The Sound of Laughter

I really do love laughter. It’s one of the best sounds people can make. We don’t invest in it enough, in my opinion. That’s why humor is such an important element in my stories. There are even laughs to be found in the scary stuff.

BoneofMyBones_w9288_300 This story was my attempt at making laughter part of the scary stuff. One of the most fun characters to write in Bone of My Bones was Mama Toulouse, the medium who hooks Rose up with Matthias the necromancer. She has an almost maternal relationship with Rose, which made for some great and funny dialogue. I hope to have lots more of her in Rose’s future adventures.

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Score One for Creativity

It’s important to stand out in a crowd. I know, I know, that’s not what we heard when we were kids. Standing out was not the recommended behavior for those whose goal wasn’t to be voted class clown in their high school yearbook.

Still, as writers, it’s what publishers and marketing firms and even readers tell us our books should do. I don’t know if they are right or not, as I’ve apparently not stood out from the crowd enough to discover that answer. The New York Times has not yet come calling to make sure they spell my name right on the bestseller list.

I have discovered though, that sometimes what it takes to stand out is blunt honesty. I uncovered this tactic recently while driving around the city I live in. I don’t know how many panhandlers there are in other places, but my town has turned this into a regular job for a lot of folks. And some of them are using a very creative approach to standing out from their particular crowd. In the last few weeks I’ve seen a couple that made me take note.

One went for the “let me cry on your shoulder” approach with the following sign:

“Homeless due to poor taste in men”

Another decided to throw caution to the wind and act as if we were all his buddies. His sign read:

“I want a beer”

I didn’t stop and chat to see how their attempts at creativity worked out, but they reminded me of something my dad once told me about one of his college professors. He said sometimes they would get papers back with answers marked wrong, but out to the side they would say “OTC +1”. The professor told them he’d given them one point for “the old college try”. Hopefully these folks got a least a buck for trying to stand out from the crowd. I’d hate to see that kind of creativity go to waste.

The Economics of Writing

I have this stereotype of a writer I cling to: sitting in a small cafe for hours, hunched over a journal writing, while sipping some form of expensive hot drink from time to time (or wine, which goes better with the fact that I’d really like the cafe to be in Paris). A small part of me still believes you can’t call yourself a true writer until you do that.

As with most of my dreams, however, this one gets hit by a reality check all the time. I am your basic introvert with one quirk: I love to be in crowds. Oh, I don’t want to interact with them, at least not beyond a smile and a few words of chitchat. I think that’s why I love them. They are strangers demanding nothing more of me than basic courtesy.

And I enjoy getting out somewhere to do my writing, somewhere where I can’t see the dishes or the laundry or all the other little things that can pull me away from writing. So I keep trying to find the perfect spot to sit and write. But experience taught me small cafes have a number of limitations:

  • they are very expensive
  • most of those hot drinks they sell contain coffee
  • I hate coffee

Most of them don’t have the noise either, at least not beyond quiet, polite chatter. When I first got serious about my writing, I would sit in a local diner. It was the most creative atmosphere I’ve ever found. There were kids running around, families arguing, waitresses calling orders back. It was awesome. And it was cheap. Which was excellent because more often than not I was broke. The gas money it took to get there was about all I had to spend.

When my finances got somewhat better, I started looking for one of my dream cafes, where artists of all kind would gather and the creativity vibes would reverberate around the room. Yet the writing I did fell far short of my diner journals.

Thanks to my grandchildren, I have become well acquainted with McDonald’s. It’s full of noise of all kinds, kids running around yelling, all the things you’d think would prevent any focus on writing at all. I even got to watch two old men almost come to blows the other day.

But I’m finally ready to admit I do my best work there. And it’s cheap. I can grab a coke for a dollar, there’s an abundance of excellent character material right in front of me and as long as I don’t start a fight, they don’t appear to want to throw me out. I wonder if they have McDonald’s in Paris?

Why I Have A History Degree

I get a lot of polite smiles when I tell people I have a BA in History. Even my dad shook his head and told me how much he hated history classes, how boring they were. I get it, I really do. The feeling isn’t the same for me, but I understand why people’s eyes glaze over sometimes when they read history books. Too many of them are written by people who act as if they’re still doing it for a grade.

My story is pretty simple. I have a degree in History because of Math. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a passion for history. What I have is much less passion for Math. In fact, I don’t have any passion for Math. Nor any real aptitude for it. It’s a truly loveless relationship.

It isn’t that I didn’t try. I made it a week and a half in the math class I took at the local community college (the remedial one that failing the automated test puts you into so you can learn enough to take the lowest level of real math). I understood more of what was going on in the French class I took.

When I left to complete my BA at a university, I worried about the obstacle of another math class. Then I perused the requirements of the History department. The classes sounded great and there wasn’t a single math class listed. It was made for me.

I studied medieval and reformation Europe, the history of Africa and Germany along with a class on the fall of the Soviet Union. It was awesome. Don’t ever let anyone tell you college doesn’t have a place for everyone. Even History geeks can survive.

Yes, That Is A Giant Penis

prideparade1

(A rainbow-colored, glittery one at that)

I love parades. Apparently so do lots of others. Like the folks here watching the parade I went to on Saturday. I like to get out from behind my computer every once in a while, to see the “real” world so I can create realistic, “normal” characters. Just a good writing skill I’ve learned.

Well, It’s a Start…

“I’m sitting here, all my worldly, and some not so worldly, possessions packed away in a 10×20 shed, wondering what the next step in my life will be. I’m an unemployed writer/historian/filmmaker and a mother/grandmother whose children have been supportive enough not to force me into a home when I told them what I planned. I own a car that is virtually theft-proof because it looks like one the Beverly Hillbillies would have turned their nose up at, and a dog that likes to throw things. So what’s the obvious next step for a woman like me?”

I wrote these words over three years ago. Believe me, the next step wasn’t obvious in the least. My hope was to write the next great “Woman on a Journey of Self-Discovery” bestseller. Turns out my new life was less of “Under the Tuscan Sun” and more of “In the Glow of the Wal-Mart Sign”. Still, it’s had its moments. So now I’m taking computer keyboard in hand and sharing life’s craziness. The first step is learning how to put together this space. In case you can’t tell (in which case you are worse off then I am), I’m winging it. Hopefully the visuals will get better with time. If you’re up to it, come and join me. Trust me, it’ll be fun…