Sunday, November 30, 2008

Now that the boxes are gone, we finally got around to unwrapping our art, in the hopes of adding some character to our walls. Some of the finds were like unwrapping old friends. Others...

Had our taste simply changed in nine months? Or was it that distance made us look twice at some of the things we thought we loved? We said things like, "how could we have picked THAT frame?" Or, "Honey, um, do you still like this?" Thankfully, we were on the same page with almost every piece.

I started thinking how it's a lot like our manuscripts. We LOVE them when they're hot off our computers, but thank goodness we know enough to put them aside for a time, then go back and take another look. A re-vision. Time may seem like an eternity while we put things aside, but it's well worth the wait.

Thank goodness for time. Thank goodness for revision. And thank goodness for those REALLY objective eyes of fabulous critique group writers!! More on that in another post!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's the day before Thanksgiving. I started the day almost jumping through the roof of my car as an almost-ex-crow fell out of the tree above me, right onto my windshield. The day improved when I got to watch amazing 2nd graders in Pilgrim outfits, then hugged my son through a very painful finger procedure. But the best was volunteering at St. Monica's annual feed and clothe the hungry and homeless.

The photo shows the Boutique room BEFORE over 1000 fed and joy-filled people got to shop for warm clothes, sleeping bags, ponchos and toiletries. I was going to post the picture with me in it, but it's not about me. There was the man who was sober three days, whose eyes twinkled more than a kid's Christmas morning. There was the young guy sporting new shoes, because he had just received birthday money from his mom and his feet were no longer cold. There was the overwhelming feeling of gratitude for a slice of turkey, a piece of pie, and a few hours of respect. I am humbled, grateful for my blessings, and grateful I got to volunteer again this year.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 21, 2008

I've had a lot of comments on my acting pix, and thought about an interesting connection to writing. I promise I'll get there in a sec. When you think of acting, you may get mental images of young Hollywood in rehab or who's got the, ego. Personally, I think it's all about heart. You'v got to not only love the art, but love the process. With acting, there's the challenge of nailing a character somebody else wrote, then finding all those nuances that only you can bring to that character. There's the challenge of connecting with the other actors and connecting with the audience (if it's live).


Everything. First, you've got to love the process. Next, maybe because of my acting background, I write from the heart, and I write from character. Hunh? Bascially, in my first drafts I can't plot myself out of a paper bag. THANK GOODNESS for first drafts! If you've got character, you know what makes their heart've got voice. So write from the heart - the plot will follow. It may be several revisions later, but it will come, so trust your heart.
I'm baaa-aaack! In the past week, I've gained a new understanding of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. We supposedly moved back home, but this week our house has been inhabited by not only box sculptures, but all kinds of creatures...painters, plumbers, electricians, contractors, TV installation people, phone people (they come from a VERY different world!) name it, they've been here.

This afternoon is the first moment my dog and I have been alone (soon to change, as more workmen are due shortly), and my feelings of unsettledness are on guard, but shifting. As I sit at my finally-connected computer (how is it possible that Verizon is still in business?!) in MY WRITING SPACE, looking at the BLOOMING plants we watered diligently during construction, I am grateful for change, and grateful for growth. I hope that, once the dust settles, I'll discover that change and growth have found their way into not only my garden, but my writing as well. A few more boxes to unpack, then back to manuscripts!!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Pack your way to a better novel

We're moving soon, so our house looks like what I imagine Costco's back room to look like...except with less stuff. ..and less cool stuff. We have box sculptures everywhere, and the constant cry of "who has the packing tape?" echoes through our emptying rooms.

As I was packing, I practiced the new family motto of "if you haven't used it in a year, send it to Goodwill". As my packing pile diminished, I felt the way I do when I revise a manuscript - elated that I was getting to the core of what makes me tick, with a few interesting things left that make me who I am. Who can get rid of the mini chattering teeth (I use them for school visits because one of my poems mentions dentures, and hey, they're fun!). And what about the paperweights that say "believe"? Gotta keep those. But life is definitely too short to wear those cute shoes that kill my feet.

With a manuscript, I love the freedom of that first 'throw it on the wall' draft. But then the real craft starts. I weed out the tangents that don't move the story forward, keep the details that make my characters who they are. Too much that's NOT needed takes our focus away from what we really need. Unlike Goodwill, if I throw out something I end up needing later, it's only a saved revision away!

Back to packing!

Saturday, November 8, 2008


I've been Regional Advisor, along with Edie Pagliasotti (she's as fun as her name!) since 2000, and I still say this region rocks! Joan Charles, Jane Smith and their team put on an amazing Illustrator's Day today. Art directors, illustrators, stories from the trenches, great tips, and contests with REALLY FABULOUS prizes (like postcards of the winner's art to send out) helped to make it an inspirational day for all of us, writers and illustrators alike.

For more info on upcoming events in the tri-regions of Los Angeles, stay plugged into

Come and be inspired!