Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Thanks to all of the Sparkfest and Platform-Building Campaigners who have stopped by to say hello. That's been really wonderful. I love meeting new people here.

While I was out visiting new blogs this week I found this perfect AWARD that I want to share with some bloggers I've been in touch with and who deserve to be followed because they write some wonderful posts.  So here's the ONE TO FOLLOW award for:

Bish Denham (She shares such beautiful memories of her childhood that I feel I know her.)
MPax (A science fiction writer with some great posts about the possibilities in the future.)
Lyn Nerd (She cracks me up with her zany blog. Anyone who can make me laugh should be followed. IMHO)
Kelly Pollark (Vivacious, beautiful AND a family girl. I value family, so I wanted Kelly to get this one.)
Shelly Koon (I've just met her, but she loves the kinds of books I do, so I wanted to give her this.)

Hope you'll stop by these blogs and say hello and enjoy them as much as I have.

I'm in the middle of my garden harvest and if you've visited before you know that means I'm likely to go overboard about vegetables soon. Last year I did a whole series on PAIRING books with food. This year I'm not sure what I'll do, but it will definitely link my love of the literary with my love of fresh, seasonal foods.

Look out! As September approaches, I'm all about food.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sunday Special

This has been one full week for me as a blogger. Those of you who stop in know I usually blog on Mondays and Thursdays with an occasional SPECIAL post. This week I think I've posted every single day!!!!! Well you know why. I'm in SparkBlogfest and I've joined the Platform Building Campaign over at RACH WRITES . Why not? Well, to give you a break and follow though with a promise, I'm posting this super Sunday Special about Paul Siegell, poet. Hope you enjoy.

It’s all about the Wordplay
In poetry most would agree that there are two categories of poet:  1) the green poet fresh as the new day, who’s trying to establish his voice, and 2) the poet that has been canonised from here to the end of Mardi Gras and who has his own section in every Best Poetry collection known to man.  However, every now and again you get a poet that just doesn’t fit in either of those categories, someone who has the experience of a seasoned veteran but all the nuance of an untapped talent.

Thus Paul Siegell.  This is a man who takes words with a grain of salt and sees more potential in their shape and arc than in their actual meaning.  However, he’s managed to create meaning with the little details in words and give them so much more power, more room to breathe.  Speaking with him, you wouldn’t think him more than a jam band fanatic who just so happens to write every once in a while.  But get a pen in his hand and he sees shapes and sounds in a way that’s rare to find in poetry these days.

I described Paul as a poetry superhero.  He swooped in on the wings of the letter “K” and landed down and gave the world something magical with his lyricism.  But his humility is more powerful than the S on Superman’s chest.  His work has redefined the genre, literally giving poetry shape and movement with his collections Poemergency Room and jambandbootleg; however, here we have a man who doesn’t readily acknowledge or actually believe that he’s done more than push himself linguistically and spatially.  When asked how long he knew he wanted to change the world, he simply chuckled and said, “No world changing here.”  

Before his work kicked in poetry’s steel-lined door, Paul was a student studying at the University of Pittsburgh.  His sophomore year he attended a PHiSH concert in Philadelphia and came back with swooning and crooning affection for poetry, birthed in the emotions of the crowd as it listened to its favourite jam band, “[It was] the audience.  I hadn’t even written a single poem, but I knew that reaching that audience through poetry was something I felt I wanted to attempt to accomplish.”  His desire to move the crowd pushed him to make his poetry do something, physically move a crowd or the page.  With that he found himself in a smallish Intro to Poetry class, lecturer Jeff Oaks at the helm.

Never to rest on his laurels, Paul fully immersed himself in poetry, submitting his work to such publications as The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and 5AM Magazine.  However, it was a rejection from Painted Bride Quarterly that saw him get his first sniff of the work behind getting poetry the exposure it deserves:  

Best rejection letter ever!  An old Pitt roommate of mine, Andrew “Goose” Gussman, became friends with a PBQ (Painted Bride Quarterly) editor on the New York staff and Goose told her about me, so she invited me to submit. This was June 2007. A few weeks later I get this email:

‘We loved the ambition/spectacle/extravagance of the way you experiment with form, but ultimately decided to pass on the poems you sent.  (You should know we talked about your work for a long time—It stimulated lots of debate among our New York crew). 

That said, I have an invitation for you.  Any interest in joining the Philly staff and reading poems for us?’


From there Paul landed gigs at The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News as a copywriter in the marketing department (a job he’s held for the past four years).  But that hasn’t slowed his creative juices from churning away in his guts.

