Thursday, November 4, 2010

I've Moved!

Please visit me at: 

 My New Place

Packed up, hauled out and painted the windows red.

Stop by and visit!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A Garden Day

I hear the breeze sighing through the marbled parts of my garden. I want to sit out on the wet grass, cup the white roses, close my eyes and imagine.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Literary Odds and Ends

Marjorie Liu has a great blog post up at Babel Clash, the Borders sci fi blog, about loving all challenges. It's a great reminder not just for writing, but for life too. My favorite lines:

"You never stop learning. You never let yourself grow complacent. Love the challenge of trying new things, of taking opportunities that are a risk — but a lovely risk that will feed you, and teach you, and expand your view of what is possible."
And, if you haven't discovered Slush Pile Hell, go forth! It's a hilarious glimpse at a literary agent's take on failed query letters and well worth the travel time.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Life's Changes

 "Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are." ~Bernice Johnson Reagon

There are those moments you come to in life -- the make or break moments -- where you can't truly appreciate how terrifying they are unless you're living it. Moments such as now. My Captain is out of a job, let go last Friday after seventeen years with his company. After the WTF? moment, it was hard for both of us to breathe. Two kids in college, two in high school and one week later, we're still swimming in the WTF moment.

And today, as I'm finally seeing the horizon after months and months (years) of writing and editing my first novel, I hear this from Dorchester -- yes, they're going digital with barely any notice to the authors expecting release dates in the next few months. Which begs the questions: what is happening to the publishing industry? Can authors make as much in e-book sales as in the traditional way?

I have to wonder if pursuing a writing career is really the wisest thing to do right now, especially in my circumstance. Is it even lucrative anymore, or semi-lucrative at least? Yes, it's been my dream since before I started college. Yes, I put it off to raise the kids. And yes, it's still my biggest dream, even beyond traveling to exotic lands and suddenly finding myself able to eat dairy without breaking out in hives.

But at what point should the dream stay a dream for awhile so you can get your ducks in order? Guarantee things such as food on the table, mortgage paid, bills done?

My dream is so near. I won't give it up yet because I've invested a lot in my novel. And I finally almost have it to the point where I'm comfortable shopping it. But in the meantime, I'm at a terrifying place in my life. I hope, as Bernice Reagon said above, I discover who I really am. And what I discover will be good.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Amazon's Third Generation Kindle

This letter, from Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, appeared on the Amazon front page last night.

The bottom line? Get a new third generation Kindle, Wifi only, for $139.00. Or opt for 3G at the price of $189.00, still lower than what the Kindle had originally been selling for earlier this year.

So. . . wow! I'm all in.

Dear Customers,

I believe in the transformative power of reading—the ability of an author to transport you to new worlds, introduce you to new people, and even alter your perspective. Reading is important. Reading is why we build Kindles. Reading is why millions of people use Kindles.

Today, we’re excited to introduce a new, third generation of Kindle. We kept everything readers love about Kindle and made it even better.

Here are some of the highlights:

Books in 60 Seconds: Think of a book and start reading it in 60 seconds. Kindle uses the same 3G wireless technology as advanced cell phones. But unlike cell phones, there are no monthly bills and no annual contracts

All-New, High-Contrast E-Ink Screen: 50% better contrast than any other e-reader

Read Even in Bright Sunlight: No glare

New Sleek Design: 21% smaller body with same 6” size reading area

15% Lighter: Only 8.7 ounces, read comfortably for hours with just one hand

Battery Life of One Month: A single charge lasts up to one month

Double the Storage: Carry up to 3,500 books wherever you go

Buy Once, Read Everywhere: Read your Kindle books on all your devices

Worry-Free Archive: Delete with abandon. We automatically keep an
archival copy of your Kindle books—re-download for free, anytime

Global 3G Wireless: At home or abroad, wireless works in over 100

Built-In Wi-Fi: In addition to the 3G wireless, you can connect to Wi-Fi

This latest generation Kindle is $189—you can pre-order now, and it will ship on August 27.

That’s half the news. We’re also excited to introduce a new Kindle family member—Kindle with Wi-Fi only. Kindle Wi-Fi is only $139. Kindle Wi-Fi is identical to our new $189 Kindle, except it doesn’t have our go-anywhere 3G wireless. If you’re going to use your Kindle primarily in locations where you have access to a Wi-Fi hotspot–like at home–then Kindle Wi-Fi is a good choice. At $139, we expect many people will buy multiple Kindles for the home and family.

