Tuesday, May 2, 2017

May Musings

Starting the fifth month of the year that is 2017! Is it too late for a blog about plans for the new year?

Between travel, the loss of two very special loved ones, and just trying to keep up with life in general, I decided that this was going to be a say-YES year to publishing. My own collection of short stories is well on its way to being complete and, via Meadowlark Books, I am working on building a bigger bookshelf for Kansas authors! I was honored to work with my very good friend, Cheryl Unruh, on her first book of poetry, Walking on Water, which was released in April.

Walking on Water - April 2017
I have found myself returning to this post in recent days, where I wrote, among other things:

"I am convinced that writing is a profession of constantly becoming." 

I guess I have long understood that I find a great deal of satisfaction in simply putting together beautiful books. That I find this process as meaningful--and perhaps even more enjoyable--when I do it for others is still catching up to me. Working as part of a team is fun, and with each Meadowlark book, new team members have added depth and richness to my experience, and Meadowlark, as a publisher, has grown. 

Working so closely with writers fuels my creative fires. Dedicating time to book formatting and production seems to bring balance to my own endeavors in fiction. Each read through a book brings me closer to an author, and more appreciative of the view and perspective that person is sharing with the world through their writing.

Could I get my own work done more quickly if I didn't pursue these publishing endeavors?

In theory, yes. But my reality seems to be that I stay better focused on my own work when I surround myself with other writers up close and personal.

My short story collection is still on its way. I expect to have a proof ordered by the end of May, and I hope to be sharing it with the world by July... or so. In the meantime, there is a lot of becoming to focus on, including writing, publishing, travelling, and time with my family.  I am enjoying living life on that book mountain, helping others up and down the path.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Max Yoho

Today I join the friends, family, and lucky readers who have had the pleasure of knowing Max Yaho, an author who has left us a legacy of fine work and words to enjoy. I know his friendship has touched many, his stories many more.

Here's my 2013 interview with Max.

His obituary.

Tracy with Max Yoho - Kansas Authors Club
Convention, October 2013

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Belated, but Thankful Post

I am looking at my list of projects… it includes things that were on last year’s list of projects and, sadly, many of those items that have made the list two years in a row remain incomplete. If my son’s theory holds correct, a year is 1/46th of what it used to be. [his theory regarding our perception of time passing = when you are ten years old, a year is only representative of a tenth of your life, and therefore, it feels like it takes longer than when you are 40 years old and a year is only representative of a fortieth of your life] Anyway, it certainly feels true. I look at the calendar and am befuddled to find we are so near the end of 2016.

Of course, a full life is also to be blamed. I downsized this year. I shed a job, though admittedly put more of my efforts into another one… or two. And any time I catch all of my family members in one room, which is less often that I would like, I have done my best to drop everything and fill my time with them. Mostly listening, sometimes brainstorming, often laughing, lately reminiscing… these moments, though they may feel familiar, each one only comes once.

I will not grow old and full of regrets. This has been my mantra for most of my adult life and I am sticking to it.

As the month of November ends, I am thankful for my writing friends who have kept me honest and on-task through NaNoWriMo. I am a few hundred words short of target, but have faith that I will get there. I am thankful for my friends and family, those who share their lives and their stories with me. I am thankful for the space heater at my feet, the roof over my head, and the abundance that fills my refrigerator, as well as my heart.

I am thankful for my list of projects. There may never be enough time to complete them all, but as long as I am filled with enough desire to keep the list going, I will be satisfied.

Thanksgiving 2016 - purple sweet potato pie and true pumpkin pie - I am thankful for pie, as well.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A belated weekend post...

It's Tuesday. I got derailed a bit this weekend. Took a trip on the new Prairie Earth Tours bus to Tallgrass Prairie for the 20th anniversary celebration, and got to dine at Keller Feed & Wine Company. (YUM). Let's just say I highly recommend all three. Kansas may have issues, but the cool places and awesome people remain. You just have to get out and about and plug into the real-life community a bit.

Unfortunately, I was not in photo bug mode this weekend. This is the one and only photos I took of the tour bus. I didn't even think to document my meal until after I had eaten it!
Sunday was the first day this month that I did not hit my NaNoWriMo word goals. I was slightly ahead, so didn't get too far off pace. Today I am back at it, storing all the topics I really want to chat about for a later date.

