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Monday Classroom: The Comma (sending us into comas) . . . .

. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

Commas, those squiggly little cuties, cause more torn out hair and gnashed teeth.  I’m not the perfect Comma Momma (teeheehee), so I do invite you to use the links below to learn allllllllll about those tiny little trouble-makers–particularly The Comma Splice, for which I do not talk about here, but if I did I would, have an example right here–see what I did? I put a comma between would and have that does not belong because it breaks up the sentence when it should not: the heinous comma splice. Really, there is simply too much information about that little teeny bitty itty squiggle than I can place here in one post without tearing out my own hair. In fact, that teeny bitty itty squiggle’s size is deceiving, for it makes Big Arse Trouble for so many out there, and not only writers.

Thing is, folks, it really is not so difficult once you Pay Attention to what you are writing and how the sentence “flows” and the rhythm of your words/sentence. I’ve written those two words before: Pay Attention. Because when you do, you learn. As I write this post, I am using commas without thinking about it. If I this were my novel, I may go in and remove some of my commas, just to make sure everything sings along musically to where there are not a lot of choppy sentences that leave the reader’s brain squeezing. Ungh. Squeezed brains hurrrrt. When you Pay Attention, you begin to see how the comma interacts with your work. How the comma sets things off. How the comma groups things together and separates them. How it considers the natural pause—where you take that bit of a hitch of a breath after an introductory phrase.

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use, feel free to play around with it.

Sometimes I leave them out because I want to keep the sentence moving along without any pauses as if one is talking all at once and does not pause even to take a breath because they are in OMG OMG OMG mode *gasp for air* . . . folks, use this sparingly or else your readers’ eyes may fall out and follow someone to the door, and in fact, their eyes may not return for many a week because you simply exhausted them and they needed a long long vacation and I think I am doing it again, oh dear! *Eyes falling out of my head and traveling to the door, suitcase in hand (hands? Do eyes have hands? Well, if we’re giving them a suitcase, guess they best. Yes, I am talking about when people write “his/her eyes followed him/her” etc etc – the disembodied body parts – a post for another day).*

Consider the sentence below as an example of a pause.

Introduction: Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use (a natural pause) feel free to play around it.

Now read that sentence aloud with and without the comma and decide for yourself what happens:

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use feel free to play around it—does saying this aloud without a pause make you feel rushed or a bit breathless?

Once you have a basic idea/knowledge of comma use, feel free to play around it—does the natural pause here give you a chance to hitch in a breath?

If you think, “Well I like both ways.” Fine, go ye to write it how it works for you! In fact, when I’m reading something that doesn’t have commas where I like them to be, I insert them myself. Yeah! I do! Ha! You can’t escape my Comma-ndo!

Though, again, there are times I leave out commas because I want the sentence to move along without a pause. I don’t want the sentence to be broken up or choppy. But when I catch myself pausing after that “introduction,” I add a comma. Because. “Because whyyyyy, Kat?” Because I said so, that’s why.

The comma separates incomplete sentences—another form of a “pause” – like a parentheses.

Kathryn has, and always has had, a tiny pea-head. Kathryn has (pause to say/qualify: and always will have) a tiny pea-head.

Kathryn has—that’s an incomplete sentence that is separated by “and always has had” and then another incomplete sentence “a tiny pea-head” – I paused in the middle of those two phrases to tell you something else. I used commas to pause. Bless my wittle tiny pea-headed brain.

What you don’t want to do is to stick commas everywhere willy nilly. Those commas, small as they may be, will chop up your sentence and make them read stoooopid. Do you want choppy stoooopid sentences? Of course not! I’d rather see fewer commas than a litter of them crawling around all over the page mewling and making a mess all over creation. Listen to the rhythm of your words/the language. Listen for those pauses. Those parenthetical pauses. Those introductory phrases that then lead to a little hitch of breath before going on to the next part of the sentence. That’s where the comma goes.

Commas as lists or grouper-togetherers:

I like cornbread, cookies, beans and ice cream. But I do not like this sentence—ewwww! (Intro)If you want beans in your ice-cream, (pause/hitch breath) go right ahead.

But I do like the serial—not cereal—comma. Although wouldn’t that be cute? A bowlful of punctuation-shaped cereal for grammarians/writers? Haw! *Kat considers giving up novel-writing to create a Punctuation Cereal and becoming a millionaire* Anyway, *back to reality, Kat* the serial comma makes sense in the world of grouper-togetherers.

I like cornbread, cookies, beans, and ice cream.

See how each list of food has its own place in the sentence world?

I like cornbread. I like cookies. I like beans. I like ice cream.

is not:

I like cornbread. I like cookies. I like beans and ice cream. Ewwwwww!

I can also do a grouping, thusly,

I like cornbread and beans, cookies and ice cream, and serial commas. Teehee.

Notice above how each little family of words has their own little neat home to live in. Their own little grouping. The items that go together are placed together. Those that do not go together are separated by commas.

