Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Joyful Gratefulness

What goes through a turkey's head that split second after it leaves its body and is falling from the stump? "Did I turn off the stove before I left the pen?" or how about "Why did God give me wings, yet I can't fly?"

But turkeys don't possess skills, although the one pictured to the left seems to be in take-off position. Sort of a clunky poultry version of a 747. And aren't turkeys hard on the eyes? So is it any wonder that their only function is to take up room in the freezer?

What an obtuse life. Glad I'm not a turkey...I am so grateful not to be a turkey.

And since I've segued right into the grateful mode-roll, I can't stop.

Kath's Thanksgiving Gratefulnesses for 2008 (in no particular order)

  1. My bones ache, I use eye drops that feel like acid and at times I look like that Tales From the Crypt guy, but at least I can walk around the block, still have a spare eye that works, and a hairdresser who works miracles.
  2. January of this year I had a publishing contract; June of this year, the publisher disappeared like Elliot Spitzer after a panty raid, but, I gained stronger self-confidence in my writing and in my heart know that my work belongs with a major NYC pub.
  3. I may have nightmares, but my dreams outweigh the fright.
  4. I live like a recluse, my car stays in the garage all week, but that's one less carbon foot-print on the world.
  5. I live like a recluse, but thanks to modern technology, I have a wealth of cyber friends.
  6. I don't go out on the town anymore; no longer can I look for Mr. Goodbar, but for the last thirteen years I've lived with the same knight in shining armor.
  7. My dogs make me go out in sub-zero weather, but at least I'm not walking on wet spots or cleaning up poop.
  8. I'm thankful to have my health, even though lately I've been visually challenged, my fingers still find the keys, my imagination still runs with hysterical abandon. I still plan on seeing publication, no matter how hard it is to see at times.
  9. Lastly, I'm grateful to have survived my past with as much grace as I could muster, without one ounce of regret.

There's more, but I'd rather see what my followers are grateful for - whom I am so very grateful for as well as fortunate to have.

Happy T-Day!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twinkle, twinkle, little star...

In today's mailbag, a/k/a, my Yahoo email, was one from my pal, writer extraordinaire, Edie Ramer (whom you better vote for - time's awaisting). The subject: I Love Your Blog! She was awarded it, and then passed it along to me, and six others. As recipient of the award, I need to pass it along to seven other blogs that I love.

But before doing that, I have to say how truly honored I am because I know Edie visits plenty-o-blogs. She knows good when she sees it. :) Her reason for choosing my blog assured me that I'm on the right path to my goal.

I believe that in order to achieve success one has to surround themselves with like-minded people, thus visiting writers' blogs that bestow great wisdom and insight into the writing beast's mouth. It's what keeps us afloat as we swim against the tide, which at times feels like a tsunami. And through the blog-hopping mambo, I have found that writers are stars in their own right - a galaxy imploding with a constant glimmering pulse.

Sure, maybe I'm making writers sound like a bunch of self-righteous ego maniacs. I'm just saying that it's necessary for writers to view themselves as the next best selling novelist. That each time they look at their work in progress, they should hum the tune depicted above. (And if you haven't played it yet, do it so this makes sense to you.) I used to hum it all the time, then got out of the habit, or the tune slipped away in the black hole known as my brain, but thanks to Edie, it's back now, baby!

And without further adieu, here are seven blogs that I love:

1. Magical Musings, a group of four talented women's fiction authors. It's a one-stop blog hop extravaganza filled with not only mind boggling ideas, but really cool author interviews and book reviews, too.

2. Erica Orloff, whose blog intrigues me with its constant diversity. I admire Erica's ability to produce a new blog every day while juggling her writing career while chasing a three (?) year old. She's the Wonder Woman of the writing world.

3. Spy Scribbler. She hooked me during the Presidential Elections with her constant YouTubes and insightful viewpoints. Now that the confetti is all but colorful garbage in some landfill, Spy still continues to inspire my thoughts, as well as prop me up when I'm feeling weary.

4. Robin Bielman. What can I say except her blog makes me laugh and laugh and laugh. Not to mention, she's about the only other person I know who loves "Dexter".

5. Mark Terry. I ran across Mark via Erica Orloff's blog. His comments had me rolling on the floor, and also hinted that we share the same tortured souls and sick humor. I'm now his blog stalker.

6. Jude Hardin. Another guy I admired from afar at Erica's blog. One day he posted a comment at her blog suggesting to visit his blog, so what the hell, I did. He hooked me with granting permission to cuss in my posts. Gotta love a guy who lets me do that.

7. Last but never least, Marcia Colette, my twin sister. No one on this writing planet has done for me what she has, such as garnering me a scholarship to attend an RWA Conference by writing a heart wrenching letter to whomever gives out the scholarships. Why did she do it? Felt sorry for my half-blindness, perhaps, but I later found out it was because she wanted to meet me in person, and figured that was the only way to make it happen. Suffice it to say, she gives great letter, so it's no wonder why she's also a fabulous writer.

So there you have it, folks. My Magnificent Seven, making up the brightest constellation any galaxy has ever seen.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Art says he don't get art....

