Wednesday, September 30, 2009

VK Sagas Book 2: Secret Graces, Excerpts from manuscript Draft

Spring Fever by Lorelle Bacon (it's not the cover for Secret Graces, I just love this painting and it reminds me of VK)
I took in a deep breath, deep to the bottom of my lungs, then let it out slow, clearing Aunt Ruby’s ghost, clearing thoughts of Momma and men. I watched Dylan prowl back to me. I didn’t move any of my outsides, but my insides were fraidy-frog jumping. When he stood before me and caught up my eyes with his, his pupils reflected what he saw, and it made my messy hair, my scraggled nails, my dirty foot—my everything—shine out as if I was a ten foot tall West Virginia hick girl in torn pedal pushers.

I dreamed of the Mississippi darkness. Then the dark waters parted and a pair of eyes shone out. The eyes watched me with sad loneliness. I tried to look away and I could not, because the eyes were mine. I saw them from the inside out, but they weren’t giving up any secrets, other than that sad lonely cast to them. The eyes closed, and everything was dark again.

Andy and Bobby chewed with their mouths open, their eyes opened wide and staring; they were idiots reincarnated into bigger idiots.

Daddy left the room, and soon ice sounds pounded into his glass. I didn’t look at Rebekha when she sighed that old hurting hopeful sigh, and said, “Well now. Let’s see here. What’s next?”

I ate my dessert. The cold ice-cream froze my tongue. I hoped it froze everyone’s tongue so we’d all just be quiet for a while.

Dylan came to me, ran his hand up my thigh where the wind had played before. He touched my hair. He touched too much.

River laughed and laughed.

I was not my momma. I would not make the mistakes of my women-kin.

Jade watched out her window as two blue jays flew off making a racket. That’s what made blue jays happy, making racket and being big and handsome blue.

I said, “He’s not worth getting sick over.”

“The sad thing is, I thought he would save me.”

I leaned in to her. I needed to know. “Save you from what?”

“I don’t know exactly. But he made me think I was better off with him than without him.”

I thought how women found themselves all in a fix over men. That was what they let men do to them, take away a woman's insides that made them who they were until they weren’t the same person any more. And a woman would somehow feel happy to have it that way. It was like the parasites I learned about in the sciences at school, how the little critters took over the host bit by bit and made the host behave in ways that create a better world for the parasite, not the host.

As I walked between the pews, the stained glass allowed golden light beams to filter through. One touched the top of my head, as if Jesus tried to pull me to him because I was so far away from him. I took in big lung exploding gobs of air. I wanted to believe in something that powerful. I wanted a saving as people who went to church said happened. I wanted the answers to secrets. I wanted many things. There I was, soon to be married, no longer my momma’s little girl riding Fionadala high up her mountain. There I was in a church with light falling on my head like a daddy’s touch. There I was. If I’d ever learned how to cry, I’d have cried then.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cleaning up our manuscripts: stuffing information down readers' throats

Sometimes we feel the need to stuff down too much information to our reader at once, instead of gradually feeding information to the reader, or hinting, or giving them just enough so that they come to their own conclusions.

Or, we'll want the reader to know some "backstory" or other information that is crucial to the storyline and we shove it down their throats in dialogue, in an unnatural way.
Such as,

After describing her heaving bosoms, aqualine green eyes, pouty lips, and determined chin in the mirror, arms akimbo, she stomped her little foot and cried to the room because no one was standing there, "I am going back to the market on fifty-first street today, where I went last week to get tomatoes for the famous homemade sauce my family has made for generations, and while there I saw that dark and dastardly street vendor Raoul and Raoul stole my broach just as it happened with my mother and her mothers mother and her grandmother before her! I shall have vengeance on Raoul this very day or else my name isn't Sabrina Janna Barbarito Deligato!"

Okay, for some reason I always laugh when I see "arms akimbo" - I've never used arms akimbo in my life (other than this example *haw*), but last night while reading a book I saw it! I'd not seen that way to describe hands on hips in ages. I'll never use arms akimbo, but I suppose if you must you must *laughing*

So, friends, what I am talking about here is when you want to take the easy or cheating or unimaginative or lazy way out and force down the throats of your readers information instead of thinking of a better way to allow them to find out in a more natural, or gradual, or the old "show not tell" way, or in a way that gives the reader credit for knowing or figuring out much more than we as writers think they do/can.

I wanted to make a comment about the post below concerning the "describing character while looking in the mirror." Some of you wrote: "Oh no, I have a describing in the mirror scene!" Well, I have a mirror scene: Young Virginia Kate runs to her bedroom to get her camera, sees herself in the mirror, and notices her hair is messy, she has a spot of ketchup on her blouse and it reminds her of the snake's blood. So, she makes these observations and goes on. That's something we'd all do, wouldn't we? We'd pass a mirror and make an observation about ourselves.

But, more important, remember what I keep saying: If you convince your audience, make them believe, make them happy to be where you lead them, engage them in your character's world, you have done your job--Period.

google images from:

Monday, September 28, 2009

I'm back from SIBA in South Carolina

Why do I have two photos that look near the same? because it fascinated me that we looked near the same in both of them despite the moments in between the shots - I look pale and exhausted in both of them because of the recent Angry Appendix episode *laughing* (I am in the black jacket to the far right).

However, despite my pale and exhausted face, I had a wonderful time and so enjoyed SIBA. I met wonderful booksellers from all over the south, along with other authors, publishers and presses, and the SIBA staff. SIBA staff put together a marvelous trade show and I was impressed. I hope to be there next year!
The cartoon drawing above is what Jayne's son (Jayne is in the flowered blouse to the far left) drew while Jayne, Terry, and I (Terry is next to me) sat at Jayne's kitchen table in our jammies playing a board game called "Life Stories" after a long day at the trade show. Jayne's son James came in and sat with us a while, and the subject of ax murderers came up (you had to be there, haw!). James drew that lovely picture just for me *laughing* -- as in, "Hey, Kat, here's an ax murderer going into your room in the middle of the night ...hahaha!" Thanks a lot James! *grin*
James helped us so much on Friday by hauling in books, fetching us lunch, and various other things we needed a strong and helpful son to help us with.

