Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Brutality of Ending A Good Book

I read somewhere that finishing a good book is akin to ending a relationship.  Story characters that we've come to care about are no longer luring us back to find out what has happened to them since the last time we've visited; revealed plots and subplots have released their clutches from our need-to-know; situations have been resolved and no longer need us to be sure everything checks out okay.  The whole relationship has died just as suddenly as the man in J.K. Rowlings' The Casual Vacancy.

Now I am left standing in a church yard with all of the people I was teased into feelings for.  Damn the whole five hundred and three pages of interwoven lives that gulped me alive for three weeks of late night readings. Damn it--its just not fair!

At least the characters in the book have one another to bump into between the covers tonight. I'll have no one with whom to commiserate as I relinquish into a night deprived of their fictional lives spread open for me to greedily read with out ever having been a part of their world.  How did my emotions sink so low from just a collection of words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, chapters?  What is it that made this novel slink into my heart, rip apart its red muscle, and cause me to plunge into a river of turmoil, just because I turned the final page? How did the author do this to me?

Reflecting on whether or not I am being overly dramatic, well, perhaps a bit.  But not by much.  After all, it was a good book.

Heather Leigh

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Imagine This

When my teenaged sons were three and six years old, they got into the best argument EVER! Second only to the huge weekly warfare over whether or not The Incredible Hulk is truly a superhero.

We did not have a television in our home (we still don't--I know, it's a crazy thing) and hadn't for over a year.

One morning, the three-year-old lay on the living room floor and said to me, "Look Mommy, I'm watching TV."

Cute as bug on a rug, he was on his tummy, head held by hands on his chin, playful grin, staring at a box that did not exist in our house.

His brother ran over, stood in front of him and yelled, "I'm blocking your TV! Now you can't watch it."

Younger face crinkled in sadness and anger, screaming, "Get away from my TV! I'm watching that!"

"Ha ha! No you're not! And now I'm going to unplug your TV!"

"NOOO!!! Don't unplug my TV!"

First-born reached over to imaginary cord, and slowly, deliberately unplugged it.

"I've unplugged your TV!"

Okay, now, how, as a parent, do I get after someone for unplugging a non-existent electrical device? Especially when I am caught between laughter, and awe at the intensity of a fight over nothingness.

Parenting is a Universe unto itself. I had never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would have to make the needful rule that putting a cardboard box on your head and running around the house is not allowed.  Who would have thought that needed to become an actual rule?  On numerous occasions, this practice broke furniture, glassware and gave some nasty head bumps.

The TV fight only occurred once, though, so a rule was never needed. I guess the intensity of blocking even a pretend TV view was just too much for either of them to endure more than once.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Great Today, Better Tomorrow

I have heard it said that what we appreciate in others, we are capable of doing ourselves. I sure hope so because I would love to come even close to writing at the level of J.K. Rowling's new book, The Casual Vacancy.  While we, referring to my children and myself, loved the plot driven Harry Potter series, this book is so much better!  In a radio interview, I recently heard her saying that the difference between the wizard series and this novel is that she had five years to complete this book--she was not driven by a desire to get out of her economic circumstances.

The first part of the book goes straight off into an unexpected death of Barry Fairbrother, a forty-four year old man living a good life with his wife and four teenagers. Each subsequent plot shows the life, personality, and reaction to someone who was connected to the man. I purposely used the word 'shows' above as there is nowhere in these chapters that we are told what the character is like; we learn as we go along. I love that! Further, each character personality is different and their reaction to the death is different.  As we go along, being carried from character to character, we learn what Barry was like--obviously we do not learn from the dead man himself.

Generally, I want to know right away what the problem of the story is.  However, because the writing is captivating, I don't mind waiting to find out.

As this blog is not written to be a critique of a novel, let's go back to the first sentence: what we appreciate in others, we are capable of doing ourselves.  Woo hoo! Now that is exciting news. That means that someday, with practice, learning, blood sweat and tears, I can write at the level that I am appreciating in J.K. Rowling.  Yes, I love good news like that.

I assume that being as good in the future as the marvelous writers of today, comes gradually and in bursts.  Attending a writer's conference, taking a class, partaking in a retreat--those will give more rapid writing headway.  Writing daily, going to writing critique groups, appreciating what I read from a writer's viewpoint--those will bring about improvement at a steady pace.  Fast and slow, both are necessary for my improvement.

Who do you admire? What can you do to work toward what they are now capable of doing? What are you doing to improve your life's passion?

Next time you see someone doing something that you think is awesome, remember that the only reason you are able to recognize that what they are doing is awesome, is because you hold this ability within you.  You hold within the greatness that you can appreciate in others.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Super Funky Groovalicious

Do you have something in your life that takes over your attention when you are engaged in doing it? For athletes, it's called being in the zone; when my son plays his video game called Minecraft, we say that he is in his cave; when I'm deep in a story and my children ask me a question, I will often answer twenty minutes later and have no idea that there has been more than a minute delay. There is no word or catchy phrase for what happens to me beyond  just being absorbed into the story.  Having something in your life that you are so in the zone with, that time and distractions disappear from your comprehension, is a wonderful possession to have.

Quick disclaimer: as with all brain distorting chemicals, moderation is necessary when delving into your zone.  Make your passion serve you and bring joy to your life, don't let it take over like a pushy in-law or a mountain of chocolate covered caramels with a touch of sea salt crystals.  My way to avoid writing without ignoring my children for so long that they starve, or I starve, is to set a timer.

