Land ahoy!

Pardon me while I indulge in a moment of squee, but I’m bursting with excitement and I need to shout this somewhere: I can see it, finally.

After realizing that I can’t write a scene unless I can see myself there, in it, I put myself through a series of sort-of-stupid-feeling visualization exercises. I made myself see the physical location of the scene, become familiar with its details, the props, the lighting. I populated it with background people and their motivations. I mapped out what my characters had to do in the scene, physically. Where they would start, how they had to move through the location, how long it would take them, where they would end up. What clothes they had on. What their postures would be as they spoke to each other. Anything I could think of, any visual detail.

And then I saw it.

Dimly, like the lights were low and I didn’t have my contacts in. But I could finally see myself there, see it happening. I could finally start transcribing the overheard dialogue, record the action. Slowly. Even though I’ve been writing other things all through the fallow year to keep myself in practice, it felt like I’d forgotten how. I kept at it, kept examining the details, re-rooting myself. The resolution started to clear.

That was four thousand words ago.  That’s approximately three thousand and nine hundred more words than I’ve added to this manuscript in the entire past year combined.

As I typed up the final lines of the latest scene, I realized that what I was seeing at that moment was the next one, already. I know what it looks like. I was there. This is nearly it, nearly the end of the story, and I can see it.

It’s all hands on deck now, because this ship is about to make berth.

This box has a fragile label

For various reasons, and because the universe has a mean sense of humor, this past week has been very difficult for my family. As a result, I feel behind in every way, especially mentally and emotionally. If you try to talk to me and I seem scattered, well. I am.

If you’re the type who does the praying/ happy thoughts/ finger crossing/ positive energy kind of thing, I could sure use some of that.

And, Universe? Take two steps back. My dance card is already full.

Full circle, and there’s a song about that

My Grandpa Bethancourt died when I was twelve years old.  At the funeral, I spotted a tall, bearded fellow dressed in a distinctive (peculiar, to me) manner.  He looked familiar, but I was also certain I’d know it if I’d ever seen such an odd character before.

“Who is that?” I asked.

“That’s Cousin Joe,” I was told.  “We don’t speak to him.”  The tone implied that the reasons were of an unsavory nature best not explained to a child, that he was one of those weirdies.

Four years later, I was at a collegium learning about the history and the modern practice of rapier fencing.  “Hey, look,” my companion said to me.  “It’s your cousin, Joe.  Aren’t you going to say hi?”

“I’ve never met him,” I shrugged and replied, and was met with an incredulous stare.

Almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was made to stand in front of the tall, bearded fellow who dressed in a distinctive manner.  He peered down his nose at me, over his spectacles in that way of his, and said, “Who is this gorgeous redhead?”

“This is your cousin,” my companion informed him smugly.

Joe’s scandalized oh was several seconds in forming.

I was sixteen years old and the subversiveness of a relationship with an older relative not on the parents’ Approved list — especially if he was a weirdie — had all the appeal necessary to ensure we’d get on splendidly.  We did.  Joe was a good friend to me in those rocky teen years when I felt like I had a lack of adult support in my life.  He even went to bat for me against my father, a rather intimidating figure.  I’m told there were raised voices.  I don’t know if I ever told Joe how much it meant to me that an adult had enough faith in me to stand up for my choices, right or wrong.  I don’t know if he ever knew how badly I needed that.  I do know that he meant his standing offer of help sincerely; I don’t suppose he knew that there were moments when it felt like the only lifeline I had.

Some time after that confrontation, Joe and my dad started spending more time talking to each other.  In the nearly twenty years since, they became quite close.  Earlier this year, Joe played a concert put on by my dad.

Joe Bethancourt was a local celebrity.  That no-good banjo player was how he liked to describe himself.  If an instrument had strings, he could play it.  If there was a joke to be made, he’d put it into song.  If a song was beloved, he could filk it to bits.

Every time I saw Joe, he greeted me as his “second favorite redhead” (first honors to his wonderful wife) and asked me the same two questions: “Is he still treating you right?  Do I get to have to kill him for you?” meaning the man I married.  Because that was part of what he’d fought with my dad about, for me, and he had an endorsement to stand behind.  But also he was the kind of man who would really have relished the excuse to take any one of his many cherished weapons out for a spin.  I think Joe had two – no, thr—make that four true loves: music, weapons, greyhounds, and redheads.  Five true loves: also bad jokes.

I last saw Joe when he played that concert for my dad, in January.  He offered the usual greeting, and asked me those same two questions.  I laughed and thanked him for playing.

And that was the last time I saw Joe.

Today I have another family funeral to attend.  There will be no tall, bearded fellow to spot across the room.

10 Ways for ADD Authors to Be OOH! SQUIRREL!!!! …Productive

Some good, solid help for the writer with a focus problem.

“Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings.” This made me laugh and is also true.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

WANA, Kristen Lamb, We Are Not Alone, WANA International, how to be successful writer Image via Marie Loughin WANA Commons

Right now I’m teaching a new series about going pro (check it out below this post—recordings and notes included with purchase). One key difference between the amateur and the professional is the professional shows up no matter what. Life will not stop because we have a dream of being a NYTBSA.

In August, I managed to nearly break my ankle (needed X-rays & brace) find out I was highly allergic to peanuts (nearly died…met new doctor & she seems nice), then have said evil peanut allergic reaction give me a spiffy case of FREAKING Shingles (two super fun-filled trips to the ER).

***THIS is what I get for bragging that I haven’t had to go to a doctor in YEARS. *lightning crackles*

Through all of this? No, I wasn’t operating optimally (or heavy equipment), but pain meds can give cool dreams so I kept…

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I always feel like such a mercenary when it comes to be the time of year when I have to do this — promote my own wares. I’m very Not Good at it. But that’s where we are.

It’s Calendar 2015 time, and I’m quite proud of this year’s offering.

Nature’s Palette: photography from the Pacific Northwest.

2015 calendar sample


I don’t get a huge percentage of the proceeds, but it’s something, if you feel like helping out a starving artist in exchange for (what I daresay is) some stunning photography.