Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Creative Correlative

As my sanity wanders dangerously close to the abyss, my creative urges start gurgling and swishing in all directions (and unfortunately nowhere in the vicinity of my next novel). My bones ache to create something, and in this case, something useful and fun. My neighbor, a dear young friend, is having a baby shower this weekend. It will be her first little bundle of ecstasy, so I really wanted to do something special. But let's start with the end of the process...the card.

Today, we have a brief oasis before the scorching 90's return tomorrow, so I spent most of the afternoon outside—eating, reading, drawing, PAINTING. Yes, it's been years, and I mean years, since I got the watercolors out for my own enjoyment. So today I decided to paint a card to go along with the gift I made for little baby Neighbor. And Ghost Daughter has been inside far too much, so I roped her into bringing her new paints out on the patio, too. And voila! Her work of art. She painted it for her brother, his "welcome home from Boy Scout Camp" gift. (ouch...missing him again...)

While she splattered sky all around and grew a watercolor flower and a happy camper, I sprouted a jungle. Now remember, it's been years since I did anything like this, so I'm a little wobbly with the brush...and the pencil. But, I wanted to carry over some of the fun of the gift I made for baby neighbor. Yes, the theme is a baby jungle. No particular reason. I just know that my friend is doing the nursery in yellow and green and they don't want to know the baby's sex until he/she is born. So off to the fabric store for something baby, but unisex. A Jungle! Why not? I found these cute fabrics and they just seemed to fit. And with the final approval of Ghost Children, the theme for a brand new baby quilt was born (sorry about that pathetic pun!)

So, since my writing impulse has been stunted by all this waiting and worry, my creative flow had to find another pipeline, and that would be the quilt. Little baby monkeys, elephants, giraffes, lions, and hippos all peeking through the jungle foliage. How fun! So, in a week or so, I had made a pin-wheel quilt, complete with hand-sewn binding. (Let's hope it doesn't unravel and become a baby hazard...hand-stitching is definitely not my talent!) I love putting these together, though. I've done quilts for both my kids, and they still use them. So far, they haven't come apart...after 8 years, too!  Cards are always hard for me. I tend to like the funny ones (Farside and other twisted humor) or the clever ones. But this time, I really wanted something that drew the color and brightness from the quilt, so I made my own. And, as part of the gift, I'm also including the board book Goodnight, Gorilla. I don't know what the jungle swallowed me up on this one, but I hope it's not too much for my neighbor. There is still a lot of baby here and whether it's a boy or girl, every little schpunt loves jungle babies...right?

Yes, there is a high correlation between creativity and sanity. At least between my creativity and my sanity! When I get stuck in the worry bog, I simply have to find a way to make something new so I spend less time racing through that doomsday scenario over and over again. Ah...creativity therapy.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


We've got it bad in our house. In so many ways. First, Ghost Son is away at camp for the week, the first time he's been on his own for more than a night. We shipped him off Sunday morning with a footlocker full of necessities, including a can full of Slim Jims and a cell phone. He called twice the first day, full of excitement and eager to start working on those merit badges. He sounded so happy and ready for his week away. Sure, we could hear a little homesickness in his voice, and he owned up to it, but said he knew he could handle it.

Last phone call. (Poor Ghost Girl) We figured he was having too much fun and that's just fine.

Today, he called after lunch. There it was. That crack in his voice. That shadow of disillusionment behind the words he chose to describe his experience. Our boy isn't shy about admitting his feelings, and he fessed up to his homesickness right away, but he was handling it, and he wasn't going to cry or carry on. The reason he didn't call last night: Thunder storms moved through the area and knocked out the power. He didn't realize that he could still use his cell phone!

The news for today: he lost his wallet already and was put in a swim class with younger kids, which makes him feel like a loser. But he's still trying to be positive. And at least he is sharing a tent with one of his best buddies.

But here's the killing kind of homesickness: last night, he told his buddy that we might be moving. It was a tough moment, and they handled it like men. They made a pact to visit and stay in touch, no matter what happens. This kicked me hard in the guts. I hate that our little guy has to worry. Worry about where home will be. I hate that he's had to know about it this so long. To be dragged through the anxiety that we have been swimming in for the last 8 months. No 11-year-old should have to feel that. But we had to tell him what was going on back then because so many changes were already set in motion.

This will all pass soon. We know it. But there is going to be a lot of adjustment no matter what the final outcome is. Any day now, we should have an answer. Any day...

There are a lot of positives on the horizon, but even positives mean change and adjustment. I'm ready to find our home, wherever that may be--Georgia, Philly, Arkansas... Just tell us where home is. Soon...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

OOOO! The Ax Has Been Stayed Just a bit Longer!

Yes, it's true. I got an email yesterday--and it wasn't a rejection! It was a congratulations-on-making-it-to-the-final-round-and-could-you-please-do-some-revisions email! This little gem concerns my very first novel, which inspired the name of this blog (the title of the book will be revealed later). The editor's comments were dead-on, and I really hope she'll give me a chance to work on it with her. I've done the revisions already and just have to clean up that nasty synopsis (bane of my existence!).

As for book #2--still waiting. In the meantime, I've sent it in for the Rutgers One-on-One Plus scholarship. Hey, gotta keep getting it out there, right? Something is going to break soon. It's got to!

4:45 pm--Update! I just sent the revisions and synopsis off to BTP. Back to holding my breath. Man! I'm getting dizzy...

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Breakthrough: Character

How many writers begin with an event, the primary plot of the story? How many start with the setting? I have to say that I've done both. In my first YA, there was vague idea of plot floating around, but it really started with a place. My second YA was sparked with a curious historical event that took me to amazing places. As I begin my third novel, I am starting from a whole new place--Character. Yes, character was important in my first two books, but perhaps I should have spent a little more time with them before kicking them out the door. As I await the ax on those two, it's certainly something to consider for revisions.

And now, for YA #3. I begin with character, and with a twist: this is my first stab at a first person narrator, but the story is not about her. It's about someone she's watching, inescapably drawn to her, flitting in and out of her world (literally). A little like Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby. Since her voice is telling the story, I really need to get under her skin and walk around in it for a while. Oh, and one more kicker--she is a real person, not just a fictional character. No pressure there, huh?! Her role in history was rather limited, so that will give me a little room, but the character she is watching has a significant historical presence. OOOO {squeal!} this should be fun!

Now...I hope my family are bracing themselves for a wacko mom, running around the house, muttering to herself. (well, I guess that's nothing new!). This time, I really want to flesh out these characters before I even start writing. So back to my English teacher, lists, sketches. Anything to "get" these gals in my brain...

And in my heart.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A Handful of Hope

Yesterday was a busy day, full of those wonderful little bits of hope and joy that keep you going. First, I attended the SCBWI Editors panel in Bethlehem, where I met some fabulous writers and editors and caught up with friends I haven't seen in a while. Sally Keehn is just a lovely woman who truly loves good storytelling. She was a delight and a great source of inspiration. And Debbie Dady was another fabulous writer who has recently moved into our area from Colorada--we are so lucky! Paul Acampora organized the editor's day and was a terrific host. I love his stories about the Rutgers One-on-One conference! We heard several first pages and the editors gave their responses, most of them very good. There was some quality work offered for their review and the editors offered some solid feedback. I also got a lot of encouragement in my own paper chase for the elusive book contract from these wonderful writers who shared their experiences.

When I got home, an exotic treat awaited me in my lonely old mailbox. Finally treated to something other than bills, my trusty post box yielded a gift my most loyal editing client. We just finished his dissertation, which was submitted for publication in May, and he sent me a treasure from Japan as a "thank you." A beautiful pen that writes in both black and red (perfect for the editor/revising writer!). He is from Japan and we have often corresponded via email across oceans of distance (literally). It's been a joy to work with him, and this little treasure will be a dear reminder.

And the biggest news...da dada DA!!!! Presenting the world premiere of the latest short by C. M. Scott...BIONICLE STORY II! Yep, last night Connor unveiled his latest stop-motion film at the EPES Talent Show. And how awesome is it when not just kids, but parents ask you for your autograph?! The Scott family was puffed up with pride, and shortly after the show, Rita's Italian ice! Keep an eye on Youtube in the next few days. This blockbuster will be making its way to cyberspace soon. What a night...

Now, back to hoping for that book contract, for that perfect job, for a little financial breathing room...