Angela, Terry, and I were so very happy to stay at Jayne's house while in Greenville, SC for the conference. Jayne and her family are warm and inviting and I am honored I was invited to be a part of their household.

Dawn Cusick was at the conference with us, but only a short time on Saturday, so I didn't get a photo of her nor was she at Jayne's house, but I was glad to get to know her, as well.

Each of us writes in a different genre in a different way. Jayne is a poet (check out her website below for her beautiful gift books of poetry that will touch your heart), Terry Rollins is author of "Married to the Military" and is offering a book as a give-away -- the first person who leaves a comment asking for "Married to the Military" will receive a signed copy (and the only caveat to this give away is that it be in the US or Canada), Angela Dove is author of the "true crime" book "No Room for Doubt," and Dawn has children's books - one of which is "Bug Butts."

My book signing went well; my books were snatched up quickly and that made me happy.
More later, I have much to catch up on, but I am already looking forward to next year's Siba Conference.
Next stop: Louisiana Book Festival October 17 in Baton Rouge!
I hope this post made some sense - I'll be catching up on emails today, working on Secret Graces (since I haven't been able to since Thursday), and I hope to visit around with you all soon.
Here is more information on the authors/poet above . . . check them out and support our writers and poets!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Forehead Butt Society . . .

Yes, it is Sunday and time for my inductorees into the Forehead Butt Society !

I am still at the SIBA Trade Show, but will be going home today . . . well, as I'm writing this, I'm actually still in my bathrobe and it's Tuesday; however, there is that neat little "publish this later" thingee in blogger I am using! teehee. In fact, I set the time to go up right as I'm doing my booksigning there!

For former inductoreenies, just scroll down, but so far we have: Stephen King, Ben Franklin, and some furry canine foreheadbutters, and of course, Me.
Once again, us FB'ers are creative, and wonderful, and all things supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the latest inductorennis into the society. Ah! Proud we all are!

Now, relax and enjoy your Sunday, or if you've a mind to - go DO the Day!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Tag, everyone's it ...teehee ....

I lifted this from Angie's Gumbo Writer's blog and put it here before I left for my SIBA conference -- I wonder what I'm doing at the Siba Conference right now - don't know since as I write this, I'm actually sitting in my leather chair in the study....

. . . Answer the questions on your blog, replace one question you dislike with a question of your own invention. Then tag a few people to answer the questions. Of course since I never tag people, and Angie didn't tag people, you can tag yourself if you like!

1) What’s your current obsession? The second VK book – Secret Graces.

2) What’s your weirdest obsession? If I crack one knuckle, I have to crack them all or I feel wonky—so it’s crack crack crack! DANG IT – I just had to crack my knuckles because I even MENTIONED cracking my knuckles—hold on while I do the rest. I also hate people putting their barefeet on me.

3) What are you wearing today? Yoga pants, and my Moondance t-shirt

4) Why is today special? Why not? (OKay, all I could think of was the "I woke up alive" cliche *laugh*)

5) What would you like to learn to do? I wrote about five things and they were
all dangerous or wild, which leads me to believe I want to learn to do something dangerous and wild. But I'd also like to learn how to be patient.

6) What’s the last thing you bought? I can’t remember. Huhn. Now what did I buy? Oh! I think it was the outfit I bought on super duper sale the week before my angry appendix incident - $150 dollar outfit for $15! Whoop!

7) What are you listening to right now? The dryer flipping around my clothes, the dog running up and down the porch. GMR in the kitchen cooking something.

8) What’s your favorite weather? The first warm day of sunshine after going through winter.

9) What’s your most challenging goal right now? I want Tender Graces to be a success while also working on Secret Graces to make that a success, while trying to do my part with Rose & Thorn, all without compromising my friends and family and rest.

10) What are you afraid of? Being ordinary.

11) What's your favorite guilty pleasure? Rich milk chocolate. Oh! And blueberry cobbler ice cream. Oh! And gelato, and cheesecake, …I could go on.

12) Favorite vacation spot? I don’t know; I live where I love to be all the time, but I love going to visit my son and his wife in Oregon, and visiting my family in Texas, and my friends in Louisiana, and my homestate of West Virginia, but going to the ocean once in a while would be nice (which sometimes I do get to do while in Oregon!).

13) What would you like to have in your hands right now? See number 11.

14) What would you like to get rid of? Negative voices.

15) If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go? To see my son in Oregon and give him a big hug and give Sarah his wife a big hug and touch her belly where my granddaughter is about to burst forth into this silly old world.

16) Which language do you want to learn? Blackfoot.

17) What super power would you like to possess? I always say invisibility, but, I would mis-use it -yes, I know I would. It may not be a good idea for me to be able to become invisible at all! So, maybe super strength, or wait! be able to move really really fast but not be any more tired from it - boy, I could clean my house! Oh wait! I thought of another one! Super duper fast Flying so I could fly to Oregon and then fly to Texas and then La - without having to check my bags - just ZIP and I'm there hi y'all, then zip I'm back home.

18) What’s your favorite thing about the city you live in? The Great and Ancient Smoky Mountains and its people.

19) What’s your favorite piece of clothing in your own closet? A silky pair of men’s tailored jammies that I just love to wear, esp after just stepping out of the shower. Maybe not my favorite thing to wear outside of the house, but that’s the first thing that came to mind. A good fitting pair of jeans, a white blouse, my navy blazer, and brown boots always wins it for me.

