Friday, November 30, 2007

sex & violence & big bucks?

In a conversation with my mother last night, she rather plaintively (yes, that's an adverb, and I don't care. Love 'em!) asked why I don't just write a book with lots of violence and sex and sell it for lots of money. After I remarked that I am eschewing the propagation of violence as much as possible (except for the occasional imagining of nasty ends coming to those I don't like...heh heh heh), I also said that sex & love are fine by me, and I am writing one containing just that...very, very slowly. Especially since I still have not manifested my laptop, although I'm working on that.

Say, anyone out there want to gift me a brand-new laptop? Preferably a good Dell? Just checking. Feel free, at any time. I will happily provide you with an address to which to send it! What a way to pay it forward, gain good karma, help out a struggling writer....

Anyway. Sex & violence does sell in our culture, indeed. I recognize that, and for quite some time I thought I might write mysteries set in southern Utah's red rock country. I still might---a "cozy" mystery, at least.

But I digress. Part of me agrees with my mother, that I certainly have the capability to write such a thing and get it sold--especially when I regard, horrified, all the dreck published in this country. So then I have to look at basic procrastination, that old bogeyman that has chuckled at me all my life. Well, much of it. Especially those parts related to me, rather than to others (i.e., working for others). And then I have to look at available time, and the frustration of working all the time, and trying to make time to write. A dear friend of mine said, in an attempt to kick-start me, that she has a friend who gets up at 5:30a.m. every day to write. Yes, those people do exist. However, I am not happily one of them! I'd be more likely to get up at 6 or my morning routine...then write...then go to work at about 10a.m.--sounds great to me! However, there aren't that many jobs that begin that late in the day that would actually support one and not be so draining and time-consuming that one still had energy left over to be creative.

My other writer friends, weigh in here. Am I alone in this viewpoint? Dan? Jenna? Anyone?

Okay, well, as I write in here, I do not write my romance. (Which, come to think of it, does contain death and a bit of mayhem. Hmm.) So. Off through the sleet & rain & snow (no, I'm not joking) to the coffeehouse in town I like, to sip tea and write long-hand in my journal--how bizarre, still, a bit, to write long-hand. And how is everyone out there doing on their own creative projects?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

some thoughts on family

Family's been on my mind lately. My grandmother is doing better, residing with my mother still. My mother sounds well too, despite getting tired at times from the extra care she is giving her mother now. The mother of a friend of mine died recently, quite suddenly and unexpectedly. That definitely rattled my friend's world, and it made me ponder mortality, again. Another friend is going through some issues around her family as well. It's never-ending, really, isn't it? Family, how they affect us--and how we affect them, which cannot be forgotten either!

Family. No matter what our relationship with them, they mean so much to us, and we miss them when they are not around, even if they drive us nuts when they are around. And as a species we are still so excited to reproduce, to raise young ones, and to continues that cycle of family. Almost mind-boggling, no? Must mean it's working out for some people. That, or the younger ones are determined that they will do things differently. Or some combination thereof.

Anyway. I do believe in families, and champion them, no matter what form they take, as long as they are created and operate in true, giving love. Not all families are from blood, nor even from raising. Some families are created with those whom we love, but would technically be required to label "friends." There are so many differing categories. Frankly, I am blessed in all areas, and grateful for it. Even in the trickier moments...certainly gives me more material for my writing! ;)

Now, back to manifesting my new laptop.... So that I can post more often on here, of course!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

thanks a-plenty

I don't know about all of you, you secret readers out there, but I've been very thankful for so much in my life lately. I have wonderful family members, who are supportive and loving and HEALTHY (!). Pets I adore, and who make me laugh, even from miles away at the moment. I have my own health, a beautifully-running (and great looking, I must say) truck, and money in the bank (not tons, but definitely enough to keep me going right now!). I have friends who are so generous to me, through laughter, stories, opening their homes, and gracing me with their presence. Beautiful landscapes wherever I go. A sharp mind that is busy designing the latest projects for me to embark upon (and ooh, do I have some neat ones planned). An active spiritual life that is unfolding more and more every day.

