I wouldn’t change a thing

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It’s been a busy season for me. I love my job and I love the people I interact with, but the thing I love the most in my life is curiously absent. From May to October, my writing takes a backseat to my real world. Characters are hushed, story lines are left in the wings and my creativity is quieted to a faint whisper. All the important pieces of my imagination are sent into the recesses of my brain and that skill and those creative endeavors are limited to the moments when my dream sequences become aware of their true potential.

Writing is a funny thing. The artistry behind the words knows how to take advantage of the calmness in our lives. It feeds on the still moments in our brain and it dapples the blank pages in our minds with stunning and eclectic representations of stories we had never even thought possible. When the mind is idle, inspiration transports us to places we never imagined. It creates a spectral portrait of a life we had only, until now, dreamed was possible and it lets our fantasy become a reality on the pages we create.

I needed this day to get back to me. I yearned for those voices to speak to me again in a volume that rose above the din of my daily life. I wanted those characters to tap me on the shoulder and remind me their story was in a holding pattern, waiting for the chance to take off and tell their tale. And, more than anything, I wanted those voices to convince me that I was the only one who could truly convey their angst and their emotion on the pages I constructed.

Writing is a long journey. Most writers takes their queues from the voices who guide them, who wake them in the wee hours and who demand they spend every minute of their free time composing the opus of their lives while they, the writers, give up small pieces of their own existence to tell those stories.  Knowing what I know now about the creative process, and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.

 

It’s good, I promise

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I had the good fortune of being able to leave work early yesterday, on a Saturday! It’s been a busy season and I never have much time to write during the crazy months of summer. My muse goes on holidays and I struggle to find the creative flow that comes so easily in the off-season.

But yesterday was different. Even though I had worked a sixty-five hour work week last week, I got home, opened my laptop and wrote. And when I mean I wrote, I mean the words flowed like I had never left the keyboard. My new book is taking shape and I am slowly getting to know my new characters. Some are pensive and others are extremely pushy but I wouldn’t want it any other way. They tell me their story and I am obligated to write it from their perspective.

These moments are the introductory chapters when I get to know the characters. We feel each other out and they tell me what they want me to know. They give me the raw information about themselves and I get to embellish the rest. It’s a beautiful process.

As much as I am excited about writing book number two, my first book is still something I feel very strongly about and am querying to find representation to see if it has a chance to be published. Who knows what lies ahead for my writing but I am strong-willed and determined to follow through and see where this journey may take me. And if the comments from my readers are anything to go by, my first novel is a story that deserves to be published. It’s good, I promise.

There has to be some fun in rejection

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Although my quest continues to find a literary agent for my first novel, rejections can be extremely disheartening. I am not giving up, by any means, but merely trying to maintain a sense of humor through a very lengthy process.  Please feel free to read the post below to the tune of The Sounds of Silence.

~~

The Sound of Querying

Hello rejection, my old friend

I’ve come to tolerate you again

Because revisions softly creeping

Left their seeds while I was sleeping

And the edit that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the bounds of rewrites

~

In restless dreams my plot was formed

All my characters were transformed

Into people I would love to know

Except the serial killer, he can go

The words came  to me in the wee hours of the night

I couldn’t write

I hoped my phone was recording

~

And in the morning light I heard

Two or three hundred added words

Words I don’t remember speaking at all

I’m glad my smart phone has voice recall

I was recording things while I was practically asleep

My thoughts were deep

I knew I had to query

~

Fool, said I, you do not know,

Agents like the answer NO

Without reading your full manuscript

The whole story, they completely skipped

And my words, were never fully read, but instead

They landed on the bottom of the slush pile

~

Beta readers said it’s great

Into a movie it should be made

But you’re not allowed to tell agents that

You can only hope they want to chat

And the sad thing, although I was told my writing was outstanding

It still means nothing

It just echoes in the sounds of querying

Will the real magician please stand up?

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There is something about magic that forever binds us to our childhood. We recall birthday parties with the guy who retrieved the quarter from our ear, had a continuous cloth of many colors that he miraculously pulled out of his mouth and live animals he made disappear and reappear. These are the tricks we talked about incessantly when we were young and kids today are still engaged by those people who have the gift of magic and who can keep the illusions alive.

Every Thursday, we have a magician come to the lodge to entertain our guests. He has been a staple at the lodge for many years and the kids are always wowed by his pre-show antics during dinner. He hooks them with his sleight of hand, rewards them with a token of his wizardry and has them lining up to see his full performance when dinner has ended.

One particular night a few weeks ago, I received a text message from a co-worker. It was a message I never thought I would read and it simply said, “Frank forgot his rabbit”. The finale of his performance, the only live part of his show, was in a travel carrier and left at the lodge with nowhere to spend the night. I asked my co-worker to drop the bunny off at the staff house and we would deal with him in the morning.

The next morning came and the only place safe enough for the bunny to be harbored, until Frank could return, was my office. As cute as the bunny was, I was quickly pulled back to my childhood when I learned I was allergic to rabbits and the rest of my day was not so magical. Frank could not pick up the bunny until after his shows had ended and the bunny and I spent the day acclimating while he adjusted to being stuck in his travel cage and I adjusted to itchy, swelling eyes and sneezing.

