Monday, March 28, 2011

Join me at No Reason Whatsoever: Catherine's A Loooseeanner girl gone Caleefornia girl

My sweet Norah Kathryn Lil Boop is inspiration for me to be a better me in all I do

Hi Y'all - I'm still over at Catherine's Place "No Reason Whatsoever" talking about inspiration.

Says Catherine: In Louisiana (where I'm from), we tend to speak a little differently. Instead of saying we're doing something because 'I want to', you're more likely to hear 'oh, no reason', 'just because' or my favorite 'no reason whatsoever'. Or sometimes it's 'no earthly reason whatsoever'. In that case, I suppose there must be a heavenly reason... :) :) I love La.!!!

So, come join in over there and say hello to Catherine. Leave your own inspiration if you wish (and I've read every one of them in the post below - made me smile and feel happy!)

I'll be back on Wednesday . . .

Friday, March 25, 2011

Five Things Friday: Inspiration & Guest Author at No Reason Whatsoever

It's funny how this worked out: last week I wanted to make Five Things Friday about Inspiration. Yet when Cathryn Louis had asked me to be a guest at her No Reason Whatsoever blog, I didn't have a clue what I'd write about. I didn't even think about Inspiration. But what made the post happen was exactly that: I found inspiration in my mountain cove, in nature, as I many many times do.

The "Inspiration's Mystery" guest post begins: Every year the butterflies come. The very first time I saw them, I thought something was wrong, that somehow the butterflies were disoriented and ended up at the bottom of our gravel driveway by accident. But then, the next year they were back, and the next, and next. From what I can tell, they are Pipevine Swallowtails, a butterfly that frequents the mountains. Whatever kind they are is not as important to me as the butterfly’s behavior and beauty and mystery . . . to read the rest, click GUEST AUTHOR POST CONT'D

Five Things I find Inspiration from - (and oh there are so many more!:

What is hidden in the hollows of a tree

the secret place I go where there are ancient rock's nooks & crannies & hollows

My tucked in little log house in the cove

My son & granddaughter (this was when she was itty bitty)

My mountain view

What brings you inspiration?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What a Dump! + 10 Ingredients of super prose + "Crazy Super Fans" + a webcomic

Linky Love/Random Photo/Random Video Day

1960s Bestsellers. I found this site while looking at book covers. Bellebooks may end up re-doing my Graces Trilogy book covers so that all three "go together" better. Tender Graces and Secret Graces have such different covers, there is a bit of disconnect perhaps? Anyway, more on that later as I find out! Although, it would be cool to hear what you all think about the covers of TG and SG and Sweetie--which one is your favorite?

I saw this on my MSN Home page - lawd! Crazy Super Fans. Now, thing is, y'all, um, how come no one has tattooed me on their back? huh? Huh? Or all over their torso? Well? I'm waiting *tap tap tap tap tap* ... laughing.

On Gumbo Writers Blog, Angie has compiled a TOP 10 INGREDIENTS OF GREAT PROSE for our Rose and Thorn Journal. And on the Rose & Thorn blog: Radical Writing by Wil Hough

I've been enjoying this webcomic by really nice guys named Cliff and Patrick.  They're trying to get it off the ground, so if you have time, stop by and read about Shadow the Super Cat - he's like Garfield's cousin once removed or something *laugh*

Beginning Thursday evening, I'll be a guest author at Cathryn's Place. I'll post the link to it on Friday. Meanwhile, stop by and say hello to Cathryn - a former Louisianian turned Californian!

Now for our Random Video:

In honor of Elizabeth Taylor in the sad news of her passing - an Icon -here is one of her finest performances: Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf and the scene "What a Dump"

all photos taken by Kat Magendie

Monday, March 21, 2011

We are born with a purpose to find ways to create: we are creative beings

a girl & her hat & her dog-setting down words

Mom's gift to me- her quilting

If you call yourself a writer/artist/quilter/photographer/musician/etc, then you know the kaleidoscope of angst and joy and marvel and frustration and success and failure that comes with our creative identities. Or, perhaps you are questioning whether you can call yourself Creative? I’m surely not in a position to define what makes for, say, A Writer, but if I tried to, I’d say: you are a writer if at times you want to throw everything you have ever written in a big word-funeral pyre and dance around it nekkid laughing hysterically while it burns burns BURNS and you’ll become a cat enthusiast or collect rubber bands, anything but to be a writer. Instead, you take a deep breath and you get back to the work of writing.

