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Posts tagged ‘writing’

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.

Monday Classroom: To be or to not be! – aw now.

There are writing “Rules” that have attached themselves to me—as leeches will do, some may quip – haw! And I have become rather picky when it comes to these particulars.

You don’t write books? No matter! For your letters, business documents, and may I dare say texts and emails?, and other areas where you communicate, can become stronger and smoother.

Or perhaps you will say my “tips” are actually “tics.” You decide. Meanwhile, I can drive myself crazy reading/listening . . . ungh . . . but I won’t! I won’t, I say!

When I see my own mistakes in my own earlier writing—earlier even could mean my last novel—ungh! Or a recent blog post when I was in a hurry and/or distracted—oh dear! I am shamed, shaaaaaaaamed! *kat hangs head*

Yet, many times I throw rules right out the window and simply go by the rhythm of the phrase/sentence. I want my work to be rhythmic but in a natural way, so breaking the rules is sometimes necessary to create a mood or feeling or a sentence that Fits. And of course, when I write in a character’s voice/pov, I must be true to that voice/pov—not all characters will be as picky as: is it picky as me or picky as I?—it is I (am)—see below! Virginia Kate has her VK’isms and I stand true to them; Melissa is the storyteller in Sweetie and she’s a bit more “formal” in her speech.

 So tip or tic?

There are times you can “finish the thought/sentence” or re-arrange it and this can help you to find the “correct” grammar or sentence structure. As in the following:

I and Me.

 “You and I” is often used for everything because people are afraid of saying/writing it incorrectly, but sometimes “you and me” is correct.

Harry and me had a great time eating kumquats. No.

Harry and I had a great time eating kumquats. Correct.

 Harry had a great time eating kumquats. I had a great time eating kumquats.

Water is good for you and I. No.

Water is good for you and me. Correct

Water is good for you. Water is good for I – sounds funny, right? Water is good for me.

Not everyone is as picky as me. No.

Not everyone is as picky as I (am). Correct.

I am picky. Me is picky.

She is better than I (am) to craft these examples.

She is better than me to craft these examples.

She is better than I am.  She is better than me am.

Between you and me, this can be really confusing

Between you and I, this can be really confusing.

Guess which one is it? It’s the first one!

Between you, and between me, this is really confusing. Between you, and between I, this is really confusing.

See? Clear as the mud you just threw in my face, right? Haw!

The Split Infinitive:

To be or not to be is not to be or to not be. Haha! To be or to not be just doesn’t have the same rhythm does it?

I split many an infinitive in my life, and sometimes it does make the sentence read smoother. However, most times I unsplit my infinitives and lean back with an ahhhh. Am I never to do it again? Or am I to never do it again—ha! I am never to do it again! To and do go together, not to be split by never.

I am never to speak of it again! I am to never speak of it again! The first one: to speak! Not: to never.

Aw, now, I think those are great examples. *kat sniffs a bit sardonically at those who are poo-pooing her and yes I know I spelled poo poo incorrectly in this instance – huh.*

Take to/bring back.

This one is in honor of my father, who drummed it into my head over and over. I can hear him so clearly:

“It’s take to, bring back. Say it, Kathy, take to, bring back.” (My family called/calls me Kathy—no one else is allowed! Dang you!).

 We take something to and then we bring back from. Take me to the grocery for cookies, or bring me back some cookies. Although I don’t like “bring me back some cookies;” I like “If you show up from the grocery without any cookies, you’ll regret it! By gawd!”

I’ve got. Pull out the sentence and see how it reads/sounds:

“I’ve got a cup of coffee by my side.”

“I have got a cup of coffee by my side.” Awkward!

Perhaps try: “I have a cup of coffee by my side,” or “I’ve a cup of coffee in my stomach.” (well, now I do!)

You’ve rid yourself of an extra word, to boot! Now doesn’t that feel zippity do dah day! Come on, doesn’t it? *kat is starting to (see below)—no—kat is feeling a bit discombobulated*

“Got” tends to drive me batty, for it is oft-times used excessively, and once I “notice” a word—as in: got, or had, or suddenly, then my brain BUMPS on it.

Further/Farther

Farther is a physical distance. I am farther from the kitchen than you are.

Further is not a physical distance.  “You are further along in your chef career than I am.”

The farther she walked down that long dusty road, the further her thoughts spiraled into bing bang bongs dang-a-lang-a-ding-dongs.

