Saturday, May 30, 2009

A time to write?

I think I used up most of Thursday's excuses yesterday. Headache - yes. Housework - tons of it. Laundry - well I emptied the dryer, but I didn't get round to the washing; maybe tomorrow. Yardwork - I cut the grass, which is growing too fast; ran out of time before I could weed the flower beds. Shopping - forgot the bread. Internet - I posted day 48 of my Revelation drabbles; posted 49 today. Family - that's what distracted me from yardwork. Dog - she's a wonderful exercise machine, so of course I took her for a walk.

I didn't get to the editing. But I made lots of lists while working out how much I might complete by the end of the day.

And reading - that's what I did at the end of the day. (An excellent book, that I found through Moonlight, Lace and Mayhem while wandering the blogosphere a little while ago.)

Today we saw Star Trek. It was great.

So maybe I'll find more time to write tomorrow.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Top Ten Reasons for Not Writing...

1. Headache
2. Housework
3. Laundry
4. Yardwork
5. Shopping
6. Internet
7. Family
8. Dog
9. Editing, and
10. Making lists

Oh, and 11: Putting the things in the list into the right order. I could start on that now if I hadn't got such a headache. But the laundry basket's overflowing on the floor; we're running out of juice; the grass is too long; it's time to change the sheets but the son's still in bed; and my best friend's dog really is a perfectly wonderful exercise machine.

They tell me walking's good for headaches - good for inspiration too - and it's much more fun than lists. So maybe it's time to phone my friend, or her dog, and enjoy the sunshine before I tell the son to rise'n shine for lunch.

P.S. Reading's my top excuse for delaying all the items on the list.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Books on Amazon?

I just got an email from Lulu telling me my books had been “selected for listing on Amazon.com's Marketplace!” I’m not sure what the selection criteria are—perhaps everyone’s books were selected; who knows—but it’s kind of nice to type “Sheila Deeth” into the search bar on Amazon and find real books appear. Almost as good as seeing them in a bookstore—which reminds me, I need to go back to the one and only store that stocks them and pick up the unsold copies of my Easter book.

Only three books, but I’m planning to release more soon; and they cost more on Amazon than on Lulu, but maybe it balances out when you add in the postage. Or you can buy directly from me…

Still, I’m excited. I feel like I can almost pretend to be an author.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Forgiveness

I've been drabbling my way through Revelation on my gather page, and a friend commented on one of my entries (Day 42) that "forgiveness is merely overlooking the mistakes made by others..."

But what if overlooking another's mistake feels like sacrificing yourself all over again - your feelings not only unimportant to everyone else, but even to yourself?

Maybe that's when we pray, as Christ did, "Father forgive," and let God do for us what we can't do for ourselves. Forgiveness becomes not "merely overlooking the mistakes," but releasing ourselves from the mistakes of others so we become free to be healed.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Constructive Criticism?

I was reading a blog on Constructive Criticism a few minutes ago. So okay, so maybe now I should confess how badly my novel did in the ABNA contest. After all, I was way over the moon when it made the quarter-finals, and couldn't wait to tell everyone.

All we quarter-finalists got "Publishers Weekly" reviews, but those of us who failed to make the next cut received them in private. Which is probably just as well. My one begins:

"The writer of this novel simply hasn’t learned how to tell a story," then goes downhill. But at least they called me a "writer," says she, clutching at straws.

"...after the 20th character, the reader begins to lose track..." probably means I shouldn't have had so many people in the story, or else I should've made it clearer who was who. (The review lists the same character as being at least two different people later, so perhaps the latter). "...no motive ever discovered" might mean I didn't make the ending obvious enough. "...no one seems to miss her..." so I should have spent longer here. And "full of clich├ęs and euphemisms..." Ouch!

So, back to the drawing board I guess, but it was fun to compete. Maybe I'll try again next year.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sunshine and writing

The sun's shining. The weeds are growing. And the grass is waving in the breeze.

Meanwhile, book two of Hemlock hasn't grown any bigger since last I looked, this time last week. I really need to get writing...

...really need to get weeding and mowing the lawn.

Green things grow faster than words, and I guess that's just life.

