Thursday, May 31, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: If you could write a book...

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This week's Booking Through Thursday question is:

If you could write a book, what would it be about, and why? (Though, of course, some of you already HAVE.)


I almost abstained from this week's question because I have, indeed, written a book or two in my lifetime. (And I'm having a Hatfields & McCoys hangover, too. I became addicted to that mini-series this week to a point of distraction and now I want to get the soundtrack. Who knew Kevin Costner could sing?)

My answer to this question, however, is from one of my favorite quotes.

Toni Morrison“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.”
Toni Morrison

Morrison's precept perfectly expresses how I feel about the variety of subjects and characters I find myself writing about.  I choose subjects I want to better understand. This is why my topics are all over the place. Nature vs. Nurture. Religious cults. Viet Nam. Alcoholism. And my latest work-in-progress involves agoraphobia.

What about you? If you could write a book, what do you think you'd like to write about? And if you really want this to be the year you make the attempt to write the great American novel, why not start with National Novel Writing Month?

Here's a funny inspiring video, How To Write The Great American Novel, to get you going!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: A Writer's Companion

This week's Book Through Thursday questions involve pets. Ah, one of my favorite subjects.

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Booking Through Thursday asks: Do you have any pet that has a name inspired by your readings?
No, I can't say it so.

If not, what would you pick if you DID?
I think Atticus would be great name for a loyal and true dog. And, a cat named Cosette (Les Miserable) would be cute.

Do any of your friends have book-based names for their pets? (Or their children?)
Yes! I have a friend whose son is named Atticus and a niece named Harper. My youngest daughter's middle name is Katherine, not because of a pet, but because so many of my favorite literary heroines are named Katherine.

Speaking of pets, every writer should have a good and faithful friend by her side. Here's my longtime writing companion, Abby. Not a literary inspired name, but a gentle moniker for a gentle pet. She's always close by, almost always under the writing desk.

 Maybe it's because early in her life, I wrote about her, hmm?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Struck by Lightning

A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times.
Randall Jarrell

A tree near our house recently took a lightning
strike. It's interesting to see how the
strike is jagged and cut a gash from top to ground.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Morning Inspiration: Live

Put your tennis shoes on. 
Sharpen your pencil. 
Stir your paint. 
Air up your bicycle tires. 
Or, pick up the phone. 
After you view this video, your heart will race and you will want to go and DO and CREATE and LIVE and LOVE.

Share this with someone today.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

I didn't have a Wordless Wednesday post today, but I just saw this shirt for sale from and had to share it. Too, too funny!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Morning Inspiration: Comparison

This is such an inspiring sentiment for me. As a writer, I'm often tempted to compare myself to other writers. We all do. I have to tell myself the same phrase I'm often saying to my little girls: God made you uniquely individual. There is no one else like you. Don't compare yourself to Sally. Be glad and joyful and see the good work He will do you in. Work that no one else on the planet can do except you! 

Don't you find that sometimes it's the encouraging words we say to little children that we should also say to ourselves?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

TSS: Dear Mom, I still find you in little places

I originally posted this piece two years ago and wanted to re-post as much as a letter to my mother as a reminder to myself about keeping her memory vibrant. 

Mom, I Still Find You In Little Places

Dear Mom:

It has been almost 10 years since you died, but I still find you in unexpected places.

I find you in the soap products I still use because you used them.

I find you every time I hear ANY song from Fiddler on the Roof because you played that 8-Track tape until it broke.

I find you in the lines on my face, which is starting to show glimpses of you in your 40s.

I find you in the little ways I protect my children; and though I haven't sewn them neon orange coats to wear to school so all the cars will see them - I now know that coat was stitched from a mother's love.

I find you in that old AM radio station when it plays The Entertainer.

I find you in slim, green glass iced-cold Coca-Cola bottles.

I find you in my brand new interest in knowing the actual names of flowers.

I find you when I make my kids Kool-Aid and I let them stir.

I find you when an older mom gives me a tip on how to keep your kid from getting lice at school only to think back, "Hey, my mom did that when I was little" and I never knew why. Now I do.

I find you when I discover a curious fact and squirrel it away in a notebook and everyone wonders why.

I find you in my recent need to have a magnifying glass handy.

