Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Sometimes the Writing Life Isn't Glamorous

I always chuckle when I meet someone new and tell them I am a writer. Everyone thinks it's glamorous and surely must be better than what they are doing. However, I assure you, while it is a nice dream to pursue and makes for interesting conversation, it's not always flashy and fun.

For example, today I spent about an hour tracking submissions sitting in electronic limbo for the past month. Before that, I checked my author email account, deleted a bunch of spam and weeded through my latest collection of messages from Writer's Digest. Then I sat in front of my computer screen for about half an hour facing the blank page of death while I racked my sleep-addled brain to come up with something creative to blog about. (At least I was comfortable in my uncomfortableness, since I'm still in my skull and cherry pajamas.)

It seems with the entrance of spring and 90 degree weather in Dallas I have lost my blogging mojo, which cracks me up, since I really have never experienced serious writer's block before. Maybe, it will reappear if I close my eyes and tap my ruby-slippered heels and start a new mantra: There's nothing better than blogging, or I could just pray I get whisked away by a spring tornado into an alternate universe where my blogging is caught up for the week, the laundry is done, my bathroom has magically cleaned itself, and the library doesn't charge me past due fees for books I've returned on time. I'm not holding my breath on that last wish.

After I finish up here, I am working on a new short story. It's a plot I've been pursuing for the past year. What is reality? Is it what we believe in our minds? What if a character had a nervous breakdown witnessed by another person? What would that look like? Originally, I created a housewife with a husband who traveled. Her relationship is an unhealthy one and on her husband's latest trip for work she mentally breaks down. She thinks an art mask is talking to her on the wall. The mask channels her husband's horrible personality. For some reason, my writing wasn't flowing organically. The plot felt forced.

I put it aside for about 6 months and recently came back to this idea, but it's morphed into a completely different story. I now have a taxidermied cat, a divorced mother, and an angry preteen boy. It's working well and I've been enjoying the experience, though the last five pages took a dark sinister turn I hadn't been expecting. I hope to write the final scene this afternoon before my husband comes home from work. Wish me luck!

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What's in a Blog Name?

If my muse, Wendy Wench, had her way, my blog would be named: The Author, Wendy Wench, but I vetoed that. Instead, I thought about what subject my new blog covered and  researched other writing blogs to find out what titles were already used. I never want to be a secondhand inspiration! This is good advice for all bloggers, in my opinion.

After careful research, I realized all my ideas were taken and I had to come up with something original. I looked to my collection of art and books for inspiration and focused on the image you see featured here on my blog. It's a gargoyle and not a demon, but if I were a demon, I'd have that angry mug.

I also brainstormed about writing and remembered how overlooked the pencil is today. The pencil is like the little brother you don't want to admit you're related to growing up. It's the ugly duckling of the writing field. No one ever chooses a pencil,  if they can write in pen. When typewriters became affordable for public use, then pens fell by the wayside. And today most people prefer their computers or phones. No one ever uses a pencil, unless they're taking a standardized test. I feel kind of sorry for the pencil. I remember when I was in grade school and collectible pencils with charms and scented erasures were in fashion. What ever happened to the pencil?

So in homage to my early grade school days when we were forbidden to write in pen and could only use pencil, I came up with: The Demon Stole My Pencil.

There's a tiny demon out there that stole my pencil in an attempt to silence me and keep me from sharing my stories with you. Little did he know I own a keyboard of my own and a mugful of pens that make a good paperweight on my breakfast bar beside the phone. I have backup *grins*

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What Are You Reading Between the Covers? - #17

Another week or so of late night reading for me. And I have three books to share with you. The first two are installments in Richelle Mead's succubus series featuring Georgia Kincaid and the last one is a historical novel about Mary Queen of Scots.

I enjoy Richelle Mead's Georgia Kincaid series. I recommend it to anyone who hasn't read them. The third book, Succubus Dreams, has a delicious plot and a shocker I could not believe. I won't give anything away. Georgia is being preyed upon by a supernatural creature that steals her energy in her dreams. This being masks itself by fulfilling Georgina's deepest wish to have a child, sending her the most beautiful dreams of a family she knows she can never have. It's a good one.

