Monthly Archives: July 2005

Home

After a week with my grandparents I’m home, but I don’t think I’m quite the same.
One day I might be able to write about all of it, but I’m not ready yet.

I read three incredible books this week. One: Seeing Red by Jill Shalvis. I loved this book. Blue Flame was up for a RITA this year and I liked it. I actually liked White Heat better. There was something so vulnerable about the heroine. But Seeing Red is amazing. The characterization is fabulous, the danger, edge of your seat, the tension…hot, hot, hot! Amazing book.

Two: The Pregnancy Test by Susan Gable. Whoa. I can’t believe this was a Susan Gable book. I’m actually surprised it was a SuperRomance period. It’s a great book but dark. Even the happy ending is tinged with sadness. It’s on my keepershelf along with The Mommy Plan.

Third: Letters From Home by Carolyn Hart. Fabulous, fantastic, I’m adding it to my booklist for my journalism classes. A great whodunit that definitely earned its Best Book of the Year nod from PW.

I’ve had a week off writing, not exactly how I planned to spend the week of the first Nationals I wasn’t attending since I got serious about writing, but I wouldn’t change it. The time I spent with my grandparents wasn’t wasted, that’s for sure.

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True Love

100_0058I’m spending the week with my grandparents.
My grandma’s been sick, heart trouble among other stuff, and today she told me she’s ready to go. But Grandpa’s not ready for her to go.
It’s pretty amazing to see these two together, still in love after so long.
It’s pretty scary to be here, helping, knowing this could be it, knowing that even if it’s not, the end is coming. It’s easier to pick up the phone, make a call, talk a little and avoid the reality of death and dying.
The doctor told my grandma to eat whatever she wanted today. She’s been a restricted diet, but she’s tired and nothing tastes good and she’s week from not eating. So today, we’re going to eat. 🙂
And we’re going to laugh. And I’m going to keep teasing her about taking her to the OKC mall so we can shop for dresses even though we both know that’s not going to happen.
And while we’re laughing and playing she’ll be teaching me lessons about life and love. Lessons I probably won’t be fully aware of until one day later. But that’s okay.
I’m glad I’m here.
Freaked out a little, but glad.
I’m seeing true love, and it’s definitely worth it.

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Done

I’ve completed my first big book. It’s so long! I still can’t believe I finished. I rewrite the end a few times and I’m still going to re-work some scenes in the last 70 pages, make sure they stretch the tension, but the story is done and I love it. Hopefully it’s lucky number 13. 🙂 With this book, I’ve completed 13. I have two partials for Intrigue, but I’m not moving forward with those until I have requests. I felt that since this was a whole new ball game, I needed to finish it. And I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about me, but I also learned a lot about writing and characterization and the flow of a book. With my series stuff, the novel focuses on the hero and heroine and the romance. With this, there were so many other threads that had to be completed. It was challenging and fun and exhausting but definitely worth it.

Summer at Grandma’s

I loved summers. Rootbeer floats, fried chicken Sundays, biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
Cousins galore.
All of us sleeping on pallets and sleeping bags around Grandma’s floor, wherever we fit.
The last days of school were spent in anticipation. Not of freedom but of Oklahoma, the land of Grandma and Grandpa, the Blue River and then later, Tecumseh, husking corn, snapping beans and eating fried okra. Learning to make a bed the right way and clean a stove after dinner was done. How to sweep until a floor was clean.
And, the biggest anticipation of all once Grandpa retired from preaching, Oak Park Church of God.
Grandpa was a preacher. He had no problem calling us out from the pulpit if we talked during the service. It only happened once that I can recall.
I don’t know what it was about that church that made it different. Maybe it’s just because it’s wrapped up in memories of those summers. Whatever it was, I loved everything about it. The choir and their hymnals and southern gospel music. Connie, the pianist with the voice of an angel. The preacher with his black hair and soothing voice. Aunt Jane taking us to Sunday School, sometimes teaching. Boys. I don’t remember their names today, but I definitely remember those crushes that meant nothing and everything.
And then there was baseball and Grandma’s Cardinals. The adults gathered round the TV, whooping and hollering and making all us kids laugh as we played outside, bossed around by the oldest Carolyn, unless she was too busy. If that happened we were free to play in the ditch under the pear trees with Hot Wheels or baby dolls or go to the park down the alley or explore through all Grandpa’s stuff in the backyard.
And when summer winded to a close, we didn’t want to go back home. Who cared about school? Home was boring. No cousins. No fun church. No Grandma with her books and baseball and no Grandpa with his Bible.
But summer always ended with the promise of more of the same come Christmas.
Until one day summer ended.
I don’t know when it happened, but suddenly at 36, I wish I could have it back. I wish I could give my daughter a second of that time, let her see what it was like in that age before PlayStation and cable TV.
But going back’s impossible. So I’ll live with telling her the stories and watching her roll her eyes as she listens for the thousandth time about summers and sleeping bags and pallets and too many cousins to count and at the center of it all: Grandma and Grandpa.

