Rainy Days & Sundays…

20 02 2011

Usually I’m off on Sundays. My jobby-job lets me roam free on Sundays and Mondays. Today, though, due to another commitment on Tuesday of this week, I am here at my office desk on a Sunday. Yuck. I don’t know that I have anything fun or important or uplifting or educational to say today. Jobby-job can sometimes feel like a soul suck, and that makes it really hard to have any inspiration.

You know, that happens when I’m working on my novel, too. It’s hard to find that extra energy or inspiration to push through story blocks and make it to the next paragraph, or even the next sentence. And like this jobby-job, sometimes I do feel really tied to the chair or sofa until I get something productive down on the screen. So, dear readers, I am asking you what you do when you get bogged down with the details of your jobby-job, or family, or whatever takes you away from your writing. or your art. or your fill-in-the-blank-with-your-great-passion. Do me a solid. Reply to this post and let me know.

On a side note, I am going to be sad when my book cover, kindly designed for me by Matt Dean, is no longer my book cover…


Love is in the Air

13 02 2011

Polyamory (from Greek πολύ [poly, meaning many or several] and Latin amor [love]) is the practice, desire, or acceptance of having more than one intimate relationship at a time with the knowledge and consent of everyone involved.

Here’s my big confession of the day; I am polyamorous.

I’m not talking here about cheating on Beloved. I’m referring to my Muses. The relationships I have with the different primary creative outlets in my life. Each is as demanding as any human lover.

I am a writer. I have been in love with Writing for as long as I can remember. Writing and I go through all the three stages of love on a fairly regular basis.

Stage 1: Lust

I get the urge. That little niggle that pops up at the most inconvenient times, like when I’m dealing with a customer at my jobby-job or driving down Hwy 17. It brushes, tickles, leaves me with a hunger I can’t ignore. It whispers and taunts me until I’m almost wild with the need to get to a keyboard. And when I finally start typing, it’s hard and fast and dirty, and not always pretty. It’s basic and animalistic, and raw.

Stage 2: Attraction

At this point, everything I write is perfect, even when I know it’s not. I pamper my darling, offering everything I have to give. Food? Who needs it when I can be with my writing. Sleep? I can sleep when I’m dead. Work? Quick, hand me the phone; I feel the flu coming on. I can’t leave this project; I’m just getting to know my protagonist! . . . the war is about to begin! . . . the princess will be saved in the next paragraph!

Stage 3: Attachment

This is the part when we get to work out all the kinks. Now I can step back and see the hairs out of place or the socks that don’t match, and at this point I feel comfortable pointing out these imperfections. Writing and I have gotten past the idyllic stage of the relationship, and are ready to get down to the nitty-gritty of making a life together. . . or at least a great story.

I have had a love affair with Books since I was still teething. (Really–not kidding here. The first book I ever read was The Berenstain’s B Book, by Stan & Jan Berenstain. I was 18 months old.) As with writing, Books and I go through the same three-stage cycle. The lust begins after hearing a story on NPR or a review from a friend, or passing the Book sitting as lovely as a sparrow on a shelf in the bookstore. Once Books come home with me, I fall into the warm pages as if into the arms of a lover, and can stay there, ensconced in the words, missing meals, skipping sleep, avoiding phone calls. I dream it, a breathe it, I pine when we’re apart. Then once the final word is read, good Books will come live with me permanently, and we settle down to our life together.

I have a similar affair with ‘Puter, caressing the mouse and keyboard, gazing deeply into the screen, fondling him in public. ‘Puter and Writing get along famously, and we are quite the triad. I’d even venture to say without ‘Puter, my relationship with Writing wouldn’t be nearly as fulfilling.

I also have a sweet, abiding relationship with Media Cabinet (whose multiple faces of TV, DVD, Netflix and wii sometimes cause confusion as we try to decide how we’ll spend an evening). Media Cabinet is my go-to relationship. Always there when needed, Media Cabinet often presents the answers to niggling problems without even realizing. Even before Books, Media Cabinet held my heart. And though it’s true that I could live without Media Cabinet (as theoretically I could live without Writing, Books and ‘Puter), my life would be emptier than I care to imagine.


