Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Slow going

I've been terribly behind on my posts! Anyhoo...I see that I've been tagged in a round about way from my fellow M:A ladies.

So without further ado, my Christmas antics:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. Beautiful but definitely a chore to do.

2. Real tree or artificial? Both. A real one in the family room -a big Fraser Fir. Fake in the living room -small 4' white one from target. :)

3. When do you put up the tree? The first or second weekend of December. As we are going to Disney World this weekend (yay!), it will go up on the second weekend.

4. When do you take the tree down? Hmm...when it turns brown and the needles are all but gone. I know, I know...

5. What do you do with your tree after you take it down? Kick it to the curb, try to hide the needle evidence. And LOL, Rachel, I've given up on the box long ago. Into the attic the fake one goes.

6. Favourite gift ever received as a child? Tie between a large wooden doll house, complete with furniture, and a remote control car!

7. Hardest person to buy for? My dad. He usually asks for one or two things (which are always horrible) and there are four of us! Hello four yellow ties.

8. Easiest person to buy for? My sister, Karina -we have the same taste!

9. Do you have a nativity scene? When I was little. My kids wouldn't even know what to make of one now.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Both. I admit to being really bad with cards in general.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? My grandmother always sent us black tube socks for Christmas. :-P Into the fire they went. Not really. Mom always rescued them just in time.

12. Favourite Christmas movie? A Christmas Story

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Total last minute shopper here. You'll see me scrambling on the 24th!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Does giving to Toys for Tots count? Now as for receiving recycled gifts...grr...

15. Favourite thing to eat at Christmas? Cookies.

16. Lights on the tree? The more the better!

17. Favourite Christmas carol? Tie between Bing's White Christmas and Cole's Christmas Song.

18. Travel at Christmas? A twenty minute drive to my sister's house -when it isn't my turn to host.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of course! Sheesh! :)

20. Angel on the tree top or star? Rotation. Angle, star, and that pointy thing, which I have no idea what it's called but looks like the top of the St. Petersburg Cathedral.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We follow Norwegian tradition; open presents from family and friends on Christmas Eve and then a big present from Santa on Christmas morning.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? I'll ditto Rachel's observation. (g) Oh, and Christmas nay sayers...yes, I get it, we are all horrible materialistic, blah, blah, blah...

23. Favourite ornament theme or colour? Old fashioned Christmas toy ornaments, red, green, and gold, in the family room; white, silver, and gold in the living room.

24. Favourite for Christmas dinner? Norwegian meatballs (NOT Swedish -grrr) and scalloped potatoes.

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?A pro style digital camera so, you know, I can actually get a good picture of my fast moving kids. Sigh. But I'm not holding my breath with the economy being what it is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

And because I'm in the mood...

I shall throw my finial cache of pictures into the mix. The first is done by an obvious professional, with true talent. The second is clearly a juvenile doodling of a rank amateur, i.e. me.

First: When I found this, I immediately thought of a young Molly, perhaps around age fourteen or fifteen. There are differences between my Molly and this girl; Molly's eyes are more almond shaped and tilt upwards, her lips are fuller and there's the cleft chin. But it is very close.

And lastly, and please try not to laugh, here is my hackneyed attempt to draw Molly. I did this months ago, when knee deep in edits, on the idea that she'd help me to the finish line. Anyhoo...this is my version of Molly. Perhaps one day I'll try to get a professional artist to flesh this out and, you know, make it look real.

Hehe. Seeing that gives me a little chuckle.
And can you tell I have my characters on the brain?

More portraits

Here are a few more portraits. The first one initially stopped me because I thought the couple looked very sweet. The feeling behind it makes me think of Molly and John. Too bad the couple looks nothing like them. But on closer inspection, I noticed that the woman's dress is extremely similar in style to Molly's wedding dress.

Pic 1

But the dress in this portrait is pretty much the exact fabric I had in mind for Molly's wedding dress.

The overskirt frothed like a cloud about me. Endless flounces made from runched white tulle, shot throughout with silver threads, cascaded down over the silk skirt. I had never seen a dress its equal...

Well crud, I'll have to add a link for this one. LOL.

