Friday, April 30, 2010

Catch up on The Rose & Thorn

I'm in South Louisiana supporting our dear friend Angie - so, now would be a good time to check out the Roses & Thorns-the Rose & Thorn Blog.... subscribe while you are there! Scroll down and read the entries. There are some great reading/literary/poetry/etc posts, and as well some podcasts of poetry from the spring issue of Rose & Thorn Journal. I've read a couple even...teehee.

Also, why not stop by the Rose & Thorn Journal and read and support the writers, poets, and the artist? They'd love to hear from you.

And while you are at it, why not sign up for the R&T Newsletter?

We're on Facebook and Twitter, too.

My good friends will be rocking on my porch and listening to my creek and keeping the two dogs and the ghost dog company. They'll keep the birds fed. They'll snuggle in the guest beds and get the best sleep of their life as everyone who comes here to this little log house in the cove does. They'll keep the coons happy and the other critters. They'll bring in the bird feeders so the bears and coons won't tear them up. They'll see me drive back up the driveway and think, "Dang, she's back too soon! We want to stay here forever!" But I will be back in a couple days to my beloved mountains. I'll give Angie a hug from you all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Information -- Angie Gumbo Writer . . .

Fly beautiful bird fly.
Hi everyone.

Some of you have written and asked for Angie's address to send a card. If you want her address, please email me and I'll get that to you.

Her mother's name is Peggy DiBenedetto.

This has been a long 2 and 1/2 years for her and her family and Angie has been the woman I know and love -- giving and wonderful and unselfish. It's just who she is. I would trust her with my life and I don't say that about just anyone. I've never met another woman like Angie and I don't know that I ever will meet another like her. She's the real deal, as they say.

I saw her mother before she "went way down" and I can only call her beautific. I was spellbound - that's the way I have to describe it. It was as if she glowed from the inside out with beauty and love and friendship and kindness. I can see where Angie received her loving spirit.

Just as I was writing this, I saw where I'd missed a call from Angie. She sounded tired, but okay.

Keep her and her family in your thoughts. Go by her blog and say hello so that when she returns to it, she'll see your "smiling faces" and read your thoughts.
I feel too sad to write anything more on my blog, but I'll be back later with the usual whatever- - and so will Angie be back to her blog - y'all go hug your momma's and your daddy's and your kids and your friends . . . hug them tight tight.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Angie Gumbo Writer's Mother....

UPDATE: Angie's mother just passed away - keep her in your thoughts - thank you, friends. . .

My friends, please keep Angie in your thoughts or prayers or whatever you believe and/or stop by her blog and send your love again. . . her mother is not doing well at all right now. She's rallied many times before in this 2 and a half years that they'd said wouldn't even be a year that she'd make it, but this time seems to be very bad right now.

Peggy Elaine is one of the ones I dedicated SG to - along with our Barry Fraser and Stephen Craig Rowe - all three of them are beautiful people . . . there are many more where cancer has tried to pull out their smiles and beauty, but cancer did not succeed in that respect, and I wish I could have named them all. Bastard cancer . . . .

Hugs and love to you Angie - I'm thinking of you and of your mother and of your family.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Riding in the Convertible with the Wild Girls . . .

Hi Y'all - I'm not here. I'm 'cruising' in that cute red convertible with "cool chicks who rock n' write"
I'm their guest today on my blog tour and I'm talking about a lover I took while writing TG & SG . . . what? you say? A lover? Well . . . sorta kinda . . . anyway *laughing*
Hope you'll stop by and visit Riding with the Top Down. Yes yes, I feel bad asking you all to come visit when I haven't been able to visit you all in some time now - I am working like mad to catch up on a few deadlines and from my sweet brother's visit - *muwah*

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hitting the DELETE key without fear: Cleaning up our Manuscripts

I'm working on the finishing touches in my edits/re-writes of SWEETIE, which will be released this fall. If you were to read the first version of my "first chapters and last chapters" you'd not at first recognize it as the same book.

Because I hit the DELETE key. Oh yes, I dragged, highlighted, and hit "DELETE" and it was good.

Here's the deal: when I first began writing years back, I thought (silly me) that everything I wrote had to stay pretty much as it was; that Real Writers were geniuses whose words were golden once they’d dripped from their golden fingers all from their golden minds and once they were out and onto the page they were gilded in gold and set for all time. I thought if I had to go in and change things, that meant I sucked as a writer since Real Writers had no need to make changes to their genius—oh dear! How could I have been so very very wrong?

As I learned, and quickly thank gawd, re-writes/edits are an important part of the writing process—no, a NECESSARY part. But, what I still resisted is going in and deleting big portions of my work. I’d freeze up, think, “But, I wrote all that and it took me a long time to craft all those words. But, that’s the story and I can't change my story! But, what I if can’t come up with something else? But, this is what the character did/does. But But But . . .” And then, I’d try to work around what I’d already written—ugh…bad. Because when we “work around” something, it shows. And, as well, sometimes when we try to "work around" something, we begin to dislike our own work; we find that it feels stagnant, or boring, or stilted, or "something just isn't right" and many times this is what some call "Writer's Block." Maybe "writer's block" means you need to go in and try that DELETE key.

Highlighting and then hitting the DELETE key frees us to write something else. Yes, it means we have to create more words/scenes, et cetera, but please believe me when I say it is worth it. Heck, highlight the text that isn’t working or is in the way or just sucks and then copy it to another file (or copy one version under one name and the new DELETED text version under another) and then go back to the work and DELETE. See what happens. Try it. You aren’t losing anything since you’ve saved that text, but, you will have a fresh clean space to write what could be the turning point in your novel, or a better beginning, better ending, or some of all.

In Sweetie, I deleted five chapters with just a tiny blink of an eye – D E L E T E D. Gone. I deleted the entire scenes, dialogue, everything. It changed the beginning and ending chapters significantly, and in fact, changed some other things, too, but it was worth it and some. The two chapters that I re-wrote to take the place of the five chapters fit better, are less complicated, are not as, well, boring. Yup, it was B O R I N G. Oh there were good parts, parts I really loved, parts that had poignancy and writing I was pleased with and happy with and oh oh oh!; however, every time I went in to work on Sweetie, those first chapters bored me, frustrated me, and I would stop working on it and go work on something else.

My friends, if your own work bores you or frustrates you or you find you just “aren’t in the mood” for it, then maybe it’s time to hit that D E L E T E and try something else, because if YOU are bored with it, your readers will be too--trust me. When I hit DELETE with Sweetie, it opened the way and I became excited about the work again—ahhh, yes, that was exactly what I needed to do.
It's not the first time I've deleted significant text: in the Secret Graces novel, I deleted about 30,000 words when I went back in to work on it after TG was released, because they were words I'd written before Tender Graces was released, and by time I came back round to SG, those 30,000 words no longer worked. D E L E T E! And it was goooood.

Learn to recognize when something isn’t working. Trust you instincts. And, don’t be afraid to hit the DELETE key. It just may be the very thing that brings your work to another level.

(I hope to be by your places tomorrow! I'm hard at work on SWEETIE so I an start on the next Graces novel!)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Old Photographs and Time Gone By . . .

While my brother was here, he downloaded to me some of the photos he has been scanning and putting in files. This morning, I was able to look through some of them, and almost an hour passed of me just staring at them, looking at the kids who were once us. I think of us kids, and how by chance we all five were able to be together. Three of us born to a different mother, all of us with our same daddy. How one of us came to live with with us much later. How one of us left us much too soon at 32.

Mostly, I had to fight back tears. Suddenly, seeing these children was just too much. I'm trying to fight tears now as I type this. Those young and hopeful faces. Those little children. The old crooked christmas tree. The oranges and apples we received in paper sacks with our names on them (I never knew what a stocking was until I was older! I thought everyone received paper sacks of fruit and nuts!) when there wasn't money for stockings and lots of candy and things. My hair growing out from where a babysitter cut it all off. The brother who wasn't living with us yet is with us at Christmas in one photo--I wonder where our bio mom was that christmas? without any of her kids. The old houses we rented. There is one photo where one brother wasn't living with us yet, but the rest of us are on the couch with Daddy- and in that strange way that looking back at photos brings, in that photo, Daddy has his arm around one of us, protecting, on the other side of us other kids, and that is the us who would leave us too soon at 32.

