Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?

I took the title of this blog from a Paloma Faith song. It’s about a woman in a relationship who hides her true self out of fear of being rejected. When I first heard the song, the title so resonated in me that I found it applies to pretty much every aspect of life. When it comes to writing, I find this question determines whether a work is considered literary or fluff. The grittier and more depressing a story is, the more it is hailed as brilliant and important. But when I finish a relentlessly sad book, not only do I have to convince myself that life is worth living, I also never read the book again.

Now this isn’t because I have some Pollyanna world view. Despite being raised by my biological, emotionally available, married-before-I-was-conceived parents, I know firsthand that most people are looking out for themselves and don’t mind wrecking your life in the process. They will use whatever blunt instrument is handy to demean, degrade and undermine you out of existence. That is the truth and if you don’t get hip, you will be chewed up and spit out before anyone even knows you’re here. But I’ve also seen kindness, heroism, generosity and love shown without a demand for anything in return. Those people may be few and far between, but to act as if they don’t exist is to deny the truth.

Tough question…

The same goes with storytelling. When you read a book or watch a movie, your subconscious turns on what I call the Tripe-O-Meter. If the character’s emotional response mirrors real life, our Tripe-O-Meter stays at zero. But when the character accepts an intolerable situation without explanation or acknowledgment, the Meter gets to rumbling. If the good guy treats his friends like dirt and never gets called out, there goes the Meter. When we’re told by every character that the basic girl is ‘amazing and unusual’, we call Tripe. You may not detect the Meter going off—it might be the feeling that something didn’t sit right. You wonder what bothered you Continue reading

Slain Phantoms: A Forthcoming Collection

Although I write books, a poem or two has been known to leak from my pen. So have a couple of short stories. I’m in the process of cobbling them into a book, Slain Phantoms. They showcase some of my issues and fears, and how their exit from my brain to the page set me free. I’ve even made room for a true story, something I experienced that was just too crazy to make up.

Here are some lines of verse to give you a general idea:

Sunny Blonde was the girl I’d be
Yellow towel tight to my head
I don’t want that black doll
I said to my black mother
Laughable uproar at Barbie’s ‘assets’
When commercials were golden long
pretty blond hair
Oh well if your head hurts

Recently a friend raved to me about how threapeutic it was for him to write down his thoughts. When he found out that I have three books published and outlines for 20 more, he said “You must be a well-balanced and rational person.” Uhh, sure. But I got his point. The phantoms are hard to kill, and always manage to procreate before dying. But at least I know how to take them out.

THIS IS IT BOYS, THIS IS WAR...

THIS IS IT BOYS, THIS IS WAR…

My Favorite Review of ’25 to Love!’

As of today, I have 12 reviews of 25 to Love!. My romantic comedy about a woman who goes on a dating show as the token person of color has gotten some varied feedback. The one below is my favorite, from a reviewer named T. Wheaton. I don’t know if T. is male or female, but he or she has mastered the art of the helpful review. *Salutes*
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Without further ado, T. Wheaton:

“I loved this. I’ve read other books that use reality shows as their settings. Of all the books I’ve read with this setting, this is probably the one that feels like it gets closest to the truth. Continue reading

My Brush With…Anger

I’m starting with anger because it’s my first memory. Well, part of my first memory. The furthest back I can remember is when I was a baby, I’m guessing around five or six months. I wasn’t old enough to sit up, and I couldn’t roll over yet. I lay in a crib, with a mobile over me, and that awful popcorn ceiling that encapsulated the 70’s. Since I couldn’t talk, I only felt. I felt something on my feet, and it wouldn’t go away. I balled my fists, looked down the expanse of my baby self and seethed. My feet were trapped, encumbered, and I couldn’t stand it.

Many years later, my mom told me how she used to put me in one-piece pajamas with the plastic feet built in. As she told me how cute she thought I looked in them, I had an epiphany: I hated those things! The built-in slippers trapped my feet

See these? Don't fence 'em in.

See these? Don’t fence ’em in.

and I couldn’t stand them. If I had been able to speak at the time, I would have said ‘Mom, these pajamas are killing me. Enough already.’ My mom also said that I cried a lot as a baby. More than other babies. Might some of my wailing been contained if I could articulate the resentment within?

In this first memory of mine, I don’t recall winding myself up for a crying jag. But I remember the burn in my chest, the one I still get when I’m angry. It’s the same fist-curl and setting of my jaw. It’s only now that I can categorize the viscera incited by my imprisoned feet.

I often wonder if our earliest years are blocked out because of trauma. Our brains take in truckloads of information and don’t know what to do with it. We are subjected to the emotions that will accompany us throughout life, but our only weapons against them are screams or a spit-bubbled ‘goo’. The bulk of our memories seem to occur after we have learned to talk, when the floods of frustration break the dam and we can share our thoughts with the tall people.

I have happier memories from my toddling years, of course. But it’s neat to go back to that first moment I separated from the cosmos and realized I was ‘me’. It also exlplains my love affair with sandals.

NEXT BLOG: My Brush With Empathy

 

My Brush With…

Over the next few days, I’m going to post some blogs on my first memory of a certain emotion. The great thing about emotions is that they don’t change with time. The happiness, fear, and fury hit us the same whether we are 8 or 80. Good thing to remember for writers!

NEXT BLOG: My Brush With Anger 😡

Sharing the Vision

C'est la guerre.

C’est la guerre.

Pinterest started as that hot boyfriend who was no good for my writing schedule. But it turned out to be more than a chemical thing once I saw its potential. As a writer, Pinterest can be that loving partner your muse is looking for, but how? By creating boards that correspond to your books.

Story boards aren’t just for filmmakers. They’re a great way to visualize the time and location in which you place your story. Not to mention a fantastic chance for readers to take in the mood of your story before making a commitment. Remember that the currency of commitment is not just money. A junior high schooler only has so much time on the bus and may not take the trouble to read a sample chapter. Anyone waiting in line would much rather look at pictures than text. So if your story board rewards those precious moments the viewer has given you, they will remember the experience later. And that’s when a viewer might decide to join your reading fold.

With all the gloriousness to be unearthed on Pinterest, don’t bother trying to swear it off. Just follow boards that inspire your stories and further your research. That way you won’t feel guilty about all the Art Deco posters you favorited…for research.

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Here’s a link to my story boards. As they say, happy pinning!