I’m Published!!

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Yesterday I had an article of mine published on The Mighty’s website. If you aren’t familiar with the site read this for  a full explanation of who they are and who they represent. If you are familiar with them, then you already know how amazing their content is and why I feel so honored to be a contributor for them now.

I would absolutely love it, and you, if you would take the time to go over and read the article if you haven’t already. As a writer with a book on the horizon, it is imperative that I build a platform for my work. The more readers I have, the more likes and follows, all of these add to my platform and will help me out in the long run.

The edits on my book are nearly finished and I will be submitting them to an agent. If all goes well, the changes will be accepted and she will take me on as a client. The story on The Mighty is just one of the many parts of my bigger story, my book, He’s Not Broken.

Stick with me guys. I have a lot to say. If I play my cards right, then maybe one day I’ll be able to meet my supporters in person on book tours. It’s a dream of mine.

If you have a moment, please head on over to The Mighty and check out my piece on Tourette Syndrome.

Acting Out

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As I was knee-deep in edits today, my flow came to a screeching halt when I was faced with a particularly difficult passage. It was difficult on two accounts. First, it recounted a very emotional day in my life during a time when I was beginning to realize that something was different about Jake.  And secondly, a beta-reader made a note that said the writing didn’t necessarily convey what I had hoped it did.

After reading the passage again, I realized what she meant. The behaviors that I highlighted weren’t strictly those of a child who was exhibiting signs of a deeper issue other than being frustrated. She asked me to consider rewriting so that the reader gets a clear picture that something more is going on.

Determined to write a stronger passage, I settled in and readied my hands at the keyboard. And I sat. And I revisited that day in my head. And I sat some more. That’s when it dawned on me that it was time to bust out my jazz hands – that is, to act out the passage as if it was a scene from a movie with me being Jake.

So I stood up and imagined a wall of choices in front of me. I am five years old. I have to make a decision. There are too many choices. I have to pick one. But what if I pick the wrong one? What if there’s a better one? Out of character, I noticed that I was pacing the floor. Okay, that’s a visual to add. I knew I was onto something.

I just needed to act it out – to feel physically what Jake was feeling emotionally so that I could help the reader visualize Jake’s mental state.

I went back under. So many kits to choose from. So many choices. What if I choose the wrong one? I let that phrase loop in my head until I felt my body tighten and my arms pull close to my sides. I imagined my eyes darting nervously from one kit to another. I feel pressure. I feel an internal tension that causes me to start breathing heavily. It’s too much. I feel like I might explode. I have to decide. My mom is waiting. I have to pick. She tells me to just pick a fun one. But which one is the most fun? Is it that one? Or this one?

It’s just a science kit she says thinking that will make it easier. But what she doesn’t understand is that my mind is stuck. And I am stuck in my mind.

I feel tears start to come and I know that I have it. By allowing myself to act it out, feel the emotions and notice how my body reacted, I am closer to knowing how Jake must have felt at that time. By moving and paying attention to how I’m moving, I can now write it down.

I want my book to read like a movie. I want the visual cues to be so spot-on that the reader can create the scenes in her mind. So I sit down and paint the scene word by word. And cut. Act 2, Scene 1 done.

Tomorrow I will tackle another scene and just like Mr. Sondheim wrote bit by bit I will complete my book.

Art isn’t easy
Even when you’re hot
Advancing art is easy
Financing it is not
A vision’s just a vision if it’s only in your head
If no one gets to hear it, it’s as good as dead
It has to come to life
Bit by bit, putting it together
Piece by piece, only way to make a work of art
Every moment makes a contribution
Every little detail plays a part
Having just a vision’s no solution
Everything depends on execution
Putting it together, that’s what counts

-From Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sunday in the Park with George

Character Soundtracks

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Me listening to one of my character soundtracks

Music moves me. I’ve always imagined my life as having a soundtrack playing in the background. Seriously. I’m sure it’s just a result of my being an 80’s mixtape kid combined with my former career in music store management. Whatever it is, it’s still hanging on even though record stores and the 80’s are long gone.