One photo of two of us, sister and brother-that was a photo that made it into the SG book, since my brother had sent it to me earlier. The feet touching. It made me wistful and sad.

so long ago.

(I'm sorry I've not been by your blogs in a while - I hope to come soon and say hello. So much going on, so many deadlines! But I do miss seeing what's happening in your worlds!)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Signing *smiling*

Thank you for the nice time at the signing and for your support - and thank you for the "well -wishes" from all of you who couldn't be there. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed it, even though I was nervous and twitchy *laugh*

First pic is Margaret Osondu introducing me while I kind of get shy and cringy; second photo are friends, readers, and also editors of fresh magazine.

My brother is still here and we're having a great time!

Sorry I haven't been able to come round to visit, but soon ---

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Book Signing & Contest Winners

Hi Y'all - just poking in my head briefly this beautiful Saturday morning. My brother Tommy is here and we're having so much fun.

First, I've already announced that Titus won the first place spot in the "promo" contest Angie Gumbo Writer held. And we had a drawing for the second and third place winners--both who will receive a signed copy of Secret Graces. The two winners are Terri Tiffany and Carrie Clevenger - Congrats!

Today is my Blue Ridge Books Osondu book signing - at 1:00 PM - Main Street Waynesville. I'm always nervous about book signings: what if no one shows? what if I'm sitting there all pitiful all by myself? what if no one buys a book and I have to look at the books the book seller bought and they are disappointed in me - lawdy be! This will be the first book signing of SG, so I'm really wide-eyed with nerves! But excited, too. If you are in the area, I hope to see you there - come say hello!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Traveling to South Louisiana-the sights, the sounds, the food

Driving to South Louisiana used to feel as if I were traveling to the ends of the earth. I go through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi to get there and it takes anywhere from 11 hours to 11 and a half. I've done that trip so many times in the near-six years I've lived in this cove at Killian Knob that it no longer seems so long a drive. Don't get me wrong: eleven hours in a car is no picnic--by time I arrive, do my thang, and then drive back home, I'm exhausted and drained.

But, what's cool about traveling by car is all the sights and sounds and people, or even the big towns versus the little towns. And the landscape and flora, fauna, the music, the mood, even the types of vehicles I see on the roads.

Once the mountain ranges leave my rearview, and then the rolling hills recede, I enter the flatlands, and begin seeing swamps and spanish moss and egrets flying or by the side of the road fishing for crawfish and little fishes in the canals and ditches. Entering, or nearing, South Louisiana, I also see many many LSU bumper stickers and decals, and this time more than ever before, I also saw Saints stickers and decals.

I stopped for gas right at the Louisiana state line and while waiting for the tank to fill, I remarked to a woman standing near, “Wow; it’s really warm today, isn’t it?” and she replied, “It’s cold!” I blinked, “Cold?” … “Yes, yesterday was 84 degrees and today it isn’t.” I thought, “huhn,” because I remembered feeling that when I lived in the deep south, that it was “cold” if it wasn’t “hot.” Now my inner thermometer is quite different.

Maggie Valley is about 3000 feet; I live at about 3400 feet, and Baton Rouge is 50 feet (these are above sea levels)—New Orleans, at least part of it, is about five feet below sea level. It’s a strange feeling going to the flatlands after living in the mountains. Strange to think how low I am, how close to the level of the sea. How easy it would be for a big storm to come and blow millions of gallons of water over me and wash me away. My friends say, "Well, we could slide off'n your mountain." Ha! What-ever.

The food is a whole ‘nother thing. If there are differences in sea levels above and below, and in flora and fauna, and in vehicles, there is a starkly huge difference in the attitude towards food in South Louisiana compared to the mountains and probably anywhere else in the United States. When eating breakfast, one begins to think about lunch, and when eating lunch, one is thinking about supper, and when eating supper, one is thinking about what will be consumed the next day! It’s true! I saw it! I lived it! I did it while down there! Somehow, crossing that state line into South Louisiana, my appetite increased tenfold. I ate more calories in one day than I sometimes have in several days here at Killian Knob. I ate crab. I ate shrimp. I ate fish. I ate and ate and swore I wouldn't eat like that again the next day, but I did.

