Monday, September 28, 2009

Jmo gets Inspired

The word Inspiration is bantered about quite a bit by us creative types. We speak of it in hallowed tones. We attribute it to obscure things like muses, and very rarely do we say the truth. Inspiration is a tool that very few people can use their advantage. Artists, musicians, authors and crazy people are numbered among those people. Notice how close I put authors to crazy people. There's a reason for that. Namely, we're crazy.

As both an artist and a writer, I can say this with all honesty. Writers are the craziest of the bunch. Why, you may be asking yourself? Because out of all those creative types, writers are the only ones able to get away with living inside their own minds and allowing the delusions in their heads leak out to infect those around them. Sure musicians can make you whip your head around and artists can invoke emotions at a single glance, but authors make their dreams become your dreams—the worlds you actively want to stay within. If that ain't crazy, I don't know what is.

But, this isn't a blog about crazy people or writers. This is a Tion blog. The Tion of the week is Inspiration. Though crazy has a lot to do with it, as I know I'll get across as this thing gets wired up. Before I go off on more tangents than you can shake a mouse at, let me put up a professional definition of inspiration thanks to the Encarta Dictionary that came with this Microsoft Word program…

Inspiration: 1. Stimulation for the human mind to creative thought or to the making of art.
3. The quality of being stimulated to creative thought or activity.

That's only a couple of the many meanings of the word, but the two that apply the most to what I'm trying to get across.

Now that we've heard from the professionals, here's my take on it.

Inspiration is the fuel that drives the creative mind. Inspiration is the ability of the creative mind to take the natural world and reform it into entertainment. Inspiration is the ability to form sanity from the craziness that is the human condition. Finally, inspiration is a gift that we all too often take for granted.

Let me start with the first one and explain what I mean. Inspiration is fuel? Hell yeah it is. To an author it is an important as a balanced diet. Writing a book is hard work. Just because you get inspired to write a book doesn't mean that book is going to get finished. No, inspiration is an ongoing thing throughout the writing of a book. A good idea will only get you so far. Constant inspiration acts as the fuel that drives the book. An author's imagination needs continuous stimuli. Heroes need obstacles to overcome as do heroines. Those obstacles come in the form of you guessed it. Inspiration. It doesn't matter where it comes from but it has to come. When it doesn't you've got another unfinished manuscript to add to the growing pile lingering around like a trash heap on your hard drive. Believe me I have a stack of them and it is growing as we speak.

On to the number two in my list. Inspiration is the ability to reform the natural world into entertainment. At its heart, that is the true definition of writing. We, meaning authors, take everything that surrounds us, from our pasts to the ride home from work and use those experiences to create our worlds. Humans are the sum of their experiences pure and simple. Perhaps more so for an author, because we have the ability to take all that and represent it to readers in such a way they can relate to both us as author and the world they sometimes can't see around themselves. That is the true art of being a writer. We see more than even we realize. Amid all that deep thinking, we also entertain through laughter or by forcing you to drift away from your harried life for the span of a hundred pages or more.

Sanity from craziness? Yes, Inspiration is that too. Everyday each of us is bombarded with more sensory input than even a computer could make sense out of. Yet, Inspiration allows a writer to manage those sounds, images, or emotional whatevers into a neat package. Sure sometimes it gets sloppy getting there but if we do our job right, you’ve got a book, or ebook file as the case may be, that makes a little more sense than your hectic life. We can even promise a happily ever after ninety percent of the time. You tell me how often real life can promise you that?

And finally. Yes authors take Inspiration for granted. We think it's always going to be there and truthfully it is. The problem is us. At times we can't process that data coming at us, because we let our heads get in the way. Whether through dealing with life or too much data, we simply block it out and blame our mythical other halves for doing it to us. Funny, how us humans can always find someone else to blame for our shortcomings.

Now you have my take on the whole Inspiration thing. I know you're used to me being a bit off the wall with these things. I hope this tamed down Jmo hasn't disillusioned you. I promised to be back to my abnormally normal self, next time. Til then go dig up some Inspiration on your own and stop trying to steal mine.

