May 242018

If there is a writer in your life, you have my sympathy.

I wanted to get that out of the way first thing.

I feel sorry for MG having to put up with me, with late or no dinners, with unfolded laundry, with me staying up all night writing when I’m on a roll, and with coming home at day’s end to find me writing in my pajamas. Hair not combed. Teeth not brushed. Ugh.

Writers are eccentric. That’s the polite way of saying writers are nuts. We freely admit it because we cannot deny the obvious. We see the world differently than the rest of humanity, and our curiosity is endless. Everything is fodder for our stories, so don’t ever tell us your secrets. Be very careful what you say if one of us is within earshot. We are not above eavesdropping. We even have shirts we wear to warn you about us.

On behalf of all writers, I want to apologize for the faraway look in our eyes when you’re speaking to us. You’re correct to assume we’re not listening to you. We’re listening to voices you cannot hear—the voices in our heads, aka the characters we create. While you’re talking to us, we’re actually writing. When we sit at our computers, we’re merely transcribing what we already wrote mentally while not listening to you. [So sorry, MG.]

I’ve lost count of how many times I agreed to do something I had no interest in doing. I wasn’t paying attention to what my [husband, friend, neighbor—fill in the blank] was saying because my mind was on the manuscript I was writing. While I was in a world of my own making, the rest of me was on autopilot responding with “Uh-Huh” every so often, giving the appearance that I was all there and agreeing to whatever. For that inexcusable behavior, I deserved to suffer—and I did.

It gets worse. My mind also wanders to my work in progress during Sunday mass. I thought I was the only romance-writing reprobate who was going straight to hell when leaving this world. Thankfully, I was mistaken. I won’t be alone. A dear friend who shall remain nameless, and author Jennifer Probst (who confessed to the same sinful behavior in her book Write Naked), will join me in eternal damnation. Hell will never be the same.

Finally, for when I actually do listen to what you’re saying, I apologize for silently correcting your grammar and pronunciation.Yes, writers do that. We can’t help ourselves.

Despite all of the above, we fervently hope you have a forgiving nature and will continue to buy our books. Please?

Sep 212016

During an open critique session, the facilitators discussed those much maligned creatures known as the flying body parts, aka the wandering body parts and the animated body parts. They mocked them, giving humorous examples, and everyone laughed on cue.

I felt so sorry for those poor body parts. What have they ever done to invite such vilification? From my perspective, the obsession of so many writers and writing instructors aimed at preventing the use of common idioms and figures of speech is the equivalent of putting a straight jacket on the imagination of writers everywhere.

strait-jacket Continue reading »

Nov 042015

Lily Hill Farm

I participated in a getaway with a group of writers this past weekend. Ours was a different kind of weekend getaway—a working weekend getaway. The getaway part involved removing ourselves from the typical household distractions writers—women writers in particular—encounter on a daily basis. We left our homes and their distractions behind beginning on a Friday afternoon, and then our “Write In” began.

There were twelve weekend warrior writers in all. Once we arrived at Lily Hill Farm Bed and Breakfast, our huge yet cozy retreat venue for the weekend, the first order of business involved setting our writing goals for the weekend. Everyone’s goals were posted; there would be accountability. We were there to write and write we did. We helped one another too, doing a bit of brainstorming here and there. Continue reading »

Apr 292015

If you haven’t yet heard about Mid-Michigan RWA’s Retreat From Harsh Reality, you’re obviously not a member of Mid-Michigan RWA, or you’ve been stranded on an uncharted desert island for thirty years, or—perish the thought—you haven’t read the April 2014 Serious Whimsy blog post It’s Time to Retreat From Harsh Reality. If it’s the latter, tsk-tsk, for shame. It’s on the Recent Posts List. Redeem yourself by reading it now and then come right back here.

If you had to depart to read the 2014 Retreat post, welcome back and join this blog post in progress. Just kidding. I waited for you.

04-29-15 Blog Post 2 Continue reading »

Apr 102014

Jolana Malkston 4One of my favorite weekends of the year is approaching. On Friday afternoon, April 11, I will pack up my Ford Edge and follow its navigation system’s directions to Augusta, Michigan for Mid-Michigan RWA’s spring weekend writers’ retreat, the Retreat From Harsh Reality.

To put our Retreat into perspective for the male of the species, Retreat is the romance writer’s equivalent of Deer Camp, except that we have the use of indoor plumbing and we bathe and change our underwear daily.

Like Deer Camp, Retreat has a very relaxed dress code. Jeans and sweatshirts are fine. In fact, we don’t even have to wear makeup or style our hair if we don’t feel like it—so long as we are okay with starring as the Bride of Frankenstein in a YouTube video surreptitiously recorded on someone’s smart phone.

And like Deer Camp, we drink at Retreat. The weekend starts with a cocktail reception in the resort and conference center pub on Friday evening and then moves to the meeting room the resort assigns to us in the evenings for the duration of Retreat. It is there that we stash the snacks and goodies we take from home to share. It’s also where we keep the adult beverages of various kinds—but not for very long. We are writers, after all.

Again, like Deer Camp, writers love to talk about hunting—for an agent to represent us or for an editor willing to buy and publish our manuscripts. We always invite a successful guest expert to speak to us about the wide range of techniques we can use to improve our writing skills, which in turn enhances our ability to stalk and bag our prey. Some in our group have been known to entertain us with riveting tales of the big New York City editors they almost bagged but who somehow got away. So sad. After hearing those sorrowful tales, we all feel the need to break out and consume the adult beverages.

See, what did I tell you? Just like Deer Camp—a kinder, gentler, cleaner Deer Camp. 🙂

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