Cleaning Up My Mess

Cleaning up my mess

Cleaning up my mess

NO PROBLEM, I GOT THIS
If I had a dollar for every time I rewrote or edited one of my novels before it went to press, I’d be sitting here like Scrooge McDuck counting my stacks of Gold Doubloons. I’m all about tidy perfectionism, particularly when it comes to stuff I put my name on. If three times is a charm, then three dozen assures spotless brilliance–right?

UM, WRONG
There’s a really good reason why even editors don’t edit their own work. Because when it comes to sentences we’ve raked over a bazillion times this side of Sunday, the brain has a quirky way of turning off the main switch when it comes to assessing the things it’s brought to life.

AVERTING A TRAGEDY
Although it’s been years now, I still recall certain early reviews heralding the release of my debut novel, The Secret of Lies–gorgeous and poetic–they arrived as if carried on the wings or angels. Golden morsels suddenly slamming to a jarring halt and leaning toward hostile when these same readers found themselves stumbling over typos and grammar homicide perpetrated by said author. Ouch. That stuff hurts, even more so since I myself was the boob providing the bullets for critics to load into their guns.

AND SO THE QUEST FOR THE HOLY GRAIL
Or, in writerly terms, the hunt for the editor you surely NEED to find because this essential pied piper of prettified prose isn’t you. Seriously. It isn’t.

EENY MEENY MINY MO
…is absolutely not the right way to go about finding the perfect word-mate to comb through your brilliant creation. Make no mistake, you’re not only making an investment in your career, you’re pursuing a relationship, in which case it seems something of a romantic approach is in order. Get out there and mingle. Saunter through cyberspace and stop in at a few online writer hangouts. Pull up a keyboard and join in the chit-chat. Note those voices which most resonate. Collect recommendations from starry-eyed writers madly in love with their editors. Make more notes–mentally or on paper–just make them.

ONE SIZE FITS ALL? NOT QUITE, CINDERELLA
If what you’re looking for is a set of eyes to align your p’s & q’s, and sort your “then and than’s,” your task might prove less complicated. But me, I’m a romantic with a hankering for truelove. In writer speak, it means pining for an editor with knowledge, chutzpah, confidence, wisdom, and of supreme importance–someone who connects with my scribbling. A courtship? Yep, pretty much.

SNAGGING A WORD SHARK
I now fast forward to introduce the winner of my own carefully versed Dating Game–tah dah *shoots confetti–reloads–double shot*–Karen Sanderson, The Word Shark.

BEWARE OF CHEAP IMITATIONS
Seriously, that’s it. Beware of cheap imitations.

ENTER THE WORD SHARK
Certainly there are oodles of noodles and mighty word slayers, so how to choose wisely, Indiana Jones? For me it was a definite series of clicks heard round the world–or at least loud and clear within the vicinity of my head.

Sample edit: concise, professional–CLICK. Initial and subsequent correspondence: honest, wise, generous, prompt, and oftentimes hilarious (bonus points considering my general buffoon tendencies)–CLICK.  Timely edit-in-progress updates to soothe my anxious soul–CLICK. Essential nit-picky comments leading me to prune and  fine-tune the clumsy, clanky, scratchy bits from my pile of pages–CLICK. Suggestions, immediate reactions and impressions of plot twists and character motivation, aka exposing junk masquerading as literature–double CLICK. And the grand finale, an editorial letter wrapping it all together–strengthens, weakness, applause–multiple CLICKS.

SIGNED, SEALED, DELIVERED
Finished. My mess is now tidy and polished, and Painted From Memories is mere days away from release. The construction dust has settled and yet still here, lending support, cheerleading,  blowing-up balloons, ready to uncork the champagne, is my wildly cool new editor and aforementioned Word Shark. A gifted word whisperer who continues to step above and beyond–and then–beyond beyond.  Long term keeper–CLICK.

 

And you, what cha thinking? Have you found your dream editor? On the hunt for the perfect fit? Still wondering if you really even need one?

