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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Morning Coffee on the Creating Calm (or in my case: chaos) Network . . . .

1011253_10203243524002060_658622034422461467_nAnn White, bless her patient and brave soul, has invited me to be a part of her Creating Calm Network on Tuesdays at 10 ET for Morning Coffee. Also joining is my bestie and former partner in our Rose & Thorn Journal endeavor, which we closed down a couple years ago (you can still access some kickass writing/poetry/art, though, as the archived issues are still there).

Ann has said no topic is off limits – she best not say that! Haw! I will talk about sex sex sex SEX, and writing and marriage(how I don’t believe in it) and religion(how I don’t believe in it) and sex and men and women and sex(how I definitely believe in it) and lingerie and writing and publishing and my insomnia and fitness and health and Angie’s bra-lessness and sex – wait, did I say sex? HAW! Okay, I won’t talk about sex that much, but it will come up, probably less than I think about it though – teeheeheehee! 10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_n

Ann is in her studio, Angie in her study, and I am “broadcasting” from my closet — yup, that’s my new Space, my new Office, my new Place, my new Sanctuary for hiding and writing posts and novels and on FB and twitter and whatever else I may do — including curling up in a fetal position on my furry rug and rocking back and forth back and forth — since I left the Cove at Killian Knob for the flatland badland of Texas, I am very discombobulated!

The first video I was using crappy internet connection so I’m dragging and jumpity – I used my iPhone this time for June 10 show and that seemed to work better, though I am so jittery, I will need to find an anchor for the phone – haw! BOING BOING BOING BOING BOING goes kat. 10305604_10152463711914176_2993508658427162551_nWe are still “getting into our groove” but we hope to have, loosely, some topics to tackle over our morning coffee. Mostly, I try to control my chaos enough to pay attention and focus.

Ann is the Owner/Moderator and poor thing is trying to control two wild and weird women: Angie and me. Haw!

10417600_10152480426884176_6460205242015283935_nWe hope you’ll give us a tune in and come get to know us, and support Ann’s endeavor. And as well give us some ideas for what we can do or talk about, etc..

Maybe my insomnia will go away once I get out some cray cray from my brain . . . PONK!

 

To access the “network,” here is the link: Morning Coffee Hope to see you on Tuesdays at 10 ET! WHUPOW!

The phrase “I will never . . . .” is a coiled snake ready to bite us on our asses

Snake_strike_coiled_HIHow many times have you used that phrase only to have it come back later and bite the shit out of your ass? Now, that doesn’t mean the biting isn’t going to be a good thing—maybe you needed to be bit on your ass to propel you in to some kind of motion. Maybe you’ve been stagnant, bored but not recognizing that, or meandering around aimlessly, or unhappy with a situation but in denial.

007Maybe you said “never” with the fever and fervor of THIS WILL NEVER EVER CHANGE and have just been bitten on the ass and aren’t sure if that bite will propel you towards something better, or just as good, or towards—THE SCARYASS UNKNOWN! *cue dramatic thunderous slightly dark music*

Or perhaps, my friends, you told someone, “I will never,” and you didn’t really mean it. It isn’t that you lied, it’s just that you could not face up to the truth inside of you—buried there deep, where only the snake biting you on the ass could cause a draining away and revealing of your truths. You said the words because to admit the other words would cause pain and turmoil and disruption and feelings of failure and that SCARYASS UNKNOWN looming. You said them so the other would believe and not be hurt, yes, but also to force yourself to believe so you wouldn’t do the hurting.

We do have our “Nevers” that are iron-clad. For example, “I will never kill another human being,” but then, is that true? If someone were going to fatally harm me or mine, wouldn’t I kill the shit out of them? “I will never jump off the Empire State Building!” Okay, that seems pretty safe. But what if I’m up there and there’s a fire behind me and no escape—I  either have to jump or burn up. I’m jumping! Okay. Well. Huhn. “I will never stop loving my son and granddaughter!” There. That’s a never that holds forever true! But those iron-clad “nevers” are few, even when we think they are not.

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Then . . . .

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Now . . . .

