Apr 19, 2012

The Night Shift

They woke me up at 3:21 a.m. wanting to play Rock-Paper-Scissors and Monopoly.

"Seriously? Now? Can't we do this another time?"

Not quite awake, I appeased them by rolling over in bed and reached for my iPhone, my new way of writing down scenes when they come to me at odd hours. The bright screen hurt my eyes. My fingers seemed too big for the small touch screen. Because of all the mistakes, it took me twice the time to write as it usually does. Before long however, my brain clicked into gear. I caught up to speed (woke up) and realized the brilliance of my characters and why they needed to wake me up for this "game playing."

My body tensed and it seemed as though I couldn't keep up. For at least twenty minutes, my main character took center stage and directed my fingers in the dark. She weaved scenes, thoughts and dialogue into a seamless piece of work. She took me back to her eight-year-old self, sharing deep-rooted pain and longings. Her childish games and poor life choices made sense to me now. Brilliant pieces of her life wove themselves together, and I, the lucky recipient, gladly took them all in - her beautiful tapestry of heartache and loss.

I turned my cell phone off and rested it on the nightstand. In that brief twenty minute encounter, I came out with the last scene and sentence of my novel. Time well spent. Childish games played in the wee hours of the morning will fuel my writing for a very long time. 

Apr 17, 2012


I've never wanted to be defined by having perfect organization and order in the house. You won't find me jumping at the chance to wash dishes right after dinner. My world won't end if you open my refrigerator and find a rotten tomato. I will put off dealing with a pile of dirty clothes if sunshine and fresh air calls me out to my flower garden. Chores don't necessairly get done daily, and I almost guarantee that my "To Do" lists have never been completely checked off.

By deciding to commit myself to blogging and writing a novel, I have further tipped the struggle for balance in my life. Days go by, and I don't even think about going to the grocery store until the cat's food looks better than what we have in the refrigerator. (I may actually consider eating that rotten tomato, after slicing off the black mold of course). Instead of a ferocious two-hour workout in the gym, my exercise routine now consists of a twenty minute walk with Steve a few days per week (this part needs to change!!). Scheduled appointments and volunteer hours are now "side notes" instead of anticipated main events.

Although I haven't yet struck the balance that feels right to us, I celebrate that we don't live in squalor and the commitment to writing remains strong. I love my writing time. We've found that we can get the house looking pretty amazing in less than an hour. My large flower garden will still bloom, even with less of me. I may have cancelled my scheduled dental cleaning, but as long as I brush and floss - not a problem! Balance and organization will come, and when it does, it will be a side note. In the meantime, I'll be writing.

Apr 10, 2012

Behind the Song

The Lyricist

Definition of a lyricist: a wordsmith, songwriter who specializes in lyrics. They have a way with words. Some composers and lyricists work together on a song. Quite often, the lyricist fills the words to a tune already written. However, there are times when the lyricist creates the lyrics and then hands them over to the singer who creates the music. No matter how it happens, the lyricist must take words and arrange them in such a way that they will draw the world into a song. Not an easy task. 

Not unlike an author, a lyricist must captivate the audience in the first few words. In order to be effective, they must use a catchy title, convey a message very effectively, and have some resolution at the end. Their lyrics must suit the music as an author's words must fit the genre, resulting in an exact order of words that sing. Like a good book, a song has the power to stop someone in their tracks and put their life on hold until the last word is shared or last note played. The simple, yet very deliberate arrangement of words can be powerful enough to change a life. 

My teenage daughter drew this picture last year. She named it, "The Lyricist." Isn't it fantastic? She has a creative knack, as do all my children, for seeing things that other people might not take time to see. There are no sounds or words, yet with precision, she captured the deep contemplation of the lyricist. The master behind the words in a song. With bold brush strokes and color, she brings to life his persistence and patience. 

