Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Essential to the writer is the art of reading. I'm juggling three books at the moment, each as intense as the other. I wish I could clone myself to read, write, and keep up with social media ... alas, I'm not one who can find a balance to the three.
Lately, I've also been studying how books adapt to film. The reason everyone usually loves the book more is obvious, but often a film can stir the interest in a particular writer. These days, I'm reading Truman Capote. He died in 1984, and yet his work is as popular as ever. Maybe because two films, "Capote" and "Infamous" have sparked interest, which is true in my case.
In the film, Infamous, Toby Jones brilliantly plays Capote and Sandra Bullock (who should've been nominated for an Oscar) portrays the elusive Harper Lee, childhood friend of Capote.
Harper (Sandra) made an amazing statement that struck me to the core. Something I'll never forget.
"I read an interview with Frank Sinatra in which he said about Judy Garland - every time she sings she dies a little. That's how much she gave. It's true for writers too, who hope to create something lasting. They die a little getting it right. Then the book comes out, there's a dinner, and maybe they give you a prize, and then comes the inevitable and very American question ... What's Next? But the next thing can be so hard because now you know what it demands."
Many writers can spit out a book every six months. I'm always amazed at that. But for some of us, writing takes more than blood, sweat, and tears. It takes a piece of our existence. I guess if you want to know why a few writers take forever to come out with the next book, you should remember what Harper Lee said ... "they know what it demands."
Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Climb Every Mountain ... that beautiful song from the Sound of Music rings in my head these days ...
I think this is longest I've ever gone without posting a blog since I started blogging in 2005. There's a reason for that as I ... ford every stream ...
Other than posting daily on Facebook I'm writing another book. I'm also working through yet one more edit of The Sanctum since there continues to be interest from major publishers. So please forgive my absence, while I follow every rainbow ... but it's hard to be in more than one place, even though the "experts" say we writers need to maximize our social media exposure.
I'm afraid ... 'til I find my dream, my exposure time is consumed with writing novels.
Stay tuned ... and please don't give up on me ...
Until then ... blessings to you and yours.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Every once in a while I’m asked to explain Televenge, because secular folks don’t want to be preached at, and Christians don’t want to face the darkness that exists within the church. Granted, faith is powerful, it can be exploited, but some have been crushed beneath the heels of their own pastors, and should we choose to write about it, it becomes a delicate balancing act.
It was my determination that Televenge evolve as a story about how those who abuse their position in the pulpit can over time; literally destroy those who faithfully sit in the pews week after week. I wrote it as a woman of faith, not "an angry lady jabbing at any one pastor or specific religion because a mean church hurt me once," or someone trying to get attention. I can think of better, safer ways to call attention to myself.
For me, the gold perk of writing is working alone, months on end, in sweats and fuzzy socks with no thought of time or the way I look with no makeup. Despite what some may think, my faith sustains me daily. But I recognize that thousands have blindly followed only to have their family units, their core beliefs, and their way of life slaughtered by a “thus saith the Lord” from a man or woman in the pulpit. My biggest revelation, breaking free from my church, was that “touch not my anointed” works both ways.
In the end and without hesitation or apology, and regardless of denomination, Televenge uncovers the madness within the church, as well as big flamboyant pastors and their miracles. But more than that, the story embraces the healing balm of Gilead, the real faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and the peace of God that passes all understanding.
My answer to those who hesitate, “… just jump in and enjoy the story.” Can I hear an amen?
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Summer has come and gone and I've not blogged for a good while. I've been ... well ... wrapped up in other things and blogging (something I've held on to since 2005) just doesn't appear at the top of my list.
The Sanctum is currently in the review process with editors, via my literary agent, and I'm working on the next book, as well as putting together another collection of short stories. Southern Fried Faith. An edgy cross between Televenge and Southern Fried Women.
This entire process of publishing The Sanctum has been grueling, to say the least. I expected to see it published last spring. But as fate took over, a literary agent came into my path and the plan to self-publish was put on the shelf. A good thing, really.
So ... this story that is near and dear to my heart will take a bit longer than expected. Patience, a virtue that was left out of my DNA, has been ground into me as the years go by. It's painful and at times I feel as though I'm going to crawl out of my skin, but I've come to the point where I finally realize ... I'M NO LONGER IN CONTROL.
I can't steer this ship on my own. I've tried. In the end, if all I manage to do is write my stories and get them out there on Amazon, then fine. I've grown like the Apostle Paul. I've learned to be content in my situation.
And frankly ... that's all I have to say today.
Blessings to you and yours.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
As a writer, I've wondered what do I offer my readers? Do I possess what it takes? What do I have to say that anybody wants to hear?
Lofty volumes of prose line many library shelves. Some deliver profound messages, soothing to the ears. Some hold you spellbound with intrigue or humor. And then some curl the hair on the neck as you quickly turn the page to discover the killer. Besides constantly polishing your knowledge of the writing craft and striving for the title of great storyteller, there's another element to this writing thing.
The author's ability to share knowledge, life experiences, and enlightenments within the context of a story. To make it matter.
