Hair and a spare: things they never tell you about wigs!

Here it is, my new look.

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Let me get one thing straight from the beginning. I didn’t buy this wig entirely for cosmetic reasons or even tacky old vanity. Well, maybe a bit:)  This purchase wasn’t an attempt to me look like a beautiful 28 year old girl again. The delicate concoction of synthetic fiber and created color had a single true mission and it succeeded.

I recognized myself again.

Now, when I look in the mirror, something I ignored almost daily for five years, I see someone I’ve known all my life. Me. Not the ravaged person with the scary thin frizz and pain fried eyes. Of course, I look older, but that’s a good sign. I am still alive in spite of everything the bad guys threw at me.

All the wonderful stuff aside though, there are a few things someone should tell you about wigs. But, no one does. I can’t blame my hair dresser entirely or even my friends, since none of them wear wigs! Hell, who knows this kind of stuff? So, here’s the down and dirty truth about wigs.

Lesson One: it can be difficult to keep them on your head.

You have not lived until your wig falls into your lap when you pull off your jacket hood! I am so lucky this happened in my Jeep and not in the grocery store in front of, say, fifty people with iphones and instant access to youtube. However, the bright side is I was instantly motivated to figure out how to prevent that from EVER happening again. Turns out there are clever combs you sew into your wig. They snap down, secure the whole thing and you’re ready for the catwalk or the checkout line. These invaluable face-savers can be purchased from your wig supplier on-line. Would have been nice to know that earlier but, as I said, I was lucky.

Lesson Two:  Exposing any part of the wig to heat while taking the roast out of the oven or unloading a steamy dishwasher, results in this:

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My hair dresser’s comment was, “Oh, I forgot to tell you that.”

So, I hope she can fix these delicate threads of spun plastic. She didn’t sound optimistic, though.

Lesson Three: Always have hair and a spare-two wigs.

What important life-lessons have your learned lately?

 

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Loved One of My Inspiration

Yes, I’m still here, blog friends! I was going to do a #weekendcoffeeshare, but since the link-up is closed I’m posting this anyway. If you’re not familiar with #weekendcoffeeshare go to part time monster and investigate this fascinating phenomena. 

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If we were having coffee I would tell you this isn’t your average writer’s block. And, it’s probably going to take more than a huge jolt of java to break through the monster stall in my brain. But, thanks in advance for the listen.

The urge for words seems distant now, almost as far away as the stars, disguised by uneasiness and cloaked in acute sadness. I tell myself that I will want to write again, that I haven’t come full circle and I believe I haven’t but, I admit, this is different. This is loss of mind power, of inspiration, of physical confidence.

Some days it feels like grief, like the of loss of a love, of a family member, or a cherished animal companion. The worst of it is, I know I’ll never see the loved one of my inspiration again…at least not in it’s prior form.

Honestly though, I don’t want my creativity to return in it’s old form – not really. When you’re truly obsessed with a thing, like writing or painting, I’m not sure you can be objective enough to see what you’re doing. I know I wore the first-timer rookie blinders with every keystroke.  Perhaps I should think of this change as a new range of vision. When I begin again, my view will be a wider angle, a panorama of words, paragraphs, chapters. I’ll see the timeline of my novel clearly and watch as the story flows and weaves itself from year to year, encompassing two generations of my world and the people who live there.

There are still holes in the story line, of course. Some of them are big enough to swallow a tank, but I know where they are now. I have time to fill them or erase them completely. Now that this pesky publishing thing is no longer an issue, I can do whatever I want and write whatever I want. In a way, that’s liberating.

At this moment my mind is only fit to read other people’s novels because they have already done the hard work. I don’t have to suffer and sweat over a hot keyboard, I have only to open the pages of their hard labor and be amazed. They created these stories just for me, for my amusement and inspiration. In the next weeks and months I’ll read for enjoyment with the knowledge that among these words is the spark I need.

Read. That’s one of Stephen King’s rules for writers. And, speaking of The King, I’d love to talk to him about long medical recoveries and its effects on creativity:) Anybody have his cell number?

How is your writing adventure going?

