Archives

Garth Stein – Author Event

A couple of weeks ago, I saw Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain. Eden Prairie Reads* sponsored the author event which was held at St. Andrew’s Church. Mr. Stein was introduced to the crowd by the chair of the committee. A grand entrance was made from the back of the church as the crowd of about 100 people applauded. When Garth dropped something on the floor, the clapping stopped, but Garth asked us to please continue with our applause until he got to the podium. The audience complied.  🙂

Mr. Stein started his talk by saying, “Wait a minute.” He pulled his phone out of his pocket, took a picture of the audience, and told us he would post our picture on his Facebook account. He also said he had to take care of a little business before he started his reading. He asked us to sign up for his newsletter and giveaways after the event. He also explained how he likes to write books, but he also needs people to read them. He thanked the booksellers, librarians, and teachers and asked us to please buy books from bookstores.

Garth Stein Event
I’m way in the back!

Mr. Stein then recited:

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

Someone in the audience knew that this stanza was from a poem written by T.S. Eliot. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, I discovered after I googled a few key words.  Mr. Stein read a few lines from the beginning of The Art of Racing in the Rain and told us that the question people ask him most is:  Where did the idea come from? “So many different places. It’s like a stew. All the different ingredients come together.” He talked about how he moved to New York from Seattle in 1983 and worked on documentary films. In 2001, he moved back to Seattle. While working in New York, one of the films they were working on was about Mongolia and how they believe dogs reincarnate as men. The idea really stuck with him. When he was back in Seattle with Billy Collins, a poet, Billy read his poem The Revenant, a poem from dog heaven. More ideas came to Mr. Stein and he was able to write the book very quickly even though the main idea of it came to him about six years before.

At the beginning of his writing career, Mr. Stein drove around to different book stores and asked if he could speak there. When he was in Plano, Texas, he did a reading for the one person who showed up. He asked his fan if he would like to just go to the coffee shop instead, but the guy said “no” – he wanted Garth to do a reading for him. It was from his book Raven Stole the Moon. His wife is his first reader and wondered what he was doing during the day while he was touring with Raven Stole the Moon because the book signings were in the evenings. She figured out he was going to the movies – the movie ticket that she found in his pocket was a big clue. She thought it would be a good idea if Garth wrote during the day, and that’s when he wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain. He sent the manuscript to his agent, and he waited. He waited, like his dog Comet likes to wait for pancakes to get made on Saturday mornings: very attentively. He watched his phone for several days. When his agent finally called, Garth asked, “What did you think?” The agent said, “It’s narrated by a dog.” The agent didn’t know how he could market a book written from a dog’s point of view, and Garth replied by saying, “Victor Hugo wasn’t a hunchback.” So Garth fired that agent. Garth sent his manuscript to many agents and they all thought the same thing – they didn’t know how to get it published. When he was at a Literary Lions gathering and was getting introduced to people at his table, he told them how frustrated he was since he couldn’t find an agent. One guy at the table said, “My book is written from the point of view of a crow!” That book is called Song of the Crow, by Layne Maheu. It’s a story about Noah’s Ark, and that’s the tale of how Garth found his new agent.

Garth talked about how aspiring authors ask him what information he has to help them get started writing a book. Garth said that it’s like Pin the Tail on the Donkey. You start at one point and work your way around. You can move the pin as many times as you like.

Garth’s new book is called A Sudden Light which is based on his play Brother Jones. It’s a spiritual ghost story. He shared the story about his father’s death and how a “mystical thing” happens to him when he’s writing.

Garth was currently reading The Brothers K, a sports book by James Duncan. He also recommended reading The Trouble with Poetry. Some of his favorite authors are Ken Kesey, the author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; John Steinbeck; and Flannery O’Connor.  Universal Studios is working on making The Art of Racing in the Rain into a movie, and Garth has written some children’s books with Enzo, Zoe, and Denny, characters from The Art of Racing in the Rain.