So I'll dream a few more scenes while I mow, with the scent of seed and sneezing in the air. And the weeds I was pulling last week? They're bigger and stronger and wiser now and their roots go deeper under solider ground. But I'm lucky because my stories grow longer roots too when I'm away from writing, so at least I know they'll be waiting for me when some typing time finally comes round.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Paintings and Photographs

I studied mathematics at school, but being a rebellious sort, I insisted that I still wanted some time to "do" art. I loved to draw and paint, and I worked hard to make my creations look realistic. But one day the art teacher, who also loved mathematics, was showing me the "equation" of a snail shell. She stopped for a moment to ask the difference between the real shell and its mathematical equivalent. Of course, the flaws were the difference, and the flaws were what made it real.

My teacher went on to ask the difference between a photograph and a painting. We concluded that it was the same idea. A photograph shows exactly what's there, but doesn't give it life. A painting shows what I think is there, whether real or imaginary. A painting is flawed, and its flaws tell the viewer something about the painter as well as the view. They bring it to life.

I wonder if the same thing goes for writing fiction. I can describe a scene in perfect detail and tell you everything that's there, and it can mean nothing. Or I can select the features I describe and flavor them with the emotions of my characters.

Is that the difference between showing and telling I wonder. Telling's a photograph, and I'll surely need some if I'm going to set the scene. But showing is a painting that adds those special flaws to make it real.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

irradiated books?

Last year I self-published some books with Lulu. I found out there's a "mandatory deposit" requirement with the Library of Congress for anything with a copyright symbol. So I looked up everything I could find about copyrights, and decided the simplest and safest approach might be to officially file for each of the books and pay all the fees. So that's what I did.

In December I filled in the online forms and paid my money. And in January I sent two "best copies" of each book to the Copyright Office. All in all, an expensive process--and a slow one.

Yesterday I got two letters back at last! Yes, it is midway through May. Still, two out of three's not bad, I thought. But the letters weren't exactly what I was hoping for...

"We recently received your copyright claim," they said, "...after it had been irradiated..."--a Postal Service precaution instituted after the anthrax scare in 2001. Unfortunately "The irradiation level is strong enough to damage some materials beyond our ability to process them..."

So now I need to resend the books. But at least they say they'll only need one copy this time.

Meanwhile, I wonder what happened to the third book...

Monday, May 18, 2009

Lucky Dip

The smell of sawdust always makes me think of childhood Lucky Dips. I used to cheat, of course, never wanting to take my turn till I'd found out whether long thin parcels contained better gifts than short fat ones. Then I'd scrabble in the sawdust. "No peeking!" they'd say and I'd scrunch my eyes closed and hold my head up high. Me cheat? No way! While my fingers inspected everything in great detail till I found my perfect choice.

They packed the barrels with straw instead of sawdust when my kids were small. But lucky dips still make make me smell the scent of fresh-strewn wood.

Then they used shredded computer paper. Then polystyrene beads.

We picked our youngest son up from college this weekend. He's way past the age of lucky dips. But helping him unpack looked like it might be a lucky dip for me, till I asked, "Which clothes need washing?" and he told me everything except his coat. I think they must run classes on timing your laundry for teenage boys. So now the washing machine's working overtime, and the son's asleep.

But the real lucky dip was a parcel that our older son brought in while we were away. It was from Kerri Nelson, an author who'd had a book-launch party for her story "Miss Taken" a little while ago. I was lucky enough to win a door-prize (virtual door, real prize), and the parcel, with beads in pale pink and green, was filled with delightful gifts that scented my memory with sawdust and fun.

So now I have more books to read; the owl necklace is gorgeous, and the candle, and the chocolate chip cookies...and... Many thanks Kerri.

"Little Sisters Volume 1," is one of the books, a collection of stories by "talented new mystery writers" that I shall "dip" into later today if I'm "lucky" enough to escape the eternal washing of T-shirts and jeans.

Meanwhile, when I empty the dryer that'll be a lucky dip too, for someone. Why do all of my menfolk wear black socks?