 

Photo credit: ultrakml / Foter / CC BY

Writer’s Laryngitis

It’s rare my surly muse visits, and my writing has suffered in his absence. But, since I’ve reminded myself sucess is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, I’ve resisted the impulse to press the M key. Until now.

Alive or dead, Juan Reyes really is one of the most extraordinary characters I created. In case you don’t know, he was a videographer in my first novel. I killed him off so, in tribute to his stunning journalistic talent, good looks, irrepressible humor and selfishness, I resurrected him as my muse.

Tonight, in a gesture to the holidays, he wears new clothes, a black leather duster and broad-brimmed hat instead of his usual blood-stained fatigues. The overall effect is a bizarre combination of  western bad-guy and 1970s pimp. While I don’t comment on his clothes, I know he wouldn’t mind the comparison.Black leather jacket

Concern flickers in his eyes but, never given to sentimentality, a flirtatious grin immediately replaces worry.

“Been a long time since you summoned me,” he says, flashing his lighter and inhaling rapturously. Smoke wreaths my keyboard and while I can’t smell it, I remember the feeling.

I glance at him. He’s standing closer than usual tonight, almost within reach. Although he can’t enter the corporeal world, I have the strong feeling he wants to hug me.

“Laryngitis,” I say, turning to face him. “You know, my voice is gone.”

“Your voice sounds fine to me, but if it’s really a problem, try gargling with Jack Daniels twice a day.” In spite of his irreverent comment, he looks down at me, his dark face serious.

“Juan, I didn’t call you because…it took a while to figure out what was wrong with my book. My writer’s voice is gone, lost.”

dreadlocks 2He shakes his head, black dreads swirling over his shoulders. “I knew it was serious. I thought it was just my equipment when your words stopped coming. You put your WIP away, didn’t you?”

I nod.

“Don’t worry, girl,” Juan says, moving closer. I almost feel a rush of air as he brushes his hand over my keyboard and a single sentence appears on the monitor:

AN HONEST WRITER KNOWS WHEN TO MOVE ON.

“There’s no shame in quitting,” he whispers.  “Keep in mind the world you created will serve you well in the next novel. You have a character who’s so powerful, wise and relentless, I’m almost jealous. You’ll use him again. You have lyricism you’ll repeat while you fold it in with new inspiration.”

He crosses his arms. “When you blog about me, that’s your voice. That’s the way your world is. Remember: the definition of writer’s voice is the intangible power you use to make the reader wish he could live in your book or make him damned glad he doesn’t. It’s a sensibility; it’s like me. Always there in the background, adding all three dimensions, running like illegal software in the reader’s mind. He’s not even aware what’s happening, but you’re seducing him while he reads.”

We’re silent for a moment, and then he says, “I think we should watch a Christmas movie, don’t you?”

“Anything for you, muse. Which one did you have in mind?” I ask, my cursor hesitating over Netflix.

DIEHARD! Love all that 20th century American cursing,” he laughs.

“One of my personal favorites,” I agree and, as a young Bruce Willis fills the screen, my muse fades into the starlight of my office window.window stars

Have you ever misplaced your writer’s voice, if so, what did you do to regain it?

 

Photos: Foter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Word Men

I love my men – my written men.

Folks who know me but haven’t read my novel would be surprised at the amazing the guys who inhabit my word worlds.

So, where do these fictional men come from?

stars-thAs a romantic teenager scribbling furiously on notebook paper, a #2 pencil clutched in my fist, my written men, like the devil, assumed pleasing forms. The Disney princes come to mind. Broad shouldered and iron jawed, they appeared in scrawls of graphite, ready to save my narrow ass from the living hell of teenage metamorphosis. My first alien darling was a classic Disney derivative. He stayed in perfect stasis for decades, preserved in my imagination like Snow White, until I resurrected him with a key stroke six years ago.disney_cartoon_characters_series_snow_white_2_3330

I found my unearthly fantasy all grown up, a struggling and battered man, who, in spite of slavery and torment, prevailed and flourished in my first novel. Of course, he had not lost his glamour but he had gained intelligence and developed something critically important in a man – a sense of irony and humor.

