Wednesday, July 29, 2009


art by Jeanne Rhea

Shhh.... here's a secret well-known in the marketing world that is completely applicable in the writing world:

DIFFERENT is more important than BETTER.

Unusual narrators, graphic novels, novels in verse or text-ese, books that include an online component... This is only part of what I'm talking about.

Maybe your book is just a book, more of a tried and true romance/mystery/thriller/whatever. Well, guess what? You can still be different. You just have to think of it in these terms:

What can your book give the reader than no other book can?

Maybe it's an emotional experience, a trip to an unusual time or place, or the situation is different -- boy raised by antelope (instead of wolves or graveyard ghosts) or girl wants more than anything to BE a mermaid (instead of, say, a vampire).

You get the idea. Innovation. Write a book that's different, or at least sell it as such. Then, if you keep working really hard, the "better" will follow.

Monday, July 27, 2009


In honor of Jillian, who hopefully as of tonight is a Bachelorette no longer, I wanted to share this tasty little bit of insight into just who you are.

See, Jillian, had a hotdog theory. I can't remember what it was exactly, except the fact that Jason like mustard AND ketchup was a positive thing. What kind of hotdogs her two finalists like? Dunno.

But SANDWICHES... now there's something that happens a lot around here.

So, real quick, make your pick:
The Club
Ham and Cheese
Tuna Salad
Egg Salad
Chicken Salad
Seafood Salad

Got it? Now go here to find out what your personality is like. Because, yeah, you don't already know that information. But wait, there's a compatibility quiz too... in case your on the prowl like Jillian.

Me? Ummmm... ham and cheese. Toasted. Would love to hear yours!

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Rumor has it that I was conceived while both my parents had poison ivy... so I blame them for the awful reaction I have the stuff. (Not sweet Mario, with whom I was walking in the woods.)


Okay, that stuff totally hypes me up! Managed to clock in around 25 writing hours this past week and am THISCLOSE to dashing TELL ME poetry manuscript off to agent.


Had young friends Alexandra and Peter come to play and historic friend Pam (who I first met in childbirth classes lo many years ago) come through town on her way to her 25th high school reunion. Took her to Ms. Rosemarie's Special Teas and Vulcan and WalMart. Yes, we are THAT cool.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Okay, so Alabama Writers Conclave was a huge success thanks to SO many great folks. Unfortunately, because I was so involved in the planning/making it happen part, I didn't get to attend many of the actual writing sessions. Which is why I was especially pleased when the timing was right for me to sit in on Thomas Lakeman's "The Art of the Reveal."

I had heard wonderful things about Thomas, author of The Shadowcatchers, Chillwater Cove and the new Broken Wing. Thrillers aren't usually my thing, but oh can we learn from them! In fact, I learned more in one hour with Thomas than [insert super-cool analogy here, just as soon as brain gets un-fried from conference]. And he offered this little gem for those of us who occasionally find ourselves in front of a crowd:

"As long as I sing, people feel like they've gotten their money's worth."

Yes, he sang! (A bit of Mozart from the film Amadeus, which I had to watch again last night, just because he reminded me of how great it was.)

AND then...

Thomas tap danced!! (To demonstrate a point about pacing -- how the rookie mistake is to push so hard with ActionActionAction that the reader doesn't have a chance to b-r-e-a-t-h-e.... yes, we all clap when the tap dancer STOPS.)

Seriously, this guy is awesome. And he will be back at Conclave next year to tackle Screenwriting. I am SO there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Becky Laney has Roundup at Becky's Book Reviews. My contribution is this one, by one of my most favorite poets... would love to hear your answer to the question in the last line:

The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

Monday, July 13, 2009


So the wee writing retreat was awesome. Pat Weaver, Hostest with the Mostest can cook some a-maze-ing chicken fingers. And don't get me started on her biscuits and chocolate gravy.

Yes, you heard that right: CHOCOLATE GRAVY. I wanted to ask her for the recipe, but I think maybe I better not. You know -- opportunity being the root of crime and all. YUM.

Aside from the writing, here we are (along with Pat's adorable grandkids) having fun at THE WALL:

And if that wasn't enough, I came home with a Writing Puppy, complete with very cute verse written by Pat herself. Sweet, huh?

Then there's THIS guy. Throwaway dog that Pat rescued and named Patch. Throwaway dog that now has a new name (MARIO) and a new home and a new boy (ERIC) who is absolutely in love with him.

Yep, go to Pat's house, and you just never know what you're going to come home with.
Thanks, Ladies!!! It was fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


So this morning I had to break out the jumper cables to help my father get on the road -- he left his cellphone in the lighter-thingy to charge, and it completely drained the life from his truck.

The good news it gave us just a few more minutes together. The bad news is now he is miles and miles away.

Tomorrow I will be miles and miles away myself, as I am heading for a wee writing retreat with some wonderful folks in Florence, Alabama.

Hmmm, what to work on? Now that I have dashed off the historical women poetry series to various readers, I am caught in a little lull... so I'm thinking I will get started on a New Idea I partially drafted during the 26 hour drive back from South Dakota. I'll let you know!

Meanwhile, happy writing to all, and happy summer -- I am aware of how fleeting it is whenever I look at the calendar and realize the kids will be back to school in one month. That's it! One month! Then it's back to packing lunches and homework battles and enforced bedtime. Sigh.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Big thanks to Keith Badowski and Ron Self from THE BIG TABLE POETS!

So last night was especially wonderful because my mother was in the audience, and that doesn't happen all that often. But it was strange, too -- I worried that she might be bored by the whole thing, and I was a little bit self-conscious when I read a poem that was kind of sexy... oh, the power of mothers.

For her part, Mom seemed super pleased and proud to be sharing the experience. And it was especially touching because I was wearing a dress she made for me, a black dress, after a poem I wrote for her entitled "The Black Dress," about love and how sometimes we learn about love too late.

And then there was this: as we were leaving, one of the guys in our group said to my mom, "thank you for giving us Irene." And as a mom, I thought, is there any better thing one could say to a mother?? More importantly, I am so lucky to have been born to this woman.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


So tomorrow The Big Table Poets of Birmingham travel to Columbus, Georgia, to share great words with a wonderful poetry group headed up by Keith Badowski, who blogs at There Goes the Top of My Head about books and poetry and life in general. Check him out, because he is one of those very giving souls who does a lot to support the written work of others... and that alone makes him a hero of sorts, don't you think?

While in Columbus, we are planning to visit with dear person/writer friend Doraine Bennett, who blogs at Dori Reads , as well as check out the new National Infantry Museum and perhaps grab a bite to eat at the Fife and Drum restaurant.

My little drummer boy who will make a gun out of ANYTHING is beside himself with anticipation.

I'm still deciding what I'll read... perhaps a couple of war poems?? Will let you know!