Writing in Buena Vista

This morning, I’m sitting at Bongo Billy’s coffee shop in Buena Vista, looking straight at Mt Princeton, which is one of the most gorgeous 14ers in a state packed with them. I’ve just posted the pages I wrote early this morning in my cabin overlooking Cottonwood Creek. Had to come to town to get a wifi signal. Doing it made me feel a bit of a city-slicker, but when you fall in love with a story, it goes with you. It’s one of the great things about being a writer.

I am madly in love with Bartholomew and Alia and the world they are revealing to me. I love having the the little deadline every few days so I can write some pages, and stick with it, but I also love that I’m writing it for me. I always write for myself, of course, but the artistic freedom in doing whatever I want for pure, total fun is rejuvenating in a way I hadn’t expected.

Now I’m off to soak in the hot springs and put together a vision board for the new year.

If you want to follow along, go to http://theotherlandchronicles.com/2011/12/chapter-9-scene-2/

In the meantime, hope you are all having a day as fine as mine.

Ah, I've been in my writing cave again and haven't been blogging here at A
All creative people devise ways to communicate with the mysterious place where ideas come from.
I promised blogs every week, but must say the Internet access was not great in
Have settled the summer schedule: June 15, 3013: Missouri Romance Writers "The Heroine's Journey" Booksigning:
And we're ready to go. The cats have been camping on my suitcase, and Jack

Ready, set….READ!

Ambling around the internet this morning, I found this challenge from Book Chick City:

Since I’m often setting goals like “go to the gym seven hundred times a week,” the idea of reading a hundred books of FICTION in a year sounds like a dream.  I bet you read that much most of the time anyway.  I know I do.

It seems a luxurious delight  worthy challenge for our insanely readerly selves. I signed up. Maybe you’ll want to join me. Click the icon.

 

Also, speaking of reading: The OtherLand Chronicles, the serial urban fantasy/YA/? I started for NaNoWriMo,  is still in progress.  Just started Chapter Nine this morning.  Posting M-W-F through December.  Having so much fun it’s just sinful.  😉

To start at the beginning, go here: http://theotherlandchronicles.com/2011/10/starthere/

Anyone who has read here for any length of time knows that I like having
This is what can be fun about the shift in the way books come to
HOW TO BAKE A PERFECT LIFE by Barbara O'Neal Available TODAY in trade paperback from
First: we're working behind the scenes on the Barbara O'Neal and Barbara Samuel webpages, which
from Publisher's Weekly How to Bake a Perfect Life Barbara O'Neal, Bantam, $15 trade paper

Photo of the day

 

Around here, we've been mellow.  Haven't gone back yet to my usual schedule--the girls and
It is nearly ten pm and it is still very hot here in my house. 
When I was a tween, my grandmother lived in Sedalia, Colorado.  At the time, it
I came in from walking the dogs and this was on the counter (I moved
A writing blog today..... I’m in the midst of an enormously fertile period. I’m writing

The Lipstick Chronicles

I have been in hiding, deep in my cave, finishing the new book, THE GARDEN OF HAPPY ENDINGS, which will be coming your way next May.  I finally mailed a second pass back to my editor on Monday, which felt like delivering a very large, overdue baby.  It’s alive and well.

Some readers here know that I post twice a month at The Lipstick Chronicles, with a group of very entertaining and interesting women writers.  I am posting there the first and third Friday of every month, and here are the opening paragraphs of  the most recent three.   Stop by!

 

Ian and the Blue Gill

Three women, ranging in age from senior to ancient, are settled in a half circle at the end of the dock.  The chairs have been dragged down to the pond from the main house, metal lawn chairs with green and white woven seats.  My young son and I sit on the wooden slats of the dock.  A little while ago, there were some bigger boys, young teenagers in baggy shorts and skinny chests, daring each other to swim in the murky water with snapping turtles and water snakes, but they’re gone now.

The old women wear cotton skirts and sensible shoes and soft cotton hats to protect their good complexions. Gnarled fingers fix bait. Fishing lines trail lazily in the water of the small pond.  The air 2143129809_1ffac3b16c
is thick and still, so hot I find it hard to breathe, and my son’s pale cheeks are flushed.  We are Colorado natives, and this is the countryside of the border between Missouri and Illinois.

I’d rather be almost anywhere else.

I hate fishing. I hate humidity.  I hate the heat.  Before we arrived, I’d been excited about this gathering with my husband’s family, but the reality is daunting. It’s hard to understand some of their deep south accents, and I don’t understand references to times and people I don’t know. And maybe they’re notpatronizing me, the much-younger, blond wife of an older African-American man, but all the usual in-law negotiations seem particularly exaggerated.

