Playfulness offers relief from the stresses of…well…I needn’t enumerate them…so I wasn’t surprised when Charles insisted that he come to the launch of Seven Stitches this Thursday at Another Read Through. After all, Charles and I go back more than a year, when I decided to do some fact checking for the story.

In the Seven Stitches of my imagination, a stuffed blue giraffe is the beloved companion of a homeless girl who lives in Portland. Problem? I’d never seen a stuffed blue giraffe. To find out whether one existed, I went to the purveyor of virtually all things material: Amazon.

The result? Many, many, many, and even many more stuffed giraffes live in cybermarket world, and an amazing number of them are blue. Who knew? The choices were so vast and I was so intrigued that I bought three. Yes, I auditioned three stuffed blue giraffes for the position of Charles. […]

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Sketch by Scriva artist and writer Addie Boswell, 2010

Today is the summer solstice, the official start of summer. The elves at Ooligan Press are turning the manuscript for Seven Stitches into book form, and I get a breather. I’m not exactly sending my muse on vacation. The truth is that she and I are already discussing the next story (she does most of the talking). Still, for the nonce I am deadline free, and I want to use some of this time to introduce you to each member of the current Viva Scriva, the writer’s critique group that continues to nurture, cajole, advise, suggest, sympathize, guide, goad, and otherwise keep me writing and keep me sane. Over the summer and maybe into the fall, I’ll be devoting blog posts to each of these Scrivas, so you can get to know them and their work. You are in for a treat! […]

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Rain has returned to Portland. The weather is turning cooler. I’ve taken out my favorite boots, which I’ll don nearly every day until next May, and my red rain jacket, which I’ll wear until the middle of July.

So? What’s with Untitled Companion? The word from Acquisitions at Ooligan Press is hopeful. However, as the sign says on the store that will occupy the first floor of the Janey II, I’ll have to wait a bit longer. The final decision should be made in about another month. That gives the acquisitions folks time to give the manuscript a thorough read and prepare a report to pitch to the rest of Ooligan Press. There will be edits in my future, I am sure. There will also be a title for Untitled Companion, a title that everyone (or at least the press and I) will like.

Decision coming late 2015. I am ready! […]

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Back in January of 2014, I started a race with the construction crew that was building the Janey II, an apartment complex about a block from my place. A sign that eventually went up on the site noted that the building would be ready in Spring 2015. Spring turned into summer, and now it’s fall. The building looks to be nearly finished on the outside, except for work on the eco-roof. Still, I don’t think the building is yet ready for its first tenants.

And Book Three? Well, first off, the title of Book Three has morphed into Untitled Companion to Blue Thread and The Ninth Day. I guess that means I’m not quite done either. The manuscript has been written and revised and revised and rewritten. About the only bits of material that haven’t changed since the winter of 2014 are the names of the three chickens: Yetta, Tillie, and Louise. […]

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We interrupt the epic saga of Book Three vs. Janey II to bring this public service announcement to all of you readers and writers in Oregon. Starting in September, more than two dozen authors divided into teams of eight are speaking for eight minutes per author to support independent bookstores in eight locations across the state. For free (we don’t get paid and you don’t pay to attend). Hence the name Crazy8s Author Tour.

This is the brainchild of Oregon writer George Wright, who put together the original tour in 2012. I was on that tour with George, and I’m delighted to be part of his one. On September 18, I’ll be in Cottage Grove, along with Bill Cameron, Lisa Ohlen Harris, Lindsay Hall, Karen Karbo, Gina Ochsner, Alexis M. Smith, and Ellen Waterston. On September 24, Lindsay, Alexis, and I will join up with Dana Hayes, Susan Hill Long, Cari Luna, Ismet (Izzy) Prcic, and Jody Seay in Salem. […]

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The sign on the crane across the street reads: LINK-BELT. The construction crew is probably focusing on what the crane is hauling up to the roof. As for me, the Book Three writing crew of one, I am focused on the words.

Link. Belt. Link. Belt. That’s exactly the stage that Book Three is in right now. Having finished a first draft, and a second draft, and several partial revisions, I am now ready to put these 70,000 or so words to the Link-Belt test.

Link. Does every scene flow naturally into the next scene? Does every paragraph in the scene flow naturally into the next paragraph? Does every sentence in the paragraph flow naturally into the next sentence? Does every word in the sentence flow naturally into the next word? I leave the letters in every word to Spell Check and the dictionary.

Belt. Even if all the individual links work, what about the story as a whole? […]

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It’s already June (how did that happen?). The construction crew is finishing up their work on the Janey II, which is supposed to have an official opening in “Spring 2015.” They are not going to meet their deadline.

Neither am I.

I am proud to say that I did put together a complete first draft in time for students at Portland State University to review a few months back. As I worked through those excellent comments (thanks, guys), I gave the draft to Viva Scriva to do their critique group thing. More comments. More ideas. That’s when I realized I wanted to add one particular scene, just a few hundred words, really. I followed the writer’s maxim that when things look easy for the protagonist, make them harder. Raise the stakes. Quicken the pace.

In other words, mess up the whole second half of Book Three.

Which is what I am doing now. […]

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Cinco de Mayo. The fifth of May. The historian in me notes that the holiday commemorates the victory of Mexican troops over French invading forces in the 1862 battle of Puebla. The Mexican victory was short-lived, and it would be years before the governance of Mexico was back in the hands of Mexicans. With the French engaged against the Mexicans, however, France was unable to give strategic support to the Confederacy during the Civil War in the United States. Had the French done so, who knows what might have happened.

The leader of the Mexican forces at the battle of Puebla was Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, but the writer in me is thinking about Ignatius Rivera. While the construction workers are busy finishing up the Janey II, I’m working with Ignatius on Book Three. Who is this guy? Here are the basics.

On this Cinco de Mayo, Ignatius is a 23-year-old U.S. […]

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Brick by brick, etc., etc. Does anyone out there remember the old expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Here’s an aside for the curious: According to the Web, the expression is a translation of a 12th century remark (in Medieval French) by a cleric in the court of Phillippe of Alsace, Rome ne s’est pas faite en un jour.

So, Rome took a long time. The Janey II is still getting built likely years after an architect first conceived of its existence, and Book Three is…chugging along. We’re not stagnating here, folks, although sometimes the process seems way too slow. I have the luxury of not being bound to deadlines (unlike some in my Viva Scriva coven). This means I can take my time trying to polish every chapter and every scene.

I’m in the feedback stage on Book Three. The Book Editing class at PSU has reviewed the first draft. […]

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