“I will never grow out my hair.” “I will never write erotica.” “I will never sit around crying like a big baby because I’m a tough-ass bitch.” “I will never leave *insert something or someone here*” “I will never give up/give in/give to/give back . . . .”

Oh, my friends. The phrase “I will never . . . .” is the universe’s big laugh at you; it’s the coiled snake ready to bite you on your ass; it’s the swallow those words you spoke because, guess what? Never became “oh shit, it’s happening/happened/going to happen.”

Maybe that snake did surprise you. Or, maybe you sat on that badass snake so it WOULD bite you! Maybe you pretended you didn’t see the snake and just stuck your bared ass right in its face and taunted it while pretending you were going about your business all la tee dah.

So. Little things are easy to talk about first. For instance, I remember clearly and distinctly standing at Hart Theater in Waynesville, North Carolina a couple years ago, talking to a theater friend who’d just cut her hair short, and I said (there’s a metaphor here, isn’t there?), “Yeah. I love mine short and will NEVER go back to longer hair. Ever.” Um. Yeah. Guess what? I not only grew it out, but longer than I ever thought I would have. But that night as I stood there smiling and confident, I really truly believed myself. I honestly thought the words “I will never  . . . .” were true and real and were never to be altered. I thought myself completely  happy with my shorty ole hair. I couldn’t see a day when I wouldn’t be satisfied with that look. Oh how we tempt the fates with our ultimatums and declarations!

SEDUCTION COVE CVR6_edited-1 for amazonOr, I remember standing by my mother, my face all sincere and true: “Nah. Not for me. I’m not going to write trashy erotica stuff! I will never do that. I will stick to what I write.” And then, three months later, on a night when I was full of vodka and bad intent and after I’d smashed a writer’s conference mug against the tree outside my little log house and yelled into the night, “I QUIT! I am NOT WRITING ANOTHER WORD! I AM PISSED OFF AT THE WHOLE BUSINESS! FUCK THIS SHIT!” (the snow hid my shame, until it melted – lawd), I preternaturally-calm opened my word document and wrote Seduction Cove and I laughed a vodka-infused laugh, and of course, I ain’t telling my mom. I also said, “I will NEVER tell anyone I wrote it–I’ll keep Tasha a secret.” Oops; didn’t happen that way. Mom, if you happen by here: I’m sorry. Dang. And now my writing world has altered. Where will I take it next?

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I will never leave this beautiful place

So, my friends. There have been some changes in my life, and more are coming. I’ve spent the last six months or so (actually, the last two years after my father died—something about a parent dying sets a woman on quests and questionings and searchings)—wading through the molasses of change and discovery and heartache and decisions that changed my life and the life of others and etc etc etc – ET CET ER A!

I will begin a series of posts about my “nevers” and my “soon to comes” and my “already happeneds” – and I hope you’ll learn something from them, or be entertained, or nod or shake your head, or ignore it all—but I need to write it. That’s what I do. I am a writer. I write things out. And when I do not, I bother my friends with my whiny angst, or send texts that are full of self-indulgent whines that I later regret (that’s a post in itself). So write I will.

Some topics—and I will never stray from them (hahaha!) are:

  • What not to do when you are alone and vulnerable
  • When you are the one you says, “I want a separation”
  • When you have said you “never” have writer’s block and suddenly you cannot write
  • When you have to leave a place/an ideal/a way of life that you thought was “forever” because you said “never will I leave this place/ideal/way of life
  • When disappointment in people attacks—when you realize the people you thought would call never do, and the ones you never thought would reach out to you do.
  • When the word “lonely” expands beyond and above what you ever thought it could be
  • When you think you cannot, absolutely cannot, face something—but then you do
  • What happens next?
  • At my age! . . . the prospects of dating and all that jazz (and being called a cougar—? Um, what?)
  • Etc.

I’ll be back soon . . . .

The Work-Out Writer . . .

DSC_0015Work-out: In my personal trainer days, I used to tell clients to “listen to their bodies” to let them know how much they could do. I now recognize how this isn’t always the case. Sometimes our bodies/minds want to fool us, because it is Hard and we don’t always like Hard. If we give up because something is difficult, then nothing great is ever accomplished. Something pushing through the hard stuff rejuvenates, takes us places we never thought we’d go. We become stronger with every hurtle we sail over–even if we smash into a few hurtles along the way and break a leg–haw! Okay, maybe we don’t wanna do that, but I certainly have sported quite a danged few bruises–my badges of Badness, yeah!

