Sunday, September 23, 2012

Naked Confessions

I came across this phrase, “naked confessions,” in an old Ken Follett novel and it was like being hit with a cold wet rag. I thought, “This is what good writing is all about.”

Coincidently I had just finished Jodi Picoult’s novel Handle with Care. Her telling of this tale is a perfect example of what struck me so clearly about this type of writing.  In fact, every Picoult novel I’ve read has this characteristic. She picks a subject no one really wants to think about – i.e. whether or not we would choose to keep a profoundly disabled child or abort it (in Handle with Care) – and pulls us through every angle of the topic.  At the heart of all her stories is the truth. Thoughts we really think, all of us. When a character has what society has decided is a terrible reaction, she makes us see that while it might be terrible it is both natural and probably more universal than we’d like to think.

Every piece of fiction contains myriad circumstances that examine choices. We make choices all day long, moment by moment. We also expend a lot of energy in keeping those choices private. Why? Because the truth is not always comfortable and although we may ultimately come to a socially acceptable choice, the places our minds visit in the process of deciding are not always pure. In fact, if truth be known, we are much more profane in our thoughts than we want anyone to know.

It is the profanity or unacceptability of these thoughts that make the story interesting and compelling. No one wants to read about someone instantly knowing the “right thing to do.”  This is because a human that knows the correct choice without agonizing through all the possibilities is worst kind of science fiction and we cannot relate to that type of character.  The more honest the response an author imbues his hero(ine) with the more compelling the story.

In reality, an excellent book requires naked confessions of the author. In order to write a thought, we must have had it ourselves. It has to have passed through a writer’s mind to make it to the page. It requires exposure – complete and total.  When a story does not contain the full range of the author’s own reaction, sometimes pared down to the thoughts the character would actually have herself, it doesn’t ring true.

For instance, in Picoult’s book the two central questions are:  1) Would I abort a profoundly disabled fetus? 2) Would I sue for damages at the loss of my best friend and trauma of my family if it would provide a better life for this disabled child? Both are disturbing questions and the heart of the novel is in the reactions of all the characters to these two questions. The answers are heart-breakingly honest.  Therefore, it reached me at a very core level. There were a couple of times I thought, “Oh, get off it” when some of the people in the story seemed very one-dimensional in their responses, until it was revealed later on that they had indeed had the thoughts they wouldn’t want anyone else to know about.

What I’m getting at here is that very basic honesty is required of you if you’re going to write a truly great story. You must access and reveal the deepest, darkest parts of yourself and in the event that you already write dark stuff, you must be willing to shine on the good in yourself as well, because even the worst villains have a bright spot.

I, personally, struggle not so much with revealing the dark side, but instead accessing it, because I really don’t like being in that sphere. However, I push myself because it’s necessary and because I grow as both an author and a human being when I’m willing to look at the truth of myself.

Good luck, my friends, with your own naked confessions!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

I'm Proud Just to be Nominated...

You know that old line from every Academy Award show ever! Well, Sandra Valente – a wonderful reviewer and blogger (SSBookFanatics) - nominated me last Monday for the Fabulous Blog Ribbon Award which was a wonderful surprise. I’ve been trying to put together a post that was worthy of her nomination. 

As I understand it – I need to find 5 fabulous moments, 5 things I absolutely love, 5 things I really hate and finally pick 5 Fabulous bloggers to nominate. That’s actually the only hard part, because I really enjoy a lot of blogs. But here goes:


1. There was a day when my late husband spotted me across the street trying to get his attention and the happiness captured in smile he gave me was the very best moment of my life.
2. The day I got to take my premature son, Erik, home from the hospital after three excruciating weeks of waiting for him to be healthy enough.
3. The moment I laid eyes on the one-year old angel that was to become my adopted daughter, Vanessa.
4. The moment the judge declared Vanessa’s adoption official.
5. The day I received a letter from a magazine with a check in payment for publication of two of my poems. I screamed then danced around the house for about 15 minutes.

1. When my muse takes over and writing seems to flow effortlessly from my fingertips.
2. Skinny-dipping – in private, of course – in a warm pool at night.
3. My children and grandchildren.
4. The color RED!
5. Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream.