What have you learned or experienced in your life that you bring to the page? Many of us bring our writing degrees, our teaching degrees, our years of contributions to magazines, lit mags, newspapers, and we bring awards. Oh, so many writing awards. And, that's wonderful. Commendable, in fact. But that's not what I'm talking about.
To quote Dorothy Allison (one of my favorites.) She made this profound statement at the Maui Writing Conference many years ago. " ... writers come to the page for many, many reasons. In fact many of us do come in the hope of justice! We do come in the hope of balance! We do come with an agenda of love! But I'm telling you now, lots of us start with a desire for genuine revenge."
Do you bring revenge to your written pages? Anger? Truth?
"Are you saying there has to be some deep, dark reason why we write? Can't I just write for fun?"
Of course you can, and many do. But once again, in my humble opinion, the writing that lasts for generations is written from the cobwebbed corners of a writer's mind. Those basements and attics where the writer fears to tread, but goes anyway.
"But," you say, "I write humor."
Ah, yes. Dissect that humor. Much of our humor also comes from pain. You know that old cliche spoken in the midst of anger and frustration ... "We're going to laugh about this later." Laughter through tears ... it's a powerful emotion. Take it to the page.
"Do you mean, then, write what you know?"
Not just what you know, but what you feel. What you've seen. What matters. The gut-wrenching moments in your life that cut deep into your heart. Write about that. Write about the scars. Who gave them to you, and how you healed, or how you still suffer from those scars. Give your character a piece of your life story that you want to share with the world. Dig out the best and worst of your memories, and include them in your stories. Write not just what you know, but what brought you out of a dark spot. What event turned you inside out, not just what made you uncomfortable. Write your passions, your desires, what moves you. Write that.
Those are the guts of a good story. Bring that to the page.
Blessings to you and yours.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
I listened to David Wilkerson, a well-known fire and brimstone evangelist whose messages stir the emotion and bring most to their feet or their knees. Clips of his sermons are posted on You Tube. You can search for him there.
"True passion comes from anguish," he said. His words flew into me like a fiery arrow, illuminating my past. Wilkerson's message centered around anguish and how todays church is void of it. He's a big believer in, Cryin' Holy unto the Lord. He professes the church has gone soft, that we're basically a bunch of babies who want to be soothed and coddled. That we no longer tarry for hours before the Lord, prostrate at the altar. That God wants to see our anguish over the state of the world and our Godless nation. Wilkerson has that pastor voice. You know what I mean? He's learned how to wail when he speaks, allowing us to hear his heart as it breaks for the sins of mankind. And if you've grown up as a fundamentalist, it moves you. Even if you've never sat in a tent revival, I think it would move you.
Whether or not you agree with Wilkerson's message, you have to agree that true passion is definitely born from anguish. As a writer, I believe the heartaches and hardships we experience give us plenty to write about.
And plenty to talk about ...
But it's not about anguish over a fender-bender. It's not about a bad grade on a test. Or losing your wallet. Or a fight with your spouse.
Anguish, suffering, agony, grief, sorrow and angst ... comes from a break in your spirit. A temporary disconnection with yourself and the world around you. The loss of anything dear to you creates real, gut-wrenching anguish. The kind you feel down to the soles of your feet. Buckets of tears. Nobody wants to experience it. Nobody wants to go through something like that, and I hope and pray you never do.
But if you do, what you do with that anguish, how you channel it, will determine your future in many ways. And if you're a writer, it can propel you into another level. I've read books where I know, without a doubt, the writer has suffered at one point in his/her life. You can feel it in the way they put the story together. Raising the stakes isn't so hard, because they've lived it.
Not a pleasant topic to blog about, but I think it needs to be said. Personally, I hope I never see another drop of anguish as long as I live. I've had my share. David Wilkerson can wail as long as he wants about anguish, but I never want to experience it again. Ever. It's not a pleasant place to go to.
However, I want you to remember if you've closed the door on your anguish, the memories of it ... you may want to revisit that dark place again. Especially if you're a writer. Your writing changes. Something inside you clicks and literary takes on a whole new meaning.
My passion was truly born from the sorrow, grief, and the anguish of my life. Now, I can truly say, the joy of the Lord is my strength. A scripture phrase that has almost become a cliché in Christian circles, has power and new meaning in me. At some point the tears have to stop. The river of sorrow has to trickle to nothingness. We have to move out of that place and use what we've learned to write the story of our life. It's not something we want to think about, anguish, but be thankful for it. It's made you who you are.
And despite the fire and brimstone, that's a good thing.
Blessings to you and yours.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Oil from the Arizona still floats on the water at Pearl Harbor. Smoke from the Twin Towers still lingers somewhere in our atmosphere. I was reminded by a friend today that these events that rocked our nation will never depart from our hearts and minds. Thank you, Barbara.
I remember visiting the towerless sky in 2002, one year after the attack. Ground Zero still smoked, the fences still held the memorabilia of those who perished, and the air still smelled of death.
Who can understand why this happened? No one. But the peace of knowing God in times like these is the peace that passes all understanding.
Blessings to you and yours.