Thursday, May 28, 2009


I've finally caved and I'm allowing my almost 11-year old daughter read the book, Twilight. Most of her friends read this book earlier this school year--at the beginning of fifth grade. At the time, I felt the subject matter--some of which touches on teen love/lust/relationships was too mature for my daughter. But because she's worked so hard this year, has gotten exceptional grades, etc., and because she's matured a little, I felt giving her the book was just reward. She's thrilled and is devouring the book. I'm reading along with her and my jury is still out on the writing thus far. If I don't like it I probably won't say anything here (If you don't have anything nice to say....). I wouldn't want to come off as another jilted, unpublished writer throwing sour grapes at someone who has achieved success. I wish Stephanie Meyer more succes, actually. Good for her!
So with the Twilight book in the house I thought about my own "twilight" experience. I awakened this morning and just before I became fully awake, when I was in what I call my "twilight" sleep, several new ideas popped into my head for some characters in my book. I feel refreshed and energized--ready to work hard and forge ahead on my book.

This "twilight" sleep has always been helpful to me and my writing. I often get (what I feel are) my best ideas during these first few, hazy moments of the new day. The entire premise for this current WIP came during twilight sleep. I used to dismiss this time and the thoughts that arose during it. Now I find I become more conscious of my thoughts/feelings/ideas and I try, best as I can, to let go and let my mind wander. It's a wonderful experience and one I've learned to embrace as a writer.

What about you other writers out there--do you experience anything like my "twilight sleep"? And if so, what's it like for you?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Blue Skies Smiling at Me

This is the kind of day I imagine inspired these lyrics when Irving Berlin wrote them way back in the 1920's. I'm posting some pics here to prove that yes, there are some days here in northeast Ohio when there's nary a cloud in the sky and the treetops meld into the blue background to look like paintings I (we all) made as a child. It was such a spectacular day here I just had to go out with my friend and hit the links. So when friends and family wonder why my book rewrite has stalled and I seem to be lured away from my computer, here are some reasons.

This picture on the right is my family's favorite spot in the summer. And here are some more pics taken from this favorite spot:

Any other writers out there struggling with writing while spring awakens and school draws to an end??? What do you all do to stay on track?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Time I'm Showing and Telling

This first picture is of the crabapple tree right outside our living room window. We love that it fills the window and almost looks like a picture when you're sitting in our living room, but I have to confess and tell you that our dog sits on the couch to stare out that particular window, and is the one who sees it the most. Oh well. The second picture is of the completed bookshelves (my husband's job is half way done!). Since I've put "work in progress" pictures on the blog, he asked that I put one up of the finished product. Please excuse the mess in front! I'm still moving things around.
This week I came across two articles about writing that resonated with me. One is from the June '09 edition of The Writer. The article begins on p.15 and was written by Richard Goodman. It's entitled, "No book yet? Don't lose heart." In it he speaks to those of us who've yet to have their books published, and I found the article inspirational and encouraging. I'm doing most of the things Mr. Goodman did before he made his way in the publishing world, so perhaps I'm on the right path. One place our journeys differ, however, is where he says he always considered himself a writer--even though he'd never had anything published. For some reason, I still grapple with that label. I wish I could embrace it as he did. I'm trying hard to learn that lesson and accept the description, "writer." Guess he had more self-confidence than I.
The second article was on the last page of this Sunday's New York Times Book Review in the Essay section. It was written by Lori Gottlieb and she speaks to writers and the issue of writing about family. She cites several examples of writer's mothers and how they handled being mentioned or even demonized in their children's writing. This is definitely an issue for me, although I have no burning desire to write about my family or mother, per se, much less demonize them. I have to admit, though, my parents are always in the back of my mind when I write--even this blog, which my mother does happen by every once in a while. Fortunately, she hasn't figured out how to leave a comment. ;o) Guess I'll have to continue evading her request for help teach her how to do it. I wish I could block them from my mind when I write, but this is a challenge for me. Ann Lamott says, "Write as though your parents are dead." Good advice, but difficult for me to follow. Maybe it's because I'm the oldest child and still want their approval. Who knows? I just appreciated Ms. Gottlieb's article and found comfort in the fact I am not alone when it comes to this issue. I also liked reading how some of those mothers handled seeing all or pieces of themselves in publication. Some handled it better than others, for sure. I'm not sure where my own mother would fall, and I may never know because she flat out made the request: "Please don't ever write a memoir." Trust me, even if I did pen a memoir, it wouldn't sell because we've led pretty mundane and "normal" lives. There's really not much to tell, so she has nothing to worry about. And it's not only mothers and fathers who worry. I just had something published and when my husband read it he said, "No one's going to think this about you and me, are they?" Who knows? Who cares? I think some of my best writing comes from the deepest, most honest part of my self, and often that part is rooted in my childhood. So no, I probably won't ever write a memoir, but I may write a story and have a family sitting around a large sheet of plywood draped with a tablecloth as substitute for the dining room table. The uncle in the story may have had too much to drink that Thanksgiving and when someone asks if he can please pass the bread, he'll throw a roll at them from the other end of the table and my mom will know where I got that idea. I hope it will make her smile rather than wince.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Spring is Here!

Aside from the colorful blooms that pop their heads up from the ground after a long winter's hibernation, and the green leaves that wave at us from the trees, the return of the mallards is our favorite sign of spring's return. We've only lived in northeast Ohio for three years but these ducks have come into our back yard ever since. I guess I buy tasty bird food (black oil sunflower seeds, for anyone who's interested). For the past couple of years we've had just one couple. We think they've spread the word about our good eats because now we have this menage a trois. They--along with the other couple--come every day once in the morning and again in the evening. I had to call the Lake Erie Science Center last week because the male from the first couple has something wrong with his leg. He limps around and "wing walks" across my yard. The "duck expert" with whom I spoke at the center said she'll help fix his leg if I can just get him in there. It can be done, (or so she says...) so I'm going to give it a try. After speaking with her I came away with some knowledge I'll share with any duck lovers out there.
Mallards, unlike Canadian geese, do not necessarily mate for life. If the same ducks gather back at the same breeding grounds, they most likely hook up with the same partner they've mated with in the past, but it's not a given.
The female mallard lays an egg a day until she has her "clutch" of 8 to 12 eggs. Then she sits on the nest around the clock, maybe leaving to eat for a short period of time, but returning to the nest quickly.
Mallards do return to their usual nesting grounds, so it's likely some of these ducks are the same ones who've been coming to our yard these past three years.
Once he's "done his job", the male is not really needed by the female. She sits on the nest and then takes care of the babies once they're born.
Who knew female mallards were some of nature's single moms?