Here’s what I imagined would happen when I received word that my first novel would be published: I’d jump up, scream WHAHOOO!, run to hug Good Man Roger, email gamillions of people, and then go celebrate with Ketel One and tonics. Here is what really happened: I'm sitting alone in the dark. I'm sipping Deep Creek Blend, the sun just slipping over the Smoky Mountains. I read the email of how Bellebooks wants to offer me a contract. There is no sound but Not Quite Fat Labrador’s snoring. I stand, walk dazed around the little log house, and it is hours later before I tell anyone—because I might jinx it. Because it may not be Real. Because I don't deserve it. Because something will happen to screw it up. Now, first novel has become second, then third, and soon novella and fourth novel. Have I done any real celebrating? I guess not.

inspiration in nature
Hold on, I’m going to jump up and do a jig (fiddle music here--*kat does a moonshined Hill-William jig*). Okay, I’m back…thanks, whew, I needed that celebration for what I have accomplished. Now you do a jig for your accomplishments - and don't sit here and tell me you do not have any! *eagle eyeing you* - I Accomplished Something before my novels were published - I just didn't let myself believe in that. So - do your Jig! Come on - right now - I'll wait *Jeopardy music here*

finding beauty in our world
Anyone who writes knows the long, hard, frustrating, maddening journey to novel/book/any publication. The work has only just begun. The writing, the tweaking, the querying, the rejections, and then finally the acceptance are only parts of the complete package that make the word Author. Sure, there are “overnight successes” who push out a book in three days and it’s picked up by a big time publisher and hits the New York Times bestseller list two minutes later and the author is soon rolling buck-nekkid on his/her bed atop a pile of cash. In reality, most “overnight successes” have worked their arses off to make their dreams come true. The rest of us are just awed to finally see our works in print or completing a project (while secretly wishing we'll be rolling buck-nekkid on a pile of cash *teeheehee*).

Here’s the thing, my friends: each of us is born with a purpose, even if that purpose is only to live to tell a story or paint a picture, or quilt a quilt, or design a building, or Create Something. Our voices matter; we all have experiences to set down in our own way, secrets to whisper in the dark or take to the light, or ideals to shout that facilitate change. There is the purpose for which we live: we must reveal the stories in whatever forum we find inspiration from - all of us are creative in some way: Believe This.

capture the mystery of our lives
Thornton Wilder says, “…the work is not a thing that we make, but an already-made thing which we discover.”

So, what of your story? What do you long to say so your words are scattered to the winds of the universe, finding root and then growing thick and strong, the growth reaching up and reaching out? How will you find your way to your voice?

(a version of this post was first posted at Brian's Guest Author site)
Photos taken by Kat (me!)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Five Things Friday: Places I love to Go . . .

I had such fun with the Five Things from last week, I think I’ll do it again. Last time it was “five things you may not know about me.” Today I’ll do Five Places I love to go.

Five Things: Five Places I love to go, in no particular order—

Chimney Rock Park—I love strolling along the little shops and diners before or even sometimes instead of taking a hike in the park. Inside the park is hiking, sshops and snacks. Some of the hiking can feel strenuous if you aren’t used to it, but the views are incredible. Some portions of The Last of the Mohicans were filmed there. It’s just a nice place to visit.

George’s on Perkins Road in Baton Rouge, Louisiana—they make the best fried shrimp poboys, and their French fries are hot and salty just how I like them without any other seasonings but salt! They have so many other good things to eat. This is a real “hole in the wall” place under the interstate and when you step inside, it’s a little dark and seedy looking but that’s part of its charm. There are dollar bills stuck all over the ceiling, some look pretty durn old, and many have something written on them: names, dates, etc.

Half Price Books in Arlington, Texas—my brother and I love to go and shop for books. You can find incredible bargains, and sometimes there are the unexpected finds. I love browsing HPB and buying books for myself and for gifts.

