Monday, April 30, 2012

101 Tips Revisited

I mentioned earlier this month that I would begin including tips on writing. In fact, I'm actually creating the second edition of 101 Tips on Writing and Selling Your First Novel, a book I wrote and first published in 2003. I'm beginning with the preface, but in the weeks ahead, we will deal with the actual craft of writing and I look forward to your comments. . .

101 Tips on Writing and Selling Your First Novel
Second Edition
You've heard it. We’ve all heard it. We’re at a cocktail party . . . or a church social . . . or a scouting outing when someone says nonchalantly, “I could write a novel. And I’m going to. Just as soon as I have a little extra time.” No one says, “I’ve always wanted to be a brain surgeon and I’m going to operate. Just as soon as I have a little time.”

Of course, there’s a tremendous difference. Our novels do not relate to actual life and death issues. Furthermore, writers don’t bury our mistakes—although sometimes we’d like to! I would want to dig a hole and die before letting anyone read my first novel. (Although it did come in handy; I’ll explain later. ) There are also similarities. Each profession contains elements of both craft and art. Luck plays a major role, too.

RED ALERT: If you’re expecting any form of academic treatise, stop! Put this book down. Return it to the shelf. If you’re looking for practical information, carry on. You see, craft can be learned and in these pages, you will find a modicum of inspiration, lots of encouragement, and an abundance of useful information. It’s a very personal book because it contains all the things I’ve learned the hard way—by trial and error, by making mistakes, by speaking at writers' conferences in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Canada, and finally, from teaching adult education classes for 20+ years. It’s the book I wish I’d had when I started out.   
BONUS TIP: No extra charge! A sense of humor is absolutely essential  if you’re going to survive in this crazy business—and it is a business. If you don’t have one, begin cultivating it now. 

Many times you won’t know whether to laugh or cry. You'll be over the moon when you make a sale. At other times, you’ll feel like throwing the computer out the window and giving up. However, in the long run, tears and anger and feelings of personal rejection are not only nonproductive, but a waste of your most precious commodity—time.

So learn to laugh at the rejections, at the slights...this is a tough business. You’ll find an abundance of people who’ll tell you your talent is not “significant” or that you’ll never make it as a writer. Just paste a smile on your face. Thank them—nicely. Then get back to your work...which is writing and and editing and constantly learning to write more effectively and efficiently. Success is the best revenge.

Keep writing.
         That’s what successful, professional writers do, you know.
                 We write.
                     Day in, day out, we write.
                          Headaches, backaches, heartaches, stomach aches, we write.

The good news is that you’re never completely alone. You’ll find you gravitate to other authors who will cheer you on and agree with you that the editor/agent is a no-talent idiot who would probably have rejected William Shakespeare. And by all means, keep us posted. When you sell that splendid first novel, drop us a note so we can cheer with you!

Prudy Taylor Board
Delray Beach, Florida
May 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Love at first sight

Most women have experienced the fabled love at first sight. You see him—the golden boy—and time is suspended while you drink in his physical beauty, his strong even sturdy physique, the golden sheen of his hair, and his eyes…oh. . .those eyes light brown with golden flecks. You rush to touch him, to hold him, and in that moment, even though you know better, even though you know he’s selfish, mischievous, disrespectful, and has no respect for material objects, in that moment you are completely besotted.

It happened to me most recently on December 14, 2011. In the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Boca Raton. When a co-worker from Taylor and Francis introduced us, he clung to me, looked up at me with those golden eyes and I could swear he smiled. His whiskers twitched and I am sure he was purring to himself, “Landed me a good one this time! Sucker!”

I was told his name was Pumpkin, but somewhat indignantly, I responded, “He is neither a fruit nor a vegetable to be brought out only in the Fall. He is a handsome redhead and henceforth he shall be known as Handsome Harry because he reminds me of Prince Harry of the House of Windsor..

And thus he became a member of the family.
And yes, he is a cat.
And yes, he is both handsome and beautiful.
And yes, I am still besotted.

