Our Year of Blogging

This month marks the one-year anniversary for Rooms of Our Own, the webbed site of three “rooms” housing me (writer) at LeeFullbight.com, and photographer Geri Wilson in her own “room”—and right now we have a vacancy (interested parties can contact lfullbright@prodigy.net for a room of your own, “almost” ready for move-in and, naturally, no rent here in Blogland. Our only requirement, if you can even call it that—we’re pretty loosey-goosey, and our “rooms” are autonomous—is that you have a passion you want to write about and know where spell check is, and that you attempt a blog post every couple weeks—or more!—and, yes, I know I just said “autonomous,” but we live in the same “triplex,” a click away, and gotta keep the ‘hood up).     

So when Geri and I started this blog, we were so neophyte-ish we didn’t know about brevity (I still have trouble with this; I’m used to a big canvas!), or what we might look like a year down the road. I had a novel to introduce (The Angry Woman Suite, which wasn’t even out then), and uber-photographer Geri Wilson had a line of greeting cards (featuring her amazing photography) to debut. 

Where are we now, a year later, and what do we think of blogging in general?

Well, Geri is just returned from a photography expedition to Bryce Canyon, so expect those photographs to go up in her room anytime now—I’ve had a preview and they are awesome.   

And The Angry Woman Suite (Goodreads link here:   http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13555924-the-angry-woman-suite) is now the 2012 Discovery Award winner for Literary Fiction.         

(One thing, though is unchanged: Baby Rae and I still dance to Gregory Page every night.)

I have another novel in the works, but I also have an idea for something else (based on the truism that we can only talk about our stuff so much and so long without risking emptying a room and/or triggering our own gag reflex—both pathetic)—and it’s this:  

I want to write about other writers, and about other books in particular—btw, I just started Dancing on Broken Glass last night, and I think it’s going to be love.      

So, I will begin reviewing occasionally, starting with Dancing on Broken Glass (next post).

However, reviewing isn’t a permanent thing (what is?). I don’t read as many novels when I’m actually writing one, for two reasons: It’s too easy to subconsciously pick up another writer’s voice, and reading is passive (as in I’d get lazy and never finish my own work). But, until I pick up my own manuscript again (a few more months), I’m enjoying reading novels again!  

As for blogging itself, I do think it’s kept my brain limber, plus I’ve discovered I am totally capable of shorter sentences and paragraphs (and shorter posts!!)—however, I don’t think blogging has yet revealed how funny I am (and yes, I am funny in real life—everybody knows).

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A Million Other Girls

The following is a story of risk and fate.   

Many years ago, three thirteen-year-old girls became friends. They were like a million other girls in the world, eager to put their stamp on it. They were in junior high, and, interestingly, looked somewhat alike, in that they were all blond, slender, and tall. Of course their temperaments were different.

Susie was soft-spoken, slow-moving, almost languorous, and she was self-effacing, very sweet, never said a bad word about anyone—maybe it took too much energy? She was probably the prettiest; definitely the one who spent the most time on her almost platinum hair, plus she somehow got away with wearing blue eye shadow to school. Her grades were across-the-board C’s.    

Kathleen was giggly and energetic. She was Everywhere-girl, like a hummingbird flitting in and out and around the cliques in the lunch quad, raining energy—that rapid speech, constant giggle, and brilliant smile—down on all. Kathleen had long shiny hair parted in the middle, and was always tossing her head this way and that, making her light hair ripple. Kathleen didn’t care about her report card; she cared about movement.

Eileen was a moody bookworm who envied Susie’s blue eye shadow and Kathleen’s beautiful hair. She was prone to sullenness.                

The girls often spent weekends together at Susie or Kathleen’s house, but never at Eileen’s, whose parents had lots of rules and a curfew, and didn’t like the music the girls played or the makeup they experimented with—and let both be known.

Eileen, who pretty much lived in her head and was on the honor roll, broke away from herself when allowed to spend the night at Susie or Kathleen’s, reveling in the music she wasn’t allowed to play at home, and the dancing and makeup, and talk of boys. No surprise, but Eileen didn’t care much for rules for rules’ sake.  

Besides a shared love of blue eye shadow, the girls shared stories about where they’d be in twenty years—fantasies. All, of course, would find love, and their respective “Mr. Rights” would, naturally, be “cute” and accompany them to Rome.   

