Saturday, April 30, 2011


We've come to the end of this year's A to Z blog challenge.

I've gone back over and read my entries, and I'm proud of what I've done. No cheats, no repeats, and every entry was straight from the heart. Whether I was sharing a song, offering encouragement, or just spewing out what was on my mind, my voice rings clear in every post.

It's something I've grown used to... the sound of my own blogging voice. Next month will be its own challenge, because it's easy to keep up with something that already has structure. But I'll be here. I hope you will too.

This project has helped me towards balance in my creative life. While storms have raged around me this month - literal and figurative - I've continually updated, and hit every letter. When I blog, I'm in my own little warm center of the universe. It's nice here, and I'm glad you decided to stop by. The visitors to my blog, even those who don't comment, are more than welcome.

Come back anytime you want.

Friday, April 29, 2011

You Are In Control.

I've been giving out pep talks left and right in the last couple of weeks. Gonna have to remember to go back and read these in the months to come, when I really need some words of encouragement. Today the thing I want to tell my future self (and everyone else reading this entry) is the lesson posted above.

You are in control.

When circumstance throws a wrench into the gears of your life-engine, it's easy to panic and react without thinking. Anger, frustration, negativity are quick to invade. Blame and Fault are the first things we want to look for, am I right? And before we know it, we're stuck with a mess even bigger than the original wrench in the engine. We get bogged down. Our work suffers. Our life suffers.

But we have the ability to choose our attitude. There are some things beyond our control, yes. But we still have the ability to choose how we react to negativity. We don't have to be negative. Let the anger and frustration pass through you. Process it. 

Then let it go.

Shit happens, yo. But each of us is in control... and it's remembering this lesson that will keep me going, the next time a crisis occurs.

I hope it helps you too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

X Marks the Spot

You've been traveling for a while.

That dog-eared map is the last thing you have still telling you you're alive and not buried in some fever-dream out on the rim of the jungle. Squinting at the squiggles of rivers, faded to transparency in the creases and folds of the map's corners, you wipe your forehead for the millionth time. Insects buzz around your face; you wave them away absently. You stare up the peak ahead of you, daring to hope you've finally found the path. Beyond, you know, is the greatest treasure you've searched for.

The story.

This is writing at its finest... a tattered map to guide you, cutting your own way through barely charted territory. Hell, if you want, you can throw your map away and leave all convention at the foot of this jungle path. Give in to the savagery of your passion and search for a perfect treasure hidden away in your imagination.

And don't listen to Indiana Jones. X does mark the spot, sometimes... even for him.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Whatever Works.

Hey, I wanna talk to you. About your writing... I want to remind you of something.

There's nobody standing over your shoulder, critiquing your grammar. No one is going to point out your misspellings. You're the creative boss here. There's no schedule. No set of rules brought down from on high by anyone. The voice is inside you, and the only thing you have to do is let it out.

So write. Write when you can. It doesn't matter what it is. There's no Writing Police. Writing for fifteen minutes every day before dinner? Fine. Four hours every second Tuesday? Great. By the light of the full moon, on a cross-town bus, in the window of an ice cream shop, as the last thing you do before you turn off the light on the bedside table and turn over to slip into the blissful solace of sleep...

It doesn't matter. Don't second-guess yourself. Anything goes here. Whatever works.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Voice, Validated

It's difficult at times to block out everything but that little voice in our minds that wants to tell a story.

"I've got bills to pay," your brain grumbles, "the kitchen to clean, laundry to do, kids to run around after... my God, is it already that time?! I have to call the repair shop before five!"

Life gets in the way. Okay. That happens with everybody. But for just a few minutes today, stop and listen to that voice in your head.

You know the one I mean. That voice, the one that makes you look at cloud-shapes in the morning sky on the commute into work and think of what they could be. The voice that makes you wonder - when you see an airplane painting a long white stripe across the sky - who those people are up there, and where they're going, and what they're thinking. The voice that makes you stop and stare for a second when a particular shade of deep purple jumps out of a nearby sign. The voice that makes you look around at the stoplight, thinking about the people around you in their vehicles, living their lives in their sterile little car-aquariums. 

That voice. You know which one I mean. It talks a lot, if you listen to it. And the more you listen, the more it talks.

Now here's a revelation:

It's YOUR voice. And it's a valid one. 