On the flipside of that: if you are over-working hoping for an over-night miracle, stop the hell doing that. Along with our hard work comes a dose of reality: it takes time to develop a strong and healthy body, especially if we’ve been sitting on our asses waiting for it to magically happen for us. Lawd y’all, and please stop listening to those infomercials–they lie. I know! Hard to believe our faithful televisions sometimes spout lies! Whadya know . . . huhn.

Writers: Working hard and not expecting an “over-night success” applies to our writing lives, as well. Sure does, uh huh! You can talk about it, or whine about it, or hope about it, or you can sit your ass down and do it. Ain’t no magic.

dsc09606Work-out: Sometimes we want some chocolate(or pick your “poison”), dammit. Sometimes we wanna sit on our asses and do nothing but eat crap and feel depressed and not do a danged ole thing. Some days everything feels sucky. “I can’t run a maratttthooonnnn.” “I’m tired of not eating what I waaaant toooooo any time I want tooo.”  Well, y’allses, when we sit on our asses and gobble down an entire box of chocolates or ten ton plate of pasta or Big Mac and fries and shake and fried apple pie, feeling sorry for ourselves and the state of Everything, welp, what happens is we feel even worse than before—inside and out. Our bodies will be bloated and sick from Crap Overload.

Better to treat ourselves to just a few pieces of that chocolate(or whatever), savoring every bite and feeling happy. Better to eat 80-90 percent Well/Healthy, and 10-20 percent Crap. Yeah, that’s easier to swallow, right? If you know you can eat, say, 10% to 20% or so of crap, the rest of the 80% to 90% is not so hard to swallow, right? riiiggghht. Cause it’s going to take you to a better body and mind and heart and guts and veins and lungs and heretoforwith so let it be written so let it be done.

Writers: Received another rejection? Feeling like shit? Well, you gonna lie back and let that suck you into the dark abyss of depression/over-eating/over-drinking, or you gonna get back up and try again? Try 10-20% whining and crying and then get back to the 80-90% work.

Work-out: It’s fruitless and stupid to compare ourselves to Any One Out There: say that loud and say it again and again and again and ever more again: Don’t compare yourself to others. Carve your own path. And, geez, you don’t know who is comparing themselves to You and wishing they had what you had: just say’n’!

Writer: Above, redux. Yeah.

156Work-out: Getting in shape/staying in shape and eating healthfully isn’t always easy, but once there, the feeling is like no other. A strong healthy body will take you into the minutes, days, months, years of your lives, and not in some half-assed way, but in Kick Ass way! Don’t you want to be in this life for the long-haul, and not just “in” this life, but fully immersed?  Then do it. Excuses are just that, and they’re boring and fruitless, and get you No Where. You ain’t foolin’ no one but yourself—nuh uh. Find your truths and learn to ignore your sneaky excuses/justifications–and they can be sneaky.

Writer: This business isn’t always easy, but ask yourself: Is this what I really want to do? Am I ready to be in this for the long-haul? Do I love writing more than my right arm? Am I ready to sacrifice? Can I handle the rejection without breaking up and breaking down? Sometimes this is the easiest best job in the entire danged ole world, and other times it sucks like a big fat suckity sucky britches—but I for one know I love it more than my right arm and have, and will, sacrifice for it.

Work-out: At the end of a grueling work-out session, find time to stretch those muscles, and then just as important as the work-out and the stretch comes the quiet moment of reflection. Time and distance from wants and needs will lift us away as we respect our bodies, minds, hearts.

kat on pierWriter: When the writing day is done, find a moment to reflect on this writing life. Calm the voices, the rejections, the expectations, the harried hurry and the long-ass frustrating waits, and remember just why you love this life so much. The raw beginnings of it, when it was just you and a white space of whatever in the world you wanted to say to anyone who would listen, even if it was only your own ears. Find that joy in quiet reflection.

dsc09608Work-out: Night comes. Time to rest the body. Rest is as important as movement. A good night’s sleep prepares you for the next day’s challenge. Let go and sleep sleep. Be grateful for the body that carries you from day to day. Keep it healthy and strong and then give it rest.