Clear as the mud on the bottom of your boot, ain’t it? Or maybe you are beginning to understand. Maybe I am a Geeeeenius at explaining the teeny tiny wittle squiggly and suddenly the clouds are clearing and you shout EUREKA! and you name your dog after me or something. *Kat has dreamy expression thinking of puppies running around named “Kat” because that sounds contradictory and funny haw haw haw—at least to her pea-headed brain—stop judging me!*

Look folks, here’s the thing: commas are irritating little shitters and they always will be. I mean, geeeezzzz, I have a headache just trying to explain them. And even as I type these words, I know I will miss one, or I’ll place one in the wrong spot. I’ll be in a hurry and someone out there will gloat and scream how I messed up. Ungh!  I’ll go back and read this and think, “This could be better.” But isn’t that the Thang about writing? How we always should be growing and learning. How we should think: “This could be better,” and then we make it better—until it is Done, for at some point we must be Done, right?

Below are some grammar sites that talk about the comma and may be a better help to you than my pea-headed self. I invite you to visit and then study them. Pay Attention. When your AHA! moment comes, you may then begin to manipulate the language with Knowledge, and folks, that’s when the real fun begins.

This first one has whole-lotto comma madness—lawd!

Guide to Grammar & writing

Grammar Girl

(this is a repost!)

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1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nTouty Plug of the day: The Lightning Charmer
The spell was cast when they were children. That bond cannot be broken. In the deep hollows and high ridges of the ancient Appalachian Mountains, a legacy of stunning magic will change their lives forever. 

Laura is caught between the modern and the mystical, struggling to lead a normal life in New York despite a powerful psychic connection to her childhood home in North Carolina—and to the mysterious stranger who calls her name. She’s a synesthete—someone who mentally “sees” and “tastes” splashes of color connected to people, emotions, and things. She’s struggled against the distracting ability all her life; now the effects have grown stronger. She returns home to the mountains, desperate to resolve the obsessive pull of their mysteries.

But life in her mountain community is far from peaceful. An arsonist has the town on edge, and she discovers Ayron, scarred and tormented, an irresistible recluse who rarely leaves the forest. As her childhood memories of him surface, the façade of her ordinary world begins to fade. The knots she’s tied around her heart and her beliefs start unraveling. Ayron has never forgotten her or the meaning of their astonishing bond. If his kind is to survive in modern times, he and Laura must face the consequences of falling in love.

Pain and Me . . . .

 

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman?

What goes on behind the eyes of a woman in the dark of night when the pain becomes a lover?

In nights of physical pain, I lift from my body, hover above, and watch my weakness with disdain. I dream without sleeping, float in a sea of nerve endings glowing red. I write beautiful words in the dark; they are slender threads of silver and gold, pulsing with meaning and truth. Pain purifies thoughts, sharpens the senses. In the night hours, I pity the part of me who  demands attention to the fiery current racing down my spine and legs. I toss, turn, and wish it would stop. I argue my case, and pain argues back its own. One night, Pain opened up to me and said, “At times, I’d rather be called something else, like beauty, or hope, or joy. Do you think it’s easy being hated and feared? I do my job and that is what I do. Who told you life is lived without pain?” I answered, “Do your worst! I am strong!” And I lay there, and I felt Pain, and thought, who would I be without Pain? It’s become a part of me, attached to me as if an extra body part. It’s mine. And I can take it. I am strong.

 
Photos-Video: No Words (and a link to interview)In the quiet dark, I think how one day I will be a very old woman. I’ll walk crooked to the coffee pot, pour a cup, and holding the cup with trembled hands, I’ll shuffle to the porch, carefully sit in my rocker, pull a throw over my knees, and rock rock and think about pain and me and how we had a long good life together. I’ll wonder, did pain take away or did pain give insight, and empathy? I will drink every bit of my strong black coffee and I’ll be grateful for its taste and heat, and I’ll say, “Come on pain, today we will write, and then we will rock some more, and then we will read, and then we will rock some more. Life is good.” And it won’t seem but a minute that I am on Earth, just a minute. Just a minute. A minute. Minute.

 

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1964980_10152466287074176_8369086502746553258_nTouty plug of the day:

I have noticed that my Graces Series books are fluctuating “on sale” on Amazon Kindle, at least two (Secret Graces and Family Graces) are right now under $5, with Tender Graces being under $8, so, I hope you will check them out while they are on sale.

My brother composed some music for the final book in the Graces Trilogy: Family Graces-remaining at a five-star review, though not as many reviews as Amazon would like, I’m sure *laugh.* I’m proud of the Virginia Kate Sagas, and VK will remain one of my all-time favorite characters, ever. I loved writing these books. Tender Graces (A gentle yet unflinching look at how we find our way home) was my first published novel. That was when anything at all was possible – and it still is. There are always possibilities. Tender Graces was nominated for an award, has been on the Amazon best-seller lists, and even was No 1 on Amazon over The Help, which at the time was a big best seller, and TG remains at a near perfect almost five-star review status, as does the other two Graces books. But all that is just Stuff – the writing of these Graces books were magic times for me.

There’s not much to this video because I just wanted my brother to know I respected the time he took to compose this music. Thank you, bro.

He took this music and renamed it “Ghost Horse Mountain” and developed a cd around it, called Ghost Horse Mountain. My brother never gives up on his dream – ever. I have to give him that. He’s his own unique brain – hey! I meant to write “brand” but that, too *laugh*

Now go after your dream – no matter where it leads you, it will be a journey you’ll never regret.

