Saturday, October 27, 2007

Connections


Hi!
Sudden insight: circles are lines that get
get connected! This is a WOW discovery
for me - something that, no doubt, every
good math student learns. (I'm a bit slow.)

Here I am meandering down the trail of life
and then I get to connect somehow with another
moment and then that line becomes a circle.

What is she talking about? Or are you already
clicking away from me? I must focus. What I'm
trying to share is how I got the spark -
the connection - for my novel,
The Kulak's Daughter.

We were sitting (sort of) around the dinner
table at Christmas. My three kids were hyper
and my mom was being her usual foreign, stiff,
old self. I was in the middle trying to keep
everyone happy.

Instead of harassing me about keeping my
kids more under control, my mom proceeded to
tell a story about how she misbehaved one Christmas
back when Christmas was banned. It wasn't
the banned Christmas that brought the spark - the
connection. I'd heard her ramble many times
about life back in the old country.

It was the idea of my mom being bad.
It was then that I saw the circle of life.

So this upcoming novel of mine might be set
back in the horrors of the former
Soviet Union - but it's really about childhood. It's
really about connecting the present with the past
and (hopefully) with the future.
Man, I better stop talking.

Here, as promised is a photograph of my
grandfather's signature. I got this from a former
KGB file in Zhitomir, Ukraine. It was forbidden
to take photos of these once top secret files.
But my grandfather was murdered and his body
thrown in a ditch along with thousands of
other kulak bodies. I deserve this photo of his
signature at the bottom of a forced confession.
(It's dated August, 1937)

And you know, if it wasn't for the internet, I'd
never have connected with this part of the past.
But that's another story.


Word of the Day:
connect: to become joined
from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary


Talk to you soon (and I hope we're connecting!)
gabe

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Drama

Googling yourself on the internet is sort of
like looking in the mirror. Snow White comes
to mind. Who is the fairest in the land?

Me, I'm just looking for signs of my upcoming
book. And yesterday, I found it! My book is
actually up on Amazon. I was seriously thrilled
and showed it to everyone in my house. (Right
now that includes my three kids, husband and our
German house guest, Ralf.) My kids were least
impressed. It's hard to impress teenagers (even
when a couple are technically out of the teen
decade.) I think August, our cat, was impressed.
She purred.

I've also finished a second draft of my sequel to
The Kulak's Daughter. So now I go from feeling
busy - a good busy, a purposeful busy - to feeling
relieved (I've done it!) to insecure (who cares?,
it's no good, etc.)

But enough of my emotions. I want to continue
sharing my most amazing trip to Ukraine.
Guess I'll save that for another post.

Outside there's a fog hiding the neighborhood.
I love October. It's just so full of drama.
That's what I wish for my books - the drama
of October - cool lighting, intense colors,
winds that argue and fogs that make even
ordinary places look mysterious.

Word of the day: drama:
a state, situation, or series of events involving
interesting or intense conflict of forces (from
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary)

Talk to you soon,
gabe

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Serendipity





I've been digging through my photos
of Ukraine trying to find the best ones.
I went over there in May, 2004. It was
the most amazing trip and now that I
have this blog, I'm going to share some
of my experiences.

Here's a photo of me and Uri
(my interpreter) in the
former KGB files of Zhitomir.

I was able to look through
documents about my grandfather.
My dear old mom was finally
able to learn what had happened to her
father from whom she was separated in
1931 as a 12 year old.

Some of these OGPU (the secret police
of the day) documents were on faded
pink paper and classified 'top secret'.
All, of course, were written in Russian.
The file on my grandfather was quite thick.
It's mind-numbing to think that there
are highrises full of such documents
throughout the former Soviet Union.
They were meticulous book-keepers.
I'll share some of the details of
these documents in a later post.

Discovering my grandfather and the child
my mother once was over in that faraway
place has been a most serendipitous
journey.

Word of the day: serendipity -
The faculty of finding valuable or
agreeable things
not sought for.
(from Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary).

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Suppose you gave a reading and ...



almost nobody came?
(Photo: Rae Bridgman with 2 of her 6
kids at launch of The Serpent's Spell
in April, 2006.)



I was torn, last Tuesday, between going
to a friend's reading at our public library or attending my monthly
critique group. I opted for the latter and now regret my choice.
Turns out, turnout for the reading was dismally low.
The question is WHY?

The event was well advertised - or was it?
Posters were put up at the university and
at the library (co-sponsors of the event).
But was that enough? Obviously not.

It's a lesson for me - still waiting for my
own first book to come out. Never assume
an audience. Maybe I have to bribe people
with ... I don't know ... food, perhaps.

I mean, if you can't fill seats in your home
town, what happens if you go to an out-of-
town place?

My friend is a fantastic speaker. She's funny
and energetic. But if nobody shows up, how
will anybody know? It's like the tree falling
in the forest. It makes a sound even if
nobody hears it. Or does it?

Anyway. I feel guilty for not showing
up. Rae Bridgman is a terrific writer and
her two books, A Serpent's Spell and
Amber Ambrosia
(published by Great Plains)
only make me want to read the next in the series.
Learn more at her website: raebridgman.com

The midgrade books are set in our city
of Winnipeg. They're full of Latin phrases
and fantastical turns of plot. I highly
recommend them to anyone who gobbled
up the Harry Potter books.
(And isn't that almost everybody?)

Yes, I think it's safe to say, NEVER assume
an audience. Let me see, chocolate sounds
like a good bribing food, or maybe carrots or ...

But really, how can you make sure you get
a decent turnout? A good weather forecast,
a place with good parking, perhaps a couple
of other speakers? Any ideas are appreciated.

Talk to you soon,
gabe

Monday, October 8, 2007

Being Grateful

Here in Canada we get to eat turkey
and sleep-in on a Monday on the second
weekend of October. It's a treat and
I am grateful for it.

I was visiting my widowed mom who
lives in a seniors' block yesterday (the
same mom that I wrote my first novel
about). That seniors' block is just overflowing
with stories - tragedies, comedies, romance
novels, thrillers - and of course, coming-of-age
childrens' books.

A fellow passenger on the elevator
with me preached a little sermon about
'gratitude is attitude' and I told her she
was a poet and I think she was titillated
by the suggestion.

Perhaps everyone wants to be a writer
- a creative person - of some kind.
And I think we all are. But the more
we believe in our creativity, the more
we act on it. (I am meandering quite
badly now.)

Back to giving thanks. I am grateful
for so many things including the sounds
of Canada geese that I hear migrating
south now as I blog. (Did you know
that some call them the 'rats of the sky'?)

But I'm most grateful that I'm not
in charge of the turkey dinner this year.

With a grateful attitude, (but it doesn't rhyme!)
yours,
gabe

Friday, October 5, 2007


Here I go. Already I've messed up.
My first blog entry refuses to come
out of the draft stage.

I'll quickly tell you what that first
carefully pondered post was all about
I'm scared of yapping on this blog,
scared of messing up and letting you
know how totally uninteresting I
can be.

On the other hand, I'm terribly
excited about sharing with you
the adventures of this journey
as I get my first book published.

Yes, I am going to be a novelist!
And I am going to meander down
the various trails of writing,
publishing and promotion.

I'll also, no doubt, meander off on
various other trails.

Talk to you soon. And thanks for
visiting.

-gabe