20) What’s your dream job? I’m living it – editor and writer--but I'd add to that "New York Times Bestselling author of .....

21) What is the last thing that happened that made you laugh really hard? I know it’s SO stupid, but watching America’s Funniest Home videos – last night some people turned around and around on a baseball bat and then stood up and stumbled all over the place and for some reason this just cracks me up--there are others - but I hate the "Slow Mo" or the "Belly, Head, or Crotch" stuff - boring!

22) Do you admire anyone’s style? Jamie Lee Curtis.

23) Describe your personal style. Eclectic.

24) Whose fashion show would you want tickets to? Haven’t a clue, and if I hadn’t of already changed a question, I’d change this one. Hmm…so I’ll pretend it asked what show do you want tickets to and I say “Oprah, but as one of her guests where she gives everyone a copy of Tender Graces while I’m grinning like there’s no tomorrow … eheeheehehe" However, I've always wanted to be on a show where they do those make-overs and step out all doodied up with a cool haircut and make up and clothes.....teeheehehe silly, I know, but still.

25) What talent would you like to have? Dancer – dancers are so lovely – and in such good shape.

26) What are you most proud of? My son; my family; Tender Graces.

27) If you could choose one person to have lunch with who would it be and why? Neil deGrasse Tyson—he’s uber smart but personable and fun; and I love scientists, love watching the science channel or Nova scienceNow, love hearing about String Theory, the Theory of Everything. Love hearing about the Big Bang, about our universe—just love all that.

Friday, September 25, 2009

SIBA Trade Show & Guesting, instead of my Friday Shoot Outs!

If you are reading this, it means I didn't get my Friday Shoot Outs here in time before I had to leave early today for the SIBA Trade Show in South Carolina. I am going with several other writers, and we are staying with a poet who lives in SC. I've never been to one of these, so I'm curiou. I hope it is productive.
I am also "guest blogging" at the SIBA blog "Wanda's Wonderful Book Blog, entitled: Tender Gratitude
So . . . well, have a great weekend. See you later!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Lookin' in the mirror: cleaning up our manuscripts

I think many of us may have been guilty of some form of this early in our writing journey: Describing our characters while they look into the mirror; or more specific, the character describes him/herself while looking into the mirror.

It's a cliché!

Remember how I've been writing about "picturing the scene" so that it is realistic to your reader? Well, how often in real life do we stand in front of the mirror and do this (of course I'm having a bit of fun with it):

Jane stared into her sparkling emerald green eyes and blinked, letting her long full eyelashes sweep against her full pink cheeks. She admired her thick golden hair as she brushed it one-hundred strokes plus one to grow on. Her pert nose perted, and her full lips fulled to the fullest. Her high proud forehead with its widow's peak didn't have a forehead butt as that wench Kat Magendie had, and so Jane squeezed her perfectly arched tawny brows together so she, too, could have a forehead butt like the other geniuses did. Jane's heaving bosom heaved as she turned away from the mirror because she was pretty much finished describing herself.

We don't do that. We don't describe ourselves like that in the mirror (actually, who describes herself like that anywhere? *laughing*). I'm not saying that a person never checks out their reflections and comments on something. Sometimes we do that. We look into the mirror and go, "Oh geez-it-gawd, when did I get hair on my upper lip!" haw!

I'm just saying: Be careful with the cliché of a character looking into the mirror and giving physical description. It's been done and done and done to death and it's not a "natural" realistic scene. Remember, picture the scene and make it realistic. Convince your audience.

I am off to my one-week appointment with the surgeon who removed my Angry Appendix. I expect him to say, "You are doing great and I never need see you again . . . " Yeah!

I can't tell you all in enough words how wonderful it is to come here and read all of your comments... *smiling* The days can be pretty reclusive as I work on Secret Graces, so you all are an important part of my day ...thank you for your support.


PS - well had my 1 week check up - I thought the little bandage thingees would come off; nope! Still there. He said if they don't fall off in another week, take them off. I wanted them! *laughing* He also said no lifting over 15lb or for at least another week. Said I'd still feel the fatigue for at least another week. Dang. Said I could resume most activities starting Monday, except for the lifting and no "sit ups," and take it slow. I told him I was going to a Trade Show this weekend - he lifted an eyebrow, but said "Well, you're going to be tired...."

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blog Walking . . .

Today I've decided instead of a post, I will do some blog walking. All of you have been so supportive, stopping by here, reading my ramblings, leaving comments that I so much enjoy and appreciate.

Just some random photos: Remember our Sarge's Shelter Dog: Maggie-Lou? The first photo is our shelter dog ML. The second is our big ole boy Jake.

Well, to update, we just love Maggie Lou to pieces. She's doing so much better. She's healthy and full of energy, and already adapted to our schedule. Still skittish at times and in certain situations, but that little girl is the cutest sweetest dog. Not Quite Fat Dog Jake has taken to her, too, and of course, she adores our Jake.

The next photo is one I took while in Vegas with my brother Tommy this summer. Everything is just so HUGE there.

and finally, the last photo - on the tree truck, it looks like a little sprite or angel glowing there.

see y'all soon - gonna finish my cup of Deep Creek Blend coffee, settle in, and come a-visiting. If I miss you, let me know, for I want to stop by everyone's place- hope to get everywhere today.

And, by the way - I'm feeling much more myself today! yay!

PS - I'm back in here a moment because I feel like crying. Here I've been whining about how awful I feel, and then I go to the wonderful handsome beautiful soul Barry's blog and read his news and I just ... I just have to say: Barry I love you. There I've said it. I hope your lovely wife Linda won't mind that I say I love you, even though we've never met face to face, so what? I love you anyway.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Our Work/Manuscripts: Pulling on our big girl/boy undies

I'm much better, but fatigue hangs on; ornery old fatigue. I do believe it’s the anesthesia, for apparently my body/brain detests anesthesia. After all, they put this weird cocktail into your central nervous system: You are in a deep unnatural sleep; you have to have assistance breathing because you can’t breathe on your own; they paralyze you so you can’t move; you are given something to make you forget; and you are made unresponsive to the body’s natural ability to react to pain—eyewww.

