Writing in a Bubble

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You can’t write in a bubble.  You’re influenced by everything you’ve been exposed to.  Good, bad, whatever.

I think it’s important to keep that in perspective when you are feeling a bit like you can’t offer up a fresh voice in stories.  It’s a hurdle I had to overcome.  I had a sense that I couldn’t add anything to the conversation.  I had a sense that even though I wanted to reach out and touch people with a story about different kinds of love and struggles, I didn’t know if I had anything special to add.

In the end I decided to just sit down and write the story.  To write down the show unraveling inside of my head.  To see where it takes me.

Now that I have finished the first book – Red August – I am thrilled that book two – Red Archer – is already full of life in my mind.  It’s crackling with energy and concepts that are exciting to me and I can’t wait to write them all down.  My sweetheart has been helping me with ideas about love and bonding and even obsessive feelings and where they come from and how to work with them.

Right now I am hip deep in props and set decorating for an amazing play written by my friend Audrey.  My sweetheart is in the play, too.  So we’ve been all about the play these past couple of months and “hell week” is next week, so it’s going to get busier before it lets up.  But come November, once a brilliant run of Maytag Virgin is over, I can settle back into working on book two.

I’m always looking for people who have insight on the Celtic/Scottish and Irish aspects of the story as well – if you have some thoughts, please send them along (email below).  I’m interested in traditions related to weddings, marriage, birthdays, holidays, things lovers might say to each other and other cultural things that would be hard for me to know about without living there.  I always want to research well and be respectful.

****REVIEWERS***

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If you would like to review Red August (ebook only at this time) please contact me at hlbrookswrites(at)yahoo(dot)com.  See my Media Kit page for images and synopsis.  Please note, the book contains sexual material.

Red August Review by TomeTender

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“Grab a fan, because the teen hormones are raging, in full, intimate detail! Red August by H.L. Brooks is not your childhood fairytale come to life, but rather a contemporary version starring an older Red, caught between womanhood and childhood. Filled with wonderfully quirky and kind secondary characters, a feisty grandmother, an ancient feud, death, misunderstandings and a cameo appearance by the Woodsman, H.L. Brooks has taken May-December romances to an entirely new level…”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW

WHERE TO BUY RED AUGUST

Book Review by SandraTheBookworm

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“I absolutely loved this book and the characters! I immediately fell in love with August she is such a smart young lady, takes crap from no one and is a very relatable character; Oh, and Faolan, gosh that man is complete perfection such a gentleman and he loves to read, he is very swoon worthy. The side characters also have a place in my heart; the way H.L. Brooks wrote them just makes them so lovable.”

READ THE REST OF THE REVIEW

WHERE TO BUY RED AUGUST

Messy Desk, Messy Heart, Good Workflow

Yesterday’s Mood:  “I can do a really good impression of a fettuccine noodle, I bet somebody’s gotta want that.”  ~Dharma (see 5:36 in the video)

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My desk has two glasses, one mug, an empty dried plums box and a bowl with dried up soy milk in it.  I know the spoon is stuck to the bottom, without even touching it.

The more I dig into my work, whether it’s writing or artwork, photo editing – whatever – the messier my desk gets, until I am pushing things this way and that just to see my side monitor.  The mess on my desk means progress in my work, and I’ve tried to make friends with that idea.

I’m busy doing a lot of things right now, including dealing with some rejection.  Book two (Red Archer in the Red August series) started out so nicely yesterday, about 700 words in just a few hours, and that felt nice.  Then the rejection came, totally unrelated to my books and writing, but still.  I cried a bit, because no matter how confident you are, rejection stings.  When you get rejected, especially for something you feel vulnerable about, you feel like all of your tender spots have been poked with a stick.

Does the crying help?  No.  Well…maybe.  I don’t know.  I cried and got comforted and then I felt better.  So, maybe it helps to cry and let it out.

Then I sent my sister a mopey text.  She sent me back “don’t be silly” stuff and told me that it had been the first day of school for my nephews.  I posted an uncharacteristically mopey status on social media.  Normally I’m all zen and cheer or feminist and angry.  I thought about Dharma and her lost yoga class.  I think my feelings would be easier to cope with if I didn’t feel like I don’t pull my weight around here.  It’s a matter of pride.  After all, I supported myself before I ever got involved with a man.  Oh – my life.  It’s taken some unexpected turns. I really wouldn’t change most of it, though.

I’m fortunate to have a sweetheart, sidekick and partner in all things arty to keep me grounded.  I have people who send me nice notes when my work has touched them in some way.  It can really get you through a low spot.

A friend said to me today that she was so surprised when I published a book.  That she had no idea.  And I explained that I didn’t talk about it much because I wasn’t sure I could do it.  But I did it, and that’s something.  And now I am on the second book and some people are waiting for it.  They really want to read it.  And that’s amazing.