Kathleen talked of the four children she would someday have and the big parties she would throw, and Eileen wondered if she could one day write like Tennessee Williams, or sing like Joan Baez, or become a potter; perhaps all three. But Susie was curiously silent on life after returning from Rome. Susie merely listened to her friends dream aloud, smiling in her sweet way.

After junior high, Eileen went to one high school, and Susie and Kathleen to another. Although they vowed not to let their different schools and classrooms split them up, the girls made new friends, became involved in different activities, and inevitably drifted apart.

Years passed. So did graduations, many parties and attendant good and bad choices, trips to Rome, long hair, and blue eye shadow.

And then one day many, many years later, Eileen had lunch with another friend who dated back to junior high. His name was Jim, her oldest friend. By this time, Eileen had of course broken her share of rules, because she’d finally could; and become way less sullen and more complacent, even content; written a novel, and grown her hair long again because she still considered some rules, and any rule about hair length after a certain age, supremely asinine—and she was currently struggling with writing a piece that had been prompted by this question:

“What risk do you regret not taking?”

The piece wasn’t going well, yet Eileen still loved the question and asked it of everyone. But there were no “good” answers; in fact, there was much misunderstanding about the question itself, and Eileen began realizing (duh-oh) that “risk” is subjective.

Eileen’s BIG  risk, the one she’d avoided for an embarrassingly long time because it required all her bravery—finishing a novel—had finally been committed to—and so had her primary relationship. Ditto for financial decisions/risks, and for driving herself four hundred miles to Land’s End on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road. But physical challenges, which is how many people understood the question, like skydiving or sailing solo around the world, had never been attractions for Eileen, and so couldn’t be categorized as regrets.     

Considering the possibility that she had no regrets, Eileen was amazed . . . had her life really been so adequately . . . complete? So splendid? But—wait. What about all the stupid things she had done, the rules she had broken (and shouldn’t have); people she had hurt, and the recklessness and bad decisions—there had been plenty of those to go around! Fodder enough for ten novels! How was it her life hadn’t been utterly ruined by her bad decisions, or maybe even cut short?

Lunch conversation with Jim got around to junior high school days—and then, next, to Kathleen—what had become of her, did Jim know? Jim wasn’t positive—maybe he’d heard she’d married? Had a big family? And was happy? So much time had elapsed, he couldn’t be sure—but, yes, that had to be it. Eileen agreed: Kathleen had been such a magnet for activity, surely that big, happy family had been her destiny. 

And what about Susie?

Jim stared at Eileen.

“She died,” Jim said. “She was murdered. I thought you knew.”

Nooooooooooooo! How, when, what, where??????????

The murder had occurred years before. Susie had been hitchhiking alone in Sacramento, California, 600 miles away. She was 22.  

Her body had been found by youngsters playing in a sandy ravine—they’d seen the near-platinum hair, just a lock of it. The rest of Susie had been covered with sand. She’d been buried alive, suffocated, her only visible injury a dislocated jaw.   

A day or so after their lunch together, Jim sent an old newspaper article about Susie’s murder to Eileen, and Eileen carried it around for days, reading it time and again, wondering if Susie’s murderer had ever been caught, and what Susie had been thinking, hitchhiking alone in the dead of night. I mean, how stupid was that? And then—Eileen couldn’t help the thought—she kept imagining Susie’s terror when all that sand came down on her and filled her throat, her mouth, nostrils, everything . . . it couldn’t be borne—yet, Eileen, who could still so easily get stuck in her head, couldn’t shake the picture loose.   

Eileen saw other pictures as well. She saw the three young girls they’d been, their camaraderie and blue eye shadow. She saw them styling one another’s hair, laughing and dancing, sharing dreams, knowing they would one day own the world—but then Eileen suddenly remembered: Susie had never talked about life for herself after her dreamed-for Rome trip.  

Had Susie had a premonition?

Eileen thought again of her own younger-years’ stupid actions and decisions—and wondered, how is fate determined? Because it was surely not by doing everything by the book, as she could attest; making all the right decisions and never slipping up, or, completely fearless, taking every risk there is.     

Or, in Susie’s case, regretting the risk taken.

What was it all about then? Was it possible a young girl’s life had been in vain? Eileen couldn’t get that thought out of her head fast enough either–but what point had Susie’s story served?  

I believe there remains this huge attachment to history, to lessons learned. There’s everything right about that, learning about life through stories, because everything goes back to stories handed down through generations, or other firsthand accounts; or film, novels, periodicals, and journals—every single way we get stories counts. Because every story goes back to the people in them.