Main Street Waynesville—lovely little shops, ice cream parlors, clean, neat, friendly. It’s just a wonderful little town with a wonderful Main Street. If you go, don’t forget to stop in Mast General Store so you can listen to the creaky floors! Visit the shops, eat, drink, be merry :-D. Also don’t forget that just off main street are other restaurants and shop—Sweet Onion has some good food and a nice atmosphere if you are looking for something where you can take your time to sit and eat.

Jelly Bellies in Maggie Valley--This is such a fun place. There’s trinkets, old-fashioned candy in barrels, fudge and other treats behind glass to ogle, there’s an ice cream parlor with yummy ice cream, there’s jewelry, some clothing items, gifts, and etc, plus the friendliest staff/owners you can find. While there, walk along the “strip” and visit the other shops/diners/ice cream parlors. And please, drive Soco Road Maggie Valley and visit this wonderful quaint little town that I live in. It's quiet, clean, restful, wonderful!

There are more, and these just came to mind this morning, so I’ll visit this Five Things again. What about you? Where are five of your favorite places to go?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Linky Love, Authors for Japan; Writers for Red Cross, Blue Grass Dog Band

Linky Love:

Writers for the Red Cross - go bid! Make a donation!

Authors for Japan - I'm donating a Sweetie & Tender Graces for Authors for Japan, if you want to bid just click on the link and leave your bid in the comments (I think that's how it works). If you want to bid on other items, click on the first link or HERE or HERE

From Iggi & Gabi: Agent Panel: Quit Obsessing

I found out how to make the links open to a new page from googling it and then I went to Moms Who Blog, and their explanation taught me how!

Rachelle Gardner had a post about "How to Get Published" and I couldn't remember if I posted the link here on Linky Love day or not. So, if so, redux, if not, then here you are.

From Writer's Digest's Jane Friedman's "There are no Rules" - The Future of the Novelist.

From Huffington Post: The Best Rejection Letter Ever?

The BelleBooks blog always has some good stuff going on.

And from Rose & Thorn Blog: Our Back Story Series . . . today, Holding It Together by Patricia Caspers


You all may have seen where I posted this video of music Michael made for the Grace's Sagas

So when he posted on Facebook how he was apologizing to me, to my publishers, his music fans, for his "Deception" for not being the "real musician" behind the composition of Saga of Virginia Kate - I thought, "What? oh no . . . what happened?" Until I looked down and saw the video for Bluegrass Dog Band -the "real" band behind the music. *haw* . . . laughing . . .

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is it Okay just to be okay or must we go virual to feel successful?

Hi Folks! I missed my Sunday BlogWalk because I instead went Walk About on my mountain with my magical wonderful old Walkabout hat that fits my pea-head perfectly. More on the hat another time.

My deadline is looming for VK III, and I'll soon be working on the galley for the Dance of the Firefly anthology. As well, Rose & Thorn spring issue will go live next month and we're working on that, and, I have the conference in Fairhope, Alabama to attend early next month *whew* So, I will link to the 'article' I wrote for the BelleBooks Blog. They've entitlted it "Charlie Sheen & Me," but I wanted to say "Is it okay anymore to just be okay?" or Can't we consider ourselves successes without going viral? . . . I've put an excerpt and a link to read the rest if you so desire.

I appreciate your wonderful soothing comments on Friday's "the quest for the story no matter what" post, and as well, I enjoyed your own Five Things from "momma I didn't show off my panties but I ate dirt" post from last week; and hope you enjoyed all the Linky Love from Wednesday.
From BelleBooks Blog:

I’ve just dragged my poor tired bulging bloodshot eyes over more articles than I can ever mention here (my brain hurts); although I don’t need to mention them because chances are pretty durn good you’ve read them or someone has forwarded them to you or shared them on twitter or Facebook or you know someone who knows someone who knows.

Yup, this old girl just lifted her heavy head from hours of reading about ebooks and ereaders and eauthors gone wild, traditional versus “indie” publishing and how the two are facing off in a battle the likes we haven’t seen since Luke battled the dark side *cue laser sounds here,* writers who are selling their books for fewer than three buckeroos (and sometimes ninety-nine centerinees) and becoming thousandaires and sometimes, GASP, millionaires . . . READ FULL ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE . .

See y'all soon . . .

Friday, March 11, 2011

When the ghosts come whispering tragedy; the quest for The Story no matter what?

Yesterday after writing a scene that left me drained and exhausted, I took to my bed for a nap. In that time between when I thought I couldn’t possibly nap and the time that I did fall asleep, I thought about The Graces Saga—the Virginia Kate story, and how she is the storyteller of her family’s lives. And why I was having such a hard time writing this third and final book in the Graces Trilogy.

The tragedies of my biological family in West Virginia are many—alcoholism, violence, murder (death row and release from death row to freedom), pain, a secret about my bio mom that I can’t say here because it is too private about something so terrible it rips out my heart to know it happened, early deaths too young, more secrets, suicide, abandonment, cruelty, tenderness, pride, heartache, loss, and in between all of this is the living and the love and family lost and gained and lost again. It’s the stuff of great and compelling fiction, but this is not fiction; this is family that I know only sketchy things about, of whom some I’ve never even met, and some only when I was a babe, and some I’ll never meet. Of stories I’ve heard whispered, and some partially told as if parts of a puzzle are tossed to me and I can’t complete the picture and never will.

When I began Virginia Kate’s story, I knew 95% of it would be fiction. I took the 5% that I found interesting and used that as a starting point:

--my biological mother gave up her three children one at a time to my stepmother (who did end up adopting all three of us) and my dad.
--I was born in West Virginia, and spent a lot of years in Louisiana—I wanted to honor and write about these two places that affected my life so much.
--my father is an alcoholic but unlike Frederick, he’s been sober 50 years. (My biomom is not an alcoholic, unlike Katie Ivene –Momma.)
--my Maw Maw was so interesting and “crazy” I had to fashion Mee Maw after her
puzzle not complete yet
--the snake polo is based on a real incident and is one of my favorite scenes in TG

That’s about it with “truths” that spurred off the writing of a fictionalized Appalachian family torn apart and put back together in another fashion—the puzzle pieces different but somehow fitting together all the same.

Yet. What I did not know and what has made this third book the most difficult are the things I thought were fiction that turned out to either have more truths to them than I ever would have imagined, and the things that happened after I’d written the book and then they “came to be true.” For the things I wrote about that hit upon truths I had no idea were truths, perhaps I’d overheard something as a little girl and my black holed brain released them as an adult through my fiction—even though it brought forth no memory as I wrote it—or perhaps I just guessed and in that way of fiction “truth is stranger than fiction” it happened as things happen to families, or perhaps just as Virginia Kate does, I have ghosts speaking to me who want their story told.

As for the things that have happened after I’ve written my books—such as the suicide of Katie Ivene’s brother by shooting himself in the head—I am torn up upset. How would I have known my own half-brother in West Virginia would do what Little Ben did? How? Else I’d have not written it. It’s too close and too personal and too tragic. Too late—it’s in the story. And writers sometimes have no soul when it comes to The Story -- we have no conscience -- we know no boundaries of decency. Writers can be heartless in their quest for The Story. Still, it is not without cost.

Lots of things are “too late it’s in the story” and I have to carry them forward, finish the story, write it. I can’t pretend it didn’t happen—that I didn’t write it. Two books are already published with these events and I have to complete the book. I do. I do.

What I thought this third book would focus on is turning on its head a bit. Other voices want to speak through VK: Katie Ivene (Momma), Rebekha (VK’s stepmom). And some of those scenes, particularly of Katie Ivene, are breaking my heart. Leaving me drained. As I try to keep them in fiction and grounded in fictionalized events, the truths that I have found out, or those that occurred since I began the trilogy, rear up. I dance around them. I try to avoid them—and I can’t avoid them all. It exhausts me. It leaves me wandering about the little log house feeling this sense of . . . of loss and pain and curiosity and all manner of questions unanswered. Maybe I am, through Virginia Kate, making up my own answers, and yet even so, I am still leaving many unanswered even in the books.

