Checking in, Holiday Wishes, Update and a promise

I have been off the boards, so to speak, for nearly a month after diminishing participation for several more.  Without boring anyone, I’ll say that Eldercare Issues occupying a lot of time and travel expense (remind me to move to within 100 miles of my nearest and dearest when I am in my eighties.  It will save wear and tear on my family) a (day) job that keeps me extremely busy but puts bread on my table and three projects in the air have kept me from being any sort of a presence on this blog or anywhere else.
Just this morning, going through my mail, I encountered this blog post from WriterUnboxed:
It was just what I needed to read, an elbow to the ribs that brought home things I had been thinking.

Whatever we do, whether we are being creative, running a marathon or running after toddlers, we need to keep ourselves in shape, challenge ourselves and refresh ourselves.  Not the easiest thing to do, as we all know, but imperative. 

…So, Diana, what, exactly, have you been doing?

Aside from eldercare and driving 500 miles approximately every other weekend and worrying about the particular elder?  Writing,  you mean? 

Well, I could give a list:
  • Polishing Book 2 of The Orphan’s Tale (due out around May of 2016)
  • Writing book 3 of The Memphis Cycle (due out autumn of 2016 if I’m lucky)
  • Mulling over putting out a book of shorts from The Memphis Cycle
  • Finishing the Crocodile Story (see upper right of my blog for a look at the cover).
It’s rather a lot to do at once with everything else going on.

So, what to do? 

I’ve decided to schedule one post per week.  If I think of other things, I’ll post about them.  I’ll participate in the IWSG.  I love the Celebrations blog hop, and it would be easy to incorporate that into my weekly post.  I’ll also be careful to respond to comments.  We’ll see how it goes.

Meanwhile, if anyone is curious, this is what I did over the weekend.  It is the book cover for Vengeance, Book 2 of The Orphan’s Tale.  The books form a trilogy.  Book 1 and Book 3 are essentially written.  That is, Book 1 has been out for some time.  Book 3 originally flowed from that after a six month hiatus.  Well, while polishing Book 3 I began to think of what happened during those six months.  So Book 2 has been written, basically, from whole cloth. 

The covers all feature a character from each story.  Book 1 was the Heroine, Book 3 will have the hero, and Book 2 has a little boy who is a pivotal character in every volume.  His name is Larouche, he was out on the street around age 3 in the wake of a cholera epidemic.  He was taken in by an old priest for the next year or so.  When the priest died, Larouche never went back.  He makes his appearance  nearly a year after the priest’s death, and the Hero runs afoul of him.

Their relationship is one of the megathemes of the series and it has been a delight to write.  It was hard to find an image for him (depictions of street urchins are rather scarce, and I had to adjust this one).  I set it within a painting of a great old Parisian structure on Christmas.  Very fitting, since Book 2 ends Christmas eve with Larouche pausing to look in the window of a festive house.  It took a lot of work to adjust the images, position them, shade them, highlight the windows…  A lot of work can also be really enjoyable.  I do need to adjust the fonts at the top and bottom and perhaps change the color of the velvet background, but I do think I have my cover.

Thanks for your patience, my apologies that it was necessary.

May your days be merry and bright, and may 2016 be a year of wonderful happiness and peace.

Let Me Entertain You… Please…

I like telling stories.  Forming and telling stories is what makes me tick.  I see things, think of what lies behind them and what lies before them in the future, and from that I come up with stories.  It sounds strange when I phrase it like that, but it works that way for me, as I posted here.

We write our books (most of us) to entertain people. I am still blown away when I see that someone shelled out cash to read something I ‘made up out of my own head’, but maybe that’s just my oddness.  Our creativity is fueled by everything around us – whether stories our grandparents told us or myths we have heard or things we have read.  

Arthur O’Shaughnessy put it interestingly:

We are the music makers
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers
And sitting by desolate streams; – 
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world forever, it seems

I am not sure that I would call myself a ‘Mover and shaker’ so much as an observer and reporter and ‘what if’ er.  I watch the world move past me, I catch glints of thoughts and I find the stories.  And I tell them.  I can’t help it: it is what I love to do, and I can no more not weave stories than I can stop breathing.

Everyone has something singular about him- or herself.  We are not all built the same, but we all have something that touches us, that makes us shine, that brings us to action.  Perhaps the hardest part (for me) is not to share this quirk, if you will.  It is rather like having a gift and wanting to give it, hoping that those who receive it will enjoy it and – somehow, some way – be strengthened or refreshed by it.

Listening to Poetry

I remember speaking with some others like me.  One fellow said that if people would only listen to him, trust him with their time, and let him entertain them, he would do it for nothing. I remember nodding.  I understood him.

But then someone else spoke up and said that, well, what was the point of doing that?  After all, there was ‘nothing to be gotten out of it’ that way.

I agree that no one should ever be sold short.  If you are producing something that people are willing to purchase, well and good.  Some things, however, go beyond buying and selling, and the pervasive ‘what’s in it for me?’ mindset troubles me. And I am encountering it more and more frequently in my own area of joy.

When will I start seeing money?  What do I need to do to get more sales?  Why aren’t people buying?  What are the contacts that I need to start selling?  Well, if people are reading this sort of work, then I guess I’ll have to write it!