Writer: Ditto!

Finally, give yourself a big ole break, okay? Really, there isn’t a one of us who can tell you how to do this work-out life or this writing life and why and how much and for how long—only you have that power within you. Relax. It’ll all be okay. Your journey will not be mine and mine will not be hers his yours. Calm. Calm.

Namaste.

(Portions of this post were posted in another post when I posted about a post about a post similar to this post when I posted while not feeling kickass because GMR gave me his germs and for once I didn’t fight then off, so this post is sorta like another post, which posted the post of posty posted post, most post-like. And do you know how hard it is for me to admit I caught some flu-like illness from GMR? Me? Mrs. McToughass Britches? Yeah, I’m pissed, and humbled, and all ARGHY, and achy! Even the kickass are knocked back sometimes. Post ya later!)

Stop. Sit in your chair. Open a word doc (or pull out pen and paper) and Begin

We not only have holiday company for a few days at the little log house at Killian Knob, but I am up against a deadline, or two! The post below is a repeat post from 2009 but bears repeating. And it applies to more than just writing!

As for me, I am right now doing some last minute edits on the final Graces novel in the Graces Trilogy. The contract is signed. A date of March/April is planned for its release, and as well, Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books is re-doing Secret Graces’s cover so that all three Graces Sagas bookcovers are similar, so they look like a trilogy (I had a lot of mixed letters/comments on the original cover for SG-some hated/some loved). I can’t wait to see what SG and the third Graces novel covers will look like – I still become excited; I still am giddy about it all.



And as well, Rose & Thorn will go live January 15 – we are busy preparing the winter issue. My New Years Holiday will be busy, but in a good kind of way.

So now –

What someone wrote in a comment one day: “You know all that is what kind of halts mein writing. It just overwhelms me and then I block. I like blogging because Ihave the feel of freely writing. I guess it is a bit of a quirk.”

Never never never never never never never never never nevernever never never never never NEVER NEVER NEVER let anything stop you fromwriting if this is what you want to doand you are ready to discipline yourself to it—no one else on this earth orbeyond should stand in your way: no advice from well-meaning writers, no rules,no nuttin’.

 Trust me when I say that if you really want to write anovel, or stories, then you must practice your craft and the only way topractice is to just sit down and write. As you practice, you will figure outwhat works for you, what your “voice” is, what your “tics” are, what yourweaknesses and strengths are, what delights you and urges you on and whatfrustrates you and makes you want to stop writing. You will find out your ownpersonal style of writing in both how you write and what you write.

 But listen! If you are happy writing blog posts, what iswrong with that? If you write a successful blog and people come to your siteand leave happy interested comments, areyou not a success? Are you not writing for an audience who loves coming byand seeing what you have written?

 When I began writing Tender Graces, I didn’t have a clue whatI was doing; I didn’t even know how to write dialogue! But I had desire. I haddiscipline. I had want. I just wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote and thingsbegan to come clear as to my own style and voice and what made me feelcomfortable. I wrote 200,000 words and most of those had to be trashed orre-cast or fiddle-dee-deed, but, boy did I have fun, and boy did I learn muchabout what kind of writer I’d be. I was writing for an audience of one: Me.That is free-ing, let me tell you!

 Don’t let the “rules” or advice of others stop you or scareyou or make you feel as if you are somehow lacking if you don’t write in acertain way—just write and in the writing find out who you are, what kind ofwriter you are, what you love to write, and how you will write. I can’t stressthis enough. Find what makes you happy and do it.

 If the writing feels strained and you want to back away fromit, then find out what is hindering you: Are you writing for someone else? Areyou listening to too many writers (like me!) give advice and it confuses you?Are you straining towards something that isn’t meant for you?

