Monday, November 17, 2014

Win A Free Critique from Writer and Editor Sharon Mayhew

Some of you may know the amazing Sharon Mayhew, our BLOM (blog Mom), friend, writer, and editor. She just started her own editing business and is giving away a free critique!

Sharon has critiqued my work and helped me enormously. When I struggled with the opening chapters of my novel (and we all know how important opening pages are) she gave me great advice that helped me re-look at it. This advice helped me land a lot of full requests from agents, and eventually, an offer of representation from an agent.

She has a great eye, is knowledgeable about the industry, and has sat on both sides of the slush pile. She's always so thoughtful, smart and kind with her feedback.  If you're looking for an editor, I highly recommend working with her.

More about Sharon's decision to start editing can be found here.

More about her services can be found here.

To win a free critique, please comment on this post by November 24th.

The winner will receive the choice of the first 250 words of a picture book critique/line edits, the first seven pages of a novel critique/line edits or a query critique/line edits.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Seeing



At my new writing desk, in its new room, I sit one window east of where my old desk used to be. I'm closer to the sill and the glass is cold. Now that the leaves are falling away, I begin to see a small piece of Manhattan's skyline. From this window, the Freedom Tower is just out of view. But I know it's there because one window west, at my old writing space, it is.

Tonight, I relish in the new view, in it's new angle. I am an impatient writer. I don't always like the pace I write at, which is to say, slow. In the month of November, everyone ticking away words, I feel especially less-than. But in the past few weeks, nothing worked, and I had to stop myself from soldiering on the cluttered path. I became slower than a slow writer. I became a writer who didn't write at all.

And it was exactly what I needed.

I cleared away some of the doubt and smudge and, this week, I returned to a story I had been working on. 

I had crowded a character with too many competing plots and I thought I was the grand puppet master. I thought I could bend anyone and anything to my will. I thought, I was the storyteller. Ha. Ha. 

Once I let all this go, I realized that she, alone, knows her story. I stand up to the microphone, make my introduction, swing my arm out in grand gesture, and say, take it away.

Holy smokes. She has a lot to say. 

I'm finally listening. I'm finally seeing what's been there all along. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea


A few weeks ago, we spent a weekend away in Maryland, and I walked with Tyler's Aunt. We talked about the miles Little O's stroller must log. We talked about my elusive writing 'career'. She asked if I had read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's Gift From the Sea. I hadn't. And so, she loaned me a small book, so love-worn, it had been broken in two. The pages smelled of must and old furniture and, like many old books, its pages hadn't faded, but instead deepened, to a rich, sandy brown.

Not my usual fare, this inspirational essay. I don't always love books of grand proclamations or extended metaphors. And yet...

It's a book from 1955 about being a mother. Or a woman. Or a person. Or one.  It's a book of quiet but astute observations and questions. Of being whole and of being half. A book written far before the simple movement of today and, perhaps, representing it better. It's about the sea's gift. A shell.  Its polished, or unpolished, or barnacled, outer un-gleam. Its true center, our true center, found alone.

I'm not doing a good job of explaining it. But it exists and hundreds of thousands, according to the course, creased, jacket copy, have found solace in it. 

I did too.

I'll share my favorite piece of it. It starts with a quote I've heard many times. But where it goes is far more interesting than the oft-repeated line. I have always dreamed awake, in the very late night, have always felt compelled to stir in the dark. Maybe now, I better understand why.

... good communication is stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. Before we sleep we go out again into the night. We walk up the beach under the stars. And when we are tired of walking, we lie flat on the sand under a bowl of stars. We feel stretched, expanded to take in their compass. They pour into us until we are filled with stars, up to the brim.

This is what one thirsts for, I realize, after the smallness of the day, of work, of details, of intimacy -- even of communication, one thirsts for the magnitude and universality of a night full of stars, pouring into one like a fresh tide.

And then at last, from the immensity of interstellar space, we swing down to a particular beach. We walk back to the lights of the cottage glowing from the dark mist of trees. Small, safe, warm and welcoming, we recognize our pin-point human match-light against the mammoth chaos of the dark. Back again to our good child's sleep. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Celebrating Lenny Lee!