Whatever it is that that we delve into takes us out of our routine and posts us onto a new realm.  This adds excitement and passion to our inner selves.Woo hoo! Don't we all need that sometimes? Even something as commonplace and simple as reading a good book can take us to that far away land of 'don't even try to bother me right now because I just can't hear you'.  Then, when we come back from the land of far, far away, we often feel refreshed and ready to jump back into our daily grind--but with a better attitude and more joy.

Getting out of ourselves to experience a rush of intense moments, brings us back to the nature of who we are--lovers of life!

What is the something that you have that gets your groove on? Is it caring for animals, playing peek-a-boo with your child, accounting, sipping a good hot cocoa on a rainy day with your best friend, laughing at stupid movies, writing?  The creative beauty of this world is that the possibilities are endless; as diversified as there are people on the planet.

I demand that today you partake in your out of this world enjoyment because I just did mine.

Heather Leigh

Friday, July 12, 2013

Writing Social Faux Pas

Today my teenaged son informed me that the use of the word 'lovely' in speech was never done. I made the grave mistake of using it to describe the swimming pool we had just swam in.  As a teen, he is bound by pride and tradition to inform me when I have committed a social faux pas and the use of rarely used words is one of them.

But in my head, I was rebelling. In my head, I was thinking that I have used the word lovely in writing numerous times. In fact, it is one of my favorite adjectives. As a writer, I am blessed with the ability to write seldom used, potentially social faux pas words. Ahhh, what a double blessing this writing gig is. Not only do I get to make up stories, but I'm also able to expand my use of the English language.  Mmm, life is good.

What other words can I type out publicly, for the whole wide world to read, that must be hidden within my vocal cords when in contact with others? Let's see, how about whimsical, gracious, nonsensical. Oh, and old school expressions: Holy Moly, Good Gracious, Holy Macaroni, and Hot Dog!  Then there are ways to describe good-looking men from Grandma's day: tall cool drink of water, cheesecake, cat's meow.  Ten cent words: misanthrope, austerity, clodpate and maunder. Have you ever told someone to take a short walk off a long pier?  Me neither, but I've seen it written.  Boy, the fun of writing the words that can't be spoken is a treat unto itself.

So now I'm wondering what other professions have hidden perks?  Things not allowed in public (especially with a teen nearby) that will get you banished from polite society, but are welcome in with your business constituents.

Oh, I just used the word constituents! Bet that is a word you seldom hear but have often read. The joy of writing will never cease.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Write Time

Getting the time to write is a cliche among writers that can be applied to anyone who has only 24 hours in their day to get things done. Oh, does that include everyone on planet earth? Well, then, this message is Universal.

This morning while doing my daily meditations, it came to me I need to see writing  and selling my books as a profession or a business.  I am partaking in a start-up business feels more solid, and true, and empowering than 'how do I make money while awaiting royalty checks?'. This subtle shift in my self thought shifted away mental obstacles, giving me a sense of clarity as to what I am doing and where my focus needs to be.

The result is that I was actually out of bed before 9 A.M. on a summer morning (wow!) and after feeding screaming cats and taking our dog out for morning rituals, I made a weekly schedule of which blogs I will adhere to each day. Also, a mental promise to spend X amount of time each day writing. My desk is now clear, the animals are appeased, e-mails have been sent, my sons are sleeping, and now I know what will be done today.

Thinking of successful businesses, most began with energetic seedlings of owners with a dream and a passion for what they were doing.  Many entrepreneurs kept inventory that crowded their homes, schedules that undermined sleep and family time, and a constant networking that was once called 'knocking on doors'.  Nowadays, a lot of the work is done via computer, for which I am thankful. I get to write and post blogs that are available world wide, and Face Book many friends at once to let them know when a new children's story is available or where a book signing will be held.  I am blessed to live in an age in which my dream and passion can be followed and still leave time for spending with my family and friends.

Does anyone reading this have a career that you want to follow that you are not presently in? Is there a way to shift your thoughts and actions to make you an owner of a start-up business rather than a dreamer? Then I challenge you to do it.

But at the same time, keep being a dreamer.  Dreaming is good, too.

Heather Leigh

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Publicly Praising Publicists

Publicist: a person who publicizes, especially a press agent or public relations consultant. That's what it means and I've just hired one.

I hired her because she is better than I am at that scary vast expanse of eSpace known as social media, can handle her way around researching and submitting Red Nectar for review, and actually enjoys promoting. I love when two careers can coalesce into a win-win situation. It follows what I believe is one of the great things about America, and other free-market societies: people can follow what they love to do for a livelihood.  We can take our creativity, our passion, and our talents and turn it into a way to make money.

The other plus is that in my paying for her services, I am supporting her in doing what she wants to do. And because she is awesome at doing her thing, I am free to do mine--write! Supporting small businesses, especially at such an intimate level, feels like I've just sent a huge hug to the Universe. Supporting one another must be good Karma!

Finally, it's also easier to have someone else promote my work. I think Red Nectar is a great story, but to tell others with out sounding like a self-absorbed spoiled princess is a fine line to walk.

I am incredibly thankful for my new publicist, Amanda Branham.  This working relationship is exploding into something bigger than either of us could do separately.

Publicize away, Amanda!

Heather Leigh