This is the time of year to be thinking about thanks, and I certainly have it in spades. If you need a little nudge, I found this bit about gratitude journals on that might appeal. There's always something to be thankful for!

Right now, I am also grateful simply to be alive and experiencing this moment. Even though it's clouding up outside, and cooling down, I get to go on a run in gorgeous country in just a while here--and I am so happy that I have the lungs and legs for that! And the knees, which I've realized are essential parts of our ambulatory bodies.

Okay, enough of the sweetness and light, eh? But just remember to open your own hearts to it, and pass some on as well. Our world can always use more! Peace.

Monday, November 19, 2007

the writing biz

Let's face it. Lots of Americans can't write very well. No surprise there, really, although one would think we are awash in writers, given the ridiculous number of books published in this country every year. A large chunk of those books, however, are not all that well-written, now are they? Or they are ghostwritten by someone else--someone who really knows how to write.

I just checked out this "top 20" list of consulting businesses on, and guess what? Five (count 'em, five) of the slots involved writing and/or editing. Hmm.... Intriguing, no? So, you wonder, why is my own writing & editing consulting business not up and running all that spectacularly just yet, you wonder? Lots of competition out there. Gotta find a niche. But wow, when you do--watch out. That's quite a niche to carve out.

Pretty cool, eh?

My public service message of the day. Now, back to writing that racy Harlequin back cover copy....;)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

autumn...sort of

This weather is very warm for the Southwest in November. Hmm, global warming, anyone? I, for one, am enjoying it while it lasts. Today I walked by a beautiful (albeit low) river, jumped into a pile of raked-up fallen leaves, and swung on a swing set by the river path. All in all, a good day!

Besides, when it finally gets cold and starts to precipitate again, there is skiing...although it may be somewhat paltry for a while. But I'm anticipating it nonetheless!

Check out the National Book Awards, for which the ceremony is happening this Wednesday. Some cool stuff out there...okay, okay, I haven't read any of them--but I am familiar with the work of some of the authors, at least. How cool, one day, to see my name on the nominee list...hmm....

Babcia update: still doing okay, fielding lots of visits from daughters and calls too, at least from me. See, I told you she's tough.

Now, back to writing....In my journal, by hand, since I am still in the process of manifesting a new laptop... :)

Monday, November 12, 2007

ode to a laptop

Well, my laptop has had it. It croaked pitifully a few weeks back, and I sent it to a computer guru friend who very generously looked at it for me despite a very busy life of his own. He regrets that he cannot pull my data from the laptop. Unfortunately, I had some photos and some unsaved writing on it. Lesson learned: get a thumb drive.

Do you hear that, all you wild computer users out there? If your work is important to you, get a thumb drive and use it!

Anyway. There is a way of retrieving my data, one which involves great expense and time, two things of which I do not have in spades at the moment (although they are on their way to me right now, heh heh--the power of manifestation). So all is not lost. Just at the moment, it seems, I must be patient. Which is never easy for an Aries.

So until my brand-new laptop arrives, I store all my stories in my head, that great laptop attached to our bodies, and try to keep them simply filed. But, oh--how hard it is for a writer to be separated from her laptop. Yes, I can and do write by hand, but it's a different proposition when one looks to getting those words into electronic form. Hmm...challenges today. Although oddly enough, I'm feeling quite optimistic. Perhaps it's because it's a beautiful day, my Babcia is doing much better and should be going home tomorrow, and really--what good is it to whine and complain and feel beleaguered? That only generates more of the same.

So. Go out and think positive thoughts, and prosper, all of you. And don't forget to store your data in at least two places. I had a bunch of mine on a CD if only I can find it....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

powder is reality

Funny story to relate here: a friend of mine, who has worked in the wilderness therapy industry, began to date someone who had no experience in this industry. Her partner had Grateful Dead stickers on his truck, is a skier, works in a totally unrelated field, etc. etc. Oftentimes we get judged by our covers, no? Anyway, my friend had to take her partner's truck to work for a variety of reasons, and asked him if she could remove the Dead stickers so the students wouldn't see them, because that really is inappropriate and unprofessional in this profession. He didn't understand why at all and thought today's teens really would have no idea what those stickers stand for, but, being the loving man he is (yes, my friend has a good 'un!), he allowed her to remove said offensive stickers.

