Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Ramblings from a Writer-Editor-Publisher



by Nann Dunne

I’m always searching for ways to improve my writing. Not only to make my stories stronger, but also to help the writers whose stories I edit. To me, that’s a double-barreled profit.

In this search for improvement, I got caught up in the Outlining versus Pantsing ongoing discussion, which sometimes sounds like a feud. I have to say that some outliners get my vote as being downright supercilious people who can’t see past their own experiences. They make it sound ridiculous to be a pantser. Well, let me tell you, I am a pantser, and their disdain disturbs me. At one point, the idea that outlining was so superior challenged me. I thought, I can do a story outline; I just choose not to. What’s the big deal?

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Sunday Read



By Renée Bess

     Every Sunday I greedily guard enough time to read one feature in particular of the New York Times’ “Style” section. I don’t waste more than a moment scanning the postage stamp size photos that fill the “On the Street” page or the “After Hours” section, although I’ll own my penchant for glancing at the pictures in search of revelers of color. I’ve read the Sunday New York Times since I was a teenager, and I’m happy to report that the photos in the two aforementioned pages portray much more racial diversity than they did forty years ago.
     What kept me glued to the “Styles” section then was the same feature that keeps me glued to it now, the parade of marriage and wedding announcements. During my adolescence, I’d read the blurbs and then fantasize how the text might describe my own nuptials. Don’t scoff. If you were an African-American child who grew up in an integrated neighborhood, went to racially integrated public schools, and had parents who modeled a sense of self-worth, you had the audacity to believe you were equal to the people whose wedding announcements you read every week. I used to scan some of those notices and replace the bride’s name with my own.
   

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How Many?



by: Mary Vermillion

My younger sister must have been in junior high when she told me how many children she wanted. Six. And bless her heart, she continued to want six until she had four. Yes, ours is a Catholic family. But in Atlantic, Iowa, even the Protestants had lots of children. My best friend, a Lutheran, was the second-to-the-youngest of six. I was the oldest of four. How many kids did I want? Zero.
When I thoughtlessly shared this desire with my mother, she said the same thing she would say to me years later when I came out to her as a lesbian: Oh, you’ll change your mind.
But I knew I wouldn’t. I knew that I’d never want kids and that this made me odd-girl-out. Mostly, I savored the role of rebel outsider, but because I was raised Catholic, sometimes I also wondered if something was wrong with me. Yet I can’t blame all my angst on the Church. Science also had a hand. When I studied evolution, I realized that I lacked a basic biological impulse. If the rest of humanity were like me, we would soon be extinct!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Slow To Get Out Of First Gear



by: S. Renée Bess

     That’s how I approach most new communication technology. The automotive allusion is a metaphor for “cautious but not stubbornly resistant.” I have the habit of reading about new gadgets, and then chatting with friends, neighbors, randomly selected store employees, total strangers, and my sister long before I make a purchase.
     My sister holds the most sway with me. Typically, when she arrives for a visit she walks into my home office, decants a few items from her workbag, and bedazzles me with a newly acquired computer the size of the back of her hand, or a new cellphone that can do everything short of fly her from Heathrow Airport to Philadelphia International. If I’m somewhat dazed and remain unconvinced that I need to own the new equipment, she’ll continue to demonstrate its usefulness and remind me how quickly the thing will allow me to compose, print, send, tweet, post and /or text my thoughts to friends, other writers, my publisher, or to her. Frequently, she does such a good sales job, that the moment she heads back to the airport for her trip home, I grab my credit card, jump into my car, and speed to the closest tech marketplace.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

What Is A Book?



by Cathy Bryerose

What is a book?  The first answers that come to mind are pretty simple — it's a story, it's entertainment, it's knowledge.  A book can take us away to another place, another time.  We can learn things from a book, maybe things about ourselves when we see that glimmer of our own being staring back from the pages of a book.  An author puts their soul into telling a story or sharing an idea that has percolated in their mind for months, or sometimes years.  

They write and they edit and they rewrite and edit some more…some authors have trouble calling there work complete because there always seems to be something that they wish they had written a little differently.  I think almost everyone can agree that without the author there is nothing.  But when the author is done, is it a book?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Sense of Place

by: Eric Gober



           When I was twenty-nine, I was accepted into the MFA program in creative writing at Wichita State University.  With high hopes, a little fear, and much sadness, I packed my Nissan pickup.  For two years, I’d lived in the small seaside town of Half Moon Bay, California.  Never in my life had I lived in such natural beauty.  White-capped waves crashed on white sandy beaches, windblown cypress crowned rugged bluffs, and poppies dotted grassy hillsides.  Warm sun relentlessly battled cool fog for control of the sky while farmers grew field after field of snapdragons, artichokes, pumpkins, and strawberries.  Amid all this beauty was a gentle loving man who’d shared his life with me, and who would remain in Half Moon Bay.
            As I drove down Main Street past Cunha’s Country Store on that sunny January morning, I fought hard not to mourn all I was leaving behind.  I instead tried to focus on what lay ahead in Wichita.
           

