Saturday, May 29, 2010

Morning sounds

I heard a monk chanting early this morning as the sun topped the peak of the Himalayas. Then the mooing of a cow. This is India! see more at

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

crazed reflections

i was thinking of stephenie meyer, how she has talked about how she was able to write Twilight as a mother of three young children--basically staying up all night writing instead of sleeping. i have always been a more nocturnal person--it was not easy for me to work in a school system, arriving at work and functional by 7am, or to be in classes by 8am when i was a student. or really to exist in a world that operates 9-5. i would much rather stay up late and then sleep a few early morning hours as the sun is coming up. but to really have pretty much no sleep all night and then have to attend to others in those early morning hours?

at first i thought “scoff! the youngest could not have still been a baby.” as a mother of newborn twins (and a four-year-old), any moment that i am up when i should be sleeping is because two babies need to eat. they need to eat frequently, not always at the same time, and even more frequently when you are trying to work jaundice out of their systems. breastfeeding = no one else can do this.

then i thought “well, maybe the youngest was no longer an infant and the author was able to take that now indifference to sleep deprivation and figure that instead of learning to go back to sleep, she would write.” sadly, that makes sense to me. when you’re awake all the time, you realize what you could do with all that time. when i was in high school and college and not sleeping, i felt extremely productive. in recent years, i have realized the detrimental effects, at least on an older non-twenties body, of inadequate sleep.

and then i breastfed simultaneously a few times and either read things online or texted on my iphone with one hand while doing so. i came to the conclusion that it was just all about multi-tasking. but that requires a very precarious balance to be struck and for nothing to tip it out of whack, which of course it shall be tipped, so you’re just holding your breath till the topple.

so these are my admittedly senseless and non-coherent thoughts on the possibility of fitting writing in. how did i manage this rambling blogpost? magic.

Friday, May 21, 2010

More Uncool Over-Sharing

What keeps me from writing? I cannot even answer this right now because it would involve a lot of description of bodily effluvia and grossness and not in a cool vampire way. (speaking of vampires--i will have to change a main character's name in the story because we ended up giving it to one of our daughters!) So now i am trying to look at it as more experiences from which i can draw--not necessarily to incorporate these exact situations into my stories, but to have the emotions and thoughts available to my characters. And for now, my way of staying connected will be to follow my fellow Peabodies. I did like what everyone was saying about how you dream of many hours of free time to just sit down and write, but then procrastination visits and you realize you might function better when you have to force yourself to make time, that the events of everyday life might actually contribute to the creative energy rather than impede it. I know it will be a looooong time before i get in any kind of writing routine again, but I feel more optimistic that it will still be there, not lost, and maybe quietly percolating below the surface.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

There's Always Tomorrow

I was abducted by an alien. I have amnesia. I broke all my fingers in a freak accident. There are lots of excuses why I haven't written much lately. Ok, so those reasons aren't true, but the real reason is much more uninteresting. There's really no good reason. Like Urania I think I have all the time in the world. "Oh, I'll write this afternoon." Somehow that time never comes, and I never seem to get anything done. I could call it writers block, but that wouldn't be totally true. It's just plain old procrastination. I'm not proud of it, but isn't admitting it the first step to overcoming the problem? Yes, I'm a procrastinator. There I said it, am I cured now? Maybe I need an intervention. Maybe there's a Procrastinators Anonymous. I'll look into it tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hey blog buds!

Nameste Ji! Follow the travel blog at Greetings to you all!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Chocolate Rewards

There is always some part of me that wants life to leave me the h*ll alone, so I can write. I think that if I had all the time in the world, every moment will be spent doing what I really love to do. But the funny thing is, when I finally get the opportunity to write, and I feel as if I have nothing but time, guess what? I do nothing. Writing in the midst of distractions helps me appreciate and enjoy those precious moments that come alone, when I am able to pound the keyboard. When I am busy and unable to write, I miss my characters; I think about them, even dream about them. And finally, when I am able to sit down with them, I feel like a chocoholic whose just been given the key to the city of Hershey, Pa.

But the funny thing is, no matter what, I still wish that I had all the time in the world. I always think that next time will be different. That I will work from sun up to sun down, when I do get that day of solace and I have nothing to do but think and write. But guess what? It never happens. I just create more distractions; surf the internet a little, watch a little televison, get a little reading, oh, and write a sentence or two.

So I say give me my distractions, the kids, the husband, the phones calls from friends who constantly ignore my plea of "Call me back later, because I am trying to write." Because when I finally do sit down to write, I will more than likely write several pages, because at this moment every word and every minute counts. And while I am writing away, I will try my best not to get any chocolate on my keyboard.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Vampire at the Cable Show

Yes, writing about cable was my distraction again this week, but at least I was at a convention in LA. This time the show wasn't just about technology, but was also about programming. The various cable channels seeking distribution brought in celebrities to draw people to their booths. I got to meet Peter Facinelli, who apparently is on Showtime's Nurse Jackie, but, of course, is also Carlisle Cullen in the Twilight movies. He was extremely nice and very conversational--definitely not one of those celebrities who seems pained to be at a meet and greet kind of thing. The other guy is Justin Kirk from Weeds, who also was a good sport despite the fact that several women in the line asked him to get out of their picture with Dr. Cullen, oops, I mean Peter.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What doesn't distract?

Writing is about dedication. The dedication to finding time and then when you have that time to revel in it and not allow yourself to be distracted too easily. Distractions include how exhausted you may be, a fun game, friends, kid's needs (not kids because kids are awesome), television, everything.