In the same novel he was joined by a human, a driven man of questionable morals. Filled with ambition and recklessness, this character was selfish and unpredictable. He broke hearts without a thought and threw his trusting protégée in harm’s way to save his own skin. But, somehow I made it impossible for the reader to hold that against him for long.

Only a writer can manipulate life this way!

And now, my written men have changed again. They aren’t always gorgeous loving men or even sassy bad boys. gentaSome of them are scary, glowering killers. Their behavior isn’t always decent or conventional. They vacillate from assassin to philosopher, from murderer to rescuer. But, it works.

Over the years, I’ve learned that, testosterone or estrogen aside, the brains of men and women are surprisingly similar. I can describe the world from a man’s point of view because, as humans (or humanoids :)) we have the same needs and desires. We have the same willingness to test the deep water and the same fear of getting wet.

But, that being said, I still have a lot to learn. I’m sure my husband would agree.

 

Who are your written men and women? How did they evolve in your storytelling?

Warrior: Foter

Snow White and her prince: Freepix

 

 

First Draft Finale

fireworks 2Update: July 20th, 2014

As I emerge from off the radar isolation, I have good news! Finally, my first draft is complete. Revision here I come. And, this time, I have plenty of room to expand the plot, build the world, and lavish love on my characters.

Also, while taking a break, I (with the patient help of my niece) opened Dropbox my PC, and now all of my writing is available on each of my devices. Not exciting to those of you who have used Dropbox for years, but for me it’s a reassuring new treasure.

Oh, and I started a new book. While my sister, niece and I were playing tourist in Nederland, CO, I gravitated to the local and regional book section in Nature’s Own. House of Rain – Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest by Craig Childs levitated off the shelf into my hands. Its subject will serve as invaluable inspiration during revision, but its writing has already given me an unobtainable but wonderful goal to strive for. Mr. Childs’ prose is so beautiful and lyrical, I was riveted from the first paragraph. It’s not often a book really impresses me, but I’m recommending it twenty pages in.

My off the radar time has been productive, to say the least. Maybe I should do it more often.

How about you? If you have some time off, what do you plan to do with it?

Photo: Foter

Muse Humor

Juan Reyes leans in the doorway of my cluttered office. specter-2

smoke-1-2He gestures at the Word file on my screen while extracting a pack of Marlboros from the pocket of his camera vest.

“I don’t want to alarm you, girl, but this may be one of the worst chapters you have ever written,” he says, lighting his imaginary cigarette.

“No smoking in here, muse,” I snarl.

“I don’t have time for this kind of nonsense,” he says, ignoring my icy stare.  “You’re making me look bad, lady. This is the second time in two months I’ve had to stop by. If you don’t pull yourself together, I’ll be reassigned to the Sunny Sarasota Retirement Home inspiring the Silver Sneakers crowd or, worse, I’ll be riding herd over budding artists at Little Tykes Fun Fiesta. You know I’m not fond of kids.”

“You never had kids,” I snap. “They are highly creative. It’s possible you might really enjoy them.”

He nods, smiling that seductive evil-dead smile. How could I, someone who struggles to scribble a single coherent paragraph, have written such a tantalizing creature?

“Point taken. However, their creativity differs from that of adults in one profoundly important way.”

I glare at him. “Which is?”laughter

“Children haven’t lost their sense of humor, my beautiful writer.” Juan folds his arms over his vest, covering the laser burns on the fabric. I did kill him off in my first novel, but he has returned as my muse and alternately infuriates or inspires me.

You’ve lost it, babe,” he says, shaking his head. “The humor you had in the first novel is too well-hidden in this second story.”

I sniff, insulted but intrigued. “Yes. You’re right. I’m just having a hard time making murder, drug lords, and slavery funny.”

