Saturday, April 08, 2006

Winston Churchill Speaks

"Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."

Winston Churchill

Not as productive as I'd like to be....under the influence of Sinus/Allergy Tylenol and anti-biotics. On my reading list right now when inspiration eludes me at the monitor: The Madonnas of Lenningrad and The Geographer's Library. Reading the Madonnas if upstairs and The Geographer if downstairs. My son pointed out that this is rather lazy but I say it's rather efficient.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Signs, Mileposts, Arroyos

Just back from a road trip that took us across a swath of the vast uniterrupted Painted Desert. First, the excitement is the next snack stop--my crew are hard core Snack-A-Holics who believe every town is an opportunity for a new junk food discovery. They eat like Amazons and remain pencil thin. I eyed the Onion Rings but contented myself with a latte with skim milk and no-fat whipped cream.

East of Flagstaff, the towns become sparse until finally, the excitement is seeing a sign announcing a town. Then, seeing a sign announcing a wash like "San Diablo Arroyo." More time passes and the signs dispense with names and say things like, "Exit 108-3 Miles." Exit 108 comes into view and appears to lead nowhere. It's like being in the geographical center of nowhere. Except it is wide open and beautiful if you like the desert--and I do.

Back in the high desert. Spring Break over, tax deadline 12 days away, and 5000 words to write this week.

Monday, March 27, 2006


Seven thousand words into a new novel. Came up with a working title I can live with.

I'll do anything to avoid working on taxes. Suddenly, no writer's block now that I need to do taxes. Moving is a killer---two states worth of forms. I want to jump into an advertisement I saw today--a white deserted beach.

There's nothing like a deadline. Back to my Receipt Safari.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Back on the Scene for Now

Live from the parking lot of JA’s bar. Reporting in Melissa Rivers style but red carpet nowhere in sight at this joint.

“A stream of swillers all waving their SASE’s for admittance has converged tonight here at JA’s. Personally, I’m not setting foot inside until MG lets me know if they serve a mean margarita and allow Ferragamos on the sawdust.

“Dana! Over here. What’s the buzz? Something big going on in there tonight?”

“Word is Lisa and MG are giving a live musical performance.”

“So they’re branching into the music business?”

“Gotta go. There’s a Chinese Champion waiting on the bar with my name on it.” Dana swaggers away. Hey where did she learn to swagger with panache? The last time I saw here was after a Rogue Reading when we staggered to the elevator.

“M.G.! Lisa! Over here by the mike. Free press girls! Word is you’re on-stage tonight.”

M.G., hands on hips and computer bag hanging from shoulder (may be a permanent appendage). “I’ve told you more than once to return to Blogland and get with it. I got songs to sing. Outta here.” She tosses dark hair and walks off SASE sticking out of her back pocket.

“Lisa….wait. You got anything to say before you take the stage?”

Lisa sniffs. “I smell an inaccurately used word somewhere.” Looks around, narrows eyes. “I’ve got to get in there and down a Purple Destiny before the show starts.”

“Order me a margarita, frozen, with salt, Lisa.” Car zooms into parking lot and blocks entrance to bar. “That’s it folks. Reporting live from JA’s on Live Performance Night…….wait. is that E.A.?”

“I need a Pap Smear double on the rocks.” E.A. eyes still glazed from Tax Tensions. Waving her tax forms. “What does a girl need to get in here?”

“Here I have some extra SASE’s.” Sharon pulls one from the endless supply in her knockoff leather purse (never take the real thing to a bar).

“SASE’s. Ha! I’ll just knock the bouncer out with my 25 lbs. of screen play and we’ll walk in free.”

Music starts. Stamping heard in inside. Or is it a stampede?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Why Write?

Lately I've been thinking about why I continue to write. E.A. Bardwill's post opened a Pandora's Box for me. Why keep writing? The answers I've come up with (so far):

1. Why not? It's a way to exercise my free will and choose to do what I want to do.
2. Because I like to write.
3. I love language, words, telling a story.

Interesting that none of these first three reasons have to do with money. And it's a good thing because most writers don't strike it "big." Most, I'm convinced labor in obscurity with a lot of angst and a lot of hope. And even those who get the big deals--like a friend of mine--still have a lot of angst and a lot of hope---and a lot of new deadlines. So I write, submit, wait and wait and write some more.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Whales, etc.

I have an incredible photo of a whale winking right at the camera sitting on my desk. My daughter took it when she was 8 year old. We had sailed from San Juan island on a small eco friendly boat to try and spot a few whales. The captain, our guide--a naturalist, two families with young kids, and an older lady and her daughter. The large double decker tourist boats broke the rules all morning long and crossed the established boundaries (we were told the boats had to keep a certain distance at all times from the whales they spotted). Our animal loving naturalist told the kids that our boat followed the rules put in place to protect the whales. Thus, we were occasionally rewarded with a sighting of a few black blobs way far away and, after two hours, all the kids snuggled under wool blankets and forgot about the whales.

