Thursday, September 30, 2010

Second guessing and Once

So I've been rockin' along on WIP3. I like the characters, I feel like they're developing really well, the scenes feel strong. And then over the weekend, I started feeling... anxious.

I don't know if it's the Truth, or if it's a function of not going completely in the cave, blocking out the world, and writing straight through this time. But I'm getting a feeling of "maybe this isn't so good, and I'm really just wasting my time."

WIP3 is somewhat different from what I've previously written and from what I've been seeing around. And while I like it very much, I feel like what the heck do I know? And what if it just totally falls flat.


Has this ever happened to you guys? If so, what to do? Just push through, keep writing and see how it turns out? Try to rethink it?

Maybe I really do need to get buried and bang it out then go back and see what I did. Urkel.

In other news, I heard the song "Falling Slowly" a week or so ago, and I got to thinking about the movie Once. Remember that film? 2006?

That was the year No Country For Old Men, Atonement, Michael Clayton and There Will Be Blood dominated entertainment news.

Along came this quirky little independent musical set in Dublin about a heartbroken vacuum cleaner repair man and a Croatian single mom, and it captured everyone's attention. It even won an Oscar for best original song.

It didn't star any of the "beautiful people," but it was so genuine and had so much heart. I feel like there's a message there. Yes?

Til next time. Love~ <3

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Passage of awards & A new one

A few weeks ago, some of my super sweet bleeps (blogging peeps) gave me two awards because they rule. I was supposed to pass them and then everything went nutso around here.

So I'm pretending it's Monday to share some b'love (blog love) AND I've got a special surprise at the end... So stick around.

Now for the awards~

My poetic friend Ellie gave me the Happy 101 award. THANKS, ELLIE! She has the coolest blog. Every time I hop over there, I'm reminded that even though we're miles apart, we're often thinking the same thing. And it's SO WEIRD...

I think this one has something to do with hitting 100 followers, so I felt like I should recognize some of the bleeps who helped me get here. And by that I mean some of my new 100s.

I'm supposed to pass this to 10 people--wow! So here goes (the names are also links to their blogs, so check them out. They're awesome, unique and supercool).

What? That was eleven you say? ... Next!

My dear, dear friend Natasha/Rayna who lives even farther away and whose blog will give you a 10 second culture lesson a day--no joke, check it out--gave me the Awesomous Maximus award. Wow. All I can say is THANK YOU, and no, it's all you.

We live on opposite sides of the planet and grew up in vastly different cultures and religions, yet we still see things in amazingly similar ways. There's a lesson there...

I'm passing it to these awesome bloggers--all unique and fascinating:


And now for the Surprise...

Candy did it. Alex did it. And now I'm jumping on the bandwagon and creating my OWN award. It's the "Strangely Irresistable" award (a.k.a., the Yo Gabba Gabba award).

[Note: Image removed due to copyright concerns.]

There are two people in particular who deserve this award--Vicki (the confused, unofficial YGG ambassador) and Stephen (who gave me the idea).

The others get it, because, well... it's simply true. They are just darned strangely irresistable--check them out at once.

Only rule with this one: spread the YGG love and pass it to three (or more) blogging besties who fill the bill. Now the Lucky 13 first recipients of Leigh's first blaward are....

Now get out there and spread the B'love! I get to be DJ Lance... <3~

Monday, September 27, 2010

Does cheating make you hungry?

You know. Because of the rhyme? Anyway, I've been in transit all weekend, so tomorrow you'll get the real Monday post. Today I'll cheat.

The lovely and talented Jessica Bell (aka, the Alliterative Allomorph) held a contest to raise money for The Writing Show, an online treasure trove of resources for writers.

Everyone donated, and Jess randomly pulled My Name from the hat! Woo! It was really more of a bag, but the point is... The first chapter of my WIP1 is up on The Writing Show site!

It really is. I mean it. Run over and see it by clicking here.

Only the first five pages have been through the amazing critiquers (critters) over at YALitChat, so I would appreciate any helpful critiques here or via email.

Support The Writing Show. And thanks for reading! Love~ <3

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Books also keep us together

When my daughters were two and three years old, I enrolled them in their first little preschool. We'd done "Mom's Day Out" dealies before, but this was the real thing--multiple days, teachers, learning letters, scissors...

It was great because all three of us also got to know most of the families who live in our small town. The next year, I signed on as room mom for my youngest's class and presto! Instant group of mommy friends.

Then the oldest layer started kindergarten, and since the area's growing, there are two elementary schools now. So the separations began.

