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Posts from the ‘writing’ Category

Gleanings– Living the Writer’s Life, by Eric Maisel

I point out that the subtitle of Eric Maisel’s book, Living the Writer’s Life, is ‘a complete self-help guide’. I’ve always had more trouble being the writer than with the act of writing. On page 90, he begins a list of sixty writers’ challenges. Fascinating. I came to:

Chaos. Make ‘to do’ lists on erasable boards. Pull the essentials out of the chaos. Lock onto your current writing idea and do not let go until it has grown whole and beautiful. ~ Eric Maisel

My life is chaos. It is what I grew up with. I see this with sudden clarity. It’s said that what we grow up with in our first six years is the way we continue to live. No wonder I’ve continued to live with so much chaos. I’ve come to acceptance– much of that being accepting the need to let go of the chaos that I myself create out of sheer habit. It’s a start. I can’t do anything about the chaos foisted upon me by the world.

Dear Lord, don’t complicate my life further by having to find an erasable board. I use a notebook, and I scribble, but it does help. What seems to help the most is to commit to the writing. I like that idea of locking onto my current writing idea. That serves as an anchor. A commitment, from a person who so hates and fears commitment. But I’ve done it. I realized this morning that I’m writing on a new fiction project, really writing. I do about a page or two a day. I was trying for more, but couldn’t do it, so I would give up. Now that I’m only requiring that I write on it every day, I’m doing at least a page, sometimes two, sometimes three.

The writing of fiction is helping me to make sense of my chaotic world.

Gleanings: New #1 Ladies Detective Agency and More Language of Letting Go

I received the latest book in the #1 Ladies Detective Agency series in the mail on Friday. If I’d been a dog, I would have been wagging two tails. Then and there, not even sitting down, I just had to crack open the cover and read the first pages in the same manner I would have had to pop chocolates. Found this gem on the first page:

“This intrusion of the dawn came from the gap between the curtains–the gap that she always intended to do something about, but did not because there were more pressing domestic tasks and never enough time for everything you had to do.” ~ Alexander McCall Smith, The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Café.

Is that not the truth, at least for we women writers, artists, mothers, caretakers, homemakers? I had so much requiring my attention this morning after the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend, which also required me to keep going on domestic tasks. There is only one way to deal with it, and that is to learn to sift and sort, let what go that can be let go. Getting good at this sorting does seem to require from some of us more ability that we seem to have; in any case, we do the best we can and press on. I saw to pressing domestic chores this morning– chickens cannot go hungry, and the holes in the fence where the new puppy was escaping had to be plugged– but then let everything else wait while I came up here to play with words. I think I’m getting better at saying no to things that I really do not have to do, and the world does not end.

“If you’re going through something in your life that isn’t what you planned, a transformation is at hand.” ~Melody Beattie, More Language of Letting Go

I did not plan to go all these years without writing a book. These years have been transformation years, to say the least. At times I’ve been dragged along kicking and screaming by transformation. Yet, I have kept writing, just not as I did for all the years before. Each time I decided to plan a project and start, the plans went to pieces. It wasn’t time for planning. It was, and often is, time for growing and transforming, which means breaking away from planning.

I find that now I’m more willing to let things be what they are, and value that. “Trust the process,” writer and teacher Jack Bickham used to preach. It was hard for me then. Today I’ve transformed into a writer who does trust her process, and even enjoys very often where it takes me.

Enjoy your transforming today. No fighting it off or bullying through. Embrace change? Yikes! At least smile at it.

CurtissAnn

Bestselling Christmas romance, Miracle On I-40 at 99¢ and now in print!

Miracle On I-40 by Curtiss Ann Matlock, revised and expanded edition published in hardback by Mira Books, now in ebook from Belgrave House.

On sale at 99¢ in Kindle now! And this year back in print!

I am very much like Anna in this story— there exists in me a fair sized piece of the child who still believes in Santa Claus, even though my heart has been torn and battered over the years. I’ve always thought, as does Lacey in this story, that Christmas is just a darn good idea. It is a focus on love. Nothing can be better than that. And this focus on love has continued to shine and grow now through 2,000 years. There’s magic in that in this old world.

My experience with this book, Miracle On I-40 began some 25 years ago now, with a telephone call from my editor. To have a call from my editor always sat me up straight with excitement. I was going on like gangbusters back then, intent on a career as a romance novelist.

“Would you like to do a novella for us? A Christmas story for a special collection.”

“I live for Christmas,” I told her, delighted with the idea and with being asked.

“I had an idea that was the case,” she replied in a dry tone that caused me to wonder at her view of me.

Then she told me, “It’s only twenty-five thousand words. You ought to be able to get that out in a few weeks.”

Thankfully, though, I had nearly six months before a deadline. Good thing I did, because I shortly discovered the disconcerting reality that I am a novelist. It is a great fallacy to think just because something is of few words, it is easily written. I find the exact opposite is true. Writing a short story required that I think, well, short. I worked and prayed and worked and prayed, and grouched and sweated and fumed a lot.

Through the years.

Through the years.

Miracle On I-40 — a title my husband thought of — was published as part of a special anthology for the Christmas season of 1988, when my son was eleven and no longer believed in Santa Claus but still enjoyed that I pretended to do so. The story received a few good reviews in romance publications, nothing spectacular, but the anthology did see well over one hundred thirty thousand copies in print in the United States alone, and eventually went into worldwide publication. I consider that something of a miracle. I received a few letters and kind words from readers, and then pretty much forgot about it in the effort of writing other stories, in the manner of every working writer.

Then one day, in a most delightful fashion,  I got a call from my agent. “They want to reprint Miracle On I-40 as a single and special promotional gift.”

So in the early new decade of the nineties, the small story saw renewed life in a few thousand copies as a single paperback gift edition, with Christmas ribbons and holly on the cover. I saw a copy once, and that was all.

After that, on occasion a reader might mention to me having read the novella, but mostly it was retired to gather dust. I again forgot all about it, until 1998, when I had the exciting opportunity to revise and expand the story of Cooper and Lacey and her children, and to see it published as a larger gift book, with a friend who owned her own small publishing company. It got enlivened with tender illustrations from an artist friend, too. I was thrilled. Again it made no great splash, although this time I did get a few nice reviews from a number of small town newspapers to put in the old scrapbook.

Click to link to the print copy at Amazon.

Click to link to the print copy at Amazon.

2005 arrived, and the little story that had started out as a tiny novella once more got revised and enlarged, and my publisher at the time, Mira Books, put it into an elegant hardcover gift edition for the Christmas season. One Christmas, and again it went out of print. But the times were moving rapidly–digital was here! I secured the rights returned to me and the story went into ebook, thankfully, available forever.

Now this year, I’ve seen yet another miracle with this story–I was able to get it back into print. Ebooks, are good, don’t get me wrong. I read them. But for me, there is nothing like a printed book. How gratifying to hand a book with pretty colored cover and printed pages to a friend as a gift! How comforting to curl into a chair with a cup of hot tea, with a solid book.

So here we are at 2014, and I once again share the story of Cooper, Lacey, and the children, and what happens with these four ordinary people one special Christmas that helps to heal their wounds of the past and give them a hope for the future.

People talk about the commercialization of Christmas, but I for one am ready early this year and love going into the stores to see all the Christmas decorations. I already had on Christmas music the other day. My two Christmas stories are my contribution to the precious comfort and joy that this season can bring, when we open our hearts to believing.

Enjoy as much of the coming holidays that you can.

Blessings,

CurtissAnn

 

 

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