Monthly Archives: August 2010

Life, I Love You (really, and I love peaches, too)

Next week, we begin our first week of home-school. My classroom will consist of one high school student, one middle grade student, one first-grader, and one preschooler who contributes to the overall well-being of the others by head-butting us when he’s being ignored.

The thought of beginning yet another year is overwhelming to me. Because of that, I haven’t had the heart to blog, not after the long days I’ve had trying to prepare for the new school year. The problem, of course, is that my days were actually no longer than any other; they have just felt that way.

What have I been doing? Oh, the usual–putting up boxes and boxes of peaches and looking through the new books and devising a schedule, while also attempting the great feat of revising my proposal for one book and writing a proposal for its sequel. By book proposal, I mean the synopsis, the tag line, the overview, and the comparative market. It’s good to have these things at the ready–just in case. And I’m not very good at writing clever stuff, either, so it takes me ten times as long as the average person (I have no statistics to back up that assertion, by the way.)

I had almost decided to give up blogging for a while, but I don’t think I can let myself off the hook that easily. So I have a busy life. So what? So does everybody else. Sometimes, I appeal to my husband or to God when I want somebody to tell me what to do. That’s not honest. I appeal to them when I want them to tell me not to do those things that I don’t want to do. My husband very rarely complies. Generally, he tells me to do whatever I think is best. God laughs at me. All right, I’ve never actually heard him, but I have this sinking suspicion he’s up in his domain at the very least shaking his head at me.

Ultimately, I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to continue blogging. I will, therefore, post a new chapter next week. As the school year rolls along, I might have to change my blogging schedule (which I never keep, anyway).

Meanwhile, I’m having a bit of trouble finding the comparative market for my sequel. It should be rather obvious that it fits into the same market as its predecessor. It does. However, it also has a seventeen-year-old heroine, and I’m afraid that might change things a bit. The first has a heroine who is thirty-five, and I’m calling it women’s fiction with a supernatural twist. I’ve found several comparative books–maybe not the only ones, but ones which I’m familiar with, such as Bonnie Grove’s Talking to the Dead. Can I call a book with a teenage heroine “women’s fiction”? What do you think?

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Sing It, Klaus, or, Oh, the Euphoria!

No, I didn’t write a new chapter of New Mexico Noir today, and I’ve already been chastised by one of my regular readers for my wanton ways. I needed to do some research in order to continue and, sadly, spent my entire precious writing time looking for information that I couldn’t find. Frustrated, I gave up.

So I thought I’d tell you about my weekend. On Saturday, my brother-in-law took my husband and me to a five-band extravaganza metal concert. Let me admit something right off the bat: in the eighties, when my brother-in-law was wearing his Levis and listening to raw-energy metal, I was wearing my Levis and listening to Credence Clear Water Revival. I listened to Guns N’ Roses–that’s true–but, really, I was not a metal head. Oh, and I was frequently mistaken for Axel Rose when walking down the street in my bandanna, torn jeans, and combat boots, but that is entirely beside the point. He was my rock twin, I guess. I hope that I am a hell of a lot prettier; my husband tells me I am. He claims I’ve aged a lot better, too. Phew, what a relief! What a twin to have. And what an idea–a metal concert–hours worth of music that I might not properly appreciate.

Unbeknown to me, however, was that this concert was at an outdoor amphitheater on the top of a mesa out near Acoma. Here I was, with my Irish skin, wearing a tank top, with no shade in sight and with the afternoon, New Mexican sun blaring down on me at 7,000 feet. My husband bought me a Cinderella t-shirt to cover my shoulders, and I was set. I was ready to be a metal-head.

I must admit that I was not only inspired, but that the music awoke a desire in me that makes me ache all over. You know how most aspiring novelists claim they’ve been writing novels since they were in first grade? Well, I’ve been writing poetry and making up songs for as long as I can remember. Yes, that’s right. And the euphoria of the metal ballads awoke the dormant poetry in my soul. Ever since the concert, I’ve yearned to write poetry. In fact, I think I composed some verses on the drive back to my home town, at 2 a.m., while I lapsed in and out of sleep (thankfully, I wasn’t driving). Sadly, I can’t remember these inspired rhymes.

