Guest Post

HAVE A BOOK TO PROMOTE? Lyrical Pens welcomes guest posts. Answer a questionnaire or create your own post. FYI, up front: This site is a definite PG-13. For details, contact cj

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

Each member of the Lyrical Pens has a story in the new Christmas is a Season! 2009 which is edited by Linda Busby-Parker and yours truly as the associate editor. It's a beautiful book filled with an eclectic mix of short stories and personal essays that incorporate the holiday experience. You can purchase it at Barnes & Noble and on Amazon. If you check out our flag ship issue last year on Amazon, you'll see that they are still selling and for premium prices due to the excellent reception to the book. It has been used as a teaching tool at universities and read in book clubs. This year, like last, the authors crisscross the nation, which brings a rich influence to the book and something for all readers. We sincerely hope you enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you. May you be blessed to share the feast with friends and family and eat well.

Writers make a difference one page at a time. Mahala Church

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

As the days dwindle down . . .

Where did 2009 go? I can not {note 2 words :>) for emphasis} believe that we're zooming in on Thanksgiving. My gosh, that means I have only one more payday (!) before Christmas. Oh well. I make a concerted effort to not leave the house for any of the frantic spending on post-Thanksgiving "black Friday" and Saturday sales. I did join my family one year in our MMAV (Mobile Mall Assault Vehicle). After that, I swore off. But I wish good hunting to all you bargain seekers.

I do love this time of year though. Cool days, cooler nights, the crunch of leaves underfoot, and the sight of my fuchsia, pink, and white camelias reaching for their most colorful peak. (The show lasts until January.) This Gulf Coast city doesn't get much in the way of autumnal colors like those of Michigan or Maine or Vermont. When I moved from Detroit to my southern home, I had to switch my color expectations to the hurricane lilies that start popping up in late August, the masses of 10-foot high camelias that bud out in the middle of September, and the berries of heavenly bamboo that turn red in late October. No problem, the relief from the heat and humidity is so appreciated . . . until next February and March when the azaleas and bridal wreath take over, and I get antsy for the chill to leave the air.

I used to have all my Christmas shopping done before Labor Day. This year not so much. I've been distracted by writerly things like creating, editing, workshopping, conferencing, etc. And for all you doubting Thomases, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

I did, however, just receive a beautiful Christmas gift for myself . . . and you. Christmas Is a Season 2009 is now in print, and the Lyrical Pens are contributors! From the press release: "Linda Busby Parker is the publisher of Excalibur Press and editor of the Christmas anthology, which includes twenty-six short stories and personal essays about the Christmas season. Contributors include writers from California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Mississippi, and of course, Alabama. The stories and essays in Christmas is a Season! 2009 are full of surprises—a pagan celebration, a Santa School transformation, a dog gaining heroic status, a teenager receiving the Christmas spirit, despite herself. Great joy, great longings, much laughter, some sadness, and some regrets, the stories in Christmas is a Season! 2009 address all the emotions and the various experiences the season brings."

Check it out on Amazon. And you're personally invited to book signings as some of the authors read excepts from their work:
* December 3, Dothan, AL, Barnes & Noble 5 to 7 p.m.
* December 11, Fairhope, AL, Page & Palette 5 to 7 p.m.
* December 12, Mobile, AL, Barnes & Noble 2 p.m.
Watch for info on another book signing at the Little Professor bookstore in Birmingham, AL, also in early December (more about that when the time/date is confirmed).

Hope to see you at one of these events.

Keep on keeping on folks. I will.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Time is the Great Thief

This summer I put on a bathing suit to take my granddaughter swimming. When I looked in the mirror I was astonished at what a few months had done to my body. First, if you look at my picture, you know I like to eat, but what you don't know is I have a few metal parts and am working on being the next bionic woman. The scar from my hip replacement has healed nicely, but what I hadn't figured on was the cleavage the replacement left. It took about a second last May with a hand mirror to realize that my left and right sides no longer matched, and my bathing suit from the year before was hanging loosely where my derriere had filled it in the year before. So here's the dilemma - do I have the other hip done or figure out some way to fill in the space on the other side? In my aggravation I also noticed that my buttocks, which have never been very large compared to other parts of me, had shifted in a most distinctive way to the top of my thighs and now looked exactly like my mother's the last twenty years or so of her life. I wasn't sure whether to cry or laugh, but being an Erma Bombeck fan, I opted for laughter. My granddaughter came to find out why I was laughing hysterically, and, of course, at ten, she thought I was totally crazy. "But why is that funny?" she kept asking. "Well, just take a look," I giggled. And finally we were both cracking up. The moral of this story is don't wait too long to go swimming between operations or your body parts may shift and leave your bathing suit limp in places.

No seriously, the reason I tell this compelling story {I'm sure you agree} is that life and your buttocks will get away from you if you don't stay on top of it. I'm supposed to be revising my novel, and yet, I've been so busy assisting to edit a new Christmas anthology and editing several mss for others, making holiday gifts, and doing yard work, painting the house, etc. etc. etc. that I've almost stayed away from my novel too long. But as it turned out in this case, I think that's been a truly good thing. As I'm re-reading it now, I'm amazed at how I can see the bulging spots and the gaping holes. I'm amazed at what I wrote in places. Amazed at how well some of the words flowed to the page, amazed at how MANY adjectives I used to try and make a point, and amazed at how many empty spaces I now see. Sometimes, a break is just what we need to spur us onward and develop our creativity. I've spent these few months reading books on writing, which is what Darnell Arnoult, a good Southern author, and my friend, Linda Busby-Parker, also a good Southern author and editor, keep telling me and other writers to do after we finish our masterpiece and before we start to dissect it. And guess what, Darnell and Linda, I think it's working!

A few suggestions on books of craft that I've found especially helpful are:
Writing Fiction: the touchstone for MFA programs around the country and dreadfully boring in some sections, but on how-to-structure basics, can't be beat

Creating Fiction: with insights from a large number of writers that I admire, including Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, John Barth (whose article on incremental perturbations perturbed the h- e- double hockey sticks out of me at first, but now I get it!, Alyce Miller on first person narrative which is what my novel is.

How I write: Secrets of a Bestselling Author: straight forward and simple to understand. While I adore literary style and read it often, I absolutely! absolutely! want to sell my book.

I wonder if I could use one of those baster kits you can buy at the grocery store for turkeys to stuff my hip? Nah! I like my whopsided look. It gives me that eclectic character I've always admired in others.

Never commit to memory what you can find in a book. Albert Einstein