At noon, the captain cut the motor and the boat drifted while we warmed up. Everyone chatted, and gave up on actually seeing anything more exciting than a school of fish. Most of us were standing at the side rails of the boat sea-gazing, when only a few feet away, an enormous black Orca rose slowly out of the water and plopped back down splashing all of us. My daughter began shooting photos one after the other. The rest of us stood mesmerized as three whales "played around" our boat for fifteen or twenty minutes, almost as if on purpose--like they were giving the kids the show they'd missed all morning. I remember being stunned, amazed, and absolutey awed. It was as if they were teasing us. One of the photos is a close up of one of the whales with a glint in his big side eye--- as if he was thinking, if I can't have some fish today for lunch, I'll have the boat.

I know that glint,,,,that's the way I feel about reading. I rather read a book but in a pinch I'll settle for a brochure, a trade magazine, or an appliance manual. One insomniatic night many years ago, I found myself at a hotel on business, luggage lost, and no book to read. Panic! I pored over the tabbed hotel notebook for a while until it occurred to me there might be a newspaper in the lobby.

I love to read.

Random leaps in my old photo of Orca, muse on how much I love to read, and put off reworking a difficult section of Chapter 4.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

First Novels

Reading Ross King's novel, Domino because I enjoyed his historical suspense novel, Ex Libris. The language in Ex-Libris was flowery but interesting. The language in Domino (takes place in 1770's) is downright weighty. Although I'm enjoying the story, the language can be a slog at times. I noticed last night this was his first novel and it sent me off on a mental tangent, thinking about first novels.

Today I'm wondering if I will look back at Dear Dr. Shamroy one day and absolutely cringe. Perhaps. At this point I still like the humor and Shamroy's ridiculous platitudes and quotes. Still, five years from now.........

I'm totally avoiding writing AND the enormous pile of critique that is due online with my writer's group today. I just want to write about those shape shifting cockroaches that grow in cocoons on the Isle of Daki and then migrate to the U.S. to carry out their nefarious plots. This sounds like so much more fun than researching diamond smuggling for Ch. 4 of A Prolonged Coincidence. In fact the shape shifters idea might go Hollywood in a hooker's minute.

The critiques can no longer be avoided. Have a good day to all who stop by.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


A lot of questions today--sort of like weeds! They're not important, but, they are there.

Why are query letters so hard to get right?
Why do I write?
How can I catch the evil typo worm that lives in my P.C.?
Why did our VIce President shoot someone?

That's it. Back to Chapter 3 of A Prolonged Coincidence.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Quote

Came across this quote by Samuel Beckett this morning:
"Try again. Fail again. Fail better."

I continue on my second draft of the novel I'm working on now secure in the knowledge that there will always be revision. Re-drafting, polishing, replotting, reworking (Dana, see what you started.)

Is a novel ever really finished?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Random Thoughts

A blog with titles for authors seeking titles. Someone else thought this up but I like the idea. It could be The TitleList. Corny I guess. That's why I need a blog with title ideas.

Quote by Ursula LeGuin: It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters in the end.

I'd like to think that's true. Some days (like today!) writing seems like such a solitary trip down a dotted line on a map leading to oblivion. But, I wrote anyway and finished a rewrite of Chapter 2.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Armegeddon for Shape Shifting Cockroaches

The deals are out there and apparently, the more bizarre your story, the better. My next story is going to involve shape shifting cockroaches on the path to Armegeddon.

Forget the plot construction, the layers, the play on words, the careful arrangement of phrases in the novel I'm working on. As the cockroaches grow in numbers, they can not be stopped. Their path of destruction threatens the entire planet (and Mars too before it's all over).

The world of diamond smuggling plays into my novel currently in progress. I though it was exciting until I read about some of the book deals out there today.

Friday, February 03, 2006

New Words, Open Eyes

Discovered a new word last night: japanned - a noun - articles made in a Japanese style, esp. when decorated with lacquer or enamellike varnish. Used in a novel I'm reading an piqued my interest.

Guess that's what it's all about with writers...keeping an eye for the strangeness of ordinary life, the odd expression. Ordinary words gaining momentum as the writer puts them in motion. Strange new words dropping in. Well used words. Words you have to stop and look up. In the end a story.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Reeading two novels right now in my not so spare time: Our Man in Havanna by Graham Greene and Captain Alatriste by Arturo Perez-Reverte. Both are good stories, well written.

But writing a novel sometimes ruins the reading of a good story. I start analyzing what I like and why, underline passages that are well written, and go back to them to determine what it is I like so much about that particular arrangement of words.

In the end it interferes with just reading for enjoyment. You can never read the first page of a novel the same way again...once you start writing.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Words, Thoughts, First Entry

I sleep and dream. I wake. I write. I remember and forget. I have fun and get depressed. And now..I blog.

I would say some things different today than I will say them tomorrow. But still the things themselves represent who I am: a writer who frets about style and content of my novels. Now I'm fretting over what to write on a blog.

Made the first entry. Broke the ice. We'll see where it goes from here.