Sally

Sally

About Me

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California, United States
I'm a wife, mom, mom-in-law, grandma, and writer. To read more, visit www.sally-john.com. :)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 77


Monday, November 29, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Some email talk with my editor about endorsements for the book coming out next year. The publisher puts soooo much into the work.
            THE DETAILS. . .Ick, ick, ick. The bug wiped me out. I did manage to work on organizing photos for gifts for the little girls. Grateful for My Guy being here for me. If only I had been hungry, he would have prepared food for me.  =)  Looking forward to tomorrow. It's gotta be better.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Days 75 and 76


                                             I miss the clutter, evidence of the kiddos.  =)

Saturday and Sunday, November 27 and 28, 2010. . .
            Daughter-in-law and the girls kayak in the harbor. We eat seafood and guacamole and chips in the sunshine (with a propane heater nearby; it’s not all that warm). Then the goodbyes.
            My Guy and I put things back into our empty-nest order. I’m always torn: happy to reclaim my desk and return to work and yet… =(
            Sunday a stomach bug hits me. Eww. Learn it got to my Son first. (Today, on Monday, he tells me it will go away.)

Day 74


Friday, November 26, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Granddaughter #1, age 9, is a writer.  =)  Yes, I love this. She shared a story that she is working on with me. Because she is a reader and because her parents – often Dad at bedtime – have always read to her before she could read by herself (she and her sister have heard, among others: The Narnia Series; Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, etc; Little House on the Prairie series), she knows the essence of story telling.
            She uses strong nouns and verbs, she appeals to the senses in her descriptions, she has conflict and excitement. She wasn’t so sure on paragraphing, so I had the pleasure of working with her on that.
            THE DETAILS. . .And then she gave me a lesson on her trumpet. Whoa. No clue on my part. I managed to produce one note. =)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 73


Thursday, November 25, 2010. . .
            Thanksgiving blessings.  =)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 72

Wednesday, November 24, 2010. . .
         Everydayness with my granddaughters.  =)  Thanks be to God for beauty in the mundane.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 71


Tuesday, November 23, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .As far as writing goes, it was one of those days of osmosis. I’ve mentioned before about the heart always recording situations, emotions, relational exchanges. This simply happens with no conscious participation. It’s why later writing can be such a cathartic experience. Even fiction writing brings out these things.
            But this heart recording also occurs because we writers train ourselves to be observant. We must be observers of all around us. We Sights, sounds, scents, faces, colors, natural and manmade things, textures, voices, the rhythm and vocabulary of conversations.
            All of the above breathe life into story.
            THE DETAILS. . .It was a fun, fun day. We rode the train downtown,  ate Thai for lunch, found a delightful chocolate/gelato/crepe/coffee place, Granddaughters and Son ice skated at the special holiday outdoor rink (complete with blaring Christmas music), a visit to a toy store my Son remembered from childhood.
The toy store was still in business but not the big old used book store.  =(  We were sure we’d find treasures there. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 70


                                              Granddaughters #2 and #1



Monday, November 22, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Catch-up on some other-than-fiction blurbs.
            THE DETAILS. . .Hanging with the kiddos.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 69


                                         Granddaughter #1 and Nonna

Sunday, November 21, 2010. . .
            Kids arrived at 5 a.m. after an all-night drive.  =)  

Day 68


Saturday, November 20, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A day off. ;)
            THE DETAILS. . .Rainy movie afternoon. My Guy and I saw “Today’s Special,” a food/chef/India culture/slice-of-New-York-life tale. Highly enjoyable and satisfying.
            We also made our first-ever foray into the granddaddy of electronic stores. It has 70 checkouts. This is not an exaggeration. We consulted with three sales guys who gave us three different ideas –  each of whom concluded it will meet our need, got overstimulated, and then we swore off any future attempts to keep up with technology.  It’s for young people. 

