On Medusa, Writing and Querying

If brand writing and ghost blogging are my bread and butter, telling stories is my dessert. Something I crave post-meal, which tastes amazing going down but often leaves me feeling vaguely nauseated.

There’s nothing high falutin’ about where my stories come from. There’s no voice from on high, channeling of characters, or waking up in the middle of the night in a fever to write.

What happens is, I get an idea, and I can’t shake it.

Nope, the little sucker just sits there, whining like an ear-trapped gnat.  So, I write in my off-hours until it shuts up.

As a result, there are myriad half-baked stories stashed on my laptop and scribbled in notebooks tucked all over our apartment. Also two finished, unpublished novels, the second of which, sitting like last year’s fruit cake in iCloud, still gets my stomach churning.

I caught the bug for Turning to Stone while visiting the Getty Villa a little over a year ago and saw this relief of Medusa:

Medusa

Man, girlfriend got a bad rap.

The version of her story that most bothers me is the one that describes a beautiful woman who, after being raped by Poseidon on the steps to the Athena’s temple, is transformed into a snake-headed Gorgon as punishment.

I mean, really? Why would Athena punish Medusa for being raped? Wasn’t that Poseidon’s fault? Besides, wasn’t he a repeat offender, and didn’t Athena and the sea god have beef (that whole who-gets-the-rights-to-Athens thing)?

A year and three months later, I was sending out queries to agents in hopes of setting Maddy’s story straight.

To no avail.

In fact, relative to my first book, Bustle Hustle, about a bridal shop owner who lies about being engaged in order to sell dresses and lands in hot water (which I still play with revisiting but can’t bring myself to crack open), my modern retelling of the Medusa myth got few nibbles.

After soldiering through 30 rejections, including one stating that selling anything with Greek gods and goddesses was not going to happen, I gave up. Even hardcore optimists have their limits.

So, I promptly sketched out a new idea (a YA about an entitled, horse-obsessed girl who has a comeuppance and a coming of age), archived dear old Medusa, and haven’t looked at it since.

Then, this Monday I went back to the Getty Villa. And there was Medusa, staring at me.

gettyvilla

Now the thought I’m chewing on is whether to take another swing. Maybe that agent was wrong. What if I reworked the plot? Turned it around? Polished ‘er up?

Like I said, I’m a glass half-full kind of girl.

On the other hand, this might be one of those moments Kenny Rogers was talking about when he sang, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away and know when to run.”

They say you should write what you love. Undoubtedly, that love is horses, not snake-headed ladies whose taste for vengeance is keener than mine for coconut cake.

And yet…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Songs For Writing Copy * October {FoxyMusic}

Sometimes, no matter how often I pore over the paper-thin pages of my thesaurus, type (and retype) a sentence, or walk the dogs, the alchemy that produces good copy just isn’t percolating.


And then I know that there is only one of two things I can do:

A. Go to the stable and ride
B. Play that funky music

Usually I go with B, and, lately, the five songs virtually guaranteed to set my fingers tap-tap-tapping away are these:

1. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
2. Anything from Jill Scott’s “Who is Jill Scott?” album
3. Blue Monday – New Order
4. Listen Up! – The Gossip
5. I Let it Go – The Thermals

Personal Essay – MoCo Mental Health Day!

Recently, I was asked to write a personal essay for the Mental Health Association of Montgomery County and their My Mental Health Day campaign.

The good news was I had plenty of material: in the last year, my husband and I moved cross-country, he quit his job then found a new one, and we moved twice within our new city, Los Angeles. Personal essays, however, make me squeamish.

Below is a clip, but you can see the entry in its entirety on the Montgomery County Mental Health Association’s blog.

Love to Read, Love to Write: Serendipity Books

Searching for a gift for my niece, Athena, I went on Amazon and clicked around aimlessly while mentally reviewing what she likes.

Reading, science, art, WordGirl, princesses, Tangled. Not necessarily in that order. At a loss, I asked myself what I loved at her age (six).