Monday Classroom: Picky part two, but I am right because I say so

10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_nSome things bother me that do not bother other people at all. But I am right. (*laughing*)

These things stick in my craw and I have to dislodge them. I only wish I could go back to my previously published works, before I knew better, to eradicate the picky sh*t I am now picky over. Sometimes things do still sneak in, because they are so ingrained into our speech. Such as:

She found herself in the bedroom. She did? That sounds like some sci-fi novel/movie or something. You mean she went into the bedroom and there was another version of her? A clone? How fascinating that she could actually, literally, find herself in her bedroom! That would freak me out. I don’t want any more Me’s running around. Huhn. One of me is enough–just ask those who put up with me.

And speaking of “literally.” If I say, “I literally typed my fingers to the bones!” Then one would expect to see my wittle hands sprouting nubs with skeletal protrusions. No, I figuratively typed my fingers to bones, perhaps, but never literally—though sometimes I do worry this nub-state shall occur.

He woke that morning with a smile on his face. Well, where else would a smile be? On his butt? The only place we have a smile is on our face, so we can strike out three words from our manuscript (or anywhere else) by writing/saying: He woke that morning with a smile. We can also wonder what he’s smiling about. If he’s your partner/spouse, then maybe you should worry, hmmm. Just what, or who, was he dreaming of? Hmmmmm. Of course he was dreaming of you–of course.

She thought to herself, why is Steven smiling this morning? Is he thinking of that redhead in the coffee shop? Why, I oughta . . . . Who else would she think to? She can only think to herself, unless you are writing about mind-readers. Thinking to oneself is understood. If you are writing in third person limited (and of course in first person), then the narrative is understood to be her inner thoughts. If you strike out the “she thought to herself” or if you don’t want to strike out the entire thing, then at least strike out “to herself” then you’d be rid of a few more words to allow yourself to write in good ole words! Booyah!

I like my ellipses to have three spaces . . . like that. Notice as well that there is a space before and after . . . see? If there aren’t spaces…then I feel things are too crowded…stop, I need space . . . thank you. At first, when my editor corrected a previous manuscript for one of my novels, I did not like the extra ‘dot’ at the end of a sentence with ellipses. I fought it, if only in my pea-headed brain. Until one day it made perfect sense. When you consider that the ellipses are meant to stand in for a word or phrase, the rest of the sentence implying whatever or trailing off or etc etc, then at the end of that sentence there is always punctuation. So . . . .

Long Live The Oxford Comma! The serial comma. You won’t take it away from me! I love boots, kittens, and cheesecake. Why would I ever write: I love boots, kittens and cheesecake. Unless I do like kitten cheesecake, or there is some other reason to “group” the kittens and cheesecake as one entity or one grouping. Try it by saying it with a pause: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens (comma/pause) and cheesecake. Now the other way: I love boots (comma/pause) kittens and cheesecake. Ungh! Second way bugs me. Ungh!

Go to town and buy a hat and scarf, a car and truck, and a wrench and screwdriver. See how I grouped things that related and then separated them by the serial comma? Or: I like dolphins, cars and trucks–I grouped the cars and trucks because they can be grouped together as vehicles, but the dolphin remains its own thang. Or: I dislike cauliflower, perfume, and green-tea–all three separate things, but I could write: I dislike cauliflower and broccoli, perfume, and green-tea.

Clear as smudged up glass on a frosty morning? Just think of it like this: I see commas as two things: pauses and grouper-togetherers.

I think I will wait and write up a post just on The Comma. It seems this is a passionate debate, but as I wrote above: I am right. *haw!*

A final thought: things never flood my mind. I understand the concept, but for some reason it plucks at my nerve-strings. Perhaps because it’s used so much? I dunno. I don’t try to understand all my pickyisms; I only go with my flow, y’all.

What bothers you in your manuscript that you must try to eradicate? 

(pardon my repost from a few years ago – dang me)

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Secret%20Graces%202012%20-%20screenTouty plug of the day: Secret Graces, the second book in the Virginia Kate Sages of The Graces trilogy. This is my most forgotten book of the five (and one novella) I have had published through Bell Bridge books. It was completed back when my stepdad and my brother were both in the hospital having had heart attacks within a week or two of each other. A difficult time to finish and then talk about a novel! I always wanted to step back in time and look at it again, but I have a rule: never look back; it is what it is. There was always the joke about the “Log Girl” cover- many people, me included, did not like “Log Girl” because she didn’t really fit.  And we had a big debate for a while there as to whether that was a cat or a possum *laughing!* The cover was slightly altered from an earlier version (the earlier is in the video below), to better match the other two covers, but Log Girl remained, and always will I reckon.

Readers met the incredible Carey women in Tender Graces – Now the story continues . . .

“Vee” is idealistic and naïve despite the witness she has served to the fractured heritage of her parents’ and grandmother’s dreams. Vee continues her journey toward wisdom, building small bridges over the chasms of hurt and longing. The inspiration of hope lingers in her. Tender Graces and now, Secret Graces, explores three women’s lives: Daughter, Mother, Grandmother, and passes through the fulcrum of Virginia Kate’s emerging life as a lover and mother and storyteller, chronicling the heart ache and hope of her family and herself.

In Tender Graces, readers laughed and cried as they watched Virginia Kate Carey grow up with her West Virginia family, as loving as it was dysfunctional. Now author Kathryn Magendie explores the adult years of Virginia Kate’s life in the sequel, SECRET GRACES, revealing more of her relationship with her fascinating but flawed parents; her quirky friends, Jade and Miss Darla; her beloved stepmother, Rebekha, her unpredictable brothers, Micah, Andy, and Bobby; and, most of all, Virginia Kate’s journey into romance and marriage. Along the way, the old familiar ghosts follow Virginia Kate offering advice, and warning. In Secret Graces, we left an undecided Virginia Kate in the beautiful but haunted Appalachian holler of her childhood—will Virginia Kate stay, or will she go back to Louisiana? Find out in the next “The Graces” Saga: Family Graces.

Monday Classroom: More Grammar Tidbitters (ain’t you gladeravated?)

10305604_10152463711914176_2993508658427162551_nMorning, all y’allses! What? You think all y’allses isn’t correct? Well, it ain’t. It ain’t even correct in many southern towns. Nope. But it’s correct in my pea-head, so there y’allses goes’ses.

Our manuscripts will never be perfect. Yeah, I know! It’s difficult to imagine, isn’t it? That we aren’t or will never be perfect? Nor will our books/essays/short stories, and so on. Lawd and Dang. However, we can do our best to strengthen our work by learning The Rules and applying them when we “should.” Then, we can break those rules with a firm and knowledgeable hand. Right? Riighhht!

downloadDo you own a Strunk & White? No? *Gasp!* Go ye and purchase one. I don’t care if you’ve heard it’s all stuffy-fied. I’ll wait whilst you do. *Jeopardy music here* You back? All right then (and notice, yes sir and yes m’am, that all right is two words—two!).

Now, let us begin.

As I wrote above, all right should be two words. Not alright. Because I say so. So does “Grammar Girl,” who I do agree with (and yes I know what I just did with that sentence and how I ended it!). And I don’t care if people are beginning to “accept things that are used all the time.” Nope. All right?

Do you feel badly? Well, what’s wrong with your hands? Yep. Feeling badly, or feel badly: think about it. Roll that around on your tongue-brain. It is: I feel bad. I feel bad that you think I’m being a grammar bitch (I really don’t feel bad – haha!).

Another of those pesky “ly” words: Most always when we write “hopefully” we mean “I hope or with hope.” Yup. It is with hope that I write this tip prompting you to stop saying “Hopefully, I will understand all this mess.” Well, dang me but “hope” looks like it’s spelled all wrong and I know it is not. Ain’t that funny when a word does that in our heads? One we’ve written many times will all of a sudden be all wrong in said heads?

Of course there are many “ly” words that are perfectly acceptable. Those adverbs — ly words — flummox people right and left and up and down. Another day with the ly-ers.

well, sheee'it

well, sheee’it

Who that? I often see/hear “that” used instead of “who—” if you are writing/speaking of a person, then it is who. She is a woman who likes strawberries right off the vine; not, she is a woman that likes strawberries right off the vine.

Commas before which’s. The dog wanted his walk, which was most inconvenient for the woman who wasn’t yet ready. What? I don’t care! It’s correct! Because Strunk & White say so! And I do, too. Humph. If you hate commas, “that” can be used instead of “which” in many sentences. But if you are going to use “which” then use the comma, which is proper grammar that can be used today and tomorrow and so on and so forth and la tee dah tee dah.

We Southern/Mountain folk often add words and such all and all that stuff and a little bit of this and that the t’other. I often use colloquialism in my work, since my settings are usually in the Appalachian/Deep South. So if you read my work, you will see grammar discombobulations when I am in the character’s voice. However:

Off of is incorrect, and plain old “off” is correct. The woman jumped off of the couch and ran to the porch to yell, “Git off’n my land!” should be The woman jumped off the couch and ran to the porch to yell “Git off’n my land!”

As well, instead of “Could of” we should write/say “could have” – I could of had a V8 is incorrect! Don’t you watch commercials to learn yer grammarfications? It’s I could have had a V8! Or “I could’ve had . . . .” That said, I it may sound as if I am saying the “could of” because I’m southern and charming and oh so mysteriously colloquial. Tee hee.

you nauseate me - just say'n

you nauseate me – just say’n

Nauseous versus Nauseated. If you feel it, it is nauseated. If you or someone or something else is causing the nausea, well then, that is nauseous.  I am nauseated because you vomited on my just-mopped floor, you nauseous pile of vomitus!

Y’allses gots any grammerfications and other writin bloooperdoops you wanna tawlk about?And, as always, if I have an error, which does happen because I’m imperfectly perfect, point ‘er out and I’ll fix it (if I agree).

Now, go do the day!

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Touty Plug of the day: Family Graces, the 3rd book in the Graces Trilogy. This explores Momma’s and Rebekha’s lives more, and we finally learn what happens with Virginia Kate and Gary.

family_graces_-_screen

You are mine and I am yours, dear Reader: how I love you.

002What shall I do with my gift? For I am not quite sure what direction I want to take with a new novel. Unfinished work sits in my computer. For I imploded my life over a year ago–I exploded it–I ripped it asunder–I left my marriage and my life on the mountain. I pummeled myself stupid with one decision after another until I sat dazed for months. Now, now I am ready again.

But I hesitate. Which one? Or a new one? “Listen to your heart, Kathryn,” the cliched voice inside me rages.

