Friday, July 31, 2009

writing warriors

this business is crazy and dream crushing and dream making and not for the faint of heart. yesterday, during my critique group, we discussed two kernels of truth in learning your process of writing:

1. you can only control what you can control and write the best damn book/article/short story you've got inside of you at the moment and learn from each project you complete and revise.

2. writing is not for wimps. everyone loves to talk about that one person who wrote their first book, sold it, had to do zero revisions and it became an overnight instant bestseller. all that sounds great but the reality is writing is WORK.

Crumpled letter

writers work and submit and get rejected and write and submit some more and get rejected and so on and so on. this is the career path for most people. it is not for people with fragile egos whose feelings are crushed at the slightest bit of criticism or rejection.

writing is for warriors.


ps. please don't fall down in shock--two posts in a week!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


aka cleaning your office, culling out unread books, sorting through borrowed books to give back, filing your reams of internet research on various topics, scheduling the next year's worth of topics....

aka sprucing up your front yard, watering your apocalypse garden (i have zucchini! and the corn is sprouting or whatever you call what they do), spending quality time with your children (whether they want to or not), heading to the bookstore and buying books but not reading them because you can't until you write....

aka mulling over your plot, working through story lines, fretting over character motivation, pondering the potential settings of the next scene....

in other words...all of that aka stuff is productive, no question, but it isn't writing. Writing requires BICHOKTAM. Butt in chair, Hands on keyboard, Typing away madly.

No magic handshake, no muse on vacation, no excuse. Time to write.

Monday, July 20, 2009

gadgets, secrets, & spies, oh my

The CIA (umm, no not the Culinary Institute of America). The Central Intelligence Agency.

Ceremonial Swearing-In Of Leon Panetta Is Held At CIA Headquarters

Their motto: We are the nations first line of defense. We accomplish what others cannot accomplish and go where others cannot go.

Everyone knows the headquarters are located in Virginia. An impenetrable fortress of security that only the ultra top secret clearance people can ever access. Unless of course you have the secret decoder ring (a.k.a. the Romance Writers of America, Kiss of Death chapter).

Keyhole with binary language

We visited the OHB (everything is DC is an acronym-it borders on absurd :) ) The Original Headquarters Building. I felt a little like Dorothy in Oz, wandering (escorted at all times mind you) through the halls of the CIA. It’s the kind of experience that is almost surreal. So fascinating and exciting and unbelievable that your mind is racing a thousand miles a minute. Unfortunately I can’t tell you about it because then they would have to kill you. (Kidding, sorry, couldn’t resist.)

They have a museum of gadgets, from the ultimate in high tech (at least for their time, their ultimate high tech gadgets are still classified) to the very low tech.

One of my personal favs was in the Cold War Gallery. The East Germans (pretty sure that’s the right country) would bump up against a person of interest and they would mark them with German Shepherd girl dog pheromones. (Later I read the Soviets would put it on the bottom of shoes.) Apparently boy German Shepherds can uber-track that scent for about four days. So once the pheromones were applied to the unsuspecting mark, then the boy dog traced the target’s movement seeing where they went, if they took the same route every day, etc. Very low tech but apparently very effective.

I'll leave you with this caveat. If you happen to see a very determined German Shepherd following you around you’d better be on your best behavior. :)


ps. The CIA has a website:

Also, the secret decoder ring people website: