Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland Take Two

Another day, another piece of furniture that came with styrofoam. This time the winter wonderland adventure was sanctioned. And though I got a picture, it wasn’t half as messy as the first episode. Maybe I’ll give it a couple of days and see if they can do a better job. Because right now it looks more like icebergs instead of snow.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Treasure Tuesday--A dark but beautiful scene

The room was dark and the air a stifling mix of dust and sweat, but I wouldn’t have traded anything to be here. In fact, I had paid to be here considering the ticket, the taxi and the hotel I was staying in during acting camp. It was a glorious week of lines and pines, weeping and peeping…which I suspected was the cause for landing me in the mess I was in right now.

“So how long do you think it’ll take for them to miss us?” Logan asked.

I didn’t know what hurt worse. My arm when we fell through the trap door and got stuck, or the fact that Logan sounded so eager to get out of here. We had been practicing a scene. A love scene of all things, when the floor beneath us gave way and we fell through the stage. I suspected foul play even though it had collapsed twice already during the week when it was clear no one was by the switch. The set was as decrepit as it was cool, AND a perfect opportunity to pull a prank. They had been happening all week, though were usually a little less dangerous. Hair gel in place of toothpaste. Cellophane on the toilet seat. Logan and Lance had been trading off pranks all week, and this time I had gotten caught in the middle.

Not that I minded too much seeing as who I was currently stuck with, though my arm had seen better days. Logan was awesome in every possible way. Dashing and charming, with more than a few muscles–though they had failed to pry the hatch open once we fell through. I wasn’t much help.

“How’s your arm,” Logan asked, and I heard a shuffling sound and then a hand reach out for my arm.

I tried to keep my voice steady. “It’s fine. You don’t have to–” He put his hand against my shoulder and pushed gently.

“Liar. No wonder you’re here. You need all the acting classes you can get, Deb.”

“As much as you need a lesson in humility.”

He laughed. “Who needs to act when the truth is so much fun.”

“You’re telling me you enjoyed getting tossed through the stage and trapped with all the bugs? At least it’s dark so I don’t have to see what’s crawling up my leg right now.”

To his credit, Logan ran his hand down my leg and tried to brush aside whatever creature was trying to befriend me, making some very unsettling noises. “How can you be so calm?” he barked as I heard him brushing his own legs. Just to be sure.

“Good acting,” I said, taking a deep breath. I had been holding it ever since the bug first attached itself to my leg, but I didn’t want Logan to think he had been trapped with a complete baby.

“Huh. Well, congratulations,” he said, and I could hear the admiration in his voice. “Maybe there is a thing or two you could teach the rest of us. Like the scene you were just helping me with? Why don’t we finish what we started while we wait for someone to find us.”

“It could take all night.”

“Practicing or someone finding us?” he asked.

“Yes,” I smiled.

“Hmm. I like the sound of it either way,” he said and slid the hand at my shoulder around my back. “So where were we.”

“You were proclaiming your undying love although it sounded more like you were dying than proclaiming.”

“Well, let’s see if I can’t get it right this time.”

It took two hours for someone to come and get us. By then, Logan had perfected his art.

Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t have traded this scene for anything.


Next week: Tell me about your first kiss. Perfect? Not so good? Good, but perfect because it was still a kiss? Do tell…



  • Shelli says:

    Oh, I’m so late getting around to reading this! So sorry, I had a bad weekend that drifted into a bad week… it happens.

    I love the YA voice in this piece. I like the contrast of good news/bad news. I can see how they would take advantage of the situation and how it would be a story, a great memory forever. Very nice!

  • Karen says:

    Thanks Shelli! I love writing YA, and um…yeah it would be kind of a cool memory, wouldn’t it. Not like this has ever happened to me or anything. Really it didn’t. :) But there were other “advantageous situations” in my life. But good luck sorting out which of my pieces are based on dreams and which ones, reality. Maybe I should hold a contest to see if people can figure out which is which. Hmmmmm….

Monday, June 28, 2010

What publishing and chocolate have in common

I was reading Rachelle Gardner’s blog today and something she said about what’s hot right now in the publishing world struck me so profoundly I decided to make it the source of my own blog entry this morning. She said “… you should realize that decisions to focus on hot genres aren’t based on what publishers think people want to read. It’s not a guess. It’s based on what’s actually selling.”

I thought about this long and hard and realized that perhaps there’s a reason why the “hot” genre stays hot for so long and why publishers get caught in the current trends in the first place. It’s not just that the economy is making publishers skiddish of new and upcoming authors, titles, and concepts, but that they’re caught in a vicious circle perpetuated by both themselves and the consumer.