Fast forward three more years, most of us are back in full-time jobs, fall activities have started, and our little ladies have diverse tastes. They're all over the place and so are the mommies. And it's sad.

I fondly recall a time when we'd all gang up after preschool at my house or one of the six of us's house, all the kids running and playing, us chatting.

Now we're running all over creation and if not for Facebook, we'd lose track of each other. In the tiny little place we live even.

After two weeks of no contact, I complained to one of my mommy friends that it was getting ridiculous. We had to find a way to get together at least once a month. She agreed, and over the summer I floated the idea of a book club.

Our first meeting was the end of August, and since it was my bright idea, I got to lead off and set up The Rules.

First rule of Book Club: You do not talk about book club.

Not really. But being me and keeping in mind my goals, we decided we needed at least nine core members to cover the nine months we'd meet (taking off Dec., June and July). When it's your month, you're in charge--you pick the book, the location, the time, lead the discussion, etc.

If a member doesn't like the current selection for whatever reason or runs out of time to finish, come anyway and pretend (or not). It's all very low pressure, and apart from the nine we need to make it work, it's open to anyone who wants to drop in and read/discuss our current selection.

How'd I find members? I brainstormed and invited friends who I'd usually find myself in animated book discussions with at parties. Or friends I always found myself telling about the latest book she had to read.

Then I told those guys to invite anyone they thought would be into it, and at our first meeting, we had ten moms and one who got sick at the last minute and couldn't be there. (There was even a near-mutiny with moms insisting we could go all 12 months--we had enough members... Okay, okay--I'm into it!)

Following my full disclosure introduction, our first selection was The Hunger Games. There were a few tentative readers--we're a diverse group, and a few of the moms weren't sure if they could read a book about children fighting to the death.

As of now, I've heard from almost everyone and at our next meeting, they're all bursting to discuss all three books in the trilogy.

Back when I suggested a book club, I was nervous. I worried everyone would agree to do it and then it would end up being me and one or two friends (there out of guilt). Then I worried everyone would show up, decide the books were crap or they couldn't commit, and never come back.

What I hoped would happen is what actually happened. A group of intelligent, hilarious, fun-loving mom-friends looking for a way to keep in touch while sharing a common interest jumped on the bandwagon, fell in love with the selections, and I think we're up to 13 planning to attend Tuesday.

Why am I telling you this? Don't be scared to give it a try. Books have so much positive energy. They fill those of us who write them with joy, but there's nothing more fun than sharing them with others and getting different views of the subject. I've already been alerted that three of our BCB*OGs think Mockingjay is awesome and I'm totally wrong about it.

I think that's totally awesome, and I can't wait to hear what they say.  Love~ <3

Monday, September 20, 2010

Something in the water

In June I posted about how the oil spill had ruined one of my favorite sources of inspiration. And once the oil made landfall here the week after Memorial Day, I didn't go down to the Gulf again.

I talked to friends who have houses or timeshares on the water, and they told me about the Dawn stations where the tourists wash off after going in. It just made me feel... ill.

I couldn't see it like that.

So I didn't go. All summer. For the first time in possibly my entire life.

And I've felt it. A sadness like when someone dear goes on a long trip--you miss more than just their voice, you miss being near them.

Last week fall activities started here, and while my daughters take ballet at the same studio, their classes are on different days. And the studio is too far to drive home during class.

So Monday I had the bright idea that my youngest and I would do a little mother-daughter bonding during this time. Right? 

Wrong. She was totally mad and pouty--she wanted to play with her Zhu Zhu pet. Then she announced next week would be so much better because Grammy would be here. (And would let her take her ZZ pet everywhere, I suppose.)

Still we dropped off her sister, stopped at the Fast Time to get her an Icee and then drove a bit further south to Fairhope where I parked and we walked out to sit on one of the piers and watch the bay wash in.

We were facing west, but it was before 5 p.m., so the sun wasn't in our eyes yet. She sat beside me, and I crossed my arms on top of my knees and watched her look out across the water. First she pointed directly across from us at what looked like a lighthouse and some condos down around Dauphin Island.

"That's where Daddy works," she said.

I guided her little pointer to her right, northward, to the larger buildings and towers we could also see through the haze and told her that was where Daddy worked. (In Mobile.)

Then she looked to her immediate right at the weathered, gray remnants of a pier that had been swept away by either Hurricane Ivan or Katrina. Both storms were pretty rough on the Fairhope-Point Clear area. We live north of Interstate 10 on the bluffs, so we don't get the six-foot waves in our living rooms during hurricanes.