Last night I let myself fall into a worry that Secret Graces won't be Good Enough. I remember having the same worry about Tender Graces. However, I’ve received good response to TG—and well, Tender Graces is Out, Published; it's Done. Will everyone on the planet Earth love my work, or even like it, or even read it? No. And this, my friends, is something the author/writer should understand and then forget it and go on. There’ll be readers who are lukewarm about our work. There may even be readers who hate our work. There’ll certainly be those who never even read us or know who the hellvitica we are.

Our job as writers/authors is to Write. To work, we have to stop obsessing and worrying about whether we are Good Enough. This is human thing, not just a writer/author thing. We all worry about our Identities. Even as mothers, fathers, spouses, friends, we compare ourselves to others' successes and worry we don't measure up--what are we lacking that they have? This is not productive thinking. There will always be someone who seems to Have it All, or has what we want (or what we think we want). We ask: Are we Good Enough (to be like they are), instead of being the best we can be and proud of, or happy about, our own accomplishments.

Each step in our journey should be noted and appreciated. We can make Big Goals, but we have to recognize we aren't alone in striving for those Big Goals--we all can't have a piece of the pie because there is only so much pie and a bunch of people crowd around with us for a slice. Are we willing to lick the pan? Wait for another pie to be baked? Forget pie and go eat an apple? (Now I'm just hungry . . . *laughing*)

Is a person who loves our work right and the person who doesn't wrong? Hellvitica no! The author who rants and stomps his/her feet at a bad or lukewarm review isn’t doing him/herself any favors. The writer/author/person who says, "Hmph, they just Don't Get It," isn't always getting it. Remember the movie or book, "She's just not that into you." Well . . . sometimes that's just how it is, sometimes people just aren't that into us. Just as unproductive is the author/person who becomes depressed over it and lets doubts creep in and take dangerous hold.

Realty is, we have to step away from our search for validation and get busy in the business of writing in spite of or in the face of whatever else may be going on out there or we won't write the next work. If we don't find a way to get back to the root of our love, our writing (or whatever it is you do), then we can become paralyzed with fear of not being Good Enough.

So friends, what I’m saying is: Just write what you love and when you are published, pull on those big girl panties (or big boy unders), take a deep breath, and know that you will be loved, you will be liked, you will be ignored, and you may even be Not Liked One Bit. You will see authors rise above you and win awards or be on bestseller's lists or on talk shows or on radio or on the moon or a part of Saturn's mysteriously beautiful rings. There will be those in front of you and those behind you and those beside you. This business ain’t for sissies and the faint of heart—so I’m here to say to you who have put yourselves Out There for your dreams, your love, your life, your work, your health, your family, your friends: YOU GO GO GO! *clap clap clap clap clap*

You can be your greatest critic and enemy, or, you can be your greatest friend and cheerleader.

I want to hug you and say, “Hey, look what you created. All on your own. With love. And heart.” I want to tell you to keep doing what you love and to stop worrying about whether everyone on the planet will love you, you only have to love yourself.


Monday, September 21, 2009

In the other room may be our brothers, or sisters, or mothers, or daddies,or children

I almost took a photo of me yesterday—namely my hair. How it swirled and sworled about my head most (un)becomingly. Of course, as I looked at myself in the mirror, I immediately thought of all of you and how you’d get a laugh out of it, but, I couldn’t find my camera and then my attention was drawn to something else and next I know, somehow, my hair re-arranged itself into something not as interesting. Dang.

Yesterday as I regaled you with Tales of the ER and my Angry Appendix, I was thinking about how nice everyone was. And they were all very personable; not a grouch or rude person in the bunch: Our western North Carolina Mountain People? I think it was a lot of that. I don’t have a lot of experience with ER’s or with hospitals—well, as a patient anyway—but, it sure seemed as if the people of Haywood County Regional Med Center were extra nice. I keep thinking of the man, who is either a nurse or some kind of ER medical attendant, and how he said at some point that his wife had died; somehow it came up in a conversation GMR, I, and the attendant had, the convo meant to help distract me from my writhing. When you are lying there in distress, sometimes you don’t look at people’s faces, because all your attention is directed to what is going on with your body. But I tried to look up at people’s faces because that’s how I record, not how they look, but what’s behind their eyes. Behind his eyes is sadness.

You know, I lay there writhing for over four hours waiting for that ER doc to just even peek in his head, but, what I kept thinking about was my brothers. My younger brother David was rushed to the ER in 1994 and he didn’t leave the hospital alive; actually, he probably didn't arrive fully alive. Heart attack. They tried to save him; it was too late. My youngest brother Tommy (in the photo at a procedure he was having earlier this year) had a massive heart attack while in the ER several years ago. The Arlington, Texas hospital he was in worked on him feverishly until he was stable. So, while I lay there in the ER early Thursday morning, I kept imagining that in the next room or rooms were my brothers. I kept thinking that if I raised up a racket about my own stuff, someone would go fetch the ER doc and he’d come in to check up on me sooner than planned. And in the process of his doing that, what if “my brother” died or became much worse? What if there was a child in another room? Children need to be seen first because they are afraid and they’re small. The elderly who are weak. All of them are my brothers, that’s what I kept thinking.