Oh the Joy!

I’m almost done and I love my book. It’s so sad and happy and reaffirming. I nearly killed it with that race to the end, but after a brief bout with WIP CPR, it’s been revived.
Woo Hoo.
I’ll finish it tomorrow or maybe the next day. And then I have to get started on the next one because it’s about to write itself I think. My brain won’t turn it off, and it has to, at least until I finish this one.
I’m bittersweet about this first foray into the Single Title market coming to an end. I’ve stretched myself and learned to write with more emotion but less exposition. The characters tell their stories. I’m just sort of along for the ride. 🙂 I think this book has helped me become a better writer, a better storyteller. Before this, I’ve been so in love with my words, I forgot that in genre fiction show don’t tell is essential. That even if it sounds beautiful, it’s not going to be read if it’s similar to Faulkner in sentence length. This story is longer than anything I’ve written before because of its subject matter and its characters. But I fully believe writing this has made me a better writer, period. I know my new Intrigue proposal is tighter because of it.

Still haven’t heard from Intrigue, but my next proposal for them is ready. YES! I understand the idea behind one proposal on the desk at a time, and I even agree with it. But man, it’s hard to keep this at home when it’s ready to go.

People keep telling me I should focus my energy on one kind of story. I don’t think it’s possible. One day an agent or editor might tell me this, and I might have to give it more thought. But right now, I don’t see the need. These ST’s are gut-wrenching to write. Crying at the computer might be cathartic at times, but it’s also exhausting. I need the shorter, faster, sexier stories for author escapism. I hope that doesn’t mean I’m unprofessional. I don’t think it does.

I hope to have a fabulous writing week next week. I should, since I won’t be at Nationals. I love conference, but I’ve given it up until I sell some books or final in the Golden Heart. Hopefully I’ll be in Atlanta. That’s my goal anyway.

**Reading Lolita in Tehran is an amazing book. I’m so glad I picked it up. This summer’s been great for my Keeper Shelf.

Avoiding

Tales of the incredible day of avoidance. Part 1

Once upon a time there was this writer. She was a very determined writer. Or so she said. To everybody. All the time.
This determined writer woke early one bright shiny morning with a vision. A complete day of nothing but the written word.
A nutritious breakfast of Whole Wheat waffles and yogurt later, she sat at her trusty iBook, powered on, opened her WIP and her e-mail.
One hour later she powered off and went for a walk to clear her mind.
Now, determined writer realized she’d written nary a word on her WIP, but, she told herself, there’s still a whole bright shiny day ahead.
The nap at 1, wasn’t that big of a deal. She still had half a bright, shiny day ahead.
The half hour watching The Real World wasn’t that big of a deal, she still had a few hours left.
The thirty minutes spent grilling fish and whipping up a scrumptious low-fat yogurt and Splenda topping for the berries she’d bought, no biggie.
The twenty minutes plucking her eyebrows when she’d never, ever in her entire life plucked her eyebrows….okay, that was big deal. Not only do her eyes feel like they’ve taken a short one-way trip to hell, the entire day is gone and she’s still written nary a word.
UGH!

Update:
Avoidance Part 2
I’ve written. In 15 pages I’ve solved the world’s problems, everyone loves everyone and all is safe.
Unfortunately it’s 50 pages too soon for all these nice-nice feelings.
I’ve committed the nice-nice sin. And it’s crazy really because I don’t know how I got here. I mean I do. Obviously I just jumped right from all hope is lost to, well, isn’t that nice. Too bad, so sad. Straight to HEA. Which means I left out a huge chunk of my story, and that’s the first time I’ve done that writing this book, so it’s driving me crazy.
I know why this happened. It was the eyebrow thing. Or maybe it was the blueberry coffee. How can I write angst while drinking this stuff? It tastes like summer. And summer is not angsty. I need angst.
UGH!!!
(Tiny, itty bitty good news: I only have 50 pages to go!!!! But I’ve got to quit thinking like that. It’s how I ended up in this situation!)

Amazing

I’m reading Reading Lolita in Tehran right now and
this is a passage from it:

A novel is not an allegory…It is the sensual
experience of another world. If you don’t enter that
world, hold your breath with the characters and become
involved in their destiny, you won’t be able to
empathize, and empathy is at the heart of the novel.
This is how you read a novel: you inhale the
experience. So start breathing.