So there my friend is in the field, riot-inciting stickers gone, and two students are near the truck. They peruse some of the other stickers and start to chuckle a bit. There was, unfortunately, one sticker there from a ski resort, which read, Powder Is Reality.

These two students were cocaine addicts.

My friend declared her day done and drove away.

I am not telling this story nearly as well as my friend did, and if you are not in any segment of this industry you may not get it, but trust me. There is a certain existential humor in it. Sometimes, you just can't win!


Found this inspiring comment about writing on a PW blog from yesterday. Okay, I perhaps wax a bit sarcastic. Writing is necessary for writers, however, rather like oxygen is necessary for mammalian life. I must, and do write. But this blogger correctly paints the very challenging picture of getting published, and making a living off it, in this mad, mad world! However, I will keep trying. My work has been rejected more times than I care to count (and I may not be able to count them again, if my files holding that information are not retrieved--maybe that would be a good thing?), yet I do keep plugging away, although perhaps not as regularly as I might. Rejection does get very tough. I need to post, sometime, some of the crazier rejection letters I've received in the past. The one from Gordon Lish was almost longer than whatever it was I'd submitted.

Anyway. Future project! Happy day, all. And remember to COMMENT! If you want. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

your secret's out

Okay, it seems all you readers out there have a little secret: you are actually reading this blog! I was wondering, as no one's left comments for the longest time, if I was just babbling into a vacuum. I may still be babbling, but there are plenty of readers of Red Rock Writer--you're just being secret readers. Which is okay, really, but it would be waaay more fun if you all left a comment now and then! No fewer than about eight people have mentioned to me in recent weeks, "Oh, you said in your blog...," which I found interesting. So. Feel free to comment!

Anyway, in other news, my grandmother is not feeling too well again, which makes me a bit nervous. (She had pneumonia back in May and was hospitalized for it.) She was, as she said to me in a tired voice this morning, dragged off to the doctor again today by her pesky adult children, who are also concerned about her rather fragile state at the moment. I will keep you posted on the health of my very cool grandmother, my Babcia. I personally believe she is very strong and healthy.

At the moment, I'm enjoying the offerings of Salt Lake City, which is fabulous except for the inversion (bleh--makes me feel as if I'm in L.A.) and the traffic. Not that the traffic here is horrible, by any means, but for someone used to living in rural Wayne County and in relatively small Durango over the past eight years, any city traffic is intense in comparison. However, I was interested to discover, on a walk this afternoon with my friend's little wiener dog, a mini-ranch complete with horses right next to her enormous (really), sprawling apartment complex. The West. It just can't shake its rural roots! Fine by me, of course. The horses were clean, pretty, and relaxed in the warm afternoon light. And they smelled, like, well, horses. It's a clean, warm, living, just wonderful smell (no, it does not smell like manure), and it will send horsey types everywhere into paroxysms of delight. If you are a horse person, you will understand. If not, just believe me. Makes me realize I need to get horses into my daily life again--or at least weekly.

In the writing world, this intriguing article called The Democratic Approach to Slush appeared in the latest Poets & Writers. Check it out, if you are a writer--quite interesting. Will remain to be seen if it's viable--sounds a bit dicey, letting the opinions of readers control the destiny of one's work--but then again, it does seem much more democratic than the whims of one editor. Having worked as an editor myself and read and rejected many manuscripts (I recommended a few, some of which actually got published, in case you fear I was all bad), I do understand that personal taste truly does come into the decision-making process, naturally. We are still human (well, most of us are), after all.

I also found a new magazine website, called, which is really cool, if you are into reading about the earth, place, the environment (both natural and constructed), etc. Really good work on there. I submitted something to them recently--will keep you posted, naturally, as a prime aspect of my blog is to self-promote my writing! Which is growing, slowly but surely...especially when I get a working laptop again, and my files. (Thank you, David, in advance, again!!!)