So, when someone at the hospital asked why I didn’t scream and holler and demand attention for the ER doc to hurry up—it was because of my brothers. I had no way of knowing what was going on outside of my own little room, but having been to the emergency room with my brother Tommy when he had another heart attack (luckily, it was “minor” that time—although, no heart attack is minor to the one having it and his family), I know how much I wanted someone there Right Then, and the importance of their being there to make sure my brother was stable before they attended to those who may not be in the danger zone. Sure, if my appendix had ruptured, I’d have been more in danger, I suppose. But, it had not. Did not.

Well, y’all, I hope to stop by to visit you all soon. I see new "faces" visiting and I’d love to come by and say hi to you as well. I’ve been working hard on Secret Graces, as you that come by know my deadline is looming freight train fast, so that’s keeping me focused. As well, Angie Ledbetter and I are embroiled in the Rose & Thorn, new website, newsletter, et cetera. For those of you floating away in this rain we’re having, be safe! For those of you tucked in and dry, go outside and take a nice happy walk. Namaste.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Angry Appendix and You . . .

Last night I dreamt I was attached to a cable and swung giddily through the air; exhilarating! The night before I dreamt of fish-cats swimming around in a pond. But, Friday night, I also had this weird brain thing happen to where when I’d close my eyes to sleep, I’d “dream” I was still reading my book; I saw the words on the page and my brain kept trying to read further in my book; it was freaky and one of the reasons I don’t trust anesthesia *shudder*. I told the anesthesiologist to please don’t let me be one of those patients who is “asleep” but actually feels everything—he laughed and said, “Oh that hardly ever happens . . .” (hardly ever? Good gawd! *pant pant*)

Unfortunately, my appetite is wonky, as in I don't feel like eating and couldn't finish my regular two cups of coffee! What gives with that? huhn. GMR finally enticed me with breakfast. I'm annoyed that I seem to have a setback in my fatigue and all and am back in bed with my laptop to work on Secret Graces. Of course, I’m babbling here right now…teehee... but I'm tired of feeling like a weakling.

I do want to tell/warn you all—if you have stomach pains that last more than a few hours especially if they grow worse and you may be nauseated, don't do like I did and suck it up for almost two days. There's a bad side to those of us with high pain tolerance--you tend to push through things you shouldn't. I t
hink I've had something going on with my appendix since late spring and it finally just became really pissed off at me ignoring it. (I’m picturing Glen Close telling Michael Douglas “I won’t be IGNORED Dan!....and she’s all freaky mad crazy looking-that was my appendix!)Ignoring pain and then having to go to the emergency room at 2:30 AM wasn't smart --- I writhed in bed for hours before finally waking poor GMR: "I think I need to go to the hospital -moooaannnn....I think I'm going to be sick . . . ohhhmoooannnn....I think something is really wrong.....mooann....this kind of hurts bad...moooannnn...." Then while waiting for GMR to get dressed and get his keys, squatting doubled over in the hallway by the stairs, "find a bucket or something just in case ...mooannn...I think I gotta vomit, don't wanna mess up your car....mooannnn....I'm sorry . . . moan....maybe it's just gas....moan (laughing)." Bless him, GMR knows me, and if I say something is bad wrong, he knows something is bad wrong.

After being in the ER several hours and no doc had yet come to see me, a nurse took pity on me and he sent me to x-ray. There’s nothing like puking up your guts into an ER puke-bag in the x-ray room while two techs patiently wait for you to stop hurling. And you don't even care if your gown is open in the back and if they can see your little undies, or worse. (Which reminds me: when you wake up from surgery, you DO NOT HAVE YOUR PANTIES ON. It's a little unnerving. Who took them off? Who all was in the room? Erk. And, you wake up sore or raw in places that aren’t the areas where they punched holes in you – just what all was going on while you slept? Geez! I imagine surgery room games: Can this fit in there? Yes! wait, shoot, I lose; your turn.)

But geez! What the Helvetica? Four and a half hours after arriving at the ER, finally an ER doc checks on me! And the funny thing, by that time, I'd somehow just sucked it up again. Puking up my guts had relieved some of the pressure I guess.

So, ER doc says, "What’s the problem?" And I smile sweetly up at him where I'm still curled in a cute little ball and say, "Well, I have a stomachache and am kind of nauseated . . . Maybe it's gas..." *laughing* -- Good god! Gas? Kat! Geez! DER-DUH-heeyuck.

The blood work told the tale though, since my white count "concerned him." I shudder to think if he’d have just sent me home then without blood work showing that bad white count…oh oh! All because I’m tough and don’t scream and whine and holler. Well, maybe sometimes we toughies should do that so we don’t get ourselves in trouble. Ask my right leg where I have nerve damage from years ago when I ruptured my disc and walked around with it for far too long going, "Geez, this really kind of hurts bad . . . huhn. . ." DUH KAT! Lawd!

Note that my pain was all over the abdomen from the bellybutton down, and even when the ER doc pressed on the right side and asked if that hurt, I said, "Yeah, it's more tender than the other side, but then again, I really have to pee, so maybe that's what it is." I saw the ER doc grinning from my peripheral vision. KAT! *rolling my eyes at myself* you have to pee? *sigh*

The ER doc said I had to have a CAT scan since x-rays don't show soft tissue stuff. . . the party never ends! haw! So, even though you are about half exhausted, you have to drink this stuff over the course of an hour; it makes your insides show things on the CAT scan (and meanwhile, that ole appendix is getting more and more pissed off…. “I’m going to boil your bunny, Dan!”). Finally, you have the scan and by that time you've been in the ER over eight hours.

The ER doc comes in and says, "Well, you have acute appendicitis - it's got to come out." (Then there’s all the jokes about my “cute” appendix – teehee. But oh, I saw it, I saw the horror—it was NOT cute…. Imagine that scene were Glen Close shows up in the mirror wielding a knife at Dan’s wife …. I’ll stab you my pretty muwahahahaha – eeekkkk!) And at that point, what does stupid ole Kat ask? She asks, "Well, dang. I don't have time for that. Can I still do my booksigning Saturday?" The doc laughed - um, he thought I meant AFTER the surgery - -oh no, Kat meant can she do the booksigning BEFORE the surgery, then come back in and have the appendix out later....uh....I don't think so, Miz Kat. That thangs gonna BLOW any MINUTE (Dan, I stole your daughter and am taking her on the roller coaster and buying her cotton candyyyyyyyyy!, muwahahahaha). . . DUH KAT!