But the fourth book in the series, Succubus Heat, is my favorite story so far. In Succubus Heat, Georgia is sent by Jerome, her demon manager, to discourage a group of satanic misfits from giving Satan bad press. Their antics in the book made me chuckle. Jerome is kidnapped and all the immortals lose their powers, which causes Georgina to contemplate life without her succubus powers. Georgina scrambles to find Jerome before another demon can be appointed to her district. Mead is just as snarky and witty in this novel as all the previous ones. There's a plot twist that's quite juicy as well, but I won't give anything away. It ties in with what happened previously in Succubus Dreams. And an old character reappears.  Highly entertaining. I would not miss reading this one!

After two succubus stories in a row, I switched to historical novels for a bit of a change. I read The Queen's Own Fool, written by Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris, the story of Mary Queen of Scots told from her Fool, Nicola's, perspective. Nicola is a well-written character with a loyal heart. The politics in this story are intriguing, as history usually is. This was a quick read and I recommend it.

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Acoma Sky City in New Mexico

Acoma Sky City in New Mexico is the perfect scenic inspiration for your writing. For me I can imagine writing a science fiction story set in the village or even a fantasy piece with a village modeled after Sky City. I hope it inspires you to write.

The Acoma's Sky City in New Mexico, is just sixty miles west of Albuquerque. The village is open to everyone. There is an admission fee and a camera fee, but as you will see from my pictures, the camera fee is well worth it. However, no photography of the Acoma people living there is permitted without their permission. You also cannot photograph inside the church or the cemetery, but there is plenty for you to take in and enjoy. You can view the rules and etiquette for visiting the native village here:


People live on the mesa here year round and with no running water, sewer, or electricity. It is amazing how resourceful and ingenious the Acoma tribe is.

Sky City rests regally on a bluff 367 feet above the ground. The Acoma people have lived in North America since 1150 A.D. Their land stretches roughly 432,000 miles. Today they still carry on their pottery and tribal traditions, offering us all a view into their special world. Sky City is the oldest inhabited village in the U.S.

I concur with the official site guidelines to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Also, bring water. The dry heat is misleading. With little humidity, you won't think it's really hot, until the heat sickness sneaks up on you. And sunscreen. I cannot stress that one enough. There are not many shade trees to hide under in New Mexico.

Here are a few of the panoramic views you will see on the way to Sky City and also from the bluffs of Sky City. They are stunning! Sky City gives you a sense of ancient grace. You can feel it surrounding you as you walk through the village. You will see the vibrant blue sky that is a signature of New Mexico. I have not edited the color in these pictures at all. It's phenomenal!

These are a few of the village shots.

This is the church mission bell. The Spanish settlers built the church in 1629. The church is a historical beauty, but no photography is allowed inside. You will have to go see it for yourself. It is worth the visit. The cemetery is directly outside the church as well. It overlooks a scenic bluff. An amazing place to spend all of eternity. You could not get closer to the ancient gods if you tried.

After the tour, you are offered the opportunity to use the same cliff side steps the Acoma used. It is very steep and not for those with serious health problems. The steps are not carved into the bluffs; they are natural rock indentations and shelves used as footholds and handholds. I made the trek myself and cannot imagine toting my children and belongings and food up and down the bluff. Some of the footholds and handholds are quite far apart. It is a good workout. I was grateful to reach the tour bus. You can certainly see how well defended the Acoma people were. (Until the Spanish came, of course. They will tell you on the tour of the hard times the Spanish had with the terrain and the Acoma people.)

For more history on the village and the area check here:



You can read a more detailed history of the area here:



For information on tour rates, hours, and camera permits check here:


As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Petroglyph National Monument - Early Writings in Albuquerque, New Mexico

petroglyph (ˈpɛtrəˌɡlɪf) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]
a drawing or carving on rock, esp a prehistoric one
[C19: via French from Greek petra stone + gluphē carving]
In 2005, I met my husband who lived in Albuquerque, NM. On one of my visits before I moved there, we went to Petroglyphs National Monument.

If you are traveling through Albuquerque, definitely make time to stop. You only have to pay for parking and the scenery is unbelievable. There is so much wide-open space and the bluest sky I have ever seen. I really felt like I was back in the Old West. I could actually picture the native peoples riding across the landscape as I hiked the mesas. It was like being in a novel!

The hike is strenuous at times. Take some water and sunscreen with you. You are out on the mesas and it is not always an easy climb to view and photograph the petroglyphs up close.

And beware of rattlesnakes! I heard one rattling around while we hiked, but never saw one. They sun themselves on the mesas. This sign amused me to no end and terrified my mother back home in Wisconsin who is afraid of snakes.