We were just three young girls full of life and dreams and hopes, who knew nothing about the vagaries of fate—or that vagaries even existed.   

We were like a million other girls.

Dog to Writer: Life Isn’t a List

Baby and LeeBaby Rae, my Australian cattle dog, is talking to me.

How do I know? She’s bringing me things, all sorts of things: dog-speak for, Hey, down here!  So far, she’s deposited a muddy ball in my lap, a sock from the laundry room, and remnants of the newspaper front page.

I get it: she has a valid point. I’ve been “missing in action” again, my head firmly up—watch it—in the air. Lost in the ether. Inside myself. Not part of the world.

I’ve been gazing at a computer screen the better part of a weekend, tying up loose ends and marketing stuff re my novel’s release (The Angry Woman Suite) at the end of this month; getting taxes out of the way, and trouble-shooting my husband’s long term care insurance reimbursements, grrrr (note: this is how insurance actually works: you pay the provider—much the same as you pay premiums before you’re ever eligible for benefits, on time—and then the insurance company gets around to reimbursing you at their leisure).

Leisure being the operative word.

But back to the point: Baby and I have a “contract.”

When I brought Baby across the border to the U.S., I vowed never to let harm come to her if I could help it; and to feed her, exercise her, give her rawhide treats, groom her, take her to the “puppy doctor,” throw balls for her to fetch, and sit with her in the sun, preferably for hours on end. And to sing “How Much is That Doggy in the Window?” before she falls asleep at night (don’t ask).

For her part, she shows up.

See how uncomplicated dogs keep things?

But this is what Baby keeps reminding me: Love isn’t a list. And neither is life.

Instead, it’s about showing up, sharing food, and not biting others. Pretty simple.

And I know this, but I sometimes forget. That’s why we need dogs, who teach by example, and so of course they never forget the lesson. And the lesson is that somewhere in the middle of anything is the balance for everything. And balance, not a list with everything on it crossed off, is the goal, the optimum—the whole point of sucking air.

Not that I can leave my lists behind. Or doing. You might as well ask me to make my tall self shorter.

But I can keep aiming for balance.

The muddy ball is back in my lap. And we all know where this is going.

I’m closing down the computer. Baby’s an excellent teacher: we’re going outside.

We’re going to be instead of do.

New Release Critics’ Pick: The Angry Woman Suite

Hi all, First off, a big SORRY to my poor dear friends reading this and already so over hearing the following, BUT—    

Just. One. More. Time. (promise) . . . so here goes:

My soon-to-be available novel, The Angry Woman Suite, about a Pennsylvania murder and its effects on two subsequent generations, was named a “New Release Critics’ Pick” by Kirkus Reviews last week (google Kirkus online newsletter of 1/4/12).

I did have champagne for dinner that night . . . and that’s all, just champagne.  

Second, while I’m so obviously aboard the “all about me” train tonight, I’d like to talk more about The Angry Woman Suite, starting with the lovely cover design by artist Laurie Fuller, which several people have asked about, as in who is this beautiful woman?

Still others have asked if The Angry Woman Suite is biographical or partly autobiographical (no, it’s not; it’s fiction, although it incorporates many historical elements); and others have asked about the title, if it means what it sounds like; i.e., a bunch of pissed women off their meds.    

The novel’s title refers to a famous suite of (ten) portraits that figure predominantly in the novel’s plot. This collection of paintings is called The Angry Woman Suite.  

The woman on The Angry Woman Suite cover is Magdalene Grayson, the model for this suite of portraits.    

The novel—mystery and love story and coming-of-age (three intersecting stories)—is told by three narrators in different time zones (between the early 1900s and 1968), in Pennsylvania.

Magdalene Grayson is not a narrator, but she is pivotal to the lives of all three narrators.

She is the love interest of one narrator, Aidan, and the mother of a second (more about him later). The third (and lead) narrator is her step-granddaughter, Elyse, who is the glue of the novel (and we know everything about Elyse, every thought in her head, from page one, on). But Magdalene remains a bit elusive, which is why I chose not to make her a narrator: I wanted her elusive. She is a beautiful cipher wrapped up in a riddle—and I think the book’s cover art captures her mystery.

So moving forward with what I love best about writing fiction, creating characters, two excerpts from The Angry Woman Suite follow. Both concern Magdalene Grayson from Aidan’s point of view. But the second excerpt, which shows Aidan’s new, wavering perception of Magdalene, reveals as much about Aidan as it does Magdalene.     