Snuck/Sneaked

Snuck is a colloquialism. Yes, I recognize that “snuck” is universally accepted. But . . . still . . . sneaked is correct! “I sneaked to the kitchen to steal cookies” instead of “I snuck to the kitchen to steal cookies.” The only time I use “snuck” is in dialogue, because some of my characters do say “snuck” just as many (most) people do.

Sneak/Sneaked.

Started to

We all say or have said “started to.” I wrote “started to” quite frequently until it “started to” blare out at me as extra words that are not required. Can “started to” be changed to a more direct action?

It started to rain: It rained. I started to cry. I cried. I starting running or I started to run. I ran. I started to pull out my hair. I pulled out my hair. You started to pull out Kathryn’s hair for all these tic/tips. You pulled out Kathryn’s hair and watched her cry—oh wait . . . ungh.

We are not perfect writing machines, but the more we do instinctively and naturally, the less time spent on “fixing” what we write, or even how we speak; though I admit my “Speak” is much more casual than my “Write.” Our editors, bosses, Aunt Pitty Mae Joeleen who was an English teacher long long long ago, and whomever else cares about this stuff (hey, I do and I bet they do, too!) will notice and love you for it. And even if they do not know why they love you for it, you will know why and be the stronger for it.

What do you think? And do you have any tics/tips you are strict about in your language?

As always, if I ferckled up anything, feel free to point er out!

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Touty Plug of the Day:

walter bald and kat author photo shots 109

My lil ole kathrynmagendie.com author/editor website that the wonderful and beautiful Kim of TechBelle created. She did a lovely job and I often forget to go by there and update it; shame on me! There’s links and pics and info and bio and etc etc etc . . . .

What if writing/publishing were like a “traditional job” . . . ?

DSC_0174If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, in the way of a “traditional job,” we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then “sit by the phone and wait for it to ring” (most things are done online now, but you get the idea), sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job—DANG IT ALL TO HELLVITICA! That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! WHOOOP-WHOOOOP! You put on your work clothes and—

I’m set! I’m in the money!

The company offers you “upfront” money. That 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 pea-headed littlers you are more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.

I receive advances on my books that are manageable enough to “earn 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, y’allses.
DSC_0175I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy. Zippity do dah! Zippity Ay!

Better check your salary again, y’aaaawwwwl! Whether big business or small, the money the company takes in and doles out—including your salary—has to go many different places. Imagine Good Ole Bubba’s Tools & Supplies. Bubba 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 Bubba 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—print, e-book, ethereal transcription on a moonbeam. Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalty rate ranges, give or take percentages based on that particular contract, are from around 6 to 15 percent for paperback/hardback and 25 to 40 percent on ebook. So, let’s suppose you earn 10% royalty on each print book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00: 10% of $15.00 = $1.50 per book is your cut—well, not exactly, as you must pay taxes, and “pay back” any expenses you incurred (if any), and for those of you with an agent, take 15% more off the top of that $1.50 before you do anything else. Lawdy be in a bucket!

Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it, my beauties? Now, e-books earn a better royalty, and you can plug in the numbers yourself—still, tain’t a goldmine lessen you become a Kindle Millionaire or sumpin’—be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one royalty period and not so good another royalty period. I have had royalties for a year that weren’t as much as just one royalty check earned off the sales of a book promotion. It’s a stressful way to make a living if you are on one income, and finding another income source is most likely a reality.

Dream big, but temper it with the certainties of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.

dsc04492My book will be reviewed by: Magazines, Oprah’s Book Club, New York Times Books, 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, the family time you’ve sacrificed. You’ve gone to meetings and didn’t even fall asleep-haw!—okay, once, but no one was the wiser.

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 People 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/she did and it develops legs and ruuuuuuuuuns.

There’s a lot of competition out there. And lotso times, the Big 5 (I believe it’s still five now) published authors garner the most attention, or the authors who’ve already had best sellers or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera-oony. It’s a saturated business, folkses. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to come to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely and captivating and beautiful your work is. Yup. Dang.

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, why, 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 one day. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more.  HOT DAMN! You are on your way! Whooooop Whooooop! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. La la la tee dah. *check watch* *tap fingers* *tap toes* *sob a little*

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 or funds or energy 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—ungh ungh. 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—until they tire of begging and stop—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 have 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.

This is why Amazon and Nook and other e-readers have become important to authors—authors feel “heard” and authors are able to see their books on “shelves.” And author’s books are more likely to be read.