Being polyamorous definitely has its problems. Every partner wants (and deserves) equal attention, but sometimes I am  more in love with one than with another. It’s hard to divide my time when work takes 10+ hours of my day. Which lover do I go to when I get home? They’ve all been waiting for me all day. Someone’s going to get neglected and I’ll end up feeling guilty no matter what I choose. But I love them all, and can’t give any of them up. And each relationship nourishes me, and makes the other relationships stronger. One day, I’ll perfect the juggling act. Until then, I’ll flit from one love to another like a bee in Kew Gardens. And if I come home to find Books cuddled up with Media Cabinet, or ‘Puter snuggled in with Writing, I’ll just smile and maybe spend my evening with both of them. Or all of them.


A Little Teaser from the novel

4 02 2011

So I’m working on rewriting Raven in the Storm, and wanted to share a little bit with my friends. Let me know what you think!

I rolled over and snuggled into the warmth beside me.  I hadn’t slept so well in ages.  Luke Connelly mumbled and threw his arm across my side.  I smiled, and burrowed further into his gentle heat.  The last time there was a man in my bed, there were all sorts of weird conditions and hoops to jump through.  Not just strings but ropes and chains were attached to that relationship, and look where it got me.  This, though, was something different.  No strings, no pressure, just two people who liked each other and enjoyed each other’s company.  I thought I could get used to this.

I was drifting back to sleep when I heard music: “What if I was Romeo in black jeans?  What if I was Heathcliff?  It’s no myth.  Maybe I’m just looking for someone to dance with…”  A second later, it repeated, and the warm lump in my bed moved away.  I whined my displeasure, but he patted me on the hip. “It’s ok, Ceilidh.  Be right back.”

He rolled out of bed and grabbed his jeans off the floor.  He fished his iPhone out of his pocket and headed into the living room to take the call.  I could hear him moving around, and caught snippets of his conversation.  “Hey B, are you ok? . . . What? Well, not really . . . no, I’m still out on Kiawah . . . yeah, it looks that way, doesn’t it? . . . No, are you sure?  I can leave now, be downtown in an hour. . .”

I stopped listening.  He was leaving.  I should have known waking up with Luke in my bed was too good to be true.   I sighed, and reached over to turn on the bedside lamp.  I pulled out a nightshirt from the dresser and slipped it over my head, then started padding around the room collecting his socks, underwear, shirt.  I was on my knees looking for his other shoe when he came back into the room.  He was still carrying his jeans, and he walked into my room like he belonged there, naked in my house.

“What are you doing down there?” he asked.  “Did you lose something?”

“I’m trying to find your other shoe—everything else is there at the foot of the bed.”

“Why are you getting my stuff . . . Oh.  Are you throwing me out?  I thought we were having a nice time.”

“Yes, I mean no. . .I mean yes, we were having a nice time, but I just heard you say you were going back downtown, so I was going to help you get your stuff and . . .”

Luke reached a hand down to help me up.  I took it and clambered to my feet, feeling awkward.  “Silly Ceilidh,” he said, pulling me into his arms.  “That was Bronte, my cousin.  I told her I would come if she needed me, but she said she’d just see me in the morning.  I told you before: she’s having a real tough time since Ruth died.  She’ll be ok until the morning.”  Luke kissed the top of my head.  My hands rested on his shoulders and I stared up at him in awe and embarrassment.

“I am so sorry,” I whispered.  “I’ve really acted stupid tonight.  First there was the whole drunk subconscious talking thing, and now this.”

“Apology accepted.”  Luke smiled, then yawned like a bear.  “Now could we go back to bed and maybe forget about this?  I was dreaming I had a sweet young thing curled up in my arms…”

I stepped back and smiled, then stretched up to plant a chaste kiss on his cheekbone.  I crawled into bed, and slid to the far side, patting the mattress beside me as I settled.

“Uh, Ceilidh, are you going to wear that to sleep in?  I hate to say it, but it kind of makes me feel like a child molester or something.  If you have to wear something, why don’t you find something else while I go to the bathroom?  Although I think what you were wearing earlier was perfect.”

I glanced down at my nightshirt, and blushed as I saw me as he must. The giant bear on the front had a great red heart on its belly and “Prepare to STARE!” was written along one side.  I pulled the shirt off and tossed it onto the rocking chair by the dresser.  I glanced over and noticed that Luke hadn’t closed the bathroom door all the way.  I could see his long legs with their scattering of dark fine hairs, the excellent curve of his ass, and the strong lines of his back.  His head was slightly bent forward, and I could tell he wasn’t far from falling back asleep.  I felt a little bit bad for spying on him like that but this unguarded moment was so beautiful I couldn’t look away.