I’ll keep writing. I will finish. And when this third book is done, it is done. If there is ever a time I will write about my Virginia Kate again, it will be set in contemporary times. From where I sit today, I can’t see going back again, digging up and under and trying to do that dance of avoidance coupled with the need to tell the story as it arrives to me—pain or not.

There are some excerpts from Tender Graces / Secret Graces that say so much of what I’m feeling:

Momma never told stories much, since it hurt to do it. She said looking behind a person only makes them trip and fall. I understand why now in a way I didn’t as a girl.

Grandma Faith used to say, “Ghosts and spirits weave around the living in these mountains. They try to tell us things, warn us of what’s ahead, or try to move us on towards something we need to do. But most of all, they want us to remember.”

It’s come time again to return to what’s gone by.
Even the things that hurt.
Grandma Faith whispers, Be strong, little mite. Tell the stories.
Yes, Grandma, I will tell the stories.

So, like Virginia Kate, I will need to just tell her story as she tells her own to me. Even the things that hurt.

Dad, Ruth my adoptive mom, Johnny, me, Michael, Tommy, David-wearing the grown up tie and constant grin with my hands on his shoulders, in Baton Rouge-the final puzzle pieces fit to make the new family (we lost our David in 1994 to a heart attack)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Lots-o-linkee love: Foodies & Snooties, What's in your Bag, Pajama Jeans, and even some writerly doodle-dee-dah!

Hurry spring!
Have lots-o-linkees for you all today, so I'll just get started. I am going to try the target="new" insert to see if I can get the links to open to a new page: here goes nuttin'.

At Rose & Thorn Blog, we have a new feature called "Back Story," where our writers, poets, and artists give us insight into the creative process - whether for the story we published, or some other "writerly endeavor." Today we have Ballpoint & Boredom by Eirik Gumeny where Eirik tells us of the old craggly voice in his head that gives him advice on how to win the girl, and how that came to be his submitted story to R&T. We hope you'll stop to read, subscribe, comment.

Sometimes something will just catch my eye when I'm doing research (sometimes "research" means "goofing off" -teeheehee). I came across this 'Foodies' Web Series To Ridicule Snooty Gastronomes Beginning March 9.

And from my MSN page: Four jobs everyone should have. How many did you have, if any? I had at least three, and in some fashion, all four.

And "What's in your Bag?" - a look at what's in the gigantic purses women carry. But, what also caught my eye is the photo with it - Don't you want to tell her to eat a sammich? Or have just a little pasta? Or a slice of cheesecake or a cookie? Something? Why do we women make ourselves into caricatures of ourselves? Into some kind of weird version of ourselves? Meh. Oh well, her body, her reasons, not for me to judge (so why do I feel I'm still judging in some fashion?).

Two Words: Pajama Jeans. Would you wear them? Have you ordered any? If so, tell us about it. If not, are you curious?

There's a wonderful blogsite for writers - Writer's Unboxed - and as well they have a Facebook group - come join in with us! Today there is a post up about all the digital phenom racing round the internet: "Brave New Whatever" by Anne Aguirre

From GalleyCat I pulled a link for the Read a Book for Ten Minutes & Save Publishing.

I loved this post by Toni McGee Causey "Where do you get your ideas" - such a wonderful unique insight/look into the writer and writing process. Loved it.

Nathan Bransford always has something interesting and informative on his blog. He weighs in on the "'Suddenly' Millionaire" Kindle writers. I love the title/cover for his book, not related to this post but I just wanted to show it to you, -there to the left.

Anthony Bourdain had a wonderful episode on the travel channel about New Orleans after Katrina. GMR is from New Orleans; his  family is from there; and I lived in Baton Rouge many years and came to know and love New Orleans. South Louisiana has taken quite a hit: Katrina and then the gulf oil spill. I hope, when you can, you all will support the Gulf states by considering gulf seafood products. While I'm at the Gulf Coast Creative Writing Teachers conference in the Alabama Gulf Coast, I'm going to eat all the gulf seafood I can!

Angie Ledbetter and I are both planning to eat at our Beloved Chef John Besh's restaurant next time I'm down that way and we can scoot over to New Orleans. We'll eat at other New Orlean's restaurants, as well - there's something for everyone. Let's support fresh wonderful Gulf Seafood when we can, and, as well and just as important, let's support our own local farmers and other local suppliers of produce, diary, seafood, and other products!