There are over 24,000 petroglyphs recorded. If you go to the visitor's center, they will give you a map of the most popular ones and you can hunt them out yourself.

Most of the glyphs were made by the Navajo, the Pueblo, and the Apache people 300 to 700 years ago. Others were created by Spanish settlers 200 to 300 years ago. The meaning of some has been lost, but many still hold spiritual significance to the modern tribes in the area.

Most are easily identifiable as plants, animals, and people, but some are not. They are not always easy to photograph either. It depends on the weather and the time of day, as I soon found out on my hike.

These are a few of the petroglyphs I photographed:

As I was leaving after my first visit, a wicked thunderstorm brewed on the mesa and high winds kicked up the sand from the scrub lands. The air crackled with electricity as we rushed down the mesa to our car just before the rain came pouring down -- very dramatic!

The petroglyphs and the mesas are two of the things I miss most about living in Albuquerque. I had a national treasure literally in my own backyard. The park was a short drive from home and we used to hike with our pet lizards quite frequently. There are many pictures of my husband, myself, and our two bearded dragons in tourist photo albums somewhere. New Mexico is truly The Land of Enchantment!

As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dallas Museum of Art - Great Writing Inspiration

Yesterday, I visited The Dallas Museum of Art for their Native American exhibit, which is spectacular and worth the $10. If you're in the area, you should check it out. Unfortunately, they wouldn't allow photography.

However, I did manage to take several photographs of downtown Dallas and other pieces in the art museum. It was an inspirational visit. I will be checking books out of the library regarding Japanese, Hindu, and Native American gods and goddesses very soon. I'd like to highlight some of them in my upcoming stories.

If you're looking for something new to write about, I'm sure you can find your muse at your own local museums. And if not, well, you can enjoy my photographs here. Perhaps, they will give you an idea for your own stories.






















As always, happy writing and happy reading to all!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

What Are You Reading Between the Covers? - #16

This review is long overdue. I always thought I could work through anything, but a death in the family has taken a toll on me in the past week. Three books to discuss today -- Richelle Mead's Succubus on Top, A Line of Cutting Women edited by Beverly Mcfarland, Margarita Donnelly, Micki Reaman, Teri Mae Rutledge, et al., and The Queen's Governess by Karen Harper.

I reread Richelle Mead's second book in the Georgia Kincaid series. It'd been awhile since I read the first one. Like many series, I waited for the new books to come out and then got distracted, but was pleased that there are a bunch of books for me to catch up on. The second book was just as entertaining as I remembered it. Georgia Kincaid is a succubus with a romantic dilemma; she's in love with a human and can't be intimate with him for fear of killing him. In this story, Georgia sets out to discover the source of a new drug her friend and coworker, Doug is hooked on. She gets more than she bargained for and that's all I will say. I'm not a book spoiler! Mead also created a misfit bunch of angels and other characters in the series, which are highly entertaining. I recommend this book and the rest of the series, if you like paranormal romances.

I switched gears drastically after the paranormal romance and dove into A Line of Cutting Women, a collection of short stories written by women that greatly moved me. The short stories cover all topics of womanhood, including the harsh ones like rape. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Woman's Studies. It is a gem.

There were a few stories that stuck with me after I finished the collection. One was Linda Hogan's Crow, which deals with the topic of aging and being alone. That story was followed by Sandra Scofield's Loving Leo, a tale of an elderly woman still holding on to her indepence. Shirley Sikes also contributed a memorable story, Falling off the Matterhorn, about a woman coming to terms with terminal breast cancer. It touched me because my mother is a 24-year survivor of breast cancer. It brought back painful memories for me of being thirteen and wondering if my mother was going to die - very good writing. There really were too many good stories in this collection to mention them all here, so I will leave you with one more -- Nighthawks by Carolyn Barbier. The woman in the story is a survivor of a terrible boating accident and makes the difficult decision to terminate her life support. I cried. This book is full of strong women and strong voices. I loved it!

After reading some shorts, I tuned into a historical novel, The Queen's Governness by Karen Harper. I've been on a Queen Elizabeth I kick since I watched a documentary about her a few months ago on cable. Karen Harper put many hours of research into this novel to make it as historically accurate as possible. I was surprised to learn of the discrepancies in some of the names/events that have been recorded in history. Her Author's Notes section was quite informative about her research. She did a wonderful job of detailing Queen Elizabeth's tumultuous childhood and her fight for the throne of England. This book was a wonderful read.

That's all for today.

Happy writing and happy reading to all!