While in his cubicle, in fact, he found inspiration for his latest release, wild life rifle fire:  

It was the morning after the long Labor Day weekend, with me seeking that wrestle and peace of writing something well, and I looked up on a weirdness: I had “ZOOM IN” typed in Helvetica on my screen, a headline for some ad at my marketing department job.  I increased the point size a bit but I went too far and it was too much for the margins and then Word broke the line to reveal: “ZOO / M IN.”  Cue eureka. (Animals in captivity + zooming in makes something larger, but this says minimize.)  I fell in love immediately and that, as if a meditation, would become the first page of the book.  (Side note: the Disco Biscuits’ “Digital Buddha” was playing when all that happened)

He has a love of jam bands and hip-hop, Legos and Led Zeppelin.  He’s a man of so many contrasting interests and intelligences that his work is nothing short of a marvel and a miracle.  He’s got the intellect of a philosoph with the street smarts of an MC.  But what most impressed me about Paul, beyond his work, was his desire to simply become better at a craft that he may have single-handedly brought to a new level entirely.  

He is also a lover of life and takes every moment that he can to learn something new about himself and about his work.  A poet never stops learning, never stops creating.  Paul Siegell is the epitome of someone who’s always seeking forward motion, a means to move and expand:

One of the pages in wild life rifle fire reads: “poem / could”.  Every time I encounter and engage my poetry I do so with the desire to see what a Poem can do, and what else I can do with words to craft another poem.  Every time I write another poem, I hope to give my poetry another definition.  Something else that guides me is a quote by Octavio Paz: “Crear para ver.”  It means, “Create in order to see.”  Every time I consider that insight everything inside me says, YES!!!  If you ask me if I write for a purpose, I’d say that I’ve really just been concentrating on writing with purpose. 

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I give you the indefatigable and indescribable Paul Siegell.  You can find him at ReVeLeR @ eYeLeVeL or his FaceBook page or you can peep some of his work at his Goodreads page.

Camiele White’s film appetite is second only to her love of the literary.  As a BA expat from the University of Pittsburgh, she learned that words have a power that far exceeds even the almighty pen.  She has a desire to absorb as much of the literary and cinematic as possible.  As a means to drink up as much as she can, she promotes the hell out of Theatrical Costumes.  If you want to engage in a little conversation (at your own risk) she can be reached by clicking on the link above.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Special

There are Sparks everywhere at Christine Tyler's SparkBlogfest. I loved this post about critique partners over at Jeigh's blog. Where would we be without those wonderful beta readers who care about writing and care about their writing partners. Mine are incredible: Mel Higgins  and Yvonne V(check her out on Twitter @YvonneVentresca) Here's another thanks to you for all your help.

You might check out Angela Cothran Live to Write...Edit When Necessary for some her Sparks. They are great books to add to your reading list. And then go over to Theresa Milstein's Substitute Teacher's Saga for some summer reading suggestions.

As to what Sparked my interest in writing, I've already told everyone in my first post, but the Spark that's kept me writing is just as important. Books that kept me going: Poisonwood Bible, The Way We Were and anything by Kingsolver. There are others, but these always pop into my head when I think of books that moved me and made me want to write more.

Just because I don't want any grass growing under my feet-- know cliche alert, but get over it for just this one time, please. RACH WRITES has a wonderful blog hop going on to build your platform. Come on board and meet some new writers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday--A Wee Bit Early for The Spark

My SPARK was Alice in Wonderland.

When I was about seven I wanted to climb into those pages and follow that white rabbit just as Alice did. Since that wasn't possible I started creating my own worlds and climbing into those instead. I still have the book that I read when I was seven and every once in a while I read a passage or two. I'm never disappointed, and I never cease to have a wonderland experience that reminds me why I write stories.

"The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down what seemed to be a very deep well."

And so the journey begins . . . again and again and again. And each time I'm so ready for it and for the Mad Hatter and the hedgehog and the Queen of Hearts.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday Special with the Third Writers Platform Building Campaign

Jumping into the Platform-Building Campaign along with a lot of other writers. Should be fun, so if you're a writer with a book to talk about and you want to talk about other people's books too, here's where you sign up.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Miscellany

Appreciation is wonderful. Kelly Hathaway, a very fine writer ( DASH, published this year.) just gave me an award, and I'm so proud.  Now I'm passing it on to some bloggers I APPRECIATE.  I hope they'll continue the appreciation by:

*thanking the giver and linking back to the blogger who gave it to them.
*revealing their top 5 picks and letting them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
*copying and pasting the award on their blog.
*having faith that their followers will spread the love to other bloggers.
* . . . And most of all - having bloggity-blog fun.

Here are my bloggers.

Deb Marshall
Julie Musil
Marcia Hoehne
Mel Higgins
Darby Karchut

I have so many more that I want to give this to. Next time!

Miscellany involves, well, miscellany, so here it is.

I took a few days away to 1) reconnect with my family & friends who are often neglected during writing bouts. Here we are at the Concourse in Pebble Beach. Not buying--just looking.

