprised to still be standing after 365 days.  I didn't think I'd make it this far--so I need to remind myself of that fact the next time I'm looking at a short story I don't know how to finish or find myself knee-deep in a novel, having no clue where the exit door is located.  The lesson is stick with it and know that you can count on someone to give you a hand when the going gets rough.  You just have to say it's possible.

If you're reading this now, you're a part of this writing life of mine, and for that--and everything else you do!--I thank you.  Now here's to making Year Two as brilliant as Year One!  Who's with me?!?!

Show Your Work

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hi guys!  I hope you had a great New Year.  I certainly did.  It was fun and relaxing, a little bit disco, a little bit rock and roll.

I can hardly believe it's 2011--and what better way to kick off the New Year than a blogfest?!?  So this is my entry for the Show Me Yours Blogfest, where I post an excerpt from this year's NaNo project.  You can go check out all the other entries here.

You may remember I posted my NaNo premise a few months ago.  As I shared during November, my novel meandered all over, and I struggled with the main action of the story.  The Daisy/Kodi scene below is one of the few between them I felt really started to capture what I was after.  Bottom line: I still have a lot of work to do.

A little set up for the excerpt: Daisy and Kodi are on the run and have been holed up in a hotel room for days with not much to do.  Their accomplice, Alfred, has just informed them that the authorities have turned their attention to the small town where the hotel is located.  In the previous scene, Kodi caught Daisy out smoking with a boy from the hotel--a development he is not thrilled about.  Enjoy!

     A faint knock came at the hotel door.  Kodi looked through the peephole to see if it was Daisy, then let her in.  He'd been sitting on the edge of the bed for twenty minutes, his eyes burning holes in the beige and yellow wallpaper, puzzling over what he was gonna say to her. 
     At first he'd been angry.  If Alfred was right, there was a cop on every street corner by now.  Taking a smoke break with some strange kid in broad daylight was just not smart.  But he quickly decided that showing his displeasure wouldn't get him very far after the way she'd been acting the last few days.  And maybe the rules were different now.  She had a say in the matter, right?  It was, after all, her life too.
     Daisy skirted past him and sat down at the table, a determined smile playing on her lips.  Her clothes reeked of cigarette smoke.
     "I thought about saying: you had me worried sick," Kodi said, trying to keep it light.  "But you probably knew that already."
     "Yeah," she replied.  "But I figured you could handle it."  She reached up and untied the bandana wrapped around her head, this one painted in blue and grey flowers.  She wadded it up and placed it on the table in front of her.  No matter how many times Kodi saw Daisy without her bandana, the sight of the smooth clear skin of her scalp reflecting the lamplight still caught him by surprise.  She looked ten years older, and the egg-shaped curve of her skull made her look like, well, a cancer patient.  After all these years, he still struggled to reconcile her appearance with the image of a little girl--his little girl--that he carried around in his head.
     She gave her bandana a quick sniff and smelled the cigarette smoke too.  "We need to get some wash done, I think."
     "Listen, I talked to Alfred--"
     "Our eyes and ears."
     "Yeah, that's right.  He says the town is crawling with cops, so we have to be careful."
     "Careful like staying in our room?"
     "I wish you'd take this a little more seriously," he said, then immediately wished he hadn't.
     "Serious like what? Cancer?"
     Kodi shook his head, but refused to look away.  "Yeah, like cancer."
     She went to the fridge, pulled a can of beer off the top shelf and sat back down.  She could feel his eyes on her, knew that he wouldn't approve, but she wanted to show him she didn't care what he thought.  She cracked the can and took a long sip, crinkling her nose up at the smell.
     "Yeah, well what do you know about it?" she said flatly, placing the can on the table, glaring back at him.
     "Daisy, this isn't a game.  There's a lot at stake here.  We can't afford any mistakes."
     She looked away, pretending to study the black and green abstract painting on the far wall, hanging over their two beds. 
     "I just had a few cigarettes with him, that's all," she said at last.
     "Yeah, I know."
     "It's the simplest thing in the world...just a couple cigarettes."
     Kodi nodded his head.
     "Do you realize the last time I even talked to a boy, I, I---" her voice caught in her throat.  She stifled a breath, like the beginning of a sob and covered her mouth with one hand.  He waited for her to look up but she kept her eyes pinned on the far wall. 
     Kodi didn't say a word.  He stood and went to the window, looked out through the crack in the curtains.  The parking lot was empty.  "Who was he?"  he said finally, his voice two notches above a whisper.
     "Just some kid," she answered quickly, as if she hoped he would ask the question.  "Brandon's his name.   He's here visiting family for a few days."
     "What did you tell him about us?"
     "We're passing through, car broke down."
     Kodi nodded his head and closed his eyes for a moment.  "Nice guy?"
     "Yeah," she said.  "Nice as they come."
     "Good," he said.  "But here's the thing.  You've had your fun--"
     "We're going for ice cream tomorrow afternoon," she said, somewhat proudly.
     Kodi shook his head.  "No," he said, crossing to the table, swiping up the half-empty beer can and tossing it in the trash.  "Look, I know what this is all about."
     "Oh yeah?"
     "I don't think you know the first thing--"
     You just want to get back at me--"
     "This isn't about you, Dad!" she said.
     "Dammit!  It's not safe out there!"
     "All the news shows say they're looking for a young girl and an older man, not two young kids having an ice cream cone."
     "But your picture's plastered all over the TV."
     "A picture of me when I was eleven.  Besides, it'll be suspicious when I don't show up.  Brandon may start asking questions."
     "And whose fault is that?"  He sat down on his bed again, flipped on the television and started pulling off his cowboy boots. 
     Daisy bounced up from the table and grabbed a bath towel.  "I'm gonna take a shower," she said, disappearing into the bathroom.
     "I haven't said yes, you know," he hollered after her.
     She stuck her head out again.  "By the way, I told him my name is Megan, in case you run into him." 
     "I ain't going nowhere," he said, as she ducked back in.  The shower came on.  He flipped channels and tried to focus on the television.  Leave it to Daisy to land a boyfriend while every cop in the state was looking for them.  Kodi shook his head.  Guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, he thought as he caught his reflection frowning back in the bathroom mirror.


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