I find you in cantaloupe even though I LOATHE it due to that bumper crop you grew in our backyard and all there was to eat FOREVER was canteloupe; but my daughters love it like candy, so I buy it.

I find you in the Mother's Day cards I get from my daughters and wish I sent you one every year. If you were here, I would tell you that it is only through the lens of being a mother myself that I see and know and feel all that you did.

Keep showing up in little places and I'll keep looking.



My mom (right) with her sister in 1959.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: Introverts vs. Extroverts (and writing)

This week's Booking Through Thursday question is:

Do you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert?

I worked in the corporate world for 15 years. In that time, it wasn't uncommon to have those team building exercises where we'd all take tests to see if we were introverts or extroverts. Some even told us what color we were.

At first, I liked these tests because they validated some of the introvert/extrovert ideas I'd always harbored. They revealed that then, as now, I am a bonafide introvert.

But this is a great paradox for a writer.

We wordsmiths spend loads of time alone with our own thoughts. We get very personal on the page, exposing ourselves in a very extroverted act. A writer can't escape the fact that his life experiences are exploited for the sake of a a story. Add to that, a writer NEEDS to be out in the world, always observing human nature, always hearing the variety of voices, always collecting bits of life. Hemingway said it best:

"In order to write about life, first you must LIVE it!" 

So are writers true introverts? 

I have to wonder if a writer occupies that space on the spectrum squarely between the realms of introvert and extrovert. Between anti-social and social butterfly. Between, "Oh, I'm so embarrassed, I feel awkward and want to hide and stay home with a good book. There's no possible way I can attend your party" and "Oh, please read the words in my book, let me know I haven't toiled in vain. Adore me and invite me to come up on stage at your party!"

That's where I think I am anyway.

What do you think? Are artists inherently a mix of both?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Teaser Tuesday: The Secret Tree

"I found myself in front of a big, old elm tree. It had a hole in its trunk bigger than my head, and when I pressed my hand against its thick bark, it vibrated like a hive full of bees." - p. 11, The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford.

Book Description: A sweet story of a tree that's literally filled with secrets. Ages 9 and up. 

Author website

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading

Monday, May 7, 2012

Monday Morning Inspiration: Write Like Hemingway

I recently watched "Midnight in Paris," that gem of a Woody Allen film featuring a writer who enters the world of great authors after midnight. If only a real wrinkle in time such as this existed! I loved the actor who portrayed Hemingway and his vigorous dialogue urging all writers to write about truth and nobility.

The movie inspired me to revisit some of my books on Hemingway. I stumbled across this terrific piece from Confident Writing titled "27 Secrets to Writing Like Hemingway." 

My favorite piece of advice on this list is to "watch what happens today."

Do you have a favorite piece of writing advice? Are you a Hemingway devotee? 

Friday, May 4, 2012

On asking questions and keeping a writing notebook

I walked into my office the other day and found this notebook on my desk. One of my little curious girls wrote it. It gave me a smile. This is the start of creativity. Wondering. Being curious. Researching. And ultimately, writing. I hope she keeps writing in this notebook.

I've been sketching out a new story in a notebook of my own. The question I wrote at the top was: What are all the bad things that could happen to JW? This is how I often begin a story. I made a list of all the potential conflict I could inflict upon this poor, unsuspecting character. There were many possibilities, I tell you. Of course, I put that notebook away before they got home from school. I don't want little eyes seeing all that conflict. They already think I'm weird because I'm a writer. (Mostly because they are being schooled, nay, evangelized, on the proper uses of 'your' and 'you're.') For now, they can be content with pondering the insides of tiny animals.

Do you keep a notebook for writing or other curiosities?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Evening by the lake

This past Saturday at White Rock Lake. Dallas, TX

Sunset over White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Designer Chip Kidd Talks About His Process

I wait.

I wait for news of my new book cover. There are stirrings. Little talk of a book designer at my publisher beginning his/her work. I eat Doritos and send him/her telepathic messages. Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! I can't wait to see your work! I know I will love it.

I do.

Well, you know I'm a fan of both good and book cover art. So when a friend sent me a link from the LA Times with this TED video featuring the marvelous Chip Kidd, I was ecstatic. Kidd recently spoke in Dallas and I was unable to attend. This is an equal parts humorous and informative talk on his creative process.

And here's a link to a splendid TIME Magazine showcase of Chip Kidd's book jacket art.