Every day we are bombarded with so much information, advertising, and ever-evolving technology and sometimes this engulfing maw of modern life can dominate us. It can subjugate our lives but it can be beaten back with the mighty forces of motivation and persistence! Once you have beaten distraction back with the might of Thor's hammer you can observe the distractions and pick them apart and find what is useful! I don't know about you but some of my distractions serve as my inspiration.

So instead of beating yourself up for being distracted ask yourself what can I take from this experience of losing focus? What is it about this dumb show that I am enjoying? Then go write about it.

Monday, May 10, 2010


There’s Writing and then there is Life.

When I was working all the time – clergy work is pretty much 24/7 - I used to think my perfect world would be to not work or childcare or even cook very much but have hours and days and weeks to write. That was my very vague plan for retirement – besides clean the closets and finish the children’s scrap books. I was going to write, write, write!

But I found myself in the Slough of Inertia! The bottomless pit of ideas I thought was hovering out for "when I had time" was more like a shallow ditch and it was dry. It was not until I went back to work in the library and got into the critique group that I started generating creativity again.

So I learned that when you have too little Life and too much Writing Time, it can be as non-productive as being consumed with work/kids/graduate school. Or maybe I was just Way Too Young to retire!

But Life still gets in the way. Last week was NaPiBoWriWee – National Picture Book Writing Week. We were challenged to write a picture book every day May 1-7 – and I did it! Well one might have been a substantial rewrite, but not much was saved of the original. So why can’t I do that every week? Or once a month? Every quarter? Nope – I wait for the annual event because of…Life.

On the other hand if I was not interacting with kids in the church and library, if I did not get the intellectual/humorous interaction with the critique group, I could not produce in the vacuum.

"A novel is balanced between a few true impressions and a multitude of false ones that make up most of what we call life."--Saul Bellow. Hopefully that is also true for picture books about a talent show for lizards!

So for the next three weeks my Life will take a very different turn and you are invited to come along. I will be in Dharamsala, India, volunteering in a day care center. Follow the adventure as often as I can find an internet café at

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jersey Girl

The biggest thing related to my real life is the setting. I've already talked in previous posts about Wildwood, N.J., it's history, and my ties to it. I've also mentioned how difficult it is to remember to describe everything. Things there are so familiar to me, it's easy to forget that others don't know the layout...where the lifeguard stands are, what types of stores are on the boardwalk, what it might look like under the boardwalk, etc.

I haven't been back to Wildwood in about five years, and am immensely excited that my family and I are headed to the Jersey Shore this summer. I can't wait to introduce my kids to the wonders of the boardwalk. Maybe seeing Wildwood through their eyes as they experience it for the first time will actually help me with the setting in my novel.

Hopefully, I'll get the chance to go out onto the beach at night as one of my opening chapter's scenes happens down there. And I need to check out what it's like out near an old dilapidated fishing pier.

Of course, I also plan to eat my share of boardwalk pizza and other scrumptious treats, and then make myself sick on the rides. I'm not sure what that will have to do with my plot, but I know it will be gloriously fun.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

small details, overall themes, and then way too close to home

What elements of our stories relate to specific things in our lives? I feel like I have probably touched on this in past posts. For picture books, it might be a whole story idea--like a story about a girl who moves, written specifically to fulfill a need for the students with whom I was working at the time. Or the kitchen band story, inspired by a music class I was attending with my son. Usually it tends to be not so much the overriding theme and more just a few details here and there that relate to real-life situations: a nickname of a character (Noodles) or a particular concept (Boogoo/Bourgoo brew).

I think my longer story has more instances, though just small details, that relate to “real” life. My main character’s sister works at a bookstore, as I did in high school. Their family has an Irish heritage (as do I) that becomes important to the story. This story has many supernatural elements, but there are strong themes of religious and spiritual struggle, adolescent girls finding their identities, how do we weigh what is good for one individual versus the universal good, what makes a person “good,” is it better to have someone love you as you are and accept you the way you are or to have someone who always believes you can be better? I continue to contemplate these ideas and I believe that many readers could identify with them. There may be very small details--things my characters might see or overhear in their environments--that are things I have seen (while out walking my dog, of course) or overheard in real life. Of course, for me, some of my characters’ musical tastes are definitely based on my own tastes and knowledge. And some of my characters’ traits have been inspired by songs I listened to.

There is one big part of this story that has become a struggle for me. When I started working on this years ago, this familial detail did not relate to my real life. Now it does. My main character has a twin sister. And now I am expecting twin girls. So, forgive the inelegant phrasing here, but I am a little “weirded out” and it does make me a bit hesitant to proceed. Hmmm...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Life in Fiction –Thinly Disguised as a Frog

I need a steady stream of ideas and characters with strong visual appeal in the world of picture books. Now in the midst of NaPiBoWriWee (National Picture Book Writing Week – challenged to write 1 book every day May 1-7!) I am drawing out of a folder of old ideas and looking out the window for new ones.

So I guess some of my inspiration comes from the world around. The javelina story grew out of a trip to Tucson . The collard lemming adventure grew out of an adult book on polar exploration.

Sometimes I see some psychological stuff of my own –I had a series of stories where every character wanted to flee or fly. There was a frog who could not get past the brick wall. Freud not needed.

Today I am working on all the different kinds of grandparents a child can have – after spending a weekend with the little ones. The trick is to keep my eyes open and jot ideas for weeks like this!

I have an absolutely wacko cat literarily named Potter but so far he has not found his way into any adventures. On the other hand I have 2 stories done this week, 5 more to go and only 3 more ideas perking! Here kitty, kitty!