A Caged Creature Set Free

Picture this.

You’ve got forty-eight new login passwords to sites you previously never even knew existed. You’ve been propelled, more like catapulted Monty Python-style, out of that blissful place known as your ‘comfort zone’ (with the tremors to prove it); and, you’ve swallowed your old sense of pride and self-respect like a cat plagued with an absurdly large hairball, which threatens to erupt on your next sneeze; because, let’s face it, you’ve unexpectedly become allergic to humility.

And, well, quite frankly, they say you’ve been seen wandering about the streets of your hometown muttering things like, Hey, How are ya? Long time no see. Guess what? I’ve just released a book! A real book. Yes. For real!” (As if it were some creature you had trapped in a cage and suddenly decided to set free in the nearest woods).

And those innocent passersby, those victims of your walk-about mutterings, don’t respond, or they just smile wanly and give a quick wave to the ‘crazy lady’ before they cross to the other side of the street.

Now picture this.

You haven’t had this much fun in years.

If you’d known that self-publishing a novel and starting up a grass-roots, micro-publishing company were going to be this much fun, well…you would have done it a long time ago.

Thanks to those of you who haven’t yet crossed to the other side of the street.




Sumac Summer: Sneak Peek 2

“So besides ditching these uniforms, what’cha gonna do for the next two months?” I asked, as if we hadn’t been spending summers together since we were five. But she stopped walking.

It was alarming.

“What, did you forget something at school?”

“Lizzy! Didn’t I tell you? I just found out last week but I’ve been so busy…

“My parents want me to bond with our relatives. They say I’m to learn cultural values and improve my language skills. They’re sending me to Japan for eight weeks. I leave on Tuesday.”

Four days.

My mouth hung open catching dry air. I didn’t know what to say. I was a terrible, horrible, selfish person. She had to stay home and keep me company like we’d been doing for-e-ver. How was I supposed to handle an entire summer without her? I’d fall apart! But she just stood there staring at me, waiting for my reaction, pressing me with that look on her face.

“That’s awesome Sooks!” You’ll have an amazing time. You’ll meet people and see interesting places and eat incredible foods. It’s a great opportunity.” I sounded like my mother trying to convince me to go to camp.

We resumed walking, but slower this time.  I could hear cars like hornets whizzing past. The smell of hot pavement burned my throat. Someone nearby was cutting their stupid grass. I tugged at my uniform skirt, itchy and too tight at the waist.

A Devil in the Details

There’s that old, English teacher babble buzzing about your ears like a pesky fly (Disclaimer: my sincerest apologies to Masters Crocker, Simms, Arculus, and Ms. Lackie).

“Capitalize all proper nouns. Edit your wrok. Check punctuation! Edit your woork. Stop run-on sentences that go on and on and on and on. Edit yor wurk. Incorrectly join two separate clauses, comma splices are easy to spot. Edit your work. Don’t dangle participles; blah, blah, blah, bzzzzzzzz…”

You want to swat that fly away, but you can’t. You want to let inspiration soar, without the constraints of form and function, but it won’t.

For most writers, the grammar beast rears-up with the head of a great, ugly monster at every turn, on every page.  A scaly, drooling, saw-toothed dragon, chained by the neck to your teacher’s desk, threatens to chew off your fingers, one-by-delectable-one, with every passing error.

Advice from the dragon’s lair: ignore the beast with its venomous glare.

There’s nothing more liberating to one’s creative spirit than knowing that your English teachers would be mortified in the spirit of pure creativity.

Go. Be free. Soar. Write boldly like no other has written before.

But there is a devil in the details (Isn’t there always?).

Some advice, even pesky blather about grammar and punctuation, is good, and necessary.

Good writers break the rules, then bow to them; they soar free, then return to earth; they fear the beast, then befriend it.

So write something great, worth writing and worth reading, and then edit your work (or have someone edit for you) so that others will enjoy reading as much as you enjoyed creating…

Sumac Summer Sneak Peek

Later, I was downstairs loading my phone with new music when she padded softly up behind me and caught me off guard: it wasn’t so much her sudden appearance as it was the look on her face. The vertical ditch between her eyebrows and the creases alongside her mouth were barely noticeable. I hadn’t seen my mom look rested, or happy, for so long it took me by complete surprise.

“What’s up Mother dear?”

Her hands were behind her back. She brought them forward, out of hiding, holding a glossy pamphlet that was folded onto itself like a double-wrapped gift.

“I wanted it to be a surprise but I can’t wait any longer. Your dad and I have a little present for you. Six weeks, bought and paid for. You’re going to have so much fun. I’m so excited for you Eliza. It will be the time of your life.”

The A in Global Studies had proven to be a complete waste of effort because the shiny pamphlet in my hand, and the look on my mother’s face, told me I was being shipped off to Camp Sumac in god-knows-where town, despite my plans to tame the wild animals with soft music and good food.

Sumac Summer, Chapter 2, Surprises.