One who may work long and hard hours, or at times, get inspired by something and the writing begins. A creator of feelings and emotion contained within a few moments of time within a song. One who bares their soul for the chance at sharing a vision with the world. A wordsmith, holding the music and magic of words. 

The Lyricist.

Apr 9, 2012

Demons of Doubt

My office door is open and the 21.5" blank canvas sits in front of me. The vertical cursor, 5 mm in length and at the top left side of the screen, counts the passing seconds. One, two, three, four... My fingers rest on the smooth keyboard. Another day and an opportunity to get this story out of my mind and onto the screen. One step closer to sharing it with the world. I just need to take it one page at a time and oh, what if it isn't good enough? What if it doesn't make sense? Who am I to even think I can write a novel, at least one worth reading?

They sneak up when I least expect it. No one else hears because they are mine. Everyone has their own. Some of them whisper in raspy voices, others shout and taunt. "Who do you think you are?" They lower our confidence, challenge our abilities, and if we listen for too long, we can end up believing them. The demons of doubt fight for victory in our minds. "It's just too hard," they say. "Give up now. You don't have the talent. You're fooling yourself if you even think..."

No bigger than trolls, four of them stand before me. They wear black t-shirts, their names printed in large white letters across their chests: You Fail, Why Try, Give Up, and Idiot Fool. They jump into my lap and we take a spin in my office chair. Twice. They fight their way to the desk, sending notebooks flying, pushing against each other as their dirty fingers tear up the keyboard. Before long, the screen is filled with jumbled words, phrases and a go-nowhere story that's as good as trash. Satisfied, they turn to face me, breathing heavy with wide, open-mouthed grins, their squinty eyes blinking. One, two, three, four...

I stare at the flashing cursor and close my eyes. Part of this creating means learning to live with and silencing the demons of doubt. They are my own fears. My own critics. Some days are so difficult! But, this story will be told. Do I have the talent to write it? Maybe or maybe not. I definitely don't have the education other novelists have. Maybe I'll make embarrassing mistakes along the way, but those will be mine to make and to learn from. I have the perseverance to tell the story and will tell it in any way I can. It definitely won't be easy, but it is always worth the fight.

I get up and walk out of the room, the demons following close behind. As soon as they clear the doorway, I spin around and jump back into my office and slam the door. Their cries are immediate, desperate, and they scratch and pound the door, cursing me for keeping them away. Without me, they die. Without them, I live. My story continues.

Apr 2, 2012

Ring the Bells!

What a glorious day! A shining sun! Flowers in bloom! For the first time in 15 1/2 months, my non-stop tinnitus has stopped: going on three hours now. Hallelujah!

6:15 a.m. We sat in the living room watching Joyce Meyer on television. The high-pitched screeching in my right ear grew louder and louder. And then it stopped. I didn't want to move. Breathing shallow, afraid that it would start up again, I stayed still for at least twenty minutes. Then the tears came. I knew that no matter how long it lasted, I'd remember and be grateful for the quiet that surrounded me. The peace.

If you haven't experienced tinnitus, you just won't understand. Consider yourself very lucky. If you have, you get it. You know how it feels to be distracted 24/7 by a piercing sound that no one else can hear. Carrying on conversations with people becomes difficult. Masking the noise is a priority. I did whatever it took to quiet the ringing. I often used food to help alleviate the sound, especially at night.

People with mental disorders may hear voices. People with tinnitus hear ringing or screeching, depending on the severity. In both cases, the brain shares space with an evil sound that takes away from the quality of life. The shrill ringing might come back to me at any second. If it does, it certainly would do me good to find a better way of dealing with it. ;D

A bit overweight and very happy, I sit in my quiet office. Today reaches out to me. I'm taking it all in.

Ring the bells!