2) soak up the sun and sometimes the fog that sneaks in along the coast of northern CA in the summer.

 3) HIKE! That's just about the best thing on this earth to do as far as I'm concerned. You see things that you can't see any other way.

What suggestions do you have for those times when you've finished a project that's isolated you for a time and you want to recharge and reconnect?  See you on Thursday when I post again! This time it will be to join the Sparkfest.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday-Notes

Notes, those lovely words you read and tuck away with the cards you can't bear to part with. I've got tons of them and I love to take them out and re-read them. They're a kind of a journal that let's me remember the times I've shared with others or the gifts I've given and the pleasure of that exchange--a gift, a note, a bond between people.

I wrote that in response to this blog called Out On A Limb. Please stop over there for a visit. She has some wonderful posts. I loved what she had to say about the courtesy of writing notes, and I'd like to
expand on that a little.

I've always given gifts to the children in our family: birthdays, Christmas, graduation whatever.  Some have always sent cards to say thanks and include a little appreciation for the gift. Some haven't. In fact, I often didn't know if the gift had ever been received. Once or twice I asked and got, "Oh yeah. We got it. It was really nice."

"Really?" I said to that space behind my eyeballs. "That would have been nice to know."

I thought maybe I was being grumpy or out of step with how things work now, but I don't think so. I think there's something in common courtesy that cuts across generations and should be respected. Not only does a short note--or even a phone call--let the giver know the gift is safely in the person's hands, but it also establishes communication. Without that is there a family? Are there friends? I hasten to add that all of my friends send notes. 100% of them. And, fortunately, it's just a few members of my family that seem to think it's not important.

After I started thinking about this topic (Thank you, Out On A Limb.) I decided that while courtesy and communication are two important parts to thank you notes, recalling memories is another. When I read some of the notes my grandmother sent or my mom, I can return to that moment when I gave them something and they enjoyed it. Their words bring a bit of them and that other time back to me.

Are notes a part of your family/friend tradition? How do you feel about writing them or receiving them?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Miscellany

     Yesterday was one of my milestone days. I wrote "The End" to my fourth YA novel and sent if off to one of my readers. As I got up from my desk I heard a voice.
     "Now what?"
     "What is that supposed to mean?" I asked, dusting my desk, finding overdue bills and crumbs from that cheesecake snack last week.
     I got a smirk in response.
     By that afternoon you couldn't recognize this place. The laundry pile was GONE! Windows sparkly! Floors . . . you could see them. There was nothing stacked here and there.
   "Now what?"
   Where was that annoying guy, anyway?
   Who cared?
   I was off to the garden, or where the garden would be if the weeds were gone. And they were by five o'clock. Just in time too.
     Because that's when I remembered the promise I'd made last week--the one where I'd make this super deluxe gourmet meal just as soon as I finished my last chapter. Gourmet meant actually thinking of something gourmet ish; it meant actually going to the market, then finding those pans at the back of the cupboard and remembering the difference between sautéing and frying, how to carmelize . . . those kinds of technical cooking type things I used to do automatically before . . . novel writing.
     As I fell into bed and closed my eyes, self-satisfied and full of chicken cordon bleu, I heard, "Now what?"
     What do you do after you've wrapped up your year/six-month/however-long writing project? Do you find all of those hours free from writing a luxury? A challenge? Something that worries you because at this moment you've accomplished a goal and now have to set a new one?
    What's your answer to, "Now what?"
    As for me: After I finish my Monday Miscellany post, I'm off to town this morning. I've got some strolling to do and some books to buy at my local Indie, and then there's the library meeting tonight and the website update and Twitter and facebook. The review I wrote last month should be put up on Goodreads. My lists of agents and publishers need updating and I want to visit a few hundred blogs to say hi to friends. Oh, and that project I started a few years ago and never finished, that blockbuster-surefire-gold star winning book about the kid who's in all kinds of trouble . . . that has to be dug out of my C: drive and  . . . .


Thursday, August 11, 2011

In the Throes of Thursday--Social Media

Social Media is has become such  a big part of the writing life and in a very short time. At first it was daunting to me, now it's as if I've always Tweeted, commented on fb, done reviews on Goodreads. How quickly we adapt. I guess we have to if we are writing books and hoping someone will read them.

What I've found is that as I connect with people, there are some that become a part of my Media Life and stay there. Some I wish lived next door. Others come and go. Some I can't relate to.

I've been amazed at how personalities come across the distance in the words people choose, in the way they respond to posts or comments and in the subjects they write about.

Jane Friedman posted The Secret to Twitter and verified what I'd suspected all along. You can't pretend to be who you aren't. You have to be yourself and that means not everyone is going to like you, but a lot will.