Once, years back, I printed out my novel and held its heaviness in my hands, and as I read, I loved Virginia Kate all over again, but I wondered if there were more I could do to her: make her shorter, tighter, smaller, for I’m told readers have a short attention span now and expect things to be more dramatic, to move faster, to have more and more tension and action and –is this you, reader? Are you really like that? Where you expect things to be fed to you so fast, crammed down your throat, where you expect quick-reading works that can be gulped down like fast food, or, do you sometimes enjoy the dinner at a quiet nice restaurant, where each course is served to you gently and with full attention, each course a delicate taste, but with undertones of spice and heat and with the hint of something dramatic to come. Each course comes just a moment after you’ve finished the last one, and in that moment, you savor what you have just completed.

I am smiling at you, smiling with imagining you reading my words and how you would think this is something different, yet something quite familiar that you are reading. Something to take to the back porch, to the beach, to a rocking chair.

I have so much to tell you all, dear readers! So much! My mind won’t be still and there are times when I want to hush it up, to tell my thoughts to stop its mad rushing about! When I think I shall go insane with all the words to tell you.

How do I reach you all? I could put my novels away and concentrate on other things to show you, and then one day, when I am ready, I will come to you, and you will not forget me. I could write what isn’t in my heart to capture the market and perhaps place much needed funds in my bank. But I hesitate. For when I tried that before, it felt so wrong, so alien, so rubbery.

213I have a restless mind. I have a mind full of images — bones of dogs attached to leashes while the old man calls to me to write him, for he is lost, and he needs me to find him, and there is a boy, a dark-haired boy who parts the bushes, parts the thistles, and sees the bones, and a voice comes to him and says, “I am near, too, come find me . . . .”

And there–a group of women, all over sixty, crossing the street, and two of them help one who is weak weaker weakest, while three more are a bit ahead, chatting about anything but their youth, because they do not care about those days any longer, they have stories, so many stories to tell, and as I watch them cross the street, I hear their words, and I hear the inner words of their story and I must tell it! Words slam into me, and I take them in, bam bam bam bam bam slam.

And there is the woman, who wakes up beside her husband, and goes to the bathroom, and as she relieves herself, she stares at the stain of the night’s sex on her panties, and sighs, gets up, washes her hands, washes her faces (yes, faces), and tries not to look in the mirror, but she does, accidentally she looks into the woman in the mirror, and all the days of her life slam into her, and she pushes back her hair, and listens to the loud breathing of her husband, and suddenly, suddenly, unexpectedly, the world tilts and rearranges and she becomes the woman she was meant to be. I think about this woman, and she thinks about me – for she knows I will have to write her story and she waits, staring into that mirror, turning away from that mirror, out of the bathroom, down the hall, out the front door, down the sidewalk, her feet slapping against the cement–where is she going?! I have to find out! Words. Images. Ideas. Characters.

Whispers – is that the wind, or a character speaking to me? Last night, my legs were restless under the covers as I held a book of short stories. I opened it, and read and enjoyed and wondered about the author, what they were doing and thinking and if they knew how beautiful they are, and that at that very moment, I was reading their words and they’d never know me, never know I smiled, and then closed the book with satisfaction, turned out the light, and dreamed of my own words on the page. Deam. Dreamer. Dreamest.

008 I will never again be the same because you, dear readers, have touched me and read me and come to know me through my books. I can never go back to how I was in the days before this happened. I am yours now. I have no choice but to give you more of me. For anything less feels wrong and empty. My life wrong and empty without the words and language. I love this writing, my characters, the idea and reality of you all holding my words and loving my characters, as much as I love my arm, my leg, my tiniest of baby toes.

Stay with me. For I need you.

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51dZqZYheqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Touty plug of the day. My very first published book. Tender Graces, the first in the trilogy. Where I introduce to you my beloved Virginia Kate. It is one of my most popular books, with only Sweetie being just as popular.

Who is your character? (How We Write)

Littlest Tender Graces Reader . . .

Fun for all ages (ha)

Here’s a secret: I don’t have a clue what favorite flavor of ice cream is Virginia Kate’s (The Graces Trilogy books main character) favorite flavor. If I thought about it, maybe I’d have her go into the ice cream parlor and she’d step up to the counter and she’d order a . . . *kat thinks* . . . chocolate dipped cone. There. She doesn’t like pistachio like I do. She’d eat strawberry, though, yeah; we both like strawberry with real chunks of strawberries in there.

Sometimes authors make detailed “character sketches.” They know their characters so well, up to the minutetednest detail—their favorite foods, their favorite movies, how they look from the top of their head to the soles and souls of their feet—every detail about their physical appearance. They know every like and dislike, every nuance, every place the character has been or worked or gone to school, etc etc etc. — Lawdy! I have a headache just thankin’ about all that!

1743500_553542498076585_1943216434_nWhen I first began writing fiction, I thought there was This Way I was supposed to write and think and do and be, and if I wasn’t This Way, then I wasn’t a Real Writer. I might as well have put thick gloves on my hands and tried to write that way, for thinking “what I am supposed to do” versus “what is comfortable and real and instinctual” for me creates boundaries where there should be free space. You know how I came up with the Sweetie character? She came to me whilst I was walking Muse Trail One in my Smoky Mountain cove. Hovered there as an apparition demanding me to tell her story–first time that’s happened. Was it real or imagined in my writer’s mind? Who cares? Sweetie has become one of my most beloved books. I won’t question it.