Aw, shoot

Aw, shoot

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

You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Days are Near Again! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not. Well, dang it all to Dang Town!

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/e-book. 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.

So my lovelies, tell me:
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 be 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.

 highway of writing pensI want this crazy-arse roller coaster job—do you?

(pardon this reprint of an earlier post – I have a danged ole Texas cold! I rarely was sick in the mountains, but here? Dang!)

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Touty Plug of the day: (I’m really happy with how the covers to these little sweet stories turned out – beautiful water colors).

three set_edited-best_edited-1

Story Snacks” through “Howling Wolf Press

On your lunch break? Sitting bored in a waiting room? Need just one little simple story before you go to sleep? Shortie short stories are satisfying, and can be read quickly in one little spark of time. Download one of Kathryn Magendie’s very short stories, between 3,000 and 6,000 words, and gobble them up in one gulp—a nice little story-snack.

Round and Round we go: stop for just a moment, y’all

The magical world of readingI do a lot of listening to (or reading about) writers—both published writers and as yet unpublished writers.

And what I hear is a lot of “what if” and “if only” and “If I could just” and “So and So is doing this and that’s what I want” and “Why can’t I?,” and so on and so forth and blah diddity do dah day. I’m not immune to it, but I am growing ever more Aware of it. Circuitous thinking, round and round it goes, endless. Our desires are always a step ahead of our needs; round that curved corner we can’t see from where we are . . . and we must see . . . we must . . . must’nt we?

Funny thing is, we don’t remember when we were Wishing for that something from before because when we reached that goal, we were already circling to find the next Thing, and that for which we wished for prior has already been left behind and forgotten, discarded.

Don’t get me wrong here, having goals and wanting success is not a bad thing. What I am talking about is our discontent or dissatisfaction with what is happening right now, that thing that we had wanted to achieve so very much, before we actually achieved it.

So, round and round we go trying to grab the next thing, when in reality, we are stepping over all our successes, great and small, along the way. Oops! I just stepped over the goal of starting my project/finishing my project! Oops! I just stepped over my goal of finding an agent/having my work published/getting paid for writing/querying agents-small presses-lit mags/having someone I respect love my work or encourage me. Oops! I just stepped over my goal of my work being published. Oops, I just stepped over my goal of (fill in blanks). And as you circle, you pass people who are running to catch up and pass you as you run to catch up and pass someone else.

I remember a quote by Michael M. Hughes when he was a guest on an author friend’s blog (helluo librorum), and this thought of his bolded in my head: “If you have even halting, tentative success, realize how lucky you are.”

So, whatever the case may be where you are, take a moment to breathe in and out, and NOTICE just where you are Right Now, and then, take just a glance backwards to remember how excited you were when This Happened—that first glow, that first happy realization that you met your goal before you left it behind and began the round and round and round.

Each success should be savored. Roll that thing in your mouth like a big piece of sweet candy –the good kind, not the kind nobody likes –and instead of crunching through it and swallowing it, let it slowly melt before you reach for the next piece.

And remember how there is always going to be someone behind you and someone in front of you and someone running over you or pushing you out of the way, someone who sets up circle-roadblocks in front of you—but if you stop the mad dash round and round and appreciate each experience, you will find some peace.

I know most (all?) every one of us will forget this advice and/or ignore it from time to time, repeatedly, but for right now, we have right now.

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Touty Plug of the day: SWEETIE. One of my most favorite books and character(s). It’s the favorite of many of my readers. A coming of age story. Suitable for younger readers, as well. I’m rather proud of this book. I’ll savor this accomplishment like a big ole piece of candy — chocolate!

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A little mountain town in the 1960s, a reclusive girl, an unlikely friendship. Melissa will come to understand that just because Sweetie feels no physical pain, does not mean she cannot be hurt  . . . 

Lyrical and poignant gothic southern storytelling. Sweetie is a wild girl, rough, almost feral, yet brave and endlessly honest. When Melissa, a shy, stuttering town girl, befriends Sweetie, the two enrich each other’s lonely lives. But there are some in the Appalachian community who regard Sweetie and her peculiar heritage as sinister…

For shy, stuttering Melissa, the wild mountain girl named Sweetie was a symbol of pride and strength. But to many in the Smoky Mountain town, Sweetie was an outcast . . . .

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!