 Stop. Sit in your chair. Open a word doc (or pull out penand paper) and Begin. Just have some fun, see what comes out. Who cares if youhave so-just-very-little; who caresif there are many adverbs and presentparticiples and dangling participles andsimiles and blah blah blah blah—how will you know what you want, or whereyou want to go, or how far you will take things, until you sit down and begin?How will you know what makes you happy until you write it without restraint?

I had to get to acertain point in my writing before the advice I read made sense –Hear that:I had to know how to sit down and writeand find out what kind of writer I’d be before all the “rules” began to makesense, and only then could I use them, manipulate them, have fun withthem—and I’m still having fun, and I’m still learning my craft—there is alwaysroom for growth, never become complacent even if you are a best-seller.

You all would laugh your arses off if you could see some ofmy first attempts at writing stories. So what? I laugh too! Haw! But I also seehow far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned and how much more I can learn.  Lawd, even some of the works I’ve had published I want to go in and change the heck out of them!

Sit. Breathe. Tune out the voices. Have fun. And, write howand what you want, and where and for whom you want. Be sincere.

Dig it out from the you that is uniquely you.
See y’all Friday for Links Day! Hope you are having a wonderful holiday.

The Work-Out Writer: How Bad Do You Want This?

I climbed on the treadmill today with less energy than I wanted. Since at least Monday, I’ve had a dull headache and that weird “impending doom” feeling. GMR teases me about it, but I usually say “Something’s coming,” when I feel this way. That something’s usually geological or atmospheric or combo. I’ve been “right,” but maybe as well there are times I’ve been wrong and just didn’t note it—all could be a coincidence. I’m still feeling it today, and danged if some weird thought didn’t bomp me in my head: “under the sea,” and now I’m feeling foolish and where was I on this post? I sure need to talk about “distraction” don’t I?

Oh yes . . . treadmill, no energy – the old “I don’t know if I can do this today” come calling . . .

You think this snail worries about how long it’ll take it to cross the road? Does it pause to consider how sucky it is?

During my jog, I wanted to stop multiple times. I didn’t want to challenge myself. I wanted Easy. To go along at this slow steady pace, or better yet, walk, or better yet, jump off and go do something else. I became so frustrated with myself, that I yelled in my head, like a red-faced coach, “HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS? HUH? HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS?” And all of a sudden, I wanted it BAD! I was fired up! I was ready to work. I bumped up the speed and tore off on the treadmill.

During one particular song, I pushed off on my leg and hovered in the air before slamming down, and did it again and again. As I hovered there, it felt as if I were suspended about a foot in the air, when in reality, I probably only came up a few inches—but the Perception was I felt myself higher. Does it really matter if I only came up a few inches? Or is the Perception of what I felt I accomplished a just-as-important reality? I like to think the latter, for it inspired me to take it further/farther, to run stronger, to push myself past the point of what I thought, or what I told myself (and this is an important insight), was my limit.

HOW BAD DO YOU WANT THIS?

Take what I said above and apply it to your writing life, or your musical life, or your artistic life, or your work life, your home life, your Life. How bad do we want what we think we want the most? How hard are we willing to work for it? How often are we willing to feel uncomfortable? How often are we able to face disappointment and still go on? And how much are we willing to push ourselves past the point where we think we must stop?

And when we push off, hovering in the air, feeling powerful and strong, do we let that wonderful perception spur us on to do more and better and stronger? Or do we say, “Eh, I was really only inches off the ground. No big deal. Other people can jump higher. Eh.” How bad do you want this? Bad enough to sweat and push and sprint and, as well, sometimes to feel pain and set-backs and exhaustion but pick yourself up and do it again. And again. And again. And again. Once again.

I’ll tell you what giving up or giving in gives you: Not a danged thing but regret. And the flipside of that is this: you can work your ass off and still not reach all of your goals, but I can guarantee you’ll have accomplished more than you ever dreamed you could if you do not give in to negativity and fear and doubt, and note I said “not give in to it” not that you’ll never feel those things.

You’ll have jumped up, hovered higher than you ever thought you could soar, grow stronger, faster, more determined. Note the accomplishments and savor them, for even the smallest goal reached is A Goal Reached. Why do we disregard even the smallest of goals? They weren’t so small when we were arching towards them, were they?

How bad do you want this?