This was my first time going to an author event, and I thought it was very entertaining and inspirational. How about you?  Have you ever attended an author event?  What did you think?
_______________________
* “Eden Prairie Reads is a community grassroots group whose purpose is to promote reading, encourage discussion and strive for a new level of connection in the Eden Prairie community. We try to select books that will have broad appeal in the community while at the same time challenging us to think, and talk about issues we all face.” For more information, check out their website at http://www.epreads.org.

Advertisements

A Different Sort of Creative Endeavor

I wasn’t sure what to wear the Saturday I dropped off my manuscript to the editor, Char. I met Char about 18 months earlier when I signed up for her workshop that was held at our local community center. Char reads writers’ manuscripts and gives them feedback. I thought her fees sounded reasonable, and I felt like I could trust her to keep my manuscript safe.

I wore my white pants, blue cotton blouse that resembled a handkerchief, and flip-flops as I felt it would be a casual meeting. As I drove to her office, I felt like my manuscript was like some sort of baby sitting in the green folder next to me. Of course, my manuscript was different from a human baby, but it was a baby that had been created in my mind, looked over, rearranged, loved, and thought about over and over again, off and on, for a span of about five years – a different sort of creative endeavor.

When I arrived, Char showed me the way to her office.  We sat down, and she talked about what she planned to do with the manuscript. She said she would read it over and write in any suggestions paying careful attention to any grammatical or spelling errors. I asked that she please make sure I wasn’t saying the same thing over and over again. After reading my manuscript over several times, I was starting to get lost on how things went. She spoke about some of her other clients and her experiences with them so I would know how the process worked. I wondered how long it would take for Char to edit my 148-page, double-spaced manuscript, and she said it would take about a week, but she hoped she would be able to get back to me the coming Friday.

“You won’t leave this sitting somewhere, will you?” I asked pointing to the green folder as I was on my way out the door. That had been my biggest fear about sharing my manuscript – that it would be left unattended somewhere. Babies always need to be supervised.

“No, I will only have it here in my office, and I will take it home with me in this bag. I live across the street.”  Only a very paranoid person would think that something could happen a short distance between Char’s home and office. Hearing that she lived just across the street was a relief to me.  Secretly, I hoped the zipper on her briefcase was in good working order and that no large windstorms would sweep both of them away somewhere into oblivion.

As the weekend wore on, I felt like Char had read a little bit of my story here and there. I wondered which page she was on. What was going on? Was she toward the middle, where I thought it slowed down a bit? I hoped the story was keeping her awake and ready to turn the next page. I felt like she truly was a babysitter watching over my creation.

When Monday rolled around, I looked at my emails, that I was checking about every five minutes, and saw a message from Char that said, “I have just one thing to say … I LOVE the manuscript.” Then I wondered if she read the entire manuscript already, but I realized she must not have because she would have told me. I replied by saying, “Oh my gosh, thank you! I’ve been thinking about you and am glad to hear the positive feedback! Thanks for checking in. I’ll be patiently waiting to hear as to when you’re ready to hand it back to me. Thanks again.” I thought I really kept my cool because what I really wanted to say was, “I’ve been thinking about you and MY BABY. What page are you on? What’s going on in the story right now? Is there one thing that you particularly like?  Do you really, really LOVE it?”

On Thursday, I heard from Char again. She told me she was ready to go over the manuscript with me. The next time she could meet was Father’s Day. Would I have time to get together then? Of course I would, I responded. Even if I had to walk all the way over to her office, which was about 10 miles away, I would be able to meet with her.  In the back of my mind, I thought it was a funny coincidence that I was meeting with her on Father’s Day when the story I wrote is based on my family’s experiences during my father’s illness.  I hoped that coincidence was a thumb’s up sign from the powers that be.

