Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Flu in Maine is the Same as in Michigan

Blogger: Deborah Music: James Taylor, Fire and Rain, on The Maine Grind coffeeshop (Ellsworth, ME)sound system Weather: rainy, gray, windy, cold, foggy

The first photo is the view of the bay I'm on, Pigeon Hill Bay, from atop the hill south of my cottage. I thought this view was cool, with somebody's summer house and garage in the foreground.

The second photo is what I saw further up the hill ("behind" the camera) at the Petit Manan nature preserve -- an inland swamp surrounded by wild blueberry bushes -- they're the red things. The wild blueberries here are a major income source, and though they're wild they're actually cultivated, harvested, and sold worldwide. The bushes are only about eight inches tall, and they cover the hillsides wherever there aren't trees.

Well, I've had the stomach flu since two days after I got to Maine. I went to MedNow yesterday and they said it could be the flu or it could be the microbes in the water at the cottage I'm staying in, so they took blood and I'll know in a few days, after I get home. All I know is that having chills in the middle of the night, alone in a cottage on a desolate peninsula hundreds of miles from home, isn't fun. But hey, Immodium A.D. is my new friend!

This coffeeshop I'm in is really cool -- it's in the former Masonic Lodge, a hundred-plus year old four-story brick building that has a dance studio on the lower level, and two cool gifts shops in the front of the main floor, and this big open coffeeshop/deli in the back. They serve fresh sushi made by an Asian restaurant in Bar Harbor, and beer. All the coffeeshops here serve beer. I didn't think the sushi would sit well on my tummy, so I opted for homemade spinach quiche instead, and that was really good.

This place has the original wood floors, original dark walnut trim and built in cabinets, and the walls are painted a sunflower yellow and the ceiling is grass green. I love being surrounded by these colors.

Well, I've got my new blog designed, but haven't written on it yet. I plan to "tap" into that today or tonight. This place is only open until 5:30, then I have a 45-minute drive to the Eagle Hill place where I can get online until they close at 9 PM. The blog address is (I think) -- and right now it's entitled Urban Appeal.

I'm quite excited about the blog. I want to do some serious writing about the writing I do, the people I talk to, the developments I see happening and how I see (or don't see) God's hand in it. I think people often think they can only encounter God in nature, and they have to get out of the city or get to a park to do it, and I want to push back on that idea. Although God is certainly in the beauty of the trees and sky and moonlight and flowers, he is also in the beauty of architecture, a revitalized neighborhood, and a thriving city. He's in the new grassroots efforts to reduce light pollution and to build buildings, indeed entire neighborhoods, that are earth friendly, energy efficient, and feed the souls and lives of the residents.

And I want to write about these things and explore my thoughts in writing. Or, more accurately, I'm GOING to write about them. And I'm starting today.

Hey! I forgot to say that 31 years ago yesterday I became a mom! Wow. That's unbelievable it was so long ago. And it's also very cool. Very cool. Blessings!


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

No Writing in Maine

Blogger: Deborah

Music: the hum of a nearby furnace
Quote of the day:
"What in heck am I doing in Maine?"
by Deborah Johnson Wood

Hi All,
I finally made it to Maine! I took the fish by the gills and made it happen. I thought I would be writing, writing, writing while out here, but I got so burned out just getting my writing-for-hire done before I left that I haven't felt like writing at all. Now, four days here and I feel like getting cranked up.

I'm staying in a 600-square-foot cottage on a peninsula that juts into the Atlantic. It's quiet and comfy. No Internet access. No phone, except my cell which has intermittent reception. One channel on the TV--I can HEAR the news, but I can't see it. NPR on the radio.

Yesterday I drove 80 miles to find an Internet connection because the library which is just seven miles away wasn't open. Went to the library today and picked up a flyer for a new Internet and research library at the Eagle Hill Natural History Study and Resource Center on Dyer Bay--it's on the same peninsula (Petit Manan) as my cottage, and only eight miles away. It's open every night until nine. Larry, you'd be in heaven here.
This place is waaaaay back in the boonies via dirt two-track. A complex of cedar-shake-sided buildings. I'm sitting alone in the library/gallery, surrounded by original Maine nature art. A chandelier hangs from the middle of the unfinished ceiling, and to my left is a GIANT fireplace (not burning right now) of Maine rocks.

