From My Heart
For specific topics, please see Blog Subjects in the sidebar.
#1 Cover Mistake for Self-Publishers: Fonts—Part I
One thing I know, you cannot do worse than my first publisher with Sweetbriar. Yup, the font work is great—and that's what we'll look at today. But the rest? Gag me with a spoon. We'll look at some of these issues another day.
#1 Cover Mistake for Self-Publishers: Fonts Gone Bad, Part II
1st RULE OF THUMB when it comes to book cover fonts is no more than two. Why? It’s too much. It’s like reading amphetamines. All hopped up and chaotic and leaves you feeling a bit dizzy. You can sometimes get away with an italic of one font. But tread carefully.
Here’s a cover with four fonts. Graphic Design Basics by Amy E. Arnston is super cool for this artsy genre, but for the rest of us? Our fiction and memoirs? Not so much.
Orchid and Dandelion and Finding Words
You Don't Wear Leotards When You Visit the Queen
When Princess Elizabeth was crowned Queen, I was five days old. Which means she's been my queen all my life. Seventy years. And although I've spent most of my life in the States, loyalty to her has always been a big part of who I am.
I suspect much is due to my grandfather. He was a royalist and took me to see her when I was 7. She'd come to Vancouver for a visit, and a visit Grandpa intended to have.
Hidden History and ADGD
If Dad writes of memory lane, I write the landscape. Maps, photos, sidebars, history dating back to 1694. I'm currently finishing up his chapter on Little Grandpa, a real character who, before his life was over, created a bit of tension in the family—and sometimes down at the police station.
I MEET A MOOSE
DRIVING SOUTH ON THE AlCan HIGHWAY, I zippity-zipped up behind a double tanker full of liquid hydrogen peroxide. Not so crazy about trailing such a monster, I waited for a straight shot in the road to pass. No sooner had I cleared the truck and gotten myself back onto our side of the highway when another twist in the road took me around a bend, onto about a football field of straightaway. On the 75-yard line ahead, on the other side of the road, a moose. Walking away from me.
Absolute clarity took over my mind.
Fear and Faith and a Squished Banana
My first memory is of fear—and faith.
I am three. The month is May and cherry blossoms are in full bloom. My mother and father and big sister climb the high, very wide steps ahead of me. I dawdle in the hum of bees and a breeze. The door slams shut at the top of the stairs. I startle. I'm alone!
What is WRONG With Me? (I'm an Orchid.)
Love and Succor In Civil War - and Beyond
Some Kind of Story
LATE ON THE THIRD AFTERNOON, California’s suffocating heat roared off the pavement and slammed with a punch through Betsy’s open windows. Tresa had her head hanging out again, looking like a fish too long off the ice. Her freckles were turning green too, but I was too sweaty and miserable to bother warning her
Mum plucked her map off the dash. We’d gone west into rumpled and fuzzy hills—looking like Paul Bunyan had shaken his bedding and let the blankets fall willy-nilly—and were now driving north for a change. Clear Lake popped in and out of view on Dad’s side. On mine, the rumpled hills sloped up in waves, thick with yellow grass and spotted through with oak trees, a soft and lazy land I decided—though a bit lonely in the gathering shadows. . .
MEMOIR #3: PICK AND CHOOSE
MEMOIR is not autobiography. Autobiographies are for famous people. Autobiographies rely on the facts of a person’s life to chronicle their journeys to fame, power, wealth, talent, and triumph—like Helen Keller in her The Story of My Life. Memoirs, however, use life to serve a larger theme or idea—like J. R. Moehringer in his memoir, made into film, The Tender Bar. The story is less about J.R. and more about his identity, a bigger issue that drove J. R.’s day-to-day.
Autobiography focuses on Joe Friday’s “just the facts, Ma’am.” Memoir relies on emotions and epiphany. Readers pick up memoir not because they care two hoots about the writer but because readers like what memoirists offer: universal themes and resolution to existential crises.
But it leaves me in writing a memoir with two major problems . . .
Barbie Doll and Missing Body Parts
Here's the truth, and trust me. . .
Memoir #2: Reflection vs Documentation
MEMOIR #2: REFLECTION Vs DOCUMENTATION
TO WRITE ABOUT OUR "UNRULY PAST" (as Laura Kalpakian names her own delicious memoir!) is by necessity a distortion of "fact" in order to name "truth." Away back when, we didn't have the words needed to name our experience. It's only time, education, and perspective that gives us the articulation we now need to make sense of what was. A memoirist therefore revisits her past with tools to reflect truth rather than document it. Except we run into a few dilemmas.
A first is . . .
"I Am Born" - Tinsy Winsy
She was right of course about the room. The walls were up all right, but they weren’t painted. The windows were in, but they had no glass. The floor was there, but it had no carpet. And in the middle of the floor, goodness, stood two rickety old saw horses with a long skinny tree lying down on them! Yessireebob, a tree! With all its branches sawn off, and most of its bark, too. Now what is a tree doing in a house, Tinsy Winsy wondered, more curious than ever.
A Christmas Story, Grimm Brothers
In the morning after he'd said his prayers and was about to sit down to work, the two shoes stood quite finished on his table. He was astounded! He took the shoes in his hands to more carefully examine. Not one bad stitch in them! Masterpieces both. . .
Reflection: Grownup Coloring Books, All the Rage
Rain slides down the windows. My sisters and I are at the kitchen table, coloring. We’re chatting.
“Do you know where the silver is?” Tresa might ask.
“No,” I might say.
Linda might find it on the floor. Maybe she rummages through the 300 million crayons we keep in a Peak Freans cookie tin; most with rounded noses, peeling paper, and smelling of wax and something else perfectly and gloriously wonderful.
“What are you going to color silver?” is something I might ask.
The point is, coloring was a way for my sisters and I to enjoy each other’s company on a rainy afternoon and apparently exercise our brains, find focus, calm down, and choose colors that can heal. In recent years, adult coloring has become quite the “thing.”
So what’s the deal?
Memoir #1: On Making Stuff Up
"Your writing strength is scene, Brenda," so says Laura Kalpakian, a mentor of sorts. "Play to your strengths. You've zipped right through this narrative. What does the courtroom look like? Who's there? What is being said?"
The thing is, I didn't want to overly dwell on my great-great-grandfather and his day in court. I only wanted to establish the faith of grandfathers as a long-standing heritage that both helped and hindered me. Besides, Sarratt, England, doesn't and didn't have a court house. The village is a hole-in-the-wall about 30 miles NW of London and I'm not really sure where the hearing took place. More to the point, do I really want to make a scene of it?
Sweetbriar Updated and Illustrated: Chap 1
i am engaged
FIFTY YEARS AGO, flu had been going around the small Southern Baptist college I attended. I was ill, running a temperature; nonetheless, I’d been dragged off to church. Sunday night. Halloween. Full moon. Service finally over, the man I’d reluctantly been dating turned off Camelback Road of Phoenix, Arizona, onto the college campus. But instead of driving straight on and taking the road that ran out to the girls’ dormitory, Norris made an immediate right and came to a stop outside the library—a hunkered down building of stone that sat square on its haunches to stare through blank windows onto a circular fountain eerily stark and empty. Water turned off for winter.
“What are you doing?”