After I (thankfully) drove to Char’s office on Father’s Day, Char reminded me about one of the things we talked about in her workshop – about how every writer has some sort of “thing” that they need to work on. She told me my biggest issue, and I couldn’t agree more, but I’m not going to tell YOU what it is! Char did a good job of finding those types of errors and helped clean up some of my sentences to help my story make more sense.  During our meeting, she gave me a list of traditional Christian publishers to send proposals to. I told her how I was worried about sharing my story because it’s very personal. As I was leaving the office, she encouraged me to try to get my story published because she thought it would help a lot of people who were going through similar situations.

Since that time I realized that my story is inspirational, and I’ve sent out a proposal. If I don’t hear soon, I have a list of other places to send my baby. I’ll keep trying to get my manuscript turned into a book. I’d like to use a traditional publisher or an agent, but if that doesn’t work, I will look into self-publishing.

In the meantime, another story is forming in my mind and right now is five pages long. I’m setting goals of how many words to write per day and when.  Then I’ll look this new creation over, rearrange, love, think about it, and listen for thoughts to include over and over again.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to let it go, just like I hope I’ll be able to let the first one go out into the world all by itself.

If I hear good news about the first manuscript, I’ll be sure to let you know.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

My Book Angels

I admire people who can write books very quickly.  I believe I heard that Stephen King wrote a rough draft of The Shining in one night. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that he was scared out of his mind because he wrote that book after he visited a haunted hotel.  I guess that’s what you call motivation!

Then there’s me.  The idea of the book I’m writing came to me in January of 2011.  That’s four years ago.  I keep telling myself “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”  My book started off as a letter, but in the meantime I changed it to be something entirely different.  When I reached about 20,000 words, I thought I would never be able to make it to at least 60,000 words, which is the amount of words a book needs to be a book.  I kept writing because I knew I would think of more things as I went along plus there are angels who help me.  Yes, I’m talking about the kind of angels you think of when you think of angels.  They whisper ideas in my head, and I write them down.  Sometimes they make sure I hear a conversation or remind me of something that happened that needs to go in my book.  Still other times they point me in the direction of a book or an article that helps with my writing.  For instance, I found a great place on Facebook to read articles about writing called The Writer’s Circle.  It’s little miracles like that.  If you’re a writer, I bet these things happen to you too.

I printed off the first draft of my book last summer, made edits and realized I forgot to write about an entire year.  I made the sections into chapters which was a great comfort and helped me feel more organized.  Setting a goal to write 3,000 words a week helped me reach almost 55,000 words.  I wrote about the year I missed, worked on the ending and am reading through another draft.  I felt I would be able to make my goal because it seemed I had so much more to say than I did when my book had 20,000 words.  It’s because ideas kept coming to me.

If you’re writing a book, and you think you won’t be able to make it because it’s just to hard, keep going.  You never know what’s going to happen when you sit down in front of your laptop or a piece of paper.  There are times when I have no idea what I’m going to write, but memories or ideas trickle in when I least expect.  Taking the time to make an effort has helped me achieve my goals.

I thank my angels for the whispers they put in my ear that end up in my head and help me keep going.  My hope is that when the book is finally finished, my book angels will guide the story towards a successful publication!

Make yourself familiar with the angels, and behold them frequently in spirit; for, without being seen, they are present with you. ~St. Francis of Sales

My Old Valentine

Last year, right before St. Valentine’s Day, I frantically searched through stacks of things I had written.  I was looking for the newspaper print of the poem that I wrote for my husband when he was my boyfriend.  Our local newspaper has a contest every year for Valentine’s poems.  Even though I didn’t win that contest, I saved the entire page of that newspaper, so I thought it would be easy to find since it’s quite large and probably very yellow by now since it’s from the 80s.  I was disappointed because I never found it.  I really wanted to read it, and I wanted to publish it on this blog.

About a week ago, I was busy looking for something else when I came across the small poem that had been cut out and taped up for all eternity.  I’m sure my mother-in-law was the one who thought to save it and tape it up as a keepsake.  That little slip of paper was sitting on top of the filing cabinet.  I asked my husband about it, and he said he pulled it out of the desk drawer because he found some old pictures with it.  I thought it was funny how that little piece of paper showed up right before St. Valentine’s Day.