Regardless of my allergic reaction and my utter disdain for the smell of his travel cage, that bunny became my hero. The more time he and I spent together, the more I laughed, because the more I laughed, the more I realized he held powers far beyond the cuteness of his twitching nose and his soft fur. That bunny, after years of being the victim of a disappearing act, had finally fulfilled his lifelong wish and made himself the star of the show by making the magician disappear!

Soup’s on

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Summer is a crazy time for me. The lodge is busy and I have the knack of having a multitude of side projects in the works while surviving my busy summer hospitality job. Some days feel like a smooth paddle on a calm lake and others feel like a roller coaster ride through Hell. By mid-summer, I am physically and emotionally drained and I need something to make me feel centered again.

Writing is a good place to start the process of realigning myself. Writing is cathartic. Typing words onto a screen makes the rest of the world fade slowly into the background until there is nothing left but me, my laptop and my imagination. The minutes and hours I spend writing make me happy and bring me to a level of calm that is somewhat hypnotic. There is only one other thing that can take me beyond hypnotic to being completely detached from reality and that is cooking.

It is 38 degrees today with humidity and my gut told me that it was the perfect time to make a summer corn and zucchini chowder. When my parents were still alive, the times we spent in the kitchen together were some of the happiest moments of our lives. My mom was the queen of baking sweet treats for everyone and my dad loved to cook. My brother and I inherited his passion for creating tasty dishes and homemade soups. My dad was never one to use a recipe, unless he was making Martha Stewart’s Shortbread, and his food was almost always delicious…..I will save the story of his scrambled eggs made with eggnog for another day.

To me, there is no greater satisfaction than creating something from a bunch of random ingredients. Individually those ingredients can taste good, but when you combine them in a way they compliment the flavor of the others, that is sheer bliss. The bacon is fried, the onions are rendering in the bacon fat and the rest of the ingredients are ready to be thrown in. The result will be a tasty summer chowder that would make my dad proud.

At the end of the cooking process, I will sit down to a comforting bowl of soup for dinner and feel thoroughly decompressed. My mind will be back in its happy place and I will relish the memories of my mother calling us for each and every dinner, regardless of the menu, by saying, “soup’s on”.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to know you

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Last night I tried to delve back into writing book number two. The story is still in my mind but the characters have shied away slightly since I have been absent of late. Coaxing them to let me back in was like being on a first date. I wanted to reach out and hold their hands but they shied away not wanting to get too close too fast.

The writing process is a very unique thing for each writer. I don’t have an established outline to follow. I know the story, I know where it begins and where it will end but the characters are the ones who will tell the story and take me along for the ride.

When I sat down at the computer, I tried to put myself back into the mind of Shane Armstrong. When I described the scene when he went to relieve himself, his words spoke louder than mine and I changed the line to say he took a leak. Clearly, Shane and I will have no problem communicating as long as I listen to what he tells me. He will introduce himself to me and I will get to know him on his terms, not mine.

ONE ELEVEN is going to be a bumpy ride for a while but, once we establish a chemistry, Shane and I are going to craft a gripping tale of a man who can travel through time to different points in his past and his future to help catch a serial killer he knew when he was a child. Until recently, Shane had forgotten all about what Karl did when he was a kid but those memories are going to come flooding back with a vengeance and Shane is going to be the one who ends his killing spree and I’m the one who gets to tell his story.

 

 

The results are in….

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In mid-June, I went boldly where I had never gone before – I went to a Sleep Clinic. My doctor is doing her due-diligence to help reveal the potential cause of my high blood pressure and she wanted to find out if Sleep Apnea may be the culprit. I wrote this post about my experience of trying to actually sleep so the study would be effective.

As it turns out, during the nine and a half hours I was incarcerated hooked up to the monitors, I got an assorted six hours of sleep from which they could extrapolate their results.  I do have a mild form of Sleep Apnea, but nothing that will require me to wear one of these while I sleep.

sleep apnea mask

(image credit)

I suffer from what they refer to as ‘fragmented sleep’ which is on the mid-to-low-level of Sleep Apnea. The amount of deep sleep I got was on the lower spectrum of what they refer to as normal but I was attached to over three dozen wires and made to sleep on my back. They should be grateful I slept at all under those circumstances, otherwise mine could have been the shortest sleep study in their history.

The fragmented sleep was something I was expecting. I have a brain that is extremely averse to shutting down. Falling asleep some nights is easier than others, but when I wake up at 4:00 am my brain immediately launches into hyper-drive and it is next to impossible to quell the rush of random thoughts. I am lucky if I can get back to sleep before my alarm sounds at 6:30 am.

The doctor at the sleep clinic gave  me a prescription for a sleeping pill that I will happily decline to take. As soon as he said the word ‘addictive’, he solidified my objection to taking the pills in the first place. Some of my best ideas for stories, or for my books, come in those wee hours of fragmented sleep and I would hate to still the rushing waters of creativity.

For now, I will be focused on more exercise, perhaps some meditation and whatever else I can do to still my brain so I can get a better quality of sleep.  Worst case scenario, book number two will be written before the anticipated deadline and I will have larger bags under my eyes!