Part of being a writer is learning to toot your own horn, so here I am tooting my own horn. The 2008 IWL state conference was a blast, my workshop was well attended, and the frosting on the cake is the two awards I won in the writing contests. I placed first in the assigned theme or title for teen fiction contest with my short story, Missing Josh. I also won first honorable mention in the novel contest with my novel, Sarah’s Daughter. Nice way to end September, I would say.
year 2008 archives
November and December are super busy months for me. I always bake, and like to make Christmas ornaments for friends and family . This year I made wooden stars to hang on the tree. I enjoy the holidays but am always glad they are over so I can return to a regular routine.
The routine around my house this week has been anything but regular. My desktop PC died over the weekend so I’ve been busy converting my laptop into something I can use as a desktop. After a trip to Twin Falls to purchase a LCD monitor, ergonomic keyboard, and cordless mouse, I think I am set. Everything is installed and seems to be working fine, but just to make sure, I’m off to the kitchen to whip up some black-eyed peas and Chinese noodles. If I can manage to eat the noodles “long” tonight without breaking them, I’m sure to have good luck this coming year.
Wishing you and yours a Happy and Prosperous New Year.
If you hang out around a bunch of writers, chances are this month you will hear a lot of talk about NaNo. Several writers have all ready asked me if I’m “doing” NaNo this month. Unfortunately, the answer is “No”.
I love the concept of NaNo–writing 50,000 words in a month–but this year I had too much going to squeeze a new book out in one month. To really benefit from NaNo, a writer should be prepared with an outline and story idea so that when November 1 arrives you can get down to business and write the required 1600 plus words a day you need to write in order to accomplish your goal. I have a book idea–one I’ve been incubating for several years now, but it deals with going crazy in the desert and I have just not made the time to research mental illness enough to do justice to the story. So instead of doing NaNo this month, I’m working on revisions to the book I finished last year on the NaNo challenge. Called The Beach House, it is a sweet story about families and how, even though we think we know everything about each other, we often have no clue who our relatives really are. I love the story and will spend this month working on edits.
For the rest of you writers, if you are so inclined, check into NaNo. If you have a story burning inside you that’s begging to be written, now just might be the month to get busy writing!
I have a friend who laughs every time I say, “What happened to summer?” But that’s exactly how I feel now as I wind up September. Between freezing corn, canning peaches, making chokecherry jelly, and getting ready for the annual Idaho Writer’s League conference where I’m going to talk about marketing platforms, I’m wondering how I will have time to show up at the 15th annual thousand springs festival in Hagerman this weekend. But you’ll see me there, along with the writers of The Other Bunch. If you are in the area, stop by and say hello. I can’t think of a nicer way to say goodbye to summer.
My bookclub is currently reading Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. To be honest, I almost gave up on this book. There are spelling errors and rattling body parts, but the concept of the book kept me reading. I enjoyed the historic elements and learned a lot about the Cathars and the Inquisition. When I went on-line to find a picture of Montsegur, I could see what inspired Kate to write this book. Aspiring writers will find her website/blog enlightening.
Now if I could only put my hands on a copy of Greg Mosse’s companion book, The Secrets of the Labyrinth, I will have had my dose of history for July.
Montsegur June 22, 1988 Photo by Peter Vronsky.
I took several advanced English classes from Bill Studebaker, and even attended a class with his wife Judy. This is a sad week for his family, friends, and fellow writers. Missing since July 4, it is believed that Bill drowned kayaking near Yellow Pine.
Fisher’s Lake near Hagerman, Idaho
Mention Idaho writers and Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway come to mind. Many people don’t know that Vardis Fisher lived and died in Southern Idaho, only miles from where I live. While my son was visiting from Oregon, I showed him what is left of Fisher’s house. Then we dangled our feet in Fisher’s Lake and reminisced about the writer and his work.
In June I made a quick trip to Great Falls, Montana, to visit my aunt. On the way home, I took a detour and drove over MacDonald Pass and into Elliston, Montana, the town where my fictional character, Kate O’Brien grew up. It was fun, not to mention surreal to envision Kate in her hometown. The drive made me want to get back to revisions on that book, The Bones of Pele. Which just goes to show, every now and then you have to get away from the computer and out into the real world to breathe life into your stories.
The more I write, the pickier I become about the books I read; they have to have substance; they have to be well written. I tend to read more non-fiction, but I recently finished The Girl with No Shadow by Joanne Harris, and fell in love with the book. Not only does Harris weave an engaging story, she does it with three first-person narrators. If you liked Chocolat, you will enjoy the sequel, The Girl with No Shadow.
Me and Alice Hoffman. Woot!
