Thursday, June 28, 2007


Writing group today was very provocative. It came up that I might consider switching POV of one character to a very close third instead of first. The prospect is intriguing - I'm eager to try it out and see how it works for this particular character.

In a tangent from that idea, it occurred to me that one of the POV characters I'm having the most trouble with might be better w/o his own POV sections.

These ideas mean lots of work, but this is just the kind of thing I love doing when working on a novel. I get impatient b/c of the time issue and wanting to have finished mss ready to go, but finding the right way to tell the story is one of the best things about writing.

Now, I just need a solid month at Weymouth.


Addendum on Friday:

If not a solid month at Weymouth, an afternoon of solid thunderstorms and a gorgeous book written in close third by my side to read excerpts from now and then.

I've gotten through the first 30 pages doing the revisions as noted above and am now going back through to incorporate the other feedback from yesterday's group into the new pages. And having a tremendous amount of fun doing it.

The book by my side is FINN, by Jon Clinch. I will be diving in properly later this evening, but I can tell by the first page this one will be a favorite. My daughter is, in an unrelated but yet perfectly related coincidence, walking around with her nose quite literally stuck inside The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, reading about the son while her mom reads about the father.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

tree spirits

Every time I walk outside I am drawn to this tree's strong spirit. The split is visually appealing and its position on a rise in the earth, surrounded by a bed of moss, invites anyone passing by to stop and sit for a while.

Behind the tree there's a little clearing, almost like a secret room, currently occupied by our compost bin and a broken chair awaiting a new purpose. I have an idea that I'll get a camp desk and chair and set it up in there, the perfect spot for composing scenes, poems, blog entries.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

summer solstice/the longest day

This pretty much says it all about the longest day of the year:

And our little strip of unmown "meadow" with its volunteer wildflowers is my new favorite image of summertime.

Enjoy this longest day.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

raccoon synchronicity

My last night at Weymouth I glanced out the window and saw something very small scurrying along the ground. My first thought was that it was an injured kitten, so I ran out to see. It wasn't a kitten. It was a baby raccoon!

The baby let me get incredibly close. I went inside for the camera and took these photos - very blurry as it was deep dusk and I wouldn't use the flash. Still, you can see the characteristic markings that make raccoons so very charming.

The most amazing thing about this sighting is that the main character in the book I was revising has a significant encounter with a raccoon - she looks out and sees one, though it's not a baby in the book.

When I got home I immediately turned to Ted Andrews' wonderful book Animal-Speak. This is what he has to say about raccoons:

Raccoons are extremely curious, which is partly why they often get into things they shouldn't. They love to explore. Their nocturnal excursions can be likened to mini-adventures. They can be very curious about new realms and will examine anything that fascinates them.

One of the most striking features of the raccoon is the mask that it wears. Although some associate this with thievery, it actually gives the raccoon a very powerful mystical symbolism. The use of masks to achieve altered states and for other healing and ritual purposes has been a part of every society. Mask making is an ancient art employed all over the world for ceremony, celebration, and in magical practices.

Concealed behind a mask, people could become something or someone else. Masks are invested with mystery. They are tools for transformation. The hidden aspect, the secrecy , helps promote the transformation. It helps us to change what we are to what we want to be.

Just as there is with the raccoon, with masks there is ambiguity and equivocation. When we wear a mask we are no longer who we thought. We make ourselves one with some other force. We create a doorway in the mind and in the physical world a threshold that we can cross to new dimensions and new beingness.


All three main characters in my book are on this journey, but the female who sees the raccoon is the one whose path most matches the words above. Amazingly, the above passage has given me a much-needed clue to my character, an aspect to her that I had not yet discovered. It's already layering into my next edit.

The raccoon sighting is a gift. A synchronicity. Being so close to a baby raccoon was itself magical. That it fit so perfectly with what I was working on went even further. Discovering the deeper layer is part of what makes me love the writing process. Every day is a treasure hunt. Every character is a mystery.

Friday, June 15, 2007

breaking news!

Cody, our 4-year old Quarter Horse, did his very first jumping lesson today. He trotted and cantered, on the lunge line, over 18"cross rails and then 2' verticals. And did it quite beautifully, too!

