Archive for August 2012

Finding Inspiration

August 26, 2012

Ghost town, but the truck looked much better than the buildings remaining.

I’ve been perplexed all week with what to write today.

Partly that’s because I’ve been so busy, and my mind has twirled with necessary bits and pieces of putting information together on several projects. Part of it also lies with my frustration at the circumstances these days which limit my ability to get out and about and interact with the larger world around me –to find new material.

I wanted to blame my lack of ideas on circumstances—perhaps giving me a chance to play the “Oh, woe is me—poor pitiful me” card.

One of the first wineries I visited, long, long ago. But I still remember that day.

But Emily Dickinson saved me. Now how could a nineteenth century poet dead more than 130 years have accomplished such a task?

Well, because I remember studying her poetry and her life while I was in college. One of the points stressed about her was she rarely left the confines of her home and in later years of her life, kept to her room and didn’t interact with many people other than through correspondence. Much of her poetry was never published during her lifetime. Her greatness as a poet wasn’t truly recognized or accepted until well into the twentieth century.

Her choice to stay within the confines of her home most likely are very dissimilar to why I’m tied down. But what I take from her is she learned to always look for her ideas within her mind, her life and what she observed in the littlest elements of her surroundings.

I must also do that to jumpstart my creativity and my joy in my life. Without that I lose sight of what’s important to me. I will devolve into a dissatisfied, unhappy harpy. I don’t want to become that. And much of Dickinson’s poetry did display elements of an unhappy, maladjusted woman.

These doors were in my mind as I wrote 2 scenes for the book.

But then I was most attracted to the more positive of her poetry.

But my point is, for whatever reasons Dickinson chose to isolate herself, she didn’t let that hinder her creativity—whether one enjoys reading it or not.

So I can’t let circumstances hinder my creativity, and thus again thanks to Emily Dickinson, I came up with today’s topic and what to do with it.

You see one of my tasks toward the end of this week was to put my mind back into the California setting for my book Seasons of Wine and Love. Currently it’s available in digital format, but so many of my readers want print I’ve decided to make it available that way.

And since I’m a writer, I always think I can improve my product. One of the elements I wanted to do then was update and tweak my description and add some discussion questions. That meant I needed to skim over my notes and the manuscript and reacquaint myself with Gabrielle, Tony, Churchill, and the lovely wine country of northern California where the story takes place.

Part of this was also looking over all the photos I took on prior trips to those locales. While I viewed them, I thought to myself: what did I see in this photo to take it and does this photo still appeal to me in the same way?

My favorite still–I’ve had this redone to an 11×14 and framed. I study it every day.

The answers overall were interesting. I took the photos because at the time I thought someday I might need to be reminded of details…

More interesting to me, however, was my new thought—maybe a more important one—now I look and see the beauty within whatever I photographed, the little details that appeal even more to me now.

I guess my creativity and curiosity have not disappeared.

Until next week…

Rainbows and Book Covers: Say What?

August 19, 2012

Storm’s coming. Not much time left.

I get it. You’re thinking with this title I’ve definitely gone over to the dark side. Or lost my last marble.

But not so.

You see this week—I can’t remember which day it was because sometimes when you’re so busy trying to meet deadlines and still deal with life—well, time becomes a non-factor. Trust me on this. I know it’s a fact. Anyway, I had one more run through to check for typos on the last edit for my next book More Than A Trifle.

Storms had been threatening all day and with the extreme drought we’ve endured this summer, I certainly didn’t want to hope it wouldn’t rain. So I worked as fast as I could on a task that takes time and at best can be described as tedious.

As I closed in on the last ten pages, the sky really turned ominous. Always a great predictor of bad storms with loud thunder and lightning, Oreo headed for the dark and comforting space behind the toilet in the bathroom. She really wanted me to join her.

Like that was going to happen. To the claps of thunder getting closer, and a few baby bolts of thunder high in the storm clouds massing like armies over the chrome hued waters of the lake I increased my pace.

Two more pages. The lights flickered.

One more page. The thunder sounded as if a thousand bowling balls had just landed on our roof. The Holt Medallion on my desk shook, rattled and rolled.

One half page left.

Oreo scooted from behind the toilet and howled for me to come join her.

A bolt of lightning zig-zagged through those storm clouds over the lake and appeared to land in the water just to the north of my office windows.

Oreo howled.

And I finished. Saved my file—3 different places. And quickly closed down.

Oreo kept yelping for me to join her in the bathroom. However, behind that toilet wasn’t going to work for me. Instead I dropped to the floor, leaned against the tub, and held her in my arms while I watched the storm unleash its fury.

Half an hour later, the thunder ceased and the lightning appeared headed toward Michigan. Oreo gracefully wiggled from my embrace, and went to the bathroom door. I struggled to get up from the bathroom floor—not a pretty sight to watch. She walked away rather than witness it.

We have a rainbow…

I walked into the den and found her snuggled contentedly in the corner of the couch. I could see the skies lightening in the west and the sun was making a valiant effort to reappear even though the heavy rains had dwindled to a drizzle.

Rainbow, I thought and grabbed my camera.

We not only had a magnificent rainbow, but a double one. And in one of the shots I took that day (wishing I had an even better camera) the end of the rainbow appeared to be in the tree I can see just beyond my office window.

I’ve decided it’s a sign. A symbol if you will that this book—one I’ve slaved over—one I finished just before the storm that brought the rainbow, well, this is going to be my best book, my break out book, my pot-of-gold book if you will.

