Archive for June 2009

An Alaskan Cabin

June 27, 2009

In HarborI’m revising a manuscript now which has my two main characters from Black Ribbon  Affair once again finding themselves in the midst of danger.

 Since they spend most of the book in Alaska, I’ve been going online daily and taking a look at the Anchorage Daily News.  They always have some of the greatest photos that give the flavor of the state. 

This week I came across a photo that appealed to me on so many levels.  It also reflects that distinctive attitude toward life that defines many who live in Alaska.

So, why did this photo appeal to me?

First, humor.  I laughed and still do every time I think of it.  I’ve gone back each day since to view it.  🙂

 Second, I think about the old saying: between a rock and a hard place. This photo surely represents that.

Third, optimism. The fisherman who built that cabin and uses it reeks of a positive attitude.

 As a person and a writer, particularly a writer in the throes of revision, I need all three of those qualities. 

 Every day things happen that are unexpected.  Sometimes not especially good things, both in writing and life.  However, seeing the humor and getting a good laugh from the situation will always help solve the problem or find the new direction in life or with a revision. 

Tornado AheadBut often at times we are faced with problems and solutions which don’t have easy outcomes.  That old rock and a hard place element.  Maybe it means totally redoing a book that doesn’t work or setting it aside for a time.  Or in life, maybe it means learning to live your life with conditions that you can’t change for many reasons—an illness, a death, deepening economic woes, changing relationships, a weather disaster.  You know.  I’m sure you’ve all been there. 

StressHandling that kind of ongoing stress is best done with optimism and humor.  Whether in life or in writing or revising a book.  I know.  I’ve been there. In daily living and with books.  I love finding humor and optimism in places I least expect them.  That’s why I’ll never forget the photo of the cabin.

Any of you have something solid that keeps you going when that rock and a hard place lingers too long?

Bits & Pieces

June 22, 2009

Iris Survivors

Iris Survivors

These past few days have been crazy and far from usual.  Thursday afternoon I was working in my office when we lost power.  Fortunately, I’d backed up a few moments prior to that. Maybe 10 minutes passed and the power came on.  I reset all the clocks etc and booted up my computer to start work again.

Maybe twenty minutes later, I’m well into my work and whammo, the power fades again and disappears for another 15 or 20 minutes.

 No, I don’t know why.  The skies were blue, the breeze gentle and no utility crews were working around here.  Weird…

 Later that night we got terrible storms, high winds, lots of lightning, and 3 inches of rain.  It stopped for  a few hours, long enough to clean up the debris and started in again.  Incredible lightening, huge hail, odd colored skies, and so much rain. At one point a weak tornado touched down about 10 miles away.  The winds took down power lines and many are still without power and have flooding issues to deal with.

Peaceful blue

Peaceful blue

 We are fortunate not to have any damage or serious flooding.  We’ll probably get a bumper crop of mosquitoes in a few days as water is standing in any low lying area and with the heat and humidity the storm left us, the puddles aren’t drying up fast.

But once again I can use my office and my computer without worry. I’m counting my blessings and feeling lucky to have to pick up only some small trees branches and bits of flowers ripped up by Mother Nature.

 Life contains surprises, just like a good book should.  I didn’t like having my routine broken these past two days, but it some ways it’s made life a bit more interesting.  Made me realize hidden elements about people I know just a bit or a lot.  This knowledge can also be useful in building characters for books or plots within those books.

Today is peaceful.  The sky is an incredible shade of deep blue.  A few puffy white clouds sometimes float by.  The lake is calm and a deeper blue than the sky.  Many boats, jet skies, kayakers and canoeists are enjoying the lake and the heat.  Once I have the patio back in order we plan to sit there and enjoy this first blast of summer.Peaceful Blues

 Sunday was Father’s Day.  A time for remembering our dads.  A time for remembering and honoring all dads.  To all those dads who are part of my life and memories of my past, thank you.

A Taste of Being Published

June 15, 2009

Over the past two weeks, I’ve had a few experiences new to me. 