We meet Magdalene briefly when she is in her early thirties—but then, moving back in time, we get another, different picture of her through Aidan’s eyes, when she is sixteen—and it is not love between them. It is not even like.

What it is, is disdain on both sides.   

Because Magdalene is one of those people born observant and curious, and so she questions everything. She will listen, but all the while she’s likely to be thinking, “I wonder when the bullshit ends and your real story begins?” The much older Aidan finds this threatening to his walled-off existence.

This is what Aidan says about Magdalene when she is sixteen, in 1916:

“And from the back of Magdalene, I could tell nothing. I saw only a fall of long blond hair, the way she straightened her broad shoulders, and the dirt on her skirt where she’d been sitting . . . when she turned back around, her pale eyes were anguished. Other than that, she looked fine, same as always: large and awkward for a sixteen-year-old. What I didn’t see was that Magdalene Grayson’s bigness was smooth and symmetrical, even classical. I didn’t see it because, primarily, Magdalene did not impress me, never had. And I had my reasons (and it’s a long list). Let me condense it for you: Magdalene was difficult. She was damn difficult. Even as a first-grader she’d been difficult, restless and moody, regularly declining participation in the schoolyard, not wanting to be in my band, looking at me with disdain, as if she knew more than I.”

But a year later, on the eve of America’s entry into WWI, at Magdalene’s wedding reception—and Aidan has not seen Magdalene during this year—this is what he has to say about the woman destined for imminent widowhood, who will subsequently and unintentionally start a war on their own rural home front while having to choose between two men, and shield her disfigured sister from murder charges. . . .

Again, this is a year later, at Magdalene’s wedding reception through Aidan’s eyes:

“. . . But then, when they were almost on us, Magdalene turned her head. Our eyes locked, as did the breath in my chest.

            “I’ll close my mouth,” Jamie whispered in my ear, “if you close yours.”

            Her beauty was more spectacular than even Lothian’s. Whereas Lothian’s face was soft and oval-shaped, Magdalene’s had become chiseled angularity, fine and even—yet she wasn’t just beautiful. She had mystique, something rarely seen; it was something in her eyes. Tendrils of pale hair escaped the white snood she wore, making a halo around her damp forehead and flushed cheeks, and I sensed rather than heard Matthew’s own soft exclamation when she laughingly brushed Frederick’s cheek with her lips, lips that were wide and red and ripe, parted slightly, teasing, yet weirdly circumspect . . . 

            She was real, the dream existed, and of course she was not a good woman, this lovely dream of mine. How could she be? She’d been a challenging child to put it mildly, so she couldn’t be long-suffering like my mother, or generous like Sahar. No, Magdalene Grayson was interesting. She was inquisitive, fractious, self-absorbed and judgmental. And to top it off she was totally out of reach, and the absolute worst thing in the world for me.

            Of course I wanted her.

            Exhilarated, I looked closer and saw those pale eyes weren’t actually unkind; how could I have ever thought that? It was question I now saw in those eyes, and suddenly I also saw the rub . . .”

 Okay, so what’s the rub? Well, The Angry Woman Suite will be available at the end of February, so stay tuned.

 Not nice, huh? *smile*

However, what the rub is not, in this story, is truth. And the truth is that sometimes when we fall in like/love/lust—as Aidan’s apparently beginning to do—we are compelled to square that decision with a previous assessment. I mean, who’s going to say to him or herself, “I’m attracted to so-and-so because no one sets buildings on fire the way s/he does?”   

No sane person. So the first assessment has to be modified. Also, this last bit of narrative suggests our walled-off Aidan possesses at least a modicum of vulnerability.     

Thanks for coming by, and more on The Angry Woman Suite characters later—and, oh, my “metaphor,” the wooden ship! More on it, too. I’ll walk down to the bay and get new photos (see my post of 1/4/12), and be back with you in a week or so.  

A Magic Place

Happy Thanksgiving week! A lot of us are on holiday break right now, or will be (and I’m one), so I’m writing just the one post this week—and then I’m off to cook like mad, eat like mad, and hang with those I love.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother lately, who died too young—and not just because of Thanksgiving, although that is part of it . . . but I think it’s also my crazy life: sick husband, FT job, house, writing, what’s going on with my book right now. . . . 

No booze in Norden.  