Apr 1, 2012

Favorite Fiction


Favorite Fiction

I'd love to curl up with some really good books this spring/summer while writing my novel. Looking for posts from anyone who would like to share their five favorite fiction reads. I enjoy reading mainstream fiction, current best sellers, and of course, the classics. Not much "commercial fiction" in my library, but who can resist genius Stephen King! My personal preference is a blend of women's fiction with other genres. I hate the idea of boxing books up into one genre. Anne Tyler, Jodi Picoult and Anita Shreve are a few favorites. However, any good coming of age novel or one focusing on social pressure or family and moral issues usually holds my interest.

If you write, read what you write, right? Right! I can't even imagine trying to write a romance or science fiction novel. It would be a huge waste of time - disaster! - and I'd be no better off for having done it.

A few books on my summer reading list are:

The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

This summer you won't find me with a Kindle or e-book. Can you really curl up with a Kindle? Wouldn't that be like trying to hug a goldfish? Give me the real thing (preferably hard back), a cozy chair or hammock, and good lighting. I want a story to own itself. It needs to have its own space, not shared by anything else but the reader. Stories are like people. They are individual and have names and lives going on inside their covers.

Well, more on that subject later...

I look forward to hearing from you with your five favorite works of fiction!

Mar 29, 2012

Success or Failure

The things I need to write are: a quiet room with a closed door, a large screen Mac, and small keyboard on my desk. The desk faces the wall and curtains stay closed to shut out the real world. A white noise machine sits close by on the desk in case I need to mask any distractions. Some days my tinnitus screeches louder than usual. Other days (which have become every day), the annoying chirps from hundreds of sparrows nesting in the evergreens outside my window keep me from writing. However, with the push of a button, I can mask it all.

On some mornings the words come out faster than others. After three cups of coffee and a fourth in hand, I enter the story through the screen and stay there, my fingers being the only link between their world and mine. Sentences become pages as I share the great cast of characters who live with me there. I know them well and want to keep us together for as long as possible. My main character fascinates me, speaks to me, and together we set up her story. What if "X" happened? If "X" happened, then what if "X" happened. Over and over, I write the "X's," with her leading the way.

Often, I feel nervous, alone in the room with these new people, worried that I won't be able to tell their story. I sit at my desk and stare at the screen. It looks blurry and too big. Maybe I need glasses. My detachment from the story feels real, and I wonder if my characters have moved on. Have I taken up too much of their time? Has she waved goodbye for good - exited stage left? I hear the sparrows and the ringing in my right ear over the mechanical sounds of ocean waves. The 'ping' of a new text alert sounds from my iPhone in the bedroom.

I turn the noise machine off, and stand up, pulling the curtains apart. The morning opens up to me in a watercolored frame. The gray sky and rain keep me from running outdoors. I glance toward the front yard and see more green poking up from the ground. I can't forget to get mulch from Lowe's before the spring bulbs flower. I close the curtains and sit back down. For a time, I sit with my hands in my lap, looking around the small room. Many piles of books have taken over the space. Too many books for the small corner bookshelf. I begin thumbing through Beloved, a favorite read by Toni Morrison. I wonder if one day my characters will have their special world displayed on many pages between two hard covers. I feel a chill and put the book down.

I reach for my cardagin sweater, another necessity when the air cools and the coffee cup sits empty. Do I keep writing or call it quits? Should I go pour another cup of Starbucks? There are consequences to whatever I decide. If I walk out, will I return again tomorrow morning? Will she speak to me if I leave her now? I hear the text reminder again and swivel my chair toward the closed door. It could be Trini or Julie wanting to do lunch. If they said to meet at noon at Barbacoa, I'd be out of here in a flash. What if there was some news from Diane or Amanda. Possibly something needing my immediate attention. What if "X" happened? I think about my story and am torn between the two worlds. I want them both, and I want to run from them both. I look over my shoulder. The small clock on the computer reads 9:52 a.m. I turn back and realize, with the push of a button I can mask it all. The realization is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Mar 28, 2012

The Passive Voice

Writers know that using the passive voice can hurt writing. It might prevent the reader from gaining a clear understanding of the work. I eliminate the passive voice in my writing whenever possible, but not always. I notice my tendency to over use the passive voice. It takes a lot of focus and concentration to stop writing this way. I can't even begin to think of how many times I have used the passive voice without being unaware of it. Good writers need to kill the passive voice.

