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Friday, June 3, 2011

I am a Pickle

It's not unusual to be stuck between two powerful desires – the need to be creative only for your own gratification and the yearning to create to satisfy other people, for fame or artistic recognition.

Fame is fleeting. Recognition is subjective. Pleasing other people is an endless pit.

When what you create pleases you, it will be more than enough. The rest will come as lucky byproducts.
Mark Lipinski, Pickle Road Studios

I've been friends on-line with Mark for going on fifteen years. We got thrown off the AOL cross-stitch boards for causing trouble and several of us from the U.S. and England formed The Freedom Family. We've lost a few members over the years, but have helped each other through family deaths, births, successes, failures and this last week, a tornado that hit Springfield, MA, where one of us lives.

When I first met Mark, he was a producer on several well-known TV shows, including "Rikki Lake," "Oprah," and "The View." But, he was unhappy and stressed and decided to make the changes in his life to do what he wanted. He took a giant leap of faith, bought an old farm house on Pickle Road, in a small town in New Jersey, with his husband and son and launched Quilter's Home Magazine.  While they have parted ways, he has since designed fabric, published books and craft leaflets and has two magazines out now, Mark Lipinski's Christmas 365 and a magazine on fabric trends. He does a Wednesday afternoon podcast on Togonet (link on his fanpage) called Creative Mojo. He's shared laughs and pains with us, while he leads us, a merry Pied Piper, along the way to doing what we really want to do.

How's that for a gift?

So, coming up on his birthday and Father's Day, here's a salute to a friend. I'm a big fan, even though I haven't quilted in around twenty years. He's one of several people I'm lucky to have in my life, who's been an inspiration for expressing talent and finding your happy place. May I wish the same for all of you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thank you for your service

My brother Joe at his graduation from the Naval Academy

At his wedding the next day

His grave in Arlington, just down from The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

My mother's oldest brother Tom, who passed before I was born.

Thank you all for your service, soldiers and veterans. Sorry I was a little late. I've been a little teary eyed all day.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Epiphany of sorts or why Julee hasn't blogged this week


e·piph·a·ny [ i píffənee ]   Audio player
  1. sudden realization: a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence
  2. appearance of god: the supposed manifestation of a divine being 
No, it is not the rapture. I'm not that important. Really. It's nothing that difficult or earth shattering.

First, I've not been feeling well, but there is a potential solution in the works. I had a CAT scan earlier in the week that showed I'm not a hypochondriac, there really was an infection in an upper sinus that kept reinfecting me. If this round of antibiotics doesn't work, surgery may be involved. It would be a relief to have a solution.

Second, I had two bad reviews. Now, I won't rail against the contest judges, because I've revised my work since I entered it. Also, because they were right. They brought up two points I hadn't thought about. We live with our characters, sometimes 24/7. I know my hero is a dick, his nickname at the Naval Academy was Will the Dick. He's trying to do better to win the heroine, he's trying to live up to his potential, BUT those people reading it cold didn't get that. One freaked when from his POV, I mentioned he looked at the heroine's sister's boobs. She said twice, did this mean he was looking for a little action with both sisters. My first reaction was to get upset--that wasn't what I intended at all! But, I wasn't upset at the reviewer, I was upset that I hadn't made it clear. When I settled down, I mentioned it to my husband and he laughed, saying, "Honey, after 23 years of marriage, I admit I look at other women's breasts. If you had a sister, I would look at hers. Sorry."

My response was, "I know! That was what I was trying to say. If I'm writing from a guy's point of view...." Then, a very sensible friend reminded me that the reader was looking at it from a romance reader's side and not everyone likes that their husband/character/brother/etc. is a perv. So, this morning, I added a couple of sentences where Will realizes he will have to be more discrete than in the past, will have to convince Lizzy she will be his last and moved that forward.

The second criticism involved the opening, which I'd totally changed from the contest entry. The judge asked why my heroine didn't just call the ambulance and police herself, when she thought her sister's drink was drugged? I realized I started the scene a little too late, in my effort to start it as close to the action as possible. So, yesterday, I put in a few lines casting doubt the drink had been drugged and about the argument with this sister on the way down to the bar. Again, moving some of the information forward for the reader.

I did write a brief thank you email and sent it to the contest coordinator. I also worked on another story I've got plotted and I'd say 75% written. I hadn't looked at it for a few months, so I could see it with fresh eyes. I'll work on it a little more and submit it to another contest to see what else we can find that I didn't see, having known these characters for so long.

So, my lesson here, folks, is not to blog your immediate reaction. Chillax, think it through. Realize they may have something you need to know. Set it aside and think. Make your writing better by seeing it through someone else's eyes.