Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Tip o' the Hat to Editors!

A willful writer named Pam,
Loved jiggin' the head-hoppin' jam,
Omniscient third person
Her constant assertion,
And Oxford Comma be damn.

But creative writing aside,
By edits she had to abide.
With delusions appended
And POV mended,
Surrender proved sweeter than pride.

Taking the best of what an author writes and shining it up pretty is what a professional editor does. A truly tough and more often than not, thankless job. Correcting the myriad of uncouth mistakes, mechanical debacles, grammatical taboos and misspelled words (that slipped the noose of spell-check) in order to spit and polish a manuscript. Wow! Add to that daunting task, the finesse it takes to correct without changing the style and voice of a writer, the essence of a story, the heart of characterization and you have the makings of the truly heroic. The unsung masters we writers fear and yet can not, should not, live without. 

How do they do it? Keep their cool, their sanity and their right brain reigned in? Because those of us with dominant right brains know how hard our left brain rides us with the rake of spurs we habitually ignore.

My critique partners can tell you how bad I am at taking advice. I snivel, hem-haw, mewl, listen generally, argue incessantly, accept advice grudgingly. Still, I value the "editing" process right alongside the creative one. As a perfectionist and OCD, I must rewrite, edit and rewrite a manuscript half a hundred times. And that's before I let anyone else see it. And believe me, I don't keep my cool, my sanity or my right brain reigned in!

So, God bless editors, one and all. And a million thanks. Feeling accomplished as a writer did not feel real when I got Smitten Image accepted by a publisher. Not until a professional editor placed her mark on my work did I truly realize I'd arrived. At last.

(Drawing by John R. O'Neil)


Monday, May 14, 2012

Snappin' the G-string!

I have a knot the size of Alaska in my gut today. I need to blog more, be more interesting, assertive. Demand a commanding presence... (yeah, that's about as likely as me wearing a G-string)! But it's the nature of this new business, the social networking of being a writer.

So I'm snapping the metaphorical G-string about thirty times a day. Hence the knot in my stomach. I'm not keeping up. My computer gets a kick out of crashing. (It's giggling right now... blast and tarnation, a crash is eminent!) I don't feel witty or charming or in any way commanding. Yet, I must blog. I must follow other blogs. I must "like" everyone (which is the most fun I've had during this transitioning process).

I must assert myself, become a living, breathing presence on the web... Snap! I must remember that I'm clever and funny most days...Snap! I must remember I love to write fiction. And blogs... Snap! And today, I must write an obituary for my Dad... Snap! (Frankly, Dad-who's-up-in-heaven, I'd rather be spanked.) Snap!

Holy crap... now my behind is scored, sore and in need of a hike. Snap!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Speaking of Curses!

Curse of the Wolf, a paranormal romance by Danica Winters was released yesterday. Awesome, awesome concept and a fun, out of this world read! Kudos to you, Danica! (I approve this add for this book!!)

I'm not a joiner, but one day my son said, "Aw, just get your hands out of the dirt, Mom (I was gardening) and go to this meeting of writers." And I hemmed, see-sawed. But did. There I met Rio/Rach, known to the writing world as Rionna Morgan. And my life changed. One moment with a niggle I might have ignored, but didn't. The Midnight Writers, we came to call ourselves, a very diverse, very intelligent group of the most amazingly creative women. For three years I had them in my life once a week. Wrote a whole novel with them. Then I moved.

Alone again, naturally. Until another Rio/Rach miracle happened. She moved to Missoula, 25 miles from me. We started the Montana Romance Writers chapter... a very long process... but once again I'm part of a group of incredible, brilliant, creative women scattered across Montana!

And now I have my critique group, six women so different from each other I'm not sure how we melded! Seriously! And Danica joined us last spring. She is the most awesome, supportive, loving person... like my goddess Rio/Rach, in that way. And extremely giving to the creative process. As we all are. Here's to we of the PARCCH critique group!

And congratulations, Danica! I love you to pieces.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Having yet another one of those "off" days. Guess it's to be expected, Maurice Sendak died yesterday. Oh, and so did my Dad. Not that my Dad's passing is a footnote. Today it doesn't seem huge and dark and sad... but tomorrow? I'll suffer tomorrow and the next day. And feel sorrow for the rest of my life.

Curses on the "footnotes" of our lives, the nigglings, those scaly-wag happenings that stick onto us like lint.  They bunch up at times, pricking us like burrs under a saddle. I guess that's why I'm bucking like a bronc today. Squealing at the rake of niggling spurs. I'm fighting to stir some humor into my pot. Even gumption would be a step up.

But, having an "off" day... guess it's to be expected.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Surfin' the Morphine...

Watching my Dad lying in his Hospice bed is no fun. He and I aren't friends. We maintain a distant relationship (similar to the state he's in now, adrift on Roxanol). He's too young to die, possibly, yet spent his life killing himself with alcohol. And with crafty, manipulative skill, alienating everyone who loved him. Most of all his three wives and four children. My siblings and I spent our lives tripping that fine line between love and hate for him. All of us have, or have yet to, come to forgive him. But that's four other long, sordid stories...

Watching him now, I think he's happy. Not at peace. I doubt for a restless brain like his, there will be peace until he's passed on. And we all want peace for him. But he'll have none of it. Just keeps hanging on. For what, I ask myself? But secretly, I know. He's taking a joy ride inside his complicated, calculating mind, creating formulas, scenarios, inventing ideas and delusions in a world, no... a universe that only he controls.

Years ago, my Dad worked with other chemical engineers to create solid fuel for rockets going into space. So I clasp his weak fingers and give him a countdown. 10...9...8... as children we watched every launch into space (when we had TV). 7...6...5... but mostly listened to them on radio (mostly we had no TV). 4...3...2... he loved space, science fiction, possibilities hiding in nebulas (one of the few things he and I shared). 1...

Lift off, I say to his ravaged face. He doesn't go. Just draws another raggedy breath. I imagine him inside his synaptic space capsule, flipping switches, going through engine checks. Fueled by morphine, he's counting down his own launch sequence. Stubborn SOB. I smile, turn to the book in my hand and launch myself into the Clash of Kings (by George R. Martin). I am, after all is said and, yes, done... my father's daughter.