 

 

Advertisements

So, As I Was Saying…

  …Okay, So…To Continue

as i was saying

Alright, alright, fine. Yeah okay, so I’m bluffing. As if you could be so easily tricked. But I just thought maybe if I tip-toed in here quietly, brushed of the dust and slid up to my keyboard, no one would be the wiser. But that’s one of the things I love and  most missed about you–your Solomon-like wisdom–and the no-way, fat-chance, of you being so easily fooled by a long-time absent buffoon.

Lost In Translation, Wandering the Sahara, Trapped in a Cave

You can bet any of those overwrought  glitches strike me as a whole lot easier to surmount than attempts to pick-up the threads of my misplaced blogging mojo. Make no mistake, I’ve been writing some truly genius and unforgettable posts in my head (where all things scream of perfection until they come out and land on paper or blank screen) but, yeah, that doesn’t count for much unless you happen to be the Long Island Medium and you’re sitting next to me on the couch.

Channeling Stella…

and wondering just how she got her groove back.

But, But, But

We live in a world of excuses. Everyone has them, some legit, many most just a pile of baloney. For this reason I’ll spare you mine. They’re not all that intriguing or unusual after all. Just my own stuff. (Cuing Hubby’s voice and one of his favorite hugely annoying when repeated one time to many quotes, “We don’t want excuses, we want results.” Yeah, that.

Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead

So minus the excuses and getting straight to the results; the treatment went very well (not mine), the operation was a success and the recovery fairly smooth (again, not mine), college selection nearly confirmed (child #4), grand opening scheduled for March (child #2), the diagnosis allows for a certain amount of confident optimism (you know who you are), and book number is heading into the home stretch (mine) (Spit-shine and polish coming up, thank you and amen for an awesomely answered prayer that goes by the name of, Word Shark, Karen Sanderson!)

Full Plate, Yes–Multi-Tasking Skills, Nada

I know who you are, I see you juggling a half-dozen dramas with one hand, arm tied behind your back, neck in a brace, and one leg in quicksand. I aspire to be you, but when it comes to emotional, personal, real life stuff, I’m still a klutz with the baton. I need seven hands to juggle two pins, and even then there’s a good chance something’s getting dropped.

And All This Time You Were Thinking I Just Ran Out of Stuff To Say

How amusing that you’d ever assume such a thing (or maybe just hoping), but no, my blog motor, though idling for a while, is still running. One of my New Year resolutions was to sweep the cobwebs from my blog and get back on track. January 1– February 19. Not too bad. Considering.

Meanwhile On Your Side of the Fence

So that’s me, but what, pray tell, have you been up to? Would love you to share your milestones, achievements, aspirations, and tidbits. Come on then, toot your horn, we’re all listening.man with balloons

Keep It To Yourself ?

fighting-2

As stated in the Rules

You know them as taboo topics.  Subjects OFF LIMITS if we have any intention of aspiring to the heights of the non-offending , tolerant, thoughtful, and un-bloodied.

It doesn’t require the mind of Solomon to figure out the wisdom in this accustomed rule.  A few heated venom spewing, flame throwing wars  disagreements are all that’s necessary to get the gist.

Not an especially surprising revelation, since, if we’re being honest, isn’t it true that very few of us encourage, appreciate, or respond well to unsolicited opinions, blatant know-it-all-isms, or bossy-pants directives? We make the effort to play fair with the expectation that the courtesy will be returned in kind. Sure, we waver now and again when logic and passion collide to cloud our thinking with the needling pain of a bad toothache.  But nevertheless, we understand to hold our tongues, barring the occasional lecture served up over the supper table, where our nearest and dearest are obliged held at fork point  to listen to our rants if they have any hope of our passing the meatloaf before hell freezes over.

It all happens so innocently

We’re still nursing the morning cup, scrolling through the recent scoops on Facebook: amusing quips, pet photos, drama queen updates — when all at once –we see it — The Bait.

HUH??? What? What the …. How rude!  And WRONG.  Crap. What a boob. 

You scroll away.

But then you’re back.  You can’t help it. Just for the sake of curiosity.  No harm in skimming through the handful of comments posted by those not so politically correct or courteous as you.

Seriously? Ridiculous. 

Scroll away.

Back.

