Daily Archives: July 22, 2005

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.