Day 67


Friday, November 19, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A day of “heart recording,” when the intensity of real life imprints itself upon the heart’s memory. At some later time, in some way, it will impact story. Writing fiction is nothing without this.
THE DETAILS. . .A hospital sitting time with others while one undergoes a procedure.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 66


Thursday, November 18, 2010. . .
THE WRITING. . .Ack. Didn’t happen. Real-life anticipation got in the way.
THE DETAILS. . .Grocery/otherwise shopping and straightening/ordering the house. The kiddos are coming!!! Four of the six anyway. I always count the two in-laws and of course the two grand-girls which gives me a total of six, which is the number I imagined at one time that I wanted of my own. Can’t recall when that was. I wasn’t sure I wanted to even get married until I was all of 17 and went on my first date with My Guy.  =)
            I dressed up; that’s what we did back then in 1968. I doubt he wore jeans. We went to see a movie, The Odd Couple, and then to eat at Howard Johnsons. He had fried clams, I had a salad because I was too nervous/excited to really eat like I usually did. And I met his parents and younger brother who happened to be there eating also! Weird.
            Reading the blog of my Go-to Spanish Language Lady (http://mamaoffivegirls.blogspot.com/ ) and watching her and her husband in action, I think it was for the best that I am mamaofoneboyandonegirl.  =) Whew. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 65

Wednesday, November 17, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Story moving right along. This is the main course of the novel-writing meal; talking about it would be like getting up from the dinner table, going into another room and describing the grilled salmon with the lemon-Dijon-tarragon sauce. Neither I nor the listener would get to eat.
            THE DETAILS. . .Theological discourse by Sally…
            Monthly praise service tonight, led by Miss Angel Voice, to whom I could listen for hours. I don’t have the technically appropriate words to describe her voice. All I know is that it moves me to silence and I love to sing.
            I do. Despite the Second Grade Teacher at Franklin Elementary who made me sing out loud in front of the class and then gave me a C in music.
My favorite line of the dozen songs we sang tonight? Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss (John Mark McMillan, “How He Loves,” copyright 2005).
It reminds me of Rob Bell’s rendition of the name of God. We heard him speak once at a bookstore in Denver and he described God telling Moses His name. “Yahweh.” Say that without any vowel sounds and you get the sound of breaths.
That’s how close He is to us.
            I’ve recently been pondering God’s immanence (His presence everywhere, within us and around us) and God’s transcendence (His out-there-ness). So tonight I’m singing this line “heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss.” I’m imagining heaven is the same as God’s presence.
Meaning His presence in the here and now as he greets earth which I see as humans and all creation. And His greeting us is like a sloppy wet kiss?
            That’s close. Really, really close. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 64


Tuesday, November 16, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Middle-of-the-night working out of story details. In the morning, wrote at my desk first, then later in a waiting room in a notebook. There is always such a satisfaction when the work flows like this, when time and place do not matter.
            THE DETAILS. . .After that it turned into a spontaneous day, one of those sequence of events that plays so well in a novel but feels out of control in real life. Because of one unplanned event, new choices are made, nothing on the schedule happens, and the character takes a significant detour.
Last-minute my massage was canceled (boo, hiss, my sit-too-long-at-desk muscles need attention) which led to the opportunity to visit with two sisters-in-law (the out-of-towner is in town). There is something nurturing about reminiscing with women who were around each other when all of the babies were born, for us that began over thirty years ago.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 63


Monday, November 15, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Writing fiction, like reading fiction, serves as an escape, a respite from a reality that can seem too harsh at times. It served me well today.
            THE DETAILS. . .A John Donne quote keeps playing: Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Life goes on and yet there is a change in it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Days 61 and 62


Saturday and Sunday, November 13-14, 2010. . .
            Sadness permeates. There is nothing else to note beyond this and I ask for prayer for families and friends.
            David Beres. . .47. . .son-in-law of My Guy’s cousin. . .husband of Kelly Standard, artist extraordinaire and one of my forever-always-favorite young women. . .passed away this Sunday afternoon after a brief illness.
            Lord, have mercy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 61