Today a bunch of us in blog land are celebrating the incredible Lenny Lee who turns the big 1-5.

To Lenny, my birthday 'twin', (yes, I am honored to share my own birthday with him) I hope this year is as special as you are.

I send you a bright, happy, orange-pumpkin-spooked-out-cow birthday wish. I'm so lucky to call you a friend.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Puzzle



These days, I sit uncomfortably with the blank page, shifting in my hard-backed seat, taking the laptop to the bed, balancing it on my knees. I sigh. I let my gaze wander, toward the clock, the window and the light of the streetlamp, broken into orange-streaked pieces by the bamboo shades. I delete more than I write. This is possible. To erase the words before letting them find their way. 

There are books in piles on my nightstand, on the floor, stacked in the too-stuffed bookshelves, each bookmarked somewhere in the middle. They are as restless as I am, as unfinished as the stories that sit in my journals and hard-drives, in my heart and head. 

I scold myself, I tell myself, I am losing time. I am losing so much time. I'll waste a whole life. Never tell a single story, never share it, never see it on a shelf or in a store. So obsessed with how I spend my late-night hours, how I waste them, staring into space, writing nothing but sketches I erase, rip up, and I begin to hate myself, sick of and angry for being less-than. Than what? Than who I expect to be.

In the day time, I sit on the floor with Little O and his wooden puzzles. In one, the pieces are set behind little closed doors. There's a cookie jar door and when you flip it open, there's a puzzle piece of cookies. There's an oven and, inside, a turkey piece. I flip them open. He smacks them closed.

At first, he does not understand how to use his finger, how to guide it toward the hole, to open each door. He only knows how to slam it when I open it. Over and over again, smacking it shut, so the little door hinges rattle closed. Look, I say. Look. But no. He does not want the puzzle piece. He does not want to see what is inside. Again and again, he slaps it shut and waits for the next moment he can smack it back in place.

Yesterday, I did not want to sit with the smacking pieces. I set him down. I walked away. 

I found him, moments later, with an open door, a cookie piece in his hand. He marveled at the piece, had this way of lifting his arm and hands like a child with a slow paper airplane woosh, arm up, gaze up, and I marveled at him, at his first instinct to take what he has finally found to the sky.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Space Of Our Own


I've missed this space in recent months. I miss how it fills me up and allow me to share my words/myself and meet so many amazing readers and writers.

This is the only place I can share my words, who I am, and who I wish to be without harsh judgement. Maybe others judge in private, in which case, that is fine with me. They move on. They stop reading. I never know.

Though it has never happened to me, some might judge in public. And if they did, I would simply delete their harsh words right off this page. It's my space, after all. But trolls ... they don't seem to come here. I thank them for staying away.  

I choose what I wish to write about. What the border looks like. The template. The photos. I choose the books and writers I want to read and celebrate. There's no editorial calendar. No one waits with a deadline and a finger wag. There are no request for revisions or stamp, stomp, DENIED.

No one tells me my words aren't funny enough or commercial enough or interesting enough. (And, hooboy, I know I've written some posts that have been real doozies.) Though I've tried not to, I've probably said stupid or uninformed things throughout the years. But I own them. They are mine.

My revelation, today -- and it answers a question others have asked me, a question I've asked myself, why do you bother? why do you blog? -- is that there is no other writing space in the world where this is the case. Maybe a journal but, with a journal, there's no opportunity for someone to whisper, or maybe shout, yes or me too or I understand or I don't or have you seen it this way? and it opens my eyes to how you and I fit together in this world, whether we're linking arms or laughing or nodding or wondering or pointing one another toward a new understanding.

This isn't me signing off, it's me signing in. Maybe it's the glop of love hormones from baby boy, but it's me saying thank you for reading my words and for letting me read yours. In this small corner of the universe, we have a space that is all ours. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brooklyn Bridge


I found this miniature Brooklyn Bridge along the sidewalk yesterday.

It made me happy to stand above it and look down.