The big mystery is: what woman was I talking about when I woke from my anesthesia? My first words were: “Hey! Where’d that woman go? Where is that woman?” . . . I’d been dreaming or something profound, I just know it. Dang anesthesia! As I said, they did show me my appendix, as I’d asked them to before they put me under. It looked really pissed off (like Glen Close when she came back out of the tub after everyone thought she was dead and she’s all weird freaky wild pissed off mad crazy! AUUGHHHH I’m not really DEAD ARGG AUUUGHH! –eeek! Eek! Eeekkk! The horror! The Hoorrroorrrr!)

You all have been so wonderful and I appreciate your comments and friendship and for allowing me to babble today. It’s taken my mind off my frustrating lack of energy!
Now, on to work on Secret Graces . . .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hi Gang; It's me! Briefly stopping in . . .

Lawdy lawdy me -- I'm home, but it's 1:15 in the afternoon and I'm in my jammies, in bed, with my laptop, propped up against a big fuzzy blue back rest that we call the cookie monster. I'm feeling wore out and sore and full of holes, but, so glad because it could have turned out much worse if that thang had ruptured, which apparently it was on its way to doing.

I'll be back soon with more, but wanted to come in here for just a moment and say I am overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness at reading your comments, and yes, I've read everyone of them....thank you friends - this means so much to me, brought smiles to me, and made me feel much better.

Now, I'm going to do as the doc warned me to do and take it easy for a couple of days.

*muwah* and hugs to all of you and thank you for your well-wishes, thoughts, prayers, good vibes, and everything.

I hope this post makes sense. Anesthesia does a number on my pea-brain.

And Angie . . . thank you, *smiling*

Friday, September 18, 2009

This is GMR speaking for Kat .

Hi, this is Kat's GMR, she wanted me to log in and let you know that she's been in the hospital; her appendix was about to burst wide open and luckily she went to the emergency room when she fell ill. They said it was ready to blow and no wonder she was so sick.

Had surgery yesterday, laproscopic so she'll get back going sooner. She may come home today, but can't go anywhere for a bit & has to promise to rest....she wanted to still do her signing and even at first asked if they could not do the surgery until after her signing, the doc just laughed at her -- he said, 'this thing has to come out, it's about to rupture..." she asked, "well what about after the surgery" he shook his head, "no - you hve to rest at least several days after surgery. to be able to come home today, she has to promise to rest - she will, as she's pretty sore and very tired.

She said to tell you all she misses you,


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'm over at Author Culture today! & City Lights on Saturday!

Hello everyone! I'm a guest over at Author Culture today, where I talk about what we have to do to be writers. Hope you'll stop by.

Also, this Saturday at 7PM I will be reading/signing Tender Graces at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, NC. Hope you can come; would love to meet you. We authors need you at our signings: not because we want to sell books (although that's always cool, too *grin*) but for support; we need your love.

I noticed a question or two in the comments below about punctuation; I will address those tomorrow when I return to "cleaning up our manuscripts." And, as always, I invite anyone who is an expert to weigh in, tell me I'm wrong, or even better, to tell me I'm a genious (laughing!, okay, kidding -sort of).

See you at Author Culture, and hope to see you at City Lights this Saturday!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A few words on Punctuation . . .

In dialogue, punctuation goes inside the quote marks.


“This is how you do it,” Linda said. She put the punctuation, a comma, because she had to finish the action of "said" that showed Linda is speaking. It goes inside the quote mark.

"I can do it this way, too." Linda pointed out to her audience how she doesn't have a tagline. The "action" of her speaking is completed. The punctuation, a period, is before the quote mark.
Then she asked, “This is also a way, right?” She has the "tagline" first with its comma showing "we aren't finished yet." The question mark that completes that "action," or sequence, still has the punctuation inside the quotes.
You do not always have to have “he said, she said/he asked, she asked” (tagline) – you can have an action.


“I am typing words.” Barbara looked up at the screen to check her words.

See? Didn’t have “said” but you know it is Barbara speaking because there is an action right after the dialogue, and the period is inside the quote mark.

Think of commas as pauses. The comma separates incomplete sentences.


Angie is, and always will be, a writer. Angie is (and always will be) a writer. Angie is a writer. She will always be a writer.

Angie is – that’s an incomplete sentence that is separated by “and always will be” and then another incomplete sentence “a writer” – I paused in the middle of Angie is and a writer to tell you something else. I used commas to pause.

Semi-colons are used when you have two sentences that are independent—meaning, they could stand alone as two different sentences.

Janna sure is hungry; her dinner awaits her in the fridge.

See how both of those could be independent sentences:

Janna sure is hungry. Her dinner awaits her in the fridge.

The dreaded Comma Splice.

The dreaded Comma Splice, is a pet peeve of mine. I hate, the comma splice. Having a comma splice, breaks up the sentence, in a way that is not good for your reader. Why? You can see it here. The pauses, are not in the right places. The sentences are broken up, where they shouldn't be. Comma Splices make, the reader pause. Commas, are pauses.

Read my sentence above. Didn't it cause you to pause where you shouldn't? Of course it did. The sentence reads choppy and broken up. You could take out every one of those commas.

The dreaded Comma Splice is a pet peeve of mine. I hate the comma splice. Having a comma splice breaks up the sentence in a way that is not good for your reader. Why? You can see it [above]. The pauses are not in the right places. The sentences are broken up where they shouldn't be. Comma Splices make the reader pause. Commas are pauses.