So put the first and the second dress together and there you have it: Molly's wedding dress.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Art and Characters

Yesterday, I spent a good amount of time perusing online images of old paintings and photographs. Truly, I could spend days looking at these things. Their dress, faces, the rooms in which these people moved, all of it is fascinating. During this frenzied -some would say obsessive- search, I happened upon some images which reminded me of my characters.

The woman in the portrait below, while not looking exactly like Molly's cousin Karen, reminded me of her just the same. She is very similar in regards to hairstyle and dress. In fact, her dress is exactly like the dress Karen wears in her debut scene -well, as I imagined it some five years ago...

--Karen came home shortly after five, fresh from her rounds of afternoon tea and card games. She glided into the parlor in a cloud of rustling peach silk and rose water....She wore her shining black hair parted severely down the middle to spread like lacquered wings over her ears before swooping up in a large knot at the base of her neck. She was more exotic contessa than western girl. --

I have no idea if I'm allowed to do this and the Internet police might come banging on my door but I give you Karen Morgan:

More images tomorrow...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A new title

On the small chance that anyone reads this blog, I'll announce here that I have a new title for my ms...

The Petal Falls

My agent hated the original title (Above the Vaulted Sky). So out with the old and in with the new.

Hey wait, you say. Isn't that the name of your blog? Er...well yeah... (g) That little bit is very convenient to be sure.

I always liked my blog title. It sticks in my head. So it got me thinking. I needed a line of poetry for the ms -the old one I had,for various reasons, no longer worked. The new poem I found just happened to have "the petal falls" in it.

Heck, let me just put up the small scene:

...I handled only the smallest corner of paper as though it might actually bite me. The paper was thick, coarse velum, folded in fourths to a neat one inch square.

What was a piece of paper doing in the back of Mam’s necklace? The cloying scent of verbena drifted through the air. Mam. Mam’s perfume... And then it was gone. Instinct told me it was not Mam who hid this paper within the necklace but…Father. I could see him now, writing down words with his smooth flowing hand.

Quickly I opened it, frantic to find some message from beyond, an apology for the wrongs he’d done. It was in Father’s hand but not what I expected. In small, tight script he’d written: My Dearest Molly, ‘The apple blossom exists to create fruit; when that comes, the petal falls.’ In creating you, I’ve exceeded my greatest dreams. It is your time now...

So great, "The Petal Falls" can allude to Molly's father dying and it being Molly's time now.

The actual line of poetry refers to life being an act of creation, which I believe and always wanted to underlie the entire story (in a very subtle, almost subconscious way).

It also alludes to the whole question of "he'll love me, he'll love me not..." Good. That is a huge question plaguing Molly in regards to John.

And lastly, the phrase, the petal falls, carries a certain tension. What will happen when the petal falls? What is the question asked of it? And will it come true?

The act of plucking petals from a flower is, in essence, a method of divination -though frivolous and totally unreliable. But how many of us have done it in a lighthearted moment of temptation? I know I have. We all want some way of knowing what the future will bring. And yet that desire to know brings with it anxiety, for it takes trust, the ability to release all doubt and feel in your heart that everything will work out. Which, in essence, is what my story is all about.

So it's all good. (g)

Sending my baby out into the world

So I have finished all the edits my agent requested. She reviewed the edits and gave it a thumbs up. A little more effort to fix the formatting, chapter cuts and...I sent it back to her.

Now my baby that I've spent untold hours sweating, crying, and laughing over is going out on submission come Monday. It is out of my hands, and I must trust another to finish the journey.

I feel almost numb. I say almost because a certain bubble of giddiness will, now and then, rise to the surface, and I'll have to pinch myself. Of course this is the do or die bit of the process. To sell or not to sell...and all that. But oddly, it feels small compared to the daunting task of getting an agent. Getting an agent made everything real. You are a writer, not just some bored mom escaping reality and, let's face it, parental duties by banging away on the computer.

I refuse to let fear enter into the equation. So I oscillate between numb -holding my breath until I hear word, and being really damn excited.

Do I glow from this? Let me go check in a mirror...

I cried

Yup. When Obama won, I cried. And I don't even like politics.

I always knew I'd vote for him. John McCain reminded me of an angry grandpa Sprocket. But I didn't even think of Obama as anything other than another politician, until he won. Seeing what he meant to so many people just got to me.

That's all.

