Saturday, December 29, 2007

desert dreaming & Ellen Meloy

Can I first say that a Luka Bloom song just came on to the music channel entertaining me at the moment...I've adored Luka Bloom's music since grad school. Probably because he's a darned romantic, like me. Well, and it's good music, too!

Anyway. So I was cruising around on my hotmail last night, looking askance at the 30 or so emails sitting in my in-box still awaiting some response or other (sigh...), and saw the Ellen Meloy Fund attachment, and thought, Oh yeah! You meant to apply to that. It's due...oh. Oh, dear. It's due December 31. As in, Monday! Hmm. And, because of my tendency toward slackerness in saving files prior to the original laptop crash, I have to rewrite part of a piece I've been slowly, sporadically working on for two years, almost. I plan on using that piece, along with another (recently rejected by, nothing personal, natch, although the rejection letter said I had "nothing new" to offer in the way of desert lit--excuse me, but I doubt skin walkers are all that common in desert lit), and I need to work on it, oh, today and tomorrow. I was planning on skiing tomorrow, but considering that I'm still in pain from my day of skiing on Thursday with friend Robin (well, she went and hit all the powder stashes in her super-cool teles on her own, while I suffered an impatient and rude instructor in a ski "improvement" class along with other hapless students), and I have another deadline on Wednesday, and I also return to the temporary day job on Wednesday, I'm thinking perhaps skiing tomorrow is out. Until New Year's Day, when I definitely plan on ringing in the new year on the snow!

Anyhoo. So. Have I mentioned Ellen Meloy in here before? Maybe, can't keep track. She was an amazingly good writer, based in Bluff, Utah, close to my dear "homeland" of Wayne County. Her books included Raven's Exile, Last Cheater's Waltz, The Anthropology of Turquoise, and Eating Stone, which was published posthumously after she died of a terribly sudden heart attack at her home three years ago. She was a guest teacher at a writing workshop at Robber's Roost Bookstore back in 2002, when I was managing it, and I'd planned on attending. However, after working about every frigging day for a month, when I had the weekend to myself, I decided to bag the workshop, which of course took place mainly at the bookstore, and I wanted as far away as possible from my workplace at the moment. Meloy had just published Turquoise, and I'd bought a copy, but of course didn't get it signed since I didn't attend the workshop. And I never got it signed. Or got to hear her read.

Lesson? Carpe diem, of course.

At any rate, when I discovered the competition, back in September or so, I thought, Excellent! Sounds perfect for me! Love the desert, want to write about it, and I do have some unique ideas about it. I think. And I have ages before I have to apply.

Typical words for me.

I am, however, dreaming about the desert a bit of late. Finally had time to breathe, after all the madness of the past few months, and can settle down a bit. It's been close to two months, and I am in withdrawals from my fabulous redrock country. I have a poster of Capitol Reef National Park on the wall above my closet, and the glorious deep russety red colors draw my eye every morning, and every afternoon when the light almost hits it through my west window. And it is wonderful and unique and special and remarkable and a whole host of other adjectives. The whole of the desert, I mean. Especially the magic that happens in it.

Ahh. Okay. I need to get writing! At least I have a hard copy of that piece I didn't have saved anywhere else... The old-fashioned back-up system: paper & ink! ;)

Friday, December 28, 2007

does the setting count?

Back on the fast-paced sex-and-money bestseller concept. How much does setting matter, I find myself wondering? Silly question, in a way, because as the wildly addicted reader I am (don't even ask how many books I've read in the last several weeks--completely read, mind you, not just skimmed), I know that good writing can be set anywhere. Bad writing can be set anywhere. And sexy, fast-faced books (romances, thrillers, mysteries, what-have-you) can be set darn near anywhere, and it doesn't really matter as long as the writing, concept/plot, and characters are compelling, have essential conflicts, and make you want to keep reading!

Sigh. I have so many freaking ideas rattling around in my head, it's no wonder other things get lost in there at times. Anyone else have that issue? Ever? No? Of course you do! It's the chattering monkey-mind, as Buddhists would call it. It afflicts all of us. I think we writers get especially afflicted, however. Drat it all. I do meditate, not as often as I perhaps would like, but I do on occasion. And it helps. On occasion.

Anyway. Back on my tell-all bestseller. I finished reading one of those this morning, a bestselling novel from several years ago, from across the pond, as they say. God, so many of those "women's fiction," "chick lit," whatever you want to title them, bestsellers seem to be from the little isles in the north sea! What does that mean about folks from the UK? Are they more bored, is that why they write (and read) those kinds of books so much? Or did they just jump on the bandwagon first? Anyway, I can't say for sure this particular novel was a tell-all--but parts of it definitely sounded like some of the characters and stories were ripped from the life of the author, or her friends, perhaps. I should look it up online and see what the real back story is.

