Saturday, January 30, 2010


90 minutes weaving in bits and pieces from the seed sorting--so much fun to have a computer to Find the places to insert the bits! Am firmly fixed now on starting with the protagonist, and not the killer, so moved a couple big chunks to later in the story.

Going to read this morning at the Valley Hi Public Library. Will read from my dissertation, a before and after story showing the impact of the Cooperative Inquiry on my own writing.

What a long strange road, being a writer.

Friday, January 29, 2010

one more hour

Okay, today, an hour added to the rest, got to the bottom of the box of stuff related to HofC, tossed 1/5 of it, put some into the pile for the next novel, some into setting pile for HofC, some Character pile, a few critiques to go back and re-read. The seed sorting work of revision.

Will go tomorrow morning to be part of a READ IN with 14 or so other writers at Valley High Public Library in Elk Grove, CA, 7400 Imagination Circle. I'm supposed to read in the 11:00 to 12:00 timeslot, in case anyone wants to come listen *:)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

blogging is tricky

Whew! Just got back here.

Yikes!!!!! I could not get back into the dashboard for this blog!!!! Worked an hour Wednesday and 45 minutes today, sorting through the box of papers, etc., weaving in bits from the old into the current draft of House of Cuts, but now have to try to sort out getting back into the dashboard here.


Blogging is tricky???? I see I am signed in as J and J Gillam...? will sign out from that...

Okay did sign out--was in wrong account but don't know how I got there...


to be continued...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

sorting thru stuff...

An hour and a half going through my boxes of old stuff accumulated for the book--found some cool things to pop right into the current version! Halfway through this sorting now--does not feel too much like revising/polishing yet I know it is essential to sort seeds like one of the ants who helped in Psyche's task before completion of the whole project.

On with this heavy word work *:)

Monday, January 25, 2010


90 minutes going over old drafts, marked by workshop readers, tearing in half, one half in one recycle bag, the other half in another--my lazy way of not-exactly-shredding but not leaving hunks of the story out in the trash either. The paranoia of the unpublished novelist!

Revisiting character biogs, shaping and polishing them, seeing and feeling them, hearing them, taping them to my dining room wall and on the other wall, settings, and on the third wall, the one holding the History of the World in a huge spiral like a photo of a giant snail, plot points, what else?

Keeping useful notes, focusing in on the final draft about to manifest--feel ready for House of Cuts to be born, House of Dads is getting restless.

when i'm not going sideways...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

stitching hour by hour

One more hour at the words, today cut 12 pages that were tangents, noticed yesterday in the five hour read; changed some names to make them more consistent throughout (thank you Find and Replace All!).

Got to murder our darlings *:) See

(tried to put this in as an active link but it does not show up--the joys of learning to blog!)

Saturday, January 23, 2010


It took five hours to read all 325 pages of ms, with time out to get coffee, food, and bathroom breaks of the shortest sort possible. Overall, a good shape to the whole story, meiner meinung nach!

Found about 8 to 10 pages about 2/3 of the way through to cut out that were making the story line sag, and came up with a plan to get the whole thing reworked, so feeling great.

Just last night read in the Special 90th Anniversary Issue of Writer's Digest an interview with Ferlinghetti at age 90, in which he recounts that Bukowski, "who wrote every single day, all day," believed that "when you weren't writing, you weren't a writer." Something to keep in mind.

Ferlinghetti was the first poet I fell in love with, seated in the library stacks at Sac City College, pulling out one book of poetry after the other. His "poem 14" of Coney Island of the Mind threw me into the clutches of poetry, forever:

poem "14", a composition of perfect carousel circuitousness:

Don't let that horse
eat that violin

cried Chagall's mother

But he
kept right on

And became famous

And kept on painting
The Horse with Violin In Mouth

And when he finally finished it
he jumped up upon the horse
and rode away

waving the violin

And then with a low bow gave it
to the first naked nude he ran across

And there were no strings


found this at

hooray for (the internet) today!

plus, Ferlinghetti says he was not of the Beats, but before them, a bohemian...


Once I went to see him read in person at Sierra 2. His dog sat beside him the whole time, scratching.

I wrote the first line of a poem about him, but never added anything to it:

Ferlinghetti's dog has fleas.

Friday, January 22, 2010

how to handle this mass of words

Wrote from 5:00 to 6:15 and stopped at page 82 of 325 pages to make a plan. Will print out the new 82 pages "start" and replace the old start of the whole novel, residing in the red binder.

