Thursday, March 31, 2011

I Won a Pot O' Gold!

As mentioned in previous post, my birthday week was a week for winning. Along with the two books, I was surprised to be the recipient of a Pot O' Gold blog award from my good friend Rob, The Middle Grade Ninja.
The Pot-O-Gold Blogger Award is the brain(child)pot of blogger Christie Wright Wild whose blog you can find here.

If you are the Lucky recipient of the award, here is what you do: 
  1. Say thank you to the person who gave it to you. (Thanks, Rob)
  2. Write a post and include the image of the award, a link to the person's blog who gave it to you, and a link to my blog, WRITE WILD. (Copy and paste the rules in your post.) (Done)
  3. Award four bloggers this award and tell why each is a Pot-O-Gold! (If you receive this award more than once, you only have to forward it the first time.) (See below)
  4. Share four simple things about yourself: 1-a time you had to exercise FAITH, 2-something you HOPE for, 3-something (or someone) you LOVE, and 4-a time when you felt LUCK. (see below)
Here are my Pot-O-Gold bloggers:

My wife, Marie. (She has not one blog but three!) Every Day is a Miracle is a mix of our family doings and all other things--books, movies, politics, religion, politics and religion--that take her fancy (She has strong opinions!) She's also a great book reviewer, as you can see at her book blog, Marie's Book Garden.

Matthew MacNish/Matt Rush of 'The Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment.' Matt started his blog to, in his words, "help other novice writers avoid the mistakes I made in the beginning of my road to publication." His posts are always informative and/or amusing, and he amazingly seems to reply personally to each of his commenters!

Lisa Ricard Claro of Lisa Ricard Claro--Writing in the Buff. I met Lisa through the late lamented Microfiction Monday. Like all of the above, she's a great and entertaining writer, and has started a new meme, Book Blurb Friday, which unfortunately I've not yet had the time/creative energy to tackle.

Dan Ogilvie of DanPloy. Another Microfiction Monday friend, Dan is an Englishman living in Thailand. He calls it a "diary" rather than a blog, but his observations are always funny and trenchant. (Recently, on a trip to the U.S., he describes running across an eight lane highway in search of "some choice of menu other than toppings on a salmonella ridden donkey burger," and doing his "best Sebastian Coe impersonation, (as the athlete, not the smug Conservative git he is now)." His microfictions were always a hoot, too.

And now for me:

FAITH: Its biggest test was when my eldest was born 14 years ago at only 24-weeks gestation and weighing 1 pound six ounces. (He is now a witty, talented, and only mildly truculent teenager, going into high school in September.)

HOPE: Beyond the usual desire for a cessation of global hostilies, the perennial and never-ending hope is to one day see my words within the covers of a bound book (so the e-book revolution will have to stall for a bit, if you please.)

LOVE & LUCK: I'm combining these two. I was everlastingly lucky to live in Japan as the same time as my wife, and to fall in love with her there. She has been my best friend and supporter for the past 24 years (almost 21 of them married.) Every day with her is a miracle of joy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Do Like to Be Beside the Seaside

Yes, indeed. Imagine that tune playing as you read along. We spent a glorious, and not too rainy week, on the Oregon Coast, courtesy of my in-laws who built their beach house a couple of decades ago.

And what a week it was. (If you are interested in me as a person and not only as a mere dangerous writer who looks like a typewriter, you can check up on our goings-on on my wife's blog, Every Day is a Miracle.)

First, I got to take a siesta on my birthday. It made me want to be Spanish. Then, there were the myriad celebrations of me. There was also lots of reading, and the writing came pouring out.

Is it just me, or does sea air do something to the writing brain? As well as increasing the word count on my WIP, I wrote two new short stories!!

Here's my question for you, dear readers: Do you write more freely when away from home? And where do you find your muse is most frisky: the beach, the mountains, Las Vegas?

Postscript of joy: When I got home I found I'd won two blog contests. One, at Shannon Messenger's, for a

copy of Brandon Mull's A World Without Heroes (Beyonders) and the other at Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents' blog for a copy of Lisa and Laura Roecker's The Liar Society

Now, in honor of the pink-wigged girl, I have to change my typewriter avatar to this:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Break

I mentioned at the beginning of March that this was not going to be a frenetic blogging month. One of the major reasons is that Spring Break happens this week. The kids are out of school and we are packing up to spend a week at the beach.

My wife's parents have a beach house just a wee bit north of Tillamook. (You may have come across the cheese or the ice cream; it's big-time dairy country.) Usually we go there three or four times during the year and stay for a couple of days. But this year we decided to husband our pennies and spend the whole week there instead of Canada (two years ago) or Seattle (last year.)

The house is two blocks from the ocean. It doesn't have a phone, or computer connections. So it's off the grid, as far as blogging is concerned. Of course, I will take my laptop, and I hope to get some writing done. The sea breeze always seems to bring out the best from my inner writer (and I am constantly gifted with story ideas while there.)

The only hurdle to productivity may be the old birthday celebration on March 21st. I don't have birthdays, I have birthmonths. So turning 48 will be quite a production (I hope!!)

I'll be back in town on the 28th, ready to wade into blogland once more. Till then, Welcome Spring!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Words in the Dust: A Must Read

Some books get a lot of blog "air." Nothing against them, of course. A lot of blogging is about creating community, making friends, and then going hog wild when your friends have something to celebrate.Which, come to think of it, may be where this whole "YA Mafia" thang gets some traction. (For more on the YAM, see Nathan Bransford's post last Friday, which is a summary of a summary.)