Friday, November 12, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Pulled the rug out from under protagonist. Heh, heh. We’ll see what she does now. Next week.
THE DETAILS. . .The islands are back! Walking on the pier this morning I was delighted to see in the distance the outline of them, mysterious humps that come and go. They show up infrequently, late fall or winter time. Today was my first sighting in a long while. I’ve studied the map, trying to figure out which ones might be visible.
As I was pondering this, a fisherman greeted me. Then he said, “You’ve got to see this.” He pointed to the islands, as excited as I was. “There are the San Clemente Islands (to the north).”
And I hadn’t even asked. =)
“Now look over that way (south). You can see Coronado Island. We never see that so clearly.”
Wow. To see these bits of land way out in the ocean where it’s usually only water is like being given new eyes.
I learned from him that the islands become visible when the desert winds blow away all the gunk in the air, smog and whatever. But I still prefer my idea that it’s autumn, the air shifts, sunlight slants in low, the earth tilts in her orbit and offers a different angle to awe us mortals with new beauty.
Tidbit: The San Clemente islands are owned by the Navy, used for training. As in blowing things up. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Chunks of rock for war exercises. They’re still amazing to glimpse from a distance.) 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 60


Thursday, November 11, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A good, lost-in-another-world time. I cried at one scene, a hopeful sign that the presentation will move readers as well.
Arrived at a juncture, thrown into a whole new thread that required information not at my mental fingertips. Oh woe is me! But, but—Ta-da! It was a seamless effort! My pre-written scenario and research were right there in a file!
This kind of prep is soooo satisfying at these types of junctures. (This particular research included picking the brain of my daughter’s lawyer friend who graciously emailed me everything I can use and then some.)
            I was musing about timing. People ask how long I spend each day at writing. I can never give a straight answer and sound like a very confused person. It most always depends on the point I’m at in the story: pre, beginning, the protagonist’s “dark cave,” nearing the end/the last 50 pages or so, editing, rewriting, just imagining, marketing- or publishing-related.
Today went straight from about 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., then I took a walk, then I went back to it for about thirty minutes.
            Why? Don’t know. Just the rhythm of the music. =)
            THE DETAILS. . .It does surprise me when I don’t put in what looks like a typically “full” day and yet get very little else done outside of eating. The “down” time is often so full of imagining that there is no mental/emotional space for the rest of life.
            I think I’ve touched on this subject before!
            I fasted today, a practice I try to follow when I sense the need to open up the windows and let in some fresh air. Almost twenty-four hours, dinner to dinner. Not a major event but enough to slow me down inside and turn my thoughts more frequently to my Abba. My head space gets repositioned and a whole lot else happens for which I have no words. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 59

Wednesday, November 10, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Finished the workshop blurb, fiddled with the short-version bio, chose a quirky photo, and sent it all off to the conference folks, two days ahead of deadline.
            Then slid back into Heart Echoes. Prepping the ground for a major rug pulling out from under the protagonist. Oh dear.
            THE DETAILS. . .Have been reading Eugene Peterson’s The Message, in Genesis. For years I have read sections from this Bible when wanting to compare the wording to another version, but now it is drawing me in like a novel. He writes in his intro to the New Testament how the original was written in the informal “street language” of the day. He says that his “goal is not to render a word-for-word conversion of Greek into English, but rather to convert the tone, the rhythm, the events, the ideas, into the way we actually think and speak.”
            That’s a description of writing contemporary fiction. =) I like it.
My Guy and I had the privilege of hearing Peterson speak once. I remember a humble, gracious man very much in love with God’s written Word.  
Amen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 58



Tuesday, November 9, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Worked on workshop material for next June, trying to summarize in three hours how I write 92,000 coherent words.
            The workshop is one reason I started this blog, an attempt to freshen my perspective on old presentations. Exactly what goes on in between all those words?
            THE DETAILS. . .A visit down memory lane with My Guy. =)
We drove to Julian in the mountains, ate breakfast at the Julian CafĂ©, an old favorite; skipped their famous dinner-plate-size cinnamon roll. Sigh. Then we went to nearby Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, our traditional Veterans Day picnic spot in the late 1980s, when the kids were young and had that day off of school.  
            An old gold mine (above photo) and one-room museum is there. This was the memory I tapped into a few years ago while writing A Time to Mend. How could my characters escape a wildfire? Go inside a mine! =)  All of life is copy, even years-old family outings. (The wildfire in that story, by the way, was not on my personal radar until ten months later than the writing of it.)
            The deep quiet and crisp air was luscious.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 57


