Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The silence has passed

I think the people living in my head had a private meeting. They've been awfully quiet these last few days. But, slowly, one lone voice has emerged. She's quiet, but persistent, repeating the same things to me over and over. I must tell her story.

I understand so much more about my writing now; about its purpose and my purpose in life. There are questions I'd love to ask other authors, sort of to compare our experiences. Do they face the same kind of challenges and obstacles I'm facing? I had a rather enlightening weekend, but now I wonder just how unique my experiences are.

I may have mentioned before just how stubborn I am. It's not really something I do on purpose. I have a regrettably rebellious nature. It served me well in school when everyone was trying to be like everyone else and I asked "why" but now it's different. I'm trying to follow my chosen path as an author, do what I know I should do, and I still can't quiet that rebellious streak.

But I'm trying. And I'm just stubborn enough to succeed at this.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Strength to Endure by Tristi Pinkston

I've drawn the connection. The reason I give such high ratings to books that make me cry is because, to do that, they have to draw me in so that I make an emotional connection to the characters. If I genuinely care about them, almost like real people, then their heartaches and triumphs are things I feel as I read.

That said, I picked up Strength to Endure last night around 11 PM. I finished it at 1:30 AM. And for the first time in my life, I cried all the way through the book. Tears just fell as I read, sliding down my cheeks and mingling with my hair on the pillow. Never has a book generated such a consistent emotional response from me. It's an incredible story. If I could give it 6 stars (on a scale of 1 to 5), I would in a heartbeat.

The story starts out with Anneliese Klein as a young girl in Germany just as Hitler rises to power. I knew going in that a historical fiction novel set in Germany before and during WW II was not going to be a romp through the clover fields. But Tristi brings the beauty and horrors to life vividly. I remember my history classes. I knew about concentration camps and death camps like Auschwitz, and how people were rounded up and taken away from their homes and friends never to be seen again. But seeing these things happen through the eyes of Anneliese as she grows up changed me. And the part of the book where the story transitions from Anneliese's perspective to Hilde's perspective made me bawl. I saw it coming, but cried like a baby through two chapters anyway.

In all honesty, at one point I wiped my eyes and wondered why I was putting myself through this torture. But of course by then the story had me so absolutely, I had to finish the book and find out what happens. And Tristi didn't disappoint me there, either.

I do not have ancestors who were personally affected by what happened in Germany while Hitler was in power. There's no one in my past who can tell me what they experienced or witnessed during that time. But I did have a Jewish friend growing up, and we talked about it at length. From a historical aspect, everything in this book resonates with truth. Although the story is fiction, the things that happen gel with what I know about WW II and brought it all down to a very personal level.

Strength to Endure is an amazing book. I can't say enough about it. It's the kind of book that may change the reader, but it's a worthy change.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The most frustrating thing about the internet...

Sure, I get lazy--especially about capital letters--when posting comments on Facebook or other websites. But, seriously, read through a handful of comments made online about a particular article or something and you'll start wondering if the average poster finished college! It's called spell check, and it's handy. I hate to think of all those poor English teachers spinning in their graves while the general populous uses "looser" instead of "loser" and "grate" instead of "great" and other such nonsense.

This is my soapbox. There are a few things I am passionate about. This is one of them. And yes, I was one of those people who spell checked the notes handed to me in class. I had one particular friend I must have driven crazy by constantly pointing out her poor spelling. It's coming back to bite me, though, in the form of my husband and son who misspell common words. The hardest part is answering my husband, for the hundredth time, when he asks how to spell the same word. I'm nice enough not to rub his nose in it, but I can't say I'm always patient about it.

But, really, it's the World Wide Web that's most irritating these days. Take a quiz on Facebook if you doubt it. Some words are so badly messed up I can't even figure out what it's supposed to be.

My hang up is getting worse with all the editing I've done this year. But that's no one else's problem but mine...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Good Weekend, now back to Work

Where was I Friday? Oh, right--a movie and bowling with the kids. (btw, saw Monsters v. Aliens and found it lol funny) And Saturday? I spent the time to get Kylie's dress done. Turned out pretty lovely, if I do say so myself. And like a loon, I bought more fabric so I could make Rianne some pajamas, because the fabric is purple hearts on a purple background. (1 guess what her fave color is)

So it's Monday evening, and I'm sitting here fleshing out my blogs while I contemplate all the reading I did when I wasn't running around like a headless chicken. What I really need to do is put my insomnia to good use. I mean, if I'm not sleeping anyway, why not write? But it just goes against all rational thought I have left to not at least try to sleep when I have to get up at 4AM.

