Friday, February 28, 2014

Do You Name Your Journal?

Dear Kitty was how Anne Frank began her journal  née diary entries.  Our journal is our confidant – giving it a name elevates its status from that of an inanimate object to that of a friend.  A friend with a willing ear that we can tell our most intimate secrets, fears and idle thoughts and know the confidence will be kept.
desk 7

Naming Things
diarists address
entries by name pleading for
someone’s attention

however abstract
it matters that an ear hears
else trees fall unheard

© Perle Champion

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Cloud Dweller for National Faery Tale Day

I love Faery Tales.  I read them and had them read to me when I was a child, and I had my favorites.  I was not the princess.  I liked the regular girls best before they gained that status. Cinderella and Beauty were the daughters of merchants/storekeepers; Red Riding Hood was a woodcutter’s only child; the heroine of Rumpelstiltskin was a miller’s
daughter – and so on.

pink sunrise 3 sky
When I liked the ending as in Rumpelstiltskin I went with the story.  Of course I was the miller’s daughter who triumphed over the wicked little creature who would steal my child.

Red Riding Hood I revised when I read it to myself.  I was she, but in my version the wolf did not eat me, because I was so tough and so smart. It was I who rescued my grandmother just before my father arrived.

I pondered my propensity to make stories including faery tales suit my ideal – walk on clouds so to speak or 'head in the clouds' as momma put it.  I wrote the below poem in one of those moments when I had fallen through those insubstantial clouds to the reality of a disabled child and a sick husband, and...

The Cloud Dweller
far away
and long ago
there is a child
i used to know
with wide bright eyes
asking why
perle velvet cropped 5not out loud
but deep inside
why that way
and not my
those clouds those
faery vapors which
upheld us
have given way
to the ground
i wonder if
we shall walk
as easily as we
Cloud Dweller © Perle Champion 11/25/80 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Sixty-Five and Asking - Now What?

I started my cozy on the 14th and wrote 2-3 chapters and then I got sidetracked.  The following week lead up to my 65th birthday of February 23.  I found myself celebrating the whole week with various friends over long breakfasts, lunches, happy hours at favorite places all culminating with a great Sunday afternoon at my friends' Daniel Day Gallery-Dream Mecca Studio.  Daniel Day and Melody Musik truly are a Renaissance couple.

The Gallery is a unique venue of live music (blues); art; sculpture; photography; handcrafted jewelry, clothing, and accessories; vintage clothing; and more than I have space to tell.  Every Sunday afternoon from 2-6 there's a party that overflows in beautiful weather onto the large patio out back.  It's BYOB and a cover charge of $12 covers the food hot from the grill, and pays the band. This Sunday, the sun came out to shine on all of us and the Jeff Jensen Band from Memphis rocked the house.  Melody Musik who plays Clarinet in her band (yes, she's a musician, too) played a Happy Birthday solo just for me.

My week long celebration did include a lot of writing just not on my Cozy.  I've been journaling as if my life depended on it. My journal is the running memoir of my life, and good or bad there is always something to write at any given moment.  I remember reading Alice Koller's 1991 book An Unknown Woman, which is basically her journal during a period of self examination.

I feel I am at that place in my life now.  I've toyed with writing my own 'unknown woman' memoir tentatively titled A Not Yet Famous Woman - A Memoir, or considering the content maybe A Not Yet Infamous Woman - A Memoir.  

Being a Pisces, I am two fish.  One goes with the flow wherever it goes; one fights its way upstream.  I've no doubt that for some years now, I've taken the easy float with the current style of getting by.  But now, I see my mother in her 80's, and know I may have 20 or more years left to me.  It's not enough to go with the flow anymore.  In rereading my old journals and journaling anew I'm exploring that fish that knew when to fight the current - not every day, but when it mattered.

At 65 I'm saying out loud what I've always known. It's not enough to exist.  I've become a woman of a certain age, and I ask myself - Now What?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Writing the Cozy Mystery - Book Review

A few days ago one of my favorite cozy writers, Nancy J. Cohen posted on Facebook that her new book Writing the Cozy Mystery was available in Kindle for all of 99 cents.  I bought it immediately, and I just verified that is still on sale for 99 cents.