But oh, what I have had to give up since Harry came to live with the family. Tidbit and Phannie Love accept him. Sophie and New Year’s Evita (another story) adore him.

I can no longer relax in my recliner in the living room to watch television. As soon as I turn the TV on, Harry jumps up on the stand, weaves his way through the minefield of objects I have placed there to dissuade him, and watches TV. His head swivels from one side to the other as the characters on the screen move. That’s bad enough, but soon he’s bored so he stretches up to the top of the TV where he scratches. The only way I can watch TV is to put him in the bathroom—where he’ll tear up the toilet paper and drag everything out of the cabinet beneath the basin.

I can no longer take a bath without Harry watching and sometimes falling into the tub. In addition, because Harry finds me so fascinating, he is now joined by Sophie and Evie. Having your every move in such an intimate setting observed and judged is extremely discomfiting. Furthermore, I can no longer simply brush my teeth because running water fascinates him. He jumps up on the counter. I put him down. He jumps back up. I repeat the motion. So does he. Finally, I brush my teeth and put on my makeup maneuvering around his gorgeous orange tiger head.

Then there’s the issue of my jewelry. I used to have an earring tree from which I could see and easily select the earrings to go with whatever I was wearing to work. No longer. The earring tree is hidden in a drawer along with my necklaces and rings.

And visitors to my home who needs must use the “facilities,” are told where I hide the toilet paper. And if they wash their hands or rinse a cup in the kitchen, they are told where I hide the paper towels.

It’s been ages since I’ve eaten sitting down, but to be fair that’s not entirely Harry’s fault. The cats automatically assume that anything I’m doing is more interesting than typical feline pastimes and what I’m eating is tastier than their cuisine.

Is it worth it?

Yes. Handsome Harry saunters into the living room, puts his paws on my thigh, and looks up at me with incredible love and acceptance. He is gentle. Regardless of how fiercely we play, he never scratches me, never draws blood. At night, he takes his section of the bed out of the center, but he’s gracious and lets me have room. Then he nestles next to me and purrs. Okay, so occasionally he wakes me up to play with my toes at 3 or 4 a.m. I can always go back to sleep. And he is so funny, so awkward sometimes, that he makes me smile and laugh.

Sometimes love at first sight is genuine. Handsome Harry is proof.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Requiem for Pearl

A Requiem for my feline friend Pearl Rudolph

I lost a friend this past Saturday, a gorgeous black cat named Pearl Rudolph. She “owned” a good friend of mine to whom her loss was even greater than mine. Pearl’s life was coming to an end and while that helped assuage, it didn’t approach the sense of loss.

            I have lost cats, too. My last three Homer Sue (she was such an ugly kitten I knew she’d be a “homer” and only later discovered she was a “she,” hence the Sue) died at 19. Black Pearl and Oliver both died at 17. They had been with me during the most difficult years of my life—losing a husband, reentering the work place after 15 years, and rebuilding a life in a brand new town. Suffice it to say, the years 2010 and 2011 contained some very sad moments. As luck would have it, I now live with five rescue cats so I am no longer sad although the memory of a pet never dies.

            Sometime ago, I wrote a poem to commemorate the passing of Humdinger, another cherished catfriend, and I offer it here in Pearl’s memory and dedicate it all those who have loved and lost a loyal feline companion.

That Other World

Beyond the woes and sadnesses of this world lies another

Where old cats taste again the joys of kittenhood,

Where joints are supple and keen ears hear the secrets of the wind,

Where teeth are sharp and noses scent out the aromas of the night.

In this world, as real as ours,

Kittens and old cats scamper side by side, tails held high,

Merrily chasing, but never catching the foolish mice and dainty butterflies.

Ere long we’ll all meet again in that other world, Beloved Pearl,

And we shall stroke your shiny coat and rub your ears,

And you shall purr and we shall laugh for we will be

Friends together once again.