Seagulls were all perched on the remaining piles that extended in a line out into the water. She thought they were funny all sitting there staring south like statues. I smiled and noticed how the sun lit up the peach fuzz that still covers her little chubby cheeks and down around her jawline.

Then she put her head down in my lap for a few minutes. "I'm going to write about how this was the best day ever and we looked at the seagulls and you hugged me," she said.

The oil is slowly going away, and the beauty is returning. It's interesting to me that although time has passed and we've missed our favorite place, its power to inspire is still so strong.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tardy to the (Blog Hop) Party

(Sweetheart) Sheri over at Writer's Ally had this awesome idea a few weeks back for a Blog Hop where everybody would write a post dedicated to a fellow blogger who'd been particularly great and/or encouraging.

Everyone was told to post the love on Sept. 15 and it was going to be a warm, fuzzy circle of life kind of moment...

And I flippin forgot!

So today I'm sending out the B'love, and hopefully making the circle complete again. And huge apologies for being a day late. I'm also typically a dollar short.

Man, I've been thinking and thinking about who to recognize here. When I first started blogging back in February it was because I was trying to land an agent, and Janet Reid said you weren't ready to query if you didn't have a "web presence" (i.e., a blog).

So I suppose I should recognize The Shark since she is the reason I'm here.

But I don't really know her. I mean, I know she looks and sounds like Jane Lynch, but I've never had a funny Gmail chat with her and I have no idea how magical (or not) her first kiss was...

Angela was my first non-friend/family blogging buddy, and she's just the sweetest thing. Then I found Scarlett and Portia.--also supersweet. Somehow I discovered Tami's blog and was like, "Whoa." for so many reasons...

Through our birthday posts all on the same day--Hello!--the Tart "introduced" me to Rayna. And that led to my "meeting" CC.

I met Jessie through YALitChat. And a comment from Carolyn, prompted me to hop over and become an insta-fan of her supercool Burnt Amber blog. Then as crit partners, we became support partners in this wrenching journey called "trying to land an agent."

Katie made it OK to admit that since starting the query process, I've gone a little... *a'hem* crazy. And then she turned around and gave me my first piece of Blog bling... Awww! ((hugs))

From there I met CandyDL, Jessica, Matt, Ellie, Vicki, Jen, Anne, NicoleRaShelle... (I'm just going to stop naming names now because I don't want to leave anyone off.) And then Karen G. (the superstar) took my blog to a whole new level...

How do we find each other? How is a writer's network formed?

I see the topic blogged about a lot, so I'll give you my genius insight:  Heck, I don't know!

I just know I've met so many kind, encouraging, interesting, intelligent, hilarious, empathetic, supportive fellow writers through blogging.

So dangit all! I guess I DO have to dedicate this post to Janet Reid. Because if it hadn't been for her sharkley wisdom, I would never have met you guys.

It's possible social media fatigue is striking, but blogging buddy fatigue? No way, man. I need all you guys--you new kids, too. Thanks for your book recommendations and for keeping me encouraged and dreaming/trying/believing it can happen. Here's hoping we all get what we're looking for.

In conclusion, I would be just wrong if I didn't give a shout out to all my non-blogging readers--my friends and family--who've been here from Post 1 sending me encouragement, reading my silly thoughts, and holding their breaths/crossing their fingers for me. You guys are most dear to my heart.

Love to you all~ <3

Note: That is NOT Janet Reid, kids. That's still Jane Lynch. It's a joke. Click here if you don't get it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

This will go down on your permanent record

So there's this scene in WIP3 where a character recalls a first kiss and then there's a subsequent reveal... It got me to thinking about how in books, first kisses are usually magical. (Unless it's a comedy, right?)

Was that your experience? Magical first kiss? Perhaps it's a function of age.

My first kiss came when I was nine years old. There was this new boy who had moved to my neighborhood and he and his siblings had started at the little private school we attended.

Naturally all us girls had a huge crush on him. Lucky me, he was friends with my older brother and he lived down the street from me, so I had an in.

He was ten, and in my hazy memory it seems like he was a lot more experienced (which is funny, I know).

Here's how it went down: We were in his room and we were all set to French kiss. Major deal.

We tried a few times and finally he said (and I think he laughed at me) "Open your mouth."

Nine year-old me, frowning thinks: "I thought I was opening my mouth." Out loud I said, "What?"

Apparently in my nervous state I had my teeth clamped shut, and there was no breaching the wall. After that, I relaxed some and it happened.