Give it an ear.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Under Pressure

This song has been a friend to me in troubled times over the course of my life. Maybe you need to hear it just as much as I have... when things get rough. It helps me remember who I am, and that even though things are hard, I *will* keep going.

Can't we give ourselves one more chance?
Why can't we give love that one more chance?
Why can't we give love?
'Cause love's such an old-fashioned word,
And love dares you to care for the people on the edge of the night,
And love dares you to change the way of caring about ourselves.
This is our last dance, this is our last dance
Under pressure.

I'll take that dare.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Ten Reasons You Should Start Your Novel (Or short story, or screenplay, or other artistic endeavor)

1. You're not getting any younger.

2. It's high time you proved the naysayers (especially the ones in your head) wrong.

3. You're obligated as a creative person to listen to what the Universe has to say, and to report back on what you've heard.

4. Only you can tell us your particular piece of the vision.

5. You might write the Next Big Thing and become rich and famous and be able to give me a grant because you read this list and it inspired you to write and you want to express your gratitude.

6. You get to answer the question "What do you do?" with "I'm a novelist." When the questioner looks impressed (and if they don't you should just walk away), follow it up with a nice, satisfying, "Yeeaaaahh, I'm working on a new novel right now."

7. Chicks think being articulate is sexy. Seriously, I'm not kidding. Well... okay, the chicks you should be interested in think being articulate is sexy.

8. Writing is an introspective, self-involved trade, and it will teach you a lot about yourself... which will eventually lead to better emotional and mental health.

9. Finishing a novel is one of the most amazing rushes you'll ever experience. But before you finish one you have to start one.

10. You really do have time to do this. You're just making excuses because you're scared of failing. Well, cut it out. You're amazing. Seriously. Stop being so hard on yourself, stop doubting that creative whisper in your heart and give in.

You'll be glad you did.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Stephen King's new short story

Entitled "Herman Wouk Is Still Alive", this story was published in the Atlantic Monthly just a few days ago. They put the story up online, and I'd love for you to read it. Here's the link:

I love this guy.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


South Carolina is known as the "Palmetto State" because we made the forts in Charleston during the Revolutionary War out of palmetto tree trunks. The tree's wood is so fibrous and soft, the British cannon fire was absorbed by the thick walls and did no damage to the Southern soldiers.

A lot of people think of Southerners, especially those of us from South Carolina, as dumb hicks. It just isn't so. Did you know Charles Townes, quantum physicist, Nobel prize winner and one of the developers of the first laser, is from my town? That's right, Greenville, SC.

I feel a revolution coming on. I want to rearrange how the rest of the country thinks about the South. I want to show people that we're not dumb, or backwards - at least not any more so than any other place in the country. To add my small part of effort to this huge goal, I will continue to write to the best of my ability and live my life as honestly and positively as I can.

What do you want to change? And how will you start making that change, today?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Queries aren't Scary.

We just make them very hairy.

Seriously, guys. I think we build up the agent/publisher/editor in our mind so much, we forget that they're people just like us. People with schedules and workloads and thoughts and ideas. Experience and advice. They demand respect, yes. But there's no need to fear them.

Remember, what's the worst that an agent or a publisher or an editor could do? The absolute worst? 

They can reject your work.


And guess what... you don't need everyone's approval. In fact, you only need the approval of one person: yourself. As long as you continue to be your own best advocate, the success will fall into line. 

I'm typing this as a reminder not just to you but to me as well. The agent has had my novel for a while; I've been putting off contacting him. I don't want to be rejected - come on, does anyone? But it's time I moved forward and made my own query. Which isn't scary. Or made of berries. It's just hairy. Very hairy.

So glad the agent's name isn't Larry.

I'm here all week, folks. Try the veal.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011



Stop berating. Stop second-guessing. Stop criticizing.

Did you know you're your own worst enemy? Nobody's worse on ourselves than... yeah, you guessed it. Ourselves.

Give in to the good, screw the bad... and just keep going forward, one step at a time, one breath in, one breath out...

You deserve as much patience as you give anyone else. 

I believe in you... and so should you. 

Keep writing.

Keep dreaming,

Keep living.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Oxford Comma

From the Wikipedia entry:
The serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma or Harvard comma, and sometimes referred to as the series comma) is the comma used immediately before a coordinating conjunction (usually and or or, sometimes nor) preceding the final item in a list of three or more items. For example, a list of three countries can be punctuated as either "Portugal, Spain, and France" (with the serial comma) or as "Portugal, Spain and France" (without the serial comma).
Check it, hipster grammar geek scribes. It's a real thing and it's an awesome song from Vampire Weekend.