Photos by kat . . .

Ghostly Hands in the shower, and Linky Love

I’m having a good old time laughing on my Facebook page about, um, the weird thing that happened to me while I was in the shower. This came after a night of really bizarre dreams. But the comments about it are cracking me up The weird thing that happened is this, and I’ll just cut and paste from FB status:

At the risk of sounding really weird (hush up! I heard that!) here’s what happened: I was in the shower, rinsing shampoo from my hair, pushing my hands through my hair—right hand, left hand—when suddenly I felt a THIRD HAND push against my head! Freaked. Me. Out! I turned, heart pounding: nothing there. Then I realized it must have only been water hitting my head just so—that’s my story & I’m sticking to it. Dang.

Ghostly hand helping me wash my hair – good lawd! Then last night, my coffee maker turned on and started the coffee while I was in bed reading -LAWD! – okay, maybe it was accidentally programmed – or … do do do do do do do do do do do do …. So, anyone have ghostly tales?

Today I have links –

I was a guest at the wonderful William Johnson’s place: Life through the Prism: an author’s journal - stop by and say hello and visit: Writing out the Fear . . .

I hope you’ll go by the Rose & Thorn Journal blog – lots of good stuff there. I am the first post today (we post every Wednesday) but if you scroll down, you will see so many great posts about writers and writing and life. We have a feature called “Back Story” where the writers we have published in Rose & Thorn Journal write a post for the blog about their experience or thoughts, etc, on the story they wrote. My post is actually an archive from my blog here “Behind the Wizard’s Curtain.”

I just finished two wonderful novels – one is yet unpublished and the other recently published: Our own Sharla Scroggs (She is writing under Sharla Lovelace) has a novel coming out soon – I read it to “blurb” it for her and was so enchanted; I adore her book! I simply could not put it down and was sad when it was over; BRAVA Sharla!

The second novel is The Secret of Lies by Barbara Forte Abate. What is funny is we were both reading each other’s novels at the same time and we both loved each other’s novels – I felt so lucky to have read two books in a row where I could not put down the book and where I loved loved the characters and setting, etc. Barbara has a great inspiring blog post up today: If you write it, they will reject it.

You can win a copy of Teresa Frohock’s newly almost-released book - Win an autographed copy of MISERERE: AN AUTUMN TALE! on her agent’s blog, Weronika Janczuk.

Jan O’hara, Miz Tart, is doing a survey on Author Interviews – she’d love your help and response!

Okay, that’s enough for today. Y’all have a good great day and weekend to come!

(all photos are kat magendie’s except for R&T keys icon & R&T cover art

Allowing the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success . . .

It started out as an experiment. I wanted to jog, just a little. Part of me was afraid, because I had just a tiny glitch in my heart valve, or something or other, that my heart rate would race up very quickly and I’d be dizzy and nauseated. It’s a scary thing, glitches of the heart are. For one wonders if suddenly the heart will race out of control and then freeze up and the keeling over dead would occur and that would suck—my doc reassured me I wouldn’t die, but could pass out. Okay, I thought, I can deal with passing out as long as I won’t die. Good. Yeah. Okay.

But, the idea of running any distance or at any but a slow plodding pace seemed far-fetched for me. Still. I wanted to try it. I’d watch others at the gym or at Lake Junaluska jogging/running and they looked so . . . I don’t know . . . intense but satisfied? Happy? Healthy? Successful in their goals? Wait, I know: as if they belonged to a special club. I wanted to be in the club.

In April of this year, I began. It started at Lake J, where I’d go in one direction and GMR in another and we’d meet in the middle. Little Maggie Lou and I would jog a little, walk a little, jog, walk, jog-walk. My feet barely left the pavement. Even so, when I’d pass another runner, I’d feel a little thrill as I waved at them. They’d sprint past, but I’d not let myself feel as if I were somehow “not enough.” No. I’d keep running my little pace, plod plod plod.

Even still, it seemed my heart and lungs weren’t going to be cooperative. I’d meet GMR and have to walk until the weird light-headed feeling faded. The first time I was able to jog without walking most all the way to meet GMR halfway, I was euphoric! I did it! But, I told myself, that’s only maybe a mile. And I was going pretty slowly. And . . . well . . .I wanted to see what else I was capable of. I could feel tiny changes inside of me, like knitting.

