Sunday, May 26, 2013

Things You Can Say if You're Nicholas Sparks

There are certain things you can say when you're a best-selling author. Things that simply dribble out of your mouth like decadent crumbs of the finest French pastry money can buy. These are the dream words of those writers, such as myself, who aspire to leap tall buildings at a single bound - or merely to reach some similar pinnacle on the Publishing Success Superhighway. Many of the authorly creme de la creme have uttered such darlings. Not just Mr. Sparks. It could easily be Mr. Green, Mr. King, Ms. Stockett, Ms. Rowling. I could go on, but you get the gist. Here they are in no particular order of relevance:

1) I'm planning a trek around the world right after I receive my next million dollar advance.

2) My work transcends typical genre. If I have to be honest, I suppose I've crafted my own genre.

3) In that my books are widely taught in schools around the world, I must remain mindful of those students everywhere who consider me a role model.

4) I'm especially thrilled with the latest screen adaptation of my new book. Channing Tatum has been cast in the lead, by the way.

5) Would you mind passing my diamond-encrusted salt shaker?

6) The nice folks at the NY Times keep insisting on including my stories on their little list.

7) Writing is hard work. Sometimes, when I'm on a deadline, I don't get the yacht out for days on end.

8) Rejection is nothing the first Hollywood premier won't cure.

9) Advice to new writers: Writing is a full-scale competition. There is always someone who tells a better tale than you do. But, don't let that discourage you.

10) The best way to handle negative reviews is to purchase a brand new car - preferably something foreign with some decent horse power to it. That ought to do the trick.

Okay, I'm kidding, more or less. No need to drop me a line to inform me that Nick (and/or JK and the gang) does not own a yacht (it's a cabin cruiser. Details.) Writing isn't about the wealth, or the notoriety, or the waves of critical acclaim. Hell, if that were the case nearly half the writers in this world would have shut down shop long ago. It's actually pretty simple. It's a homage to the love of words. It's a desire to roll around in a giant vat of creativity and make something beautiful come of it.

Being published is a lofty dream. Yet it's reachable. We know it. We've seen it happen. We want it. We crave it. It's a can-do after years of hearing you can-not. It's about that moment of personal achievement, the one where you say, "I did it, damn it." And to celebrate you break out a Devil Dog and a glass of cold milk and you hold your book in your hands and you smile.

Unless your Nicholas Sparks and then you pay your staff to smile for you. ;)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dare to Dream - with Author Krista Krueger

What becomes of those who dare to dream? Some folks I know are hard-core realists. They deal in facts and figures. The here and now. The tangible. They don't bother much with what might be or could be - if only. The if onlys are the stuff of speculation. They're where the pragmatic and the starry-eyed dreamer often part company. As a scribe of sorts, I'm surrounded by others of the writerly persuasion. Inherent in and among us is the propensity to trade that which is factual for that which is keenly sought-after. That all-elusive spot on the NY Times best seller list. That People Magazine book recommendation. That book-club interview on Oprah. (Is she still doing those?) We if-only ourselves with the very best of intention. Our treasured aspirations only an if-only away. My friend and fellow author, Krista Krueger, describes in most lovely detail the trappings of her life if and when her writing goals come to be. I'm including it here since I found the imagery so charming, I wanted to keep it, to envision it for myself. Krista has some awesome things to share on her own blog every day. Check it out. Here is just a sampling of what Krista has to say on the topic of dreams:

"I’ve been very tentative about sending my book out but have decided that’s a bad idea.  If my dream is to be a published writer, why would I hold it back?  Do I have a fear of success?  I don’t think so because I have a whole dream beyond what happens when I’m a New York Times Bestseller.
I’ll have a house built back in the woods.  There will be a place where I can go outside to practice my witchcraft.  Behind the house will be a little stream that flows and tumbles over the rocks, its soft rushing sound mingling with the wind chimes that will from the back porch.  The tree branches will tangle together to let through just dapples of sunlight.  And when it rains there will be the gentle patter of the drops on the leaves like the scampering of tiny fairies looking for a flower to hide under to keep dry.  There will be a room just for reading so my books can come out of the basement.  And I’ve described what my writing room will look like.
None of that even has a chance to be if I don’t have the daring to keep my dream going.  And I plan on doing just that." Krista Krueger

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dearest Mommy

I'm not sure why we do it. We writers love to spin a twisted tale or two wherein the villain or victim is none other than dear ole' mom. What is it about this woman that makes us attach such dastardly deeds or deadly destinies to her being?