So thanks to all of you stop by and stay connected.  I appreciate you a lot and the ones who are my regulars are the ones I visit all the time. We're a diverse group, but interesting and I never would have met any of you without Social Media.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday Miscellany-Writer Slump

Sometimes words don't work the way I want them to. I line them up in the order that my native speaker intuition and Mr. Strunk says is correct, but those nouns and verbs lie there--flat, dull, pedestrian. Once in a while a cliche creeps in. That's when I know it's time to refresh my brain. Luckily my body goes along with plan.

Here's what they manage to do together when they're on a writing break.

They take a walk along of coast in the morning

They're awed by feather-petals.   

They admire Bliss, dancing in San Francisco.
And with that, the body carries the mind back to the desk and the writing continues--words juicier and plumb, plot more sparkly and characters that don't just walk through the story. How do you recharge? What helps you out of a writing slump?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Sunday Special--WestSide Authors Love Realistic Young Adult Stories

Yes, we WestSide authors do love stories that are about what teens deal with in their lives. Sometimes we tell about the funny side of those school years or we dig deep and reveal the darker experiences. Our stories are out there so young readers can connect with our characters, so they can understand others have gone through many of the same things as they have. We're saying, "You're not alone."

This is week #2 of a Sunday Special Series, featuring WestSide authors and their books. Today I'm featuring CHANGE OF HEART by Shari Maurer. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

In a world where the most stressful thing seems to be winning a soccer game or what to wear in the morning, you take some really basic things for granted.
Like the love of your parents.
Or hanging with your friends.
Or the beating of your heart.

When you’re 16 years old, it never occurs to you that you might die. Emmi Miller’s got a fabulous life. She has tons of friends, does great in school and is an all-star soccer player who played in Europe last summer. It even looks like Sam Hunter, a totally cute baseball player, might be interested in her. And then she gets a virus. No biggy, right? Until the virus goes to her heart and weakens it so much that, without a transplant, Emmi will die.
Will Emmi get a heart in time?  Is Sam too good to be true?  What about her new friend Abe, who has also had a transplant and guides her through these scary times — is he just being supportive or is there more going on between them?  And will Emmi realize it before it’s too late?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born the day after Valentine’s Day, Shari Maurer’s life has always been full of “heart.”  Married to a cardiologist, she is the co-author of The Parent’s Guide to Children’s Congenital Heart Defects.  After graduating from Duke University and NYU, she spent six years at the Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) working on International versions of Sesame Street and other kids’ programs.  She currently writes a "Moms Talk" column for the on-line newspaper, the New City Patch. Shari lives in New City, NY with her husband Mat and their children, Lissie, Josh and Eric.  Change of Heart is her first young adult novel.

When researching Change of Heart, I spoke to many transplant recipients. In addition, my husband cares for people waiting for transplant and there is a big organ shortage and long waits. We are encouraging everyone to register to be an organ donor (may you never need it!). To find out more about the procedure in your state, go to
Please find me on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks Shari for being here. BE SURE TO BUY SHARI'S BOOK. Change of Heart can be found at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

In The Throes of Thursday--Storytelling

I love to hear stories told out loud and I love to be read stories, don't you? While I was in Northern California driving through the wee towns and across the open high dessert, I stopped at places that were perfect for storytelling. Here's one.

Gerlach is home to Burning Man--one of most challenging outward bound events anyone has ever created. Want to know more about this? Here's the BEST DESCRIPTION I've read. It makes me want to clean up my bike and go for the ride across that 107 degree dessert.

 There has to be a scene in my next story about a water tower.

Here's downtown Gerlach. I wanted to buy the carved moose that was in the front yard, but the car said no. Guess I'll have to create a story about that moose and how much it called to me that day. 

Do you have places that turn you into a storyteller or make you yearn for the stories they have tucked inside them? I have one more of these places to share and I'll do it next week on Monday Miscellany. Hope to see you there because it's an interesting story and there's something really special about it. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday Miscellany-What I Did on my Summer Vacation

One thing you can't accuse me of is repeating places I visit. Amsterdam last month, northern California the next. I know. I know. As someone said, "The only reasons for ending up in the northeast corner of California is you got lost or your car broke down."

Well, that's just not our case. We love the area and the openness of the place.  Here's a little bit of what it's like. I wish I could have taken pictures of the stars. I stayed outside at night as long as I could and tried to soak in the universe they're part of.

 Major highway at peak traffic.
(The sound was the wind and nothing else until I clicked my camera.)

 A Lumber Mill Sawdust Burner. 
(This was important before pressboard was invented.)

 Goose Lake Tourist Season
(My own kind of Moor. There's mist in the mornings and boggy ground and sky.)

 The Social Center
(I want to put characters here and hear them talk.)

(I want to use this in a story.)

First Christian Church
(If I ever write a book that has a quaint church, this will be the picture I use to describe it.)

We all have our favorite places to get away. You've just seen one of mine. Where's yours? Where do you recharge?