You’ve got to be kidding? No rational person would ever agree with something so idiotic. Ten *Likes*? TEN people LIKE this outlandish baloney?  What brand of lunacy would inspire anyone to agree with this load of steaming, reeking poo? There must be someone out there in possession of a working brain. So where are they? Why aren’t they saying something? Why isn’t someone responding to this insane realignment of fact?

The truth is

While we might be occasionally successful in stiffing our opinions, it’s our hardcore convictions that consistently pop the lid off the box.  At which point, expressing The Real Deal feels all-consuming essential in the face of  blatantly heinous misconceptions.

Because, no exaggeration, when it comes to _______ and _________, I  personally know my stuff.  Really.  No really, I’ve got it covered. This is my topic, my territory.  I’ve got this–inside out, upside down, full to overflowing–I KNOW THIS!

And yet, I know better

Right?   I know the pointless, rarely won impossible to win, brutal nature of engaging in sticks-and-stones battles in public places STOP! DANGER! Social media ahead.

And  So

Scroll back — this is it. One quick and final look.

YES!!!

At last! The White Knight of Wisdom and Courage, one whose convictions are richer and truer than the cowardice of politeness, has swept in to plant the very words I myself am too non-offending cowardly to offer myself.  At the very least I will “Like” this sterling comment of honesty and truth. A click of solidarity …

Wait …but doesn’t a “Like” rate nearly the same as saying it myself? What if someone–someone near and dear–notices my Like and is offended? Maybe the best plan of action is to wait.  Creep back quietly under cover of night.  While Facebook is asleep and no one is looking.  A quick, drive-by click.

Truth vs Honestly vs Everything Else

It’s all such a confused and slippery slope.  At what point does thoughtfully keeping the yap shut translate as an act of cowardice, rather than stately wisdom.  Akin to backing away with hands thrown in the air when every fiber is insisting we lock-and-load. How much of the urge to respond to another persons “stuff” is a byproduct of our own pride and know-it-all-itis, as opposed to true heart and soul convictions?  The difficult to restrain human tendency of needing to have the last word–slamming headlong with the inspiration to impart life-saving sacred truth in the face of deranged misconception? Just how important or necessary is it to get our opinions and convictions out there for everyone to see?

Sigh…

I’m still working to rearrange the furniture in my comfort zone.  More or less treading lightly, when the better plan might very well be to leap directly into the deep end.  Grab hold of those unshakable-top-tier convictions and hold on for a rollicking ride over a  bumpy road.

And, how are you doin? What’s your tendency when it comes to speaking-up, lending opinion, spouting your fountain of truth?  The spotlight is yours *hands you the microphone…*

 

As I Was Saying …

saying

Hum … well, actually, you see … I um …

Okay, so yeah, I don’t quite recall what I was saying. It’s been a long, long while since I last dropped in on my lovely little piece of internet real estate here, and that makes me sad. And a little bit ashamed.

 

WE RUDELY INTERRUPT THIS BROADCAST

I’m generally tougher than that. Am in fact a disciplined, regimented, list-making, task oriented being, and falling off the map is not my standard response when one of those *straight-to-the-gut* sucker punches catches me unawares. Yet this time around the blow was enough of a wallop to send me reeling through the Christmas holiday and straight into the New Year.

REGROUP, REKINDLE, REFRESH

The thing is, getting one’s groove back is no easy task. Whether just returned from a three month trek through the Italian countryside gorging on cheese and salami and copious samplings of Vino (admittedly something I haven’t experienced outside of my head), awaking after months in a coma, or shaking off the dazed confusion of a hit-and-run assault by Life.  Make no mistake, it can be tricky.

A MIND RUNNING ON RANDOM FUEL

It takes a fair amount of random fuel to rekindle the engine, narrow the focus, reset the brain’s GPS.  A matter of unleashing our brain doodles to roll out across an endless pasture where they can wrestle around while we’re trying to remember how to re-saddle the horse that’s dumped us on our bum.  Unchecked scribbles that keep our brains from knocking around in an empty room…

BRAIN OFF THE LEASH (AKA, MINDLESS SCRIBBLES)

… is there any relevance in the fact that all of my favorite numbers are Odd?

