Kelly Flowers

writer


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Fresh Meat, New Novel. We Is Smitten.

I’ve been editing for so long, I forgot what it’s like to sink my teeth into fresh prose, to get that high from creating rather than rehashing and hacking. I am finally into a new book and my appetite has been whet.

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I was gun shy to start a new novel, not because it’s an agonizing, hair-pulling, time-consuming process, which it is. I dreaded it because I didn’t want to commit to a new set of characters for the next few years of my life. Honestly, I hadn’t met a bedfellow I thought I could handle the commitment with. We’re talking about fictional characters, people, but sometimes, you’re just SICK OF TALKING TO THEM.

I’m going to do everything different this time. First, I’m writing an outline (before I start describing settings and layering characters). I’ll make sure I have a working ending so that I can build it from the beginning rather than retrofitting it in later. (and then re-retrofitting it on the second draft) See? I can learn.

Tonight, one of my writer friends said that if she knew how hard writing actually was, she would have taken up painting. She’s on her 7th draft, which made me self-conscious about my own 3 paltry drafts.

But THIS is what it’s all about! It’s the rush of lifting my fingers from the keys after three hours and having to resurface enough to maintain a conversation. Sure, I then realize I’m running late and haven’t brushed my teeth but who cares?! It like a drug to me.

So if you can’t find me for the next year of my life, know I am holing myself up in a dark corner, face creepily lit by my laptop screen and a look of crazed joy on my haggard face. Writing like a ninja.

hiding with laptop

Ahhh, authoring.

 

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…Excerpt From My Novel, Gone Dark

Pig 5

(* no wild pigs were injured in the writing of this book, albeit theoretically)

Moku heard the shot that killed the sow. He was almost relieved. The feral pua’a were overrunning the mountains and  pigs stunk up the place. They’d made mud holes in Moku’s lawn again.

He hadn’t thought about the boar piglets until he saw them foraging under the mango tree. He pulled out the traps Auntie had bought to catch the mongoose that was chewing into her packs of cuttlefish. Every time she set them, the cages turned up empty, the bait missing.

The piglets had already lost weight. One was limping. Moku was never much of a hunter and they were good as dead anyway so Moku baited the cages with rotten mangoes stewing in a puddle of Bud Light. 

By the next morning, two cages contained the thrashing bodies of small pua’a. Their snouts were bloodied from lunging at the cage walls. Their beady eyes panicked as they shook and squealed. It had been hard to see them as the true pestilence they were. The third cage was empty, both of pig and bait. The work of a mongoose.

Moku had laughed. Always the third little pig that gets away. He puffed up his chest and exhaled loudly and deliberately in the direction of the closest pig cage. When his lungs were empty, he laughed again, more loudly this time.

“Some big bad wolf, eh?” he’d said to the pigs.

Moku’s first impression of Carol was from her car. The three black boar had squealed in their kennel at the hairball hacking sound it made as it bounced down his dirt road.

Moku had been sitting on a plastic lawn chair on the porch, smoking and thinking about reseeding the St. Augustine grass where the pigs had torn it up. When Carol parked the green car, crooked and mostly in the road, it backfired and Moku had flinched. He had stared past her then, hoping she hadn’t seen. When she’d spotted him on the porch, she laughed nervously, shrugging and looking sheepishly from the car to Moku as though it was the first time the car had ever embarrassed her.

Up close, she was smaller than she had seemed from Pahoa’s house. Her cheeks were wizened from too much sun and sinewy blond hairs glittered against her tanned forearms. She walked like a mynah bird, strutting and stomping, a kind of falling forward like she was hopping from rock to rock. Before now, he hadn’t given her much thought. Auntie always had enough to say about her for the both of them. Carol probably didn’t know that Pahoa was such a gossip. He reported everything he saw or heard and he and Auntie speculated together.

Carol seemed younger that day, probably because she was so short. Her tank top had been tied into a knot at her middle where a thin strip of pale skin was visible when she raised her arms. It was white as coconut flesh. She had a quick smile, apologetic almost. He was the one who’d been sorry. She shouldn’t have come here.

“Hi, I’m Carol. Are you Manu?” The words were spoken clearly; the vowels clipped and with too much emphasis on the last syllable, just like a haole would say it.

“Moku,” he’d said. His high had been wearing off and it was making him raw, irritable but also open, like when a song touches you somewhere dark and fragile and you hear it for the first time.

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“Resolutions” Never Work

(I started this blog a couple of days ago and then, well… you know, I put it aside. Procrastination, you old nemesis! 2017 is going to be on your a$$!)