And the books? How about Buddhism & Science, Dragonflies and Damselflies, Darwin's Orchestra, Gulls of the Americas, Horns and Beaks--Ceratopsian and Ornithopid Dinosaurs, Science and Conservation of Vernal Pools in Northeastern North America, and the ever popular Up River, The Story of a Maine Fishing Community (which is actually QUITE a cool book!)?
I need to write. I need to write. But the idea that whatever I write won't be good enough (a good quote from Sylvia Plath, BTW) has stopped me. This blog is "getting the cork out" and I plan to tackle at least something before I go home.

My plan is to start building a new blog site tonight. I want to write about the stories I'm uncovering in West Michigan -- stories on development and growth, stories that promote the state, stories that mix my love of God and the love of West Michigan, stories that push back on the negativity in the news. I report good news every week -- in fact, I have so much of it that my desk is overflowing with stories of growth, jobs, investment, and all of it about growth that doesn't promote urban sprawl, promotes green and sustainable building, and works to provide income and spur the economy.

The people who are making the growth happen are beating down my door (or at least my telephone and my email) to tell me their stories because other media is giving it cursory coverage, or none at all.

Having said all that... here are a couple more shots of Maine, and then I'm off to create my new blog site. I need a catchy name for it -- something about "urban" or "growth" or "life in the not-so-big city." Any ideas?

These fish mongers set up shop alongside the road everywhere. The owner of this one said he had 11 licenses to do business by the roadside.

Below is a shot of Mason Bay (my son's name is Mason, so I couldn't come home without a photo of "his" bay, the one I didn't know existed until yesterday).


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Take a number, please

Today's Mood: Harried. Today's Music: Matchbox 20-More than you think you are. Today's Writing: blog. Today's Quote:
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."-Sylvia Plath (compliments of SJW)
I need to learn how to be a pushy broad. Seriously, one of the parts of writing and trying to get published that I dislike is the need to keep putting myself out there. Again and again. I sent my Black Dragon manuscript to a publisher almost 8 months ago. I finally, just 2 days ago, sent out a letter inquiring as to the status of the manuscript. And I was tempted to let it go even longer (because I always feel like I'm nagging), but I want to send it to the Delacorte Press First YA Novel Contest and it can't be out to anyone else at that time. The deadline is coming up (Dec. 31) and I need to trim it down to 224 pages. Definitely doable--but it means I am no longer revising Free Lunch; now I'm revising Black Dragon.

And of course what I really want to be writing right now is IFFY. Or a second Mary Monologue. (after all, Christmas is coming up.) Sigh. Oh well. I'll finish the Black Dragon rewrite by Dec. 31, then I'll aim for finishing the Free Lunch rewrite by Spring Break. THEN I can work on IFFY. The Mary Monologue, well, maybe I can squeeze that in there somewhere. And I've got a poem I'm working on--but that comes whenever I'm stuck.

How do you decide what to work on when? And how do professional writers manage to keep it all straight in their heads? I mean, they have to be working on several things at once, what with rewrites, line-edits, and new stuff. How the heck do they do it?

Oh, and did any of you manage to take a break from family and get something written this Thanksgiving? Not me. I really wanted to, but somehow the time slipped away with family and cleaning and kids. It was fun, but now I feel like I need a vacation just for me. Ha ha. That's funny, trust me.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Color Research

Today's Mood: Tired. Today's Music: The Verve Pipe. Today's Writing: Chapter 14 of Free Lunch. Today's Quote:
"I'm long on ideas, but short on time." Thomas Edison.

Amazon is a dangerous thing for people like me. Putting a librarian (and writer) in front of a computer with unlimited access to all kinds of new and used books is like putting a fat lady in a candy store. I have no will power, no restraint. Unfortunately I bought all the books on my Christmas list--and then some. Still, I got great deals! The only thing I need to work out is where to store all these books.

