Friday, December 28, 2018

Howard Fogg

Yesterday I ran across this video about my late father-in-law, Howard Fogg.  It was so lovely to hear Foo's voice, and see him at his desk and in the studio.

Thank you, Trainman Glenn.  Nicely done.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart, a poem by Jack Gilbert

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.
~ Jack Gilbert.

Photo by Richard Fogg

Friday, December 21, 2018

Don’t Circle the Wagons

…and don’t beat around the bush.  (Okay, maybe I should also mention not using clichés, but that’s not what this is about.)

Here’s what it IS about, a sentence I read last week in a book that shall remain nameless.

“He started to light the fire.” 

He started?  Did he scrape a match on sandpaper?  Did he flick his Bic?  Did he rub two sticks together?  Is he amorous?  I had no clue. Yes, of course I understood what the author was saying and given the context of the sentence within the paragraph and chapter I even knew there was kindling and a fire pit involved, but the opportunity to be specific about the main character’s action was completely lost, so whatever the author envisioned for that moment was also lost.

Was it important?  Turns out, it was.  His lighting the fire was a precursor for things to come. 

Don’t circle around what you want to say; come out and say it directly. Help your reader move through the story effortlessly and without "starting" distractions.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Clumpy rides again!

If you've been curious about my cartoon header, Clumpy is the rascal of a pup portrayed in the cartoon, created in the 1940s by Howard Fogg, my mischievous father-in-law.  Clumpy often visited the drawing board for family events, when Howard took time off from his railroad art to create a special gift for Margot, my darling mother-in-law.  

With the blessings of my husband, I edited the doorway text of this February 14, 1947 cartoon.  Dick said it would have pleased his father to no end that I'm sharing Clumpy with you!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Rejection angst? Try my Rule of Ten!

Years ago, after struggling with repeated rejection angst, I developed my Rule of Ten (Minutes). At first it was a Rule of One (Day). But as my skin thickened and I started to believe the agents I spoke with at conferences, when they explained that they repeatedly reject worthy books because that book “just wasn’t right for them,” I shortened that day to one hour, and ultimately, to ten minutes.

Here’s the rule: If I receive a rejection, I can wallow in self pity, pull my hair, wail, rip the rejection to shreds, burn it, whatever soothes my soul, but only for ten minutes. Then I’m done. Fini. Minute eleven finds me pressing the “send” button on a new query.

This does require some preparation. I have to know who is next on my list. (Heh!) I have to be certain they’re currently accepting queries and passionate about my genre. I have to keep my query letter fresh. Plus, if I’m away from my “home” computer, I have to have the discipline to not open an email from an agent or editor until I’m poised for action and ready to react at minute eleven.

While this might sound like a game, and perhaps it is, the Rule of Ten works. On minute eleven, optimism reigns yet again. My new query is off and this new agent or editor might love my work. I might receive a great offer!

But let’s get back to coping with a potential rejection. Yes, when a writer offers their beloved novel to an agent or editor, we are handing them part of our soul and rejection is painful. But remind yourself, a query is a business letter, as is the dreaded rejection letter. Sure, a standard “form” rejection that’s been used thousands of times might feel more like a kick in the gut than business as usual, but if we had to read and respond to 500 queries a week, every week, it might seem more logical and less hurtful.

With the Rule of Ten firmly in place, and after numerous rejections, what ultimately evolved was that I no longer needed even ten minutes to wallow and mope. Yes, I often experienced a pang or two, but my Rule of Ten kept me positive and enthusiastic about getting published. And it worked!

While I’m not blasé about receiving rejection letters, by sending another query at minute eleven, I know I’ll have new hope. I then type happily onward rather than beating my breast for weeks and vowing never to send another query. Or worse yet, vowing to abandon all hope and never write again. In the next few weeks, when I again begin to send out queries, I shall apply my Rule of Ten. Who’s with me?

Friday, December 7, 2018

A Serenade to Die For

Four and five star reviews from NetGalley readers for A Serenade to Die For.  Thank you all, so much!

5 Stars:  Right from the first page I was sucked in. It was impossible to put down. Loads of twists and turns right to the end to keep the reader intrigued and turning pages! Definitely recommend this book. ~ Brid C Reviewer