The nerve of some people. Where're my Oreos? I need them to go hide in the closet from the muses trying to tell me to do naughty, naughty things.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Jmo gets Desperate

Over the past few weeks—has it really been that long, man I like to run off at the mouth—I've gone over the three worst bad habits an author can have. Now it's time to show what happens when you—cuz I don't do those things—let those things take root and stick around. Drum roll please…


That's right, authors get desperate. I'm talking shoveling chocolate, hiding under the bed, wondering if the Editor Gnomes are coming to get us for missing our deadlines. Don't laugh. It could happen. Has happened. Shiver!!! In case any of you out there lose your minds and decide to become authors, Editor Gnomes hunt by tracking down the scent of fear and chocolate to its source. But I digress.

Seriously, if a writer's block lasts for a long period of time, it does funny things to your mind. Writing is like Crack to an author. We need to be doing it. Our whole lives revolve around this one single thing. The need to create is so great inside us, we can't imagine not doing it. Once an author, or any form of artist for that matter, finds an outlet for the thoughts in our heads we have to do it on a daily basis. We write, even if it's nothing more than a single line to burn off those creative juices swirling around in our noggin.

Normally the process flows smoothly. Notice I said normally. Despite our delusions otherwise, the brain needs a rest every now and again. We might not know our limitations but our brain does. These creative vacations are an integral part of the process. Of course we don't see it that way. A couple of days of nothing we can handle. Longer than that, and we literally go nuts. Seriously you can only spend so much time on Facebook and rearranging bookshelves before you start shaving the dog and wearing strange outfits to the Wal-Mart. That brings us to desperation.

In our darkest hours we turn inward with our anger at not being able to write. We plot nastiness and wish mortal harm on our muses. We snap at loved ones. We mark our internet territory with blogs about not being able to write, and endless promos telling readers how great our books are. When the truth is all we can do is tell ourselves we suck, the world is coming to an end, and agonize over that bump on the end of our nose that we're sure is well on it's way to becoming Aunt Eugenia's beauty mark—i.e. wart, a big hairy one at that.

Desperation can also lead to some crazy actions on our part, not that the wart thing isn't crazy enough. I, myself, have been known to talk to myself while begging the dog to…


He doesn't answer of course. The sorry sack of crap. I know he is conspiring with my muse to write a tell-all book about me.

Instead of going on and on, I decided to ask a few authors what's the most desperate thing they've done to break a writer's block. Hence avoiding revealing how crazy I truly am.

Okay unsuspecting authors…

What is the most desperate thing you've done to break writers block?

Uh, that isn't a moment of silence. Though, it would be more than appropriate in this instance. The truth is, most authors refused to be interviewed on the record after tating it was none of my business and I should go write instead of bothering them. I think it was a load of horse puckie but they threatened my Oreo stash, so I'm leaving them to wallow in their desperation and denial. It seemed to be the most humane thing to do under the circumstances.

All comedy aside—not sure what side but either will do—writing is not easy. Quite frankly, it doesn't take much to throw us over the edge, straight into madness. When you see an author in this state, don't approach them and forget all about any sudden moves. I'm trying to save your life here so listen up.

Authors are dangerous, desperate creatures. We're neurotically moody. That's putting it mildly but you get the point. If you have friends or relatives who are writers don't try to get them into support groups or any of the thousands of other self-help twaddle that's floating around. Just leave us alone in our junk food littered dens of iniquities. Feed us when we grunt and Lysol us down when we begin to smell. Aside from that, there's not much else you can do. As soon as you accept that, the easier it'll be for you to have us locked up when the royalty checks stop paying for our internet connections and caffeine intake.

Did that sound overly desperate to you?

Lurking behind the potted plant,

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mommy Home Alone

Certainly, over the last eighteen plus years, I’ve had time home alone.