The next time I was at the gym, I stepped onto the treadmill, punched in 3.5 and did this little light jog where my feet came up about a milli-meter from the treadmill. I set a goal of twenty minutes of straight jogging. The next time I pushed it up to 3.8 and tried to go longer. Soon the dizzy weird light-head feeling came and I had to slow up, then walk. Twice a week, I went to that treadmill and set tiny little goals: I’ll go a mile without stopping. I’ll speed up for a minute and then I’ll slow down. I’ll go a little longer. I’ll go a little faster. One mile turned to two. 3.5, 3.6, 3.7, 3.8. Two miles turned to two and a half, then three, then four, then five. Two days a week turned to three days a week and 3.8 turned into 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 . . . then I tried sprints—5.5, 5.6, even yesterday 6.0 (though I couldn’t sustain that for long—yet).

Sometimes my back pain hits me hard. Sometimes I push myself too much and the old light-headed weird feeling comes on. Sometimes I’m tired and can’t do as much as I’d like. Sometimes I wonder why I’m doing all this when I could be working, or goofing off. Sometimes I look at other runners and wish I were doing what they were. Sometimes I wish I’d have started this a long time ago. Sometimes I think for all the hard work I’m doing my body should respond in ways it may not respond because I am a 53 year old woman and not a 33 year old woman.

But, I am seeing many changes in my mind and body. Progress.

I keep running. One step, two, three, four. From April until now I’ve learned things about my body and myself. I’ve grown as a runner. I’ve learned to focus on what I’m doing and to enjoy the process instead of letting my mind wander all over creation or looking way ahead to where I could be or maybe be or if I was here there or yonder or etc etc etc. I’ve learned what my weaknesses are and my strengths and what weaknesses I can make stonger or what I have to accept, and what strengths I can rely on and experiment with. I’ve learned what to accept as “it’s just how it is so get over it,” and what I can change–or at the very least that trying is better than sitting around wishing. No one gets anywhere by sitting around WISHING . . . you eventually just have to take a step, then the next, then . . . the rest.

If in April anyone would have told me that I’d be doing what I’m doing now, I’d have said: “Me? I can’t do that! My heart won’t let me. I have this problem, you see, where my heart rate rushes too high and I could pass out. Nope, not me. I wish, but, nah, not going to happen. Oh well. Dang. Guess I’ll just WISH.”

If I had not tried. If I had not just Done It. If I had not pushed myself just a little and a lot. If I had not practiced practiced practiced. If I had not allowed myself the possibility of failure, but also the possibility of success. Then I would never know how great it feels to run. How my body has responded. How I feel as if I am a member of some club I never had access to before.

Now—take everything I just wrote about running and apply that to writing.

Enjoy your weekend!

(PS – for some reason I can’t upload photos any longer in blogger – bummer! – I haven’t said “bummer” in years – huhn, wonder were that came from *laugh* anyone else having that problem with photos?)

Does the marriage between writer-character & reader-writer come between a real-life marriage?

Only in books can you be married to them all.” –James Salter

At a party, a woman tells me how she has decided my husband is a saint, and I’d better never ever complain about him. I say, “Huh? What do you mean by that?”

“He puts up with your craziness; he cooks you dinner.” She sniffs. “And, you said he even does his own laundry. You can sit there and write all the live-long day and never have to worry about your husband yelling for his dinner and a clean pair of underdrawers.” She glares at me, dares me to deny.

I’ve heard this before. It doesn’t stop me from rolling my eyes. “Well, you live with him and then see if you still think he’s a saint. No one is a saint. Maybe I have my good points, too . . . huhn.” I sniff, just a little. “Maybe he thinks I’m . . . I’m . . . all that and then some.” I take a hah-uuuge bite of cheesecake, to stop any other words from spilling out. I know it’s true; GMR cooks, he does his own laundry, and he is self-sufficient in a way some spouses are
not, if what I hear about some spouses is true. I know he puts up with my . . . ways.

