Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Currently: 30 Days Has September

Current Books: With my coffee, I'm alternating between the Rule of Saint Benedict and Learning to Walk in the Dark. My fun read is Nun Too Soon by Alice Loweecy. With my small group, I am re-reading A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and there's still a volume of Mary Oliver by my bed.

Current Playlist: Lately, I leave my iTunes on shuffle and then hit skip until it offers something that suits me.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I had cookies for breakfast. Not just any cookies though. These were teacakes Sapada and Clete made for church on Sunday. They are Sapada's grandmother's recipe, and they are amazing. They taste like big soft vanilla wafers.

Current Colors: Aqua. I wore my aqua sweater Sunday. I bought it over the summer, on sale at Banana Republic's outlet. It has finally gotten cool enough to wear it. Of course this is the south, so tomorrow temps will probably soar over 100.

Current Food: Remember those salads at Wendy's? You poured chili over them and they came with Fritos? Gah. I am craving one. They changed it to something else now and it isn't nearly as good.

Current Drink: I'm having my coffee with creme brûlée creamer.

Current Favorite Favorite: My friend, Amy. I had a rough patch over the weekend, and Sunday night when I told her about it, she made me laugh so hard. God has put good people in my life.

Current Wishlist: A bunch of new wraps from Jamberry. I want Bright Noise, Mixed SignalsShake Your Tail Feather, and pretty much all the rest from the new catalogue.

Current Needs: I need to regain some peace of spirit. I have let the whole "Time to find a new agent" thing make me obsessive. It has left me wrung out. I started reading Learning to Walk in the Dark, and that is helping. The rhythm of moon phases, remembering that I have a soul... there is more to me and my life and the world than this one goal.

Current Triumph: I made it into Pitch Wars! I have an awesome mentor and should be starting some revisions this week.

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The Mindy Project returns tonight. YAY!

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Divisive words, meanness. For some reason, lately, the way people treat others has weighed very heavy on my shoulders.

Current Indulgence: I rented a DVD just for myself yesterday. Of course, it was badly scratched and wouldn't play the second half of the movie, so I guess my indulging failed.

Current Mood: I'm feeling pretty good today. Like I said earlier, I am struggling with some things in my spirit. They are heavy things. I am not in a good place confidence-wise. I need to slow my spirit and take some deep breaths, physically and metaphorically.

Current Outfit: dark Gap jeans, a comfort colors tee from this year's D-Now, my black glitter TOMs and I have Spotted on my nails.

Current #1 Blessing: There are amazing people in my life. In my town, in my state, in my country, around the world... I am surrounded by people who love deeply and work hard. They hold me up when I threaten to fall.

Current Quote: “The only real difference between Anxiety and Excitement was my willingness to let go of Fear.”  -Barbara Brown Taylor

Current Photo:

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Picking Up Food is Good for My Muse

You can find Part One by clicking HERE.

4. Who taught you how to perform your art or craft?

It would be unfair to attribute this to one person. My brother taught me my alphabet, so he gave me my first tools. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Degnan, built up my confidence when she gave me harder work and alerted my parents to my advanced reading skills. Mrs. Holmes gave me my first writing assignments and my first experiences with critiques and rewrites. My 8th grade English teacher, Ms. Robertson, actually read my sequel to Rebecca and praised my writing. The list goes on and on. Most people on the list are teachers.

But I would be remiss if I didn't tell you who most encouraged my reading and writing, growing up. That would be my father. I can't picture my dad without a book in his hands. Now it's a Kindle. We have always talked about books and shared writing. We were once members of a poets' group together, back in the early days of Internet forums, before blogging was a thing. He pushed my reading boundaries and was never too busy for a trip to the library.

5. What are common responses you get from people about your work?

I'm often told my work is "lyrical." Even my fiction is most often called "poetic."

6. What life experiences shaped you as an artist?

All of them.

Okay, a few that stand out:

My first love/relationship and all of the surrounding drama in high school. I never wrote so much poetry (most of it bad). That boy brought out parts of my soul I never knew existed. He made me question who I was. He hurt me, yes, but he also filled me up and made me feel beautiful and alive.

Marriage and motherhood. Both are the most amazing things I've ever done. They also require the most from me. Every day I learn what I am capable of and also where my limits lie.

Natalie's death. Also, Patrick and Lynn and my Uncle Greg and so many others. Death brings me face to face with fears and dreams.