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Panic of Publication



by: R.G. Emanuelle

When I first put my fingers on the keyboard to write this blog, I was in a little bit of a crash mode. I had just returned from a trip out of town (with a less-than-stellar return trip), was in a frenzy of cooking for Thanksgiving, and had the holiday itself to deal with. Tucked into this chaos were the proofs for my first novel, Twice Bitten, due out in January 2013.

I’m not sure if all the other stuff going on around me was good or bad while I did my review. See, I began going through that first-novel panic—that overwhelming desire to rewrite the entire thing because every paragraph, every scene, every chapter seems inadequate and in desperate need of eloquence. But it could also be that the stresses of travel and holidays had me on hyper-sensitivity mode. (This blog wound up getting pushed to the side and only got completed just before Christmas.)


Monday, November 12, 2012

WHAT’S YOUR ANNIVERSARY?

By Kate McLachlan

What’s your anniversary?

That’s always been a loaded question for any same-sex couple. Anniversary of what? Denied the right to have a wedding anniversary, we’ve engineered our own anniversaries. First kiss, first sex, the date we moved in together, the date we had that private commitment ceremony out on Point Whatchamacallit with no one but God as our witness. Sometimes our anniversaries commemorate dates so private we can’t share them, so we don’t even admit them to people who ask. Opposite sex couples don’t have this problem. They may fondly remember their first kiss or the date they moved in together, but once they marry, their marriage date overtakes all others and becomes paramount. What’s your anniversary, you ask? That’s easy, they say. It’s the date they got married.
Not so for same-sex couples.


Washington State passed Referendum 74 on November 6, 2012, and the measure will be ratified 30 days later, on December 6, 2012. On that date same-sex couples will be allowed to apply for marriage licenses in Washington. We have a 3-day waiting period here, though, between license and wedding, so December 9, 2012, is the first date same-sex couples can legally marry in Washington. You might expect, then, that a lot of same-sex couples in Washington will have anniversary dates of December 9, 2012, or perhaps December 12, 2012, for the 123 crowd.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

JANE AUSTEN HAS A FACEBOOK PAGE! Or, Privacy is Dead




by Kate McLachlan

Hey, have you heard the news? Jane Austen has a Facebook page!
                As soon as I found out, I immediately ‘Liked’ her because I love her and it makes me feel closer to her now that we’re “Friends.” Can one ever get close enough to Jane? Real intimacy has been difficult, though, because, well, she’s been dead for nearly 200 years. Besides that, nearly all her private letters were destroyed after her death, and nobody even really knows what she looked like. Out of her very large family, she’s the only one who never had a portrait done, except for one brother who was apparently ‘developmentally delayed’, to use a modern term. Rumor has it Jane may have been (gulp) ugly, and the family didn’t want to waste good money on a portrait to memorialize that.
                In any case, Jane probably preferred the anonymity. She was a very private lady. But that’s all right, because now she has a Facebook page!
You know what else? When I found out Jane had a Facebook page, I checked to see if one of my other long-dead favorite authors might have one too, and she did. Georgette Heyer, the icon of Regency romances, who refused to give interviews and once famously said, “My private life concerns no one but myself and my family,” now has a Facebook page. Guess what, Georgette? Your private life concerns all of us now.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Random Wondering

By Renee Bess



What follows is a series of random thoughts or “mind wonderings” I was able to capture as they floated by. Thanks for allowing me to share them with you.

  • ·         I wonder what it’s like to be a woman at the RNC and know one of the party’s platform planks denies your sovereignty over your own body. What’s it like to be a black GOP’er and know many of the other convention attendees hold you in the same low regard they hold President Obama simply because you share the President’s ethnicity? What’s it like for the LGBT Republicans who know some members of the party’s faithful believe you can pray away the gay while others wish you would disappear altogether? What’s it like to be a black LGBT Republican convention-goer? Never mind. My brain is starting to hurt.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

It’s All In A Name

by Cindy Bryerose

Ever been labeled? Ever labeled someone yourself?  Everyone’s done both, sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing.  It starts from an early age and continues through life.  Even before we are born we are labeled as the baby, the wee one, the bundle of joy or my father’s favorite “another tax deduction.” As soon as we are born we are again labeled.  In my case it was baby girl Thorpe.  A few days later, my parents, finally settled on a name Cynthia Claire Thorpe, and promptly called me Cindy.  Is that another label? 

As children, we are given many labels; tomboy, sissy girl, freckled face, nosy, above average, chatty, and big head.  Believe me those are some of the polite ones.  Labels come at us from all directions, friends, family, teachers, and even people we don’t know.  How can someone who doesn’t even know me slap a label on me?  Everyone does including me; we have all seen someone in public and described them to someone else.  “I saw this lady in Wal-Mart who was so____________. “ Well you get the picture.  We like to label people. A nasty hangover from our past, perhaps, still causing headaches in the present.  So much for the old saying: United we stand, divided we fall.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Questions and Answers


By: Damian Serbu

I often think of the best answer to a reader’s question long after they ask it. As in, I do an appearance and reading, take questions from the audience and answer them, and then slap myself on the forehead on the way home or that night in bed when the more precise or eloquent response pops into my head.