It’s kind of a corny little poem that I want to share, but it still holds true, and that’s the best part.

Even though you surprise me with fresh fish instead of roses,
I am still thrilled that you are the one with whom I rub noses.
And when you search for coupons when you take me out to munch,
It makes me think you’re thrifty, and I’m glad I’m with you at lunch.
There are times I tire of seeing your blue and red sweater,
But I know I could not find any other man I’d love better.
I am so happy I met you and wish I did earlier,
Because doing so would have made my existence pearlier.

I’m so lucky I found my old Valentine!

Nowadays I usually get roses instead of fish, but this year I got a bouquet of pineapple hearts and chocolate covered strawberries.  Yum!

20130209_144907

A Book Review: “Unbroken”

Say you are going about your busy day, and you start to think about the character in the book you are reading, and you wonder what’s going to happen next. When that happens to me I know that I have found a treasure in that book. The best thing an author can do is enchant the reader into caring about one of the characters. This is what happened to me while I was reading Unbroken, a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption, by Laura Hillenbrand. I found that I instantly liked Louis Zamperini, the hero of this story. When I was not reading the book, I felt like I should be because I didn’t want to leave Louie stuck in an awful place. Even though the story was in my mind, I had to keep it moving so that I could find some peace for Louie.

When Louie was younger, he was a little trouble maker, but his brother helped him channel his energy into being a runner. Louie worked hard through high school and became a star athlete by breaking records when he ran the mile. Soon he was off to the 1936 Olympics. I believe that all the stamina that Louie developed as an athlete helped him continue on his journey to survive his trials during World War II and beyond.

I try not to read books that are about war because as Bird, Louie’s arch enemy said after the war was done, “War is a crime against humanity.” It was difficult to read how people treated others during the war. There are very graphic scenes in the book, but since I now had gotten to know Louie, I kept rooting for him and hoping that his situation would get better. I also got to see how compassionate people can be, how they can learn to forgive and move on with their lives.

As you can tell by the title of the book, Louie did not get broken. Louie found a way to save himself, and witnessing his strong spirit could strengthen anyone’s resolve. The life he led is truly inspirational. It’s no wonder this book has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for 114 weeks.

If you can, try to read the book before it becomes a movie. The movie is going to be produced this year. Louie, at 96, will hopefully be able to be a part of the production.

You can find details about the movie here:  http://www.deadline.com/2012/12/angelina-jolie-director-unbroken-olympian-lou-zamerini-universal.

Now I look forward to see which will be better, the book or the movie?

Happy Birthday Blog!

 Picture Courtesy of Moodester

When I think back to last year and the day when I created this blog, I remember how scared and excited I was. I had no idea what to expect after I clicked the publish button. I did get one like on my first post, and there were a few views too. The first few times I received a comment was really exciting, and I still really appreciate receiving comments and having people subscribe to my blog!

My daughter Katie convinced me to post my blogs on my Facebook page which was a really scary moment. Now people I actually know could choose to read my blog. Katie said, “You want people to read what you write, right?” Now friends might mention a post they like, and I might act like it’s no big deal, but it is such a big deal to me because I love to write.

Starting up a blog was a huge step that I am glad I took. There are many drafts of stories and poems hidden away in drawers, trunks and filing cabinets that are not ready to be seen by others, but somehow blogging has been a fun experience that I always look forward to.  Sharing what I write is good too because it helps me pay attention to life’s little moments, and how they connect to other events. I get the chance to make the events connect into a story. Working with words and how they get arranged is a fun process to be a part of.

This is my 52nd post over the year, and that works out to be one post a week. My posts don’t fall into a very rigid schedule, but it helped me keep writing for a whole year now pretty regularly, and that is a good goal that I can be proud of.

I just want to thank you, my readers, for stopping by when you can! Thanks so much for stopping by, liking a post or making a comment! I am so glad I got a chance to meet you (if I didn’t know you already).