When I’m working on a novel, I have a habit of creating a soundtrack for my characters. When I am writing that character, I listen to her music to get into her head. It really helps. Plus it’s fun to figure out exactly what kind of music my character would listen to. I’ve found some very interesting songs researching my books.

As an audiophile it just makes sense to me that my character would be defined by her music choices. And for me it’s the lyrics. The type of music is not as important as the sentiment. On any given playlist you could find Johnny Cash alongside My Chemical Romance. It just depends on the character and the character’s mood.

It’s hard to write a novel and not write parts of yourself into it. So my characters will always reference music and use it as a way to process parts of their lives, give voice to their emotions. It’s very natural for me.

If you’d like to hear one of my character soundtracks and you happen to be on Spotify (which I highly recommend) here’s a link to a playlist I created for a character in one of my books. I won’t give you a character analysis, but you might just get a peek into another world if you listen to Anna’s music.

 

 

Writer’s Block

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View from the ranch at Texas Writer’s Retreat

Writer’s block. We’ve all experienced it, and chances are we will again. But just remember, it’s a block, not a wall. Blocks can be jumped over, moved, or built upon.

While attending (that seems such a formal word for such casual, intimate gathering of writers) the Texas Writer’s Retreat a week ago, I had the opportunity to get to know John Grogan, author of international bestseller Marley & Me, and The Longest Trip Home. I’m always surprised when I meet  people who have a certain celebrity status because, more often than not, they are just normal people – well as normal as writer’s can be. 🙂 And John was no different. Very down to earth and full of great stories.

Over several dinners and glasses of wine, John shared some of his insights on writing. He encouraged us all to read an essay in The New Yorker by John McPhee, Draft No. 4. The essay gives a great tip for dealing with writer’s block. I won’t spoil it here because it’s well worth the read.

More than anything, just keep writing.

 

 

Master Magicians

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Where the magic happened

As I go through my notes from The Texas Writer’s Retreat I’m finding all kinds of gems. The one that really hit home today was from Joe Clifford’s session on setting.

“We trade the magic to learn how to create the illusion.” -Joe Clifford

As young readers, we found ourselves escaping into various worlds created by our favorite authors. Narnia. Camelot. Middle-earth. We walked through fantasy lands in search of nothing more than adventure and story.

As we discovered our own words, and began to believe that our stories were worth telling, we found ourselves reading the same books again, only this time we were searching for something more, something hidden between the lines that stained the page, the visions that bloomed in our minds. Instead of asking who, what, where or when, we toyed with why, and how.

We wanted to understand how the author got from point A to point B, and why he chose either point to begin with. We started to dissect the stories, stripping away the colorful layers of adjectives, exposing the veins with actions coursing through them, and studying the organs, both minor and major so that we could understand the anatomy of the story. And in doing so, we began to hone our craft, and create our own magic.

Perhaps the only magician we have is the artist. -Anais Nin

We are master magicians. Page performers. Word wizards.  It’s who we are. It’s what we do.

 

I’m off to cast a spell on some unsuspecting characters now.

Peace,

Ginger

 

Texas Writer’s Retreat 2017

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Last week I attended my very first writer’s retreat. It was very intimate and included sessions with literary agent Elizabeth Kracht, and authors Joe Clifford and John Grogan. Other retreats will be hard-pressed to live up to the Texas Writer’s Retreat at Pine Creek Ranch.

One of the first sessions was with Joe Clifford, author of December Boys, Junkie Love and Lamentation, to name a few. He focused on the importance of knowing the setting in order to create truth in your writing. The details will then give verisimilitude to your work.