Serendipity.

Literally.

I loved those sweet fairy tales with a moral written by Stephen Cosgrove and illustrated by Robin James more than birthday cake.

My first day of kindergarten, all I cared about was when I was going to learn to read. The classroom hamster and snack could wait. I wanted my ring with words so I could memorize and get to reading.

After I burned through Dick and Jane, my mom bought me my first Serendipity book, Leo the Lop. A floppy-eared bunny who learns that being different (even huge, soft ears) makes you special, I could not get enough of Leo. Or any Serendipity book. The pictures were out of my dreams….Pegasus, unicorns, sweet-eyed dragons, shaggy ponies and misfit make-believe characters.

When I ran out of Serendipty books and my mom explained we’d have to wait until the author wrote more, I made up my own stories to entertain myself while I waited.

As I clicked though my memories on Amazon, I realized it was books like these that unlocked my imagination, inspiring me to create my own daydreams.

So, of course I bought every Serendipity book available for Athena.

What was the first book that you fell in love with?

Tips for Stress Free Writing

Any writing work I do, whether copywriting, ghostblogging, copy-editing or fiction, benefits from getting loosey-goosey. My most inspired (word-wise) moments dawn in a state of mindless focus. Sometimes this happens by accident, like when I’m brewing tea, just kind of watching it steep, or on purpose.

I used to make fun of my sister, the artist who lives in California, about being a little too…Californian. After all, she was raised in DC with the rest of us, the big poseur! I would gently clang tiny, imaginary cymbals between my thumb and index fingers while improvising a new age chant each time she did something I deemed in the same realm as aura color reading.

During a period in my life that got me wound tighter than Scarlett O’Hara’s corset, she risked being teased (again) and suggested yoga.

That was over seven years ago, and since then, well, let’s just say I’ve “Liked” yoga on Facebook. I can’t speak for hot yoga variations; the thought of a room made humid by an entire class’s collective perspiring  is vastly unappealing, but Iyengar and Vinyasa yoga really do make a difference.

Yoga’s taught me to relax without allowing my mind to wander,  I’m capable of more than I realize, and that I actually can (almost) get my shins to touch my forehead. If I try really, really hard. On a good day.

To shake off deadline stress or the sense that there’s a wall built around the good parts of my brain, my go-to poses are Down Dog, Triangle Pose, Tree Pose, and Standing Forward Bend.

Down Dog, or Adho Mukha Svanasana, both calms and gets the mojo going.

Down Dog

My favorites, Utthita Trikonasana/Triangle and Vrksasana/Tree, smooth a furrowed brow like no other.

Tree Pose

Triangle Pose

When there’s no time for anything else, Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) is a stress Deathstar, centering after just a few breaths.

Standing Forward Bend

So, what’s the lesson in all this? Keep an open mind? Try yoga? Maybe, but as far as my sister’s concerned, it’s “I told you so”!

*all yoga pose images via Yoga Journal

*Ganesh image source

NaNoWriMo

I count myself lucky to be able to write for a living. At UMass, I studied Communication, focusing on Journalism. After graduation, I wound my way through various marketing jobs writing newsletter and marketing copy. A dreamer, I was inspired to stop working for everyone else and opened a bridal salon. Writing was still a part of my life, though, as I got my kicks crafting text for our website, blog, and marketing pieces. On the side, I created fiction short stories as I had since I ate tater tots for lunch on the regular.

Life took a hard right, and I was left shooting though space. I blogged my way through losing my business, and before long I was blogging and writing copy for one business, then another. If that isn’t a “when one door closes…” story, I don’t know what is.

2010 NaNoWriMo

This November, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. It was exhausting, scary, and amazing writing a 50,000-word fiction novel in a month…it is no joke! But it did just what I’d hoped it would do – jump start me into achieving a long held dream: writing a novel.

Now to edit and polish my own work!