Good Friends, Great Times and Arbitrary Endings.

1451397_10200918995124794_1800856214_nThis weekend, my local RWA chapter, LERA, had our biannual conference. Two of our guests were Jennifer Enderlin, editor for the fabulous Darynda Jones at St. Martins, and NYT Bestselling author Deanna Raybourn. On Friday, Darynda and our two conference organizers, Tammy Baumann and Kari Bovee, made the trip up to Santa Fe. We did lunch and shopping and I got to play tour guide. Such a fun day for me!

You can read more about it, and about what the most difficult part of the story is for me, over at Word Whores today.

In Flight Again!

I think I’ve mentioned before that, when I’m not sure what I’m going to write about here, I look on my camera to see what might be on there.

It’s frequently a complete surprise what images I find there, which really shouldn’t be the case, since most of the time it’s only been a day or two since I snapped the pictures.

Short attention span much?

Except that’s not really true. While my attention can be diverted, usually my problem is getting too wrapped up in stuff so that I lose track of time and forget stuff. Like, say, the tea water boiling on the stove. I wish I could say that’s only happened once or twice, but I bet I’ve done it, oh, two dozen times at least. Now I actually set a reminder on my computer to go check it. Pitiful, I know.

In this way, the photos on the camera are like little notes to myself, to remind me of what I was thinking of or found interesting at that moment. Otherwise, I’m not one of those writers who writes notes to herself.

I saw a bit of advice the other day saying that writers should make notes with every idea or you’ll forget it and lose it forever. I just don’t think it’s true.

Admittedly, last night, David and I were talking about something and I thought, oh, I should blog about that in the morning and now I don’t remember what it was. But I’m not bothered about it because I truly believe that the thought will surface eventually, at the right time. If not, well, in the immortal words of Steve Martin, “It must not have been very important then!”

If you’re radioactive, you’ll remember eventually.

One thing that I do when I’m editing is I’ll think, oh, I really meant to add in this phrase or this idea or feeling. I’ll type it in and, two lines later? I’ll find that exact phrase. One day I’ll learn to read ahead and check to see if the past me already did what the present me thinks is so brilliant. One day I’ll also learn to trust myself.

Rarely do I find that I left something out of a story, mostly I’m refocusing the reader’s eye.

It’s funny to me, to look at these photos I took the other day. On Saturday we went to the mall to find the glassblower’s booth I spotted at Christmastime. Remember how I said malls didn’t have them anymore? Well ours does!

And they totally fixed my glass fairy, whose broken wings I bemoaned in that same post. The guy only charged me a dollar to do it. (I gave him $5 — not all miracles are costly.)

So, I snapped commemorative photos of the repaired fairy, for the triumphant return to flight blog post, since several people said the Broken Wings post made them sad. Witness my contract with the reader here: I’m providing you with a happy ending to the sad, sad tale of the broken fairy.

You can see, however, that I had issues with focus.

The camera kept “looking” out the window instead of at our main character, fairy reincarnated.

Some lovely nature shots there — not to mention the fabulous rain chain! — but the heroine is an unfortunate blur.

I finally figured out that I was too close to her and backed off. But then the secondary characters took over. Not that they each don’t have their own story. Just not this story.

At any rate, I’ve extended this analogy until it’s creaking, and you can see her at the top, in all her clarity and flightfulness.

That’s my take-away today: trust yourself, things can always be fixed, and sometimes all it needs is a little refocusing.


Yesterday I was telling my mom about the implosion of this project we’re working on and how there’s a lot of blamestorming going on now.

She loves me and thinks I’m brilliant, so she thought I made up the word. Which I didn’t. It was on one of those email lists a while back along with one of my other favorites “the Dopeler Effect,” which is the tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

At any rate, this one guy just hasn’t done what needed to be done. Maybe he just never had the ability. And now other people are being drawn into it like a giant black hole of failure. Okay, just a little black hole of failure in the grand scheme, but with tremendous sucking power, and I mean that on every level.

Meanwhile, in the online literary world, there are a couple of writers who’ve recently imploded, one published, the other trying to be, both for the same issue: reviews.

Readers and writers watched in horror as a writer reacted to a one-star review of her book on Amazon with increasing anger. She has since deleted her comments, which was the wise thing to do, but it was far too late as those of others remain.