I've been reading books on color therapy, color psychology, and reading auras. I can't say I'm getting any better at seeing auras, but I've learned a lot about how we see color, and how color affects us in all kinds of ways that we often don't realize. All this reading is my way of letting IFFY perk up there in my head. Keep adding things to the pot and eventually something will come out. (Now if I can just finish this Free Lunch rewrite!)

I've also been reading about how to draw the human figure--and even how to draw people clothed! And despite the fact that you seldom get to (or have to, depending on the person) see naked people walking around, there is way more books on how to draw naked figures than people wearing clothes.

I just wish there was more time to read, and write, and study naked figures--I mean draw! Seriously, life is grand. So much to learn, so much to do--including raking way too many leaves. (I went to take off my coat today and almost got stuck because, evidently, writing doesn't do much for one's triceps, but raking does.)

This Thanksgiving, I'm thankful for all of you wonderful writers out there that make my life so interesting and enlightening. Go you!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Today's Mood: Content. Today's Music: Red Hot Chili Peppers (Storm in a teacup) Today's Writing: Revising chapter 11-Free Lunch. Today's Quote:
"Clear your mind of can't." -Solon

Funny thing how everyone sees things differently. I was all in a stew last night over what to bring to group. I had several chapters and even two poems written, but didn't really want to bring any of them. I settled for bringing the start of chapter 11 in Free Lunch Program. I was hating it as I read it out loud. I don't know if it was the fact that it dealt with some touchy issues, or if it was because it was a revision and I'd gone over it so many times that I was bored with it, but it was difficult to read. There is a lot of internal action (flashback memories) but little physical action. It seemed to drag. I wished I had brought something else.

I sat back with relief, and waited to hear the inevitable: I'm not sure this information is necessary. The flashbacks are confusing. The pace seemed to drag. But a weird thing happened. They liked it. It kept my interest and drew me along. I felt like I understood the character and why she was so devastated by what happened.

I listened, and part of me kept saying they were just being nice. I had to keep reminding myself that we all made a commitment to tell the truth. We are writers; we bring our words expecting to hear the truth about what works, and what doesn't. And we promise to be honest in turn.

So why is it hard for me to believe my group when they tell me it works for them? Undoubtedly there is some deep personality flaw that allows me to believe the negative much faster than the positive. I'll have to work at that.

In the meantime, I feel better about the story. At least it's working for two people!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Today's Mood: fair to middling. Today's Music: Tori Amos. Today's Writing: chapter 12 of Free Lunch (Yes! I am off the dreaded chapter nine! I spent all Friday writing, 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and managed to work through that chapter and beyond.) Today's Quote:
"He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; he who dares not is
a slave." -William Drummond

Most of you have probably not read the books in His Dark Materials (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman, but you might have heard that the movie The Golden Compass is coming out around Christmas. Now, I read all three books and really liked them. I did know the author was/is a vocal atheist, but the story was interesting, unique, fast paced. Therefore I found it interesting that the Catholic church is coming out in favor of boycotting the movie (check it out here)--because it will lead to people buying and reading the books. Which is probably true. However, it is also true that banning books and movies makes people want to read and see them. So, in my opinion, they'll probably only break even.

Snopes has an article on the controversy, and if you read all the way to the last paragraph, it talks about how Pullman's criticism of organized religion is more anti-authoritarian and anti-ascetic than anti-doctrinal.

What I'm thinking is, what is wrong with people actually TALKING to their children about what they believe and why? Then maybe we wouldn't all have to be so scared of new/different ideas. Just because I liked the books doesn't mean they changed my view of the world. And kids aren't stupid. Sooner or later they'll figure out that people believe different things, and then wouldn't it be nice if parents had developed the trust necessary to have the kids come talk to them about things?

Okay, I'm done with my rant. If you want to disagree with me--go right ahead. You'll be wrong, but I'll listen respectfully. : )