READ MORE AT THE LIPSTICK CHRONICLES —>>>>

 

 

The Ghost in the Garden

Have you ever lived with a ghost?  I have.  In fact, I’m pretty sure she wanted me to save her house.

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My eldest son was in kindergarten when I first saw this house.  It was a narrow, two story brick, with a bay window on the top floor, and deep porch.  It was well over a hundred years old, and looked it—the yard was bare dirt, baked by the southwestern sun to absolute sterility, the paint on the old wood was peeling.  There was a crack in the brick over one window.  It was empty. Abandoned.

But every day, as I passed by with my son’s five-year-old hand in mine, the house caught my eye.  A pair of windows faced east, illuminating a staircase with a beautiful old banister, and spilling sunshine into the open front rooms.  The light was so inviting, so peaceful, that often I would pause on the way back home and peer in the windows to see what else I could see.  That inviting upstairs bedroom with the bay window.  The enormous front windows overlooking the street, arched and ancient, the glass thin and wavery.  One of them had a tiny bb hole in it.  The kitchen was horrific—a single bank of cupboards made of tin, covered with wood-grain contact paper.

READ MORE AT THE LIPSTICK CHRONICLES  –>>>

 

How to be a Perfect Mother In Law

216411_10150157611105893_698160892_6602988_6015592_nMy son was married on April 7.  This means that I am a new mother-in-law. I have to forget everything I knew about mothering, and adopt a new approach.

This is not the simple transition I imagined it would be.  For one thing, the son who got married is my mama’s boy, a child so devoted to me as a baby that I called him my joey.  He was two weeks late emerging from the womb, and then I carried him on my hip for the next ten months because he wouldn’t allow anyone else to so much as change a sock.  He’d howl piteously even if it was his father.

DSCN3392He’s grown into a strapping man who towers over me and has tattoos all over his arms and shoulders
(including, natch, one for “Mom” (please note the quill)).   His bride is a serious, level-headed Air Force sergeant who looks at him with enough love in her eyes to make any mother happy.  He’s an exuberant character, and worships the ground she walks on.  I liked her immediately and have only grown to love her more
over time.

 

READ MORE AT THE LIPSTICK CHRONICLES —>>>

 

Dear New, Young, Passionate, Painfully Aspiring Writer Self: I am looking at you with great
I'm trying to remember to post when I have blogs elsewhere, which is quite a
We are working on a new title for my next book. I'm nearly finished with
It is February which means I have survived the worst month in Colorado, which is
Join me over at Chick Lit is Not Dead for a special blog and a

The Passions of Your Life

One of the things I always tell voice students is that we are all stuck with certain themes and ideas and motifs that will show up in our work.   As I’ve been going through backlist titles to get them ready for sale as ebooks, I’m struck by how much of my writing voice was there, even in the earliest books.

In the book I am finishing for Bantam, The Garden of Happy Endings (out in May 2012), there is food and a good, smart dog, and a woman who has some issues with the Church.  There is a pilgrimage that starts the whole tumble of events in the book, and a garden that provides a center of healing.

I recently reread A Winter Ballad, a medieval historical romance that was originally published in 1993 (and is now available again in e-book form) .  There is a woman who is at war with the Catholic Church, and a dog who has been a loyal companion to a knight, and the book culminates with a pilgrimage across France, to Avignon and beyond.  The main character is a healer who knows all the medicinal plants in the garden.  (There is also a cat named Esmerelda, which astonished me…that my cat, who only died in January, had been in my life THAT long!)

In virtually every novel I have written, in any genre, some major scenes will take place in a kitchen. There will be scenes written around food, the preparation of food, the feeding of people.   There will be dogs and/or cats, because it’s completely impossible to imagine having a life without the companionship of pets.  There are hints of the mysterious and the miraculous in them, too, and always a strong love story.   I am in love with England and Spain and walking and dogs and good food and the possibilities of faith and hope.  Those things all show up in my books, and have from the beginning.

Can you identify themes in your own life? Things you love that run through your work?

NEWS: The wonderful Sharon Schlicht and I are working on two collections of Girls in the Basement essays on the writing life, with a goal of releasing them by August 15th.   The first is The Care and Feeding of the Girls in the Basement, an upbeat guide to the writing life; the second is the GITB Year of Celebration.  Stay tuned!

I am tired this morning. It's  Friday, bright and sunny. I've had a good week--lots
This is an in-progress drawing that's been living on my desk the past week. It
A friend of mine has started a business flipping houses. We live in a lucrative
I am a fan of Gretchen Rubin, whose books on happiness and habits offer a
Lately, I've been reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn to help create

First sprout

This is the view from my window just now, with dawn coming from the east
My old dog is pacing this morning as he often does these days. He's a
I absolutely adore figs. I don't think I'd ever eaten one until I was an
Looking for a cuddle One of the great things about living
By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All

Untitled

My old dog is pacing this morning as he often does these days. He's a
I absolutely adore figs. I don't think I'd ever eaten one until I was an
Looking for a cuddle One of the great things about living
By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All
A writing blog today..... I’m in the midst of an enormously fertile period. I’m writing

Looking at the world

Seems as if I’ve been posting tiny tidbits on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a score of posts for blogs elsewhere.  I will be joining Lipstick Chronicles, and will be posting every other Friday starting in February.  In the meantime, I’ve posted there a couple of times thus far.   And for writers, of course, I am still posting blogs to Writer Unboxed the 4th Wednesday of every month.

To get myself back to the regular practice of blogging here, a process I genuinely enjoy, I’m going to use this blog as a little writer’s notebook through the month of January.  I’ll post whatever I notice about the world on my daily journey through it.  This is from a day or two ago, but it is the thing that made me want to begin.

On Wednesday, I had a pedicure at a shop I do not usually frequent. It was staffed by only two, very very young Vietnamese kids, she not more than twenty, he only a little more than that. She did not appear to speak English much at all, though he was quite enthusiastic and a good salesman.  He was my pedicurist. Friendly, but not too chatty, and I was reading a book on my iPhone, so I didn’t really want to talk very much.  After awhile, I noticed that his left thumb was small and wasted and didn’t move. It didn’t seem to hinder him.  I went back to reading.  A little later, I noticed that his forearm had a thick, old scar down the top, elbow to hand.  It went all the way through, as if a sword had sliced through it.  He moved his hand well enough, so much so that it did take that much time to notice the scar and the immovable thumb.  My writer brain wanted to know what he’d done to it, and I find myself writing scenarios.  I wondered how old he was. It must have been quite a dramatic scene.  It must have done something to the tendons.  I wondered how his mother felt when it happened, how afraid she must have been.

He fetched hot towels and said, “Feels good, right?” and I nodded. I went back to reading.

This is the view from my window just now, with dawn coming from the east
My old dog is pacing this morning as he often does these days. He's a
I absolutely adore figs. I don't think I'd ever eaten one until I was an
Looking for a cuddle One of the great things about living
By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All

all paths are divine

all paths are divine

Originally uploaded by A writer afoot

A big weekend here, and more coming as we count down to the holidays–and the release of How to Bake a Perfect Life. If you haven’t seen the redesign of my websites, stop by http://barbaraoneal.com, and http://barbarasamuel.com.

TWO WEEKS! 🙂

Meanwhile, enjoy this shot of the windowsill in my office.

This is the view from my window just now, with dawn coming from the east
My old dog is pacing this morning as he often does these days. He's a
I absolutely adore figs. I don't think I'd ever eaten one until I was an
Looking for a cuddle One of the great things about living
By now, most of you must know I have a new book out, The All

Ordinariness

Tonight, reading through Twitterings, I saw an intriguing little something that led me to a memoir writing site that ended with this:

In Italy they have these walled cemeteries with compartments for the remains of the dead. Every Sunday all these little old ladies go to visit the graves of their departed husbands. One day I was passing one of these cemeteries on a bus and suddenly it all seemed so simple. What was the big deal, all the agonizing and panic? All you have to do is eat, drink, be merry, get old, die and go into one of those little walled graveyards.

And it zinged around so much in my chest that I had to share it with you.  In Spain, we walked through village after village with the graveyards right there in the middle of everything, part of everything, not shunted off to the side.  If you lose your grandmother or your husband, their grave is just right around the corner and it only makes sense to take them a piece of pie, right, or take a branch of the newly blooming roses.  It makes it all seem so less tragic and dramatic, so normal.  Like breathing.  And dying.  And living.

Today, live a little–and sprinkle some wine on the ground for the dead.  Take some pie to your grandmother.

I am tired this morning. It's  Friday, bright and sunny. I've had a good week--lots
This is an in-progress drawing that's been living on my desk the past week. It
A friend of mine has started a business flipping houses. We live in a lucrative
I am a fan of Gretchen Rubin, whose books on happiness and habits offer a
Lately, I've been reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn to help create