*

Can I maybe actually really accept that invitation to jump on a plane to New Orleans for Mardi Gras? Dump the guilt of home-bound responsibility–claim it’s necessary research for the WIP though the setting of said novel is rural Maine … unless, right, a flashback. The original designer of flashbacks must have come up with this writers tactic after running away to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

*

Breakfast for Dinner tonight.  Kiddies favorite meal when hubby is away on business and this is the last chance before the bird lands back in the nest tomorrow.

*

Politics suck.

*

Spanx: sausage casings for humans. The concept works, but the name makes me giggle. Great title: Spanx.  If you loved Fifty Shades of Grey, you’ll adore Spanx.

*

Today is the day! I’m gonna reclaim my Mojo and jump back into the sadly neglected wholly abandoned WIP.  Not this instant, but soon. Once I’m done thinking …

thinking

*

Wowsa, there’s a lot of ellipses in here … I must really like them … see how nicely they fill the spaces in my head …

*

Just how long is a Cotton pickin’ minute? Is it longer or shorter than an ordinary minute?

*

Done with checking my RANKINGS, LIKES, REVIEWS on Amazon. No really. Done. Finished. What’s more idiotic than angsting over stuff I have little no control over

… wonder if it’s been three minutes yet?

*

Oh yeah, but there is that other book I read about on someone’s blog and wanted to check out.  Can’t recall the title just now …  but I’ll remember if I just poke around a little on Amazon. No, really, I’m only looking up that ONE book. Not going near my page. Just having a quick look at that other book that ISN’T mine.

Oh, wait!  Hold on.  Before I take off, how about you take a moment to drop a mindless scribble of your own right here. The floor is yours. What cha thinkin?

RED, WHITE AND TRUE BLUE

 Among the assortment of ingredients contained within, aka the mumbo jumbo of stuff that make me *Me*, is a genuine patriot that tears-up at parades, is thankful for the opportunity to Vote, and thinks The Star Spangled Banner is a pretty good song.

As far back as my childhood days as a Girl Scout marching in my small town parade, I have been proud to bursting of my American heritage and the rich soil on which I’ve been planted.

AND YET,

I could claim I was blindsided and it wouldn’t be a lie. It was all so innocent. An act of over-confidence piqued by a simple enough challenge in the back pages of the Sunday Newspaper: “Can You Pass The Citizenship Test?” followed by a civics portion of the U.S naturalization test.

It’s true I might have chuckled over the warning ” One in three citizens failed this test in a survey taken this year.”  Tisk tisk. Just pitiful. They should be ashamed. 

Just a Moment, While I Sharpen My Pencil …

  1. What do we call the first 10 amendments to the Constitution?
  2. What are two rights in the Declaration of Independence?
  3. What stops one branch of government from becoming too powerful?
  4. We elect a U.S senator for how many years?
  5. The House of Representatives has how many voting members?
  6. If both the president and the vice president can no longer serve,who becomes president?
  7. Under our Constitution, some powers belong to the federal government. What is one power of the federal government?
  8. When was the Constitution written?
  9. The Federalist Papers supported the passage of the U.S Constitution. Name one of the writers.
  10.  What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?

Huh? My Score, You Ask?

Fugeddiboudit! Fat chance of tripping that particular Elephant in the public square 😦  Especially when such revelations could very well lead to immediate deportation. (As in, it is pitiful, and I am ashamed.)

Just let me mention that to pass the civics test, an applicant must correctly answer 6 out of 10 questions, which are randomly selected from a list of 100. (You can go to Parade.com/citizenship to see how you fared on these 10 and to try your hand at all 100.)

My Final Score:

Patriotism: A+++

Citizenship: … still studying for the re-take.

What’s your standing? Would you pass the Citizenship test as it pertains to your own little parcel on the planet? Care to pull up and chair and refresh with me?

PULL UP A CHAIR AND POP A CORK

This gallery contains 6 photos.

  A POP HEARD ROUND THE WORLD       … although maybe, it’s actually just the echo of a popping cork here in my still dark kitchen at 6:00 AM. Normally I’d be pouring coffee, but today, you see, I’m … Continue reading

Nobody Cares

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

… as much as you do.