1. Narcissists.
2. Ugly, unkind thoughts in others and in myself.
3. Dream stealers – you know who they are.
4. Aggressive drivers.
5. Liver.


Nicole keeps it funny and inspiring as she works her way through life and the challenges of being a writer. I always feel like I'm right there. Also, she's just published her first short story and it's good.

CALEB PIRTLE: Venture Galleries Caleb is a master story-teller and each of his posts are like a short story whatever the subject. If I ever write something as well as Caleb, I'll know I've hit my peak.

NICOLE COOK: The Daily Dish Recipes Nicole brings the joy of eating to us every time she delivers a recipe. The pictures alone will keep you drooling. I rarely cook, but I've tried a few of her recipes and they are easy but interesting.

BERT CARSON Bert Carson - Author It's rare that I miss an post from Bert. His homespun tales of life as a child in the South are my favorites, but he has brought me to tears more than once with his take on life today.

KATE  FARRELL  Kate's Reads  Kate is a fair and lovable book reviewer because she delivers her opinions with both kindness and specific points. I've been fortunate enough to have her review one of my books.

I enjoy each of these blogs very much and the people who write them. I hope you'll stop by and check them out. Thanks to each of them for bringing sunshine into my days.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Indie Authors Expo – Plan B

Well, as some of you know, life threw me for a loop in July, which necessitated my putting off the Indie Authors Expo for a couple of months. But I’m back.

In the meantime, I realized that I needed to pursue a dream of my own – an Etsy shop for dreamers – and have spent the last month earnestly exercising my mind and fingers as I've designed and sewn items for the shop. When I hit a money snag, I decided that the best thing I could was to launch a IndieGoGo funding campaign.

Well, as it turns out this is a big step forward in the plans for the Expo. I’ll need to do a much larger campaign for start-up costs for the Expo and this first attempt has – so far – given me the experience I’ll need to get one going.

So, now that I know how to do IndieGoGo, I’ll be putting it together for October – an earlier plan to do it in August fell through due to my family situation.

One other thing has been on my mind. One of my favorite bloggers – Trish Gentry – recently wrote a post about not liking being called an Indie. Me? I’m just enough of a maverick to like to title. But I’m not the point here. I was wondering if you all could give me some feedback on the name I’ve chosen. Keep in mind that this is aimed at self-published authors and is a combination book fair, trade show and conference.  Please sound off freely. 

Again, I know it’s been a bit excruciating but it’s honestly been beyond my control – so stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My IndieGoGo "Dream" Campaign

I have been following my writing dream full-steam-ahead for the past year and recently decided I needed to expand my creativity – both for my artistic being and my need to pursue something that I felt would benefit the world, too.  I started an Etsy shop and began making items aimed at preserving dreams. 

It’s an all-out battle sometimes against those who would steal our dreams through negativity and life circumstances. Dreamers need all the help they can get.  My most closely held dream for this project is to be able to begin offering Twins – a set of two dolls, where the purchasers gets one and an under-privileged child gets the other. I’m already contacting agencies about these dolls. 

My needs are not that great. I need a new inkjet printer, a better camera, materials for the dolls (some for experimenting on the next best product), professional looking labels and packaging for the dream products I make. So, I’m launching an IndieGoGo fundraising campaign today. If you do nothing else, please watch my video – I’m exceedingly proud of it.

The perks I’m offering range from eBooks from my writing career – Red Mojo Mama, Red is an Attitude, The Great Twitter Adventure, etc. – to dream pillows, kindle covers and best of all – the dolls. If I’m not able to reach my entire goal, whatever I do receive will go first towards making some of the Twin Dolls and then towards a printer and labels. 

Your contribution will help me personally, but more importantly; this isn’t just a fly-by-night endeavor. I’m hoping to extend this dream awareness and preservation beyond this simple project and on to other avenues. I plan to devote a part of my life to helping others seeing their dreams come true. I’m not sure what forms this will take at present because I’m “sleeping” on it.

If you can’t contribute, I completely understand. If you’d still like to help, please tweet or email those you think might like to make a contribution. I thank you for taking the time to read this and watch the video. 

Dream on!