The first time my one and only child left for longer than an overnight, he was only six and we sent him down to Oregon to visit friends. Six years old and flying off to Eugene all by himself. I think he was braver than I was, but he made it safe and sound and the minute I knew it, off I went to our cabin for two weeks mostly on my own.

Bliss! My husband came for the weekends, leaving me alone to fend for myself in the Alaska wilderness. I coped by hand-sewing blankets into window coverings, listening to books on tape and drinking wine with my friend Tina. I also had the furry child with me, so I wasn’t entirely alone. When our son climbed off the plane, he’d entranced a few women. The niece of a friend hung out with him in Seattle during his three hour layover and the lady who shared a row with him on the plane also colored and played cards with him. She sought us out at baggage claim and complimented us on our very polite and wonderful child. How can a mother not feel proud after a moment such as that?

The next time the child left, we were living in Colorado and sent him back to Alaska where he was passed from Grandparents to Uncles to Godparents. He had a great time. I indulged in more wine and romances. Or was I working full time? Either way, I survived, as I did when he and the boy scouts canoed down the Green River or trekked across sand dunes or went to summer camp.

This time, it’s a bit more serious. He’s off to college.

Usually in the summer, he worked or hung out at a summer program. This year he missed out because of some nasal surgery in early June. So I had him at home, for the first time since he was three, 24/7. For three months.

As the end of summer approached, and the date to leave for college raced toward us, we began to get antsy. I tried to get him to start packing sooner because I wanted to spread out the expense of new clothes and supplies, as well as make sure we knew what he had and what he needed. My passive-aggressive boy… sigh. Typically, the last few days were a rush to get it all together and I swore I’d be glad when he was settled in his room. My husband and I joked about backing up to the dorm and slamming on the brakes with enough force to send his luggage flying out the back then driving away.

Imagine my surprise when he stopped us in the middle of the hall on our way back to the elevator with the empties to take home and said, “Well, I guess I’ll be seeing you.”


Not the goodbye scene I’d imagined at all. It was only 10:30 in the morning and we didn’t have to be on the road until Noon. We still had an hour and a half!

But no, he was ready for US to leave. Under protest, we got our hugs and then were sent on our way.


It’s now been two and a half weeks, and I’ve talked to him only a couple times. One sort of longish phone call, maybe fifteen minutes, the others just quick messages. His father got the hour and a half call this weekend while I was at the writers retreat. At least I know he’s breathing and attending class. He even confessed to his father that he was doing homework before gaming. Good thing he figured that one out early.

But that leaves me with a quiet house and ALL the cleaning and laundry. Harrumph. Though there is one plus. When something gets cleaned, it stays that way a little longer. And it gets cleaned a little better. Laundry moves faster and things get hung up right out of the dryer. I’m hoping to see big savings on the electricity bill there, as under his watch, dress pants tended to go through the dewrinkle cycle 3-4 times before making it onto hangers.

We also have fewer dishes which make it into the kitchen sooner.

But I miss having him to talk to out of the blue. He and his friends provided me with much amusement. Heck, I even miss the all night Rock Band parties, even though not buying pizza, soda and chips for half a dozen young men means Hubby and I can actually go out to a nice restaurant a couple times a month. And still have change left over!

Ah well. It’s for the best. Life moves on and children grow into adults. People tell us we did a good job with him. Now it’s time to turn my attention to myself.

Suddenly writing seems like such a lonely profession. But I like lonely, right?? I’ll let you know at the end of the semester just how I feel about being an empty nester. In the mean time, I don’t have to hide my chocolate in new and creative places. DH never finds it but the kid sure could find every hiding spot! Leftovers also stand a chance of hanging around for a few meals or making into DH’s lunch. Or mine. And I get more exercise traveling up and down the steps when the doorbell rings or the laundry needs swapping. I might get in shape despite myself!

So here’s to empty nesters. May we learn to live with the quiet!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Split Personalities are Me

After posting my last blog on procrastination, I find it funny I'm way late with my next blog in the Tion series. That said, my tardiness has nothing whatsoever to do with procrastination. I know you're all giving me the look, but this time I'm telling the truth. I spent the last two weeks actually doing my main job, writing. Since last I blogged I've finished the dreaded first draft on a Christmas story—shameless plug coming your way—that will be released from Desert Breeze Publishing just in time for the holidays and the last draft on another short that will see the light of day next year.