Several blogs I've visited this week have had an artsy theme to them. Erica Orloff compared herself to a Jackson Pollock painting, while Jude Hardin posed a question regarding books as works of art.

And since I can't resist any conga line that weaves by, I'm hopping on, today's blog inspired by my desk calendar, a pseudo art book featuring daily quotes, some by artists. November 20th's featured art was "David Plays Before Saul" by Rembrandt. The accompanying quote, well suited to the week's blog-o-sphere theme, is as follows: "Whenever I see a Frans Hals I feel like painting, but when I see a Rembrandt I feel like giving up!" Max Liebermann said it, a reputable artist in the German Impressionist circles. To the left is his piece called, appropriately, "The parrot-man".

Don't you just love a man who can handle his bird?

Liebermann's quote jumped up and smacked me hard, similar to the way Edie Ramer does whenever I whine (whom you should have voted for by now). I think Max expresses what some writers might feel at one time or another. Certain authors have a style that humbles us into submission, while others kick our muse into overdrive.

I know after I read a Christopher Moore novel, I can't wait to jump into my work, his irreverent style similar to mine. Lolly Winston, author of "Good Grief" and "Happiness Sold Separately" is another. Her subject matter deals with broken relationships and emotionally bankrupt characters similar to mine. I just love them!

But I've never read a book that made me want to give up writing entirely. Sure, I have my days where I whine incessantly about the business and want to slit my throat, but I've yet to just up and quit. You'd have to poke out both my eyes to stop the constant feed of inspiration. It's next to impossible to entirely kill the spirit that drives us. Will I ever get a Pulitzer or Nobel? That's a when-hell-freezes-over rhetorical question, but my writing world doesn't collapse after I've read books by those who have won either or both.

I like to think of writers as snowflakes - looking alike in a group, but up close, entirely individual. No matter what the book or whom the author, each has followed the same haphazard writing process as the next - an invisible club where self-angst threads us all together in a beautiful tapestry of words, worlds and characters.

Writers are self-motivated machines, always able to pick up where they left off no matter how large the block that plagues us all at certain times. Yesterday I read part of my manuscript to my monster chihuahua, Lola, as she napped in my lap. I didn't take it personally that it put her to sleep, but reading it out loud juiced me up and got the motivation flowing again. That's what writers do. Subconsciously we're always able to unplug whatever has clogged the flow. Reading to Lola did that for me.

So if reading my own, unpublished, work motivates me, it stands to reason that reading someone else's published book will kick my muse into overdrive, and not be so humbled by it that I can't write another word. Hell to the no it won't!

How about you? Ever get tangled up by someone else's prose, or does it juice you up?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Warning: Don't read if you're feeling lofty. Why do I...

...write? I used to tell myself it was because I'm a tortured soul and that's what all tortured souls do - (other than abuse alcohol/drugs - a writer's right). It's our excuse for cutting open a vein and bleeding all over the pages, right?

Maybe not. I'm just guessing, but I feel that anyone who set into motion the first paragraph of whatever story, did so with dreams of creating the next great American novel. And you can't have a "Great American Novel" without it seeing light of publication. Otherwise, it'll sit cold and lonely on the hard drive. So, naturally, every writer has dreams of, and actually seeks, publication at some point.

And then at some point, the road gets a little weary, at least it has for me. Hearing about changes in the publishing industry, the fact that many talented authors' contracts are getting eighty-sixed because their work isn't "this, that, or the other thing," sort of makes me go, "HUH?"

And so I have to ask myself: "Self, why are you bothering?" After all, if publishers are dumping their talent, why would they look at someone new to the market? Those unfortunate ones who lost contracts were fabulous writers. How can I top their brilliance?

It gets worse, all those things that got me to thinking about this entire writing gig. I hear tales, via industry blogs, of writers constant query letters receiving rejections without comments, or never hearing back one way or the other, that some agents are just "too busy" negotiating deals for the authors they represent to even bother sending a rejection letter. Maybe I shouldn't pay attention to all that shazit, but still...

It goddamn sucks! I'm not implying that I have the next great American novel on my hard-drive, I'm just saying that with all the dark information looming about the publishing world, what's the point in my bleeding all over the pages, other than for the therapeutic aspect of it all?

Is it crazy to hold onto hope that maybe things will change? One day will all the madness die - the pendulum swing back in my direction (if I had one)? If I had a dime for every time I thought to give up on the writing I'd be Bill Gates. But each time I consider tossing in the towel, another story idea slams a fly into the ointment.

When does one determine it's time to throw in the towel for good? How does one keep hanging on to hope after seeing so many really good writers dumped? I think about those authors who got axed and wonder why their editors/agents, whomever, didn't give them some direction, such as giving a clue as to what they're looking for. After all, these are seasoned writers with several thousands of words and pages published - surely they can create something that will sell, right? They're writers! It's what they do for a living (at least most of them).

It's like working for a company that's cutting jobs due to financial straits. Management says you can keep your job, but only if you move to India, or take a cut in pay, etc. Options are offered. Why do editors/agents dump a client without giving them a shot at something else that'll keep them afloat? It just seems like the right thing to do, offering a choice, an option.