My (again internal) response was, "That's it?" There were no fireworks, no sparks, no tingles. I actually thought it was kind of weird.

But I'd done it at least, and when I told all my friends at school they were SO IMPRESSED.

Now that I think about it, following our kiss he and I still didn't hang out at school or hold hands or anything. Just the occasional, furtive glance (from me mostly). Fourth grade's a funny time for boy-girl interaction.

So spill it kids. Was your first kiss magical? Is all this fictional falderall about first kisses and fireworks a bunch of horse hockey? Time to kiss and tell.

It's back to the writing cave for me, but I'm doing my best to make the rounds. I look forward to reading your stories. Love~ <3

[Follow up note: Lest you all think I was either cooler or more of a 'ho than I actually was (depending on your POV), I should add that my kissing career went on hiatus for a few years after that encounter. And kissing was as exciting as it ever got for teen Leigh. I did not have the steamy YA experience of the books I was reading. In fact, I was pretty much Marian the Librarian in HS.]

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Who will be your book this season

Mary Poppins here~

So the wind changed this weekend, and with it came a new story idea. A dark and velvety idea that I don't expect to end happily. It has captured my attention...

Most of you know I grew up in Baton Rouge. When I was in high school, if you admitted to being happy with our hometown you got labeled a "Baton Rouge lover," and that somehow meant you had no imagination or had settled. At 16.

The peer pressure in my group was very much to leave home, make your mark. And while I won a few academic scholarships to different schools and was planning to attend Loyola in New Orleans, at the last minute I decided to go to LSU and live on campus. I even joined a sorority (Phi Mu). What a disappointment I was.

Baton Rouge lover.

But the French-Catholic culture of my hometown was so unique and inspiring to me. I did love it and I often miss it now that I have moved away (and can't get a decent meal anywhere).

On Saturday when I walked outside to cool breezes and zero humidity, my initial response was "Who's going with me to New Orleans?"

Oh... wait.

My daughters ran outside in their nightgowns and my youngest said, "What's that smell?" It was the clean, grassy smell of dry air. We don't get that a lot here on the coast.

Somewhere in the distance a neighbor was mowing the lawn and to me it sounded like an accordion. I thought, "La lune, trop bleme, pose un diadème sur tes cheveux roux..."

When I was very young, a Scottish family would come to our church and perform. The father, Simon Cameron, played the accordion and I remember he would always cry at some point during the show.

I'm not sure if it's that or homesickness, but now whenever I hear an accordion, I feel a surge of happiness mixed with nostialgic melancholy.

I chaperoned a group of high school students on a trip to Europe when I was in college. As we walked along the streets of Paris, I spied a set of stairs that seemed to go straight up. They were built into the side of a hill and they looked a million years old, all dippy in the center.

Naturally, I took off to see where they led, and when I finally reached the top, I turned around and my breath caught. I was on Montmartre and the entire city spread out before me. I'll never forget it.

What about you guys? Any places in your past or present that are particularly inspirational? Any place or thing that "shouldn't" be, but is?

Only one thing to do: WiP3.


Monday, September 6, 2010

And Twitter, too

So KarenG's a superstar. I picture her doing the Molly Shannon "Superstar!" right about now...

And I'm sending her all the B-love for giving me an excuse to befriend some of you cool folks I've been seeing around the blogosphere w/o seeming creepy or stalkerish...

In my ice distribution, I read a funny post where one of my new blogging buddies was feeling "old" because she didn't get Yo Gabba Gabba (Vicki).

You know what made ME feel old? Twitter.

I'm sure I'm over-thinking it. And friends I hang with in person always give me heck because I don't text either.

But that's largely due to the fact that the mobile communication industry still hasn't streamlined their product.

I mean, seriously, people. You buy a PC, regardless of brand, and you know how to use it.

You buy a Mac, you scratch your head for six months, you figure out how to use it, you fall in love with it, you realize there's no software for it and the only people using it are graphic designers, then you go back and buy another PC and fondly remember the days when you had a Mac and it was SO COOL.

Sorry... digression.

But am I the only one who is tired of having to learn a new phone every two years? My contract's up, but I'm holding on to my little pink flip phone til it thunders.

Which brings us back to Twitter. You're really supposed to tweet from your phone, right? And anybody can follow you. You don't "lock" your tweets. That's like blocking anonymous comments on your blog...

See? I am trying. It's just weird to me. Because, for one I'm not convinced I'm that interesting. And for two, well, I end up knowing all this personal stuff about people I don't really know.