Now y'all grab some fists-full of the day! Hope you enjoy the links. If you come across anything interesting, please post it in the comments!

Monday, March 7, 2011

feeling the *Sting* - or make a change; take a turn; go for something Else, or find your formula

Because I'm hard at work on my fourth book *taking that in, feeling it, acknowledging it, savoring it, being grateful for it,* for today I found a post from an old blog I used to have. From when I sent out a few queries on what would later become Tender Graces. Here is an excerpt from what I had to say about the experience. Maybe you can relate?
The thing is my friends—your talents can't be measured by rejections. Rejection does not mean "No Talent,” it means we've not "captured the attention of" yet, which, yes, is still frustrating. I keep hearing about "the saturated market" and it's true I suppose; I keep hearing about "this climate of the publishing world;” okay . . . whatever.


What I don't hear is "your writing isn't good enough,” or “your characters aren’t remarkable or compelling.” Actually, I've never received a negative rejection letter and many of them include encouraging comments. Oh, "bad ones" are sent, for I learned by someone’s mail-out mistake that some agents do carry devastating news—I mistakenly received a rejection letter meant for another writer. The agent told the writer she couldn't write worth a lick and then he said some other things that would have made me melt on the floor sobbing. Though I trembled, I contacted the agent and said I received the wrong letter; he said he'd send me mine. I waited in horrorified worry for the stinging words, for this agent was rather brutal with the other writer—I wondered, “Why am I setting up myself for hurt?”
When my letter came I shook when opening it. Yet I needed to know. His first sentence read, "You certainly are a gifted writer . . .” then he had some other nice things to say (I didn’t have to pick myself off the floor). But . . . the but . . . "but, I just couldn't get excited about your story . . .” I didn’t know whether to be relieved over the "nice" letter, or stomp my foot in frustration over the “couldn’t get excited” part . . . heard it all before.

It is frustrating—to know you have a "gift" but are somehow not fashioning that gift into the right package to sell . . . because after all, isn't this a business where we sell a product? Well, that's where many writers have a bit of a problem - if we want to be published we must remember how this is a Business, however we also must be passionate about our work, and creative, and idealistic, tenacious, thick-skinned, and all these things war with each other in a jumbled up mess.

And sometimes, frankly, good writing and good characters just aren't enough--who'da thunkit? *sting*

What I want to say is: many of you all know you are good at what you do and capable of writing something that belongs on the bookshelf or the morning/evening doorstep or the coffeetable—and therein lies the sting . . . there are oftimes these factors in the equation and knowing the formula includes Luck plus Timing divided by X plus Z times Ysquared, or something magical to happen as the moon is in the seventh house, or by accident, or by purposeful or formulaic design, or by  *fill in the blank*

I just haven't plugged the right numbers into my equation yet, found the key to unlock a door. Right?


I wrote the above post never knowing that not so long after, I’d have a contract with BelleBooks Publishers. Bless them. We all will have to decide just what we are willing to do for what we want, or, when we are ready to change direction—my change in direction was to query a small press. Perhaps if I’d have queried more agents as I’ve heard other writers do (I've heard of writers who query 50, 100, 200, more . . . Wow!) I’d have found one who liked my work enough to rep me. Or not. And if I had, what would be different?--I do not know. Instead, here I am where I am. I sure feel lucky.

Do I sometimes wish for More? That's a post for another day: - a hint? Don't we oftimes forget to be grateful and wish for the success someone else has? Reading that post above reminded me of a time when I'd have slap flat envied where I am and how far I've now come. Maybe someone right now is envying what I have achieved and would be quite happy with what I right now have? Huhn. Think about that one, Kat.

(By the way, on that note above, from time to time I think about the writer who would receive that awful letter. On purpose I didn't write down or remember her name, but I hope something good happened for her in some fashion. Maybe the agent did her a favor, or maybe he didn’t; that’s something I’ll never know.)

What is your sting? Where are you right now? And what, if anything, have you decided to change about your process, because it seems a better path for you? And if you did change paths/directions, how has it worked out--no looking back, right?