The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Friday, July 20, 2012

Work Your Art

          After reading OJ's post on the quest for macaroons in Paris, I was instantly teleported back to France. Although the only bit of Paris I've seen is the inside of the airport, (I can hear you tsk-tsk-tsking already...I know, it's a crime going to France and not spending time in Paris.) the south of France is a place that occupies a huge part of my heart.

       The French people consider eating an art. Salad dressings are homemade and made for just that meal. Breads are carefully selected. Cheese follows lunch and dinner, and lunch last for an hour or so; dinner can easily stretch into 3 hours. Of course, it's not all eating. In fact, the food is consumed slowly and is savored. There's lots of talking and laughing and drinking--the food is sprinkled in here and there.

       I was in awe of the pastry shops, because the tiny treats were works of art. They were too gorgeous to eat delicious.

a tray of French pastries in Pau, France--photo by Sioux Roslawski
(I photoshopped it so my drool on the display case was not visible.)

       Take the time to make your art the best masterpiece it can be. If it's writing, share your piece with others. Let them nibble on it...listen as they discuss the flavors and ingredients.

         Then, put their suggestions in your pastry bag, and pipe on the revision. Polish your writing piece. Tinker with it. Put on the finishing touches. And serve it up to an editor as a submission. Hopefully, they'll savor your work of art.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Research: It's Not Just For Nerds Anymore--Plus a Special Offer for My Blogging Friends

        When I was a kid, the term research belonged in the inner sanctum of nerdom. People who were into research had pocket protectors, they wore glasses with thick lenses, and had deadly dull personalities--those were the types of folks who did research.

photo by Chy Lane

        Oh, I wrote research papers in high school, undergrad and graduate school, but I never enjoyed the research process as much as I do now.

        For example, I recently sent off a submission to Mozark Press. Part of the story included getting assistance from the fire department. I ended up going to two different fire stations and talking to them about how they would rescue someone who's stuck in the bathroom a small space, what they would wear to a call that is not an emergency (surprisingly, they would not come roaring onto the scene shirtless), and how they would free someone's head from a sink a "trap."  

       I also have a children's story that needs a home. I'm still in the revising stage, but while I'm re-tinkering it, I'm going to research possible publishers.

       Last night, my writing critique group--the WWWPs--went on a research field trip. We studied how a person could use previous job skills to their advantage when working in a new profession. We spoke of how delightful it is to see a person move with confidence and gracefulness. And we discussed the power of good company versus a mediocre movie.

      What research have you ever done--as a writer--that was the most pleasurable? Or, what research did you conduct that ended up being surprising?

         * A special offer to all my friends in Blogland: For those unable to attend our workshop on Sunday, the whole event has been videotaped. All the mini sessions, all the panel discussions, even the keynote address--it's all available to you. All you have to do is send in $19.95 for the DVD and $79.95 for shipping and handling, and every moment is yours to use for blackmailing educational purposes. (This comes to you from Bill O'Connell Productions. All proceeds from the sale of this movie will go directly to cover Bill's much needed surgery--SmartA** Removal.)

Correction: Val, being the scientist that she is, pointed out that the medical/correct/technical term for the operation Bill needs is smarta**ectomy. My apologies for not checking my facts before posting this. 


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Official Report on the WWWP Workshop--Plus Unauthorized Photos

       My apologies for taking so long to type up the minutes of our workshop. The amount of work that was accomplished in one day sapped all my energy; I am just now recovering.

      There were some unexpected activities that peppered the day. Thank goodness, one of the writers remembered to ask about swimsuits (since all women over the age of 40 looooove to put on a swimsuit and prance around in public) and so our writing sessions were sprinkled with dips in the lake.

      (Did you know that in lakes, wild life is unavoidable? Some of what we encountered was positively petrifying. One of the creatures was long-limbed and snorted at completely unpredictable intervals. It proved itself capable of scaling a boat and could slip its entire body through the arms of a lifejacket. And that was only Beth.) 
photo by Anacronicos Recreacion
This is me, enjoying a moment of leisure before
Linda O'Connell cracked the whip and demanded I get back to writing.
       The food was simple simply scrumptious...bread (that we dipped in a cheese and mayo dip) and hot water wings. We would nibble a bit, just enough to sustain us, and then would retreat back to our own shacks to write.        

photo by Aracronicos Recreacion
We kept our limbs limber, so that crusty bread could get digested
and to ensure that our writing flowed unencumbered. 
      One of the WWWPs--Lynn--is such an accomplished cook and hostess and crafty woman, she was gifted on Sunday with a Martha Stewart magazine. (Martha really has a grip on what's important, after all.) We also discussed how important it is to get things recorded--even with a camera--and Tammy reminded us that when the bar is set high, everyone else rises to meet the expectations.  

photo by Aracronicos Recreacion
This is some of the group (I took the picture), along with a "Boy Toy"
who happened to get lured into our cove of cackling. 
         Tomorrow we are going on a research expedition. We didn't see any cougars while on our workshop, but perhaps we might see a few tomorrow... 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Between the Lines--A Fairy Tale Comes to Life

       What happens to the characters in a fairy tale when the book is closed? Does the prince just stand there stiff as a statue, or just hang there on the cliff with a dagger clenched in his teeth, waiting to "come to life" when the reader cracks open the book?

      Or, does the Queen have hobbies that keep her occupied when she's not delivering the same tired (to her) lines over and over? Is the prince getting weary of saving and then kissing the damsel in distress? (Granted, she is beautiful but she's also a bit of an airhead.)

photo by Thatgirlwhotakespictures
        That's the premise of Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer's novel Between the Lines. It turns out that fictional characters do have their own lives and when a disgruntled character and a reader become friends...well, that's when the fun (and the conflict) begins.

      Choose your favorite character. Assume they have interests and aggravations and dreams that have nothing to do with the lines they are forced to read every time the book is read.

       Who is the character and what is their life like?