Her name was Donna, and she had an isolated start as an only child living in the Sierras, in a place called Norden (close to where the Donner party perished), in a small railroad cabin. In the winters she couldn’t even see out the windows for all the snow—and there were no other children around; no playmates. It was a lonely existence.    

Donna’s father worked for the railroad, which was the first reason they’d moved to remote Norden, to tend trains crossing the mountains. Donna’s neurotic, alcohol-loving mother was the second reason. There was no booze in Norden, so her sobriety was guaranteed—there was nothing but a railroad platform, work station, and the railroad cabin.  

Donna’s father was a loving man, but her suddenly sober, 40-year-old mother was not. She was sullen, thirsty, and ignored the little girl. But Donna’s father had to work long, hard hours, so Donna, for all intents and purposes, alone, learned to nurture herself. She made an extended family: her dog Laddie, the chickens, and her doll. She was a self-reliant dreamer who imagined herself one day living in a city surrounded by lots of friends. She dreamed she’d be loved. Immensely loved. And she’d have children. Happy children. In the meantime, she loved on Laddie and her doll—and the few books the family brought with them to Norden.  

And, as it would turn out, books were to be Donna’s ticket out of Norden. Her father realized that Donna’s mother couldn’t home school Donna, so the family eventually moved to Sacramento. Finally, the city!  

But there was booze in Sacramento. . . .

And Donna’s mother found it. Drunk, she often beat Donna and locked her in a dark closet for hours on end. Blaming herself for the abuse, a shamed Donna didn’t tell her father. She covered her bruises and took refuge in books instead. But when Donna was twelve, a neighbor told Donna’s father what she’d seen and heard while he was at work. Donna’s mother was committed, which often happened to alcoholics in those days. 

Her father eventually remarried, to a woman with children, and Donna became part of a real family. It was a bit of a John Irving-type family, but after what Donna had been through, she thought she’d died and gone to heaven. She started making friends, and doing well in school. Very well in school. Donna was a sharp cookie who could not only read and write circles around everyone else, but she was also an accomplished musician.  

Donna fell in love and married—and I was her first-born. A lot happened to Donna after she married—life changed many times over, which is the nature of life, change—but I remember the laughter, music, and the books, those things my mother loved most, after her three kids

The books and music nurtured my mother’s spirit, as did quiet time. I think she must’ve been leery of her childhood wounds, afraid she’d reopen them, of becoming anything like her mother. Though she didn’t dwell on her childhood trauma, she was vigilant against its aftermath of depression and migraines, and she avoided conflict, and even, sometimes, too much intimacy. She was careful how much she let others see. 

She wanted happiness and she kept her eye on that ball, having learned young that if she didn’t nurture herself, she’d lose her semblance of balance. 

So books were everywhere in my mother’s house—but not strewn. Nothing but nothing in her house was strewn. But books were part of our backdrop, like the lamps. And we all read. We read like mad. And my mother’s taste and mine meshed. We talked of the Brontes and Alcott, Dickens and Mitchell, and many other authors and stories, as well as the stories playing out on the block we lived on. She told me the story of her isolated early life (though she didn’t tell me of the abuse until I was an adult). She talked, I listened. And I began writing, and she began typing up my little stories and poems and sending them to magazines.

But then something happened: full-blown adolescence. My writing became private, sacrosanct. I didn’t appreciate my mother’s overtures–the magic was gone. She could no longer do anything right. All her decisions had ruined my life.

I think this often happens with mothers and daughters, that mothers don’t get the credit they deserve, because we daughters are somewhat wired to, at some point, pull away in order to become our own women.

Well, my wiring was pretty good.

My adolescence (and young adulthood) was one giant pull-away. For many reasons. But then I came back. And after a pretty big, disapproving, “Well, you took your time,” my mother never said another word about my crappy behavior or about not living up to my potential. Not once—and I eventually got life and discipline on track, and the best years with my mother began: we were grownups together, talking stories–the magic was back.

When my mother passed, my niece read a journal entry of mine at Mother’s memorial service. I’d written of my mother’s connection with each of her children. With my sister, it was cooking, and with my brother, music. I did write of the pride Mother took in my writing, but what I felt when I wrote that entry was nothing like what I feel today, because this story/reading-writing connection I had with my mother was so natural, so intrinsic, like having two arms, that not having her in my life anymore couldn’t be wholly absorbed. It was like I was missing parts of me, my other pair of arms, and it didn’t feel real.   

Until, actually, right now, when our shared love of stories has morphed again, this time into my novel, The Angry Woman Suite—

—and I’m missing her. Really, really missing her. And, finally, fully,  appreciating her.

I actually imagine my mother and me sitting at the kitchen table, where we always sat and talked, and she wants to know everything, every last detail about The Angry Woman Suite, and the whole publishing process, and then who said what, where, when, how, and why. 

And I’m thanking her. I’m thanking her profusely. Not only for giving me books, for instilling the love of words and sharing the magic of storytelling, but for showing me how to self-nurture. For teaching me that nurturing is not only okay, but required when shit hits the fan or responsibilities mount and time’s not getting any longer.

First she gave me the life, and then she gave me purpose, and then she showed me how to keep my balance—all pretty cool things to give someone, and I’m grateful.    

And her dream did become reality: she was immensely loved, and she knew it.      

I’m thankful for that, too.

Gratitude does feel good. Happy Thanksgiving one and all. I hope your day is wonderful (and the oh-dawn-hundred wake-up call on Black Friday doesn’t kill you). *smile* I’ll be back next Monday . . . or maybe Tuesday.

Being and Doing

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon

Before I pick up where I left off (about my mystery man, Lazarus, and publishing my book), I just have to share something that’s struck me funny. Publishers Lunch Deluxe is a weekly (or whenever they feel like it) report on all things happening in traditional publishing (like what publisher bought what book, and for how much, and which pubs and/or literary agencies are merging or quitting (aka running for their lives).

Okay, so here’s a direct quote from their November 9th bulletin: Amazon announced three more authors who have each sold a million Kindle ebooks or more, but we’re really not going to report on these releases any more.”

Serious? You’re really not going to report on “these releases” anymore? Here’s what I hear: “You Amazon people and this so-called new age of publishing (read: indie, who are over-populating the Kindle play list) are major pissing us off, so we’re not going to play with you again, ever. So there.”

Moving on . . . the three newest authors to join the Kindle Million Club are David Baldacci, Amanda Hocking (indie–you go, girl), and Stephanie Meyer. 

And now back to me. *smile* And Lazarus Bening (his spy name). But, first, a question:

How many of us, do you think, are doing/being what we pictured ourselves doing/being when we were, say, 17? Or 21?

I knew Lazarus Bening while I was still in high school. He was four years older, in college. He wanted to become a commercial pilot—he didn’t. He became a teacher instead (what I’d believed I’d end up doing, though I was never excited at the prospect). Because I was so unmotivated by the career choice picked by my parents, I became more of a “fritterer” than a serious college student, trying on all sorts of mindsets and people, and having way more fun than was legal. Along the way, Lazarus and I parted.   

Come to find out, Lazarus began writing. Essays and short stories at first, in-between teaching classes. He published a novel. He published two more. Fiction for men. He gained a following (while I was still frittering), all unbeknownst to me.

And then we met again after an embarrassingly long time, at a signing for his latest novel that my writer cohort-friend, Josh, dragged me to. And the first stupid thing I said to Lazarus was:

“I didn’t know you were a writer.”

He laughed a little (very little).

And the second stupid thing I said was (because this event was about his book, not mine, duh): “I have a book too!”

I explained about my novel, The Angry Woman Suite, and how my agent had left the book business for a new career in finance, and how I was now thisclose to going indie.

Lazarus’ expression had turned—quizzical, maybe? I couldn’t read him. He said, “I have two words for you.”

Uh-oh. Was he still that ticked over what had happened between us a thousand years ago?

I swallowed hard. I was a “grownup” now—I could take what was coming (and what, truth be told, I probably deserved). But I moved in a little closer to Josh anyway.  

“Telemachus Press,” Lazarus said.

“Excuse me?”

“Telemachus Press. Best there is.”

And then, “Steve Jackson’s the guy you want to talk to—a good guy; he’ll steer you straight. He’ll get your novel out there, and it’ll be done right; a class act.”

And that, my friends, between my writer friend Josh, and my computer guy, and old flame Lazarus is the more or less true story of how I came to know Steve Jackson at Telemachus Press. Steve Jackson is truly Mr. Wonderful. Every phone call and email is responded to quickly and thoroughly—and Steve makes me laugh. A BIG plus-plus.

Two big thumbs-up for Telemachus Press.    

The Angry Woman Suite will be out in a couple of months—I think. Maybe longer. Depends on how the editing goes—I think. And how the cover goes. (I’m picturing a black and white cover, because The Angry Woman Suite is largely a period piece, taking place between 1915 and 1968.) An amazing review of The Angry Woman Suite goes public on the Kirkus Reviews website 12/15/11, but you can read it here— it’s a link in the right column. 

And Lazarus?

Well, like it or not, first loves leave lasting marks on us. Maybe not big fat scars; maybe only scratches—but, whichever, we’re changed forever.    

But this is what grownups do when assessing our scars and scratches: we notice the parts we played, or didn’t, in all our relationships. We forgive others and ourselves, and we heal. We keep evolving—otherwise, the point would be??–and we stay open.

We make the positives a part of us, and store the negatives for future reference.

Reference for—what, you ask?     

Whatever comes along next—and, well, in this case, you’ve got to know that every player in my life story, and every take-away, is going to end up in a book someday (or a post)—or maybe already has. *smile*

Thanks for coming by! More later in the week. . . .     

 

The Angry Woman Suite Comes In From The Cold

Happy Halloween! And thanks so much to all of you who sent encouraging emails and/or left comments at my Oct. 27th post.  

For those checking in with me for the first time, my back story is that I’ve written a historical-commercial novel called The Angry Woman Suite (about a double murder in the early 1900’s, in Pennsylvania, and subsequent fallout on two generations). The novel, both mystery and love story, garnered very good reviews, and a literary agent.

But back stories, like life, never have straight trajectories, and this one is no exception. In my case, my agent left the publishing business (I’d nothing to do with it, I swear! I’m not that powerful!) . . .

. . . though e-readers are. . . .  

And so my new paradigm became a sudden and succinct bottom line of no agent = no contract. The Angry Woman Suite went from promising, front and center, to Nowhere Land, out in the cold—and took me with it.

What to do next? Well, after some impressive dithering and waffling on my part, I met two men whom I’ve introduced via previous posts: potty-mouthed Josh, who looks a little like Ashton Kutcher on a bad day, with glasses (which is still an excellent look). Josh is a successful non-fiction writer who told me to get off the dime (and with the program, with digital publishing and a blog).

The other man is Tim, who’s a much shorter, much younger version of Obama (though I’d bet Baby Rae’s next chicken treat Tim’s never seen the inside of a business suit). Tim’s a rumpled genius. A kind, rumpled genius who put my blog together (and never once laughed or snickered, at least so I could hear, at my lack of computer skills).  

And now here I am—and if someone had told me a year ago I’d be a blogger, I’d have sniggered and said odds are I’ll strip to my skivvies and run half-naked through Balboa Park first—and we all know that’s never going to happen.  

Put another way, never say never.

My last post ended with Parts 1 and 2 of scary things to try before I die, so coming up next, naturally, would be Part 3 of what I now call The Angry Woman Suite Project—as in Manhattan minus the bomb stuff.

I pretty much thought I’d get at least ten blog posts out of the arts of dithering, waffling, whining and attendant nuances before moving forward with Part 3, which was to name who will format my baby (The Angry Woman Suite) and put it out there—but here’s what’s happened: another never.  

I met a third man. Actually, I met two more men. One I can’t talk about—yet. Mystery man.

(Hint: I knew him a long time ago, in school, and could never have predicted what he’s become since, or how it could affect the “project.)    

The other is Steve Jackson (aka Mr. Wonderful, and he is). Steve is the voice for Telemachus Press. I’ll be writing more about Steve and Telemachus as we go along, but for now my headline in the sky reads:

The Angry Woman Suite is coming in from the cold.  

So, Part 3 of the “project” has been implemented—already! I have a publisher, and I’m very excited at the prospect of working with Telemachus.

Know what’s odd? My entire writing life has been mostly shadowed (in a good way) by women; i.e., my mother, teachers, my critique group, my agent, my editor. But have you noticed that all the new people in my “project” story are men? Four—count ’em—four. And I’m just getting started.  

Poor me. *smile*     

Thought for the day, courtesy of Kristin Lamb:

“Learn to have a healthy relationship with failure . . . if we aren’t failing, we’re not doing anything interesting.”

Next post will be more on digital publishing and coming in from the cold; mystery men, and Telemachus Press.   

I post on Mondays and Thursdays, and sometimes more, but sometimes less. “See” you next time, and be good to yourselves.

Have fun tonight!