Besides, harumph, I can cook; I just choose not to. Truth is: I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore food at times becomes only something to sustain me so I will not shrivel up from hunger. And, okay, I admit it: I am ashamed to say, I sometimes treat marriage the way I treat food: I can relate conversation; I just choose not to. I become dazed and restless and remote and strange, and therefore GMR at times becomes someone to sustain me so I will not be unloved.

And, GMR has competition for my affections: All the stuff in my pea-head. He competes with the crowd of “people” swirling around me like worrisome, but invisible (to him), gnats. It’s not just my characters I can look inward to, but all of You out there.

I can ignore the real world around me for long enough almost to lose who is important to me—my family, my friends, my town. Yet, even as I write that, I know how I need all of You to be important to me. But even more, I want to Me to be important to You. A long-term relationship. A marriage bond between writer and reader, between editor and writer. A contract. An understanding. A promise.

We need each other, don’t we? We are important to each other, aren’t we? We can’t live without each other, can we? Tell me you love Me and I will show you I love You by offering you what I offer best: My words, the love between the covers of my books, my care in reading your stories you submit to Rose & Thorn Journal. It is a marriage weaved together with words and promises of more words. We stand before the alter of Language and Literature, and we brace ourselves against the years, and we give and give and take and take, give and take. A love that never dies, even in the lean and hard and mean years. Not even until death do us part—for written words never die.

[And even as I post this here, I know I will be 'leaving' again- 'leaving' GMR, but even 'leaving' all of You for a while, for the latest manuscript calls for my attention. Play time is over. Deadlines are deadlines. My editor can see me here and lift an eyebrow, "Kathryn IS writing isn't she? hmmmmm. . ." I have to kick out some of the crowd in my head and leave only the world of Virginia Kate.]

What about you? Is the Real World, the tangible one you can touch & see, at times less real than it maybe should be?

What if publishing your book was like accepting and working for any other job?

If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, as a Job, we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then sit by the phone and wait for it to ring, sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job. That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! You put on your work clothes and—

My advance will be six figures—I’m in the money!

You accept the job and they offer you some “upfront” money to come work with them. That upfront money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us, you are a bit more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive small advances on my books and they are manageable enough to pay back quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities.

I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy.

Better check your salary again! Whether big business or small, the money earned has to go many different places. Imagine Bill’s Tools & Supplies. Bill the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money, he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bill with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.

So, your book is published (and I’m talking print here, not e-book). Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalties are anywhere from 6 to 15 percent—the low end for paperback and higher end for hardcover. So, let’s suppose you get 10% royalty on each book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00 (and SELLS for that, not is priced at that; there is a difference. After any discounts are taken, the final price is what your royalties are based on).

Ten percent of $15.00 = $1.50 per book. (If you have an agent, take 15% from that $1.50 and you get less than that).

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it? Imagine working for $1.50 an hour—can you make a living on $1.50 an hour? Not likely. And it’s unlikely you are selling a book an hour every day for 8 hours a day, five days a week, but, even if you sell twice that seven days a week, that’s still not enough to go yacht shopping by any stretch.

(E-books do offer better royalties, simply because there is less overhead.)

Be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one month and not so good another month. You have to factor in expenses, too. Again, dream big, but temper it with the realities of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.

My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, Publishers Weekly, et cetera.

You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked. You’ve gone to meetings. You’ve put out good work. You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by supporters or agents who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he did.

There’s a lot of competition for space out there. And many times, the Big 6 published authors garner the most attention. Next are authors who’ve already had best sellers, or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera. It’s a saturated business. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to get to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely your work is.

My book will be in many bookstores across the land.

Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if you could get even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but, you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more. You are so happy! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. So you make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.

Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but, nowhere near what you thought.

The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.

Sadly but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to get your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget and sentimentality usually goes one way: The author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.

Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Day! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not.

With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.

This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.

How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE get paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?

You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.

 I want this job—do you?

Memory Surges: What words may come – Guest on My Own Velvet Room

I’m a guest today over at My Own Velvet Room  – writing on Memory Surges and how this can effect/affect our writing. Hope you will stop by and say hello.

(Flowers at Lake Junaluska)

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