Kreativ Blogger Award

On December 12, 2011, Jodi Stone at Life with Sampson and Delilah, the 411, awarded my blog with The Kreativ Blogger Award!  I am a bit behind on accepting this award, but thanks Jodi for the nomination.  I really appreciate it.  I like how the colors of the badge go so well with my blog.  🙂

This award comes with a bit of direction, the first being share ten things about yourself or your blog that people might not know.

1.  I can be really picky about some stuff.  For instance, it bugs me that “Kreativ” is spelled wrong in this award!  Yet, I still feel honored to receive it, and I will not change the spelling.

2.  I am working on writing a book.  It is in first draft format.  I am all over the place in this book right now.  As of today, my first draft has 7,789 words.

3.  I have been keeping track of how many words there are in my book on the sidebar of my blog.  I am trying to keep up with Jodi Stone.  Jodi posts how many words she has written on her book at the end of each of her daily posts and she is farther along than I am.  This keeps me motivated.  Thanks, Jodi!

4.  I admire people who blog everyday.  I, however, do not think that I will ever be able to accomplish such a goal.  I find that most times when I write a post, I have to go away from it for a while, think about it, make more edits, if needed, and then publish it.

5.  However, there have been a few times when I have written and posted a blog in one day, and I feel like I am taking a huge step when I do such a thing.  Recently, I did a one-day write and post called “It’s Nice to Get Noticed.”

6.  When I was 13, I secretly decided that I wanted to be a writer.  I only shared my secret with a few people.  I kept my dream tucked away for many years.  Part of me thought that being a writer was so beyond me because I admire writers so much.    

7.  I think I am at the stage in life where I am getting brave enough to write.   

8.  Starting up this blog came at the right time.  Our two daughters are in college right now, and I miss them very much.  Soon our son will be going off to college too.  My blog is just what I needed to get me through this stage. 

9.  I read everyday while I am commuting to and from work.  If a book keeps me awake, I know it’s a winner!  Don’t worry, I take public transportation.  I mostly read fiction, memoir and books on writing.  I have read and enjoyed “On Writing,” by Stephen King, and “Shimmering Images, a Handy Little Guide to Writing Memoir,” by Lisa Dale Norton.   The work of fiction that I am currently reading is “Memoirs of a Geisha,” by Arthur Golden.  I found that “Memoirs of a Geisha” put me to sleep a little in the beginning, but now that I am towards the end, I am keeping awake!  I am glad I stuck with it.

10.  I like to cook because I like to eat, but I never watch cooking shows on TV!

In no particular order, I have the honor of awarding six other bloggers with The Kreativ Blogger Award.  

I feel lucky that I ran across These Are Days when I first started blogging.  Terri always has something honest to say, tries to look on the bright side of things, and she often posts some very beautiful pictures on her website.  Plus, I like to read about her family; her dog, Lucy; and her weekend cooking accomplishments. 

I also discovered Katy’s blog, Story Telling Nomad, when I first started blogging.  Katy recently started posting about her A-Z Eurotrip, and I feel as if I am going on an adventure every time I read her posts.  Check out Katy’s great pictures and excellent writing style. 

So Much to Say, So Little Time.  Kathleen blogs on a variety topics.  I especially like reading about her day-to-day life as a Mom to four young children.  Plus Kathleen has some very inspirational writing going on here, too.

Recently, I have been running across the writings of The Lucky Mom.  Lisha will have you laughing out loud!  If you need a laugh or want to read a great blog, check it out!

Another recent blog that I have been checking out is Empty House, Full Mind.  I appreciate Sharon’s honest opinions on current topics.  This blog gets me thinking.

I often visit Not Just Another Mother Blogger.  You will find some interesting, honest and thought-provoking stories at Tina’s website.  Plus, Tina does not like it when people spell words incorrectly!

I hope that you check out these blogs and that you enjoy them as much as I do.

Thanks again, Jodi!