More later . . .

(For those of you in the area, my Secret Graces signing will be at Blue Ridge Osondu Books, this Saturday, April 17, 1:00 PM. My brother will be in town several days, so if I don’t post for a few days, that’s why!)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I'm back home to my mountain cove at Killian Knob

Hi Y'all - or as we say here Hi You'uns (or y'uns)!

I'm back from my trip to South Looseeaner; pulled into my driveway at about 7:15 last night. The weather was beautiful, with the only bad weather coming on the trip down there.

I ate my shrimp poboy (and someone in the comments below called it a poo-boy and that made me laugh! Was that you, Analisa? *made me laugh - so cute!*)

I hope to be back tomorrow to tell about the conference. My brother Tommy gets here on Thursday. He'll be here for my first Secret Graces booksigning at Blue Ridge Osondu books in Waynesville - the first time I'll have a family member (other than GMR) at a signing!

Now, I will tell this: in the post below, I asked if anyone saw my Boopmobile on the highways to be sure and give me a wave and a honk . . . so . . .

Yesterday as the Boopmobile flew its way, windows open to the nice weather, an 18-wheeler slowed beside me, and a face peeked from the window, then a big ole burly paw came out the smaller side window, and the fingers of that big ole burly paw did that little cutsie finger wave *laughing* - then as I pulled away, he gave a couple of jaunty HOOOOONK HOOONNK HOOOONKs . . . but as I sped off, I thought, "Hmmm . . . surely that isn't a blog reader?" *laugh* - I further thought, could it be a husband or friend of a blog reader? . . . I don't know - doesn't seem likely, but then again, why not? So, if you are the trucker, or the friend/family/spouse of said trucker giving me the fingers wave and HONNNNKS, then I'm sorry I didn't wave and honk back. When I'm alone on the road, I'm extra extra careful. Teehee.

So . . . My charms must have extended to the next McDonald's stop to get coffee. I ordered one of those new Cafe Whatever coffees and asked for no sugar in it. Behind me I hear, "She doesn't need sugar because she's already so sweet . . . " I looked at the woman taking my order and she laughed . . . then behind me, the man repeated it but a bit louder. I turned, and there was this gentleman just a grinnin' at me, twinkly-eyed and all. I mumbled something I can't remember, my face all red. He then grinned some more, finally turned and headed to his table, while I just kind of gawked at him.


I did give Angie Gumbo Writer your hugs and good wishes - it helped her lot; thank you all!
(PS - I have my copies of Secret Graces - the cover is really lovely "in person" - I can't wait to put it by my bedside and read it as if it were someone else's novel . . . exciting!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

South Louisiana in my Boopmobile . . .

As this posts, I'm already on my way to South Louisiana for the Jubilee Writer's Conference, where I'll sign some books and mingle with writers and editors and readers and librarians and all manner of interesting peoples.

But, I'll also get to hug our Angie Gumbo Writer, and I'll make sure I hug her for you all, too. And I'll eat my traditional fried shrimp poboy with a cold frosty beer and some french fries--at least this is what I always try to do when I go to South Louisiana, a treat I can't get (at least not done right) anywhere else.

I'll see some grandfather oaks, and spanish moss, and hear the music, and see all the Looseanner people. South Louisiana isn't like any other place; it truly isn't.

If you see my Boopmobile while on my travels, honk a hello to me! You'll know it's my boopmobile when you see it--at least when you see my license plate.

I'll be back on Monday sometime, where GMR and Little Silly Girl and Not Quite Fat Dog
will be waiting for me in the cove at Killian Knob. I may check in while I'm in Looseranner, but if not - all y'all have good days and wish me luck on my travels and at the conference! As they shout in Loueeseeanner: AIYEEEEEEEEE!

