Change, change, changes!

So much is going on around us that I can barely keep up with it, much less find time to condense my thoughts into a conversation with you, dear readers. Last week I found myself simply too overwhelmed to write. But that time is over! Ruling absorbed, Covid beaten back, J6 up to date. Now, what shall we do? I have a few suggestions:

1. Some writers are complaining too much there’s too much politics on Twitter and other social media. Good gosh, folks, we are in a Constitutional crisis only politics will resolve. Can’t write very well if you’re dead from an ectopic pregnancy that can’t be treated due to SC decision. Or feel self-actualized enough to set down your thoughts if you can’t vote, marry whom you want, or control your own body. Sit down, write quietly if you must. I plan on writing LOUDLY! Any way you can do it is fine. Just don’t jump on those of us who want to engage on the issues of our time. I mean, LOUDLY!!

2. Call your legislators! Go to scstatehouse.org and click on “Find your legislators” if in South Carolina or Google “who represents me” to find your reps and their contact info. Don’t wait until they start arresting women or women begin to die from ectopics pregnancies, delayed cancer treatments, etc. The time to save women’s lives is NOW. And, no, that is not hyperbole. As of my last count, thirteen states have enacted absolute bans on abortions—no exceptions!

3. The Dems need two more senators in order to end the filibuster (See more on that below) and enact legislation not just for women’s lives, bu5 also for voting rights, trans rights, marriage equality, and so on. Yes, I know we’re tired of giving money, but don’t tell me you’re tired of voting. Voting is our duty as citizens, part of our covenant with each other. I need to count on the fact that you will vote EVERY ELECTION. But don’t just vote for any old DEM. We need two Dem senators who will vote to void the filibuster. These Senate candidates have promised to vote to end the filibuster (so we can pass rights leg): Cherri Beasley (NC); John Fetterman (PA; Charles Booker (KY); Val Demings (FL); Tim Ryan (OH); and ALL the Dem candidates for Senate in the August 9 WI primary. Find one, donate, make calls, do what you can for them, even if you don’t live in their states. We all need them!

4. PlanB can be bought on Amazon and

delivered anywhere.

5. Want to help? Call your local Planned Parenthood office. Or visit wholewomanshealth.com.

Where’s YOUR Sass?

When I was small, the worst thing I could do, I was convinced, was to “sass” my mom. At least, that’s what she led me to believe when she got that crazed look in her eye, usually right after she’d taken off her weaver’s apron and started to serve dinner. If I even looked like I disagreed about something, she’d zing, “Don’t you dare sass me!”

Now, of course, I know she was extremely tired after a long day running back and forth in front of six big looms, trying to keep them going so there were no “slubs” in the cloth they were making. (These days, I read that a blouse, say, is made from “slubbed” cotton and I can’t even imagine wearing it. My mother would never!) And then she had to come home and get dinner on the table.

Usually, my older sister and I would have started dinner, baking or frying chicken, cutting up potatoes, pulling a vegetable or two from the bin. But my mother liked to add her own touch, and, I must say, no food I’ve ever had was better than hers. (Different, but not better!) I don’t know what magic she used, but everything tasted better when she was done. And we were never entrusted with the making of biscuits. We had biscuits at every meal, unless she served beans, in which case there was cornbread, which I could make before I was 10.

Looking back now, I wish I had been taught, made, induced to sass. I wish my mom had been Dorothy Parker in all her vicious eloquence. Knowing how to talk back to a grabby boss, how to curse rude strangers on the street, how to get that sprawling teenager out of the bus seat so I could sit down, would have been handier than knowing how to make guests comfortable in my home. (You can get your own linens, right? There’s nothing wrong with your feet.) As it was, I had to learn it on my own, or, rather, my NOW (National Organization for Women) sisters taught me. But that’s a story for another day.

This weekend, I went for the very first time to a pro-choice demonstration in my hometown, the Southern city I left when I was eighteen years old. Sass was there in abundance, loud and very defiant. That is how we have to be now, not just about abortion rights, but also about white nationalism and the insane number of weapons on our streets. I never wanted to tolerate any of that, and I have a feeling other people are reaching their boiling point, too. I hope you are one of this mighty, furious majority. Kindness will not cut it with people who think their right to own an assault weapon is more important than our right to buy groceries or attend church in peace. Or with the people who think their religious beliefs should dictate how you handle your body, or with the folks who fear being a minority so much because they know how minorities are treated in this country.

Be loud. Be incensed. Be effective.

Study Hall: On Timely Tweets, Our Uteruses, ETC

How many of you use Twitter? Many women my age don’t. Let me tell you why I think that’s a bad idea.

First of all, #writingcommunity will get you everything from journals open for submission now to lit agents looking for specific kinds of writing. Don’t know what a hash tag is? Well, it’s a way to shorthand and categorize your tweet so people can find it. And you can find tweets on almost any subject by searching for the topic in Twitter’s search engine. So if you use the #writingcommunity, your tweet will likely get seen by more people. In my haste, I often forget the hashtag, and thus are speaking only to my followers. But, hey, it takes practice, like anything worthwhile.