The Work-out Writer: no more whining!

balance, strength, energy

Work-out:

I used to tell my clients I trained to “listen to their bodies” to let them know how much they could do or when to pull back so there wasn’t over-use or injury. And that is mostly true, all y’allses beauties out there. However, I also recognize how this isn’t always the case. Sometimes our bodies/minds want to fool us, because what we are doing may be Haaaaaaard, and why oh why would our brains want to do the Hard Thing when it can at times easily convince us to do the Easy Thing? Even if the Easy Thing isn’t as good for us. Sometimes we must re-wire our thought processes.

Folks, there are times we must push through when our bodies/minds tell us it wants to slow down or stop—not to the point of exhaustion or dangerous over-working, but to the point of Kicking Our Asses and doing the Hard Thing—and not “once in a while” but “several times a week.” (Though, you must always consult a doctor before beginning a workout program!)

And you can see Monday Classroom archives as well if ye's wants a boost to rememborate sumpin. Write write write! write with abandon; edit with a keen critical eye!

 Write write write! Write with abandon!

Writer:

Some days I just ain’t feelin’ it, you know? Well, Kat, suck it up. Sit your arse down in the chair, fingers to keys, and write. Timed writing isn’t going to do it for me. If I watch the clock, then just as with my aerobics workout, I’ll be ever aware of that clock ticking: 15 minutes of writing? Okay – tic toc tic toc tic toc. *Yawn!* The work also isn’t going to be done by my whining about how haaarrrrd it is to be a wrriiiiiitteer.

Stop whining! It’s time to re-wire our “minds/bodies” from telling us we caaaaann’t to that of I can do this!–we have to, at the least, give it a try, right? Books aren’t written by rolling our eyes and sighing. Royalties aren’t paid to writers who aren’t producing books. The work is done by doing the work.

Work-out:

This person (me about a year ago) felt like shit. Wasn' t writing, wasn't taking care of herself

This person (me a few years ago) felt like crap-a-doodle-doo-doo. Wasn’ t writing, wasn’t taking care of herself

I used to crave junk and loads of chocolate. (Honestly, I still do crave it. And, I’m a Sweet-a-holic.) There were days I wanted to sit on my ass and do nothing but eat chocolate and feel depressed and not do a danged ole thing. Some days are sucky and I could fall into that trap again if I weren’t careful. But if I were to sit on my ass and gobble down an entire box of chocolates, feeling sorry for myself and the state of Everything, well, dangity it all to dangtown, but I’d feel even worse. My body would be bloated and sick from Chocolate-Junk-Sitting on my Arse Overload. Sluggish, tired, cranky, like in this pic from a few years ago–I was being silly, but there was truth behind this photo .

The more I work out, the healthier I eat, the better I feel, and the more I want to do those things to continue to feel better. Then when I do treat myself, it tastes/feels even better than it ever did before.

Writer:

Sometimes I want to sit on my ass and do nothing but feel depressed and not write a danged ole thing and eat junk and drink vodka. Some days are sucky. Well, guess what? If thousands of us sat our asses on the couch and did nothing because life is haaarrrrdd, who’d write the books?; who’d deliver the mail?; who’d bake the bread?; who’d teach the kids?

This book/writing 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? Am I ready to sacrifice? Can I handle rejection? Scrutiny both good and bad and in between? If not, then what do you want to do? Reorganize your thought-processes.

Sometimes being a published author (or an unpublished one) is the easiest best job in the entire danged ole world, and other times it sucks like a big fat suckity suck black-hole sucker—but I love it more than my right arm. Get back to work. Whatever that “work” is for you–if writing novels isn’t truly what you love but you’ve been slogging through it, then maybe there is something else in this business you will enjoy more? Or maybe you’ll discover a direction/road you never considered.

streeeeeetch

streeeeeetch

Work-out:

At the end of a grueling work-out, 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 and wants and needs lift away as we respect our bodies, minds, hearts. The old saying “you only have one body, one life” is true (reincarnation doesn’t count – because you’ll be someone/something else, right? so no excuses!). We have this one chance to make the best of our lives. To honor our bodies. To give ourselves the gift of good health and well-being. What will you do with yours?

Writer:

step up and see what's around that corner

step up and see what’s around that corner

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 writing life so much. Recall 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. Time is going to pass anyway. A year will pass, and a year from now, where will you be? Will you have written a year’s worth of words? Or will you have angsted yourself to a wordless mass of messy nothing-on-the-page-ness. Time will pass no matter what we are doing with it; make the best of it by stretching your writing muscles.