Since my next Tion blog isn't exactly to the point I'd like it, namely finished, I thought I'd engage in some shameless self promotion. Being in a gracious mood, I've allowed three of my favorite characters to ask me one question about my approach to writing. I'm letting myself in for a bucket load of regret but sometimes you've got to put yourself out there.

First up is the star of my book MisStaked. No not Breathred, he refused to show up. Something about a comic convention and a fear of internet viruses and a lack of vaccinations if he caught one. So, I've asked Stud Lee Monkey to kindly step up to bat in his place. God help me.

Stud: Yeah like I enjoy taking virgin boy's sloppy seconds. You're lucky I'm a tender soul or I'd shove this blog when the banana don't shine. My butt itches so let's get this over with, so I can get to the spa for my flea dip.

Alright, Mr. Fancy Pants Writer Man how do you come up with such memorable characters? Just remember I was here way before you so you can't take credit for my magnificence.

Jmo: Tell you what, tell the Spanky Bottom Spa to send me the bill for that dip. Stupid monkey, blogs are for kids. Anyway, good question.

Stud: About time you came across with some of that royalty moollah you money grubbing son of...

Jmo: Thanks Stud. Uh, has security escorted him out? Good.

Where was I? Oh yeah. I wish I could take credit for my characters. They spring out of nowhere and capture me like I hope they do you. To be perfectly honest, characters are easy. They're the ones who actually speak to you and let you know who they are. I've been honored to work with some of the greatest characters in the business and can't wait to introduce you to my newest collection of crazies.

Next up is my favorite witchy woman, Nikki. She's the femme fatale who answered the question How Wicked-er Can She Go? Niks, thanks for agreeing to join me today.

Nikki: No prob, Jman. I was just sitting around pestering the fairies in my belfry. As one of the victims of your insanity, I just gotta know. When you come up with your stories, do you have it all plotted out or do you just make this crap up as you go along?

Jmo: Not to disillusion you but I have no idea how to plot a book. When I start, it's you the characters who tell me what's going on. I just listen to you and write it down. I think writing should be like reading. You should never know what's going to happen next. Part of the thrill for me is reading the story same as you the readers. Believe me. I don't have a clue what's going to happen until it does. In my own defense I have an inkling of how a book will end, but half the time I get thrown for a loop and what I think will happen changes completely when that last page is finished.

Last up is one of my newest friends, Savannah Marshall, vampire unslayer supreme and the heroine of Love at First Stake. Sav, thanks for taking a break from your honeymoon to join me today.

Savannah: What honeymoon? My stupid sister-in-law showed up and ruined the whole thing when Rufus' whack daughter decided to go on a rampage. Oops, I wasn't supposed to say anything about that. Was I? It doesn't matter, they'll be finding out soon enough anyway. My question is this. What in the hell are you thinking when you come up with these crazy villains you throw at us?

Jmo: Hey don't look at me. They come from the same place you do. Comedy lends itself to parody and exaggeration. My villains are a reflection of that. I want to create a villain as memorable as my heroes and heroines. From Leopold du Chabris Portus to Rudolpho my baddies are in your face evil with that touch of insanity that makes them stick in your mind. If anything they're the flipside of my hero/heroine. Or, if I wanted to be perfectly honest, they're my evil side. Scary thought huh?

Before you guys decide to get me a nice long armed coat and an all expense paid vacation to a padded cell, I'm going to wrap this self promo lunacy up. If you want to find out more about Stud, Nikki and Savannah, feel free to check out their books at these find book sellers. Night Y'all

Mis-Staked can be bought directly for Champagne Books and…

How Wicked-er Can She Go? can be found at…

Love at First Stake is lurking at Desert Breeze Publishing and Amazon on Kindle