Author Archives: Lisha Cauthen

not another writer’s new year resolutions post

Geez Louise, I despise New Year’s resolutions. I never keep them, and don’t even remember what I resolved past January 3rd. Usually, along about October I find the notebook I was supposed to write in every morning, stuffed under the car seat or kicked under the washing machine.

Then I despair.

no more writer resolutions

Not this year, bucko!

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I don’t want to generate failure anymore. No more promises to work on habits and goals that I don’t really want, no matter how many Good Writers recommend them. Instead, whatever interests me, I’m just gonna do it.

And when it doesn’t float my boat anymore, I will stop.

Maybe I’ll end up making the same changes in my life that a New Year’s Resolver does, but I won’t feel like I’m being punished, and I sure won’t feel guilty if my self-improvement ideas don’t work out.

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whither shall we goest from here, mes amis?

No, I have not abandoned my lovely blog. But I’m starting to feel the need to revamp.

I’ve blogged here with varying degrees of enthusiasm since 2008. That’s over 5 years, my dear, sweet readers.

So it’s time to redesign, refocus and reverberate. I’m going to mess around with design and style for the next few months, and think about the direction to take with this platform.

BUZZ WORD ALERT

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Who Helped Kill the Mockingbird?

I watched a documentary the other night about Harper Lee, called “Hey Boo“.

I’d been thinking about her upcoming court battle with her current agent. Imagine. Stealing the rights to one of the most beloved American novels of all time. Allegedly.

And I wondered why Miss Lee hadn’t written another book since To Kill a Mockingbird. I mean, nearly every page of that masterpiece has one quotable passage. Or two. Or even three.

The documentary indirectly answered the Mystery of Harper Lee’s Retirement for me:

It took her eight years of bumming around in odd jobs before she had a manuscript. She gave it to Tay Hohoff at Lippincott, who described it as a string of stories rather than a novel with a beginning, middle and end. But she saw something in Miss Lee’s writing, and guided her through several rewrites for two and a half years.

No. Kidding.

How often do editors do that sort of thing anymore? How would they have time? And how many brilliant novels have we lost, because there was no editor to guide the writer?

There have been a lot of conspiracy theories floated, claiming Harper Lee did not write To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the suspected authors being her childhood friend, Truman Capote. But I think we know now who helped Miss Lee write her book.

Her editor.

Oh. And she loved Gregory Peck playing Atticus Finch.

harper lee and gregory peck

WRITERS’ BOOT CAMP: COME SEE MY BLUE HAIR.

PEOPLE OF EARTH.

There is something extremely nifty going on in Omaha on Saturday, September 7th, 2013. Not only can you see my blue hair, you can learn a thing or two.

Jenn Bailey and I will be running a Writers’ Boot Camp for SCBWI-NEBRASKA.

Jenn starts the day with Scrivener 101. You’ll see how to storyboard, organize research, revise using keywords, and a lot more. Imagine being able to pull up all of your main character’s dialogue at once to see if his speech pattern remains the same. Track a secondary plot thread. Check your research–videos, pdfs, sound files–right in your Scrivener program. Save time and write a tighter, multi-layered manuscript.

Next, Twitter Tune-up.  Learn how to connect with agents, editors and other writers, or movers and shakers in any industry. Where and how to join a chat. And find out how to hashtag, MT and RT with the best of them. We’ll demystify the lingo and let you in on the etiquette of successful Tweeting.

Last of all…face it. You know you need a website. If you’re like me, html and CSS might as well be Aramaic. But there’s a way for anyone to put together a beautiful website, with or without a blog. I will hold your hand and take you step-by-step through the WordPress Workout. We will set up a site together, so you can see exactly how themes, headers, titles, widgets, pages and blogging work. We’ll talk about the dreaded SEO and how to get recognized by Google. You’ll leave with your very own site, ready for your personalization.

Everyone’s invited, whether children’s writer, adult writer, business person, student or teacher. Anyone who wants a bit of web presence or must produce documents should come.

Also, Jenn and I are a ton of fun.

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Don’t let the crowns fool you.

REGISTER HERE:

http://www.scbwi.org/Regional-Chapters.aspx?R=16&sec=Conf

meet anola pickett and primmy, from whisper island, the outer banks, nc

It’s always a thrill when someone you know publishes a book–a double thrill when it’s someone in your critique group. I give you Anola Pickett, author of the new middle grade novel, Whisper Island.

Interesting where ideas come from, isn’t it?

Here, Anola tells us a bit about the Lifesaving Service:

So it’s quite a predicament for Primmy, the 12-year-old main character:

They say a writer tells the same story over and over in each novel, just with different characters. Anola’s characters are always plucky kids overcoming great obstacles. Makes for exciting reading!