When asked a deep and interesting question, I usually just look at people as bewildering thoughts run through my head, from something quite profound that gets frighteningly philosophical, to something more akin to what actually comes out of my mouth: “Interesting question. I suppose it’s different for each novel.” And then I run for the hills!

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Series That Ate My Brain In A Totally Good Way


By Andi Marquette

Hi, all. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Andi Marquette, and I write a mystery series at Regal Crest. That series is set in New Mexico, one of my home states.

The books alternate between main characters. That is, odd-numbered books feature, as the main character, sociologist/academic K.C. Fontero while even-numbered books feature Albuquerque police detective Chris Gutierrez, who is K.C.’s best friend. So in the series, no matter who the MC is, you’ll see a lot of the other characters coming and going through each other’s stories.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Consideration of Age

    By Renee Bess                                 

   Do you tend to write about what you know, or do you expand your body of knowledge and research topics heretofore unknown to you? Do you create characters who are racially or socio-economically different from yourself, or do you avoid taking the risks inherent in that task?
     Many of the lesbian novels I read when I first came out offered me a mirror, but that mirror yielded an incomplete and somewhat distorted reflection of my realities. Within those books I found teachers, lawyers and bartenders, butch identified and femme leaning characters aplenty. But it wasn’t until I discovered the work of Audre Lorde, Ann Allen Shockley, Becky Birtha, Alexis DeVeaux, and Jewelle Gomez that I found a more accurate reflection of myself. During the black power era I neither read nor heard about Langston Hughes’ and James Baldwin’s true identities. And had I known Alice Walker was family, I would have enjoyed “The Color Purple” more profoundly than I did the first time I read it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Power of Symbolism


By Nann Dunne

Recently, I watched an episode of CSI: NY that had a scene that impressed me enough to stick in my mind. In the scene setup, the character Jo, a policewoman played by Sela Ward, accompanies a female witness home. Shortly after the woman goes into her bedroom to get some clothes, Jo calls out a question to her. When the woman doesn’t answer, Jo walks to the bedroom door. She sees the woman’s legs on the floor past the end of the bed. Jo draws her gun and slips into the room. She gets punched in the face, and the gun drops from her hand. Fade out. 

Fade in. Jo is lying on the living room floor, regaining awareness. A man, the serial rapist her unit has been pursuing, forces her to her feet, beats her with his fists, and slams her against a wall mirror. She falls to the floor, bleeding and barely conscious. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Moving Parts


By Kate McLachlan

            I had my first attack of penis envy at the age of nine.  Steve was ten and John was eleven.  Mom was visiting the doctor (just about the only time she ever left the house) regarding the imminent birth of her ninth child.  Granny was in charge, and my older brothers and I had taken advantage of the inadequate supervision to indulge in a lively game of strip poker.
            We didn’t really know how to play poker, but stripping was easy.  It didn’t take long before we were prancing buck naked across the boys’ room.
            I’d seen penises before, of course.  I had three younger brothers as well as the two older ones. Escaping the bathtub to run around the house, screaming and soaking wet, was a favorite activity of the little boys. The sight of a penis was nothing new to me.      

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Piracy: Is There an Upside?

By Vicki Stevenson

 Ouch

            People are selling my books and collecting money for them, and I’m not getting my piece of the pie.  The books are not theirs to sell.  Selling something that doesn’t belong to you is unlawful.  Case closed, right?  Well … maybe.
            There’s a little wrinkle to this.  A few online entities now provide free copies of lots of books and ask for a voluntary donation to enable them to carry on.  So they aren’t actually selling my books, they’re providing free copies.  It’s kind of the reverse of the popular bug killer, the Roach Hotel (“roaches check in, but they never check out!”): books are checked out, but they’re never checked in.  It’s a strange twist on the public library system.  And it makes you stop and think.

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Undelivered Speech

By Renee Bess

     This past September 6 marked the beginning of my eighth year of retirement from the School District of Philadelphia. During these last seven years I’ve missed the camaraderie of some of my former colleagues and the seconds of magic I used to see when my students experienced their “aha” moments, but I do not regret having left the classroom.
     I like to think I’ve used these seven years well. I’ve become a volunteer at a local hospital, continued attending water aerobics classes twice a week, visited all sorts of places of historical and cultural interest, served on the Board of Directors of the Golden Crown Literary Society, and written four novels. There are tons of activities I want to explore, more books I want to write, an Atlas full of places to which I want to travel, an untold number of people I want to meet and talk with, and so many facts, information, and skills I hope to learn.