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Time to Weed

I close my eyes and see clumps of green, strands of grass that weave into tufts and curls with long white roots underneath. Each blink is a newly remembered weed, its shape unique, its image an afterthought from working the soil. Maybe it's just the price I pay for the sun shining on seeds. And at least I wasn't digging out ant hills today.

I think I need to sleep.

I close my eyes and see the tangled web of brain cells firing, shoots and weeds and vibrant thoughts connected by roots underneath. And dreaming tidies the memories away, while writing sets them free.

I think.

I think there's a spider lurking, or ants maybe.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reading outside my comfort zone

My husband thinks I have no taste in music. Whatever our sons decide to play, I always decide to like it. I'll admit some tastes are harder to acquire than others. But I want and I value the connection that music provides. It's well worth the effort.

Sometimes I wonder what my husband would think of my taste in reading. I've been introduced to some beautiful books on the internet recently: Brandilyn Collins' Exposure, Judy Duarte's Mulberry Park, Aaron Lazar's upcoming mystery, Pat Bertram's two new books and more... These are some of the ones I knew I'd love, but there are others I've enjoyed that have taken me out of my comfort zone. I'm still happy to read them because I love words, and books, and meeting people, but my husband would probably tell me I have no taste.

Reading some things takes more effort than others, I'll agree. But I wonder if I might end up writing better characters if I can imagine them with tastes that differ from those expected of me. It's worth a try.

Meanwhile, if you want to read my book reviews, just follow the link on the right hand side of this page.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So what did you do for Mothers' Day?

I phoned my Mum on Sunday, but it wasn't Mothers' Day in England, so we didn't exchange any special wishes; just switched our computers on and skyped and enjoyed temporarily shrinking the miles between us.

Other than that - my husband was ill, so I gave him breakfast in bed; met some friends at church and drank coffee; woke my son up and gave everyone lunch; went shopping, on my own; made dinner; read a book while the guys watched soccer on TV...

...which doesn't sound much, but I really enjoyed Mothers' Day. Having the chance to read when the house isn't empty around me is always a bonus. And the strange coincidence of my cell phone ringing just as I parked the car, contrary to all Murphy's laws, was a wonderful Mothers' Day gift. It was also a phone call from our oldest son that I got to enjoy all on my own, uninterrupted, so I'm glad I was shopping alone. And since I didn't get any presents, I got to order my next proofs from Lulu. What more could I want?

I had a really good Mothers' Day. I hope you did too.
And if the proofs look good, maybe I'll offer the books for sale on Lulu soon.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm an Influencer ?

While my husband was away on a business trip I became intimately acquainted with every potentially calamity around the house - unlocked doors or windows, electrical outlets that could possibly overheat, lights left too close to curtains, phones off the hook... You can probably make your own list. Then hubby came back and the mailman delivered a parcel containing a new book, Exposure, by Brandilyn Collins. The protagonist lives alone and goes round the house checking window and door locks, curtains, blinds, etc., thus reviving all my fears.

Of course, my nightmares are only dreams, while Kaycee's seem to be suddenly coming true. Want to know why? Want to know how she copes (besides writing delightful newspaper articles about trips to the dentist)? Read more about it in my book review on gather,
or go to Brandilyn's website, www.brandilyncollins.com
or www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com

Better still, why not let me "influence" you to buy the book?

I got an early copy, hot off the press, and a lovely letter describing me as an influencer. I'm not sure I deserve it, but I do know I really enjoyed reading the book.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Once I had a diary

Once upon a time I got a diary for Christmas. It was a beautiful shade of blue - that perfect tint that the sky never quite imitates. The cover was padded, with vines of pink flowers and green leaves. And golden letters declared "My Secret Five Year Diary." The pages were gilt-edged, crisp cream paper, firm and smooth, with narrow lines because I was a big girl now and could write small. And I faithfully reproduced the boring details of my life, in slow and careful scrawl, for all of five days.

There was a lock on this diary too, all filigreed gold. And there was a key, which I kept attached to the strap in case it got lost. I think I already knew nobody would want to steal my secrets. After all, they weren't even interesting enough for me to keep writing them.

So now I have a blog. Ironic really. I wonder what I'll do with it.