I was simply unwilling to take my eyes off him long enough to grab the camera and take photos.

I told my daughter, "well, there's your C-1 horse." To rate C-1 in Pony Club, you have to jump 2'6" - and we're not sure the pony can do that before my daughter outgrows him. No worries now, at least not for my husband, who has been watching me careen through "next horse" adverts for the past year.

Cody was so proud after. And snuggly. A great Pony Club mount. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

out and about / more photos

I loved this sign alerting visitors to the garden that the ants are beneficial and not the fire ants many of us are encountering lately.

The view toward the frog pond, from the writers' kitchen:

A particularly friendly bunny:

A clematis points the way to the gardens at the foot of the writers' kitchen stairs:

Monday, June 11, 2007

where I was/what I did

My room this trip, where I managed to get through the entire ms and dropped the page count by 45 pages!

The writers' kitchen:

The writers' library:

The writers' porch:

Another view:

Saturday, June 09, 2007

process at weymouth

I've taken a few photos but will add them later, as the dial-up here is slow and I'm not wanting to take much time away from writing to upload them.

We have a full house of wonderful NC women writers, and the writing energy here is lovely this trip. It's part of the magic of this place - the mansion's aura and history of the Boyds who owned it, and the ripples left here by all the great writers who came to visit, and still do.

My work started well and has continued. I'm reordering some of the novel, adding in some new pieces, and editing as I go. For some reason the re-sequencing is particularly difficult for me, but being able to do it here, with absolutely no interruption, makes it seem easier.

Once I do it I immediately realize the improvement in the book and then I'm fine.

It always seems I know on an unconscious level what it is I need to do, and once my conscious mind accepts that, trusts that, really, it falls together perfectly.

I'm noticing too a clarity of vision as I edit - which I suspect comes from the writing group - that's making it easy to cut the superfluous words and phrases. Again, it is stunning how cutting the fat makes what is left so much sharper and more powerful.

I've not ventured out as much this trip, although I will put in a plug for a new restaurant in town, The Bell Tree, which has yummy shrimp and grits and a gorgeous bar for later night drinks.

There was a benefit auction here Thursday night, and a wedding today, but somehow all the activities downstairs seem to stay separate from the writers' haven upstairs.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

happy tuesday

First, my daughter and I went to CDI-Raleigh this past weekend to catch some Grand Prix level dressage, and found this gorgeous hand-painted Welcome plaque for the front door. Frederique, the artist, has so many gorgeous things for horse lovers. Check out some of her wares here.

Yesterday, another agent requested a full ms of the first novel, so off it went. I am delighted to be getting such a wonderful response to the queries I've sent out.

Also yesterday, my husband brought home these gorgeous hanging baskets in honor of our wedding anniversary! The front porch just gets more and more beautiful. I may have to move out there for good.

Happy anniversary, Matthew, and thank you!

And, finally, I am heading off for a very long weekend at Weymouth, where I'll be enjoying the company of a good writer friend Lela and also working hard on the second novel revision. Weymouth is a tremendous gift to writers here, and I am thankful it's available for writing retreats.

More on location!

Friday, June 01, 2007

good news Friday

Another first novel full is going out, and the "to whom" is the best part. Being discreet, though, I am not naming names on here. :) Keep fingers crossed.

Read the first 25 pages of the second book in writing group yesterday and got amazing and helpful feedback.

On the home/farm front, we have a 4-foot black snake living in the vicinity of the house/barn, which makes me very happy, as black snakes do a great job eating mice and keeping other (poisonous) snakes away. Sadly, I did not get a photo. Maybe the next sighting! Or else he's been talking to the toad prince and they've conspired to avoid the media.

It's been appliance upgrade month here and we have a new dishwasher, new vacuum cleaner, and new espresso machine. (thanks to Matthew who offered them up as bribery for a solo photographic trip to see the rhododendrons in bloom!)

The full moon last night was golden and gorgeous.

Daughter just came in to tell me she read her science in the stall with Cody, who was lying down for a mid-day nap. "He looked up when I came in the stall, but when he saw it was just me, he went back to sleep." It would have been my total dream as a girl to read science in a horse's stall. It makes me happy now that my daughter can do it.

What a great way to swing into June.