He tipped his head back and looked at the ceiling, then glanced over to the left, into the tub.  His head started the slow path back down to looking forward, then suddenly reversed course as he looked into the tub again.  “What the . . .!”  I heard him mutter.  I knew what he was seeing…probably for the first time.  Skippy was in the tub.

I put the turtle in the tub for the party, partially because we’d missed our ritual bath time that morning, and partially so he could have a little party of his own while the grown-ups were having fun elsewhere in the house.  I left him there because I couldn’t stand the thought of traumatizing him with what was going to be happening in my bedroom—he was too young to know what goes on between a man and a woman in bed!  He was so curious, though, that I knew he must be trying to look out at Luke over the lip of the tub, stretched up on his front legs, bobbing his head up and down, maybe even making those clicking noises if he felt threatened.  I didn’t hear anything, so Skippy probably thought Luke was ok.

A moment passed, I heard water running as Luke washed his hands, and then he slid back in bed.  He pulled me back into his arms, cuddled with my back against his chest.  “Mmm, that’s better,” he mumbled into my hair.  We were silent for a moment, though I could hear the gears turning in his head.

“Ceilidh,” he finally said, “do you know there’s a turtle in your bathtub?”

“That’s Skippy,” I told him.  “He lives here.”

Luke nuzzled my neck, and ran his hand along the curve of my stomach.  “As long as you know,” he said.

His hand was tracing patterns across my side, between my breastbone and hip.  “I thought you were tired, Luke.”

“Nope.”  I felt his smile against my shoulder.  “I said we should go back to bed.  I didn’t say anything about going back to sleep.”

I wiggled a little to let him know I agreed with him, and reached behind me to lay my hand on his upper thigh.

Be Nike–Just Do It

31 01 2011

Tonight, I could be doing a half dozen things besides writing this blog entry. Like my friend, Angela Morgane, said in her last post on our group blog, The Asiagoans, I need extra hours in the day to get everything done. And that means I have to prioritize. Today, my priorities did not include writing, until now.

I started my morning with a marvelous brunch with some of the Asiagoans. A plate of fruit, grits, cherry-smoked bacon eggs benedict with chocolate hollandaise sauce, and two bloody Mary‘s later, I was off to run errands. A text from my critique group reminded me that I was an hour behind for our first meeting of the year, so I scooted home, grabbed the computer, and headed to the coffee shop in time to catch everyone as they were leaving. After a quick rundown of what to expect for the coming year (half-book edits once a month so all 6 of us get our whole book critiqued in a year!), Beloved and I sat down to try to get some writing done. And here’s where TRY rears it’s scaly head.

I wanted to write my blog post this afternoon. I even had some great notions that were floating around in my head, though I had yet  to pin one down. I tried to write. I did. Instead, Beloved came over and started talking about wonderful ideas for redoing the study. These ideas came complete with interactive pictures, thanks to Ikea, and a diagram of the new office layout, thanks to Beloved. There was so much enthusiasm there that I didn’t want to squelch it, so as I listened to the best-made plans of my Beloved, I half-heartedly started writing something that didn’t make a whole lot of sense, and wouldn’t have been fair to the people who actually take time out of their busy schedule to read what I have posted. It wasn’t fair to Beloved, either, to only give half of my attention to something that was so obviously important to our happy home life. I tried to write but, because I wasn’t giving it my all, I left the door open for miserable failure.

I made a decision, and turned to give Beloved my full attention. I couldn’t do both. I could listen, or I could write. I could compose something clever and hopefully witty, or I could nurture my relationship. Either I Do, or I Do Not. If I make an attempt and fail, I have Done Not. There is no middle ground.

When I am working on my writing, I give my characters permission to attempt all kinds of things I don’t think will work. They’ve run from possessed dogs, fought werewolves, flown, talked their way into and out of all kinds of predicaments. But I don’t know if their actions will work until they attempt them. Occasionally, I need a character to do something to move the story along, but when they take on the task, they cannot follow through. Because often the unexpected happens as we write, we leave open the option for our characters’ actions to fail. It makes for interesting conflicts when we give our characters, and ourselves, permission to be imperfect. And those imperfections are part of what makes those characters someone we can relate to.