I've been reading a lot of different mysteries for some time, that are referred to as Cozy Mysteries or just cozies.  I was reminded about a few interesting characters from my never published post 2012 novel, that I thought would be interesting and fun enough to have a novel of their own instead of being in a sidekick role (excerpt below). I wondered:

1.     Could I write a Cozy?
2.     Is it hard work?
3.     Is there some kind of formula?

The answers are yes, yes and yes. The book does not disappoint. I feel as if I've been gifted with a precise step by step road map to writing a good first draft.  I'm actually cutting and pasting some sections into a word document to give me direction in outlining my first ever foray into Cozy writing.
NOTE: To cut and paste, you'll need Kindle for PC (it's free).

Some information in the book will be just a refresher for most writers, but I found the lists and hints helpful to have in front of me, so I could answer the questions for each character.  It's important to know your characters as intimately as you know good friends: their likes and dislikes, environment, job, dreams, fears, friends, past. Most of this won't go into the book, but informs the actions, reactions, and interactions of your characters making them come alive for the reader.

Cohen uses a 3 ring notebook and a storyboard. 
1.  On the notebook she says:
“The Plotting Notebook is another means by which you can keep track of all the elements. You’ll need a notebook for each separate title with colored tab dividers.”

2.  On the Storyboard she says:
"For a quick visual reference, I use a Storyboard or plotting chart. Divide a large white poster board into twenty blocks, or however many chapters will appear in your novel. Then write down all the story incidents or plot points that come to mind on sticky notes. Put these around the board in some sort of order. This gives you a general guideline for writing the synopsis.

There is a software that is similar to her block system, but I'd rather work with a notebook, poster board and post-its as she suggests. That way it's in front of me while I write.

I’ll be blogging about the experience from time to time as I write my new book.

There's a link to the Cohen's book below. It is still 99 cents at Amazon.  I'm signing off for now to work on my cozy and I'll keep you posted.  

Character study:
Character Back Story – Detective James Jeffries
Tomorrow was graduation.

He remembered how his Mother worried; he could tell the way she paced when she thought he wasn't watching.  She’d yell at Dad when he talked about it too. "No, absolutely not.  It isn't bad enough I worry if you’ll come back every day when you leave for work, you want me to worry about my only son, too.  He should be a lawyer or a doctor or a writer.  Lord knows he has enough imagination to be a writer.  His school counselor said so."

James hated it when they argued.  He'd just turn the volume up on one his dad’s old viewer as he watched Sam Cade, Detective for Hire for the hundredth time.  He’d pretend he was Sam Cade - super detective.  “Yes, some day.  Well, Sam Cade started in law enforcement, and then went private.  And all the women fall for him and the regular law enforcers envy him.  Yea, that's what I'll do.  First, I'll follow Dad’s path, but I won't settle for just that; no sir, not me.  I'll get all the training I can get from the pros and then I'll do what Sam Cade did.  James Harden, private detective.  Well, maybe I can change my name.  James seems so, so ordinary.”

He remembered when he and his Dad used to talk long into the night on their weekly hike up into the mountains.  He told James his fears and his aspirations, "I know that no matter what happens I've lived a good life.  Boy, that's all that's truly important.  Whatever you do in life, do it because you really want to, and do it really well.  If you marry, marry for love and because of things and in spite of things.  Your mom's a good woman and when she met me, I was in law enforcement and she hated it.  But I loved her in spite of that and she me too.  Do you understand?  I mean, you can talk yourself out of a lot of things just because you're afraid.  Don't let fear ever stand in the way of doing what you love and loving people who may not love all the things you do.”

James wished he had written it all down, now.  But sometimes, he lay back on a dark night on the side of a trail and let his mind drift back to those times and he could hear the distant voice echoed in his ear.  "Follow your dreams, boy.  Only a fool is never afraid, and only a coward lets fear stand in the way of what's right for him."

James thought.  Thanks Dad, I’ll make you proud.  I’m doing it Dad.  I’ll be the youngest detective ever on the force.