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.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Prepared

     Last year I submitted an essay, hoping to be part of the Listen to Your Mother show in St. Louis. My piece didn't even get a nibble. What was with that?

      So I went to the show, did some undercover work as a spy, and found out the show consisted of all stories. Not an essay in the bunch. And during the show, as I listened to the moving stories, I sobbed and snorted. And I got more determined...

      I did my prep work. I found out what kind of writing they were looking for.

      This year Listen to Your Mother opened for submissions in January, and after getting my story critiqued by the WWWPs, I sent it off a few days after the submission period began.

     I prepped. I polished up my story and made it as shiny as possible.

       I waited. And waited. And when they emailed me, telling me I had made it through the first hoop, that I was going to get to audition, I worked on paring my story down a little. I read it aloud. Lots. I took out the word "inexplicably" because I knew I'd trip all over it.

      I continued to prepare...

       On the evening of my audition, I brought along a big QT cup full of tea...because I knew I would get parched and nothing would be within immediate reach. I peed...because I'm fifty-something and never pass up a bathroom. I got there extra early, so I could sit and practice and relax.

         I prepared by getting as much in place as I could.

        Decisions would be made at the end of the week, we were told. They said we'd hear either way. I certainly hoped I would make it, but I was prepared to get the "Thanks but no thanks" email.

          I hoped for the best but prepared for the worst.

          This time (for me) being prepared paid off. I got an email yesterday congratulating me. On May 10, I'll be part of St. Louis' 2nd annual Listen to Your Mother show.

           So, St. Louis friends--save that date. And get your tickets now. Last year they got snapped up fairly quickly...

           What was the best (or the worst) advice your mother/grandmother/aunt ever gave you?