In your document: One space after your end punctuation – period, exclamation point, question mark…only one space!

I am writing a sentence. I put only one space after the end of my sentence. There are not two spaces after the end of my sentences.

Use exclamation points sparingly.

I don't use EP in my novel's narrative. I use them sparingly in dialogue. Sometimes my Mee Maw character is an exclamation point character in her dialogue, because she's that way and she's annoying. I want to show that annoyance in a humor-way, and one way is by exclamation points. Since EP's are annoying to me, everytime Mee Maw uses them I am annoyed, so . . . there you go *laugh* I like to find other ways to show what the exclamation point indicates! Yes! I do! Very! Much! So!!! Even worse for me personally is the double or triple exclamation point!!! And I am not fond of the exclamation point/question mark, are you?!

That's it for today - I'm very deep into Secret Graces. There was something I needed to do before I progessed and finally, finally I did that; now, things are back on the speedy track and I'm excited again!!!!! Yes!?!? I am !?!?!? Why yes!!!!!!! I didn't realize this other thing was holding me back until I finally sat down and did it - then the skies cleared!!! Why!?!? Who knows. Writing processes are oft-times a mystery. Sometimes the "nuts and bolts" of it drive me insane, when all I want to do is be vague and write away. So, to get the nuts and bolts thing done cleared my poor chaotic psyche to get to the finish line.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Doing the Research so the reader Trusts us

I’m strict about some things. I try to get some things Right. I want to convince my audience. Right for me means what it means for me; Right for you is how you interpret it for you.

When writing fiction, I believe there has to be truths to ground the reader—and whatever those truths are is up to the writer to convey them (because I detest most research, I find my own Truths to focus on what does not require hours and hours and hours of research, say, for example, as historical novels would require.

Personally, if I’m writing about a real town, I need to be accurate about that town to honor its people and sense of Place. If I’m writing about a fictional town based on a real town, I have a little more flexibility, but I still need to be careful. If I’m writing about a completely fictionalized place, then I would insert truths to make it grounded in a reality, and in that place I create, I have to be consistent. Consistency—we’ve talked about that.

I use my own instincts, along with some research, to convince my audience I know what I am talking about—you’ve seen me write this before: Convince your audience and you’ve done your job, no matter how, what, where, when, who you write. Throw all the danged ole rules out the window for all I care—just convince me, or you lose me as your reader.

I admit here that I sometimes look up the weather. I think it’s fun. Was there a significant weather event that would change something with my characters or their Place? Or make something interesting? (Like the Hurricane mention in TG when Mee Maw comes to visit—category five grandmother.) Or, if in the holler there was a bad snow storm, Katie Ivene wouldn’t be flying to that West Virginia town in her Rambler with the windows open yelling “wheeee!” But, that’s just me; I like doing those kinds of things and I found sites that show historical weather—the exact weather on any particular day! I love those little details even if only I know that on April 13, 1976, it really was 82 degrees and foggy in a town in South Louisiana (I use weather more as a mood or as Place or whatever, not that I go around quoting weather).

If I mention a movie or a television show or a football game, then I want to make sure I have it Right, and again, sometimes I have fun with it. In TG, VK mentions an episode of Lassie, and there really was an episode of Lassie just as she mentions. I can’t have the movie Rocky coming out in March of 1976, because it didn’t release until December 1976. I can’t have my South Louisiana town’s team playing Old Miss in September when they didn’t play until later in the season, or have them playing in town when it was an out of town game (if I even get that specific, and that’s what you have to decide on—when to be vague and when to have specific details).

Sometimes little details help the reader to “Be There” with the character, to ground them in a place or time or mood, maybe even to have readers say, “I know that place/event/area/whatever!”

In my research, I don’t just check one source; especially when dealing with the internet. I do the best I can to make sure I have everything as accurate as possible—because you are worth my time and care, you being the reader. Will someone find an error if they go through my book(s) with a fine-toothed eye? Maybe, but it won’t be for lack of me working hard and doing my job best I can. I don’t respect lazy writing and I know it when I read it.

By the way, when and how you do your research is up to you. Do what works.

Don’t cheat. Don’t be lazy. It’s worth it to get some things right. You don’t want your reader to stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute! This isn’t right . . .” and bump them from your world, your story, and more important to me: I want my reader to trust me as the writer by forgetting about me and only focusing on the narrator and the story.

Do you make sure you have things Right when speaking in specifics instead of vagaries?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Forehead Butt Society . . . gone to the dogs!

Yes, it is Sunday and time for The Forehead Butt Society photos.
Today I have chosen our wonderful critter friends and their forehead butts. Look at them! how smart and alert and beautiful they are! They hold their forehead butts with pride.
Our other two inducterees into my forehead butt society were Stephen King and Ben Franklin.

Read about it HERE or the SK link above if you don't know what the heckles I'm talking about.

I have been searching for women with the SIGN, but alassy and alacky, I can't seem to find creative, intelligent, all around loomphadoomphadoo women with the Forehead Butt! I think because women hide them, as I certainly always tried to do; that is, until I knew it was a Sign of creativity and all things wonderful and Shazamammamabamma.

Enjoy your Sunday - I hope to be by to visit you all today.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Firsts! Enjoy all the moments; especially the feeling of Firsts . . .


How quickly things can progress when ones dreams are becoming reality. Sometimes we barely have time to savor the taste of one dish before another is put before us. Ever been to a restaurant and you order an appetizer and right when you take a nice luscious bite of that appetizer, the waitress is heading your way with your entree? One of my pet peeves! I want to enjoy that appetizer, that's why I ordered it--that's what it's for, to eat and enjoy before the meal. So, one must either gulp down the appetizer to get to the entree before it's cold, or try to eat both, or take it home or don't eat it, whatever. But the moment of that First, that enjoyment of that particular dish, is gone when one has to concentrate on the Next Thing so quickly.