The Lightning Charmer coverfamily_graces_-_screenFor me personally, when it comes to character, I learned I have to discover my character(s) as I write, and even in that discovery, just as it is with meeting real people, I never know every detail about them, and may never know every detail. Up until the last Graces book (Family Graces), I was still discovering who Virginia Kate is. If I have an ice cream scene, that’s when I find out what flavor she will choose and likes (chocolate dipped cone! Now I know!). If I have a movie scene, maybe she’ll talk about her favorite movie, and then again, maybe she won’t—maybe I’ll never know her favorite movie. I know she loves books, and has a special place for her Black Stallion and Black Beauty books, but what does she read as an adult? Well, I don’t know. She hasn’t had time to read because she’s going through her families’ archives (their letters, journals, photos) and storytelling their lives. When I wrote my sixth work The Lightning Charmer, I first tried to shoehorn things I thought I wanted for my characters into the book–I was trying to please someone outside of myself, and the book was suffering for it. It took me a long time to relax and let the characters have their way, and even so, it’s still a book that my readers either dislike completely or love as their favorite–not much in between with that book.

follow your own path

follow your own path

Well, y’all all know how writers love to give advice—heck, I do that here on my blog every so often or often or every once in a while. Most all of us mean well. Many of us give advice because we want to tell you “Hey, relax a litle–it’s all okay; really!” We want to support you and help you; we want to give you guidance; we want to perhaps make things a bit easier on you where we had to muddle our way through; and we want to talk about the craft, the language, because it is important to us and we love it so. It’s rarely to tout and shout about our books even when we shamelessly put photos of them in the post and all that because our publishers are probably upset at us for rarely talking about our books, teehee, lawd. (And y’all know I rarely tout my books–but perhaps I should do more of it? How else will people know about my books? How else will I please  my publishers?–more on this later in another post, y’allses.)

How you write; how the process is for you is an individual decision–a unique glimpse into the mind of you as Writer/Author/Novelist. If you like to discover your character as you go along, or if you like to write detailed character descriptions—who can tell you which is “right or wrong” because neither way is “right or wrong.” If you read how a writer does his or her thang and then you try to duplicate that and in that trying to duplicate you hit wall after wall—your character becomes wooden, or doesn’t seem real to you, or something just isn’t right about this character dang it all!—then find your own way. Take off the borrowed gloves and feel the flexing of your own fingers, the feel of the keys, the freedom of ungloved hands.

Just Do It

Just Do It

Go Forth and Write, y’all!

Shoveling it (writing it)

snow storm 2014 cove walk and shovel 004

*UPDATE! : Can anyone tell me “what’s wrong with this picture” here to the left? *laughing* — Let’s make that around 10 inches on my driveway. *dumbass me* Yeah, the stick is upside down and the big numbers are not inches. Teeheehee.* There has to be a metaphor/analogy for the writing in this :D

Gawd. What a winter it has been. Ice, snow, sub-zero temps — my cove once dove to minus 8.5 degrees. This latest dumped fourteen inches on top of the driveway I’d just cleared 3 inches from. Welp, good, cause at least I didn’t have to shovel 17 inches. Huhn. Right? Riiight. And, as I wrote on Facebook (where I’ve been uploading photos of the snow and the beauty of Western North Carolina), how does a 111 pound 5’2″ woman clear 14 inches of snow from her longish driveway in less than 2 hours? One GD shovel at a time. I put my head down and did the job. I didn’t whine. I didn’t complain–no really, I did not. For what good would that have done? Just made me irritated and negative about it. I shoveled and I didn’t think about how much was left before me. I shoveled and I didn’t stop except to drink some water and stretch out the kinks. I shoveled and I didn’t think about my worries or my troubles or what lay ahead or what I would do next or if it were boring or if I’d rather be doing something else–nope, I kept my mind to he task. I shoveled and shoveled and shoveled some more. Until, at last, I had a pathway for my Boopmobile to clear out of so I can get out snow storm 2014 cove walk and shovel 028this weekend, and then, just to be sure, I shoveled a bit more–a sort of SO THERE! kind of thing.

snow storm 2014 cove walk and shovel 026I thought, at the end: Okay, Mother/Father/Grandm/f Nature, you bitch – I’m a bigger bitch. I’m a badass bitch. I’m a toughass kickass mountain woman, stubborn, too much pride at times, determined. I had a goal. I completed it. My arms were shaking afterward. My back and shoulders protested. But those things actually felt good because they felt like work; they felt like progress; they felt like I was in the real world doing real things; they felt like, actually, that Mother;/Father/Grandm/f Nature and I were at a truce. Oh, I know Nature can dish out some more if it wants to, and it could take me to my knees. It has done that to many of us–storms, and floods, and snows, and ices, and tornadoes, and hurricanes–and what do we do? We “shovel” out from under it one “shovel” at a time until we are done with the job.

Just Do It

Just Do It

Often people ask me: how did you write so much in so little time? What is your writing day like? How do you keep writing? I am pretty prolific. I have had published five novels and a novella, and published myself through Amazon some short stories, and I’m writing under two different pen names — one is C.W. Pomp, and the other is a secret. And you may be guessing already what I’m going to say after reading the above: I write one word at a time. I put my head down and get the job done. When I am working, snow storm 2014 cove walk and shovel 028I don’t think ahead or how much I have done or how much more I have left to do. I don’t worry about the future when I am working. I am a badass toughass stubborn determined novelist/writer bitch. When I am done, I may be shaking a little; I may let those worries creep in; I may falter because I don’t know how it’s all going to work out or if people will love my work; I could be taken to my knees by disappointment (and I have been!). But, then . . . I sit down and do it all over again, just as if it snows again, I will pick up that shovel and dig myself out from under what is dished out to me.

