Monthly Archives: July 2009

Coffee, Tea, Difficulty

August 1st will soon be here; I’ve too much to do and too little time, not a single coffee bean in the house, no wine and not even one drop of whiskey. All I have is a box of green tea, which is far too unhealthy for me to think of consuming. Yes, I actually mean that. Green tea is very high in fluoride, much, much higher than most municipal water sources, and fluoride is poisonous to the thyroid. It also has an effect on the skeletal structure, causing osteoporosis, but, frankly, I’m more worried about my thyroid at this point. It literally replaces iodine in the body, so no green tea for me.

By the way, some people say that coffee is bad for the endocrine system, and they are right. However, it has more antioxidants than green tea, and I believe I would have to drink more than one or two cups a day to overstimulate my hormones. Perhaps I should just admit that I prefer the taste of coffee, which I happen to be out of, to the bitter flavor of green tea, of which I have a whole box (of course I’m worried about my thyroid, though, I swear!)

In any case, with or without coffee, I had an unexpected research problem occur. Let me just admit right now that I’m lazy. On the other hand, I’m determined, and determination trumps laziness any day. So, for the record, I’ve gone to some great lengths to conduct research. When I was writing mysteries, I interviewed a P.I. and the local chief of police. I went to a conference designated for EMS, police, nurses, coroners, etc.that was all about crime scene protocol. I even went on a date with my husband to a cadaver lab–yes, it’s true; it was for a class he was taking as an EMT. Afterward, he took me out for dinner, but the delicious food was somehow ruined due to my allergy to formaldehyde. Once I smell it, the fumes somehow sit in my nasal passages and cause me constant nausea, even after I’m not exposed to them any longer.

I don’t, however, generally expect to have to conduct research on parts of the world that I’ve already experienced. So, imagine my surprise when I realized that I had no clue as to how a couple gets married in the state of Oregon. Those of you who know me are laughing because A. I’m married and B. my husband and I were married in Oregon. You know how it is, though. Young lovers pay attention to nothing but each other. I realized I had to backtrack and determine whether the wedding scene I had written is actually realistic. Well, it isn’t, and I had to find a way to work around it. You see, there’s this little something called a waiting period in Oregon, and my couple literally needs to get married immediately after buying the license.

No coffee, formaldehyde, bad marriage laws–these are the hurdles we writers must face. It’s a hard job, but somebody’s got to do it, if only so that the glut of books on the market can continue to fill bookstores, super markets, and bedside tables.

p.s. Do you think I should keep adding more and more accordions just to make certain everybody knows how much I truly love them?

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On Writing and Faith

As I had mentioned in a previous post, I’m on the last leg of editing my novel. August 1st is my own arbitrary deadline for completing this tedious work; editing never quite takes my breath away in the same way that writing the first draft does. It definitely doesn’t bring me windy mountaintop moments, which is probably why this is the first book that I’m finally going to send out in hopes of publishing. In my twenties, I wrote about three detective novels, and I think back on them and grimace in embarrassment. Honestly, it isn’t that they were so badly written. I just never took the time to edit them because I completely lost the passion for them. This book is different, though. I can’t lose the passion, not completely, so I’ve braved the rough territory of editing with determination. This book will go out into the world. I don’t know when or how, but it must.

You can imagine my frustration, then, when I relate my latest editing-writing woes. Don’t worry, though. There’s redemption at the end. The other day, I completely rewrote a section of Franklin’s Ladder. Not only did I completely rewrite it to my satisfaction, but I did it while my children were getting ready for camp, while they were slamming the screen door over and over again, letting the cat tear through the house, waking their baby brother, who was supposed to be napping. By the time they left, the house was a wreck and filled with the wails of a young child who hadn’t slept enough. When my husband blustered in from work with his heavy, black fire-service boots clomping across the floor, I was ready to cry.

You see, my husband has convinced me that we’re going to get ripped together, and if I thought he meant drunk, I’d probably have wanted to laugh in relief rather than cry. No, indeed, though, my husband is putting us through the P90X workout system. I guess the fat fireman image wasn’t working for him–not that he’s fat; he just has a spare tire from all that beer. Well, I was frustrated and angry and didn’t want to work my shoulders and arms, which was the muscle group of the day. Soon, though, my petulant mood vanished. There’s nothing like arm reps for dissipating anger. After the workout, he took me out for chile-cheese fries (a local delicacy, and, yes, I did spell chile correctly), and he bought me a bottle of wine, and we went home to put only one child to bed and drink the lovely Merlot.

When I woke the next morning to a beautiful new day, I was excited to move on in my editing. Granted, I wouldn’t have time to turn on my computer until the afternoon, but the afternoon waited for me in a golden glow of heat. It would be too hot to go outside, the baby would be napping, and I would move on to the next section of my book!

I thank God that he knows what he’s doing. I thank God that he is always in charge of the universe because, when I quickly scanned the work I’d finished the day before, I discovered that none of it had been saved. Explain to me how that is possible with a program that makes sure I save my work before exiting. Explain to me why no back-up document existed. Explain these things to me, and I won’t stop believing in God, necessarily, but I will acknowledge that strange phenomena–that is to say, what we can observe with our eyes–have logical explanations. In the meantime, I will believe that there is no logical explanation, not with my hard drive, my removable drive, my automatic back-up system, and my own habit of saving approximately once every half hour.

Well, I took a deep breath and did the only thing I could do: I started over. As I wrote, I realized why the material had not been saved, and it was only for the sake of a few lines. Yes, I believe that God wanted it a certain way, and I had not written it that way. Why do I possess this kind of faith? I don’t know; I can’t explain it, except to say that my parents instilled it in me, and no amount of education has been able to rob me of it.

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It Began With a Dream

The other day, I was ready to write a query, create a stunning blurb, and just finish up the line editing I had embarked on. I was ready to be finished, to finally let this novel go out into the world. One scene was bothering me, however–had bothered me from the beginning. Originally, the plot was a dream, and that was the problem. The dream was magical, but, at times, a bit of a stretch on the imagination. I really felt, though, that I had to change the wedding scene to equal the dream, rather than drab reality. In short, the church and priest presiding over it had to resemble the gothic. So, on Saturday, I spent the entire day completely rewriting a scene, rather than working on the last of the sentence finessing. Oh and, by the way, it took me all of Saturday because I worked at the local coffee shop, which is always full of people and, in a small town, that means that I’m bound to know at least a few of them. Plus, I didn’t make it there until after breakfast, laundry, and shopping for sundries. Sigh.

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Franklin’s Ladder

Yes, indeed, that is the name of my book. If you’re wondering whether an accordion plays a significant role in the novel, I would have to say no. Technically speaking, it plays Roll Out the Barrels. Actually, Franklin plays the accordion; it doesn’t play itself. And Anna listens to him, enthralled, and falls in love with him in the middle of we’ll have a barrel of fun.

I’m sorry. I wanted to post something, anything on this drear site, even though I haven’t actually written my book blurb yet. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will come back with that. Until then, cheers!

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