He challenged us to create a piece using the setting of the ranch. Here’s mine:

Go Big or Go Home

I am sitting on the floor of a quaint Texas ranch house decorated in the finest Asia has to offer. Above Panasonic, the god of TV, sits an ornately carved statue of Buddha guarded by two Chinese dragons. Each wall offers an escape into another world. Hanging wooden masks seem to poke their heads through the veils of time and space merging two unlikely cultures. A bull’s filigreed skull hangs above the doors exiting to the front porch reminding me that I am in Texas.

Once outside the sound of a distant gunshot announces the symphony of late afternoon birds trilling alongside the chuffing of the resident horses, and the chirping of the crickets that lie hidden among the pines. A naked oak dips her moss covered limbs to me in the whispering breeze—an invitation to be here now. I feel an urgency take hold of me – an aching to let this peace soak into my pores—a repository for the days to come.

I close my eyes and I am nowhere and everywhere at the same time. This moment is a big piece of a small part of me that has been crying out for a place to belong. I am embraced by my tribe, both human and wooden.

If Texas is a place where everything is bigger, I must be colossal. The tree soaked landscape surrounds me and yet I tower above it all. I am a tall tale waiting to be told. I am big and I am home.

Stay tuned for more writing tips, and stories from the retreat.

D.E.A.R. Universe

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D.E.A.R. Universe,

You mysterious thing, you! Just when I begin to think things will never get better, you gently push me over the edge.

And while I’m free-falling, kicking and screaming, you whisper, “Open your eyes. Open your eyes and see.”

“What?” I scream. “I’m looking and all that’s there is a whole lot of empty space, which I happen to be currently falling through at warp speed. A little help please!!”

“You’re doing it wrong.”

“I’m doing it wr – wait, seriously? Now you’re critiquing my death plummet? Nice.”

“Stop looking.”

“God, I’m so confused. Confused and DYING! First, you want me to look. Now, you want me to stop looking?”

“YES!”

“Care to elaborate while I flail helplessly through space?”

“See.”

“No, I don’t see! Please just –”

“Stop looking. And see.”

“Looking. Seeing. Same. Freaking. Thing.”

“No, it’s not.”

“Ok, I’ll bite. Not much else to do as I fly dying.”

“You’ve always looked. All your life. Looking for love — ”

“In all the wrong places. Get it? Oh, never mind.”

“Looking for answers. Looking for God. But if you never see, then any looking you have done will be in vain.”

“I don’t get it.”

“And you never will until you stop looking. You look around you now and you see ’empty space’. Looking is a quick action, a surface scan, if you will. If I gave you a flower right now, like this -”

And just like that I’m holding a daisy, which is quite appropriate since I’ll be pushing them up soon.

“Hey, if you can manifest a daisy, you think maybe you might manage to conjure up a parachute, or at least a field of pillows?”

“Yes, you identify the flower as a daisy by looking. But –”

“I’m guessing that’s a no on the parachute.”

“But now I want you to see the flower. Go beyond the surface. What do you see?”

“It’s white. It’s soft. Looks like a star…oh, wow, I never noticed the center, it looks like smaller yellow flowers, more stars. And the pattern is so perfect.”

“You’re still falling, you know.”

“Oh crap! Yeah, there’s that.”

“But you forgot. That you were falling.”

“We aren’t really talking about daisies anymore are we?”

“No, we’re not. You’ve been on edge a bit lately –”

“Oh, you’re a witty one.”

“You worry and fret moment to moment and day to day. You look left and right for the right thing to do, the right way to be. What if I do it wrong? What if I make a bad decision? But you’re missing the small picture. The now. It’s time to see and be seen. You all have no idea that all the time you spend looking for this and that, could be spent on seeing what’s all around you. Close your eyes.”

“Again?”

“Close your eyes.”

“Ok.”

“Now open them and tell me what you see.”

I open my eyes slowly, and in that moment, I’m no longer falling. I’m flying. And it’s the most beautiful feeling I’ve ever felt.

“What do you see?”

“Possibility. So much possibility.”

 

Thank you for being patient with me, Universe.

Love,

Ginger, the possibilitarian