1461250_496657083765127_1387255473_nNow, I do not want to hit you good people over the head with this – my pride and my sense of “not bugging people” often have gotten in the way of me talking about my books, but, if I want to keep doing what I love, then I have to promote my books at least sometimes, and the sometimes is usually when I have news or deals. I thought The Lightning Charmer would be off its $1.99 sale, but it’s still hanging on – shhh! maybe they forgot to take it off! ha! So, if you haven’t tried my work, now is the time, or if you have and liked my other books, then give T.L.C. a try. I will love you for it – well, hell, I already love you all :D .

three set_edited-best_edited-1As well, my little short stories are on Amazon. I don’t talk about them much because they’re just little story snacks – things you can read quickly. Simple little things. I adore the artwork on the cover.

Okay, that’s enough of the car salesman pitch *haw!*

MUWAH! y’all. Pick up that shovel (sit down and write) . . . get busy.

The Lightning Charmer cover . . . . it’s purdy

Welp, here ’tis – the cover art for The Lightning Charmer. It’ll be out this month. Something a little different from my former novels. I’m excited and happy, and I hope my readers will love Laura, Ayron, Betty, the crows, the wolf-dog, the lightning, the sex, the love, the supernatural, the fire — I hope my readers will love it all. *Fingers Tightly Crossed*

The Lightning Charmer cover

 

 

 

A haunted man shadows the Smoky Mountain forest. A lonely woman returns to what she left behind. A legacy unfulfilled calls out to them both. .

The sky darkens, the lightning seeks . . .  

The Lightning Charmer is full of whimsy, enchantment, ancient secrets, and dark earthy seduction.  Magendie taps into those primal secret places we all harbor, with a powerful story of learning where one fits in a world that may not fit us.  Braided with color, humor, and loyalty to family, this is storytelling at its best!  Sharla Lovelace, Bestselling and Award Winning author of THE REASON IS YOU

The spell was cast when they were children. That bond cannot be broken. In the deep hollows and high ridges of the ancient Appalachian mountains, a legacy of stunning magic will change their lives forever.

Laura is caught between the modern and the mystical, struggling to lead a normal life in New York despite a powerful psychic connection to her childhood home in North Carolina—and to the mysterious stranger who calls her name. She’s a synesthete—someone who mentally “sees” and “tastes” splashes of color connected to people, emotions, and things. She’s struggled against the distracting ability all her life; now the effects have grown stronger. She returns home to the mountains, desperate to resolve the obsessive pull of their mysteries.

But life in her mountain community is far from peaceful. An arsonist has the town on edge, and she discovers Ayron, scarred and tormented, an irresistible recluse who rarely leaves the forest. As her childhood memories of him surface, the façade of her ordinary world begins to fade. The knots she’s tied around her heart and her beliefs start unraveling. Ayron has never forgotten her or the meaning of their astonishing bond. If his kind is to survive in modern times, he and Laura must face the consequences of falling in love.

The mystery of kin . . . family in dark and light and in between

I stumbled on this in my archives while searching for something else. It was on the cusp of my 50th birthday, five-ish years ago. Now Daddy is gone. In photographs, the people are disappearing one at a time, and when you stare at the photographs, you do not know who will disappear next. It is a mystery, same as the heart can be. I don’t often re-post, but I’m still away from home – weather in NC and around-about has delayed my returning . . . .

————————————————————————————————–

 

“I don’t belong here, and I’ve had to turn my not belonging into a triumph.” — Lynn Freed

All along the mountain and in the valley and in the corners and nooks and crannies and odd little places no one has ever seen except in passing barefoot while keeping the eye on a future and a past that lurks somewhere around the corner, and in those places were rocks hide small creatures, and in the shaded areas that hold critters great and small, and in those high high tops where hawk flies, and in the low places where the rodents run, in all those places, here and there on the mountain and in the hollers, there hides the secrets and mysteries that make up our families, ourselves.

Dear Readers, my dear ones, do you wonder about the mystery that is your kin? Or have you received the answers you are proud to know, or some that you’d rather not know? Do you remember what you thought and felt and longed for when you were a child? Do you think: Who was that child? What and who made me? Why do I long for the things I can’t have or can’t know?

This me who is Me holds mystery, and as I charge into the exact middle of one-hundred, I look into the corners where the dust lies, look where the cobwebs undulate with my passing, where the tiny cracks in the floor hold specks of dirt that have been tread down and down until the soil is a part of the wood. I look into the dark places, shining a light that can barely penetrate that which does not want to be found.

daddy

And it was while my daddy visited me, when we rocked together on the porch, staring out over the mountains as the creek sang to us, the wind pushed against the trees, the coffee steamed like tiny ghosts from our cups—it was then Daddy told me how my biological momma’s brother, my uncle, had years and years ago killed a man and was sentenced to death row.

I stopped rocking, turned and said, “I had an uncle on death row?”

Daddy nodded. “Your momma and I wrote letters of appeal and those letters got him released.”