Western WI trout streamLate one afternoon as I was taking a break from my writing tasks, my youngest sister arrived.  She’s been acting like a Big Sister to a teenager over the past several months.  The teen enjoys reading and my sister mentioned at different times what’s happening to me and my book as we both get closer to that magical month of October and PUBLICATION!  🙂

Anyway, the young girl. Amanda, asked if she could meet me—a real live writer and my sister promised.  And they arrived at my home.

First thing the young girl noticed were a stack of bookmarks I had out on the dining room table. Be prepared always to give a few away when any visitors arrive.  I’ve even been known to hand them to delivery or repair people if the occasion arises.

We chatted together for a few moments.  The teen’s excitement re-energized me after a long day of writing.  When she asked if she could see where I write, I said “Of course,” and my sister led her away as she’s not been in my office either. 

Desk with Fireweed notes

Desk with Fireweed notes

I’ll never forget how excited Amanda was when she returned from my office.  When they left she asked for some extra bookmarks to give to her friends.  I felt honored.  In the eyes of a potential reader, I was a “real writer!” I had arrived with a potential readership. 🙂

More recently I was at a gathering of relatives and friends.  Several were there who I’ve not seen in a very long time.  All kept asking about my book and wanted bookmarks.  Too soon, I ran out of all those I’d brought with me.  (Note to self.  Always keep extra bookmarks in the car to resupply.)

Spring Sail

Spring Sail

I really enjoyed the party and seeing people I’ve not seen in a while.  However, seeing their excitement at my news, their admiration of my bookmark, and the concept of my book really provoked me to get back into my office the next day and KEEP WRITING!

These are tiny experiences but new ones for me—and special because they have happened for the first time.  What about you?  Any of you have experiences related to your writing that have helped you realized all the angst and work are worth it?

Inspiration with Great Desserts

June 8, 2009

42-16039120I found that and more at the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America (WisRWA) conference, held in Green Bay this past weekend. The hotel was too marvelous for words, the food was tasty, but I was so excited I found eating distracting.  The desserts were too scrumptious to resist. 

Sherrilyn Kenyon was the keynote speaker.  Her words brought tears to many of us and she spoke of never giving up, the toughness of the journey writers take, how a book that might be rejected for years becomes “golden” and a best seller in a different market and time.  I’ll never forget how Kenyon used Katherine Hepburn’s words as Eleanor of Aquataine to Peter O’Toole as King Henry II in Lion of Winter

Henry II: The day those stout hearts band together is the day that pigs get wings.
Eleanor: There’ll be pork in the treetops come morning. 

Sherrilyn’s message resonated with me as don’t give up even in the worst of times.  We all have worst of times as writers and as individuals in all the various roles we play. 

Karin Tabke, our other featured speaker, talked about understanding when sometimes bad things  happen in our writing journey and even sometimes when good things do, it isn’t about us but about THE BUSINESS.  That’s also true in our personal lives. 

As Casey I went to the conference hoping to spread the word of my October release for Black Ribbon Affair.  I believe I got a start at that.  Authors Karen Tabke, Lyn Cote, Shari Anton, Barb Raffin, and Laura Iding especially gave me some excellent pointers.

WisRWA Chapter Service Award Recipients

WisRWA Chapter Service Award Recipients

 But the other side of me, Mary Jo or MJ as I refer to her, received special recognition for the service she’s given to WisRWA over the years.  Because the organization was celebrating its 25th year in existence, two awards were given. Sandee Turriff was the other recipient.  She also was celebrating her first book release and did her first book signing at the conference.  She writes as Meg Hennessy

Another great part of a gathering like this is having time to connect with friends I don’t see often. One was Deb Maher who was my room mate and agreed late one night that sound I heard from outside was indeed a gunshot.

I was so happy to see my dear friend, Virginia McCullough, honored by our group as one of RWA’s Golden Heart finalists this year.  I hope I can tell you in late July that she’s won her category, Single Title, in that prestigious writing contest. 

Finally, I have to mention the tireless conference committee volunteers, Donna Kowalczyk, Stacey Netzel, Barb Raffin, Virginia Athey, and Lori Kriescher for the fantastic job they did.  I’ve come home ready to dive back into the creative pool and get back to writing.  🙂 

j0182707Yes, it was a great weekend. Lots to think about and more to do in the weeks ahead…and be thinking all year about those desserts.