Writing these days is all about “platform,” it seems. Agents and publishers want you to have a few thousand Twitter followers, at least, and so forth on Facebook, Instagram, Tiktok, and other social media apps. So learning the ropes is definitely worth your while if you want to be more widely published.

Speaking of which, I am very happy to have an essay on the speculative work of Caren Gussoff Sumption on the new website https://romacanon.co.uk. Caren is one of my favorite writers with whom I’ve become friends. Her latest, Three Songs for Roxy, is a wonderful example of how Romani characters should appear in spec fiction, instead of the glaring stereotypes we often find (Witches, anyone? Hag? Dazzling Esmeraldas?) Give it a look and let me know what you think. https://romacanon.wordpress.com/2022/04/17/caren-gussoff-sumptions-non-exotic-and-completely-believable-fictional-roma/ Caren has a new book coming out soon, and I can’t wait to read it.

In the meantime, Twitter is all, well, atwitter, about Elon Musk’s purchase of the platform and the leaked Supreme Court decision on abortion. So, of course, two clever writers merged the two issues into a hilarious but ominous piece:

A REIMAGINING OF YOUR UTERUS, WHICH I, ELON MUSK, NOW OWN

by MIRIAM JAYARATNA and ALEXA KOCINSKI

https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-reimagining-of-your-uterus-which-i-elon-musk-now-ownhttps://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-reimagining-of-your-uterus-which-i-elon-musk-now-own https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/a-reimagining-of-your-uterus-which-i-elon-musk-now-own

So, you see, it’s worth it to plumb social media for all it’s worth.

As always, please like and comment below, use the social media buttons to share and RT (retweet) if you’re so inclined. Thank you for reading! I’ll be here all day to answer questions, reply, have conversations, whatever you like.

Study Hall, April 26, 2021: Mistakes Made and Lessons Learned

Hello again. Yesterday was a perfectly terrible, effed up day, so today we are starting out fresh and rambunctious because there’s no way to go but up. So why not tear out all the stops and tackle the knots in my new novel, and while I’m at it try to solve the lack of something in my latest short story. Maybe I’ll even get up enough courage to send my poetry manuscript to an editor friend and poet who offered to look at it for me.

Wait, you say that’s a good agenda for a week or two? You’re right. Sometimes I have to stop myself from being too ambitious and make myself focus. So maybe I’ll take another look at the poetry manuscript and send it to that editor plus another friend who’s really an editor but won’t call herself that (Looking at you, L) whose word I really trust. And while I’m at it, here’s my bit of cheek for today:

If you haven’t yet read my novel, Eve’s Garden, or have a friend who hasn’t, please hop on over to the EVIL EMPIRE, Amazon, and purchase an e-copy or send one to that friend. Unfortunately, it’s only available as an e-book right now, as my very small publisher took it out of print so she could publish new books. (Or, rather, she kept saying she was going to, so I said, go ahead and put me out of my misery.) I hope I can sell enough ebooks to make it worth another publisher’s while to republish it, along with its sequel, coming up next after this latest little offbeat romance novel. Want to help me in my quest? Thank you and may the goddesses bless.

You see, I didn’t know then what I know now, that most authors who are midlist (or not on any list because their publisher is too small) have to hire their own publicist to do what all publishers should be doing, which is treat your book like it’s your life’s blood. This was a change from when I myself was a small publisher about a decade before. I had done all the things most industry whizzes say an author should do, start a blog, mention your book in ever-new ways on social media, put out a newsletter, talk to bookstores to organize readings, and so on. But there are things an author can’t easily do for herself, like write reviews, or have them written, nominate the book for appropriate awards, etc. Those things should be done by your publisher, but if they don’t, do it half-heartedly, or they are too busy to do it promptly, it has become industry standard to hire your own publicist to stir that soup. So now I know and have my eye out for candidates.

In case you’re also interested in what an agent/publicity rep has to say about book marketing and publicity, here’s a new newsletter from agent and book rep Cassie Murray Mannes that you may find enlightening. Let’s all learn together how not to make mistakes, or, at least, how not to make the same mistake twice.

https://pinestatepublicity.substack.com/p/coming-soon?s=w&utm_medium=web

And, please, please leave me a comment so I know someone out there is listening. I love you and may you have a fabulous day.

Study Hall, April 12: When You’re Stuck

Writer’s block isn’t a major issue for me—maybe because I am always struggling to find enough time, what with health issues, family, and activism, to write all the stories going on in my head—but there are times when I know a particular character or plot point needs underpinning, though I can’t quite suss out what’s missing. I have two main methods to address these quandaries. One is to take a relevant workshop with a writer I admire. If I’m having trouble, say, with a particular character, I know that if I take a character framing workshop with a good writer, I will likely hear something that will help me round out the person in question.