I balanced my weekend reading well. I read two really great books and two really awful books. I think I really am a nut. No matter how annoying a book is, I'll finish it. And post reviews on www.goodreads.com Like I'm not busy enough as it is.

What's really funny is all the self editing I've done has jaded me when I read. I take a book apart, not on purpose but because I can't help it. I do it at movies too, though it bugs my husband to no end when I can't keep my comments to myself. There is an element of pride in figuring things out before the screenwriters want you to, but it's not like I set out to spoil the movie for him. If he doesn't want to know, then he shouldn't lean over and whisper, "What?" to me when I gasp or groan. It helps when we take the kids, because then we usually don't sit together. I sit near one end while he takes the other, just so we can reach everyone for passing out popcorn or sharing drinks, etc.

It's sad, really, but sometimes I think I could sit in a cabin alone and write all day long. But then I think of that Johnny Depp movie and think, no, that's not at all healthy. There's so much going on in my head. I've been holding them at bay so I could do all that pressing family stuff over the weekend. Right now, in my mind's eye, I see a locked door and can hear all the voices begging or demanding to be let out. It's hard to tell in the cacophony they create. Wow, I haven't used "cacophony" since high school and could still spell it! :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Getting back on Track

You know what really kills my ability to write? An intense, light and noise sensitive migraine type sinus headache that lasts 4 days. I'm pretty sure that would do it for most of us, but brilliant me, I had to get the headache Saturday afternoon and then endure 3 days of fireworks going off in our neighborhood. :(

But I went to the doctor, finally, and got some meds to clear up the issue. I'm getting caught up on all my blogs and posts and all that fun stuff. Tomorrow we're taking the kids bowling and to a movie and Saturday I have to sew on my daughter's baptism dress. So writing? Well, maybe I can squeeze some in over the next few days.

The problem is I have several stories right now all clamoring for my attention. There's the Not So Cinderella alternate fairy tale, the true to life contemporary YA fiction and the middle grade fantasy about a daughter whose mom writes magical---really magical---books. And, of course, about a month after The Peasant Queen is released I'm pretty sure I'm going to get requests about the sequel (first draft still sitting on my computer, for the last 6 months).

I haven't set out to be a famous author. I'd love to have the gift of being able to supplement our household income writing so I can concentrate on my family better, but that's still a ways off. Problem is, I have had several inspirations lately that hint of a specific plan the Lord has for me when it comes to my career as a writer. It will be interesting to see how those things play out.

And then maybe I'll write a memoir. :)

Monday, July 6, 2009

I've opened the vein...

There's a quote by a famous author that goes something like "Writing is easy. Just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein."

I poured a lot of myself into my first novel, due out this summer/fall. But that was over a long period of time. Last November, I gave in to a persistent thought and wrote 50k words I thought I would never share. They're too personal, too private, too painful. But then I thought I could publish it under a pen name. It's a good story with a lot of heart and soul. And I'm being as objective as possible here.

Then my husband read it.

The more I think about this story that should never see the light of day, I realize the only problem I have with it is a fear of hurting someone I love dearly. There are elements of this fiction novel that are drawn from real life. And it's pretty thinly veiled, so I don't want to run the risk of this person reading too much into the story.

But recently I have been assaulted with incredibly strong impressions about this story. The topic is so timely. It's something that affects so many people, and it's all about the power of forgiveness and the love of family. I'm getting teary right now thinking about it.

The story needs some work. Right now it's mostly a fictionalized version of real events, rather than fiction influenced by real events. I have to change some elements, but the very thought of re-opening that vein makes me tear up again. But I know, just as surely as I know my name, that I have to get this story published soon. And I'm not going to be able to use a pen name; I know that too.

So, the vein will be opened and I will bleed through my "pen" until the revisions are done. Wish me luck.