You can pre-order the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi now, and it will ship on August 27.

Both new generation Kindles have access to the same Kindle Store with the largest selection of books people want to read—over 630,000 titles including 109 of 112 New York Times Best Sellers, plus top newspapers and magazines. Over 510,000 of these books are $9.99 or less, including 80 of the New York Times Best Sellers. Our vision is to have every book, ever written, in any language, all available in under 60 seconds.

Readers have made Kindle the #1 bestselling, most-gifted, most-wished-for product on Amazon for two years running. Kindle also has the most five-star reviews of any product on Amazon. We’re excited and energized by this
reception. We hope you enjoy our most advanced Kindles yet.

Thank you for being a customer.

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

 Kindle Wi-Fi for $139 Kindle Free 3G + Wi-Fi for $189  Kindle Wi-Fi for $139  Kindle Wi-Fi for $139 Kindle Free 3G + Wi-Fi for $189  Kindle Wi-Fi for $139 Amazon Kindle Free 3G + Wi-Fi for $189 and Amazon Kindle Wi-Fi for $139
I have to physically strap myself to the chair to keep from plunging in and buying it now. 

Then again, what the hell. . . 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Writing Tips

Author Janet Fitch has an excellent post on 10 Writing Tips That Can Help Almost Anyone. Every single tip is worth reading and taking into your own writing space.
My favorites are No. 7, Smarten Up Your Protagonist: 
"They don’t have to be super-educated, they just have to be mentally active. Keep them looking, thinking, wondering, remembering."
And No. 10, Torture Your Protagonist:
"The more we love them, and the more cleverly we torture them along the lines of their greatest vulnerability and fear, the better the story."
Her blog is worthy of reading as well. The short stories she posts, based on a randomly chosen word of the week, are not just entertaining but worth studying if you're a young or aspiring writer. Even in these short snippets, she crafts wonderful, three-dimensional characters and sets a scenes that make you feel like you're living them.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Writing Contests

Jason Evans at Clarity of Night is hosting the Uncovered Short Fiction Contest of 250 words or less. The deadline is Wednesday, July 28th. I have entered my short entitled: Synesthesia.

Glamour Magazine is having its Seventh Essay Writing Contest. Have an inspiring story about an inspiring event, an obstacle to overcome, that's defined you? Send it in! Deadline: September 15, 2010. Prizes: $5,000 and a meeting with a top, literary agent. Minimum 2,500 words, maximum 3,500 words. See website for details. No entry fee.

Real Simple Magazine's Life's Lessons Essay Contest wants you to answer this question in 1500 words or less:  "I never thought I'd. . . " Deadline: September 24, 2010. Prize: $3,000. No entry fee.

So go for it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Amazon Kindle E-books

Well, in case you've been living under a rock, it appears Amazon Kindle e-books are now outselling their hardcover books. It probably helped that Amazon lowered the price of their Kindle from $259.00 to $189.00 and that they offer a free Kindle app for Ipad, Iphones and a half dozen other devices.

According to Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of ". . .even while our hardcover sales continue to grow, the Kindle format has now overtaken the hardcover format. customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books--astonishing when you consider that we've been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months."

In addition, Hachette announced that James Patterson had sold 1.14 million e-books to date. Of those, 867,881 were Kindle books. Five authors--Charlaine Harris, Stieg Larsson, Stephenie Meyer, James Patterson, and Nora Roberts--have each sold more than 500,000 Kindle books. Amazing.

Is this a temporary upswing due to all the new e-reading devices now coming on the market, including the Apple Ipad and Iphone? Will we see a gradual plateauing and then a dip back to more hardcover sales? 

I'm excited to hear Amazon's e-books are doing so well. I love technology. On the other hand, I love a good book, physically in hand. Lounging with it, cracking it's spine, bending a corner of the page when I don't have a bookmark handy. I've had a long, satisfying and loving relationship with books and I don't ever want to walk away from them for the spell-binding allure of 3-G and blazing tech. 

Although, maybe once in awhile. Every now and again, if I ever get a Kindle. . . 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Transformer 3 Cars

And oh yeah. . . .