Somewhere down the line mothers were assigned the role of quintessential scapegoat, the person to whom we assign blame for everything from our genetically designed unruly hair, to our lack of cooking prowess and then some. We can't make a bed with hospital corners because Mom never showed us how. We can't strut down the catwalk like any other halfway decent model because we aren't five-foot-ten. Thanks (or not) to Mom. My, my. Why do we offspring tend to behave so badly?

Woe are the unsung heroes, the motherly warriors in the relentless battle of the bad reputation.

In my first book, Mom met with an untimely passing, leaving her teenage daughter to be raised by Grandma. Now on the other hand, the grandmas of page and stage often win the title of Savior by Default. Time and again we see the older, wiser mother-generation stepping up to fix the messes of their own mother-children. What gives?

As a creative culture we are fixated for some odd reason on the really awful mommies of the world. We're talking a fate far more sinister than the biological frizzies. The Joan Crawford, Norma Bates, Momma Lifts of the cinema. The Margaret White, Queen Gertrude, and Corinne Dollangangers terrorizing the book bindings. Are they simply a more interesting lot than the Donna Reed, Carol Brady, June Cleaver-ish mothers? Perhaps. And yet as both a mother and a daughter, I find myself baffled by the dichotomy. We adore our mothers so, so much, and yet we're often the first ones to throw them under the bus. Our mommy-manners may have gone missing.

On this weekend officially delegated to the reverence of the Mom, I suggest we stop the madness. If only for a day. Let's call a ceasefire on the bashing, the blaming, the otherwise unnecessary roughness. Let's instead fill our pages with glimpses of the truth, the not-so-titillating untold stories of the women who brought us up with ordinary loving hearts. The women through whose eyes we were taught to see the good in others, through whose words we learned how to speak with kindness, through whose arms we were shown how to hold our own babies near and dear.

The great writer Agatha Christie said: "A mother's love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path."

And it was Aretha Franklin who chimed: "R-E-S-P-E-C-T."

I can dig it. Can you?

Happy Mother's Day to each of the moms out there and a very special wish for happiness to my own amazing Mom.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Survey Says...

We don't live on this great planet for very long before we realize that life has a funny habit of throwing a few curve-balls our way. If we aren't careful, we could easily be knocked out of the game. Curve-balls come in many forms, but what they have in common is the way they typically make ones head spin in concentric circles. Dizzy much? We become confused. Disoriented. We may perspire profusely, dehydrate, beg for mercy, beg for help. We seek advice in the oddest of places - from the garbage man, the lady packing our groceries, the UPS guy. Yet, can they really assist? Perhaps, though it's doubtful. Sometimes its necessary to attune to our own instincts to guide us in our decisions. It isn't always easy. What we humans need is a Gut-O-Meter. What is this, you ask? Here is the thirty second infomercial.
The Gut-O-Meter looks a lot like that giant game show board from The Family Feud.

Whenever we are faced with an urgent life choice, or any important matter in need of deciphering, we simply have to refer to the board. Should you leave your job? Survey says....The Gut-O-Meter comes complete with that annoying buzzer and those blaring red Xs to be certain you know precisely how to proceed. No more hedging and second-guessing. Say farewell to Monday morning quarterbacking, to those "Why didn't I see the signs?" Those moments of regret for the road not taken or the one taken in err. With this handy dandy machine you will always be on the sure and steady super-highway. Also available with the optional Warning Robot.

(If you don't remember this happy little guy you are just way too young.) When faced with complete and utter uncertainty (i.e.: is that unemployed 36-year-old guy living with his mom a total loser, or what?) Warning Robot will flail his arms and make enough noise to wake Peoria.

Sound good to you? Where can you get one? Well, you already own it. In fact we all do. We simply need to trust that little voice inside of ourselves, the one we most often question or flat-out ignore. The voice of our intuition, our tried and true Gut-O-Meter.

Truth be told it takes some practice to learn to listen to ourselves, to follow the direction we know to be right. We are so used to having someone else show us the way. But it's time, my friends. It's time to get quiet and tune in. To stop rushing around in a mad panic in search of what to do! You already know.

Survey says - Trust your Instinct.

It's the number one answer. Everytime.