Will spend all day Saturday (trek to Sutter Buttes canceled due to, what else, rain) reading the whole novel, going all the way through it at one sitting. Maybe create a new time line or jot notes to self on things to still fix.

Yikes, the mass of words is so large, spilling all over the place like Tita's tears in Like Water for Chocolate,

like a loaf of bread that rose and overflowed not just the mixing bowl but the kitchen, the writing room, the whole house and out into the streets of Sac! Punch it back down!!!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

an hour today

Whew! Got in a full hour today, starting again back at the beginning of the story though and making sure each word is just what is needed and wanted.

Not sure how to handle being at page 60 of the revision/polishing and having to go back each time to the start of the story to monitor the flow--yet don't feel like reading and marking the paper printout of the 325 pages (as recommended by the writing teacher Lisa Leonard-Cook) either because I can't see myself reading the whole thing without making some kind of notes which would stop the flow of the reading as a whole.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

down day

Away hoy, back manana!

or more authentically:
ido hoy, aquí mañana

or to practice my French:
allé aujourd'hui, ici demain

Monday, January 18, 2010

three hours today

Well, today I wrote from 6 a.m. til 9:20 a.m. but took about 15 minutes out to eat, at the same time, of course, thinking about the writing, then went back to writing. Wondering if eating breakfast in the middle might be a good way to extend my "seat time" and thus get more quickly through the current 325 pages on this fourth pass through the novel. It's starting to feel like it is really becoming what it wants to be now and much more ready for sending to agents *:)

I'm excited because tomorrow the spring 2010 semester starts at Delta and I hope to see many of the Creative Writing, Story, students show up here and even start their own blogs to keep track of their process.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

the beat goes on

Got in an hour and 45 minutes this a.m. Found a big chunk of misplaced scene and thankful for computer Cut and Paste for about the zillionth time to better shape the flow of the story.

Wish I could stick myself in my writing chair for longer time chunks--need more of that Whidbey Island Writers' Conference "Butt Glue" LOL.

But, something is better than nothing as I tell my students, and at least I'm on the trail to the finish line to complete the novel and get started with the 2nd in the Amy Kovar series--not Amy Boykin as it says on my Guppie page:

Thinking of using a different name for this first novel in the Amy series, since Gillam is SO OFTEN MISSPELLED (Gilliam, Gillman, Gillan, etc.) which turns me into a hateful maniac wanting to lash out at sloppy stupido spellers.

How about using great g'ma Nancy's middle name, Augusta, as my last name?

June Augusta

write hard, die free

Saturday, January 16, 2010

on and on

AWOL (or AWL?) yesterday due to having to leave home at 7:00a.m. to get started on the CHIP program, in Lodi (see which involved a 12-hour fast in prep for a blood draw--yikes! Made it through that plus a faculty in-service at Delta and back to the word work this a.m. for nearly two hours *:)

Still weaving and trimming and adding so the flow of the story is what it wants to be, so to speak. Magical time, this work.

Got a few specific things jotted down to work on today at Zoe's midtown writing circle--hooray for Zoe Keithley!!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

must be having fun now

Time flies when you're having fun
fake it til you make it: fall in love with your writing to give time wings.

This morning from 6:30 to 9:00, I just flew through my novel-polishing in a semi-bliss state. It did help to review again some comments from my small writers' group (not actual small people but a small group *:) to spur me along, must say. Thank you C and A!

Now am up to page 55 of 322 pages, and really enjoying the ride in Writerland--this part is esp. fun since I get to be both a reader of my novel and a (re)writer 8:)


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

90 minutes more

Got in another hour and a half this a.m., working on a comment from one of the writers in my small group meeting yesterday.

Aside: the homemade lentil/black bean/carrot soup from my crockpot was delish, although mysteriously spicy--first time I ever tried cooking lentils, in preparation for going vegan soon, yikes!

Back to the writers' meeting; the comment was made that my main character seemed to be sometimes shallow and comedic while other times profound and poetic. So this morning's 90 minutes was devoted to taking it again from the top and weaving in a few explicit lines integrating these two facets of the same character--love getting feedback from readers to help me see how others "read" and so co-create the story 8:)


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

one day at a time

Got another hour in from 6:00 to 7:00 this morning, hooray for today! If I could do this each day, 365 hours per year = 9 solid full-time 40-hour work weeks.

