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Archive for October, 2010

SCAT

Apparently this connotation of “scat” is so new it is not yet in the online dictionary, so I’ll play Webster.

Scat – adj. Writing genre in which every word is a sound used to get an idea across.

I had lunch with a couple of writers from our recent conference yesterday and the subject of scat came up. One of the writers even gave a vivid demonstration of scat right there in Panera Bread, huffing and chugging like a train. Shortly after he went to the men’s room and came back laughing so hard he could barely get his story out.

An old friend of his was coming out of the men’s room as he entered. The guy was fuming. He was sure the world was going to hell in a hand basket. As he stood at the urinal talking to his wife on the cell a gentleman in the stall had the nerve to make bodily sounds that his wife could hear. “Is there no civility in our society any more?” he asked.

Yeah, we all said what you are thinking. This guy expects a public bathroom to be hallowed territory for his phone calls? So now we are all laughing, but I have an idea. Did my friend not just experience fertile ground so to speak for an entertaining (or not) foray into scat?  My guess is we won’t hear it soon, and that will be soon enough.

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At some point into the Florida Writers Association Conference last weekend in Lake Mary, FL, I began to feel like a talent scout. That young man working on his mystery would be heard from. I was sure of it. A short story writer whose first publication is in the FWA collections book would soon break through that tough publishing wall. You just know it sometimes. The beautiful young woman I pegged in the parking lot on the first day as a writer made top ten in Collections. Later her elevator pitch to me of her first novel was concise and intriguing. An agent at the conference thought so, too, and asked for the manuscript.

One of my short stories made its way to “Slices of Life,” FWA’s collection book for 2010. I got to play like a real author and sign books for people. There are things you don’t know your first time. I soon learned my signature was not always enough. Some wanted something more personal. Here’s where quick thinking and creativity comes in handy even when in shock. I wonder if published authors go to their graves feeling like a fraud or will the feeling pass?

I will let you know soon when “Slices of Live” will be available for order for just $14.95 at www.amazon.com.   If you love short stories and real life characters you will treasure this book.

My friend Joan Levy and I were finalists in the Royal Palm Literary Awards contest. We met last year when I asked to sit by her at the awards banquet and felt like old friends by the time they called her name for a second prize tie in her category. This time both our stories were up for Creative Non-fiction Unpublished awards. I realized I would feel badly if I won and Joan didn’t and she felt the same. We held cold, shaky hands at times, rung our hands at others, praying for a tie between us at any level. The presenter had announced there were more ties than usual. We saw this as a good omen. We only talked of a tie. Someone must have heard us. We did come out even. Neither of us won. Relief came before our feelings of rejection, so I guess that’s good. There is always next year. Perhaps we’ll try for different categories, though, and we do have the satisfaction of knowing we both made it to the top layer.

The workshops were first class with lots of “take aways,” but for real value, meeting other people who relish sitting at a computer rearranging 26 characters into ideas and word pictures for hours is always the high point. I’ll never forget pausing at the door as I entered my first mini-conference a few years ago. I immediately stepped outside and called my husband to say, “There’s a room full of people just like me!”

My only regret was that I chose at one point to attend a serious, well-attended workshop in the huge ball room instead of “Let’s Talk About Sex” in a smaller venue with speaker Laura Parker Castoro I learned later she had them rolling in the aisles. No, not like that. She presented with humor. All in all, I’d rather have had Sex in the Orchid Room.

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Recently my granddaughter and a relative have been involved in a lockdown or evacuation. This got me thinking about the time our jury pool was evacuated from the courthouse because of a bomb threat, and I wondered if perhaps this is not too uncommon. I’d like to hear from you. Maybe everyone around me is very unlucky or perhaps the times they are a’changing.

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