Cars, cars and more cool Transformer 3 cars, driving down Clark Street in Chicago.

I Love A Good Explosion

Transformers 3 in Chicago? Filming on Michigan Avenue?? Explosions and car wrecks and very cool automobiles in a blaze of glory?! Hell yeah . . . 

Shia LeBeouf on set - Michigan Avenue

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, with other actors including co-star Shia LaBeouf on Sunday before filming a scene of the third Transformers movie.

Explosion on Michigan Avenue Bridge (simulated of course)

LaSalle Street. Wooot! 

Rubble at Nathan Hale Court at the Tribune Tower

*Photos courtesy Chicago Tribune

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Time of Mountains

Colorado Poet Laureate Thomas Hornsby Ferril

Time of Mountains
So long ago my father led me to 
The dark impounded orders of this canyon, 
I have confused these rocks and waters with 
My life, but not unclearly, for I know 
What will be here when I am here no more.
I've moved in the terrible cries of the prisoned water, 
And prodigious stillness where the water folds 
Its terrible muscles over and under each other.
When you've walked a long time on the floor of a river, 
And up the steps and into the different rooms, 
You know where the hills are going, you can feel them, 
The far blue hills dissolving in luminous water,
The solvent mountains going home to the oceans. 
Even when the river is low and clear, 
And the waters are going to sleep in the upper swales, 
You can feel the particles of the shining mountains 
Moping against your ankles toward the sea.
Forever the mountains are coming down and I stalk 
Against them, cutting the channel with my shins, 
With the lurch of the stiff spray cracking over my thighs; 
I feel the bones of my back bracing my body,
And I push uphill behind the vertebrate fish 
That lie uphill with their bony brains uphill 
Meeting and splitting the mountains coming down.
I push uphill behind the vertebrate fish 
That scurry uphill, ages ahead of me. 
I stop to rest but the order still keeps moving: 
I mark how long it takes an aspen leaf 
To float in sight, pass me, and go downstream; 
I watch a willow dipping and springing back 
Like something that must be a water-clock, 
Measuring mine against the end of mountains.
But if I go before these mountains go, 
I'm unbewildered by the time of mountains, 
I, who have followed life up from the sea 
Into a black incision in this planet, 
Can bring an end to stone infinitives. 
I have held rivers to my eyes like lenses 
And rearranged the mountains at my pleasure, 
As one might change the apples in a bowl, 
And I have walked a dim unearthly prairie 
From which these peaks have not yet blown away.

Thomas Hornsby Ferril was born in Denver, where he remained a resident until his death in 1988. An award-winning poet, essayist, columnist, and coeditor with his wife of The Rocky Mountain Herald from 1939–1972, Ferril was appointed Colorado Poet Laureate in 1979.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Pablo Neruda

Each Friday I'lll feature a poem by a favorite poet.

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1971 - Pablo Neruda

"To sum up, Neruda is like catching a condor with a butterfly net. Neruda, in a nutshell, is an unreasonable proposition: the kernel bursts the shell."
Whither Neruda's path will take him now, it is not for anyone to say. But the direction is the one already set, harmony with Man and the Earth, and we shall follow with high expectations this remarkable poetry, which with the overflowing vitality of an awakening continent resembles one of its rivers, growing all the mightier and more majestic the closer it approaches the estuary and the sea."

 Copyright 2004 Debra Galloway

Ode To the Smell of Wood by Pablo Neruda
translated by Jodey Bateman

Late, with the stars
open in the cold
I open the door.
                The sea
in the night.

Like a hand
from the dark house
came the intense
of firewood in the pile.

The aroma was visible
if the tree
were alive.
As if it still breathed.

like a garment.

like a broken branch.

I walked
the house
by that balsam-flavored
the points
in the sky sparkled
like magnetic stones
and the smell of the wood

my heart
like some fingers,
like jasmine,
like certain memories.

It wasn't the sharp smell
of the pines,
it wasn't
the break in the skin
of the eucalyptus,
neither was it
the green perfumes
of the grapevine stalk,
something more secret,
because that fragrance
only one
only one
time existed,
and there, of all I have seen in the world
in my own house at night, next to the winter sea,
was waiting for me
the smell
of the deepest rose,
the heart cut from the earth,
something that invaded me like a wave
breaking loose
from time
and it lost itself in me
when I opened the door
of the night.