How could I not be inspired by the virtuosity of Winger and Cinderella and Dokken? Answer me that, already. How could I not be inspired?

I’ll tell you a secret. Metal head or not, I’ve always been taken by The Scorpions and Klaus’s vocals. Their music has always been a secret love of mine. I’m listening to their ballads, right now, in fact. I’m feeling The Winds of Change. I need to write poetry. I really do. I not only need to write poetry, but I need to stop analyzing it death.

As I listen to the ballads, and I feel the euphoria rising in my soul, I also feel myself dissecting the lines of verse. Aren’t they beginning every line on a trochee? I ask myself. Then I realize that many songwriters use trochees when writing songs, and, to prove the point, other lyrics begin filtering through my mind. Trochees carry the lines and add emphasis to every word. It can’t be a coincidence. The way to rock lyrics is to write in trochees with trimeter or tetrameter. . .

I want to cry, now. I don’t think I’ll ever write awe-inspiring verses, because I critique and analyze everything. Why do I do this? Why do I wreck everything? Why? Why?

The Winds of Change are afoot, Dear Readers. My dad understands, in depth, the techniques involved in painting. He is truly an intellectual, a master of his craft, and yet is still able to paint his own uniquely inspired paintings. There’s no reason why I can’t do the same with poetry. But I’m still trying to figure out how to escape myself.

Just for the record, the concert had four bands (Lynch Mob canceled at the last minute), but Winger and Cinderella were the most amazing.

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New Mexico Noir: Partners in Crime

We hustled with the paintings and the bursting file folder out to the back porch, only to discover that Walt had disappeared.  It occurred to me that this primo of Anthony’s might not exist as a completely material man.  He was there one moment, and the next, he was gone.

I shook my head.  “Where. . . ?”

“Quien sabe?  He probably took off when he heard the alarm.  And we should, too.”

“I agree.  But will you help me with these paintings so I don’t damage them?”

“Why did you have to steal her paintings, of all things?  What are we going to do with them, put them in the back of the truck? ”

“Yes, I guess we are.”

Anthony was a little irritated with me, which was no surprise, since we spent most of our time together being annoyed.  But, more than that, he wanted out of the neighborhood.  He obliged me and took hold of the largest of the painted Masonite boards, and then we crept back to the truck by ducking in the sparse shadows of the xeriscaped neighborhood.

Once in the cab of the truck, I urged Anthony to drive slowly so as not to damage my mom’s precious artwork.

“You planning on redecorating?”

“No.  I just want to see if . . .”  I couldn’t finish.  It was absurd, I realized, that I had stolen my mom’s artwork in order to find hidden messages in benign renditions of life.  My mom would not hide messages in her paintings.  I groaned.

“You miss your parents, huh?”

“Yes.  Yes, I do.”

“It’s been hard for you lately, Ella.”  His tone sounded a little off, as if he wasn’t used to comforting people.  He reached over and patted my knee, but only for a second because he had to shift.  “I don’t know how this is all going to work out, but we’ll stick together, all right?”

“Um, yeah, sure.” 

I didn’t know he meant by that, but—-hey–sticking together sounded like a good idea.  The hand on the knee gesture threw me for a loop, too.  I was too tired to consider whether it was a grandfatherly type of pat or something else entirely.  My head jerked back against the seat, and I cranked open the window so that the cool night air blasted me in the face.

Back at his house, with the crickets chirruping around, I forgot how late it was. The crickets didn’t watch the clock, so why should I? I unwrapped the paintings and lined them up against the living room wall, ready to investigate.  If I’d had access to a hammer and some hardware, I would have hung them up, gallery style and sauntered back and forth in front of them, my chin cupped in my palms.  Lacking these things, I sat on my haunches and made a steeple with my fingers while I stared at the images.

“You praying, mi’jita?”

I wished he wouldn’t call me that.  It gave the wrong impression of our relationship.  It was as if he was my elder rather than my peer.

“If you are, will you pray for me, too?  Your mom’s organizational skills are worse than mine after I’ve been drinking for three days straight.”

“Do you do that often?”

“Not for a couple of weeks.”

“That’s reassuring.”

My eyes returned over and over to the painting of Demetria.  Who was the man?  I knew who he was, but my mind was too tired to focus.  In fact, the images blurred in front of my eyes, and the characters might have actually moved, but I couldn’t be certain.  I yawned.