7. When do you feel most inspired?

When I am driving. Especially if I am on a long car trip and can't possible stop to write. I have been known to pull over and scribble down a poem. I often tell Siri, "Email Heather Truett," and she opens an email and I tell her my idea and have it sent to myself. I have all sorts of notes saved that way. My last novel was just loose bits until I drove to pick up pizza and had an epiphany. And my new novel found its main character when I was driving to Firehouse Subs to pick up dinner. Apparently, picking up food is good for my muse.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Of #PitchWars and Tiaras

Today, I have a post up at Middle Places. It is about the hard heavy things that make me feel like this...

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You can click HERE to read it.

It's been a busy whirlwind of a week. If you follow me on Twitter, or read my earlier Mentee Bio, you know I entered #PitchWars this year.  There were over 1200 submissions. 75 mentors each chose 1 mentee and 1 alternate. As the announcement approached, my friends and I looked something like this...

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We stayed up until midnight Tuesday to find out who made it and watch a crazy fun countdown show. Corey sat beside me, shooting me looks and mocking me. Mocking is our love language.

When midnight came, my name was on the list.

And then I looked something like this...

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My mentor is Dannie Morin, who is awesome sauce, and you can read about her selection process HERE.

Now, the work will begin.

But the rest of life continues as well. So I am putting together church media, juggling school stuff for the boys, back to leading small group (my girls are JUNIORS this year), getting ready for book group with some of my fave ladies, brainstorming my next book, trying to keep up with housework (a little halfheartedly) and running Jamberry Facebook parties (let me know if you want to host one and earn some freebies).

I will continue my artist's statement series as soon as my brain returns to full function. ;)

Until then, I leave you with my happy-crown-wearing satisfaction

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Ha! Take that.

I've been blogging more than a decade, and sometimes I still sit here wondering what to write about. My friend posted a great link with questions to help with About Me pages. I thought it might be fun to answer the questions as a blog series. I've done similar before, and I always enjoy it.

Artist Statement - Part 1

1. Why do you do what you do?

I suppose this isn't about why I started writing, but about why I continue to write. It's the one area of my life where I feel at peace. It's not that I never struggle as a writer. I certainly do. Lately, I am on a veritable rollercoaster everyday. But I never question that this is what I am made to do. It feels right. I feel right when I am creating with words, whether it's a novel, a poem, or a post for this blog... Heck, sometimes, I revel in a finely crafted email reply. I still write people letters, longhand, for fun. I have been known to read the dictionary. I get excited over etymology. This is who I am.

2. How would you describe your own work?

Metaphor heavy, perhaps. I love a good metaphor. I think I write poetry even when I am writing prose. I also feel like my work is a reflection of my entire life experience, pieces of everything in a blender, spit out on paper in new form. My work is also searching. I am always using my writing to dig for answers.

3. Why did you choose the kind of materials you're currently working with?

For my purposes, this means fiction. For a long time, I thought I couldn't write fiction. I scribbled scenes but not stories. Instead, I wrote (and published) poems and essays. When I was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, I blamed that for my inability to finish a novel. Then, I read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I read it, but I didn't act on it. It sat inside me.

Funny story: We were at a psyche office with my oldest son, back when we were trying to figure out some issues. I ended up really disliking that doctor, but something he said stuck with me. He saw my occupation on a form and asked, "How can you be a writer? You have ADHD." He was genuinely baffled. At the time, I explained that I wrote poems and essays. They didn't require a lengthy attention span. But the assumption that I couldn't do it ticked me off. Sometimes, I want to stop by his office and show him my stack of completed novel manuscripts. Ha! Take that.

Anywho, I decided to write a story for my stepdaughter for her 12th birthday. I used the Bird by Bird method, writing a scene at a time. Since I had a deadline and a purpose, I actually finished it. That was it. I was hooked. I have written quite a number of novels since then, thought they are in various states of readiness. I feel good in this kind of writing. I no longer feel restless career-wise. This is it. This is my thing.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In Which I Recover (or try to)

School started 3 weeks ago. I've enjoyed a quiet house and gotten quite a bit done. However, I fully expected to be doing more. I could call and get on the sub list for the high school, but when I think about doing that, I feel like this...

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Wednesday night, while the youth were singing "Oceans," and I was thinking about my friends and the big struggles they are facing, I had an epiphany.

I'm not facing those big struggles right now.