I hope you like this song half as much as I do.

By the way... I hope you read my "N" entry yesterday. If you haven't, it's something I need you to check out, please, whenever you get the time. I wrote it with you in mind.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Nothing lasts forever.

It's a law of the universe.

Your job.
Your home.
Your friends.
Your words.
Your dreams.
Your love.
Your life.


Everything ends one day.

So today, rejoice in the fulfilling.

Write. Sing. Dance. Laugh. Love.

Find your joy, and revel in it.

Breathe it in. You're only here one time. It's a miracle you're reading this right now. Do you realize all the circumstances that had to come together for you to be reading these words? That you - yes, you - could be that one in a million person who reads this, and is suddenly reminded of the thing they love the most... and in their joy, they contribute to the perfection of the universe?

It's kind of overwhelming when you think about it that way, isn't it?

Nothing lasts forever, man. Love while you can.

Forget everything else.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Message to my Muse

I missed you, darlin.

We talked all day yesterday, didn't we? From the time the roommate went to work until well after midnight. We sat in bed and laughed and dreamed and every so often you'd whisper in my ear.

And now I have a 6,100+ word short story that's nearly ready to send out for review by a market.

God, it was so good to see you again. To hear your voice. Feel your kiss.

I love you, honey.

Come back soon, won't you? And stay a little longer, this time.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Las Vegas or Bust

The 2001 World Horror Convention is in a couple of weeks, and sadly, I'm not going to be able to make it. I'm a little disappointed because I'll be missing one of my favorite horror writers, Joe Hill, and I'll also miss the company of the writers I met last year when I went to KillerCon in Las Vegas.

I've been offered an opportunity to go back to KillerCon as a volunteer, and my registration fees will be waived. I think I've got a couple of friends that might let me crash on their couch for a night or two, and that means I only have to worry about the expenses for a couple of nights in the hotel, plus airfare.

I really want to go back to Vegas this year. The convention is over the weekend of my birthday, so it'll be a nice little present to myself. I still need to have some new material to take, though. The going on that's pretty damn slow. But I'm still working on it.

Thinking positively is the key here so... I will get back to Vegas this year, I will have new material to shop around, and I will have another short story published before then. Guess it's high time I started sending work out again, huh?

What's your goal? What do you want to have accomplished by the end of September? Want to meet up with me at KillerCon? Or something else? Share it... maybe we can help each other on our way to the end results.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Knights in Shining Armor don't exist.

Seriously, I'm not kidding, folks.

Remember: YOU are your own advocate. YOU are your biggest fan. YOU are your own cheerleader. I can join in, but you gotta set the rhythm before I can really be part of the song.

It doesn't matter what you've gotten yourself into. You don't need a rescue. You don't need someone to come along and tell you it's OK. You're perfectly capable of handling your own life and art and vision and... guess what...


Just wanted to remind you... in case you'd forgotten.

That is all.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just a little farther...

.We're nearly halfway through the A to Z blog challenge, and so far it's going famously. Have you been going around the blogosphere to check out the amazing variety of blogs?

It hasn't been easy to keep up the every day status (I'm used to blogging maybe two or three times a week), but I've enjoyed the challenge. It's been fun to test my brain and see what I can come up with. Sometimes it's a random thought, sometimes a song, sometimes a pep talk. Hopefully all useful, in one way or another.

Spring is finally in full force here in the South, and tonight I had the first fire in my fire pit for a long time. I stood there for a few hours, poking sticks and leaves and random paper products into the flames, watching the trees dance above me in a wind I couldn't feel. I wish I could've had each one of you there, hearing and seeing and smelling what I experienced.

Ah well. I'll just have to put it in the novel, and you'll read about it then.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Click play.

You may say I'm a dreamer... but I'm not the only one. You are too, aren't you? If we try really hard... what can we imagine?

I can't wait to find out.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Home Again

The trip to Raleigh was wonderful. I had a fantastic time talking to my old friend. We met when we were very young; she was a visual artist when we became friends. She's now getting her degree in culinary arts, and it's so interesting to see how those two mediums happily dovetail in her life.

