Tag Archives: writing

Wage Slave

“Ring the bell that you can ring
forget your perfect offering
there is a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in”
–    Anthem by Leonard Cohen

I worked on writing my story every day for three years, from 2010 to 2013. Then, last Fall, I took a full time teaching job with a “virtual academy”. This year has been agony. I feel like I gave birth and then left my infant in a trash can in some back alley to go make money whoring myself. I was a slave in my own kitchen this year, chained to the laptop at the kitchen table, where I was required to spend many hours a day (sometimes from 7 am to 2 am) filling out redundant excel and google doc spreadsheets documenting my student contacts. Little of my time was actually spent in contact with students. This is the corporate version of “charter school” education, now being funded by public educational monies. All the while I worked at those spreadsheets, I felt like my soul was bleeding out of my body. Maya Angelou wrote, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” I am sick inside my skin. Itching under my flesh to hold my book in my hands, to feel others read it, and love it. I need to see my novel alive, breathing and walking on its own, out in the world.

My teaching contract ended June 13th, and I did not seek to renew it. I feel both relief and anxiety. I think without the money I earned (less than a beginning teacher’s salary), I’d be floundering financially at this point. So, without it, going forward? Will I be able to live with less, live more simply, learning to thrive in the evolving non-growth economy, the transitional economy – with more time to freely explore my creativity, my passions, my life, but less money to finance my existence, and the bringing forth of my novel?

“Nothing is harder than being a true novelist unless that is all one wants to be. In which case, although being a true novelist is hard, everything else is harder.”  John Gartner

 

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

Title Change and Revision

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Secret Wuksachi Swimmin' Hole

Secret Wuksachi Swimmin’ Hole

August already… the “golden rollin’ hills of California”

De Valle Regional Park, California

De Valle Regional Park, California

People have told me that my working title, Death of the Gecko, is confusing because it sounds like a story about the Southwest, which it is not. So, after brainstorming with a friend, I’ve adopted a new title – Fruit of the Devil. La Fruita del Diablo is what fresceros call the strawberries they harvest. What do you think? Does the new title work for a murder mystery about strawberries and pesticides?

I’ve been participating in an online group, Agent Query Connect, to refine my query letter. The newest critiques of my draft letter are beginning to suggest revisions that sound like the first draft, making me feel like the snake biting its tail. Maybe that means I’m getting close. I’ve begun compiling a list of possible agents, and trying to figure out what genre describes my story. Today, I think the genre “Upmarket Contemporary Women’s Fiction” fits best.

My biggest challenge at present, in revision, is cutting the length. It seems that no one wants to publish, buy or read fiction longer than 300 pages. I actually enjoy reading long books. How about you?

It’s already half way through August. As usual, summer in Santa Cruz has been foggy. We have gone long stretches where we haven’t seen the sun at all. The heat in the Central Valley interacts with the cold water evaporating over the ocean, creating a pump that pulls the fog on top of us.  By the end of July, the lack of summer sun was feeling so oppressive we had to get away.

Endangered Pacific Toad, Kings Canyon, California

Endangered Pacific Toad, Kings Canyon, California

We went to Del Valle Reservoir, in the East Bay near Livermore, with friends one day for glorious swimming and sun basking, and we went to our friend Jim’s cabin in Sequoia National Park a weekend in late July. Spent a day swimming in Hume Lake, and another day hopping from one exquisite High Sierra swimming hole to the next.

Friend Jim in Medicine Rock Hole, High Sierras

Friend Jim in Medicine Rock Hole, High Sierras

One of the best, a secret spot near Wuksachi Lodge. Closer to home, we made it to a couple of sunny swimming holes on the San Lorenzo River recently – one spot in Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park and another well known “secret” hole called the Garden of Eden. Check out this UTube video link. I bet you’ll like it. Ah, summer. swing

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

The Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference

 

The Santa Barbara Writers Conference was an outstanding experience. I took the Pacific Coast Starlight down to the conference. Salinas to Santa Barbara. Good solitary writing time in the observation car. Interesting characters on the train. Beautiful landscapes, never seen from the highway.

California Coast
California Coast from the train

One of the highlights for me was getting to work in a small group critique session with Gar Haywood and Sue Grafton. Gar is an accomplished mystery writer, an excellent critique facilitator, and a friend of Grafton. I was amazed by how just plain nice both writers are. No arrogance or games. Just real people, genuinely interested in writing and writers, and in sharing knowledge about their craft. All of the critique workshops yielded valuable insights.

The Pirates, from 9pm to after midnight every night with author and editor John Reed proved to be particularly bloody. (Kill your darlings.)

Still sifting through the fertile seeds gleaned at the conference.

 

 

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

Meeting Agents

I’m at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference. Today was Agent’s Day. I met with five agents, who each read my first five pages and heard my pitch. All of the agents were shocked and amazed by the fact that methyl bromide and chloropicrin are still being used to grow strawberries. All felt strongly that the story needs to be told.

I’m sending my manuscript to a professional thriller editor this month, for the final revision and polishing. Then it goes out to the agents.

If you’re interested in receiving a free advance copy, let me know.

LIKE & SHARE buttons:

writing about the watershed

Spent many years teaching watershed ecology to little kids. Death of the Gecko is a story about watershed ecology for grown-ups.

Had a dream the other night. I was at a university, and it was the end of the semester. A professor of geology or geography was looking over his text books, and I was in his office/classroom. I noticed a large paperback book entitled “Watershed Ecology”. He handed it to me, and I opened it. He said that the average American today believes that their water comes from China, and that people need to understand what it means that they live in a watershed, and where their water comes from. He gave me the book and told me to be sure to put all the information about watershed ecology into the novel I’m writing.

A tall order, to educate, while entertaining. I’m giving it a try.

LIKE & SHARE buttons: