books, writing

A New Chapter

blogsara1

I signed the contract.

My book, “Sara When She Chooses,” will be published.

The process begins and I’m a sponge eager to absorb every step, because this! this! is what I’ve been hoping, dreaming, working toward.

It’s a strange sensation; a combination panic and anticipation. I really want to work. My literary energy is foaming and fomenting. At the same time, I want the luxury of staring at each step and memorizing it, wallowing in it. I’ve had years of rejections and have learned to appreciate them as sometimes inspirational, sometimes instructional, but mostly as proof to myself that I don’t give up. I’m proud of my incessant head-banging on publishers’ doors.

One of the most important lessons I learned was that sometimes the work is rejected because it’s not done. Revisit. Revise. Don’t be afraid to cut and abandon. You created this thing. It lives inside you. Nothing you do to it on paper will destroy the source from which it came.

You’ve got more in you.

In my own journey, I’ve been asked to submit a brief bio and photo…(visions arise of the nod to the writer contained on the back flap of most dust covers, or the last page of most paperbacks).

I’ve been asked to think about what I’d like to see in the way of cover art. This engendered an internet foray, shamelessly pirating images to try and convey my ideas to the publisher’s illustrator.

I realize I’m about words, but not pictures.

Then came the marketing questionnaire. A weighty list of queries delving into hitherto unexplored areas. What bookstores and radio and TV stations are in my locale? What questions would a reading group enjoy exploring in relation to my book? How would I describe my work to someone interested in buying it?

I realize I’m about words, but not salesmanship.

I begin to realize how much I need the expertise embodied in the publishers, Bedazzled Ink and its subsidiaries.

For a moment, my brain…shifts. This is real.

My life is in the hands of my publishers and then, if all goes well, in the minds of my readers.

It’s a feeling unlike any other. I won’t be the same person at the end of this process. I’m kind of scared.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

blogsara2

Standard
Just bitchin', writing

#ThomasGibson and The Insidious Art of Attraction

137546062KI146_14th_Annual_

Never been a fangirl.

Made it through pre-pubescence and adolescence and entered adulthood without papering my bedroom walls or my locker at school with depictions of male (or female) pulchritude. Never stood in line for hours to gather with adoring masses bent on ogling an idol on stage or screen.

Never swooned. Never sighed. Never stalked.

Felt kind of superior because of it. Wore my immunity like a smug, intellectual haz-mat suit. The rest of you can waste your time mooning after people you’ll never meet or really know. As for me? I’ll forge ahead with ‘real’ life…

But then…

Gibson.

Not a tsunami. Not a thunderclap.

Rather, an insidious invasion.

Innocent channel surfing. Hmmm…nice voice…easy on the eyes, too…this guy’s fun to watch. I put the remote down, unaware of the treacherous terrain I’ve entered. Like Little Red Riding Hood, flitting from butterfly to butterfly, I am drawn, episode by episode, along a path the destination of which I would never have chosen.

I begin to pay attention to more than physical attributes. The multifaceted character, a dark and stoic FBI agent, lures me in.

But I’m not a fangirl.

It’s just an intriguing depiction by a talented actor. It’s subtle with twists and turns that begin to fascinate. More. Want more.

So, being a writer, I frown when a television show’s plots don’t reveal enough or go far enough. In the back of my mind, as I’m otherwise engaged, idle musings begin to form. Next thing I know, I’m writing my own tales of Hotchner. I discover a place that wants them. Fanfic. With trepidation, I enter.

But I’m not a fangirl.

It’s just fun to have a place to write where editors and publishers aren’t staring down your neck, picking at every word. It’s freedom from having to compromise and capitulate. I can write my heart out without censor. And that’s where the devious, dark Hotchner makes his sly entre into my literary soul.

But I’m not a fangirl.

Fast-forward.

Three years later, this fictional character has become my guilty, secretive hobby. Someone who sits on my shoulder and whispers scenes and dialogue; who opens himself up to endless, psychological investigation. Someone with whom I now look forward to spending time.

And then, he’s gone.

With guillotine swiftness and scalpel-keen incisions, he’s gone.

I am bereft, blinking in the sudden glare of reality when I wanted to continue, feeding off of the tragic shadows that surrounded the Hotchner. The tremor that quakes through my peripheral, little world starts small, then spreads. I sit at my keyboard with nothing to say. The blood has drained from my writer’s brain. Somehow, some-when, Gibson’s portrayal snagged me and infiltrated my carefully cool psyche; his departure not only crippling my hobby, but my capacity to write at all.

I realize I’m in mourning. I realize…

Oh, crap. I’m a fangirl.

Worse…I’m a fangirl grieving for a character I didn’t know had taken control of a sub-level of my mind.

Damn you, Gibson, you magnificent bastard…how the hell did you manage that?

bloggibson2

Standard
books, Just bitchin'

Literary Candy

blogtaste1Inclement weather is a bookworm’s friend.

We have an excuse to stay indoors, pull the ‘Welcome’ mat in after us, and immerse ourselves in the printed word to an extent that would make us feel guilty on a bright, sunny day. I began my annual literary hibernation over the nice, long, stormy Thanksgiving weekend.

I was looking for a holiday read. You know… the kind of thing that will be a mild diversion and can be consumed with ease, or, alternatively, be abandoned without remorse at holiday’s end. The kind of book called ‘fluff’ or ‘inconsequential’ or ‘brain-candy.’

I also wanted something more, shall we say…meaty.

blogtaste2

I selected two novels. One was authored by a Pulitzer Prize winner. The other was a joint effort by two women whose steady day-jobs are in the fashion industry. You can probably guess which was ‘fluff’ and which was ‘meaty.’

But the read was totally unexpected.

I opened the Pulitzer’s offering to be greeted by a two-page family tree. Dozens of names, some of which were only mentioned in passing throughout the course of the long, long story. I had to bookmark this reference tool and return to it every few pages, working out the relationships of characters that drifted in and out.

It was well-written. It was richly written. The gamut of characters and dialogue and situations and eras was beautifully done. Yet I felt unsatisfied at the end. It required effort to read, but for me the finely detailed portraits didn’t go anywhere. It was masterful, but it didn’t touch me.

It was a Rembrandt painting hanging behind velvet ropes. I could appreciate it, but, having looked my fill, I moved on.

Then there was the brain-candy book.

blogtaste3

I couldn’t put it down.

It accompanied me everywhere so I could devour a few pages at every opportunity: stop lights…lines at the post office…lines at the store…waiting rooms…

It contained grammatical errors. It was completely predictable. It’s characters were thinly-drawn. But it was riveting, because it left enough blank spaces for me to fill in myself and realize I knew these people!! Everyone knows these people! And I know these situations!! Everyone does!!

It was thoroughly enjoyable and when I finished it, I was sad there wasn’t a sequel. I also wondered how many agents would choose the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s work over the crowd-pleasing fluff, if they didn’t know the author’s background and the impressive accolades she’d won with previous work.

It’s a puzzle. It’s also a statement about art.

I’m grateful that Rembrandts exist and are available, but a cartoon can speak volumes, too.

So, hats-off to the majority of writers who will never pen the Great American Novel. But their less-exalted work will touch our souls.

And sometimes you just gotta have candy.

blogtaste4

Standard
poem, writing

A Goreyesque-ly Good Day

bloggorey2

The weather is savage.

Wind churns the bay into frothing whitecaps.

The waves batter against the bulkhead with force that resonates through the cottage’s foundation. Two feet of concrete seems like a flimsy barrier upon which to depend when salty droplets pepper the windows.

Leaves and pine needles fall before the gusty assault, turning into missiles that sting the flesh, scoring it with reddened welts.

You feel small and mortal and anxious before such force.

It’s the perfect start to Halloween weekend.

To make it even better, the online literary journal Goreyesque has published my poem ‘Ogre’ in their Halloween edition.

http://www.goreyesque.com/cat-jenkins

bloggorey1

Always a fan of the subtle, sublime, and unsettlingly brilliant author and artist Edward Gorey, I am honored.

Once again…

…Happy Halloween…

bloggorey3

Standard
writing

Homegrown

blogwifiles1

It’s a weird, little tale combining real estate, and stem cells.

Definitely not for everyone. But it turns out there are people out there who are as strange as I am. It’s just a matter of looking ’til you find them.

It’s also another reminder to never give up. No matter who you are or what you do, persistence pays. One of my favorite quotes from an unknown source is: “There is nothing for push and persistence like a cat’s nose.” Or in this case, a Cat’s submission process.

Flapping about in an emotive display of artistic angst can be an understandable, occasional release. It can even be fun. But when the storm has passed, pick up your flag and keep waving it.

Someone will find you.

Someone like the speculative fiction magazine, WiFiles…

http://thewifiles.com/?p=607

blogwifiles2

Standard
writing

Voices from the Heart

blogvoice1

It took me some time to come to a workable understanding of what ‘voice’ is in writing.

So when it’s challenged, I get a little panicky. My back arches. My ears flatten. I discover I have hackles. I discover they can rise and point. And I have to circle back over the ground I thought I’d claimed and check all the territorial markers to see if it’s still mine…if I can still work with it and defend it.

‘Voice’ in writing perplexed me for a long time. I’d get the inevitable rejections, but somewhere along the way editors and agents began attaching little notes: ‘Nice voice.’ ‘Interesting voice, I’d like to see more.’ ‘Keep developing your voice.’

It felt as though they were talking about something as tangible and declarative as a fingerprint, but I couldn’t see it, or, more accurately, hear it. Then I was told a writer’s ‘voice’ can change from genre to genre and character to character.

Fingerprints don’t do that. Not without acid and intent, anyway.

So how do you grab this slippery, inaudible thing and wrestle it into submission? It squelches around in your hands and defies examination. I mean, ‘voice’ is ‘voice!’ If it’s so identifiable and individual and recognizable, then why is it so hard to see in the plain light of day?!

Because ‘voice’ is a misleading, kind of crappy word to use for it.

I’m stuck with it because it was adopted and put into use long before I wondered if I had one. Or wanted one. Or had even the vaguest hope of producing something other than the harshest of caws when endeavoring to display one.

But when I realized what everyone was talking about, I also realized it’s not a voice. It’s a heartline. It happens when you’re so immersed in writing that the rest of the world disappears. It happens when the words come from the center of your being without artifice or detour. It’s a direct line from your writer’s heart to the page.

Heartline.

It is as changeable as mood and emotion and the sky. But at its core…unchanging.

So ‘voice’ be damned. Write from the heart.

They’ll hear you.

blogvoice3

Standard