Here's the link to hear my interview on Kat on The Writer's Show - if you care to hear my gravely voice - I was exhausted from the drive, but it was a fun show to do.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Book Release Party! WHOOP WHOOP!

It's a Book Release Party! whoop whoop!

I have been walking/posting/sitting/sleeping/eating/dreaming about T-Rex's chasing me/et cetera as if everything is as normal as normal can be.

Then . . . it struck me:


Have I already become so jaded that I can't see an opportunity to celebrate? What is WRONG with me *laughing!* I need to be jumping up and down and yelling YEEEEHAWW!

So, everyone - today I am CELEBRATING THE RELEASE OF SECRET GRACES! YAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY - I hope you'll celebrate with my by leaving me a nice encouraging happy note in the comments - *smiling*

Some of you have already emailed me to say you've ordered SG from Amazon or straight from Bellebooks and have asked your bookstore to order copy(ies) --THANK YOU! If SG isn't in your library or bookstore (yet), please ask them to order it. Sometimes that's what it takes to get it there.

I will be in South Louisiana at the Jubilee Writer's Conference this weekend - signing copies of Tender Graces -- I don't think the bookstore had time to get Secret Graces there. Then when I return, a few days later I'll have my first SG booksigning at Blue Ridge Books Osondu - if you are in the WNC area, please come say hello!

Part of this celebration is to announce the top winner of the promo contest Angie Ledbetter began. As I told you all in an earlier post, her mother has brain cancer and lately has been really not doing well at all, and then her good friend was diagnosed with cancer. Angie simply had to abandon her blog and twitter to take care of what's important. So, the contest slipped behind the scenes, of course!

BUT! From the promo ideas that I was able to accomplish, the most successful one was:

Titus's "Naked Reading" - or as I call it "Nekkid Reading" Titus will receive a signed copy of Secret Graces, plus a "basket" from me of things from and of my mountain. CONGRATS TITUS! What makes this so funny is Titus didn't think I'd do it, she just sort of tossed that suggestion out there...*laugh*


There were other fun and good ideas, and what I have decided is, since I can't figure out which to choose as the two "runners up" (the contest ended April 1), I am going to put the other names in a hat and when I see Angie Gumbo Writer this weekend, I will have her draw the two names to receive copies of signed Secret Graces. So, I will have those two winners announced when I return from the writer's conference in South Louisiana.

When I receive my own copies of Secret Graces, it will seem even more real! But, yes, this is happening. I have two books out now! Why haven't I been Hooping and Hollering!

Until I receive my copies of SG, I will remain on terrifed pins and needles - you all know how I obsssesseessessss about glitches and typos and errors OH MY! *laughing*

SO!! My question to you all is this: WHAT SHOULD I DO TODAY TO CELEBRATE?

Monday, April 5, 2010

THEN Versus NOW, Part II: Naïve and/or arrogance that kicked my ass in this publishing biz

An announcement: Secret Graces is now officially on sale! So, now begins the wild ride, and makes my post today appropriate. I should have a Release Party on my blog, shouldn't I?

-------------------------- Part I of my arse kicking is Here ---

Then, whenever I’d read about an author who wrote a book and then either didn’t write another one or waited years before the next one, I’d say, “If I had the chance, I sure wouldn’t be hesitating. I’d sure be writing to be the band!” I simply couldn’t understand why a writer who had the chance to have his/her next book published would not jump on that chance with all the glee and energy and writing writer write they had.

Until my first book was released. Now, understanding comes. But, you say, you did write more—you have the second book out and another one to come in the fall. Well, yes. Because I stomped over my fears. Because Bellebooks loves my work---just because you have a book published, doesn’t mean your next book is an automatic thing. Because I put down my head and did the work and didn’t listen to the negative voices (much) that raged in my pea-head.

An artist and I were in a conversation about not letting the negativity get in the way of creativity. I told her something like—we have to have the dark and the light in our work, but we have to make sure the dark is not someone else’s shadow. A lot of what you hear after you publish is Everyone Else’s Opinion—if you are not careful, you begin to listen to too many voices/opinions that aren't helping you.