Work-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. Your body/mind deserves and needs this rest. Requires it. Be grateful for the body you have instead of fighting against it. Why would you dislike your beautiful self? Our bodies are a work of art; a gorgeous scientific biological wonder!

Writer:

When laying your head upon your pillow, remember to give gratitude for what you have accomplished. This business is so much about looking ahead to what we “should” accomplish, or what may come, or what we hope will come, that we must remember what we did achieve. Hold on to it, let it come with us into our dreams. “You Did This! Good for You!” Sleep. Dream. Going to sleep with a heart of gratitude will ready you for the next day’s challenge.

dsc09813-1Namaste, y’allses.

 

 

 

(post taken from a previous post. soon I’ll be writing original posts again, but this is a start to getting back to blogging regularly!)

Poetry Sunday from a Non-Poet

deep creek hike 148I never know what to do with my poetry. I’m really not a poet; I’m a novelist and occasional short story writer. Still, every so often I have to say something in very few words. I have to create an image stuck in my head and heart and other innards that is poking at me and needs release — and it’s something that definitely isn’t going to be a short story or novel. So, unlucky for you dear readers who happen here, *laughing*, I am going to occasionally post them here on Sundays. That way, they have a home and aren’t gathering mold and dust upon my computer. It just makes me feel better – as if I didn’t write them in a lonely vacuum and leave them homeless.

 

 

THE KILLING SPOT

 

The deer pauses

early morning fog twining ‘round a100-year-old oak

whose ancient branches weary to the ground,

reach, touch roots, leave a bit of deceptively soft Spanish moss

to trail along by the action of breezes

 

and she that is alone

lowers her snout to dew spattered grass, sips each blade

a delicate pull of her lips, teeth bite down, chew swallow and begin again.

Silence knows her.

 

He comes on quiet paw

watches her from behind a young swarm of knobby cypress knees—

the mother cypress towering near—steam sears from his heated body,

saliva slips from sharp points of teeth, his tongue protrudes,

slicks along his lips

 

she lifts her head

trembles, the ripples vaguely discernable across her small compact body,

nostrils flare, a tear of moisture drips and falls to the ground

as one tiny hoof lifts in preparation for flight—

 

—and he is upon her

snaps her neck, one swift calculated bite finds its way to her death,

she is consumed,

the rest left as pickings for the scavengers who are patient,

waiting for her fall

 

He saunters away belly distended

the good parts of her he uses for nourishment

the parts he has no need are disgorged upon the earth

 

Her bones are licked clean

Lay bleaching in the sun—

 

And he returns again and again to the killing spot, sniffs, wants more

of what she no longer has to give.

 

 

–kat magendie

 

 

Behind the Oz-ey Curtain, Writers’ Mysteries are Exposed . . . .

download (3)Cowardly Lion: I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*!

Wicked Witch of the West: Ah! You’ll believe in more than that before I’m finished with you.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Friends quake and quiver and stare in respectful awe at The Great Wizard. The curtain hasn’t yet been thrown back to show the little old man who hides behind a great fiery bravado.

images (1)Dorothy: It really was no miracle.

Once the man behind the curtain is revealed, the magic and mystery is gone. The man is exposed and thus isn’t viewed in awe, isn’t revered as The Great One. He’s only a man with a few tricks up his sleeve that he’d used to his advantage. He must come out, show his true self (and all along his true self was wonderful indeed–he never recognized this before).

Sometimes it’s like this with writers. Or, maybe I should say it was like this for writers. The little old man behind the curtain with all his levers and buttons and devices used to project the aura of magic—an enigma and a mystery. But, somewhere along the way the curtain was pulled back to reveal just who and what was behind all the fire and booming voice and bigger than life image projected.

Wizard of Oz: Step forward, Tin Man!

Tin Woodsman: Ohhhh!

Wizard of Oz: You DARE to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of kaligenous junk!

Now, with so much exposed, writers are pushed out into the world, blinking in the sunlight, their mouths in soft O’s of surprise, turning this way and that to all who stare at them and say, “Wait just a minute here—behind that curtain is just . . . you? What’s so special about . . . just you?” And like the wizard, the author must explain him/herself and then offer up gifts to show they really do have something more after all to give, and not just all the flash and thunder, but something more—what what? what they ask, what more? Our heart, Our brain, our courage . . . .

