When Inspiration Won’t Leave You Alone

2014-09-12 11.58.17I knew I had a Muffin blog post coming up. I just didn’t know what in the world I’d write about. But I’d worry about that later as I screamed and yelled and ranted through a college football game, followed the next day by another display of football failure.

One day left and still no idea. I watched The Roosevelts (It’s fascinating!) hoping for inspiration.

Nothing. But late that night, right before turning out the light, it came to me, this inspiration rooted in my competitive drive.

Ugh. I didn’t want to write about that. I did not want to explore the idea of when competition goes bad for writers. I mean, it’s not a pretty sight, right? I fell asleep, figuring something else would come to me.

But my brain just would not come up with another idea. It seemed absolutely stuck on the whole competition theme. The clock was ticking and...fine. I wrote “When Competition Gets Ugly.” You can find it over at the Muffin today.

At least those ugly weekend football games were good for something.

Friday’s Fun Find: Green Acres Is The Life For Me

Today, I give you the theme song from Green Acres, the fish-out-of-water show in the 60’s that flipped the concept of The Beverly Hillbillies. (Want to know how to do the fish-out-water plot? Watch a couple episodes of either program and you’re golden.)

One of the recurring characters in Green Acres was Ralph, a handywoman who was always working on something around the old homestead. Eddie Albert was always stepping on a hammer or walking into a ladder or fuming about the cost of the latest repair. BUT NO REPAIR WAS EVER, EVER FINISHED.

For six weeks, a painter has been working hard here at the old Hall homestead, putting in two or three hours a day, a couple times a week. For six weeks, he has popped up outside my window, literally five inches from my face, while I try to concentrate on producing scathingly brilliant paragraphs. For six weeks, Libs has barked her fool head off for a goodly potion of the time he has spent here. In six weeks, he has found seven other things wrong with my house and needed to talk to me–in my pajamas–at least 27 times. In six weeks, he has sent me about a dozen new estimates for the work.

Yesterday, I finally paid my Ralph for the job.

But he’ll be back in a month to paint that board (the one around the garage that isn’t quite “cured” yet). All I got to do, says he, is give him a call and he’ll be here, bright and early (to see me in my fall pajamas).

Because, said my painter, when he gets a job, he likes to finish it.

Roundup of Great Reads!

One of the lovely perks of social media and blogging is getting to know lots and lots of writers that I would never meet in person. And one of the joys of meeting other writers is sharing the joy of publication, whether it be a book or a magazine article, a poem or a short story. Most of the time, I blah-blah-blah about my own publications because–well, let’s face it, y’all, the name of the blog is Cathy C. Hall. But today, today is different.

Today is all about you and your lovely publications. Because geez, Louise, y’all. YOU have been busy writing good stuff!

And when I say you, I mean Becky Lewellen Povich, whose memoir, From Pigtails to Chin Hairs, is like a chat at the kitchen table over coffee. Her book is a collection of vignettes, a story told through snapshots of another time and the people and places along the journey of her life. You can’t read this book and not see and hear Becky on every page…or rather, the Becky that she’d become.

Or the you that’s Beth Cato whose The Clockwork Dagger kept me up reading til 1:30 in the morning! It’s a steampunk fantasy  adventure that’s fun and daring and textured and true, and if you haven’t hopped on to one of her blog tours to win this book, you’re missing something special. I’ve loved Beth’s short stories forever–and I’ve been drooling over her recipes (at Bready or Not) forever, too–but this novel might top them all.

And you, too, Julie Hedlund, whose just released picture book, My Love For You Is The Sun, is like a bedtime lullaby.  Her rhyming text, combined with the clay art  illustrations of Susan Eaddy, will rock little ones to sleep, night after night after night. Julie is the founder of 12 x 12, a writing challenge that’s a must for anyone serious about picture books. And you can see in My Love For You Is The Sun a culmination of all that she’s learned–and so generously shared with the kidlit writing community.

And last, but certainly not least, you, Krysten Lindsay Hager whose True Colors just landed in my Kindle reader, thanks to those lovely Lit Ladies and their giveaway! I’ve been laughing at Krysten’s take on…well, just about everything for years and now she has a book?  The tagline alone is brilliant: “Landry never imagined acceptance could leave her feeling so rejected.” How’s that for a great hook?

I love when writer friends succeed on that road to publication, don’t you? And if you’re ever in Georgia–and by you, I mean Becky, Beth, Julie, and Krysten–come say hello.  And I’d really love it if you signed your books!


Friday’s Fun Find: Wonderful Fundraisers By Writers

DSC03525-BMy lovely friend, Suzanne, dunked herself with ice and threw out the ALS challenge to yours truly. And I recruited Cathy-on-a-Stick (unbeknownst to the little pic) to stand in for me. But one thing led to another while I was visiting dear old Dad, and before you could say, “Aiiieeee! That’s cold!”, I was on my way home and the moment for dunking had passed. And the ALS organization had raised tons of money!

Still, I wanted to give in some way to somebody. And then along came a heads up through 12 x 12 about an editor who’s Racing for Cancer Research. Gee, I thought, that’s an excellent cause–I mean, if you’re gonna run, might as well be running for a good reason–plus, this young woman will provide a critique of 1500 words in exchange for a $25 donation. So I thought, as I’m a writer, that might be fun and certainly worthwhile.

So I figured, okay, that’s who’ll get my check. But then, another writer friend posted about Jean Reidy and how she’s raising money for Reach Out and Read Colorado. And I fell in love with this program of doctors and nurses, giving books to our youngest readers. And then Jean Reidy (and I love her books, too!) sweetened her cause by giving those who donated $5 a chance to win one of a number of prizes.

Well.  Now I’d found two lovely causes that needed my help–and I thought you, as writers and readers, might be interested, too.

So thank you to Suzanne who gave me a push to think about helping others. Sorry I didn’t get to the dunk, but I will get to the writing of checks.

(And as an added bonus, Cathy-on-a-Stick has come out of hiding.)


What I (Now) Know About Critique

dear writer 001I think it was November that I needed a critique group break. After three years, I was a bit burned out, even though our kidlit group was a great bunch of writer gals. And then something odd happened.

One member of the group moved ALL the way to Texas. Another member embraced her adult romance side–and good thing, because now she has a book contract!–and then dang if another member didn’t move all the way to Minnesota. I mean, suddenly, there wasn’t a critique group to take a break from.

Or go back to. And honestly, I was overwhelmed by so many other things in the spring, professionally and personally, that I figured that my writing would take care of itself. Who needs a critique group, anyway?

And that is where The Critique Epiphany comes in. Which you may not have seen because it was over at The Muffin on Saturday, of the Labor Day weekend.

I understand, y’all. It was a busy weekend, cramming in the last days of summer fun. But maybe you could read it now. Because after Labor Day, everyone goes back to school. And I sort of got schooled about the whole critique group thing.

(Maybe you will, too.)