I’ve been somewhat absent from my newsletter/blog for a month. Writing a new novel takes a lot of butt-in-chair time.
I’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month for as long as it’s been around. I never thought I would actually do it. I did this time. NaNoWriMo was the impetus I needed to finally write a solid first draft of Token, that YA (Young Adult) work-in-progress that I’ve been telling you about for the last year. I went into the month with four chapters that were not good. I spent some time improving those. I had close to seven thousand words to start. I needed 50,000 words to win (or complete) NaNoWriMo. You see, it’s a national challenge. I probably should point out that now NaNoWriMo is an international challenge. Many people win. I’m not the only one. I have 53,000 words today. There will be more by December 1. I’m officially going to the big TGIF (thank God it’s finished) party at River Oaks Book Store. Yay!!
November 8 was the Houston Writer’s Guild’s first mini-conference under the new leadership team. The team consists of Denise, Fern, and myself. Denise and Fern are the new owners of the Guild. I am honored they picked me to help them steer the course. Our mini-conference was a rocking success with a good showing of members and new folks anxious to learn the craft of writing. Sarah Cortez an esteemed speaker and winner of many writing awards for her poetry books, was our speaker. People said that the day went by so fast they couldn’t believe it. There was also lots of food with breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack.
March 28 of 2015 we will hold a one day pitch practice conference to help members of HWG get their pitches and presentations ready for the BIG CONFERENCE. At the pre-conference we will have actual agents for members to pitch their novels, and screenplays to. More details to come.
The next big thing is the Amazing 2015 HWG conference. There will be several agents from NYC there. We will have some Texas agents and editors and publishers there. Friends, this is Big Time! There will be agents looking for folks they want to represent to the big six publishers in NYC. There will also be a lot of break-out sessions about how to self-publish, the art of craft, the business of doing it, the “how to” market it. More details to come.
One of the things I did do this month besides have some amazing books signings around town was that I took Cora to visit my brother on his farm. We picked vegetables, Jon took us to visit the menagerie, we petted his AKC Siberians, and Jon gave us some eggs (nicer than any from the store). I want to show you some pictures from that day.
It’s the end of the month and I want to thank you for sticking with me in reading my blog, especially when there are weeks between offerings. I appreciate every one of you. May God richly bless you in this holiday season.
I thank the Lord for His loving kindness, and mercy in keeping our family safe and well.
Don’t eat too much and watch out for the crazy drivers.
I just finished Susan Tarr's novel Phenomena: the Lost and Forgotten Children.It isn't many novels that bring me to tears as this one did. It will stay with me for some time, I imagine.
You hear about the washing girl’s stories of mistreatment as they had their illegitimate babies in Ireland, but Malcolm’s plight, and his story, and the stories about the other inmates in New Zealand’s insane asylum were gripping and different. This is indeed a Phenomena that I have never heard of in the world before.
The “in and out” quality of Malcolm’s stories reflects the type of treatment he received that would rob him of his memory. He worked and worked each time to reclaim his memories and recall the stories he heard, reconciling them to stories he heard as he grew older. The past and present intertwined to make a beautiful basket of memories.
I’d like to quote Malcolm at this point so that you can get a taste of Susan Tarr’s beautiful writing:
“Confusion muddled his thoughts with roiling patterns. And the wild sea at the bottom of the cliffs had never looked so inviting.
His mind turned to Julie who existed only in darkness. She told him her parents had disappeared while she was spending a day with her grandmother. Tea was eaten, it was night time, and still they never came for her. Her grandmother continued to care for her. It was years later when blind Julie was found by the neighbors, along with her dead grandmother.
Malcolm knew what happened to people like Julie. They were deposited, confused and bewildered, into the care of the mental hospitals for the unloved and unlovable, the uneducated and the unwanted – soon forgotten, feeding the insatiable appetite of the institution, placating the guilt of the knowing masses. Deposited there to be described, measured, weighed and quantified, labelled, segregated and finally, cattle-ised – as had happened to him.”
This story is a string of stories about the people at the “hospital” and surrounding buildings, some buildings like prisons for the more severe cases and some buildings were pleasant, half-way houses surrounded by gardens. These were reserved for those getting ready to transfer into a more normal life.
The saddest story was how Malcolm came to be at Seacliff Mental Hospital in the first place. Wow. I know it happens but it’s hard to believe a parent would do this. Despite his bitterly sad history, Malcolm became a kind-hearted, upbeat man with a hope-filled future as a “regular” person.