It's good to be home again, though. Back to my house and my cats and my own bed. Back to my computer, my balky novel, my A to Z blog challenge. Gotta make up my missed day sometime this week if I can.

All that driving gave me a lot of time to think about where I am and what I'm doing to get where I want to go in my life. I've still got a lot of work to do, but I'm happy to be aware of my surroundings and progress towards my ultimate goal.

Hope y'all had a great weekend.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Going out of town... there may not be a post tomorrow.

I caught up with an old friend a few weeks ago and learned she lives in Raleigh, NC now. We met almost twenty years ago, haven't talked in over a decade... it was so cool to find her again, and I'm excited about our visit this weekend.

We met when we were teenagers in Governor's School... she was an artist, I was a writer... and we clicked immediately. I know you know what I'm talking about. Everybody has at least one friend who's just fallen into their lap.

If you've got somebody like that... especially if it's an old friend you haven't talked to a while... why not get in touch with them today?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fun, Fee-less Fiction Contest

This is short notice, but did you know the Bulwer-Lytton fiction contest deadline is this month? This short fiction contest requires all entries to start with the cliche classic line, "It was a dark and stormy night..."

The catch: entries should only be one sentence long. Start it off with the old, then give it a new twist by the end of the sentence. That should be easy, right? Only a sentence long!

The prize? Per the website, it's merely "a pittance"... but winning a contest is winning a contest, and besides, this is a great exercise for all of us!

Check out the link above to learn more about this contest, and enter if you like. Good luck!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Every artist should know this song.

Got to sink, got to sink, got to sink to swim
Impersonate greater persons
Because we all know art is hard
When we don't know who we are...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Don't write to get published.

Yeah, you heard me.

In my new writers' group (remember me telling you I was gonna keep you updated on that endeavor?), we had a discussion last week about getting published and making money from selling your work. One of our members is really frustrated because she wants to write the perfect niche book, the one that's the next big thing and will make her a ton of cash. She doesn't want to invest her time and effort in a project that may not pay off financially.

After letting her vent, I reminded her that our jobs were not to get published, go on a book tour, sell a billion copies of our novels, have thousands of fans, or create the Next Big Thing, whatever that may be.

Our job is to write.

It doesn't matter what you think is going to sell. In fact, I believe that if you go into writing thinking about whether or not you're going to be able to sell what you're producing, it gums up the whole works. When you tell your muse you're not interested in what she has to say unless there's a profit in it for you, it can really piss her off.

It's our job to listen to the muse and interpret what she's saying for the rest of the world to hear. That's what we were put here for, and the Universe doesn't give a shit whether or not you get paid. I believe that if you write what you love, what you think is fun, and you write it well, then eventually you'll find a place for your work.

But even if you never make a penny on it, IT DOESN'T MATTER. Remember, this is more important than money. This is creativity, this is artistic energy, this is shared vision.

And those things last forever.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cerebral Community

Take a second.

Seriously, take a moment. Breathe. Blink. Stretch.

There are over 1,000 blogs signed up for the A to Z Blog Challenge. My particular humble collection of mental meanderings is probably not the only one of those you're visiting today.

THANK YOU for checking out other blogs. For taking the time to read and comment.

1,000+ blogs... think about how many people are focused on this goal. We're all part of that creative community. Now - if you can - try to send them each a little bit of your good thoughts, your creative energy. If you can, try to focus on making this Monday pleasant and productive. If you can, do it not just for yourself, but for the people around you - on the internet, and in the real world as well.

If you can. Heh... I know you too well, whether you like it or not, my friend.

Of course you can.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Better Be Sure.

If you're going to spend your life carving out stories, hewing words into images - like searching for the perfect shape within a chunk of obstinate wood... better be damn sure it's what you really want.

Being a writer ain't easy, folks. It's demanding. We're in touch with a deeper part of the universe than most people around us. We live hard, love passionately, and above all, cherish that perfect moment when the words meet in a design which seems nearly divine - the elemental second where we lose ourselves in the river of creative energy we've tapped into and become more than what we are for a blissful, stunning instant.

That's power. It comes with a responsibility... and consequences, if you don't pass muster when the day is done. You better think about that. Think about what it means.

If you don't, you're as clueless as a monkey trying to piece together Shakespeare.

Friday, April 1, 2011

After all that brevity last month, it's good to have as long of a post title as I want.


That feels better.

Participating in the A to Z challenge this year? I am. Check it out.