Pre-New Year’s Eve Post

Now is a good time to eat pie. Because pretty soon, my New Year resolutions won’t allow it. After the cooking and serving and saran-wrapping, you can’t see the fridge light. And then, eating leftovers becomes a bit of a goal. Each Tupperware emptied, an accomplishment. You can see how this line of thinking gets out of hand. I am nothing if not goal-oriented, for some suuuper important things, like emptying the fridge.

Soon will NOT be the time to eat pie, it will be to deny thyself. Whether it be donuts, laziness or procrastination, the New Year is about doing what you don’t want to do (like an early morning run) and not doing what you want to do (like eat ice cream and watch Westworld until 2am). Ah, the constant battle that divides doers and, well, non-doers.

I’m ready (after I finish this piece of pie) to hit the ground running. I’ll spend the next couple of days writing what I call resolutions but are really goals. There’s an important difference. Resolutions say “do better”. Goals say “here is a step to do better”. So I don’t do resolutions. I DO goals. But I really like the word “resolution” so I still use it.

Now it’s time to flurry into action putting away my Clark Griswold Christmas because 2017 doesn’t have room for that kind of chaos! Continue reading


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Sowing The Seeds Of A Novel – Writing and Gardening

Gardens are like books. Ok, gardens are not as delightful as books and, well, gardens have bugs soooo… 😕 But maintaining a garden is like writing a book because…

Both gardens and books need constant care to grow. I liken that perfect, red glittery strawberry to a jewel of an idea you get at 3am. You know you should stop what you’re doing and pick it/write it down but “meh.” You’re too tired.You’ll do it later. Then poof! You turn it over and the potato bugs have swiss-cheesed it. giphy

They both look easy, until you’re on your knees in aguish because grasshoppers have scarfed down your harvest or you discover that your protagonist is just boring.

Aaaand, if you garden (or write novels) only for food, you’re in the wrong business!

Way back when, I loved the idea of food being a simple equation. Seed – plant – stomach. Easy, right?

But after many moons of battling weeds and insects, I’ve realized three things:

1. I have not outgrown my childhood skittishness of all things crawly.  Continue reading


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How To Write Consistently – Location, Location, Location!

I once told a fellow writer that every time I sit down, I feel like a different person and my work reflects it. My multiple personalities bloat my writing with their twisted humor, inflated description, gushing prose or snarky syntax. Whoever shows up that day.

“It depends on how caffeinated I am or how quiet it is or whether my dishes are done,” I said wistfully. “How do I write an entire book if I can’t even keep my scattered brain in line?”

My friend replied, “What is your workspace like? Where do you normally write?” Errrr. I did that embarrassed side-pursed-lips thing that you do when someone asks what you do to workout, then replied, “Wherever I guess. Cafes, the library, bed, my kitchen table.” She nodded knowingly.

So, apparently we writers are supposed to keep our environment stable if we want the tone of our writing to be consistent. I hope not EVERYONE here is like “duh” because this had actually never occurred to me. It makes sense, I just thought it was one of those in your perfect world scenarios. Continue reading


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How Do I Stay Focused? No, Really. How?

From my Attention-Deficit brain to yours, a thoughtful Haiku for Monday…

Steaming coffee cup

A blank screen glows before me

Did I lock my car?

 

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Writing Lessons From My 4-Year-Old In A Whack-A-Mole World

The other day, my 4-year-old, to a room full of cousins and aunts and uncles, performed her song, an original masterpiece called “Flowers In The Field”.

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It went like this…

Flowers in the field

Where is everything that grows

A girl walks with her daddy

And picks a flower and the flower dies

But she puts it in water and it comes alive 

Flowers in the field

Flowers in the field 

I turned to my friend Neil and said, “Remember being that fearless about your own creativity? Brave enough to write a song and then sing it out for a room full of people?”

“No,” he said.

“Yeah. Me neither,” I replied.

But I was braver as a child. There’s proof. My first “publication” was a poem in my school yearbook. When running for Elementary School Treasurer (laughable, I know) I gave speeches off-the-cuff. And I sang in talent shows, LOTS of blood-curdling talent shows. Now, I can’t even drunk-karaoke without hyperventilating.

And why is that? Surely, I have a better vocabulary; can more likely carry a tune; and have a lot more thoughtful things to say. I just no longer have the guts to say them. What about growing up beat the bravery right out of me?

So, it got me thinking… How do we recreate the fearlessness we had as children?

3 solutions come up mind…

1. Always be amazing, superhuman – a genius even. Get all A’s. Problem solved.

2. Only show your work to people (like your doting parents, spouse, etc.) who will love you, praise you and top off your confidence cup, regardless of what you produce.

3. Just not care. Seriously. Sociopaths aren’t worried what other people think. Continue reading