In the end, I chose to focus on my relationship today. I enjoyed the day with Beloved, had a delicious dinner with another Asiagoan, and headed home to write this post. Choose your battles. If you choose to write, then write. If you choose to play, then play. If you choose to redecorate your study, commit yourself to that task. Do or Do Not – There Is No Try


Old friends

26 01 2011

It’s amazing how much we don’t know about people, even people we’ve known for a long time. I had dinner tonight with Mr. & Mrs. B, two friends whom I have known literally for years. Our friendship started out as a business relationship, but has grown into something so much more. We share similar tastes in food, preferred vacation spots, a love of Charleston, and humor, and we’re constantly finding out new things about each other.

We amazed and entertained each other immensely tonight, and found out several new things about ourselves:

  1. My jobby-job is on Kiawah Island, and Bohicket Road, the ONLY road onto (and, therefore, off) the island, is closely lined with ancient live oak trees draped heavily in Spanish moss. During the summer, it’s lush and romantic; in the winter, with all the deciduous trees bare and the sky overcast, the narrow road is creepy. (Their word, not mine.) I told them one of the key things about Raven in the Storm, since it’s a para-horror/thriller, is that the road is so deserted and scary, especially at night.  Mr. B reciprocated by telling me he used to work in publishing–for a print-on-demand company. His anti-favorite book they did was one called Prisoner of the Truck, about the life of a guy who sold fruit on the roadside from a truck bed.
  2. Mr. B said he has been asked by clients if my real name is a theatrical name. I told him is has been, as I have appeared in several stage productions, including BUS STOP, SOUTH PACIFIC, and the outdoor drama THE LOST COLONY.
  3. The B’s hosted a wedding last summer on the deck of their New Hampshire home. My sister is getting married in May, and I’m officiating the wedding. We passed around my little official officiant’s card which I got online (yes you, too, can officiate at weddings nation-wide).
  4. The B’s volunteer for their local Chamber of Commerce, working in the visitors’ center of their town, which is located in a historic building off I-95. They love all the different people that come through on their way to Maine.

It was a lovely evening, and I do look forward to next time!

Shine a light on me

23 01 2011

On the way to get dinner tonight (yummy pizza from the magic window that is Little Caesar’s), I passed the Charleston Lamp Company. The sign on the store only said “Charle”–the light bulbs were blown out on the rest of the sign. The only way I knew the store sold lamps was because I’d been that way before, in the daytime.

It occurs to me that my writing is often like that sign. When I’ve seen similar material before, if the story is based on something I’ve recently read or heard, or a tale that’s been with me since childhood, I know the plot and the characters before I’ve even put one word to the page. I’ve “seen it in the daytime”. But when it’s a tale out of my own imaginings, I only see a little bit at a time. Occasionally it seems I’m standing completely in the dark. Not even the first few letters of my shop sign are illuminated. A bulb’s blown out.

Often the story unfolds at a much slower pace than I would prefer, leaving me to fill in the empty spaces with material that never makes the final cut. I may only know what’s happening during the specific moment in which my characters find themselves. I’m not seeing the whole picture. Its during these dark times that I wonder if I have what it takes to make it as a writer. If I can’t read my own sign, so to speak, how can anyone else? And if no one can read my sign, no one will ever know how good my writing is. No one will love my characters, or wink knowingly when I say that Skippy spent the night in the bathtub.

When you’re writing and it seems your bulb has blown do something to change it. Step away from that one scene and move to something different. Or even set your current project aside for a little while and storyboard the children’s book that’s always been in the back of your head, or sketch your favorite protagonist (or antagonist, if you’re so inclined). If you use index cards to organize your story notes, take them out and move them about to see what would happen given a different situation (you are THE GOD of cause-and-effect in your story world). Or throw them up in the air and let the Fates decides what happens! If it doesn’t work for your story, you can always cut or rewrite it later.

Don’t be afraid to step away and make a cup of tea, pet the cat, or take the dog for a walk. Light some candles, bring out the aromatherapy oils. Change your clothes. Change your music and listen to something you don’t normally write to. The change doesn’t always take that trip to the mall or a visit to another city. Often it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. Like illuminating a room just by changing a light bulb.


They know not what they say

21 01 2011

Someone sent me this blasphemy today:

Proof Squirrels are Brainwashing America

The only one I can condone is number 3. SQUIRRELS ARE EVIL. Here’s more proof:

Needless to say, this blogger will NOT succumb to the indoctrination…