Years ago when my son was born, I’d walk around the house singing Sweet Life by Paul Davis, and that song became my husband’s and my theme song. This April I had another chance to make a dream come true. My favorite author, Alice Hoffman, was on a book tour and did a reading at Powells, in Beaverton, Oregon. Since that sweet little boy I used to sing Sweet Life to lives only minutes from Beaverton, he was kind enough to take me to the reading. Thanks, Trevor, for making another of my dreams come true.
We are coming upon another anniversary of my mother’s death. She died suddenly at age 63 on May 5, 1994. When I heard Mariah Carey sing Bye Bye on American Idol Wednesday night (4-16-08 ) it resonated deeply within me. If you have lost someone close, you will appreciate the lyrics. Enjoy.
It’s spring here in Magic Valley. The snow has finally melted, and farmers are working the fields. When the wind isn’t blowing, I slip into a jacket and wander outdoors, seeking a crocus, a daffodil, or asparagus. It’s nice to be outside again, after a cold and blustery winter.
Occasionally you see a movie that gets it right, and that’s how I feel about the sleeper Neverwas. Written and directed by Joshua Michael Stern, the first time I saw this movie I thought it was unfinished, that it had missed its mark. But the second time I watched the movie, alone with the volume up so I couldn’t miss a word of dialogue, I was impressed and glad I made time to watch it twice. It’s a story about a man coming to terms with his past, very well done and subtle. If you watch it, do so with no distractions. Ian McKellen was brilliant in his role as Gabriel Finch, the king of Neverwas. It made me wish I could go out and buy a copy of “Neverwas” by T. L. Pierson, but alas, if such book exists, it’s solely in Stern’s imagination.
True to my promise to read a Jane Austen book this year, I began Emma and swore it was the last Austen book I would read until Mrs. Elton appeared to give Emma some competition. Then the book became interesting. The icing on the cake, however, was an English tea hosted by a member of my book club. While discussing our favorite characters — Miss Bates, Jane Fairfax, and Mr. Knightley — we enjoyed real clotted cream and lemon curds on scones, cucumber sandwiches, and English tarts along with our tea. A good time was had by all, to which we own Jane Austen a great big thanks.
For my birthday, I was lucky enough to be in Hillsboro, Oregon, hanging out with my son and grandsons. Having received Rock Band for their Xbox 360 for Christmas, the boys spend hours strumming, drumming, and belting out songs like Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So” and “Buddy Holly“, “My Sharona” by The Knack, and “Move Along” by the All-American Rejects. Of course, the little kid in me had to try it too, and now I walk around the house singing, “Move alongggggg!” They even treated me to dinner at Romano’s Macaroni Grill. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a birthday!
For culture, I coerced my husband and friends to go with me to see Menopause the Musical, a hilarious show about women and the change. We laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. My husband even bought me a T-shirt that says, “It’s all about me.” Isn’t he nice?
I am currently reading The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards, and enjoying it very much. Speaking of books, two of my favorite authors are releasing new books this month, Girlwood by Claire Dean, and The Third Angel by Alice Hoffman. You can bet I already have my book orders in. Alice is currently on tour promoting her book, and, if the book gods are with me, I may even get a chance to meet her in Oregon later this month. All in all, I’d say that’s a pretty great way to say hello to spring and goodbye to winter!
It still looks a lot like Christmas here in southern Idaho. In fact, we have more snow now then we did in December. School kids are enjoying snow days while winter storms keep the snowplows busy. You would think all this cold weather would be conducive to a lot of good writing. Instead, I’ve been huddled around the fireplace reading like a maniac. Since January 1, I have read The Secret Live of Bees, Chocolat, His Favorite Wife, Shattered Dreams, The Year of Magical Thinking, and reread Bill Johnson’s A Story is a Promise. Right now I am reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.
Why all this reading, you may ask. I am a member of three different book clubs, one in Kimberly, and two in Jerome. Two of them are affiliated with the Let’s Talk About it Program and will run for a couple more months. Then it will be time to be outdoors in the garden. PBS is also running a series on Jane Austen, which I’ve been recording and watching on cold snowy evenings with plans to read at least one Jane Austen book this year.
Next week I’m hosting one of the book clubs, and we will be discussing the book Chocolat. You can bet my kitchen counter is covered with recipes as I search for some decadent dessert to serve, not to mention the stash of chocolate I’ve slowly been building every time I go to the store. It should be fun, and we probably won’t need another chocolate fix until, well, Easter?
To break up the monotony of winter, Pat and I took in Sweeny Todd. If you’re a Johnny Depp fan and not squeamish, go see it. The opening scenes will have you wondering just what kind of world you dropped in on.