This messy heart has a lot of stories to tell.  If I had to go through some of the shit I went through in life, I might as well find a way to make something beautiful of it.  If I can’t make something beautiful, then I want to find a way to connect.  That matters to me.

I’m all patched up today.  Rejection stings are all tended to.  Messy desk is messier – which is good.  It means I’m working and getting somewhere.  I guess it’s the same way for my heart.

Theatre and Relationships Podcast

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I was a guest on Raven Heights Radio again – YAY – and this time my sweetheart William C. Hardy was with me, too. Will answers questions like “How many accents can you do?”  And I mostly say how much I love people and giggle.

He talked about theatre and the amazingly creative people we have worked with and our friends.  We also talked about the night Will and I met, which involved giggling during the discussion (some perhaps owed to the wine).  Also – mush.  There is some romantic mush.

Late Night Driving

Went on a late night drive with Will. He was restless and happy when he came home from rehearsal. Hair mussed up from his moon roof, chilled-neck hug and then a pat on my backside. “Let’s go on a drive,” he said.  “I want to take you out somewhere.  I don’t know if anything is open, but the night is amazing and I want to take you out.  Maybe we can just drive and find a little place.  Soft-serve maybe.  Maybe pie.”

I said I didn’t think we’d find any soft-serve, but maybe we could find a diner and some pie.  “Yes, let’s go.  I’d love to take a ride with you.”

Cool and humid night air.  Windows down. Talking about stuff we did when we were kids and why we’re always trying to capture that wonder you feel when you discovered something new. The roads were empty and nothing was open. Missed the I-Hop by ten minutes. We’d pass clumps of trees filled with singing insects, then buildings covered in windows, lights on, but no life inside. End of the world, but not.  Empty parking lots. Parts of Route 1 smooth as butter all black and shiny, other parts pocked and shaking the car. We were holding hands and saying I love you, too many times (if there is a such thing, when you mean it, and we did).

Hardly anybody was driving like a jerk and mostly we had the road. It reminded me of being on the road with my family – military, back and forth – California then Virginia, then California, then Virginia, then Texas and Virginia again.  Many hours on the road, watching the streetlights go by.  There was no portable DVD player, just the games my mom and dad made up.  Dad would say, “Hey, there’s a rub-broka,” and we were supposed to figure out what it meant. Mom would toss out “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral” questions and my sister and I would play “Paddidle.”  When games grew old it turned to sisters annoying each other.

“Mom, she’s touching me!”

“Stop touching your sister!”

“Mom she’s not on her side!”

“Stay on your side!”

Stopping at I-Hops and Shoney’s and Denny’s on whatever route my dad decided for this trip. There’s something exciting about eating in a nearly empty diner after midnight. That’s still true for me.  A middle-of-night visit to Silver Diner excites some part of me that’s still wild and still seven.  You’re not supposed to eat in the middle of the night.  You’re not supposed to especially eat in the middle of the night at a restaurant.  Always – silver dollar pancakes and “dippy eggs” – usually with milk, or hot chocolate (with whipped cream) if I could convince my parents. There is something decadent about a spherical scoop of whipped butter that spreads neatly over the hotcakes. Mom would eye my syrup portion – I always overdid it, even for a runty beanpole of a kid, she didn’t like my sugar addiction. Grape Nehi, grape-jelly donuts (powdered please), grape Now & Laters, grape Pixie Sticks, grape Tootsie Pops.  I might have had a thing about grape.  I ate a lot and burned it hard and fast, running, climbing, skating, swinging, flipping, jumping – nonstop.

Will and I talked about camping and fishing and he kept laughing and telling me how cute I am, and I held it.  He told me his family went on a lot of camping trips and I tried to count mine.  Not a lot, but enough, I thought.  And for some reason paddle-boats were amazing to me.

He’d rub my thigh with his palm.  We’d talk about the empty buildings.  The lights.

“Does that one look open?”

“I think it closes at midnight.”

“Phone says there’s a Tastee Diner nearby that’s 24 hours.”

“That one’s dinky and really a greasy spoon, you sure you wanna try it?”  He knows more about these things than I do.  He knows these roads.  He knows what everything used to be.

“Maybe not.  I’m fine just driving.  Sorry we can’t find any pie for ya.”  He loves pie.

“It’s ok, I’m fine, too.”

We listened to a podcast we recorded together that had just been posted.  We got home before it was over and we sat in the car, windows down, leaning into each other, listening to us telling the story of how we met.

Now we’re both back in the house, distracted by pixels and electronic machines.  But I’m going to end this now and go climb into bed with the love of my life.

Good night.