The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Chain About the Chain Gang (of Writers)

         This is a chain post...but unlike those horrible chain letters of the past, this "chain" is fairly painless.

         Margo Dill started it. She then linked Donna. Donna Volkenannt, gracious and gifted writer, recently forged me as one link in this chain. (Donna was recently named as an Erma Bombeck runner-up. Two years ago, she won!) Always generous, Donna has been published in oodles of places.

       If you want to read about Donna's writing process, along with getting some tidbits thrown your way about a NaNo she's revising, head her way. And after I blather on a bit, I'll provide a link for another couple of writer friends.

What am I working on?
      I'm working on a chick lit novel that most likely will never see the light of day. Right now, my personal beta reader has it, and I'm holding my breath (and right now I'm the color of Papa Smurf, due to lack of oxygen). The working title is The S.D. Society. I've also got a children's book (a picture book) that I've been doing some major slashing and burning on.

How does it differ from other books in the genre?
      Well, the novel is different because there are a couple of layers/voices to it. That's not exactly trail-blazingly different (Jodi Picoult does it in an incredible way), but my manuscript has as the centerpiece a female writer and in the middle of her masterpiece is a writing critique group...(and the names are changed to protect the guilty).
      It's also a combination of novel-anthology-cookbook, which makes it crazy unique.

Why do I write what I do?
     Normally, I write creative nonfiction, and I write that because that's mostly all I can do. I write what I know, what I live, what I'm working through. Usually, I lead with a humorous foot, but not always.
      This novel--a NaNoWriMo from 2012--was 1) a way to pay homage to a few friends and authors 2) a platform for me to vent about some issues and some idiots (like Rush Limbaugh and Todd Akin) and 3) a vehicle to bring some forgiveness into my world (2013 was a devastating year for me.)

What is my writing process like?
       Because I teach full-time, I don't write as often as I'd like to, and I don't have as strong of a drive as I'd like. Do I write every day? No. Do I write every week? Yes, usually. Am I a planner/plotter or a by-the-seats-of-my-pants-er? What do you think? I mean, really...(Anybody who's skydived and who had both of their kids at home without any I-need-a-shot-NOW shot and who once worked as a door-to-door prepaid funeral salesperson is most definitely incapable of creating a well thought-out plan.)
          What I will say is essential to my writing process is other people. Talking to others about what I'm working on helps me flesh out things. Meeting with my writing critique group not only results in words that sing across the page instead of lines that trudge along, but I also get ideas about future writing projects as we talk and encourage each other.

      And now it's time to pass the links to another two writers. And they are:

Tammy. Tammy can turn out gorgeous phrases like they're coming out of her butt. In fact, that's what we suspect is happening. Usually, she hems and haws and says, "I'm not sure if I have anything here," and then our jaws drop as we read her stuff.
     She's the mother of two, she works in a middle school (now that's a scary place), she's a grammar expert and she's one of the founding members of the notorious WWWP writing critique group.
      (I hope Tammy talks about the sci-fi YA novel she's working on. It's phenomenal.)


Val the Victorian  Val makes me laugh every night. A high school teacher, she is halfway to empty-nest syndrome (her eldest is in college; her youngest is galloping his way through the rest of high school). Val--like Jerry Seinfeld--writes about nothing. She can make the mundane snort-worthy. (And by "snort," I mean snorting in laughter.)
     Val is a prolific writer (she maintains two blogs, and posts daily without fail) and has a steel jaw trap of a mind. What one-hit wonder sang that song? Val knows. On Seinfeld, what "celebrity" complained about just getting muffin stumps? Val knows. Give her a single line from a song, a novel, a TV show and she knows. Oh, she knows.

     
     Hopefully, these two won't break the chain.

20 comments:

  1. Break the chain? I cut my musical teeth on Fleetwood Mac! I would never break the chain. I will get to it the next time I'm running in the shadows of my dark basement lair.

    I have nothing nearly as interesting as your works, Madam. But I will share.

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    1. Val--See? You've already proven my point. I didn't even THINK to connect those last three words to the Fleetwood Mac song, but you and Tammy are sooo sharp.

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  2. You go girl! Prepaid funeral plans? Oh, will he who likes to tease have fun with that.

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    1. Linda--Oh, you know someone who likes to tease? I never knew...

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  3. Thanks for keeping the chain alive and passing it on to such gifted writers.

    I'm impressed that you've got two major projects going in addition to all the essays you've recently had published. Your Chicken Soup for the Soul credits are most impressive!

    And a novel/anthology/cookbook with a critique group in it? I can't wait to read it!

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    1. Well, if it doesn't pass through the first hoop I've set up, you won't ever have to read the monstrosity...

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    1. Shay--Me, too. I wish I could add it to my third graders' playlist (we sing songs as part of our transition--we have everything from Louis Prima to Gnarls Barkley) but there's just one pesky word at the beginning that prevents me from doing so).

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  5. I enjoyed reading your responses as I too have wondered how on earth you can finish a novel while working full-time and volunteering and attending functions and getting creative nonfiction published everywhere. I still don't know, but what is with all these comments at 3 and 4 AM? That explains a lot. You people really don't sleep. I am deeply honored by your kind words and wouldn't dream of breaking the chain (but Val beat me to the Fleetwood Mac comment).

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    1. Tammy--You obviously have not reached the age where you cannot sleep well, or you just "naturally" get up before the crack of dawn.

      And you see what my writing looks like before a WWWP night ends. No ending. A sucky ending. No title. Not an engaging beginning. The list goes on. The magic happens when several writers get together and put their heads together...

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  6. I don't know how you teach and write too! I never could. Even when it was part time I always thought I would write in "free" time. There either never was any or I was as dry as a well-squeezed lemon without a single sentence in my head.

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    1. Claudia--I certainly don't write as much as I'd like to. (And I love the well-squeezed lemon simile.)

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  7. I think you had done this before or something similar and I enjoyed it more the second time around! Now I'm going to hop over at Tammy's and Val's blogs and see what their cooking!

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    1. Lynn--I enjoyed doing it more (this time). I wonder what's different this time?

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  8. Oh my. Just the prepaid funeral plan job alone sounds like fodder for many stories. Thanks for the insight into what you do and how you do it. I'll look forward to reading Tammy's and Val's also.

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  9. Lisa--Understandably, the funeral gig didn't last long. It died a quick death. (Sorry. I couldn't resist.)

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  10. Loved your answers to the questions. And the job selling prepaid funeral plans -- that has to show up in your writing some day, right???

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    1. Mary--I'm glad you enjoyed them.

      The door to door prepaid funeral job was much more "exciting" than most people think, since I didn't make a single sale and only got into a few houses. (That was the first goal--get into the house.)

      But maybe it would make an interesting short story some day...(Thanks for the idea.)

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  11. Ah, the writing process blog chain. Always a treat to hear of other writer's routines--and I'm always impressed by your output, Sioux. And yes, no matter what I write, I seem to be writing about some aspect of me! (What I know best. ;-)

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  12. Cathy--

    Me, too. (And my output has dwindled to barely a trickle. YOU are the queen of conferences and submissions.)

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