And all you'll probably ever see of me speaking politics.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Turn 35

So Monday morning (my birthday), I'm driving along, listening to the radio -which is rare because I'm usually hooked into the I Phone and I hate the radio- but I am listening. The Clash's Should I Stay or Should I Go, comes on. Instantly, I'm thirteen.

I can picture myself then, little black Witchie Poo boots on, long black skirt, army green wife- beater with Mom's antique silver crucifix (stolen in an opportune moment) dangling between my budding breasts. My fifty black rubber Madonna bracelets are creeping up one arm and I'm pissed because I don't have money to get more. I could get a job baby-sitting but I don't particularly like kids very much -too snotty, whiny, and let's face it, annoying. My hair is in its trademark A-line bob and I AM Hell On Wheels. Oh yeah.

My dreams are well established. When I am thirty-five I will be rich (obviously), live in New York City (never the suburbs!) in one of those fabulous expansive apartments I've seen in the old movies that play on PBS each Sunday morning. I will NOT be married, NO kids (cause there is nothing worse than being a stay-at-home-mom). I have a dozen boyfriends vying for my attention. I'll be a fashion designer whose designs will grace the cover of Vogue and under no circumstance, let me be dipped in oil and burned alive, will I ever, ever, fuckin' never own a mini van, aka the worst vehicle known to man.

So as I drive across my suburban neighborhood in my mini-van to take my first born to preschool, I have a laugh. I am everything I did not want to be, and I'm happy. I love my husband, my kids are the loves of my life, and I love, love my mini-van. That's right, little slam dancer Kristen, I love it. I've just blown away a BMW 3 with it! And all the while my butt is gently warmed by the seat heaters. Ah, the luxury of it.

Is there a point to any of this? Embrace who you are, I suppose. And a slight caveat, that which you fear you bring to you. Of course, that might not always be such a bad thing, but be cautious; focusing on something always brings it to you. So focus on the good and let the fear fall away.

Now as for my dreams for 45...

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Magic. That's right, magic. Specifically, the magic that turns a story into a Story.

I'm sure other writers will testify to this, we agonize over the characters -are they realistic, likable; plot -does it make any sense? does it flow? is it exciting?; would this word work better than that one?

In the course of writing Molly and John's story, I've probably written near 500k words and I can recall every scene perfectly. We obsess! No doubt about it. Every writer I know cares deeply about their work. And yet, some stories fail, fall flat. But why? Well, as they say, if I truly knew, I'd be rich.

But as I'm sitting here, my daughter is watching Enchanted -a movie that ought to suck, mean really, a movie about a nitwit storybook princess plopped down in NYC? But it doesn't! There is something about the movie that transcends the goofy plot, over the top acting, and general unbelievability of it. There is something that comes through that makes me enjoy it. Frankly, I think the actors and crew enjoyed themselves. Joy, passion, love, these things are infectious.

But back to books. How many times have we as writers been hacking away at a story and just not feeling it? And consequently, our stories suffer. Any time I view writing my story as a job -and I'm not talking about editing because that IS a job, the scene falls flat. It is amazing to me, but when I sent out my wip for the first beta read, my readers found fault with all the 'work horse' scenes, the ones I labored over instead of letting flow and enjoying when I wrote them. Reader know. They always do. Writing is more than putting down words, it is feeling. A story isn't just about having something to say; it is a communication of feeling.

Think of Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I loved that book, couldn't put it down. But in truth, half the time I was thinking, why am I reading this? Nothing is happening. But the passion that lived in those characters, the passion that Meyer's had for the world she created grabbed hold of me and refused to let go. To me, that is the magic of Twilight.

If you don't' feel that passion, magic, whatever you want to call it, when crafting your story, if you don't feel that giddy high, akin to falling in love (even if you're writing a terrorizing thriller), then I'd take a step back and think hard if what you're writing is the story you really want to write.

I'm not saying that a writer can't create a great story without feeling that passion, but I believe that without passion, that story isn't going to be Magic. Passion = magic.


I begin

Okay, so I still feel a bit like the lady with a mic in an empty this thing on? But here I go, my first post.

It occurs to me, as I sit here trying to ignore the echo, that I need not say why I started or give a life story. Those few that might read this likely know anyway. So here I am. Seriously, is this thing on?