The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, July 15, 2011

Book Blurb Friday #20

It's Book Blurb Friday again, hosted by the lovely and talented Lisa Ricard Claro on her blog, Writing in the Buff.  The object is to hone our talents at writing book blurbs. After all, someday, some of us will really have best-selling books that will be begging for a blurb...

Lisa provides a photo. We have only a 150 word limit; the rest is up to us. Fiction or nonfiction? Serious or humorous? We get to decide.

Read Lisa's blurb, leave a comment, link your blog to Lisa's via Mr. Linky, and then read and comment on the other blurbs. Below is the photo for this week along with my blurb. I hope you enjoy...

photo by Christina Claro

The Bridge to Somewhere

Across the bridge…her childhood crush. The boy who wore harness boots and could rebuild an engine like he made love: JW didn’t miss an inch of anything, and both the engine and the girl would end up purring in the end.

If Maggie turned and headed back, on the other end of the bridge was her husband Richard. Dependable. Supportive. A straight arrow. The father of their three grown children.

An unexpected letter from JW sent Maggie reeling and eventually... to this bridge, and the awful decision she had to make.

Standing in the middle of the wooden bridge, looking at the river below, she watched the driftwood flowing with the current. She stared off into the horizon. After a while, she smiled, knowing where she was headed.

Will Maggie choose the past or the present? Will her fantasies become a reality? Or will her past root her in reality?

(150 words)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Know I CAN'T Dance

      I admit it. I love the show So You Think You Can Dance? and I make the admission without a smidgen of shame or guilt.

photo by THA J-SQUAD

      My friends think it's ironic, my fondness, because I am notoriously not a dancer. I cannot do Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies." I cannot do any kind of exercise that gets in the vicinity of dancing, and when it comes to full-blown dancing...? Forgetaboutit. The simplest of steps confound me. I am what people envision when they say "White people can't dance."  I am horrendously uncoordinated.

      (In fact, last year at our school we had an after-school dance/exercise class for our parents, kids, and staff.  The dances we did were various slide/shuffle dances; we'd start out facing one direction but constantly were taking a step to the left, turn, etc. This really screwed me up, because normally when I get trapped into activities like this, I get as far to the back of the room as possible, so my gawkiness will not be put on youtube witnessed by others. This time, although I started at the back, after a couple of turns there I was, in the front, and I got so discombulated, some of the students--gifted dancers they were--were shrieking, "We're watching you, and then we get mixed up." It was an afternoon full of laughter.)

      Back to the topic at hand...

      I love So You Think You Can Dance? because it takes an assortment of young adults and forces them to dance out of their box week after week. Some of the kids are street dancers without any formal training, and one week they have to do a waltz and the next they have to do a Bollywood number. Some of them are classically trained ballet dancers, and they have to krump and hip hop and jive.

      Their passion also appeals to me. When the dancers are able to wow the judges and audiences, these young men and the women cry. So committed they are to their art. So alive do they feel when they leap and lift and twirl. So thrilled they are to have moved someone.

      Here it is, Hope  As writers, we have to think outside the box. We have to stretch our writing abilities. If we normally write personal essays, taking a foray into horror or romance (or Horrors! Romance!) might be a pleasant surprise.

    And we have to be passionate about writing. We should be emotionally connected to our craft. We should get fired up about our work.

    'Cause if that's not happening, we're not doing it right.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Tracy Seeley: There's No Place Like Home

      Tracy Seeley, author of My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas was kind enough to do a guest post today. She also generously provided a copy of her book to WOW-Women On Writing to give away in a random drawing and I was lucky enough to win it. 

photo by zzzrandyzzz (Randy Souther)

 Here is what one review said: "Tracy Seeley's My Ruby Slippers offers a graceful journey into the secret worlds of grief, illness, and ultimately, recovery. This is a wonderfully vivid and compassionate book, reminding us of how place can shape us and make us whole again." ­­ - Dinty Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire.

I cannot wait until I get the chance to read it; it was delivered this weekend. Memoir is my favorite genre to read. The idea of a journey that is healing intrigues me.

photo by shawncalhoun
Here is Tracy's post. If you tweet and want to follow her: @tracy_seeley
                                    If you "like" facebook, go to My Ruby Slippers:
                                                                                     The Road Back to Kansas
                                    On the web, go to

Revising: When You Love Your Words But It Just Isn’t Working

By Tracy Seeley (@tracy_seeley)

In writing school, one of the first things you hear is “kill your darlings.” It’s usually good advice. All those great turns of phrase, brilliant sentences, and witty puns? The ones you’re most attached to? They really have to go.

I don’t share such a brutal outlook all the time. At times the darlings work. But usually, we hang on to them far too long. We look at the pages and something nags: it just isn’t working. The “it” is often the darlings. We love them, they got us where we are now in this draft of things--and yet our story or essay or poem has outgrown them. It’s taken a different turn or grown in a different direction. It doesn’t need them anymore. Still we don’t want to see the lovelies go.

That’s why as writers, we need to be clear about which role we’re playing when: writer or editor? In truth, of course, we’re both, but at any given time in the creation of a work, only one of them gets to be boss. When we’re creating, crafting, imagining, then the writer gets the corner office. Playing editor at the wrong time can cripple us. We end up second-guessing ourselves and stop taking risks. When the writer works, the editor needs to go out for lunch. But later, when the time comes to read what we’ve written, it’s time to switch offices and let the editor be in charge.

With experience, the editor in us becomes highly skilled at pointing out what doesn’t work. She develops an uncanny ear for the clunky phrase, keen logical sense for structural flaws, and psychological radar for when a character’s run off the rails. And she sees right through your darlings.

With experience, the writer in us knows when to listen. When we hear that still, small, nagging editor’s voice that says, “Something isn’t working,” we carefully ponder her judgment, set aside our ego, and bow to the wisdom of the red pen. Reluctantly, of course, but maturely, we pack the darlings off to summer camp and wave wistfully goodbye.

Thank you, Tracy, for the great advice. It is indeed tough juggling the writer's duties and our job as editor. Good luck with your blog tour and your book signings.

In the below video clip, Tracy asks her readers, "What do you know about the place you come from?...How deeply do you delve?" Perhaps after diving into My Ruby Slippers: The Road Back to Kansas, some of us will be inspired to take a journey to delve into what used to be "home."

Please leave any questions you have for Tracy in the comments section. Tomorrow, Tracy will stopping by Donna Volkenannt's blog.  There, she will be talking about what it is like to work with University of Nebraska Press, which  was her publisher. And as always, thanks for stopping by.

                                                                              video by Frederick Marx