For those of you who might also be writers, I purchased a book a couple of months ago (that I finally cracked open in November). It is called Story Genius; How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel. The author is Lisa Cron. This is proving to be a powerful bit of writing advice. I only wish that I had taken the time to read it completely through prior to starting this year's NaNo. Instead, I am taking it on as kind of a companion read, and I know already that I will read it again.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

NaNoWriMo, Six Days In

I fear I gave the wrong impression last week. Seeing David Sedaris in person DID make me contemplate writing irreverent pieces about family, but I have been ramping up for NaNoWriMo for far too long with a fiction plan to simply give it up.

The short story collection is off in the hands of a few first readers. I don't expect to look at it again until after the first of the year.

For NaNoWriMo, I am re-tackling a story tentatively titled Lost Girl of Birch Fall. This will be the third forth full draft of this story (assuming I get it finished... which I will, I will!) The story line has undergone quite a significant transformation between drafts three and four, though the protagonist remains very much the person I have envisioned her to be from the start. This is the novel I have written as a mystery, but thanks to a workshop at the Kansas Authors Club convention in October, I have decided it might be better presented as suspense. In my mind, changing from mystery to suspense novel was going to "fix" all of the difficulties I was having with this story. However, 10,000 words in, it is still feeling very much like a mystery. An improved mystery, but still a mystery. We shall see. It's amazing how clear it can all seem in your head, but when the words are committed to paper, they don't always say what you think they will say.

Monday, October 31, 2016

An Evening With David Sedaris; October 30, Stiefel Theater, Salina, KS

The next time David Sedaris comes to Kansas, I think I will invite him to dinner. I’ll have to clean my house, of course, give it that extra little sparkle befitting a celebrity. It may actually require that I follow through on a few of those upgrades. Not that I think Sedaris would feel himself too good to come to dinner in my built-circa 1902 abode/not in the quaint vintage, historical site-worthy sense. I just wouldn’t want any soft spots in the kitchen floor where a petite author like Sedaris might actually disappear!

Though I didn’t exactly mind sharing Sedaris with an audience of 1,000, and I rather enjoyed sharing him with my dear hubby and a few of my closest friends, it was hard to stop thinking of him as just another person in my life whose stories I collect. Perhaps because he is an author who records his own work, and I heavily favor Sedaris when I am looking for audio book material, I forget, I suppose, that he has not actually been my co-pilot on dozens of road trips across Kansas and beyond.

I had to remind myself that Sedaris has legions of fans who devour every word he has written, though I half-imagined myself special enough that he might look up and say, “Hey, Tracy, how have you been?” While we were waiting, the lady in line behind me informed me that David Sedaris had saved her life. I had to admit that my connection wasn’t quite that deep.

I wore my “I love Emporia” shirt to the event, and Sedaris did ask what Emporia was, so maybe he would welcome an invite to a fresh and local market meal at my house. I explained that Emporia was the center of the universe, of course, though I don't think he really got it. I wanted to tell him so much more, but it was time for him to address his audience.

When I invite David Sedaris to dinner, the next time he comes to Kansas, I’ll make sure there is time to show him a few of the cool things about my town and more. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an urge to write some irreverent stories about my family. 

My daughter, Evie, who is also a Sedaris fan, should have been my partner in crime at this event. Alas, she is off gallivanting in Ireland as a study-abroad student, but Sedaris was kind enough to sign a book for my daughter, too. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Short Story Collection: Mrs. J's 9th Grade English Class

How about this dot matrix print job! 
The photo is of the original document, 
typed by my teacher, and printed on 
fan-fold paper with tractor holes. 
We didn't learn typing until the 10th grade!
 I have the original, hand-written story, as well.

My deadline for getting my short story collection to my first readers is quickly approaching. I have 14 complete stories, plus three that I feel are very nearly there. I am looking forward to participating in NaNoWriMo this year, and that has been incentive enough to keep me focused on the collection.

I am contemplating the story in the above photo as my final entry in the collection. I wrote it 32 years ago in my 9th grade English class. It is not the most original story, and I am not going to even claim that it is a particularly good story, but I have friends who still say they remember reading it. Honestly, I think they remember visiting my house and being a little bit spooked by our big red barn. And if they weren't afraid before they read the story, they certainly were after.

I wasn't scared, of course. I was never, ever scared of that barn.

The idea of ending the collection with this story is very satisfying to me, and perhaps a bit fun for the readers, too.

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