THE BIG PARTY 

I’m not saying that no one gives a hooey about what you’re writing or have written.  Maybe you’re so blessed that the day you turned the knob and let yourself out of the writers closest your cheerleaders fell into formation, practiced and ready to spin a dozen perfect cartwheels of support over your heartfelt endeavors.  They bought your book, tooted your wordy genius to their circle of friends, posted on Facebook, tweeted from sea to shining sea.  Possibly even set your heart to singing by posting a review on Amazon and/or BN.  They told you how proud, excited, impressed, joyful they are over your accomplishment.  They begged for a sequel and your smile stretched so wide it nearly split the seams of your face from ear-to-ear.

C.O.D

You’ve worked hard.  Persevered across the fiery coals of doubt, rejection, and uncertainty regardless of  how much it never failed to sometimes hurt.  You’ve paid your dues and can at long last bask in the radiant light of an accomplished dream. It feels good.  Because it should.

BEWARE THE BURSTING BUBBLE

Whether it be weeks or months later, the thing is, it does happen.  Readers read … and then they move on. Readers have an appetite that requires constant care and feeding of good books, not just one book.  Yes, they read and thoroughly loved your book.  But now the marching band has turned the corner and your personal parade has dispersed to return to their own lives. But this writing gig is your real life and you’re still here. Alone.

FOREVER ON YOUR MIND

It’s something beyond wonderful when people care about your creations.  When they take time to share your passion and connect with your characters and stories.  And although none of that stuff is why we write, it puts an extra special spring in our step and twinkle in our eye. Until they leave. Pack up their pom poms and return to whatever they’ve temporarily set aside.  Leaving you to sweep up the confetti in a suddenly empty room.

SHHHHH, NOT SO LOUD

And here you are. No less passionate, still eyeball deep and consumed with all you’ve created. You haven’t finished talking about your characters lives, thinking, wondering, obsessing about them.  Worrying they have no friends on the playground and nobody has invited them to sit at their lunch table.

THAT BAD?

Not really. Just the facts.  No One Cares … as much as You Do. Just because you’ve written a book doesn’t mean people are going to want to read it. And even if they do, their potential love for your work will never surpass your own and you shouldn’t expect it

SINCERE APPRECIATION

Be gracious and appreciative of well wishes and enthusiastic readers.  Just keep in mind, when the final cork is popped and the lights go out, it’s still your baby. You brought it into the world and you’re responsible for future nurturing and midnight feeding.

Are you expecting too much from your readers?  How difficult, or potentially painful, do you find it to draw the shades on your party and wave goodnight to your guests?

Jeezaloo–fingers crossed that someone really does care that my baby number two, “Asleep Without Dreaming,” is due for release in 7 days  😀

Cover Me Please

          FINISHED! And there you have it.  Two altogether exhilarating words for anyone who has ever poured months, years, lifetimes into writing a book. Despite multiple drafts, rewrites, painful edits, etc … etc, there comes a day … Continue reading

WHY SO EXCITED?

Aren’t you so EXCITED?!  Of course you are!  At least it certainly seems you ought to be, considering that when you skim the news feed on FB, stop by to read a blog post here and there as you cruise through cyberspace, noiselessly tip-toe through twitter, it’s pretty much everywhere. Excitement, and lots of it.  Can we really be this Excited so much of the time?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m right there with you  to blow-up the balloons and toss the confetti in celebration of those occasions, announcements, and achievements of high excitement.  You’ve just gotten a new agent, your book is/will be published, you won the Nobel Prize? Absolutely that’s EXCITING stuff. In fact, pardon me while I dash off and bake you a cake …

EXCITEMENT OVERLOAD

In truth, it’s not the overabundant use of the word EXCITED that has me grousing, it’s the observation that maybe there’s far too much EXCITEMENT being tossed around, and quite possibly we’ve gotten a wee bit lazy with our word-ology.