With the internet, social networking blogs twitter Facebook, et cetera; the author can no longer easily hide behind the Wizard’s curtain. Most all is exposed. The awed revered mysterious respect authors may have once enjoyed can be torn asunder as the heavy curtain has been drawn back and people peer in at the levers and buttons and projected image paraphernalia.

images (2)Wizard of Oz: A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.

I don’t know what it felt like to be an author during the Wizard Times. My experiences have all been after the curtain was thrown back and the Wizard’s controls were set to “off” and the fiery veil died down to embers. I have been the little old man from the beginning—exposed.

Do love what you do? Do you love yourself?

Do love what you do? Do you love yourself?

I’ve shown my heart to you through my writing. I’ve given of myself through what I reveal on my blog or Facebook, or any other site I may wander through or write thereof henceforth et cetera.

I still hide—there are sides and parts and parcels of me that I keep to myself. But, open my books and I am an open book. My heart beats within and among and between the pages of my words and characters.

I give myself to you, my heart. Tha-rump, tha-rump, tha-rump.
Wizard of Oz: You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom

Artists, actors, musicians, authors, athletes—all have had the Wizard’s curtain pulled back, leaving them vulnerable to speculation, observations, opinions in a way that is much more public and personal than ever before.

Lately, I have run away from it. I’ve not been writing. Oh, maybe something here, something there—no, I lie. I lie, lie, lie! I have not been writing at all. I’ve been running far far away from myself. I’ve been denying the heart of me and I wonder: do you feel the distance, my lovely readers? Do you miss me at all? And then I feel foolish for my meandering thoughts, for there are so many of us! How is even one missed? I quake and quiver—I’m confusing courage with wisdom.

Because sometimes we just need a little time to realize we are human after all.
018_thumb.jpgDorothy: Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore

How many times have you heard someone speak about the “downfall” of a “celebrity” with a little too much glee in their voice? Or a sense of “Huhn, they thought they were SO smart and SO important—now look at them, they’re only just a little old man and not a Great Wizard after all! How Pa-The-Tic!”

What goes up must come down. The bigger they are the harder they fall—you’ve heard the clichés. There were those halcyon days before, when that writer/actor/singer/musician/athlete followed that yellow brick road looking for the wizard—some to unseat him, some to find out his magic to take for their own, some to find heart or courage or knowledge or home.

The stakes seem higher now, the road longer, the expectations bigger. What’s a poor Wizard to do?

Scarecrow: Come along, Dorothy. You don’t want any of *those* apples.

Apple Tree: Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?

Scarecrow: Oh, no. It’s just that she doesn’t like little green worms!


Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick Road . . .
We’re off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things he does.
We’re off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

There will be a new day in the land of Oz—old ways turn to new ways. Things cannot stay the same because the Land of Oz is changing.

images (3)Meanwhile, our Dorothy dons her ruby slippers and turns three times:
There’s no place like home; there’s no place like home; there’s no place like home . . . .

But even home has changed, for Dorothy herself has seen the other side, seen behind the Wizard’s curtain.

And she turns, turns, turns—going to some altered version of what may or may not be truly home, never to be the same again.

But after all, is that so bad? It is neither bad nor good—it is life and love and hope and fear and trying again and again and again and giving up and giving in and getting up and going forward.

Oh! Auntie Em! Auntie Em! I’m following another road! Where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . ?

10398086_10152474576124176_3232207411175342070_n

Morning Coffee . . . how we create – how we write – how we don’t self edit our work because that’s the death of it

10364033_10152476299144176_4680787522175960798_a1011253_10203243524002060_658622034422461467_nLawd, y’all — I am behind in my posts, but insomnia has ponked me upside my peahead most undeliciously . . . so, again for now, until I can gets me shits together, I will post here the last Tuesday’s and today’s video from our Morning Coffee series. We’re moving into more “themes” here instead of random chaos, but for me it’s always about chaos – haw haw!

 

Hope you’ll join in live on Tuesday mornings at 10 ET, but you can catch us on YouTube – muwah!

Today’s ‘show’ – creating from random words – how we create – how we write – how we don’t self edit our work because that’s the death of it – and Papito joins me in my closet.

 

Last Tuesday’s “show:” where I was completely low-key – I was! believe it or not – my insomnia gripping me harder that night and thus that morning the shadow of it was all over my personality – I was actually subdued! Dang! We chatted about writing/creating about Place – Home- Geography.

 

Y’all join in now, ya hear! :D

 

 

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!

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