So I was thinking this morning about savoring, and about firsts. I thought of my Firsts with Tender Graces. I’ll never have firsts like that again—when Secret Graces is released, some of the same experiences will happen, they won’t be firsts again. It isn’t to say I will never experience Firsts with TG or SG or any other book(s) I may publish, however, there are certain Firsts I experienced that brought such excitement and joy to me, because I'd dreamed about them, wished for them, tried to imagine the feeling so many times—some I recorded with my camera—and those things won’t return as Firsts again.

The first time the UPS woman brought me my box of Tender Graces—some I’d pre-ordered and some were my author copies from Bellebooks. It was funny because my brother Tommy received his copies of TG before I did and called me to say, “It’s here! It’s here! I’m holding your book in my hands! I’m looking at it; I’m opening it and (then he read a piece of it to me over the phone), It’s here!” and we were laughing and near about crying and I said, “Where are mine? I can’t believe you got yours first!” So that by time the UPS woman came a day or two later, I was fit to be tied. I snapped her photo, then the box, then the opening of the box. I took a photo of the first time I held TG while lying back on my faux-bear throw, the first time I slid it on my bookshelf between my former poetry teacher David Madden’s book and my handsome good friend Adnan Mahmutovic’s book – isn’t that something? To be between two people I know on my bookshelf? What are the odds? I have my first book signing at indie bookseller Osondu Books; the first time someone sent me a photo from Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge where they looked for and found my book on the shelf (thanks Angie!), the first book club at Osondu.

All those firsts brought such joy and I never want to forget those feelings. As I write/edit Secret Graces, I want to remember that joy and excitement and let it carry me forth and onward.

What are some Firsts with you that you cherish or remember with excitement?
(PS - I'll be blog-walking tomorrow - I miss visiting you all regularly! If you are new and visiting, thank you~ I'll be round to see you tomorrow. and those of you who come by to see me regularly, my buds, I'll be seeing you too - - oh, I hate missing my daily blogwalks, but I love catching up on Sundays. Soon, when the manuscript is turned over to my publishers, maybe my time will be a tad free-er; of course, then we start the next phase....lawdy! *muwah* - thank you all for your support, you are the best!)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday Shoot Out: Aged and Weathered

my old hand looks capable . . .

the old white faced coon
our weathered Smoky mountains: some of the oldest in the world

what have these trees seen and endured?
and the old weather-beaten wasp nest hangs on through the moutain storms

spiders build with no worries about tomorrow, or even five minutes from then, they rebuild and rebuild, never giving up . . . the wind at Lake Junalusa has battered this web, the web on my porch is battered by wind and bird's wings flying by and rain

Pauline chose the assignment for this Friday: Aged and Weathered

I take a break from cleaning up our manuscripts to post this Friday's shoot out and will be back on Monday with more manuscript posts.
Today is September 11 - this date means many things to many people. What does it mean to you? Has time tempered and softened the edges? Or is it as sharp as ever? or somewhere in between?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Cleaning Up Our Manuscript: General TidBits Continued

An easy way to figure out "less" and "fewer" is to think of "fewer" as items you can count as in 1, 2, 3: I have 10 items at the grocery, so I can stand in the "10 items or fewer" line, NOT the "ten items or less" line. Think of Less as what you can't count individually one two three. I have less time to stand in line at the grocery with my ten items or fewer. There are some trickity things when referring to money, but I'll leave that alone.

When we write "the clock said" or "the letter said" or "the sign said" - that is really not correct - pickity persnickety Kat!– we actually should say/write: “the sign read,” “the letter read,” “the clock read,” because of course signs and clocks and letters can’t speak. Ha!

There are some grammar functions that trick me up, or that I may be unaware of as I write or in edits, and I had to decide that I wasn’t going to worry so much about them and hope for the best. Perhaps most readers will be as confused about them as I am and will not notice anything wonky.

However, as I also have said, even if readers do not know why our work reads so smoothly and lyrically, if they only know they read without bumping out of the story or without stopping and thinking, “Hey, wait a minute . . . ” (at least as much as possible, for we are human and are not perfect), then we have done our jobs, and sometimes doing our jobs means cleaning up our manuscripts as best we can—and that means paying attention, learning new things, or old things we’ve forgotten, being aware of what we are doing so we can effectively manipulate the language and do things On Purpose for greatest effect.

Many times I throw rules out the window and wave buh-bye to them and simply go by the rhythm of the phrase/sentence. I hope for my work to be rhythmic, so breaking the rules is sometimes necessary to create a mood or feeling or a sentence that Fits.

I was never too interested in starting with “ideas” and applying images. I wanted the stuff of it all, the pillow, the mint leaf, the crust of paint. Let the little things lead.”—Naomi Shihab Nye

Another thing those who know me have heard, and I will say over and again: those “little things” – those images, those sensory details, the details and images make your poetry and prose come alive. Don’t be afraid to add something small as a curled leaf, a spot on an otherwise pristine bedroom wall, tracks of freckles across a nose, a single red bird in a field of white snow (as long as you watch for cliché!), or images/sensory details, such as a woman chopping onions and then sautéing them in melted butter, a boy watching his father shave/work/laugh/cry/spit/scratch/leave, a girl placing a bare foot into the water and shivering—the foot is only the beginning of the entire body’s immersion in what will become…, a moment of discovery, a glance, a sigh, a well-placed touch with just the tip of the second finger from the left—play with your images, think of the big things, yes, but those little things, little images, will make your work live, come alive.

Now, on to work on Secret Graces - I found a problem about halfway through and I need to resolve it. I had to switch some chapters around and etc etc etc! That creates a ripple effect and I'll have to get down to working hard!