At first after Tender Graces came out, I woke up with anxiety so fierce that my stomach tied in a snarl of knots. Fear of what someone might say about my work. That I’d disappoint readers. That (mostly) faded as time went by. But here it is again with the release of Secret Graces. Will people still love me and my characters? How will things go?

My friends, I understand why some writers some times do not write that second book. Author can become paralyzed with fear. That fear can permeate and penetrate and become so prevalent that creativity is stifled. Not only that, there is the fear of: What if I disappoint? What if people expect something they do not get? Imagine writing a book and being compared to other writers—but! Imagine writing a book and being compared to yourself! Can you image Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird and all the publicity and the runaway success and all the hoopla and how it is a Beloved book, and now imagine she wants/wanted to write another book and everyone is expecting her to top that beloved book? Not just write what she wants to write, but at least equal to or top what she did before? Who needs that pressure? Be nice if she could just write what she loves without being compared to herself, yes?

If I had not stomped over my fears, skirted around the dark that is someone else’s shadow, ignored my terror, more work would not have come to me, and then to you. Writers and artists and singers and dancers—all those whose work is out for public consumption and review and deliberation—must find a way to stop the: “I have to be loved by everyone. My work must be adored by everyone.” And instead, must do what they love and do it the best they can and do it with love and hope and strength and honesty. And, they must do it in a way that sells, don’t forget that. Art aside, love of books and reading and writing aside, it has to be deconstructed into the business side of things as well. Heart and Brain go hand in hand in this business.

It can be a tough business, and that's what kicked my ass. That's what I was naive/arrogant about before I published.

Am I still terrified? Well, yes, sometimes. But am I letting that stop me? No. Yet, I understand better now why and how and when it could stop someone. I understand the shadows that creep in and cover the light—the dark that is someone else’s shadow.

What about you? Have you, or will you, let someone else's shadow stop you from your dreams or your job or your life-work?

Friday, April 2, 2010

Kat Before and After . . . Author Photo Angst

Why lookee there -it's an April Fool! (well, one day late that is *laugh*)

Since it's the Easter holiday weekend, I'll keep things light and get back to my thread I was writing from the other day next week - although part of next week I'll be on my way to South Louisiana for a conference (see below post!), where I am going to hug Angie Gumbo Writer with a big ole Hug!

So, my friends, let me ask you: Can you be a little bit envious of your own touched up photo? *laughing*

It wasn't until I put me and not-exactly-me side by side that I had a laugh at my own expense. It's almost depressing, except I can't find it in my heart to be depressed about it, but instead only amused!

From smooth and polished and almost sorta kinda cute-ish, to craggly and draggy and tired and not at all cute-ish *snork* Even my clothes are neater and smoother in the first one, and my hair is neater, too! Dang! I look as if I've been ironed.

Now, one could ask: Was this before and after a facelift and botox?

Is this top one a much younger cousin thrice removed?

Why, of course not! Those photos up there are the before and after the publisher's book jacket author photo artist became a little carried away with his smoothing and dewrinkling and de-faulting doodleedoo tool. The one top left is the official "Author Photo" that is on the back cover of TG and maybe SG and is one that is really not me but more of a posed airbrushed sort of serious ironed kind of "me."

There are many things writers do not have a say with their books: book covers, titles, and yes sometimes author photos. But as for my author photo, I think I will try to talk them into something else than the above posed airbrushed photo for SWEETIE in the fall. Something where when I walk into a room, people won't look at the jacket photo, look at me, at the photo, me, and then say, "What happened to you? This book biz messed you UP!" Laughing... A photo that says who I am: Mountain Kat, warts and wrinkles and exhaustion and all. Yeah!

Everyone - Have a wonderful Easter Holiday - I'll see you all on Monday. Eat a peep or some chocolate.

My questions to you is: What is your Favorite Easter candy? And, what do you eat for traditional Easter supper? Since I don't eat pork or lamb (and really don't eat much meat at all), we're doing seafood.

[PS- The Writer's Show radio program will be Sunday at 1:00 - I know that turns out to be Easter Sunday, but if you are near your computer and feel like it, you can listen. Otherwise, it should be available after that as well! ta ta y'all!]