I said, “I never knew him. I never knew that.”

He told me what he knew, which isn’t enough. Secrets are buried deep into the West Virginia mountainside.

I want another cup of coffee with Daddy, soon, soon. I want to rock and sip while he tells me stories of relatives from my momma’s side, and I want to cajole from him stories of his own kin, those Tennessee relatives I know very little about. Too many secrets on both sides. Perhaps some are too painful to speak aloud—I can guess from the black and white photographs holding the spirits of people who stare back with haunted eyes—as if uttering memories will make them come alive and wanting and real again, the spirit-words taking the awful shapes of those who would harm and become a full and dense being, a dark and ugly billow of smoky spirit shape.

I insert images of my momma running barefoot in the in the mountain forest, her feet turn black from the West Virginia soil, her skin is brown from the sun, bird-track freckles across her nose, her hair fans out behind her, her mouth stretched in a smile. She runs to catch a glimpse of the wild horses in the valley below, and she aims to capture one, jump astride him, and ride rider ridest!

And there’s Daddy! Young and strong in Tennessee, his hair stands on end, fingers greasy from peanut butter and fresh-churned butter sandwiches, his legs pocked with mosquito bites, one hand scratches the inflamed bumps while the other hand points and laughs at a friend dangling from a hickory tree. And he runs to the tree, a full-force boy run, and up up he climbs to find his own thick branch, and he suspends, feet hooked across the limb, the back of his legs bark tattooed, his head pointing to the ground, and the laughter falls from his mouth and down into the ground where it sinks into the earth and spreads until there is a tremor, an erupting, and up from the dirt pushes hope. Oh. I can see it. Can you?

My uncle killed a man, stabbed him until he was dead, went to death row, and was released. My momma and my daddy wrote letters of appeal, “It’s not his fault. You must understand that it’s not his fault. If you only knew his poor young life you would not do this thing.” And such was his young life that they released him. Such was his young life, that they released him. They released the young boy who became the man. I am at wonder with thinking of that.

I think about my blood, and what is rushing in my veins that comes from kin. I think about the black and white photos. I think about the unsaid things. I think about my blood—at times hot and boiling from the ancient line of my people.

I claim the title of Proud Mountain Woman. I claim the blood of my relatives that erupts wild with heat. I claim the blood of my Great Great Grandmother, that Proud Blackfoot Woman. (Do I claim the blood of the murdered man?) My kin, my blood. My proud Hillbilly blood is deep, buried far underneath my skin, down into the marrow of my bones, my strong gleaming bones.

My uncle kills a man, spills his blood upon the earth and it seeps far far into the West Virginia soil, seeps down deep, red turning to brown turning to black, and the man falls hard, his last thoughts no one but he knows. And my uncle stands with his legs apart and raises his eyes to heaven, a keening howl issues forth from his throat, and he lifts his hands to the sky with that man’s blood upon them, an offering. On death row he sits. Death row he waits until the boy is set free. And I see him well before his blood boils over to bursting, a young boy running from his demons (the ones my momma does not want to remember as she runs to catch a glimpse of the wild horses) my uncle’s skinny legs pump hard, the tears drying on his battered cheeks, fast, faster, fastest, his young red blood not quite blistering, only the simmer is there, rushing pumping beneath his skin as he runs to hide in the deep mountain woods, hides away from the terror that is his father.

When I was a little girl, I had no thoughts of lost relatives. No solid remembrances of my biological momma’s hand on my fevered brow—the hand I knew came from my adoptive mother, Daddy’s wife. I had little girl wishes and wants and magical thinking. I imagined myself astride a dark stallion, racing through the forest, his mane flying into my face, my long ponytail whipping behind me. His hooves thundered, matched the beat of my young girl’s heart. I rode to things (and I rode from things). I’d come to a clearing in the woods, dismount, and from my pack I’d withdraw a curry brush to wipe the sweat from my stallion. I’d drink a bit of water, and eat one of the apples, the other apple saved for Flame, or Midnight, or whatever horse name I was young girl in love with at the time.

When you are nine, ten, eleven, twelve, well, any future is possible than the one you really have! So I’d dream and imagine and wait. I’d ride my bike, pretend it was my stallion. I’d say, “ho boy, ho,” and make that gnick gnick sound to get him to trot, then canter, then gallop, then full speed we’d go, our hair flying.

Now, not young, not quite old, I still imagine myself astride my dark stallion, hooves thrumming through the forest, my head lowered, his mane flying into my face, my short hair sticking up crazily from the whipping wind. At the clearing, I call, “ho, boy, ho,” and dismount to brush out my beauty, drink my water, eat my apple and give the horse the other piece of fruit. And we look out over the Great Smoky Mountains. My Stallion lowers his head and munches grass, and I lower myself to the grass and lie on my back to watch cloud formations, listen to the crunch and snuffle of my imagined horse.

I lie still and think about my blood, and who I am, and my secrets and their secrets and our secrets. I think about family and strangers and friends. I think about my mother, the woman who opened her arms to raise my brothers and me as her own. I think about my biological momma running to catch the wild horse without knowledge of my one day coming to her so she could one day release me. I think about my daddy running to climb the tree high higher highest. I think about my uncle running from everything that hurt until he finally hurt back.

This is what I am thinking about today.

 

Friday Photos: no words . . .

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