A dream sequence of bailes filtered through my mind.  It had been so long since I’d attended one.  Victor had dragged me to a Christmas dance several years ago, the one sponsored by the mayor.  I smacked myself on the forehead.  Of course I’d recognized the man.

“Demetria’s dancing with the mayor.”

“What?  Not on my premises, I hope.  Oh, right, on the painting.  I could’ve told you that.”

I turned around and studied his wavering face, wavering because my eyes were blearier than before.

“Don’t look at me like that, Ella.  I recognized his bald spot and the stripy shirt he’s wearing.  Come here, you have to look at this.”

I staggered to his desk.  Sleep.  I needed to sleep, and I didn’t want to look at anything else. I looked, anyway. Sitting in front of Anthony was a plain page with a chemical construction of some sort on it.  It meant nothing to me.

“What do you think this is?” Anthony asked.

“Why would I know?”

“You’re the one who’s college educated.  The girl with the degree.  The smart blonde, so I’ve heard some people say.”

“Literature. I studied literature, not chemistry. Why don’t you call the lab that’s listed there on the header?”

“You are smart.  It’s verified.  But, sadly, most labs aren’t open at three in the morning, or whatever hour it happens to be.”

“Then call tomorrow,” I whispered, because it was now officially too late, or too early, to vocalize.

“That would be your job, Ella.  You’re the secretary.”

“Fine, then.  I’ll call tomorrow.”

“Except I don’t think I want you to be my secretary anymore.  You aren’t very good at it.”

I looked at him and felt nothing but despair. I could have wept.

“Why don’t you sit down?  We can go through these papers together.”

Demetria’s chair still sat in front of the desk, and I dragged it around and dropped onto it.  I leaned over and found that my head was very near Anthony’s.  We were a team, sticking together.  How ludicrous was that?

He turned to me abruptly.  “Maybe you should be my partner instead of secretary.”

“Huh.” Another dream sequence filtered through my mind, except this time it was pure fantasy, and Anthony and I were partners in crime.

“What?  Why are you looking at me like that for?  Do you want me to kiss you, or something?”

I did, actually. “No,” I said.  “I want to sleep.  Maybe we can be partners tomorrow.”

***Painting: Fire in the Bosque by A. Leon Miler (otherwise known as my dad)

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A Break to Ask Your Advice

I was kept busy all day yesterday, so I apologize for not posting a new chapter of my New Mexico Noir. If I were a more diligent person, I would have had it ready to post ahead of time. But I’m not. Actually, what I am is a busy lady with a husband, four children, family obligations to those outside my immediate family, a church family, friends. . .

Before I ask for your sage advice, dearest readers, I would like to make a comment. I find it telling that whenever I post something I find comical on my blog, nobody responds. Like this, for example. I thought this post was hilarious, but the only person who agreed with me was my dearest husband, and who knows what ulterior motives he had for calling me brilliant.

I guess it’s because my sense of humor is way out in left field. I should think of this as a warning that I’m probably not the best person to be writing humor. Still, though, I did want my reading audience to know the humor of zeugma. You see, the poem I posted last Friday was meant to be humorous. Does anybody know what zeugma is? I’ll reward you with my undying blogging devotion if you not only look up it up, but make up a good one and post it in the comments section. Oh, and no stealing from Pope. That’s not allowed. Plus, I’ll recognize it right off the bat because of my already existing undying devotion to Pope’s verses.

All right, then, onward to my begging asking nicely for advice:  Six months ago, I sent out a query to the agent who was on the top of my list of best agents to query.  I did not expect that she would request my manuscript.  Because she did, and she was my top choice, I stopped sending out queries.  I’d only sent out four, and the others came back with rejections.  Six months later, I’ve written the sequel to the book I’d queried (and, no, I didn’t know at the time that there would be a sequel.  It just came to me suddenly, and I had to write it.)  Now, I suspect that I should start querying again.

What do you think?  Should I start querying other agents?  Should I write the agent a polite e-mail telling her that I’ll be querying other agents?  What would you do?

So, send me a zeugma or some sage advice.  Either one would relieve my heart or bring me joy.

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