I am having trouble with a beloved story that isnt getting quite the juice it requires. I suspect the issue is that my main character isn’t quite “bad” enough to show a really great learning curve in the story. So this month I’ll be taking a workshop on ”The Mighty and Flawed” from a very successful writer, Tommy Dean, author of the fiction books Covenants and Hollow, and editor at ”Fractured Lit.” Tommy is a pretty modest guy, so his workshops are “pay what you want”—irresistible to a senior writer like me. He has a bunch of short workshops coming up this month; check them out at https://www.tommydeanwriter.com .

My other method? It’s a writing prompt exercise I do now and then to spur my subconscious to write what my conscious mind won’t allow.

I’ll post a video of that prompt in a separate posting. In the meanwhile, happy writing to you!

Study Hall: April 5, 2022–Wordsmiths

Word games are a great way to start a writing session, especially at times when you don’t feel inspired. Pastimes like crosswords, word scrambles, and, yes, Wordle, can get us out of our everyday vocabulary and help jumpstart ideas. A favorite strategy of mine for such times is to make a list of nouns and verbs, then try to combine them into description without adjectives or adverbs. One of my favorites is the term ”jump master.” It’s vivid and provocative. There is a military designation using that term, but how about an eight-year-old jump master?

Wordle 290 5/6

⬜⬜🟨⬜⬜
🟨🟩🟩⬜⬜
⬜🟩🟩⬜⬜
⬜🟩🟩🟩🟩
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Today I’m not feeling my manuscript, but playing around with words for a while may get me over my doldrums and into full scribe mode.

One of my early academic administrators, Dr. Dan Bern, called each of us on his grantwriting team “wordsmiths.” I love the idea that we’re crafting words through the crucible of inspiration into writing that soars, spins, serves. (There’s a reason they call political operatives “spin doctors.”)

Do you have a favorite word game that gets your writing dreams flowing? Drop me a line—I love to know about ways to cherish words!

Study Hall: Write with Us

Hi! For those of you who haven’t joined us before, the concept is simple:

I issue this reminder.

You choose your time if necessary, but, if possible, do it now.

Write whatever you like. (If you’re stuck, go to the Jane’s Stories Book Buzz page on Facebook and scroll down till you find a prompt that suits you––they’re posted frequently by our prompt guru, Judy Goodman.)

Leave us a note here about your intention, whatever you want to say about your writing plans and your goal for the day, whether it’s a certain number of words, a good beginning, to finish a piece, whatever.

On Friday, come to the Book Buzz and let us know how you did under the prompt that says “Check In.”

That’s it! Bon voyage on your writing journey, and, remember, you’re never alone. Reach out to me or other writers if you need a hand.

Write With Me Study Hall, Monday, October 26, 2015

  I am always writing a story in my head. You, too? 

That’s what makes us writers appear like scatterbrained police detectives much of the time. A friend may be telling me something heartbreaking, joyful, or worrying, but I am thinking about how it might fit into the bigger picture of what I will write. I hope I respond appropriately most of the time, as long as you don’t mind me diving for my iPhone to make a note while you talk. I really do care, honest, so much that I am deeply thinking about the implications of what you’re saying. Okay, maybe I’m only thinking about how cool it would be to have a kleptomaniac kindergarten teacher likes yours as a heroine in a story about overcoming obstacles, but I WILL remember you told me a story about a kleptomaniac kindergarten teacher. Being a writer is partly an art of listening deeply while thinking about many things.  

Today, I can only write after I do a long-neglected chore that has brought me up against a deadline, so I will be cranky, of course, until I can get back to my desk. When I do, I plan on working a bit more on writing some monologues from the viewpoint of a couple of characters who are puzzling me. If I give them free rein to answer some pointed questions, I hope they’ll provide me with a deeper peek into their motivations.

What are you writing today? 

Write With Me! Study Hall, Monday, September 27, 2015

 

Moving Day!

 Hi, All! So sorry about last week’s missing study hall link. My early morning Social Security meeting became a nearly all-day affair, in which I was prohibited from linking to the Internet. This week, I also don’t have wi-if, because we are packing up our Florida house and preparing for the final move to Charlotte. But this time I’m scheduling the post courtesy of free Barnes & Noble (I know, evil empire, but I live in no-other-bookstore land) on Sunday, and then I’ll be easily able to catch up with you via my cell phone tomorrow. 

Not sure how much concentrated writing time I will get done this week, but after the packing, on Thursday I’ll be joining a workshop taught by Laura van den Berg (Finding Me, The Isle of Youth, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us) along with Connie May Fowler and Parneshia Jones for a long weekend. More about that later! So I will be writing, all week long. 

So please check in and tell us what you’re up to. You could look at this, if you choose, as get-your-butt-in -the-chair-and-keep-moving-day. Let’s get it done–baxt (Good writing mojo, Romani style!) 

STUDY HALL: Write with us, beginning each Tuesday at 10 a.m.!

IMG_3546We check In each Tuesday here to give each other support and encouragement to work in those writing projects we might otherwise put off. Everyone is invited to join us by including below a brief comment about what you’re working on today. Afterward, please let us know how it went. If you can’t make it at 10 a.m., leave your comments when you can, before you start, by the Study Hall post dated today. Better late than never, better now than not at all!

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