Like for example: Natalie Fischer had a cold last week.

[Fast bkg: I did a webinar w/Ms. Fischer a week ago (Thanks, Candy!) and she specified we had to have a Twitter account. I've actually had a Twitter account for three years so I went back and played with it, added Fischer as one of my "Follow"s, and now I get her updates all the time.]

I now know Ms. Fischer's a recovering Cheez-It addict (like me) and when she was sick her boyfriend brought her liquid Nyquil. This made her very unhappy...

(Personally, when I was pre-kids and sick, I chugged liquid Nyquil like it was Coke. It was the night time sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, why am I on my bathroom floor? medicine. Remember that?)

But good lord, we are not friends. She is not my agent. She might possibly be my agent one day, but at this point she's a total stranger to me. And yet I know all this about her life... I feel like a creepy stalker!

On Friday, when I sneaked a Cheez-it while packing the girls' school snacks, Natalie Fischer crossed my mind...! And I'm supposed to be doing this with hundreds... thousands of people?

All charting my every move?

So in the same way I argued with Vicki--"all the music for Yo Gabba Gabba is by Mark Mothersbaugh! They have Biz Markie doing the beat of the day!"--feel free to argue with me about Twitter.

Help Grandma understand The Twitter, people. Did I just hear thunder?


Friday, September 3, 2010

The Voices say "Pass the Awards"

We interrupt our regular schedule for a special Labor Day Weekend Party Post! Welcome BBQers. I'll be coming around with the ice and not singing that song.

JRM had a mock trial in Ft. Smith, Ark., all week so I've been home alone. And it was so quiet after I put the girls to bed the other night, I read a blog comment and realized something...

I assign voices when I read.

Do you guys do this? Like I was specifically reading something RaShelle had written, and she has sort of a high, sassy voice. Then I read Portia's comment, and hers is a quieter, more serious voice. A telling ghost stories around the campfire voice.

And please. Who doesn't hear Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) when they read Janet Reid?

It actually comes in handy when I'm writing--helps keep my characters straight. And of course, as novelists we're always talking about Voice, so there's a little bonus there.

Yes, I know, I'm nutty. So you're welcome to be a nut also, and admit you do the same thing!

Since Jen over at Unedited did a blogfest where you had to guess what the MC looked like in a passage of fiction, I'm doing an unofficial mini-blogfest in honor of Labor Day! The musical question is as follows:

Who's got my voice? Or if you haven't assigned me a voice, is there a blogging buddy who has a very distinctive voice to you? Who & who?

To me, Rayna sounds exactly like the mother of my youngest daughter's best friend from kindergarten. The mother's name was Puru (there were additional letters I didn't get). She was from India and was just the sweetest thing. I adored her. So that makes sense.

As much as she tries, I just can't hear Dennis the Peasant when I read the Tart's posts. She sounds exactly like my friend Apryle from Indy. (I know, I know. It's Idaho.)

So let me know your brand of crazy.

And now I must obey the voices... Last week one of my blogging besties Rayna/Puru and Supermom Holly tagged me in that handwriting game. Here are the questions and my sample:

Write down (by hand!) on a piece of paper the following:
1. Name, Blog Name
2. Right handed, left handed, or both?
3. Favorite letters to write
4. Least favorite letters to write
5. Write out "the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"
7. Favorite song lyrics (*in this case, I just wrote the last song I'd heard. Yes, it was "Say My Name" by Destiny's Child... SO!)
8. Tag 7 people
9. Whatever else strikes your fancy

I'm not sure what this means other than I skipped penmanship, but here's my seven Tags on the Handwriting Game:


On these next two, I didn't get directions on how to pass them, so I'm making it up. If you get one of these, you have to pass it on to at least three (3) people, OK?

The first is from another blogging bestie Carolyn who has the cool blog Burnt Amber that tells all about Turkish customs and culture and compliments her novel of the same name. Thanks, Carolyn!

I'm passing it to my "Blogging Buddies":


I got the next one twice, so I guess that means I rock out with my socks out!  (uhh....  huh?)

Well, anyway, I got it from my new blogging bestie RaShelle (see above) and then from *ahem* established blogging bestie Tami/Hart/Watery Tart.

Thank you RaShelle& Tami! And I repeat to both, "No, YOU rock!" (It's true. They are way more rockin than me...) My "You Rock"(ers) are:


Now, keep the B-love going, don't forget to play the Voice Game. And have a great holiday--see you back here Monday!