Here, Anola talks about the conflict between Primmy and her mother, reflecting on a bigger picture, in my opinion:

One of Anola’s strengths as a writer is her attention to detail of setting. Here, she talks about research, and why Whisper Island is an important book for kids:


Here are a few of the fascinating details Anola found out about living on the Outer Banks in 1913:

What a pleasure to read an historical fiction written by someone so dedicated to authenticity! Like in Anola’s first book, Wasatch Summer:

And as one of her critique partners, I can tell you she’s researching diligently for the novel she’s writing on now:

When she’s done with that…will Primmy appear in a sequel?

But if you’re going to read the sequel, you’ve gotta read the first book. Here’s someone who might inspire you to do just that:

Where did her name come from?


Poor kid. I agree.

I’m so excited for Anola’s book, I’m giving away an autographed copy, with some Island gee-gaws, donated by Anola herself.

And lastly, I just have to squeeze this clip in. All published authors who have done the rounds will appreciate this audience question:

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BUY ANOLA’S BOOK, WHISPER ISLAND TODAY.

But first…

Enter my blog contest for a free, signed and personalized copy. All you have to do is Tweet, Tumbl or Pin about Anola’s book, and leave a comment with the link to your handiwork. DEADLINE: MIDNIGHT CST, SUNDAY, AUGUST 4TH. The winner will be drawn from the proverbial hat and announced on Monday. Prize may or may not include the mermaid bookmark. OH JUST KIDDING.

spying on us: how loud does the whistle have to blow?

I don’t give a rat’s ass damn why Edward Snowden blew the whistle–whether he’s a spy, a patriot or a nut.

What I do care about: I have been classified a criminal.

And so have you.

Our government feels it is equally important to collect information on you, me and Al Qaida.

On September 12th, 2001, Americans agreed with an array of security measures in order to feel safe again. So now the government bugs reporters’ phones. I don’t remember agreeing to intimidation of a free press.

Parents of a deceased Navy Seal who have questioned the circumstances of his death, have reason to believe their phone has been surveilled. I didn’t agree to harass grieving parents.

All of the major companies in social media (except Twitter) hand tons of data over to the government. No reason. No warrant. Just because we are all guilty, until proven otherwise.

Think of it. Who you called, when, and for how long. Maybe even what you said. Your photos, your documents, your messages, purchases, bank and credit card transactions, your geographic location. What you surfed on the web.  Information all gathered without rationale, without showing a judge probable cause, without a warrant.

I am damn sure I never agreed to that.

Anybody remember what happened after 9-11 when the FBI tried to demand lists of books that patrons checked out of libraries? The librarians told them to take a flying leap, that’s what happened. ALA’s standards are to protect their customers’ privacy.

Listening, Google?

There have been previous NSA whistle blowers, who contended that U.S authorities were violating Fourth Amendment rights. Nobody cared.

Well, care now.

The IRS goes beyond the scope of its warrant to gather files concerning the financial dealings of an employee of a health institute, and seizes the health records of ten million innocent people, even though workers inform them they are violating HIPPA laws and their own warrant. (Yes, that is a horrible run-on sentence. I am blind passion.) Oh, well. At least the IRS has canceled its spyware purchases. Probably because they got caught.

A 95-year-old lady with leukemia, in a wheelchair, is forced to remove her adult diaper by TSA.

Have a fender bender in New Jersey, and soon the cop might be able to confiscate your cell phone. Ostensibly to see if it contributed to the accident, but what if you’re videoing your interaction for some reason and the cop doesn’t like it? (Which you can do.)

All those laws that chip away at your freedom sound like a great idea at the time, but guess what. If they can be misused, they eventually will be. Because when citizens allow their government to treat all of them like criminals–without reason, without provocation–it isn’t long before disagreeing with the government becomes a crime.

Tell the truth. Since you’ve found out that Google, Yahoo and Facebook turn over aggregated data to the NSA, have you thought twice about retweeting something? Posting something on Facebook?

Writing about certain topics on your blog?

If we really want to be safe, we can allow Homeland Security into all our homes, let them inventory all our stuff and microchip us. After all, that’s what we’re currently allowing, virtually.

I don’t want to be that safe. I want my business to be my own–not because I have anything to hide, but because dammit, it’s none of anyone else’s effin’ concern.

I am a lawful citizen.

I demand privacy from my government.

My life belongs to me.

The IRS, currently in the midst of scandals involving the targeting of conservative groups and lavish taxpayer-funded conferences, is ordering surveillance equipment that includes hidden cameras in coffee trays, plants and clock radios. – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf
IRS Buying Spying Equipment: Covert Cameras in Coffee Trays, Plants – See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/irs-buying-spying-equipment-covert-cameras-coffee-trays-plants#sthash.I5PdOztK.dpuf

 

stories of ghosts and us

I’ve been everywhere, man. (Cue music.)