I’ve written and edited it through one of the worst storms in my life. I finished it just before a big and needed storm arrived for my community. That storm brought needed rain but no damage. It did bring a double rainbow to remind us that better times come for those who keep up the good fight, persevere, and believe in the beauty of rainbows.

Can you wait until September?

Now, as I promised last week. Here’s the first official showing of the cover art for More Than A Trifle.

I hope you’ll let me know what you think. Does this lure you in like it did me once all the work to get there came together?

Olympic Thoughts 2012

August 12, 2012

Thursday’s beneficial rain. Our grass is growing.

Tonight the 2012 Olympics will conclude. The Olympic flame will be extinguished. We won’t see it again until the winter Olympics in Russia in 2014.

For those who are addicted to summer sports, they may get their lives back–maybe even slide off their couches and head out to play a tennis, game, set, match. Or walk a few blocks. Swim a few laps.

Of course, doing so wouldn’t necessarily set them on the path toward participating in the 2016 Olympics. Most of us enjoy the Olympics as spectators–if we are into sports or perhaps if we have nothing better to do.

I guess I’m more or less in the latter group. I watch bits and pieces if I have the time or something about the sport interests me enough to watch that part–or if my son has it on and every so often when I’m caring for him and doing something else, I’ll look up and something about the game/sport/race will intrigue for the moment.

So what intrigued me for 2012? And not in order of importance. 🙂

Saturday’s sandy shore brought by the huge waves on Friday.

The brief unscripted moment when a lucky videographer had “eyes” on the royal couple so enthused over whatever win had just occurred, they actually hugged each other enthusiastically in elation. We may never catch sight of such a moment again.

Gabrielle Duncan doing her winning routine for the Gold medal. Imagine being focused and agile enough to do such movements and with such grace. And watching her mother–oh that brought a tear to my eye.

Watching the races which the South African ran on his artificial legs. He didn’t qualify but he has the focus and heart of a champion in not allowing his disabilities limit his expectations. Again, my eyes teared up a bit.

Or what about the female runner from Afghanistan, Tahmina Kohistani? She ran mostly clothed and wearing the headscarf. But in her running she broke the Afghani rules of what a woman’s place should be. She didn’t win, but she ran the race. In defiance of the Taliban. A woman to be admired for her bravery, her running talent, her belief in what she’s doing is right. She has heart.

When I was a young girl, young girls were not expected to participate much in sports at least not at such high levels. Some didn’t let that stop them; they were the exception. Those a few years younger found that expectation changing and took advantage of increasing opportunities. So I’m especially pleased–and will remember the 2012 Olympics–as the year more women participated in the games than men.

Are those high waves trying for a comeback?

And finally, the last highlight of the games for me was last weekend when we watched Michael Phelps win his last race. He became the athlete who’s won the most Olympic medals. Phelps’ number of medals is impressive and swimming interests me because in his youth my dad hoped and worked hard to perhaps compete in the games.

However, Phelps’ moment was made so special for me because I watched it with my two remaining sons and my husband. Since my oldest son lives in Alaska and doesn’t get to visit too often, this situation is likely never going to happen again.

Oh, #1 son will return often, but the chances of it occurring during an Olympics is quite slim. So for that very personal and motherly reason, I will never forget these 2012 games.

This morning’s unusual cloud formations just before sunrise.

Have a great week–and check back next Sunday. I’ll debut the cover art for my next release. And I’ll be you can’t wait, right?

Today Is Golden

August 5, 2012

Storm is coming.

On Wednesday of this past week, I did the program for the Green Bay area of Wisconsin Romance Writers. The topic the organizer asked me to discuss was writing through crisis. From the comments and emails I received after I finished the program and returned home, I would say that those attending found the information useful. They were a great audience and I have to say I fed off their attention and responsiveness to what I had to say.

But that was Wednesday and I had a group of writers to listen. Now it’s Sunday. While I mulled over the topic for today’s post, my mind kept wandering back to the contents of my program. It also dawned on me that because my Alaska son was here for 2 days this weekend that sometimes our conversations revolved around crisis in our lives while still having to deal with work. Not all that much different from talking about writing through crisis.

I realized as we discussed how he’s dealt with these very tough crises, he was relating to me the same skills and elements I had mentioned to the writers on Wednesday.

Getting More Threatening

At one point during our talks, I asked how he got so smart. He smiled in that smile of his which reminds me of Tom Hanks and said, “I learned from the best–you and Gram.”

I think that’s the highest praise a mother and grandmother could get.

But that’s not the point of today’s post.

We all have crises occurring in our lives. Sometimes those crises and the consequences are short-lived. Others are much longer lasting and worse ripple outward toward others. Sometimes we feel as if the crises we’re enduring is so overwhelming we can’t fight our way out so why bother? However, if we give ourselves such messages we give the crises even more power and become more helpless.

Not giving up is vital is survival.

It’s the element I love about being a writer. I create characters who get hit with disaster but don’t give up. They don’t give it power. They learn from it and become wiser.

Impressive sight, right?

As a reader, I love novels that do the same.

As a mother, wife, sister, friend, I live these words where they apply. I learned this behavior not from books but from my mother and grandmother. I feel blessed that I’ve passed it on to my children and I have lived long enough to hear this from my son.

Life is golden. Live it well.

Have a great week. I will.

This morning’s sunrise