I tend to gravitate to the "quieter" books. I have a softspot for novels set outside the USA. If you want some rudimentary psychoanalysis (which I'm sure you don't, but I'm giving it to you anyway), this interest in other cultures probably stems from my being schlepped across the world as a child by my diplomat parents and living in eight different countries.

Which is a long preamble to why I'm RAVING about a book about a young girl with a cleft lip in Afghanistan. Words in the Dust is the debut of Trent Reedy, and is told from the viewpoint of Zulaikah. She is jeered at and sneered at by the local ruffians, and constantly reminded by her father's second wife that she will be lucky if anyone wants to marry her.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Missing Microfiction Monday

Almost from the beginning of this blog, one of the things I've most looked forward to each week has been the magnificent meme "Microfiction Monday" from Susan at Stony River. It's been a treat seeing the many creative minds coming up with stupendous stories prompted by one of Susan's pictures (how does she find so many great ones?) And you have to write the story in 140 characters. Talk about learning to write concisely on the fly.
Participants come from all over the world. There's a feeling of community, with familiar faces posting and commenting each week. It's like a little online family, without the angst and without having to finish your liver and onions.

But two weeks ago, Susan hinted that Microfiction Monday's days were numbered. Last year, she moved from Ireland to West Virginia and, as a single mother, took on several jobs to make ends meet. Because of her hectic work schedule, her posts became sporadic. Last week, I feared the worst when Microfiction Monday never got posted.

I refreshed and refreshed my blog, checking and hoping against hope. Then, sometime on Monday, Susan posted from her phone that W. Va had been hit by a winter storm and that she had been without power. But the week has gone by and Microfiction Monday never surfaced.

I'm really sad. Sunday afternoon just doesn't seem right without the challenge of writing a microfiction and then putting on one's Sunday best to make the round of other blogs.

And I don't quite know what to do. I'd love to help Susan, but I don't know how. Should I offer this blog as Microfiction Monday's temporary home? (Somebody else would have to supply the photos, because I'm hopeless at that.) Or should we all accept the inevitable end, sniffle into our hankies, and console each other that it was good while it lasted?

Any ideas, folks? Any thoughts? If Microfiction Monday does end, will you promise to stay in touch? (124 characters)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

WriteOnCon and Gidget the Widget

Only 156 days to go until the 2nd annual WriteOnCon. (How do I know? Because I installed a lovely new widget--I'll call her Gidget--on my blog that is counting down the seconds till we go live.)

WriteOnCon is the brainchild of a group of children's/YA writers who realized that attending conferences in the flesh can sometimes be costly and difficult. Their solution: a free online writing conference. And WriteOnCon was born.

To spread the word about this, the WriteOnConners are giving away some pretty "ooh-la-la" prizes: query and illustration critiques from some of Children's/YA's hottest agents. You can check it out and enter at their lovely website.

(I hope that staring at Gidget the Widget doesn't get too hypnotic.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Missing L.K. Madigan (1963-2011)

L.K. Madigan, the author of Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror, died on February 23rd, just weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Her friend, and fellow YA author, April Henry wrote this tribute to her on her blog.

L.K. Madigan's real name was Lisa Wolfson. The title of this blog post is deliberately ambiguous. While Lisa had many friends who miss her deeply, I missed out on knowing her at all. I knew of her but, despite her living close by in southwest Portland, and having a son at the same school (different grade) as my oldest son, our paths never crossed.

She was only 47, the same age as me. Reading her website after her death, I came across these lines in her bio. "I hope to write and publish many more books in the future … I have more story ideas than time to write them all."

Typing those words brings a lump to my throat. It is the cruel dichotomy facing the writer: we are urged by all the industry professionals to go slow, to not query until all the 'i' s are dotted and the 't' s crossed, to work and work and work writing those million words until we are ready to be published. And yet... none of us knows how much time we have left. I may have fifty years; I may have fifty minutes. The sound of "Time's winged chariot" is always in our ears. Sometimes I feel a crazy sense of urgency regarding publication, the writer's chance at immortality. What if I don't make it?

Does anyone understand this?

Lisa Wolfson left us too soon. She actually felt herself to be lucky, as twenty years previously she had survived breast cancer. And, really, we are lucky--those of you who knew her, and those of us who missed out. Because her words will live on. Her books will be read.

Every time a reader picks up one of her novels, L.K. Madigan lives.

R.I.P., Lisa.

L.K. Madigan, reading at Powell's Books

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Microfiction Monday: A Bifocal Cautionary Tale

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's the world's best meme, coming to you from Susan at Stony River. One of the highlights of a dangerous writer's week. Enjoy.

Santiago's photo was on Ana's altar as a cautionary tale. Never trust a man who's so vain he tries to woo you without wearing his bifocals. (139 characters)

I shall be away from my desk all day (going to see "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" at Portland Center Stage) so I'm posting early and will be commenting late. Looking forward to everyone's stories, and wishing you all a very happy and productive week ahead.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Craft Book of the Month: March 2011. Taking a wee break...

I think that the all-week party took it out of me, folks.

Know just how you feel, mate

So, for March, I'm going to take a break from my "Craft Book of the Month." March is shaping up to be a busy month, with my birthday on the 21st and Spring Break, which we are planning to spend at the Oregon Coast. Not much extra time for reading, although I am interested in two recent books: Larry Brooks's Story Engineering and John Rember's MFA in a Box. I'm going to get my hands on them soon and let you know what I think.

In the interim, I'll do something different for the Wednesdays in March. I'm calling it "Shameless Self-Promotion Wednesday," and I invite you to link to your own blog and have us all see what you're up to. There are a lot of wonderful blogs/writers out there, and I feel that I've just skimmed the surface. So, if you're interested in some free promtion, link away!

Cheerio for now!