year 2007 archives
October found me back in Oysterville, WA, with my husband on vacation. I took three rolls of film and am anxious to start creating a lot of new stories. Some places just speak to me, and this was one of them.
The Baptist Church in Oysterville, Wa. October, 2007.
I dedicated the entire month of November to the NaNoWritMo challenge with a goal of 10 new pages a day. I didn’t hit my daily goal, but I did meet the challenge, ending up with 267 new pages and a total of 63,695 new words. The great thing is that now I have a complete first draft of The Beach House, a story about a boy, his grandmother, memory and secrets. Here is the snippet for the back book cover. When a young father learns that his grandmother has died and left him her entire estate, he returns to Oregon and his boyhood haunts only to discover that everything he remembered about his grandmother is a lie. I’m setting the book aside for the holidays, but plan to work on it again in January.
Best Wishes for December and the Holiday Season!
The 2007 Willamette Writers’ conference in Portland, Oregon, was worth the time and the money. Many questions I have about my current work-in-progress were answered. Now all I have to do is get busy and do some major revisions! I capped off the conference with a trip to Long Beach, WA, with my son and three grandsons. We walked on the beach, fed the seagulls, ate fresh crab, and applauded as Dante and Kennedy took turns riding a pony. On our way back to Vancouver, we drove through Oysterville, WA, a great historical town founded in 1854 once known as the hub of oyster farming. Quaint, it is absolutely charming. I know I will be back to visit. Think H. P. Lovecraft or Stephen King, and Oysterville gives you the perfect setting for a great little story.
In case you think I’ve been slacking since I’ve been home, check out this new site, The Other Bunch. If you have any questions or comments about writing or the writing life, stop by and say “Hi!”
Bill Johnson at the Willamette Writers’ Conference.
June and July have been busy months at our house. The Murder in the Grove conference was great, as was Margie Lawson’s workshop. She gave lots of tips on how to edit for visceral impact. June kept me busy outside and the garden is awesome. We’ve enjoyed fresh peas, lettuce, broccoli, new potatoes, strawberries, and yesterday I picked my first tomato. Yum. The corn is almost ready, and hopefully all those blossoms on the cucumbers mean I’ll have loads of cukes before long.
Grandsons Dmitri, Dante and Kennedy spent most of July here at our mini farm, and besides keeping me company, they accomplished a lot of firsts. Dante and Kennedy got to see/touch a real milk snake, not to be confused with the poisonous coral snake, at the Herrett Center on the College of Southern Idaho Campus, and all three boys learned to drive/ride on an ATV. Dmitri also learned how to drive the riding lawnmower clear to the mailbox and back. We had a good visit and it was sad to see them leave, but I will see them again this week when I fly to Portland to attend the 2007 Willamette Writers Conference. I’m looking forward to meeting Bill Johnson, author of A Story is a Promise, as well as a full lineup of great writers.
A month or so ago, my friend Pat Marcantonio and I went to see the movie, Evening based on the book by Susan Minot. It was so well done I kept thinking about it for weeks, and finally broke down and read the book. I liked the movie better than I liked the book, but there is a great quote at the beginning of the book that I can relate to since there never seems to be enough hours in the day.
“I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it.” William Faulkner.
Loretta C. Schuchard 09-25-1930 – 05-06-1994
William C. Runty 09-17-1936 – 12-18-1997
Earl B. Dodge 09-10-1923 – 08-26-2004
W. B. Haffner 01-26-1928 – 12-15-2006
We love and miss you. R.I.P.
I’ve signed up for Margie Lawson’s master class for writers called empowering characters’ emotions scheduled for Friday, June 8, 2007. The Class precedes the 2007 Murder in the Grove conference held in Boise, Idaho, for writers and readers of mystery fiction. I’m looking forward to hanging out with other writers as I hone my craft.