The book review blogger, Katiebabs, has now posted this story about an unpublished writer who has posted her, yes, unpublished book on Good Reads and asked for reviews. She wants to create sufficient buzz to ensure a publishing contract. The catch is, she’s asked readers to refrain from reviewing it unless they’ll give it three stars or more. The post on Katiebabs has an interesting conversation between readers, writers and reviewers in the comments.

The thing is: we all have to meet standards in our work. It doesn’t really matter if the standard is fair or if it’s just someone else’s opinion. You can’t bully people into saying you did a good job. Or whine your way into it. “Blamestorming” is a funny word, because we’ve all been there. It’s easy to free-associate reasons for why things didn’t go the way you want them to.

We watched Earth last night. Which was stunning in its beauty and devastating in showing the indifferent cruelty of nature. I ended up crying for the deaths of a baby caribou and adult polar bear who couldn’t get at the baby walrus. It makes no sense and yet I want everyone to win.

Have I mentioned I’m a sensitive soul? Yeah, even David laughs at me, rooting for both sides.

But, like the earthquake in Haiti, it isn’t God who did it, nor was it the Devil. It just is. Some hits are harder than others — sometimes a person loses everything, sometimes your feelings are hurt or your work reputation is damaged — but we all take them.

What’s important is taking them with grace.

The Kennedy Lending Library

Did I mention?

I spent the last couple of weekends finishing going through the moving boxes and bins. Oh yes, I totally mentioned this, in light of my darling man’s bin o’bullets.

So, it was really last Sunday, this Saturday and part of this Sunday. That I spent dealing with the garage and all in it. But I’ve now been through every box and bin, extracted what I wanted, bookshelved the books that need to be out in the world and re-stored the rest.

Thus I restored the deserving to the shelves and re-stored the rest.

Hey, at least I amuse myself.

Why, you ask, was this so important, what with Christmas shopping, decorating, tree-trimming, menu-planning and baking to conduct?

I was tired of empty bookshelves.

It’s a whole-house thing. People are coming to stay for Christmas and my house wasn’t yet totally together. Right: because my bookshelves were empty.

So I got them all out. Sorted all my books into piles. By priority of love. By author. And I decided who I needed to have out, readily available and who could live in boxes in the garage. Yes, for those of you who like to give me grief about my lists, I’m making a database, with box numbers, for the books in storage. Just a few short, sweet steps away.

See, in the old house, I had a full wall of built-in bookshelves. Plus a bookshelf in my office, one in David’s office and one in the basement. The Annex, doncha know. I also kept a literal wooden chest in the dressing room that was my TBR pile. It was my TBR treasure chest.

Did I mention the new house has no storage?

No basement. No attic. Just an oversized two-car garage with shelves. We have one “small” built-in bookshelf and three portable bookshelves we moved, including the annex bookshelf. They absorbed more than I thought.

At a guesstimate, two-thirds of our books are “out.” Which isn’t bad.

How I chose ended up being like love. Oh yes, I first I tried to be methodical: which books do I regularly reference? Which topics will I be writing about, mulling over, nostagically wanting to revisit in the near future?

And what about the vistor/vanity aspect? I found myself evaluating which books might be on the shelves that would say something about me. Which led to which books might I mention, over dinner, say, that someone would want to borrow?

In the end, as love always does, it came down to what I like having near. I don’t care what anyone else might think. Even though I might not re-read Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonflight series in the near future (make no mistake: I’m now seriously contemplating it), I have it on the shelf. As I have had since I was, oh, twelve, thirteen, something like that. And because I couldn’t let any of her other books feel bad, they’re all out, too.

Yes, I have everything she’s ever written.

Which is also true of my other great loves. A.S. Byatt, Ann Patchett. Orson Scott Card, Mercedes Lackey, Jacqueline Carey, Diana Gabaldon, Margaret Atwood. They all have their space on my limited shelves.

It’s a kind of homage, really.

And maybe that’s what I realized, in doing this. That the likelihood of my opening and referencing the book has nothing to do with it. I like seeing them there. Just like I like to see the art on the walls, hear the music on the cd player and watch the sun set outside.

It’s enough to set my juices humming.