He laughs, white teeth flashing in his brown face. “There were plenty of terrible misfortunes in your first book and somehow we made the readers laugh.  For God’s sake, have you forgotten everything I taught you? Humor is essential in this kind of  fiction. It can’t be taken seriously. Think of Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip. A man tries to kill his wife by pushing her off a cruise ship, for crying out loud. But she lives to torment him.  Even a  grim book like Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War has humor or at least irony. Your POV character is too, too serious. Of course, her situation is dire, but she is still capable of sarcasm, if you allow it. Turn her loose. She can banter with the best, heap on derision, look death in the eye and laugh.”sarcasm

He thumps his chest and a puff of smoke rises from the bullet hole over his pocket. “Until the day you re-shirted me, I was one  sarcastic sexy bastard. Remember how humor makes a book sing? Hell, even The Stand had its moments. How about Randall Flagg’s classical reference to Sympathy for the Devil?” Juan chuckles, brushing back his dreads. “OK, that was only in the mini-series but it made you laugh out loud.”

“Yeah,” I mutter. “Naomi is too serious. Maybe because she’s older than my usual characters. Oh god, am I falling prey to ageist stereotypes?”

“Naw. She’s still hot in an obsessive workaholic paleo-archaeologist a kind of way.” Juan grins down at me, perching on the edge of my desk. “Listen, when you had me fired and disgraced by the biggest news outlet on Earth did you let it get me down? Hell, no, you had me laugh in the face of failure, and it made me a great character.”

As his gorgeous Cheshire cat smile fades, I return to my chapter. Time for a rewrite. This chapter only.  He was right about humor – he’s always right.

 

How important is humor in your writing? How do you make your readers smile?

 

Photos from Foter

 

 

 

 

Sharpies and Quill Pens

Thanks to Kirsten at http//ascenicroute.wordpress.com/ for inspiring my own visits with the muse.

orionOrion is tilting in the sky, creeping to the west, heralding spring. In a month, our planet will lean toward the Milky Way gifting those of us who live in dry, high climates the most gorgeous views of the stars from Earth.

However, my life has leaned away from the starry sky of writing, tilting toward life’s situations, spinning its own story.

My sometime muse, Juan Reyes, perches on the end of my desk, holding the fifth chapter of my current novel between thumb and forefinger like a piece of literary road kill.

“I suppose you hold me responsible for this mess?” he asks, winking at me.

He’s wearing the same clothes he wore the day of his death, the day I red-shirted him in my first novel with a bullet hole over the left breast pocket and sonic flame thrower burns down the front of his camera vest. His waist-length dreads are gathered at his neck with a silver clip. The high cheek bones of an Aztec priest and the confident grin of a talented, if dead, cosmic videographer still amaze me – I wrote this gorgeous creature.

I sniff. “Well, what do you think? You wandered off on some damned galactic vision quest, leaving me alone and look what happened.”

 He lights a cigarette, inhales deeply and smiles in my direction. I can almost smell the smoke.

smoke-1-2“My poor writer,” he whispers, his warm brown eyes glowing. “You just need a little jolt of enthusiasm, don’t you?”

Juan reaches over me and sweeps his hand across my computer screen leaving a swirl of  sparks in his wake. I glare at him.Juan's Hand

“Don’t short out this monitor with some vain attempt to enter the corporeal world,” I shout.  “It’s an iMac; it cost a fortune!”

He smiles the dark smile that broke hearts all over the universe as he shakes his head. “You twenty-first century writers  think this overpriced, slick equipment is going to mine the creative recesses of your brains. Much better authors than you wrote with quill pens, pencils, or Sharpies. They didn’t allow distractions to get in their way,  and they didn’t allow their personal lives to stop them.” His eyes glint at me and the edges of his body haze –  a sure sign he’s leaving.

“You made the choice, my writer, ” he says.  “You made the choice to concentrate on your life. Sometimes humans have to work the cards they’re dealt, but that means you have to look harder for inspiration. It is everywhere: in the imagination of friends, in the eyes of strangers, in the night sky. You just have to take the time and the courage to look.”

Juan blows me a kiss as the stars begin to glow through his body. “And, don’t forget, http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ is just around the corner. I’ll be sending you short bursts of inspiration, 21-cm wavelengths from the stars , but you’ll have to be alert and ready to receive them.”

I grab the nearest paper and stubby pencil and scribble for a few minutes. When I look up again, he’s gone. But, I know he’ll be back, sooner than later. And I’ll be ready.

How do you find your way back from life on Earth to the realms of writing?

Photos from Foter, art from Clkr.