Wednesday, March 18, 2015

News You Can Use...Eventually

The publication date for my new YA novel, 11 THINGS I PROMISED, has just been announced: April 5, 2016. You have a whole year to save up $9.99 to buy it. If you start now, you'll be able to buy, like, 12 copies. Think of it as a Christmas Club for Cathy.
THE SUMMER OF EVERYTHING will also be released on that date! It includes two summer adventures and road trips galore. :) It's an "omnibus" (I love publishing terms) that includes one of my favorite overlooked titles, WISH YOU WERE HERE, and the popular trip to the Outer Banks vacation read, PICTURE PERFECT. That's a whole lotta postcard jargon, but I've earned it over the years.
I'll post cover images as soon as they are available. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Quote to Inspire All of Us

This came from a very unlikely source. An embarrassing source, even. I was doing the crossword on Sunday and right next to it was the daily horoscope. Leo. I skimmed it. Here was the last sentence:

"Lean into your originality."

I'm developing new work and starting new books, trying to take risks. It's a bit intimidating, as you probably know. For some reason this line helps me.

As long as it doesn't only apply to Sunday, January 25, I should be fine.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Stinky Cheese Is Part of the Process

So here's the thing. You tell people you are devoting yourself to your writing career. And next thing you know, you can't write a thing. (Shhh. Don't tell my editor.)

You create many other things instead. Ranting Facebook posts about the NFL. Questionable tweets about real estate transactions you're not involved with. You bake pumpkin bread even though it's not actually in season yet and Martha Stewart would have your head. You bake cakes and have friends over for celebrations long overdue.

Meanwhile, your book sits in your computer like an aging cheese.

It's getting to be one of the stinky ones. Let's call it Clarkburger.

When you sit at your desk, finally, with that giant stack of printed editorial comments, which is resting on the legal pad that contains pages and pages of can't bring yourself to open the stinky cheese package. You brace yourself. You sit back a little in your chair and you stop inhaling so fervently. Aging cheese smells bad to you. You may click on your desktop to peek inside. You may look at pages 1-25. Those seem safe. But they're not, oh, no. They are dangerous. They have been rewritten to the point where they barely even exist anymore. They are more like Swiss cheese. Many holes.

Then you realize you have "Track Changes" on and that's ridiculous at this point in the manuscript, so you adjust your settings.

You need to adjust ALL your settings. There's this one button, F51, that appears only on writers' computers. It stands for Area 51. It's where weird things happen and fears get set aside and scenes disappear only to be replaced by new scenes and nobody knows what's going on except maybe your characters. So it's time to hit F51 and listen to them.

Besides, you are allergic to the soft cheeses.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What I Didn't Do

Summer has somewhat officially ended and instead of listing what I did over the summer, I thought I'd point out what I didn't. There are no photos, because, well. I didn't do these things.

I didn't go to the ocean. Not to make a bad pun, but that is unfathomable. I grew up spending big chunks of summer in Rhode Island, at my grandparents' house. Pretty much my favorite place, ever. Boo.

I didn't go to the MN State Fair. That feeling is mostly relief, but just thinking about it makes me hungry and I'll likely never get this post done if I go down that on-a-stick spiral.

I didn't go camping. Not once. I have mixed feelings about this. I like the road trips and the gear. I don't like washing dishes in the dark. I also don't like lying awake at 3 AM, wondering if it's a snake, a raccoon or a blueberry-deprived bear that is rustling outside the tent.

I didn't make any kind of jam or jelly, or pick my own strawberries or raspberries. I see my future laid out before me in Smucker's jars. With a name like Smucker's...that tagline never made sense to me.

I didn't get a sunburn, not once that I can think of. Hurray for having a full-time office job through 8/15! It does have its perks. I suppose.

Okay, maybe one picture. I also didn't get bitten by this humongous spider that spent 5 days with us at our cabin. Is it a fishing spider?

It laid about 2,000 eggs in this bush and guarded them all week, so next year should be really fun.

Why didn't I kill it? I guess because it was the summer of things I didn't do.

Happy September!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Long Goodbye

I gave my notice at work a week ago.

After 3-plus years of working in public television, I'm moving on. As I came to this decision, a spider kept making a web on the driver's side window and mirror of my car. She did it three nights in a row. I'd drive to work (10 miles each way) and she'd hide behind the mirror until I got going, then she'd come out and wrap up her web and the insects in it for a tidy little breakfast.

Me, I ate my bagel with jam as I drove, keeping my eye on her as she bobbed in the wind.

I don't like spiders, as a rule. Except for Charlotte, and she's fictional. Mostly.

On day three, I started out driving more slowly than normal. I was getting attached to the spider, impressed by how strong the web was. I admit it. She was becoming a novelty, a part of my commuting act. Other people might carpool, but I had a spider. Other people might not park in a no man's land under a major bridge construction project, but hey. Did they have a talented-at-55-MPH spider?

Then it happened. I was watching her as I zoomed along Shepard Road. She was hanging on by one thin strand. Her routine was off. She hadn't left herself enough web to get back to the safety of the mirror.

So I had to say goodbye.

I don't have a snappy new job title, or anything remotely resembling full-time employment. And that's the plan.  I'm going to attack my latest book with a lot more energy and time. I'm going to write it like I mean it and then go on to write another book with the determination of, um, someone who might not get the chance to write another.

You should write every book like it's your last. It may sound overly dramatic, but you won't be disappointed in yourself if you think like that.

What do you absolutely have to say?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hills Like White Marshmallows

I'm a Leo. I like fire. I really, really like fire. I sometimes have to be told to tone it down a bit on the fire thing. Right now my neighbors are roasting marshmallows for S'mores over a fire and it's all I can do to NOT invite myself over. One, I love S'mores. Two, I'd save them, you see.

Once, when I was a kid, I put out a marshmallow/lip fire on someone else's face. But that was in another country, as Hemingway once wrote. (With some other phrase that put down some woman or other.)

For some reason I underlined that part. No idea why. In that story, the major is "utterly unable" to resign himself to his wife's death. I learned lots from Hemingway in high school. Not so much after that, and I know he is controversial, but I'd gone through loss in my life and other writers didn't cut it with me back then. I was a tough little Hemingway devotee because my dad taught his work and because the hills across the valley were long and white and the woman brought two glasses of beer and two felt pads.

Well, now I'm just plagiarizing, which is a really tough word to spell. Even in another country, I bet.

"He was awake a long time before he remembered that his heart was broken."

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Broken Glass

I've been unpacking everything that we brought into my home office when we moved into our new house in February. Lots of boxes got put into this giant closet I now have, a closet, it's fair to say, I don't know how to organize. I've never in my life had a closet I could stroll into. I don't know how to handle the responsibility.

Last night I pulled framed things out of boxes and found two casualties.

(1) A framed print of the Stuart Little cover. NBD, except it is one of my most favorite books and I hate to think of harm coming to Stuart. Probably my favorite scene in the book and one that taught me a lot about humor and writing is the one where the house cat meets a friend by the fence and has to admit he is unable to kill Stuart.

It goes something like this:

"You mean to tell me you live with a mouse and there's nothing you can do about it?"
"I know, but that's the situation."

(2) This photo of my mother when she was but a wee lass growing up in Canada.

This photo is from 1935 or so. It used to hang in my grandmother's house and was one of the things I immediately took when my sister and I cleaned out her apartment. Because my mother died when I was little, I don't have nearly enough info about who she was.

I'm looking at these images and thinking. Do these two things basically hold the key to my life story? I mean, is this why I've always loved Mary Jane style shoes and cats who resist murderous impulses?