A couple of writing group friends are coming over today at 2:00 to give each other input on our writing--that's always motivating, as well. It's raining here so I put on the crock pot full of lentil soup.

Wish I could go away to some isolated spot though and just plow through it all to get the final revised and polished novel all done! and ready to send to agents... not just ready, but sent out. Fantasy land.

As Jer always said, good things take time.

Monday, January 11, 2010

an hour at my words

Okay, got one good hour in today, moved a flashback scene up to become a Prologue and think I like it there! Off to 1st grade to help young readers hone their skills--someday they could be buying my novels, smile.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

double time today

Made up for absence yesterday with two hours today, 6:30-8:30 a.m. enjoying polishing the first 4774 words of the current 79,300 (320 pages). Read aloud in my inner voice helps with the polishing to get the rhythms true to my intentions with the story.

Along the way, made up a list of six points I need to research. Research is a task I can do after the critic brain wakes up but the polishing calls for the first-thing-upon-rising mind.

Having this blog to report to helps a lot even if no one is reading it--weird!

Friday, January 8, 2010

another challenging day

Again away overnight, so no morning writing today; will try to squeeze it into the day somehow!!!!!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

thank you Julie and Julia

Last night watched Julie and Julia and see more clearly the power of blogging as a motivational tool to keep a regular practice. Even if no one is reading the blog, just having it out there in "public" space provides a slap up side of the head. The nature of blog space as a nag is helpful. You could be trying to be regular at any practice and let the blog serve as a silent but all-seeing mentor to report in to on a regular basis. For me, daily works the best though not sure if I can really keep it up all year.

Well, anyhoo, from 6:15 to 7:30, kept on keeping on the polishing words work. It is different from the pleasure of the flow of first draft creation, but lovely in its own way. For me the first pass or two at revision, the big blocks of scenes and interplay of characters, is the most arduous, with the first draft and this polishing the most blissful.

write hard, die free,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Got in 30 minutes before dinner, created a sturdier "bridge" getting a character from one setting to another. Every little bit counts *:)


bumpy day

Was in Morada overnight so did not get my morning started off at the habitual laptop-in-the-dining-room space and time; hoping to get back here before day's end having spent some time busy at my words.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

lost words scare

During the 7:15 to 8:15 a.m. time polishing House of Cuts this morning, got a scare when I was trying to Select and Cut to move a piece of text from one spot to another--lost it in the maneuver and felt I needed that particular way to say it. Felt a bit of panic and had to go back and forth into the flash drive Saves of the story, to find the wording I wanted. Got it all sorted out, but kind of unnerving to lose words. Recalls to mind the advice to "murder your darlings," those words I cared enough about to go to that length to recapture likely need to be cut! See

BTW, am about 100 pages into Pete Dexter's Spooner, and find it kind of falling apart but will keep on keeping on a bit more; met a man last night who said he had given up on it though.

Monday, January 4, 2010

weaving words

I am surprised to find that nearly two hours slipped by this morning from about 5:10 to 7:00 a.m. while I wove together information and scenes in the first 3375 words of the now 79,200 word House of Cuts. Ages and times of the year did not match as they needed to, plus things that the main character has in hand later needed to be placed in her pocket earlier--that sort of thing. The kind of stuff readers keep track of *:) It's quite the hat-switching to move from the creative writer to the critical reader of a long story.

Using this method of reading from the beginning each time, though I won't be able to keep that up, makes this type of polishing/editing actually pleasurable.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

being together for an hour

Okay, last night placed a cardboard note right next to the coffee pot with big red letters that say WRITE! Spent an hour from 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. refining pages 3 to 8 (of 320 pages), with RESTART HERE on page 8, getting ready for manana. 2010 goal is to write one hour every morning on arising, before my critic wakes up.

At night before sleep, reading a Christmas gift from Julie, the new novel SPOONER by Pete Dexter--love his writing!!!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

wrote for one hour

Got to the laptop at 6:00 a.m. and read aloud/polished story for two pages before had to get off and help sister try to book a campsite via the online system. Saved changes to three flash drives. onward...

Friday, January 1, 2010

okay, did one thing today

Got laptop onto dining room table and opened up the whole novel, all 78773 words of it; will start tomorrow morning going back through to read aloud and change what pops up that needs changing, but also want to hurry up to finish this part, and then print out again the whole thing to read at one sitting, as advised by COYOTE MORNING author and writing teacher, Lisa Leonard-Cook.

Oddly, coyotes have been spotted in my American River Biketrail neighborhood lately.