Okay, so if you’ll hold your excitement for just a moment, I will make my point by serving up some suitable, and yes, EXCITING alternates courtesy of the every handy-dandy desk thesaurus:

EXCITE: inspire; upset, accelerate, agitate, amaze, anger, animate, annoy, arouse, astound, awaken, bother, chafe delight, disturb, electrify, elicit, energize, evoke, fire, fluster, foment (huh?) galvanize, goad, incite, induce, inflame, infuriate, instigate, intensify, irritate, jolt, kindle, madden, mock, move, offend, precipitate, provoke, rouse, start, stimulate, stir up, taunt, tease, thrill, titillate, vex, warm, worry …

Clearly, it’s nothing if not a thoroughly lazy exercise in word usage  to so often default to the generic EXCITED when we have such a diverse menu to choose from.

IF YOU’LL PARDON MY EXCITEMENT

Over here in my little corner of the world, this first half of 2012 has seen more than a few truly exciting astounding milestones. 

AND SO, A FEW EXCITING STIMULATING HIGHLIGHTS

1. Child #3 graduated with honors from Tulane University in New Orleans this past spring.

Aside from the “official requirement” that we pack up the jalopy and head off to one of my very favorite cities in order to attend said graduation, there is the deeply personal excitement fire of waving my third child off into the world with college degree in hand as she pursues her hearts desire. (Not to mention that by graduating with honors, I am assured that my darling girl did indeed resist the temptations of Bourbon Street and perpetual Mardi Gras well enough to open her books and work hard when necessary.) Certainly every parent thrills at such achievements in the lives of their children, but for those who, like me, carried their own Ivy League dreams straight from High School to enrollment at the University of Real Life, (although to my credit, I paid attention, studied hard, and did my homework along the way to earning a self-awarded doctorate) there mighty milestones elicit high levels of excitement animation.

2. Child #4 completed his Boy Scout Eagle Project this summer. Yes, absolutely the stuff that makes a mama proud, but there is something infinitely exciting stimulating in witnessing a 16 year old boy take a mighty step toward manhood by proving he is far more than an eating, sleeping, video game playing entity (cue Dr Frankenstein as his creature comes to life, “IT’S ALIVE!!!!”), by willingly shouldering the necessary design, planning, fund raising, labor, and responsibilities necessary to accomplish a mighty and highly ambitious project. In this case, by metamorphising a neglected Memorial plaque on a boulder dedicated to WW II veterans, into a beautiful memorial garden complete with archway, benches, brick walkway, flag pole, night-time lighting, and plantings. So yeah, this is one of those things that truly excites  inflames my pride receptors.

3. I am a shiny new Grandmother (or Mimi, if you happen to be Baby Sebastian.)!!!  Although I’ve only been wearing this newbie title for 4 days now, it fits quite nicely and feels especially comfy. To those of you who are grandmothers, have a grandmother, long to be a grandmother, I needn’t elaborate on how over-the-moon, EXCITED ANIMATED I am now, and will forever be.

4. Having weathered the accustomed angst, turmoil, and brain strain hairpulling, sulking, whining of writing, I now have a mostly official date penned on the calendar for the release of my latest novel, Asleep Without Dreaming. (September 18, 2012. Woo woo!) If you’re a writer, no elaboration necessary.  If you’re a reader, I hope pray, gnash teeth, cross fingers that you’ll consider climbing into your favorite comfy chair with my book and while away an afternoon. After mucho years of scribbling out these chapters, my EXCITEMENT supreme sense of electrification is near blinding.

AND SO

What exactly does all this word-muddling prove, you ask?  Probably that EXCITE, EXCITING, EXCITED, are pretty good words.  Because, shoot, we really are  EXCITED! And for good reason. EXCITEMENT is a feel good, done good, bring on the parade, perfect fit of a word.  Accept no substitutes imitators that sound really awkward and stupid. I might be inflamed, animated, fired up and stimulated, but mostly I’m EXCITED, by golly! EXCITED, EXCITED!

EXCITED is life at it’s finest and nothing quite expresses it like good old tried-and-true EXCITED EXCITEMENT! 

So what’s got you Excited lately?  It’s fun to share, please do 😀

*Hoping you don’t mind my adding a fleeting dash of EXCITEMENT by announcing that my debut novel The Secret of Lies will be FREE on Kindle August 2 – August 3 in celebration of the near-release of Asleep Without Dreaming 😀