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Posts Tagged ‘curiosity’

It’s official! The book launch for Guardian Cats print edition is set for July 18th, 2011–just days away.

For current news and updates. Join me on my active writer’s blog, Mystic Coffee.

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In the wrong hands, some books can be dangerous—and some libraries can be positively deadly. Up until now, Marco has been perfectly happy as a small town library cat and newly appointed Guardian of an ancient mystical book. But when otherworldly creatures begin roaming the stacks after hours, and his mentor, the elder Guardian, is killed, Marco’s innocent world is shattered.

The young tabby cat is on his own, ill-prepared for the daunting task of safekeeping the magical book of power—as well as the very heart and soul of the library. Time and space are no barriers for Marco’s shape shifting friends and enemies as he learns that the library is the most dangerous place worth saving.

Available now for Kindle and Nook.

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Potters, painters and photographers all have tangibles to work with. Writers work in a sphere of the unseen. What an ethereal realm we are engaged in…weaving the fabric of our stories from little more than imagination and inspiration. Sometimes I feel like one of the weavers from ‘the emperor’s new clothes’, spinning my story from invisible thread and inviting my readers to believe in the fantasy I’ve created.  Or, perish the thought, am I the foolish king, unfit for this position?   

Click on the image. Which way is the dancer whirling?

What elements compose the substance of this elusive calling? Just what are the raw materials of our craft? Although it was difficult to pin down, here’s the start of my list:   

  • A writer is abnormally consumed by the desire of putting ideas into words. Subcategories can include the love of actually writing with pen on paper (even if you use a laptop most of the time), scribbling notes about the most inkling-est of ideas in the most unlikely of places (think showers); and a penchant for writing implements, which can often lead to pen fetishes and petty thievery.
  • A writer should have an overactive right brain that gets really cranky if it kept too long in the box of left brain constraints of making a living. (click on whirling dancer and see which side of your brain is engaged).
  • A writer should be overly mental — not able to shut the internal dialogue off. Writing creates an outlet to focus all that cerebral energy and direct it into something hopefully positive, entertaining and inspiring. 
  • A writer must have an overactive imagination which stops just short of getting hopelessly lost and going stark raving mad. A healthy dose of reality checks with the outside world is necessary to stay sane.
  • A writer’s greatest resource is simply Life. Living it, surviving it, questioning and observing it. 
  • A writer is not fit for most normal jobs because of they have never answered the question, ‘what will I be when I grow up?’
  • A writer will have something to add to this list.

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Writing a novel set in early 1900 San Francisco? This rare vintage video was shot with a  35mm camera bolted to the front of a trolley car as it traveled down Market Street  in 1905. What makes this even more exceptional is the fact that it was captured before the earthquake/fire of 1906 destroyed the area. Remarkable footage of the turn of the century lifestyles in California.

Cool digital background music somehow fits!

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When do you let the cat out of the bag?

In the beginning I didn’t tell anyone I was writing a book.  I thought it sounded rather pompous, and of course, I didn’t know if I had the guts to sustain it, but I kept hacking away, in the dead of night for going on 3 years. Whatever else happens, I am pretty happy about not giving up and not starting six different other projects to keep me from finishing one, which is more the norm for me.

I didn’t tell  anyone hardly anyone what I was up to until the 5th revision and my book had a finished sort of feel to it. Before admitting my nocturnal activities, writing was a clandestine affair. I might be wrong, but I doubt if quilters and knitters have this same kind of guilty pleasure. Gradually I started answering the question, “what have you been up to?” honestly, because at some point, without even knowing when, I started to feel like a writer.

I knew it was a serious affair when I wanted to write instead of watch TV and I talked to my characters in the shower.

But can I call myself a writer if I haven’t published? My rational self says ‘of course!” but doubts set in as I wonder, what if I have only one story? What if I can’t publish this one.  What if I tell people I’m writing a book, nothing comes of it and I fall flat on my face.

So be it. It doesn’t matter any more.  

The hurdle is one of confidance. I’m thinking that Confidance waxes and wanes like the moon. Some days, I feel great about the book I’m working on. I’m excited, even after umpteen rewrites. I think it’s a good story, yada yaha.  But when I spend two hours eeking out the details of three paragraphs, I think..geez, what am I doing? How can it take so long to get it right? Maybe I’m not a ‘real’ writer, whatever that means.

I wonder if Kate DeCamillo or (insert your favorite author) spends hours agonizing over the right POV, voice, exposition, and/or dialogue. If I was a real writer, wouldn’t this get easier? Should I just quit and take up knitting?

Problem is, much as I appreciate a good sweater, I have no passion for knitting.

Am I writer? or is this just a cheap form of therapy?

But writing draws me like a magnet and I can’t stop now. I’m working it for all its worth because it keeps me sane. As I write that, I know it’s true, even though it sounds crazy. Writing is a form of contemplation that allows me to process life. It helps me slow down and examine the raw data that surrounds me in visible and invisible forms.

I’ve come to think of writing as taste testing the stew of oddments, profane, divine, related and seemingly unrelated, that come hurtling towards me at quark speed.  When I write, I sort it out, spice it up, stir it and add ingredients from other pots.

But enough of  food metaphors. On my own terms, in my own time, writing simply lets me breathe.

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What about you? Are you tongue-tied about calling yourself a writer?

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I wanted another interview with my main character, Daniel. (After five tries, he’s seems o.k. with this name.)

So how do I get in contact with him again? The first time I interviewed him, I was chopping onions and I thought about him just being there in my kitchen, like a real person. This time I’m sitting at the computer. Not always the best place for inspiration. So I got up to clear my head.

How can I call him up?

It felt a little eerie, like I was summoning supernatural forces.  I knew I was not trying to contact the dead or the unseen spirit world, but writing has gotten me into the business of creating people from bits and pieces of other people. What have I become? A literary Frankenstein? A character conjurer?

I don’t want to get creepy about this business of character building, but it’s an interesting ‘walk’ that I didn’t expect would be so challenging. I’m pretty grounded in reality, but I know there’s a fine line where we, as humans, can lose ourselves in the imaginary world.

But ‘call’ was the trigger word for me. How do I call him? On the phone, of course. No séance or candles needed.

It worked perfectly. I called Daniel and asked if he would take me on a tour of his mother’s house. This was the house she abandoned…the same way she had abandoned Daniel. It was an unloved, unkept house and I saw for myself what kind of life he’d had with her.

What I learned about my main character by this bit of role playing was very interesting. In spite of his neglect…having too little upbringing and too much exposure,  Daniel surprised me with a small, significant thing. After he struggled to get the door unlocked, he backed up and held it open to let me in first.

Daniel was a natural born gentleman.

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One of the most meaningful pieces of advice I work from comes from the quote  to “seek knowledge, even unto China. ”  To me this means that every moment in every place is a source for knowledge, so inspiration often comes to me from the most unlikely places.

Here’s what I found tucked inside my Chinese fortune cookie the other night.

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimension.

I love stretching my mind. That’s what makes writing so much fun because I am always challenged to look at things in a new and unique way. Then the challenge becomes how to express what I envision so that others may see it as well.

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The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

Albert Einstein

Curiosity

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