Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ten Resolutions to Make My Life and My Writing Better

Ten New Years Resolutions To Make My Life and Writing Better

OK, I have already crossed out 5 so you are lucky. Here you go…

1. 1. 1. Eat less. This is a problem because I write at a table that is three feet from the kitchen. Eating is one thing that it is possible to do while writing. Witness the crumbs on my laptop.

2. 2. 2. Exercise more. This is a problem because my exercise time, roughly 2 hours, takes away from my writing time. It is difficult to write while working-out although I am able to compose amazing stories while walking that never seem to translate to the written page. I can NOT giving more time to exercise. Cross this one out.

3. 3. Spend less time on Facebook. I joined this virtual society to stay in touch with my youngest when he went to India. One Friend. Now I have …wait let me check…. 164 friends. I agree that is not many friends by FB standards but I do not even know some of them.

On the other hand if you are a writer you are supposed to have a lot of friends so that they will pass your blog around and make more friends for you while making you rich and famous…see Number 4. So maybe this resolution should be, make more friends…still considering.

4. 4. Blog less…or more. Not sure because if I am blogging I am writing (see Number 5) . But is this REAL writing??? I mean “they” tell us to blog so that potential readers and editors will find us. But if I am blogging I am not working on that book I am supposed to be writing. If editors are reading all those blogs, they sure aren’t editing. Watch for more on this rant and more on #3 in the new year.

5. 5. Write MORE. Real writing…must determine if blogging is “real”.

I am going to keep this simple: Write More. Eat Less. Same old, same old.

Happy New Year.

Maybe it be more disciplined than mine…or not.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Solstice Sunset

Solstice Sunset

I walk into apricot sky,

my dog charges

a windmill

clunks and clatters

on the wind burst

with crystal


I should have named her

Don Quixote,

(Qui for short),

that dog, jousting

her demons

on the mesa.

I turn,

she follows.


into steal darkness

and home.

Candel holders made with scrap from the mesa...collected over the last year. Light for a new year ...Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Stuff that Inspires

I collect stuff. I admit it. This is materialistic behavior. Christmas time can be the worst. I make sure I get what I want...for me. When I's one for for for for me. Etc. Etc.

But I like to think the things I have are thoughtful, filled with ideas. The stuff I like has a story behind it, makes connections.

Like these seed pots from the Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo traditions.

These pots range from tiny to 12 or 18 inches in diameter. Today they are intricately hand-decorated and sold to collectors and tourists. Traditionally these vessels with small openings were used to save seeds after harvest time so that rodents and other animals could not get at them. In the spring the pots were smashed open and the seeds planted.

Reminds me of traditional piggy banks...smashed open when full( maybe to buy Christmas gifts). Which brings me to real pigs in Haiti. There, people told me they bought pigs and used their earnings to feed them so they would not spend the money in other less prudent ways. When the pig was grown they sold it and had the cash.... saved up in a real pig.

See? Seed pots on the Navajo Rez, to piggy banks, to Haitian pigs. A writer is always making connections.

Mostly, I love the metaphorical image of saving from the harvest and smashing into rebirth. Saving up the hope for a new planting season. I could work with that.

But first I have to finish shopping, wrapping, baking. Collecting. Procrastinating? Tis the season ...May yours be filled with things that inspire.
(some of these seed pots are even decorated on the bottom!)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writers Always Steal

It's true, we writers listen in on conversations, read what others have written, and when it suits we make it ours. My children used to introduce me to friends, " This is my mom, the writer. Be careful what you say. It can and will be used in a book."

It works like this sometimes...I have an idea for a picture book I want to write. The story is about a Navajo girl who wants to learn to weave but she is given the task of herding the sheep instead...Not sure where I can go with this story. The idea came from reading a non-fiction book on Navajo weaving.

Then presto I am hiking in the canyon with a Navajo friend who tells me a story about their sheep. Her nephew was herding them and how a bear got one of the sheep and they found the remains in the woods. Of course I am a little dense sometimes, until it hits me. Like a gift this friend has given me the answer to how to write my picture book. I think maybe not a bear but a coyote will work.

Yes, always stealing snippets of conversation, ideas from books, magazines, news programs. I am not suggesting plagiarizing or copying. I am suggesting that we writers take in what we see and hear around us and make it ours...a new take on a theme that is already out there. Or a new theme for an old idea.

And talking about stealing, another friend, writer, Leslie Davis Guccione shot me a picture of the Christmas tree HER friend made out of driftwood they collected on the beach. I miss the beach. I live in the desert. I want a tree like that.

Wait a minute...there are tons of wind blown and water- sogged bits of wood on the mesa behind my house. I dragged it home, daily, often under cover of dark so no one would see this crazy woman with twigs sticking out of her backpack, dragging more behind...late evening walks with my res dog, Reena.

I saved that wood for a year, piled in the laundry room. And built my own Mesa wood Christmas tree. Same idea, new theme... a gift from the friend of a friend who doesn't even know I stole her idea. I think she got the idea from something she saw in a gift shop. See? Stealing.

Happy holidays. With thanks for friends... who share tidbits, ideas and stories that I steal turn into something new and exciting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Have snow shoes....Will Write

An early Christmas present had me headed to Colorado this weekend to trek Lizard Head Trail.

While slogging through six feet of snow, at high altitudes, under crystal blue skies I got to thinking.... Snow shoeing is a lot like writing.

Like beating your head against the feels so good when you stop.

But like writing, when you are trekking uphill and find your pace and rhythm you can be lost in another world and never want to stop.

On the steep bits I tell myself to take ten steps and then I can take a break. I will still get to the top.

Just write 200 words today, everyday. One day I will get to the end of that book.

Lizard Head. A good title helps and you should know your destination. Where do you want your characters to end up?

I will never break trail.

But we writers always follow in the footsteps of the greats, one way or another.

You shouldn't go it alone. Trusted friends (husband, faithful canine or writer's group)who listen, encourage and tell you what they really think make the trail shorter, the writing stronger.

Leaving your comfort zone in the mountains or on the page makes you and your writing stronger. A short poem or a's always worth the work in the end.

Downhill? It might be easier than the rewrites but at least you are on your way...cruising.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Write a Picture Book

My latest picture book, Facing Fear(working title) is about Enrico. His family calls him Kiki. He is a ten year old Mexican American, born in the US, to undocumented immigrants. This project has me interviewing FBI agents, news reporters, teachers and young Mexicans, and passing through secondary border checkpoints.

I traveled to ElPaso, TX last weekend where I talked to kids at the fence. They were in Juarez and I was in Texas. La migra (border patrol agents) in armored vehicles watched patiently from four directions.So much more goes into the writing of a book than ever gets on the page. This is as true for a picture book as it is for any other work.

How can I tell this story in 800 words? Why won't Kiki's father let him travel to the tournament with his soccer team? Why is his sister so angry with him? Why do they have to hide at Tia's house overnight?

How will I capture the struggle the fear, the hope, the love in 32 pages?