Monday, November 8, 2010. . .
THE WRITING. . .Caught myself orchestrating a dialogue rather than letting the characters run with it. Ah, Monday writing.
THE DETAILS. . .So fun to say to myself throughout the day: wow it’s only such-and-such o’clock!
Actually it wasn’t such fun about 3:30 or 4 a.m. when I awoke to the sound of a smoke alarm’s battery alert. Beep, beep, beep. I checked the house but it came from outside, louder in the back than the front. It went on and on and on. Nothing to do. Figured it was from a vacant vacation rental nearby. I dozed; awoke at 6 and it was still going.
A little later My Guy and the neighbor (who said he heard it at 2 a.m.) met up in the alley, both trying to figure out where it was coming from. They zeroed in on an apartment; knocked; found a frazzled woman who did not know what to do. (She is the hair washer, by the way.) The poor dear had been in the same apartment with that noise since 2 a.m.
With her permission the neighbor guys took the hard-wired alarm down, cut the wires, could not get the battery cover off. The beeping went on and on.
I happened to be at my desk and heard the men in the alley; looked out in time to see the neighbor take a sledgehammer to it. One swack and it was still beeping! One more and it FINALLY quit. He tossed it in the dumpster.
Life in our eclectic neighborhood. =) 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Days 55 and 56



Saturday and Sunday, November 6 and 7, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Pen and pad at the beach.
THE DETAILS. . .A “soul catching up to body” weekend after the trip. It takes longer than in our younger days. =)
Saturday, early morning coffee at the beach led to hanging out there, from reading the newspaper and books to picnic lunch to writing the old-fashioned way. My Guy and I were the only sitters for a long time; it’s not sitting/sunning/swimming beach weather for most. It was a busy place, though, with walkers, runners; bicyclers were in the midst of a long-coast ride, the start and finish line near us.
Dinner at friends’ home inland, where we used to live. It was a belated, now traditional, “celebration” of the Witch Creek fire anniversary. This is the family (Illinois friends) who fled to the same area we did; we spent much of those following days with them, wondering if their house was okay (it was). One memory: their hotel actually served a “comfort food” dinner buffet. I remember scarfing down mac and cheese followed by brownies or cookies. Maybe both.
Church. Reading at beach again (all bundled up; only in the 60s with a stiff breeze). Such a treat to enjoy an extra hour. Arizonians do not get to do this. Of course they still get to see the sun at 5 p.m.
Time is such an odd, unnatural thing. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 54


Friday, November 5, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Full day. Threads unraveling. Trick is to let them go and yet not lose track of them. =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Walking highlights: Passed several jogging Marines; most make eye contact and greet me with a “ma’am;” I say a blessing over each. And dolphins played near enough to the pier that I could see them.
It’s Friday, garbage pickup day for which I am still grateful. After 14 years in a rural area with no disposer or pickup service [My Guy carried some into town; I carried the recyclables into town; we fed the raccoons a lot], I love the sound of the big truck in the alley. =)
We started the weekend reading at the beach and watching the sunset. Krakauer’s book Where Men Win Glory is an interesting bio and history of Afghanistan. Grilled salmon later and a recorded “The Mentalist,” one quirky show. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 53

Thursday, November 4, 2010. . .
THE WRITING. . .I am writing and there’s not much else to say other than that. =)
My Guy came across this interesting website for writers: http://www.nanowrimo.org/ .  November is National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo). The assignment is to write a 50,000-word novel between November 1st and 30th. For real. Awards are given for those who succeed. I don’t think that I’d care to try, not this year anyway, but it does encourage me to – as mentioned before – lock myself away with my imaginary friends in their imaginary world.
THE DETAILS. . .Farmers market. Haircut. Home Group/Bible study. 90+ degrees on the coast; very unusual. 
Having some trouble stepping in and out of that imaginary place and communicating coherently with real live people.  ;)  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 52