Four years ago, I went into crisis mode. Stuff was going on with my kid and I didn't know what it was. Every time I thought I had a handle on it, something changed. Halfway through the year, I started homeschooling him. I spent the following three and a half years treading water 90% of the time. We survived it. I made the best decision for my son. He benefitted greatly and is doing well now.

But me?

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My body and brain are recovering from years of stress.

No, I am not doing as much as I could be doing. I still haven't reorganized the bookshelves in the kitchen. The hall closet hasn't been cleaned out. Yada yada yada.

Now, as if to reinforce that point for me, I'm sick. The kids brought home a cold. They coughed for about 48 hours and now they're fine. Me? I'm a mess.

So, today includes Project Runway, coffee, a good book, and my couch.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Secret Place: A Review

I am a big fraidy cat. I have to pretty much drug myself to get any sleep while my husband is out of town. I've been this way for as long as I can remember, and my mama is the same. In high school, for some ungodly reason, I got addicted to Fear Street novels, and I don't think that helped. I have had nightmares about demons for decades, and I have night terrors also.

All that to say, when Dana suggested I read In the Woods by Tana French, I was not running right out to buy it. However, Dana insisted I would love it, and 9 times out of 10, that girl is right about me and books. I read it. I was hooked. I read every novel Tana had out and then started stalking Net Galley in hopes of snagging her next one.

And I did!

I started reading The Secret Place last weekend, but Corey was out of town so I stopped until he got home. Her books don't scare me the way I thought they would, but reading about an unsolved murder while all alone in the dark didn't seem wise.

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I finished yesterday.

It was every bit as good as her other books. But also different, which is another thing I appreciate about Tana's stories. Each one is very much it's own. You do not need to have read the others, but if you have read the others, you will pick up some extra atmosphere and detail. Each new story has some sliver of connection to the last. Usually, a side character from the last book becomes a main character in the next book. In this case, you get two side characters from the last book, Detective Moran and Holly Mackey.

The setting in The Secret Place is ripe for drama - hello, all girls school. It touched on the kind of friendship I dreamed about as a teen girl and also the intricate and often dangerous relationship dynamics of teen girls in cliques.

Every time I was certain I knew who did it, one tiny detail would be revealed and I'd have to question myself. By the end, I somewhat figured it out, but not entirely. That's a good mystery to me. I don't want to be totally blindsided with, "Oh, actually, that guy from chapter 1 did it, even though the story gave you NO INDICATION that was possible." A good writer leads the reader. Sometimes she leads you in the wrong direction and then draws you back, but when you get the answer, you should be able to see the trail of clues left behind you.

As usual, Tana is amazing.

And the best part?

The book starts with the popular girls being dubbed The Daleks. I laughed out loud and tweeted about it immediately. Whovians rule the world, y'all.

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Oh, and, after reading one of Tana's books, I go around saying "arse" and "bollix." You've been warned.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Currently: August Hangs

Current Books: I'm reading The Secret Place by Tana French. It comes out next month. Pre-order it. Everything she writes is golden. And that's saying something from me. I don't read her genre, but I am so glad my friend Dana convinced me to pick up Into the Woods

Current Playlist: I hit shuffle a lot lately. 

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Too much time on Twitter

Current Colors: Springy colors

Current Food: We've been grilling a lot lately. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken…

Current Drink: Coffee with caramel vanilla creamer or peach soda, when I'm not drinking water

Current Favorite Favorite: gifs - I know I came late to the party. They are fun though. I am a bit addicted to them. I apologize if they show up a lot on the blog for a while.

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Current Wishlist: This bag, this sticker, this shirt

Current Needs: To start writing a new story… I function better when I am writing.

Current Triumph: I got my house cleaned last week. It looks pretty good. Minus those corners I can't stay on top of.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Housework. I am tired of corners. I want a round house. Every corner or angle collects dirt and cat hair. Just let me live in a giant ball, please.

Current Indulgence: I bought a new purse. I love my purple Hobo, but it is small, and since hubby bought me an iPad mini and I am now carrying Jamberry catalogues everywhere, I needed more space.

Current Mood: I'm in a good place.

Current Outfit: dark jeans, green fitted tee, black & silver sandals

Current #1 Blessing: my husband's support

Current Quote:  “sometimes something makes perfect sense, and then it's a complete mystery when you look at it the next day,” ― Dana ReinhardtHarmless

Current Photo:  ((the 11th day of this manicure with Jamberry wraps))

Title taken from:  Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit


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