I am not an American Idol fan, but while hanging out with the boys in Washington over spring break, I got hooked. Both my son and daughter-in-law are avid fans, so Tuesday and Wednesday nights found us in front of the television, cheering and booing. That’s all it took to get me hooked, and I’ve been watching Idol ever since. First and foremost, I think it’s an amazing platform for artists to hone their craft, and it made me wish we had something like this for aspiring writers. I watch in admiration as each week these performers grow. I was truly disappointed when Melinda Doolittle was voted off this Wednesday; it just goes to show how subjective everything is. Out of the top four contestants, (the others, LaKisha Jones, Blake Lewis, Jordan Sparks) I think Melinda had better control of her voice, and performed well consistently. Jordan is awesome, but now that Melinda is gone, my vote is for Blake. He totally won me over with his version of “When The Stars Go Blue”. Then there is Sanjaya Malakar. I mean, even this old grandma fell in love with him when he sang “Besame Mucho” on Latin night, those dark eyes, not to mention that hair! All of these kids are amazing. Something Melinda said after she was voted out shows what a truly generous person she is, “Be happy where you are on your way to where you’re going.” Her words resonate with me, and I am putting her advice beside my computer to remind me on bad writing days to love the process, not just the product.
I’ve been too busy to do much reading, but I did manage to squeeze in Anita Shreve’s Body Surfing. Not her best work, but those who remember the house in Fortune’s Rock, and The Pilot’s Wife, will be glad to know Shreve has found another family to inhabit the beachhouse. I am also trying to read–in between planting the garden and pulling weeds–Francine Prose’s, Reading Like a Writer, A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them. Thirty pages into the book, and I’m thinking this may be a book I want on my reference shelf, maybe my own mentor, my own version of American Idol.
Tonight and tomorrow I walk in Relay for Life. Please take a moment to remember those we have loved and lost to cancer, and say a prayer of thanks for the survivors. I know I will.
Besides cleaning out irrigation ditches and weeding perennial flowerbeds, this spring I managed a trip to the Twin Falls Public Library to hear Kelly Jones read from her new book, The Lost Madonna. Then a trip to Vancouver, Washington, to hang out with the grandsons during spring break presented an opportunity to read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson . I also met with Linda Meyer and Laura Meehan at the Ink & Paper Group, LLC, in Portland, Oregon. We had a nice visit outside on their patio, enjoying a rare sunny day in Portland. A trip to Powell’s, a bookstore that is truly amazing not to mention mind-boggling, and real sushi downtown, capped off an exciting week. Much too soon it was back to Idaho, and more yard work . I picked up a copy of Karen Joy Fowler‘s Sarah Canary and look forward to some time to read after the spring yard work and daily writing is done.
February’s snow and cold weather offered more time for reading. I tried Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons, but gave it up at page 148. Like in Cold Mountain, Frazier’s style is slow and full of lengthy descriptions. Set in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains, Thirteen Moons takes place in the 1800s and is narrated by Will Cooper, an orphaned literate “bound boy” who is dispatched to run a trading post at the edge of the Cherokee Nation. The first hundred pages held my interest, but I found myself drifting away from the story, wanting to skim the long descriptions, and that is certainly not the way to read Frazier. So I put the book away, and may try it again later when I have more time to read. Being a big Alice Hoffman fan, I devoured Skylight Confessions and her young adult book Incantation. Ah, if only I could write prose like she does. For my birthday, I received a copy of Lynda Barry’s The Good Times are Killing Me. I’m looking forward to a quiet evening and a warm fire. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate my birthday. Anita Shreve has a new book out this spring, Body Surfing. Look for it in April, or preorder your copy now. While you’re at it, check out The Weight of Water and Fortune’s Rocks, two of my favorite Shreve novels.
Margaret Atwood just keeps getting better. I didn’t have a lot of time to read in the fall of 2006, but one of the books I did read was delightful. The Penelopiad, is a retelling of Homer’s Odyssey from Penelope’s and the twelve hanged maids’ points of view. Deliciously funny, it sent me in search of Andrei Konchalovsky’s movie The Odyssey starring Armand Assante and Greta Scacchi. Weighing in at a mere 192 pages, this was a fast read and came at just the right time since my current work in progress, The Secret of Aspen Grove aka The Waiting Game, is a story about three generations of Foster women who define themselves by the men they love. Another book I enjoyed reading is Cruddy, an illustrated novel by Lynda Barry my college professor son Trevor Dodge introduced me to last fall. Trevor uses it in some of his classes. I enjoyed Barry’s style and wit, and will definitely look at more books by this author. Alice Hoffman’s latest book, Skylight Confessions is now available and at the top of my To Read List, as well as Charles Frazier’s Thirteen Moons .