I leave you with this quote, which perhaps more of us might live by (myself included):

"Eating words has never given me indigestion." --Winston Churchill

Friday, November 02, 2007

wonders of all kinds

Been reading Barbara Kingsolver's Small Wonder: Essays, and am delighted by her writing, which I only recently discovered. Very inspirational to me in my own writing, which, I have realized, is strongest when I pen creative nonfiction, or essays, or whatever you want to call them. My current focus (well, that focus tends to hop all over the place, I admit--there is just too much fascinating stuff in this world!) is essays about place, particularly about this place, Wayne County, southern Utah, this general area, its landscape, its creatures, its people, its history, its potential futures. So much to discuss--so little precious time--yet so much of it, as well, oddly enough. Bizarre, no?

At any rate. Today is another gorgeous day in canyon country, crisp blue sky, rich colors lighted by the sun, still and perfect. I am about to head out to explore, to adventure, to find all the small wonders of this place that never fail to amaze me, and to say good-bye as I prepare to leave yet again. It's a tiresome thing, leaving, and I am well and truly sick of it. Yet, go I must, for many reasons. But, I console myself, I will return, always. And this land will not change too drastically--I hope.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

dusting oneself off & movin' right along

This whole laptop-has-crashed-and-burned-in-a-mighty-conflagration thing is, as usual, providing me windows of opportunity I might have otherwise missed. (Despite the fact that I really did not want this sort of window--or maybe, come to think of it, because of it? Hmm...philosophical brain twisting in the morning.) Some of the windows include these gems:

1) Forced to either write on my friend's computer (which is okay, but I tend to keep my writing very private and secured), or by hand, such as journaling more. Ah, the old-fashioned way. It does bring the writer closer to the words themselves, makes me think about my choices more carefully, because there is no delete button, nor a backspace....There is only commitment.

2) Strongly encouraged to stop freaking out about this potential loss and simply enjoy what I do have, which is plenty: loving family, generous friends, a spectacular place in which to live at the moment, my mind and its endless machinations & cool new ideas, on and on the list goes. I really am blessed--just have to remind myself of that at times.

3) More time to read! Watch movies! Hike during this amazing fall weather, which is perfect! Talk to friends and acquaintances! Visit and play with my horse! Practice yoga & meditation! Etc., etc. Gifts, indeed.

4) Space to explore the quiet, patient side that I generally lack. I have been a downright hermit lately, and it's been grand.

A friend (thanks, Dan) sent me a quote I want to share here, because it's really apt in this moment:

"Let us spend one day as deliberately as Nature, and not be thrown off the track by every nutshell and mosquito wing that falls on the rails." --Thoreau

I'm letting nutshells and mosquito wings veer me off-course, which is silly. Things happen, and we all really do go on--just perhaps not in the way we expected before the calamitous event. Another friend pointed out my ability to find gifts in the challenging moments, which was a great compliment and meant a lot to me (thanks, Shelley!).

One last gem, the kind that will nurture me for years to come: the other day, I was sitting in a local coffee shop with a friend, grousing a bit about the unpredictable nature of the wilderness therapy industry and proclaiming my own personal doneness with it. Then one of my recent students from the field, one I'd worked with for two shifts (16 days), came in with his parents. He'd graduated, and they'd just finished up their family workshop. I met his folks, noted how centered the student seemed, and we had a brief conversation.

And during that short time, he said to me not once but twice, "Thank you, Julie." And I heard and saw the sincerity resonating through his every fiber, and it just meant so much to me, and brought that sort of smile to my face that can only come from the recognition of right action, of having done something well that touched another life in the most positive of ways. And my last week out with that particular group had been so, so difficult! You never really know how your presence affects another.

At any rate, I want to thank broken laptops (sigh), unforeseen opportunities, a young man named Thomas, and my dear friends, all of whom have helped me in these past weeks to get up, brush off the dust, and just keep going, even if the smile has sometimes slipped from my face.