Friday, July 28, 2017

Jellyfish Review published another flash fiction piece on my birthday! (July 24th) and I was tickled at the timing.


Another piece accepted by Matter Press - Journal of Condensed Creative Arts! (I shall post the link when it's published)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Robert Boswell - A Writer's Writer

When I was a publisher, INK POT LITERARY JOURNAL I was really thrilled when in 2004 I got a short story submission from Robert Bosworth. It was one of the best things I ever published at the time and I became an instant fan of his. It was about a mentally damaged woman who lived in the country, written from her point of view, in her own "damaged" (gorgeously poetic) language. She mixed up words and images and spoke her own odd language, and it was heartrending and beautiful. Over the years, I lost that story in the changes of computers and archives and backups. It was titled "A Sketch of Highway on the Nap of the Mountain." I can't tell you how upset that made me. How often I wanted to read it again and see if it was as good and unique as I remembered. Well, I found the story! It's in his collection of short stories and I've got the story again. HERE.

Boswell's married to the equally talented Antonya Nelson and it must be wonderful to have their lives!

At any rate, I just read an old (2011) interview with him ON MYSTERY AND DRAFTING -- and I fell in love all over again and ordered a couple of his books. A short story collection, "The Heyday of Insensitive Bastards" (gotta love that title) and a craft book "The Half Known World" on writing. He's got some fascinating things to say about editing. He calls it transitional drafts, and this:
"I revise a lot. I write thirty, forty, fifty drafts of every story. There are a few, a very few, exceptions. Every now and then I just scribble down a story and I’m done with it. That has happened maybe three or four times in my life. And, really, those times make all the rest of my work more difficult.

My revision process characteristically involves the gradual, draft-by-draft casting off of the intellectual ideas that got me going, permitting the narrative to find an independent life of its own. The decisions I make while revising tend to be related to specific matters of craft—investigating a specific character, sharpening dialogue, reworking sentences to make them resonant and pleasing to the ear. If I can write a better sentence, I’ll do so even if the revised sentence changes something essential in the story. All of which is to say: if I feel constrained by the ideas that produced the particular draft, I will give up those ideas. Of course, I save every draft. They’re all floating there in my computer like little life rafts. It’s rare that I go back to an earlier draft, but having them there permits me to attempt wild revisions."

Thursday, April 20, 2017

"The Passage" (70,000 wds) Literary Fiction -- is born!

I'm happy to say that during the 2nd Edit of Canyon Flower, and after MANY consultations with my Writer's Group and beta readers and query rejections, it occurred to me that the novel needed to be restructured. It required some rewriting, and it was tricky to move chapters from the back to the front, to stagger Points of View in a way that still had continuity and logical progression....but after a ton of work and a lot of critique help, I did it! And the book is better for it! Since I've lived with these characters in my head for over a year, I thought it would be fun to "cast" them. I've borrowed the faces of all of these pretty people; I hope they don't mind.

What was interesting is that the character (young American girl who worked the raft on the Colorado River, and who was the innocent embodiment of a canyon flower, turned out to be a secondary character instead of the main character. Skylar is the cook on the rafting trip. In my mind's eye, Skylar, The Canyon Flower looks something like this:

Skylar Lancaster

Jango Norris is the boatsman and guide on the trip. This good looking dude is the type I had in mind when I wrote this character who is the love interest of Skylar, and keeps the river raft going downriver:

Jango Norris

But after restructuring the novel, Ishida Ikiro, the protegee of the geisha, Kimi, has taken over the book and become its protagonist. Ishi is a sweet Japanese girl who has endured a painful childhood and is sent away to Japan to become an apprentice to her cousin in the geisha district of Kyoto.

Ishi Ikiro

Ishi's cousin, a beautiful geisha celebrity, Kimi-san, is a secondary character, but the story and the action and the other characters actually pivot around her.

Kimi-san Muro

Michael is the patron of Kimi. He is a rich investment banker who works in Los Angeles, but commutes to Kyoto regularly to be with the woman he loves. (the woman he does not love is his wife.)

Michael Shimizu

Buyo is Michael's associate, but a very different type of man. He sees and understands Ishi, something no one else can do.

Buyo Hasegawa

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Rewrites, Queries, Political Angst and Courage!

It's sort of funny how things seem to cling to like things...birds of a feather and all that. And cycles of events. So here I find myself finishing the second rewrite of Canyon Flower (improved, improved) and starting to send out queries to agents. I find all of it rather difficult. The rewrites push me to kill my darlings, the queries push me up against that predictable wall of rejections, and the political angst I am feeling, daily, is an almost unbearable push, push, push.

Still, I suppose I have to be grateful to FEEL. I watched a video by Harvey Klinger this morning, a literary agent who said that if you really want to write fiction, you write from passion - not by formula. I guess most of us know that formula usually equates predictable (and sometimes popular) fiction. But for me and people who love literature, passion is the keyword. I like that a lot. Passion is what I like to feel when I get into a story. So that works for me. I suppose angst ultimately leads to passion, no? That's how I'm holding that one! Ha!

A new book is bubbling in my head...and it will involve a family (MY family) in ways that will not be appreciated. Not that much of that family is still alive. Still it gives me a little rush to think about fictionalizing some of the thoughts I've had over a lifetime about certain family members. If it turns out to be black comedy, don't be surprised.

But it's all fair game: (so said Sylvia Plath)

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

So, I guess I'm seeking the courage to keep trucking with the books I've written (three to date), and the goal I've set for myself (of selling my books to good publishers via the traditional route) and living through these beastly times. I got hit in 2011 by the last recession, so beastly times are sort of my everyday now.

Monday, January 30, 2017

2017 Brings New Challenges

As writers, everything in life is "fodder" for our craft. People have to be careful around us (or at least respectful) or they'll wind up as villains in a novel.

But the political climate of 2017 since January 20th ushers in a whole new level of fodder. If you had made it up, nobody would believe it, they'd say "Naw, Over the Top!" and it would never sell. When truth becomes less believable than bad fiction, what do you do?

(Well, for one thing, you march. The Women's March in little Naples produced 2500 determined citizens, working together for change. We shall see.)

For another thing, you write. Write, write, write. Writing well is the best revenge. That and signing petitions.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Cheer = Editing and Cooking

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah,  and may 2017 give us some relief from 2016!  (I never want to discuss politics again).

I am spending this holiday editing my new book "Canyon Flower" with a piece of new software I found online called ""  It's a little marvel of an editor's aid, checking overused words, "sticky" sentences, grammar, adverbs, etc. etc.  I am SO pleased with it.  And it's given me plenty of rewriting to do over the vacation.

Besides editing and curling up on the couch for binges of TV series (like OA), I have done some cooking too.

For gifts this year, it was chocolate truffles.

For Christmas Dinner, it is Chicken Paprikash with nockrl (or as they said in my stepfather's family: haloopsi.)