Wednesday, November 3, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .=) Back into it, full-on. Have I mentioned that I really like my new people?
            THE DETAILS. . .Finished unpacking. Trimmed fingernails way back, makes for less typos.
            Santa Anas are blowing. Morning winds come from the east, bringing warm temps, freeway noise, and yummy waffle scents from a few cafes two blocks away. Afternoon high on the coast was 81 degrees, unheard of this past summer and a welcome treat after October cold and rain. My Guy and I ate dinner al fresco. =) This is why I don’t whine too much about the crowds, freeway noise, train horns at 3 a.m., etc, etc. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 51


Tuesday, November 2, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .A focused effort of hard work gave way to contentment. It’s difficult to return after any amount of time away from the story. After a week or so away, I have to read what I’ve written and reacquaint myself with the people and the events that have already occurred. It led to some editing, though I held back and did not dwell in that mode.
            This slowing of the work is why writers check out of reality.
            I began filling in that calendar now in a file.  =)
            THE DETAILS. . .Morning walk, delayed because with the shorter days the streets were too dark before 7 a.m.  Made country ribs in the Crock Pot. I nearly missed the start time because I was caught up in the writing. What happened to all those 10 to 12 hour recipes? It’s best if I can turn the thing on by 8 a.m. By 10 a.m. I am elsewhere!  Maybe when My Guy and I were first married (we received at least three slow cookers for wedding gifts back in 1973) and dinner was often started long before 8 a.m., we ate a lot of mushy meat?
            Still picking at the unpacking and laundry. Talk about a slow cooker.  =)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 50


Monday, November 1, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .As always, I so enjoy being back at my desk.  =)  Especially since I cleared it before leaving. Love all the vacant surfaces ready to be filled with work-related stuff.
            I entered my handwritten calendar/time line into a file. Tedious! But rewarding. It will be helpful for my editor (who needs it for Book 2) and now that I have a format, I can easily copy and use it for the new story (Book 3). There is something about the physicality of pencil and paper that enhances the process for me, but this is more practical. ;)  I'm sure I'll do both.
            THE DETAILS. . .Unpacking, laundry, groceries. Potted plants were drowning due to too much rain weeks ago. Even a cactus died.  =(  I pulled out dried-up sticks that had been petunias and daisies and alyssum and basil; then dumped soggy soil from the pots. Green thumbed I am not, but it’s still fun to play in the dirt.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Aspen, the Granddog

She lives in Arizona.

Day 49


Sunday, October 31, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Spent much of the afternoon and evening in airports and on airplanes reading. Finished Child’s novel and as usual – despite the “whoa I can’t recommend this book to anyone I know!” reaction (I mean the hero wreaks violent havoc against really bad, evil guys) – I admire the author’s writing techniques. It seems technique wins over subject matter in my choice of reading.
There is a perfect rhythm and pitch to his writing. Scene- and chapter-ending hooks are grand. The way he elongates a moment is masterful. These are things that makes any type of novel a work of art.
THE DETAILS. . .Goodbyes to Daughter and Son-in-law.  =(  Airports and airplanes. Quiche at the French bistro in the Denver airport is tasty.

Day 48


Saturday, October 30, 2010. . .
            THE WRITING. . .Characters nip at the edges of my imagination, gearing up for full-on reunion in the coming days.
            Picked up the following quote found by my daughter. It’s basically all we fiction writers (who do not want to step into Flannery O’Connor-size shoes) need to know.
Kurt Vonnegut’s “Creative Writing 101:”
1.              Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2.              Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3.              Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4.              Every sentence must do one of two things—reveal character or advance the action.
5.              Start as close to the end as possible.
6.              Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them—in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7.              Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8.              Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
“The greatest American short story writer of my generation was Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964). She broke practically every one of my rules but the first. Great writers tend to do that.”

            I’m not quite sold on #8.  =)
THE DETAILS. . .Visited an amazing Leonardo da Vinci exhibit at the Science Center. One room was devoted to the Mona Lisa. There was an unframed replica and huge displays of it in the original color and what it is today. Other rooms contained replicas of his creations such as a tank and a bullet (it is said he was a pacifist) and flying machines and submarine and countless tools and other machines. It seems he had a hand in some way in most inventions that impact our lives today.