Publishers are indeed interested in selling what’s hot but perhaps the reason that they stay so hot is because that’s all that’s being offered. I mean when you look around at the teen books, what choice do they have when the gluttony of books are all paranormal? And read they must! The book world itself is feeding an unending frenzy, because until the teenagers decide they’ve had enough of what’s “available” and stop buying any books…period… the current books being sold will continue to be popular. I’m not saying they aren’t and that I haven’t read a few myself, but it’s kind of like this:
Candy factories used to make delicious scrumptious candies and have salesmen take them from door to door and get orders for them. They were expensive, but oh what a treat. Then someone realized that they could make more money if they simply put them in stores.

From there, others found ways to make them even less expensive but taste just as good and call them candy bars. Now even kids could afford them and they could be packaged to last longer. The expensive candies became less in demand because the candy bars were taking away their business and forcing them to cut back on their availability. Over time the were only a few select stores carrying delicate treats (like See’s) making it harder for us to indulge. That’s all well and good, because I do like candy bars, but I still love See’s candy (as do my kids). I also know that I would buy more if there were more stores around. But there aren’t more stores because no one’s buying. But no one’s buying because there aren’t more stores around. Hmmmm….see what I mean?

All the talk about e-books makes me a little hopeful and yet still invariably wary. Yes, I can see how it would certainly broaden readership and help the overall book industry, but for me it’s kind of like ordering a box of chocolates through the mail. I can’t sample the chocolate before I buy it, so I’m taking a risk that the taste of the book—I mean chocolate—will be to my liking. And if it isn’t? Well, I can’t exactly turn around and offer it to someone else the same way I would a printed book.

So, what to do? Do I follow the trend so I can be published, hoping that I can then use my name and connections to bring the book out that I REALLY wanted to write? Or do I hunker down and wait for the small audience that will one day grace my store and enjoy the delicacy I have to offer.

I applaud the publishers that are taking risks on new authors, new titles, and working to expand the genre for readers of all ages. But I also look forward to the day when blood, gore, and magic aren’t the major sources our teens have in order to find something exciting to lose themselves in. I mean, personally if my child is looking for someone to emulate, I would rather not have it be a vampire or a werewolf, or even a wizard…which I guess is why I’m writing the story that I am. Yes, those things are fun, but then you’ve heard the saying, ‘too much of a good thing?’ Personally I’m there, and am now looking forward to finding that salesman (or woman) out there who will be willing to help me (and others like me) sell books of varying topics, and in a way that makes them available to everyone in the package that they want.

So what about you? What are your reasons for writing? What are your intentions? Do you love writing enough to have only a few select readers? And do you even care if you get paid? Or are you writing to please the current trend because it’s all about creativity and hey, you need to support your habit.



  • Debra Erfert says:
    I don’t like vampires, and I can’t stand werewolves, and I’m glad they weren’t the rage while I was growing up. Interesting questions you asked, Karen. They kind of knocked me aside my head; got me thinking about why I am writing. I guess, yes, I love to write, and yes, yes, I want to get paid for doing what I love. Someday I hope to see all my efforts come to fruition, and basically prove to my husband that I haven’t wasted all my time at the computer with my head in the clouds when he wants me to be at my drawing table producing art that has immediate monetary rewards.
  • Shelli says:
    I have a feeling that there is a revolution coming in the publishing world. Our technology explosion demands it. I can only think that expanding options will mean that there are more chances for us to get our book, the way we wrote it, into the hands of people who crave just that thing. I write what I write with a strange faith that it will all work out somehow in the end.
  • Karen says:
    Both of you are right. My own husband is SO supportive, but I can see him question my vigor at times (read: hours spent at the computer). And though I love taking my book wherever I go, I’ve read more than my fair share via my computer. Big changes ahead all around and my hope is that they work in my favor. ALL our favors. :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Treasure Tuesday Take Two

“Dad, can you drive me down to the sandwich shop?”

“But you just had lunch. All this running is giving you an appetite.”

I laughed. “I’m not hungry, Dad. I need to turn in an application for a job. I’d walk down, but I don’t want to be all sweaty and stuff by the time I get there.”

“Oh. Well, you’ll need your social security number, and a list of references–”

“I got all those Dad. I just need a ride.”

“Huh. When did you get so independent? I had to practically force your brothers into the car and pay the manager to hire them myself.”

I laughed, thinking about how stubborn my brothers could be and the endless possibilities that awaited them if they would simply put their determination to better use. At least that’s what Dad was always saying. Not that any of them listened. Or had missed their crucial conversation with Dad that would make them a believer.

Like the one I had.

