Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day

Giddy and Bebo rest up, by Andif

Sunday Brunch

Rolls & Photo by Farfetched

Friday, August 29, 2008

Three more days. . .

to my deadline. So far, so good.

Sunset by Andif. Yes, she created it with her own little hands.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Or, here.

Kansas. Not the part I'm in, but it is the part I love.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Not here, either

Photo by Andif. Those are her footprints. :p
Still gone.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Not here

Gone. Back later.
Photo by Monet, er, I mean, Andif.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Awful, Miserable, Hideous, Damned Plant!

This is The Dreaded Ragweed that turns me into a zombie every September. Bah!

That is all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Guess where?

In my book, that's where. I'll be writing a scene set here today. Can't wait. Gonna be good.

This actual scenery is in Kansas, believe it, or not.

Got a picture to share of where your writing (or reading, or vacation, or home) is set?

Coffee and tea inside.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008


Bet you're not suprised to see this on the front page today. I wonder who took this photo?
This is how they pave elf bogs, so all the elves can cross.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today, pink.

This has been the weirdest book to write, unlike any I've ever done before. For the last couple of weeks, I swear it has felt more like painting than writing, because it has felt as if I've loaded up my paintbrush with a "wash" of one emotion or another and then laid that color down over the whole manuscript, and then I've done the same thing the next day with another emotion. Today, I laid down a wash of fear. Yesterday, it was sadness. One day it was sexiness, which is not an emotion, I guess, but you know what I mean. Another day it was happiness. And slowly it is becoming a completed picture, like one of Boran2's paintings as he puts down his outline, then layers in the rest of it.

This may not sound strange to some of you, but it's not the usual thing for me. I attribute it to the fact that this is probably the most emotionally complicated novel I've ever attempted. The characters have complex responses to events because of the freighted nature of what happens to them.

I've relaxed into doing it this way, so it feels good. I think this process is a big factor, though, in why I don't have anything left to give to the blog these days. By the end of a day I've given the book everything I've got.

Today (Friday), I'll be working on a scene I've had problems getting right. I hope that this time I can pick the right colors. ;)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ghost fog

Photo by Andif. Click to enlarge to fullest beauty.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Andif Outdoes Herself

I think this is an amazing photo. The composition is wow. That single weed is like Leonardo DiCaprio on the prow of the Titanic yelling, "I'm the king of the world!" (He seems to have dropped Kate Winslet, though.) You can see a mountain in this photo if you look just right. It gets even more interesting if you look at it sideways (I saw snow) and also upsidedown. Then it becomes wonderfully abstract.

Note for writers: I'm going to relate this photo to writing, though it may be a stretch. One of the things that talking to so many book clubs has brought home to me in the past year is that readers want to be able to "see" characters from rightsideup, upsidedown, and sideways, along with inside and out. They want to understand characters' actions, emotions, motivations. They really want to understand, and if they don't they are left unsatisfied. I know I can't manage that for every reader, but it's an objective to aim for, especially when I'm rewriting: I can ask myself, do my characters feel whole to me? Do they interest me? I mean, heck, I'm a reader, too, right? Do they interest me from every angle and surprise me from some of them? If I am pretty sure about all that, I will not only have created them, but I will also have created some happy readers.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

My porch pal's new book!

Last year, when I wrote on Sally Goldenbaum's screened-in porch, this is the book she was working on. It just came out this month, in hardcover from Penguin, and it's available all over the place.

I'll let other people brag on her, so you won't think I'm biased. :)

"A charming and delightful read. This book has a strong sense of place - so strong one can smell the seaweed. Delicious."–Alexander McCall Smith

“Murder in a truly close-knit community--a knitting circle in a New England seaside town. Peopled with characters we come to care about. Add a cup of tea, a roaring fire and you've got the perfect cozy evening.” –Rhys Bowen, author of Her Royal Spyness and the Agatha and Anthony-award winning Molly Murphy mysteries

“With all the dexterity and warmth the women of Sea Harbor knit into their sweaters and shawls, Sally Goldenbaum weaves us a tale that combines friendship, community—and crime— without dropping a stitch.” -Gillian Roberts, author of the Amanda Pepper series

"In DEATH BY CASHMERE, Sally Goldenbaum's appealing world will draw readers to return time and again to Sea Harbor. In this wonderful launch of a vibrant new mystery series, the characters ring true and clear."-Carolyn Hart, author of Set Sail for Murder


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Birthday roll call

Memo to everybody: If you don't mind divulging your birthday date, I'll put it on my calendar so we can light a candle for you on your day. You might even get a Red Velvet Virtual Cupcake With Cream Cheese Icing. Hey! Cool!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Writer cat needs catnap or catnip

Writerr Kitteh Wantz to B Phinnished NOW, Plz.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Forest vs. trees

I think it was Lisa who asked the other day if we give our attention to the forest or the trees when we're rewriting. I didn't have an answer then except for, "yes," but this week I ran into the same question myself. I am so deep among the trees right now that I simply have to back away, go back to the beginning of the manuscript, and take a look at the whole forest--which is to say, I need to read my book again from the start. Does that ever happen to any of the rest of you novelists? Or can you always just keep writing from wherever you happen to be?

The "trees," in my case this week, are the characters more than anything else. I need to make sure I have portrayed their emotions fully enough, and right now there's so much going on in the story all of a sudden that I'm not sure I have captured the depths yet. So I'll go back to the edge of the forest, and then keep walking up a hill in the distance until I can look back and see what the whole thing looks like. Then I think I'll be able to pick out the bare spots, or the ones that need pruning the most.