I am not saying that it is wrong to sell your work.  I am not saying that it is wrong to seek ways to find more exposure, to make yourself known to others, to make your offerings available to more people.  There is nothing at all wrong with sharing, and there is much that is right about being paid for your hard effort, but I sense a serious disconnect or, perhaps, an area that has not been thought through.

Someone said, “If I can’t make any money, I don’t see any point in continuing.”

Is the measure of the worthwhile nature of an activity the amount that people are willing to pay for it?  In that case, I know of a great many athletes who might as well take up a seat before the television set and forgo their archery practice, golfing endeavors or horseback riding because they will never win The Masters or star at the Devon Horse Show’s hunter/jumper classes. They aren’t ever going to be asked to endorse anything in exchange for money.

What price agony?

And what of the singers who do not sell their recordings?  Singing for one’s own enjoyment or the enjoyment others is surely not pointless if others are enjoying it.  Causing agony is another matter and should be addressed as it comes up.  

But what of ‘the fire in the belly’ that makes me, at least, burn to bring my characters to life, to share them with others, to enjoy their antics and be touched by the things that they have done.  I am at this moment about to quickly jot a scene where one character, a man with a difficult childhood who discovered the constellations in the night sky, tells another man who is despairing and somehow has fixated on the blackness of the night as a sign of his own despair, that “the stars are there – right there! – behind the clouds.  Cassiopeia, The Swan, Orion – all are there, as they have always been.  Trust that they are and don’t rely only on your own sight.  I swear it!  There is never any need for despair!  I promise you–  I promise you!”

No one else will read it.  But I must write it.  Every little bit of joy must be savored…

Celebrations – January 17, 2014

It is Friday again, and a time to stop and take stock of the small things we celebrate, often unknowingly.  Thanks to VikLit, who had the idea for this wonderful bl0g hop, we can remind ourselves of the beautiful things in life that make our days just that much more lovely.  You’re welcome to join – head on over to her blog!

Details are at the end of this post.

I have been what the French call hors de combat (out of action) for a while with a bad case of bronchitis and pneumonia. It’s clearing up, the solstice has passed (if you can survive to December 22, you can start seeing the days lengthening).

This morning I awoke to a view of a full moon hoving over the hilltop through a smoky lace veil of bare branches. I actually stepped outside (barefoot – don’t tell my mother!) to look at it.

I could feel that I was on the mend, and I’d had an idea for a twist in Book II of The Orphan’s Tale, which I am working on at the moment. A touching idea, introducing (incognito) a man who would be a major contributor to mid 1800’s Europe. To have the prison-raised hero encounter this fellow as a young man (the fellow, not the hero, who is in his mid-forties) and recognize in him a sort of wistful admirer, has me smiling.

There’s another character who appears in the trilogy (it’s shaping up to be that) and he’s always such a joy to write about:

Larouche The Great

He’s a street-child with a sad background, a lot of commonsense and some very good luck.  He is the hero’s more-than-match.  In fact, the conflict in the last volume might have been ably handled if Larouche had been given free rein.

I love writing about him.

The flow of creative juices is always a cause for celebration.

(And I am remembering that today is a Friday!  I hope you all have wonderful weekends.)

Insecure Writers – ‘Do I have it in me?’

Today is the first Wednesday of the month, which means it is IWSG day. The once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy or practical suggestions. 2011 NaNoWriMoAs others have commented, it is NaNoWriMo time. That time when we are expected to crank out fifty thousand words in thirty days. If you prefer numbers, that is 50,000 words in 30 days. (It doesn’t look quite so frightening when you are looking at numerals rather than words, does it?)


Well, speaking as an insecure writer, I will say that something that we all fear has come to pass.  No, nothing tremendously horrific.  I just somehow, in adjusting the spacing in my post (I tend to get grumpy about spacing) I managed to delete the whole thing.

I clawed back the beginning paragraph from the preview, and I am giving a brief run-down of my post.  I have learned something as an insecure writer:

If you mess up your manuscript (or blog post) you can carry on.

Here is what I said:

2011 NaNoWriMo

We are supposed to put out 50,000 words.  Will they be any good?  Can we write under that much pressure?  This is my third time participating in NaNoWriMo, and since my big problem with writing is to just let the ideas flow and make myself Wait to edit.  In otherwords, initial output does not have to be perfect.

This is a lesson I have learned.
My first NaNo (2011) is now a book called Mourningtide:

Last Year’s effort will be coming out at some point in 2014.  I am currently working on a fable or fairy tale involving a rather large crocodile that comes to stay with a struggling family.

I tried an experiment where I just wrote.  I turned on my laptop first thing in the morning (morning composing seems to be the time when my work seems the best) and I typed with my eyes closed. I had contemplated a scene involving the local busybody who was going to come bustling over, encounter the croc, and after some humorous histrionics go tearing out of there mouthing threats.  It came out nothing like that.  It was, in fact, rather moving to see where the story went and how it went.  And it was all from me.

2013 NaNoWriMo

I think there comes a point where we have to admit that we do have ability, that it is there to be tapped, that we have to nurture it and not be so bossy.

It isn’t hard, is it?  We see others as gifted and capable.  Why is it so hard to see ourselves so.

(And, this second time around with this @#$! post, it isn’t such a bad things to let things be, is it?)