Maybe there was choice offered. This I don't know for sure. The one author whom I know well and was recently dropped had thought her next release was a go. I said to her, "You got that next book ready to go?" and she replied, "Been ready, but my publisher dropped me..." I'm paraphrasing. It was one of those moments that I found so incredible that my memory banks misfired.

My point? Basically, why bother writing toward the publishing goal if many of the really awesome writers have been kicked to the curb? I'd like some answers. I already know that the publishing business can be brutal, and that said, why jump in without that life-line called hope? Is hope lost on the publishing dream?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Stranger Than Fiction

I have a friend, Edie Ramer, (pictured here) who is a finalist in the American Title V contest, which is similar to American Idol, except it doesn't have any weepy, semi-sober judges. And now that I've mentioned it, you, too, can vote for my friend. Just send an email to and put in the subject line "Dead People" (that's the name of her book - Dead People - an instant winner). She'll win a contract with Dorchester Publishing after all the votes are in.

But I'm not bringing the American Title V contest up so you will vote for my friend, Edie Ramer, writer extraordinaire, or so that you will check out the American Title V contest, which has launched the careers of many fabulous authors, such as my friend, Edie Ramer, whom you should vote for.

No, no. Today's blog is about me, yet inspired by Edie (whom you should have voted for by now). At a blog I frequent, Spy Scribbler, Edie pimped herself on Thursday, November 13. At the end of her guest spot, she requested of posters to list their favorite "first line" of any of their works. Right away, I went to each of my manuscripts, eager to post one of my favorite first lines. I love it when asked to pimp myself. The only problem was, my first lines sort of made me want to barf, but that's okay, they're drafts. I'll fix them... some day.

Where to find a great first line that won't make anyone else barf? I wondered. Far be it from me to create a cyber-vomitorium. So I continued sweeping my works, finally clicking onto a folder marked "Honors English." Still no great first lines, but I went with a great second line that could have passed for a first. It came from a creative non-fiction essay, and was my first college level A.

Edie loved it. Edie knows good when she sees it. For me, it slapped me up the side of my head and said, "Hello? Shouldn't you be registering for next semester?"

(Rewind: I started my college career last year - the world's oldest Freshman.)

I was supposed to return to school this year, but had to withdraw due to the damned eye malfunction. At this rate it'll take me five years to complete a two year program, but I'll do it even if it takes six. Today I took the first step - I picked out three courses for the Spring semester which I'll register for on Monday (because that's when registration starts). They are as follows: Stress Reduction Through Exercise - 2 PE credits (God knows, I really need that one); Creative Writing II- 3 English credits (I really need the help); Women in Contemporary Society - 3 Honors credits (fits me to a tee).

Credits already under my belt: 12
Credits assumed to get next semester: 8
Credits remaining for my Associates in Liberal Arts: 44

Hmm, 44 doesn't look like a lot to conquer. I could cram a few more course in during the summer. Wow! I might actually obtain my degree in three years! I just have to buckle down somewhere along the way and take some science and math, which of the latter I deplore. But I can do it, because...

I'm perpetually inspired my successful friends, such as Edie Ramer, whom by now you REALLY REALLY should have voted for via an email to, in the subject line, DEAD PEOPLE.

So my stage is set, subliminally put into motion by my little friend, Edie. Thanks, Edie. May your expected success rub off on many, but especially me.

Now go vote for my friend!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proud Happiness

The smoke has cleared, tears have dried, but the utter joy I feel with President Elect Obama still endures. Why? Because finally we have a true leader heading to the White House. And for the first time in my life, I'm proud to live in America.

May the Universe stay on this roll - keeping the Pres-Elect safe, and listening to my wishes when whispered to the sky, granting each one.

(I'd blog further, but am back to limited computer use. *sigh*)

Monday, November 3, 2008


WOW! I just realized that I haven't written a writerly blog in a very long time, and I'm gonna stay on that roll...

I blame it on ELECTION 2008.

I've been unable to function properly ever since a certain bespeckled brunette took the stage for a possible No. 2 spot in the White House. And all those debates had me enthralled. So much better than the usual prime-time shows. I mean, only on Dexter will you see the horror such as the likes of waiting for John McCain's carotid artery to explode. I mean, really - his face looked like he just had a chemical peel; his eye twitched like someone hid his Prozac; and did Joe the Plumber ever show up at whatever berg McCain put the shout-out to him? I think he wanted to buy old Joe a beer, or maybe offer him a high level cabinet position if he happens to win.

Oh God, please don't let it happen! I know I said Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada is only a two hour move from here, but I can't be held accountable in a city with that many casinos. I was just kidding. Really, I was. (But I do love Labatts Blue and hockey...)

I want to stay in the shiny new United States with Barack Obama at its helm and not a wrinkly has-been former POW who only has that going for him.

So please, all my blog readers who are at the same end of the spectrum (the left end), say it out loud so the Universe will hear you: Give the job to Barack Obama! And make sure everyone gets out and votes!!!

(Stay tuned for writerly blog after the election...)