That's the theory, at least. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where are the swimmers?

Andif sent us this interesting photo along with the observation that it might trigger some story ideas. Looks a little spooky to me. That lake in the distance looks downright threatening. Hm, is it obvious that I'm a mystery writer?


Wow. Cool, photo, Andif! Thank you!
What do you see
in the patterns on the tree?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Out on a Limb

Photo by Andif

I'm going to spend the next couple of days concentrating on getting my characters as far out on a limb as they can go without either falling off or backing up or grabbing onto something else. Wish them luck. They're going to need it. Heh.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Porch Writing

This Sunday is a day for porch writing with my pal Sally. It's wonderful to have a couple of cool days so we can actually work outside for a change. She has a book due the first of September and so do I. Neither of us felt well yesterday for some reason--we think it's the barometer playing havoc with our heads--but we each still managed to get out a chapter and we felt good about that. In fact, Sally thinks it was the first time she ever wrote an entire chapter in one day. While we wrote, her husband worked on his computer inside the house and her son came over and joined us on the porch with his laptop.

There's nothing like a productive day of writing to cure what ails me.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Takin' it easy (chair)

This is in honor of Dr. Family Man who always gives the best prescription--relax. (Also, he likes to have his own lounge chair.) This being Saturday and all, maybe SOMEbody among us will be able to do that. Me, I'll be chillin' with the Sisters in Crime and then at Sally's house where we'll both be writing. When the writing is going well, there is hardly anything (note I said "hardly") more relaxing, strange to say.

Is anybody going to take off and relax today? Anybody?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Follow the bounding Bebo

Bebo, as photographed by his BFF, Andif.
Would that face steer you wrong?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Enchanted Forest

I especially love this one.

Magic photo by andif.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Kvetch & Kvell

Don't ask me why I think this illustrates the title of this post. I have no idea. I guess, if you're Dorothy, you'd kvell, and if you're the WW of the W, you'd kvetch? Both terms are Yiddish, of course.

Kvetch: to complain or grumble
I have a kvetch today, which is that this damned soil around here is good for making bricks but not gardens. All went well until last week when suddenly we had 100 degree heat on the heels of way too much rain. Nice soft soil turned into cracked clay. I just pulled up a bunch of now-dead fleurs, poor fleurs.

Kvell: to be extraordinarily proud : rejoice
I have a kvell today, which is that I just got an advance copy of an anthology of "year's best" short stories, and one of mine is in it.
Do you have a kvetch or a kvell to lay on us today?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Uphill climb

Magic photo by Andif: close your eyes, imagine yourself standing in the light, and now make a wish. . . that you're not standing in poison ivy. No! Just kidding. Go ahead, make a wish for this week.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Wisdom + Plots = Thickening

At a Sisters In Crime chapter meeting yesterday I moderated a panel discussion about plotting. It was really interesting to hear how four different writers start at four different places when they write a book.

Suzanne Arruda, author of a history/mystery series with an African setting told us that since she already has her heroine, her starting point for each new book is the villain. Once she has him/her, she can begin to write. Then she plays a sort of devil's advocate with her villain, in effect forcing the villain to prove to her that he did it and that nobody else could have done it. She says there comes a moment when she discovers one clue which points to the villain and only the villain. But up until then she's willing to consider any of the other suspects.

N.M. Kelby, whose most recent novel is Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill, said that because she was a reporter for years, she always starts with the scene of the crime. She acts like a reporter, coming onto the scene, seeing what's there, and branching out from that center. She's not interested in the crime so much as she is in its effect on the community around it, essentially going up to all of her characters and asking, like a reporter, "Your family just got killed. How do you feel?"

Juliet Kincaid, who was an English professor for 24 years, explained how she uses classic theory that dictates that every novel has to have six essential scenes--beginning, plot point 1, midpoint, plot point 2, climax, denouement.

Joel Goldman, who is an Edgar and Shamus-award nominated author of "lawyer mysteries," talked about plot in relation to how the author connects a series of seemingly random events. He recommended a book, The Drunkard's Walk, by Leonard Madinow, and he also recommended reading, "Why do good ideas come to us when they do?, which is an article in the July 28 issue of The New Yorker magazine. He quoted Albert Einstein: It is a magnificent feeling to recognize the unity of a complex of phenomena which appear to be things quite apart from the direct physical truth. Joel praised what he called "the discipline of the undisciplined mind," which refers to a writer's insistence on creating time and space for Not Thinking, so that epiphanies and ideas can pour in. He makes that space when he takes 3-5 mile walks every day.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Readers want to know!

Yesterday, Anonymous posed this question for anybody who wants to take a stab at it.

I was awake at 3:00 A.M. thinking about a question I'd like to ask the writers in the group. I was reading a book when 1/2 through a main character did something totally out of character. I know, how could I know what's out of character when I only spend a couple of days with the characters and you writers spend months (?) with them. Anyway, it felt inauthentic and manufactured, and I totally lost interest in the story. So, the question I had was: why would a writer do that? is it just a device to move the plot along? was the writer just stuck and couldn't think of anything else? Totally ruined the book for me. (btw, this author has many books out and has been on the best seller list, so it wasn't a newbie.)Thanks for any insight.