Anyway. So, if my story has sex, betrayal, lies upon lies, smooth-talking back-stabbing corporate baddies, psychotic bipolar-esque women and soul-less freak show men, a 33-year-old male virgin who obviously had high heels near-fatally stab his heart when he was young and foolishly impressionable, corporate thievery, sexy babes on skis, hottie guys in hot tubs, lawsuits, and a host of other similar themes/events/characters, and it's set against a sexy metropolitan background, that should mean instant success (depending on the actual quality of the writing and storytelling, of course), right? But what if it was set in small-ish town Durango, Colorado? What if instead of being set in a hip New York publishing house with Jimmy Choo-wearing Carrie Bradshaw-esque agents and writers, it was set partially in an up-and-coming wilderness therapy program that featured characters more like hippie Carhartt-wearing Chris from Northern Exposure? (Loved him.) What does that sort of setting do for a book? Does it label it too soon, does it make readers immediately pigeon-hole it before they open the cover?

Hmm...I wonder.

Or perhaps some of the details ought to be changed more. To protect the guilty, natch.

It's all fiction, anyway. ;)

But curious for comments from the peanut gallery. What makes you pick up a book? I don't mean the type of book, the genre or subgenre. I mean, what about the cover, story, characters, etc., makes you want to read something? What helps you make that decision in your 3.5 seconds of examining a book in the bookstore or library? (And yes, I do believe it is indeed something like 3.5 seconds. Probably less, in our ADHD, glut-of-choices, information-overload world.)

Why do you read what you read? And, more importantly, why do you not read certain things?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

the day after...

..and all seems returned to normal. Although it's still a bit quiet in town. Shoppers are shopping, I suppose, and families are still reveling together in some places. I am sitting in one of my favorite coffeehouses, writing (okay, distracting myself with the endlessly fascinating Internet), people-watching, dreaming, and considering different things. Like, doing other blogs. Making this one much more specific to the Southwest, red rock country, etc.

I'm also looking at the laptop the woman sitting across the way is using--it's tiny! Like, really tiny. Well, I love my BRAND-NEW, sparkling shiny silver-&-black laptop, even though it seems monstrously big compared to that woman's little itty bitty machine. Hers is literally half the size of mine. What a wired, technological, wild world we live in.

Okay, just wanted to say ola to the world (the non-listening world--sigh). Hmm. I need to write more interesting posts, no? Maybe I should start gossiping on here...sharing all the wicked little tidbits that are going to make it into my novel. Have I not mentioned this sooner? I finally decided on a direction to take at the moment, a writing direction. A romance, maybe "chick lit," novel, one that is cathartic for me in many ways. Perhaps I'll start to share the details on here as I write it...

Off to conspire with myself on the writing of my tell-all! Heh heh heh.... As I have noted many times before in my life, never piss off a writer. We have long memories. Long, detailed memories. And we keep journals. And save emails. And are great at making up all the rest to fill in the blanks where they crop up...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry HannaChristmaKwanzstice!

Or whatever holiday tradition it is that floats your boat!

I am *thrilled* to announce that I have a laptop in my life once again. And it all came about by, really. It works, it's amazing. Believe or not, it does. I believe! I wrote it down...a specific date and all...truly needed it, pictured it, cut out an actual picture of it, wrote down the brand make and model...and then the money just appeared out of nowhere...and I bought my laptop on the very day I said I would. And it actually arrived today, Christmas Eve! I feel totally blessed, and humble in the face of how everything really works, if you want it enough. Wild....

Have also joined Facebook, like a bazillion other people out there, and it's wonderful fun. I encourage it highly!

To all the celebrations out there, light and love and caring, perhaps some shadowed by darkness and despair and a sense of lack or loss--to all and everyone, send and receive all the blessings in your life that you can. Taste the snowflake on your tongue, pamper yourself even in some small way this holiday season, tell yourself YES I CAN!, give something to someone else, even if it's as simple as a smile or a thank you. Throw your arms around what part of the world you can, and hug it, and feel it hugging your back. (If that was too schmaltzy for you, oh well. It's Christmas Eve!)

Blessings of joy & contentment to you & yours tonight. Tomorrow and the next day come soon enough. Enjoy it all now, and smile.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 10, 2007

writing at 6a.m.

Okay, I wasn't really writing at 6a.m. this morning--but I was awake, believe it or not. Of course, I also went to bed before 8p.m., so that helped considerably with the early morning rising! I did do some writing this morning, though, which is unlike me--I usually write in my journal, but this was other writing. Interesting...but I must remind that I went to sleep so early! We shall see if this continues.

Do you ever get the impression that there are all sorts of messages for you, everywhere you look, that focus on the same subject? For me, for the last several months, it's all been about WRITING! Even this fun read I just finished last night was about a woman dumped by the love of her life, who went on to discover herself--that, namely, she was a writer who actually, finally, started to write. Hmm. Very interesting.... And I saw the movie Becoming Jane a few months back--same theme--writing....

Anyway, just noting that when one is supposed to be doing something, the universe does indeed encourage it--whole-heartedly, and relentlessly.