Dad grabbed his keys while I waited anxiously by the car. Anxious…excited…ready to overcome my latest fear and enter the world of the working class. I took a deep breathing knowing that nobody got very far by being afraid. Or lazy, although sometimes I wondered if laziness was just another form of fear. I mean, Dad barely took any time for himself and he wasn’t afraid of anything. The times when he wasn’t doing anything is when he seemed most unsure of himself.

Just like I felt the night he changed my life.

We got into the car and Dad drove the few miles to the sandwich shop that I hoped would be my home away from home for the next few months of summer. Maybe longer if I could balance my schedule just right. On the way I thought about how I had gotten to this point and just how much my Dad had already helped me and didn’t know it.

“Dad, you asked me how I got to be so independent. Do you really want to know?”

He looked over at me with surprise and smiled encouragingly. “Of course.”

“Do you remember the time I wanted to run down the mini-mart by myself? It was night and I was a little nervous, but you said something that made it all right. Something that changed my life.”

“Really? Just one thing?”

“Well, no, I guess you’ve said a lot of things, but there was one thing that pretty much summed it up. I asked you if you were worried about me going down alone and you instantly shook your head no. I was kind of hurt at first thinking you didn’t care about my safety, but then you said, ‘Why would I be worried? If anyone wanted to hurt you they’d have to catch you first and you’re too fast for that to ever happen.’”

He smiled and I could tell he was thinking back to that conversation and how his words had been misconstrued. We both knew he had been making a joke and yet there was an element of truth to what he was saying. I was a runner, and he had just called me fast. Complimenting me on my abilities while trusting me to take care of myself. It was like I was a whole new me, without the constant need for fatherly protection. Instead of feeling scared or abandoned, I felt empowered. Strong. And I knew that I could do anything…because my father believed in me.

“Well, it’s true,” he said. “Although you know taking a job means less time for running. Maybe even missing a meet or two.”

“I’m sure I can work out something with the boss. And I’ll get my run in on the way to work each day. That’s what you did for a while. Remember when the car broke down? You rode your bike to work. I figure if you can do it so can I. Just not today,” I smiled.

“Yes, I think you’ll manage things just fine. You’re a pretty smart girl for being so young.”

“Only because I have a pretty smart Dad.”

My father was my hero, but not because he saved anyone’s life. He was my hero because… he taught me how to save my own.


Now it’s your turn to share your own experience about your father. Experience, thoughts, comments, or perhaps a story of your own that we all need to hear. Remember you can earn a jewel for your blog by linking back to your own story. :) All part of our Treasure Tuesday enticement.

For those who aren’t ready to share and need some time to think, consider next week’s prompt: The room was dark and the air a stifling mix of dust and sweat, but I wouldn’t have traded anything to be here…



  • Shelli says:

    This was really sweet and darling. Great dialogue (which I noticed, because I tend to struggle with it) — sounds natural, good use and non-use of tags. I would eliminate the lines “Like the one I had” and “Just like I felt the night he changed my life.” I think the piece is too short for a little foreshadowing. It packs more of an emotional punch if you surprise us with the reminiscence. And you did great conveying the emotion of that moment — brought tears in my eyes!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shelli! You’re right about the foretelling, too stuck on my novel to have seen what I was doing until you pointed it out. Good call! Oddly enough I don’t usually struggle with dialogue but with keeping my exposition short. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

And the winner is...

Who said nothing good comes from middle school, huh? I guess I was just one of the few people who didn’t actually hate middle school with a passion and I’ll bet it had a lot to do with the experiences I gained there. I not only learned how to stick up for myself (thanks to the practice I got with so many brothers) but the typing class that revealed some hidden talent I didn’t know I had.

I managed 55 words per minute on the manual typewriters we had, then around 85 on the electric ones in high school, and finally 120 words per minute on the spiffy new computers we have today. I have my typing skills to thank for all the jobs I’ve had and for helping me put my husband through school while raising a family. I’ve also used my skill for fun though and have written countless poems, stories and books over the years.

I hope to get one day get my current series published, but in the meantime I keep my creativity flowing by making crocheted items for things like summer-time contests. Father’s Day was “my” day and it is my honor to announce Becky Drew of Arizona as the winner of my most recent creation! I hope you enjoy using the book tote as much as I enjoyed making it Becky!

My girls and I started Diva Strings a few years back in order to earn the money necessary to help pay for a harp; and while we now have the harp we’re still addicted to designing and making purses, totes, and the like. I mean, hey, people still need cute ways to carry all those beautiful books around with them, right?

And who knows, maybe some day my book will be one of those filling my totes that people are carrying around? Wouldn’t that be doubly fun?
Oh, yeah….