Across the deserts bare, man.

geez. anybody got a power bar?

Breathed that mountain air, man.

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You get the idea.

One of the things we did last week, was go on a ghost tour in Old Town, in Albuquerque.

Now, there’s some fun.

Two guides and only seven people in the group. Excellent stories, videos, pictures, EVPs, (electric voice phenomena) and history lessons.

Yes, history lessons.

It occurred to me that really, the tour boiled down to one gigantic history lesson.

Because where does a ghost come from, but the past? Whether it’s 1998 or 1698, ghosts are reminders of what came before us.

When Great Aunt Melba rattles around in the attic, we communicate with our ancestors. Union soldiers at Shiloh allow us to affirm the continuity of our country.  Incan ghosts at Machu Picchu let us know that even if the glory of our civilization dies, we will not.

I’m thinking about writing a ghost story for my next novel. Of course, in order for a ghost story to be interesting it has to be more than haints floating around a dilapidated house. There has to be some sort of psychosis involved.

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I’m wondering if the more the main character connects with the ghost, the more frightening it is. The better the ghost can infiltrate his psyche, and therefore, the reader’s, the more the ghost can play him like a fiddle.

I mean, aren’t we all so OVER monsters?

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I dunno. Still puzzling this out. Tell me what you think.

horror in real life is why we write horror in fiction

After a week of non-stop horrible, real-life punches in the gut from Boston and West, Texas, I’ve lost enthusiasm for revising my current manuscript.

I write YA—edgy YA—with foul language, violence, terror and gruesome details, when necessary.

But witnessing real suffering all week has exhausted my capacity for such things. Telling stories seems silly. Useless.

Disrespectful.

But that’s wrong.

In a horrible coincidence, the week before the Boston Marathon Bombing, my daughter saw a woman suffer a “traumatic amputation”. My daughter wouldn’t talk about it, all she did was tell me it happened.

Then the Boston catastrophe occurred. And stories were told through text, video and still picture.

My daughter called. She asked if I had seen the picture of the man in the wheelchair who had lost both his legs. She recounted the story of how the man in the cowboy hat grabbed him up, saved him.

Then she finally let the nightmare out of her head and told me about the day she watched a woman become an amputee.

We need stories.

So tomorrow I will start back again. I will get it all as right as I can.

I write so those who’ve never experienced terrible things can understand those who have.

I write so those who have experienced terrible things can find a way in to talk about it.

marriage for everybody!

GAY MARRIAGE!!!

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Should not even be an issue.

Government needs to get out of the marriage business all together.

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Marriage, after all, is a religious institution. Let the churches handle marriage, let the government handle Civil Partnerships.

See, everybody should have a partner in life, someone who’s got your back. And that person should be designated your “next-of-kin” for legal purposes–insurance, benefits, debts and assets. Health directives.

A Civil Partnership could be two seventy-year-old widowed friends with no family, no interest in remarrying, living a Golden Girls life.

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Maybe two people do not want to marry but are committed to raising children together–for whatever reason. A partnership might be two siblings who must live together and raise six orphaned nephews. Why shouldn’t those siblings have the tax advantages and insurance rates a married couple has? They certainly have the expenses that the married benefits were designed to mitigate.

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Yeah. No one’s brought that up. Because they are nimrods.

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Because they are too busy DRAWING PICTURES IN THEIR HEADS OF WHAT PEOPLE ARE DOING IN THE BEDROOM.

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Yes, in my perfect world, just as religiously married people currently are also civilly married, a religiously married person would also have a legal Civil Partnership. But you would not HAVE to be married, to enter into a Civil Partnership.

It’s none of my effin’ business, what floats somebody’s boat. And it’s just plain rude to speculate on such matters.

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So quit waggin’ your collective finger. Quit judging each other. Allow everyone to decide what is best for them, guided by religious, philosophic, and scientific institutions.

The only thing left for the government to decide, is what is equitable.

write, wrote, have written

Writers live in the past.

We have to.

If our dialogue is going to ring true we must listen to hours of conversations between real people, then recall those words later, at the keyboard.

To put a reader in a setting we must know that place, even if it is a place we’ve never visited, or a place we’ve created in the clouds.  Either way, the sensory clues will be the same. Sights, smells, sounds—all things the writer experiences and files away to call upon when she opens her work-in-progress.

The plot springs from something that happened to the writer, or happened to someone he knew, or it’s something he read about. The finished story might not resemble the original spark in any way, but it certainly didn’t pop out of nowhere, unattached to the human condition.

Emotion.  The hardest thing to put into our manuscripts, the shadows of our past we don’t want to examine. Even if the reason for the character’s emotion is vastly different than the circumstances the writer faced, it’s painful to put ourselves in that space. To be that raw. And then spill it on the page.

People cherish truth.

The best writers will time-travel to get it for them.

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