Saturday, April 28, 2012


   I sat outside this morning with my laptop to enjoy the warm weather and the sun and the incredible smell of the blossoms on the lemon trees. I got some work done (actual work for the paying day job) and then I got some work done (fun work, reading my critique partner's latest chapter) and even started to write a few words on my own WIP.
   It was quite productive. Right up until I identified the faint noise in the background. It had been rising and falling but was mostly drowned out by the usual sounds I hear in the yard – the neighbor's dogs, kids playing outside, a soccer game at a nearby park (also, the infernal car alarm on the '98 Ford Taurus down the block, but it was short-lived).
   When the noise grew louder, I finally got up to look over the fence and see what the new neighbors were up to. And when I got close to the big lemon tree, I saw the source of the buzzing.
    It was this guy. And a couple hundred of his friends. They were also enjoying the lemon blossoms. Or maybe they were getting their work done. I don't know a lot about bees. I will say that they were very industrious and didn't mind me poking around and taking some photographs of them.
   So, while I wasn't working as hard as my little striped visitors, this was a very fruitful start to the weekend.
   Hope your weekend is, also!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Have Fun Storming the Castle

My 3-year-old niece gasped at tower of tiny sandwiches. "Are they for me?"
   A beautiful garden at an historic mansion, a lovely spring day, and a happy and excited bride-to-be. What else do you need for a tea party/bridal shower?
   It was a beautiful setting, and knowing the romantic story behind the couple's meeting, it was also an inspiring way to spend the afternoon. There are some couples who you just know will weather any challenge life brings in the future. 
   And so, I'm off to the keyboard to try and capture some of that inspiration on the page.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Look Beyond the Dark Clouds

  Back when my father and I were warring over pretty much everything, we were stuck in the same car for a very, very long drive. We had nothing to talk about that didn't make him yell and me cry. But we had one cassette tape in his truck and we listened to it several times over. It was my introduction to Levon Helm, my father's favorite musician of all time. He told me about The Band, about the The Last Waltz, about how he discovered this music that spoke to him. It was the best road trip I've ever taken. Especially when we arrived to find my mom waiting in grim anticipation of our arrival, only to see us laughing and talking as we got out of the truck.
  Ever since then, I've considered Levon a member of our family. The peacemaking member.
  My dad remains a fan to this day and will very likely be listening to Midnight Ramble tonight. As will I. Go in peace, Levon.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Snow Had Fallen, Snow on Snow*

   I readily admit it:  I'm a bit of a weather wimp. I live in a very moderate climate and I like it that way. I had to ask a friend in New York once just what was this "heat index" everyone on the news was talking about. Answer: Nothing I want to live with.
   But, contrary to a common misconception, there is plenty of weather in California. Here is some photographic proof. A couple winters ago, I woke up at my parents' house and found a good blanket of snow covering the backyard and more coming down. Because I no longer live where it snows, this was exciting. And, like an ill-prepared tourist, I put on some running shoes and grabbed my camera to try and capture the fat, fluffy flakes and the bare trees and the snow-covered train in the background.
   I forgot about the dog. The dog who loves nothing more than to run around in the snow, snapping at the flakes in the air. The dog who totally photo-bombed my attempt to make a lovely scenic picture.
   I suppose I can't blame her completely for the less-than-scenic results. It had been so long since I'd been in the snow, I forgot that those fat snowflakes can hold a lot of water. Within minutes of going outside, I was soaked. What looked like fluffy cotton balls that floated to the ground felt like being pelted with wads of wet paper.
    In the end, I got four shots that didn't have a big drop of water on the lens. All of those shots included the dog. We packed it in for the day and enjoyed the great indoors until the weather improved.

*  This is from the poem In the Bleak Midwinter, by Christina Rosetti (1872). This is also the title of the book I just finished by Julia Spencer-Fleming, which I highly recommend. 

"In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life, Interfering

Howarth, Yorkshire. Home of Brontes.
  It's been a long time since I've checked in and I wish I could say I've been writing. Well, I have been writing, but not anything fun. The thing they don't really tell you when you start thinking about being a lawyer is how much of your job depends on writing. Not that it would have deterred me because I love writing. But I'm ready to write something that's, well, fun. With imaginary people suffering imaginary woes. Instead, my writing has been about real people and real problems and it's been a real downer. But it is what I get paid to do.
   In the middle of this crush of work, I spoke with three people IN A ROW who were heading out on vacations to Hawaii, the Caribbean, and on a cruise ship. Clearly, I am doing something wrong.
   In the last three weeks, my "writing" has consisted mostly of listening to writing podcasts on my commute and thinking about the scene that I need to write and why it is that I'm not inspired to write it. Is there something missing? Why is this scene so difficult to write? It needs to get done, though, so I can get it to my critique partner and then move on to the scene that I want to write.
   Or maybe I'll just skip this scene and skip to the fun stuff.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Writing!

I was going to write something about my hometown. Or my favorite state. But instead, I'm writing! Writing my book! I seemed to have shaken the slump that hit last month. It's not much, but I wrote a 1,000-word scene that explains an antagonist's motivation. It will probably not be in the story, but writing it helped me figure out why he acted the way he did.
Go talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back in a few days.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Resolutions – March Update

    No way to sugar-coat this:  March sucked. The weather was bad. I got sick. Work was a hideous mess of deadlines and impossible demands, topped off with a large serving of crazy. And then there was the shift to Daylight Savings Time, which always throws me for a loop.
    So, I have many explanations for why I didn’t get much writing done. Note that I did not say “excuses.” There is no excuse. I want to write. I need to find the time.
    Here are the numbers:
    Total words written in March 2012 – 5,147. Last year, I wrote 6,210 words in March. Apparently, I don’t feel very creative this time of the year. Last month, I wrote more than 21,000 words, so it’s a huge drop in production. 
    Breaking it down even further, it looks like most of my time was spent on the novella (1,506) and very little on the main WIP (886) that I want to finish, uh, soonish. I had to come up with a new category for miscellaneous writing, and I managed to write 2,755 words in this category. The worst part – and yes, it gets worse than a 75% drop in word production – is that I only wrote 8 days last month. That’s a long way from my goal of writing every day.
    On the plus side, I got a couple chapters back from my critique partner and her suggestions made the chapters much stronger. Her feedback also inspires me to get back to work, so I’m going to rework those chapters tonight to get my head back in the story. I also had a great weekend away, driving to my hometown with a couple old friends and it seems to have jump-started my creative impulses. I was ambushed by a plot bunny – the same one that attacked last year when I traveled home, but this time I took notes for a future project.
    In May, I hope to be reporting that I’m back in the 20,000-word range again and that March was simply an aberration. At least I can be fairly confident that I’ll beat last year’s April total, which was a measly 424 words. But not if I keep writing this entry and not opening my project files.