What is the passive voice? Any form of "to be." For example: Is, Are, Am, Was, Were, Has been, Have been, Will be, Will have been, Being, Been.

For example, instead of saying: "He was afraid," one should write "He feared," or better yet, "He trembled."

I have been struggling (there is is again - that passive voice!) during the past few weeks with the need to correct and edit my writing as I go. I keep reminding myself that it's not the end of the world (even though it is 2012), it's just that I want to get the story and the words exactly right, right away. It sure slows me down and makes it difficult to get the story out. Some mornings I would like to be a rebel and write only using the passive voice, using tons of adjectives and adverbs. Ha ha. 

When I was quickly eating my breakfast cereal, I laughed hysterically until I was foaming from my lovely mouth. I was silently thinking about all of the times I had turned in completely awful writing, thinking it was incredibly good. I have been fooling myself all along, thinking I was an amazingly talented writer. Turns out, I have been sorely wrong and am deeply crushed. 


There. Got that out of the way. Off to write.

Mar 27, 2012


Fred, our sponsored child from Africa (African New Life Ministries), wearing a ScribbleDrips shirt.

Where is ScribbleDrips now?

Many of you know that in 2007 we opened ScribbleDrips, a small t-shirt and hat business. My daughter drew all the ScribbleDrips designs, and we sold them throughout the United States. Unfortunately, our doors closed some time later with the difficult economic struggles. ScribbleDrips however, is still very much alive today, dancing on t-shirts around the globe.

My recent desire to find more meaning in life brought me to a local homeless shelter. I volunteer weekly, playing with the children while their mothers get some much needed personal time. It's hard enough being married with children, or single with children. But homeless with little ones? Wow.

I treasure the time with these children and getting to know their mothers. I also decided that ScribbleDrips t-shirts would be a welcoming treat for many of these little ones. In the weeks and months to come, I hope to be giving away many more of our unsold ScribbleDrips t-shirts to the homeless children. A small way to brighten a day. We can always chose to give even when the stock market doesn't.

Until tomorrow and back to scribbling out my story...

Mar 26, 2012

First Blog: Now What?

Quick introduction: female, married, homemaker, and soon to be forty 42 years old, living in Idaho (Go Boise State!). I have three almost grown children. Just call me 'mom,' soon to be 'empty nester.' I don't clip coupons, haven't gone back to work, and hate to cook (but will). I enjoy gardening, flowers - not veggies and admit to using Facebook at least once a week (but only to keep in touch with family). The musings of a housewife will not be covered here. You'll need to find another blog for that. Time to begin a journey to find the me I never fully developed. What a scary, thrilling and much needed decision - to tackle myself head-on!

Where will the rest of my journey take me? I shudder at the thought, because I really don't know. For starters, let's just say, I don't start small. My first goal: write a novel. Ouch. After I finish the book, my next goal: get it published. Go on Oprah. Make the Bestseller List. Why couldn't I start out with something small, like letter writing. How about keeping in better touch with friends and family through email? Armed with an associates degree, a small office crammed with lead pencils, books and a Mac computer (thanks, Steve), a new birth awaits. The birth of my literary self. 

Good news: I have completed my novel outline (no easy task) and read several books, including, "Writing the Breakout Novel." A link is at the bottom of the page if you are interested.

Last time I saved my novel's first draft: page thirty-two. Only a thousand plus more words to write! I may not make all of my goals, but then again, anything is possible.

My motto: Go for BIG, take a DEEP breath, and JUMP. But, have some kind of a plan before you take off. You might end up changing directions, but at least you did some initial planning first.

Hope you join me as I blog my way through 2012!