This is so perfect! And it works both ways. As a reader you want to breathe. As the writer, I want to make sure people can breathe. 🙂

If

If

•If I don’t do it, who will?

•If I put it off until tomorrow, is there a chance my tomorrow might become a week, a month, a year?

•If I struggle through the low points, will I be rewarded with high points?

•If I give up, will I wonder what might have been?

•If I believe in me, will others believe also OR if I believe in me, will it even matter what others believe?

•If I quit, will it matter? That’s an interesting question. One to really think about. How many people have wondered that very same thing and then somehow found the fortitude to keep on going, even through the low times?
Or how many have quit and just said enough is enough.
And aren’t both answers the right answer depending on who you are and your circumstances?
For me, quitting is not an option. I might be 90 and still collecting rejections, but I’ll be trying. At least I think I will. But there are no guarantees. I once read a multi-published author’s take on the road to publication. She said it’s not like school where you try and try and learn and learn and eventually make the A. With publication, you try and try again and you might make As all over the place but bomb with the editor you’ve sent to. So you send it again and again and you just keep writing and sending and sending and working your craft and hoping and praying that this is the one.
But still, there are no guarantees.
So without guarantees, what keeps me going?
I’m not sure.
I don’t believe storytellers are made. I think they’re born. Like the sages of old and the mythical storytellers of ancient times, my mind spits out stories the way a scientist’s mind spits out hypotheses.
Once I said I didn’t think I could quit, and I still believe that to be true. However, it would be easy to quit submitting. It’s expensive and aggravating. And rejections are no fun.
But if I were to give up submitting, I would be giving up the dream. And giving up the dream just isn’t something I can do.
So I’ll keep on writing and submitting and waiting for calls, requests, rejections.

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Day 3 back on counting my Points. YAY! I already feel better.

MB’s Great Agent Search: Nothing good to report. The third rejection came in today. But amazingly enough, it still doesn’t hurt. I don’t know why. I guess because this whole SingleTitle idea is so new to me. I love the book. And the next one is going to be awesome too. Hopefully I’ll find an agent because Idon’t think I can sell Women’s Fiction without one. I’m going to start entering it in contests soon. One of CPs said this book reminds her of LaVyrle Spencer. That kind of freaked me out. In a good way. A very good way. But WOW.
I think of the story as Sisters (that awesome TV show that was on NBC) meets the Prodigal story meets the story of Mary Magdalene meets Hope Floats. The romance is more Hope Floats. The base story is Prodigal. The sisters’ relationship is Sisters. And one of the main characters is very much Mary Magdalene.
It’s been a challenge to write, but it’s touched me in ways I never expected. I love that about this story. I’ve grown. I know I’ve got to go back and really beef up the emotional angles in the middle because I wimped out after five days of writing and crying, but it’s there and I know where it’s going. I’ll be done by this weekend and then I’m going back through to make it better. And when I’m done it will be the best book I’ve ever written. I think it already is. 🙂

I’m reading two books right now. Jill Shalvis’s Seeing Red is great so far. The beginning grabbed me and wouldn’t let go.I can’t wait to see what happens.
And while I work out I’ve got Reading Lolita in Tehran. It’s an amazing read. Definitely something that will be on my bookshelf at school. I like that I can read it a little at a time instead of all at once. Usually I’m obsessive about finishing a book, but not this one. Don’t know why. It’s something I’ll talk about with the students who show up for the before school writing lab I’m going to offer next school year. At least I hope I can offer it. I don’t think my principal will say no. 🙂

New HP

Whoa. I can’t believe it. Not the big surprise and who died but the end. Whoa.
I actually thought the book started slow, way slow, and if I hadn’t already been so invested in the story, I wouldn’t have continued. But I’m glad I did. It’s an amazing story.
Now to get DD to talk to me again. She kindly offered to let me read it first. I took her up on the offer. I think that was the wrong answer. 🙂

I have a ton of writing to make up now.

Ugh

I changed my weigh-day to Saturday because I’m re-committing to my WW today.
I’ve definitely kicked butt when it comes to writing this summer. Unfortunately at the same time my butt’s gotten 10 pounds heavier. So my -50 is back up to -40. 😦
At least I got back in gear before I gained it all back!
Now to eat right, exercise and WRITE.
It has to be possible. It’s just about balance. I can do balance. I think. I mean, most people can do balance, and while I have very little experience with balance, this can be something I work on.
ACK!

I’m writing a SAD scene today. My poor characters, Everything’s been going along so great. They’re finally getting along, all the those big Questions about life have been addressed. Today I’m smacking them all around and proving sometimes there aren’t answers. ANd that’s just a part of life. But first, I’m going to the gym.

I have a new writing article on my website: http://www.marybethlee.com
It’s all about NO.