Friday, April 25, 2008

I want to bleed like a stuck pig


There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)


My other half stumbled upon this cool article on an equally cool website called "37 Days". The site's tag line is: What would you do if you only had 37 days to live? Well, he thought I'd like reading it so he sent me the link. I have to say that just reading this piece gave me goosebumps.

How many people here have experienced this? How many excuses do you give yourself and others not to do something? We keep postponing. Procrastinating. Thinking, not doing. I know I've done it at some point in my life, and I also know you've done it too.

Artists and writers are the worst lot - at least until they realize, as the article says, that writing is a PRACTICE, not merely an art! This is an undeniable truth. It's something you do every day, in the same way that you wake up and go to sleep and do everything in between. Many writers recognize this - those are the successful ones, or the ones that will eventually become successful. Others are content to sit on the sidelines, although they don't realize it. For a long time they tell themselves tons of things just so they don't write. I've been through that phase a LONG time ago. Here are some excuses we tend to use...

I need to focus on my day job because I gotta pay the bills; I'm just too busy today, my book's gonna have to take the back seat; I'm so tired today, I'll just pick up tomorrow; one of my buddies needs my help, my writing can wait; I have errands to do, can't sit by my computer all day; it's too inconvenient to write on a piece of paper or in a journal when I'm out and about, I prefer my computer so I wait till I get home (then I forget my thoughts and ideas); If I schedule writing time, I don't think I'll be inspired...inspiration is something that comes on impulse and can't be "summoned", right? (or some such esoteric crap about writing); it's my birthday today, I'm not supposed to work, so I'll just sit and do nothing; my family wants ALL my attention, where does the time go?; MUST clean up this house, no time for anything else; I take all day helping my kids with homework... or the worst one, horror of horrors, the perverted murderer of muse that lurks in many aspiring writers' hearts: I'm just not good enough yet (or someone told me some shit along those lines, or laughed at my writing style), I need to LEARN how to write first.

So I say - when is writing supposed to be perfect? Isn't it supposed to be, most of all, an expression of our innermost thoughts and feelings? Recently I was contacted for professional editing services by a gentleman who wrote a 540 page book. He's been called a crappy writer, well, he's somewhat right and he knows it... but he wrote the damn book! He called me and laughed about it. I told him I admired him and loved his idea. There's a big movie studio in California that's interested in getting a script done if the book is given a good facelift. My job, as his editor, is to help him get the manuscript "in shape". Geez...this guy didn't even intend to be a writer, and already he's being romanced with movie deals and what not! Did I feel a tad jealous or what? Not really, just truly pleased to meet someone like him. So here's the problem this guy didn't have. He didn't sit there worrying about whether he could write or not. He just sat down and wrote. And if you think that he may have much more time on his hands than you do, let me tell you this guy has wife, a demanding business, five kids and I don't know how many grandchildren. So think again. The great thing about him: HE MADE NO EXCUSES.

So I'm happy that I've learned to take my "muse saboteurs" and throw them out the friggin' window. I still want to work on giving more time to writing my own stories, but one must start from somewhere. I make it a point to give MY inspiration at least a portion of the attention it deserves, each day. This month, I sent out my manuscript to agents, participated in a critique workshop, wrote a short story (approx. 3k) and submitted it to a competition, added 5k to one novel, 2+k on another novel, and did some historical research. It may not be much, because I have a freelance writing and editing business I must keep up until I get richer than sin or at least, comfortable enough to keep only one client: myself. But in any case, what I've done this month is way more than I'd do if I just sat down and worried/ whined about how busy I am (my biz takes up about 10 hours a day or more sometimes).

Every writer should give themselves an accounting of what they do each day, each week, each month, to benefit their craft. Just thinking about it and taking no action - you end up having nada, and may as well just throw in the towel. Write one page a day, and you'll have a full length novel in a year. Two pages, and you have two. Think like this, and you'll get somewhere, sometime.

As for moi, if I had my rathers: if writing is all about sitting and opening my vein, I just want to bleed till I die.



~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven"--"Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ken Lee

I absolutely MUST learn this mysterious, new language. Sounds more interesting than Esperanto (despite the lack of "melodiousness") :o)



I'm not one to poke fun but had the overwhelming urge to share this. Hope it brings you a smile.


~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven"--"Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press

Monday, April 21, 2008

Not a laughing matter: The man who made lists and the advent of N2O


In last week’s blog I honored Eugine Ehrlich, creator of thesauri, dictionaries and other cerebral goodies for the “intellectually literate”. Today, in the spirit of fairness, I’d like to jot a sentence or two about the creator of the most famous thesaurus probably in the whole world: Peter Mark Roget.

Joshua Kendall, in his fresh on the shelves biography, “The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of ‘Roget’s Thesaurus,’" describes Roget as an obsessive compulsive, prone to bouts of “depression and mental instability”. Most probably, making lists and classifying things according to an “odd binary scheme” was the straw he held onto, the one thing that kept him from falling too hard into the dark world he wanted to avoid. Apparently, in a NY Times article published recently, madness ran in Roget’s family. Perhaps this is what led him to his enduring addiction to a substance known as “nitrous oxide”, today better known as “laughing gas”, and is used extensively in dentists’ offices.

From some web sources, I have learned that nitrous oxide (or N2O) was invented by Jason Priestly, who in 1792, “reported the isolation of a mixture of nitrogen oxides that he called dephlogisticated nitrous air, later changed to nitrous oxide. He did several experiments with the gas but never inhaled it.” A few years later, “the Pneumatic Institution (a small medical facility in Bristol England) conducted the first tests into the mind altering qualities of the drug in the 1780's.” This is where Sir Humphrey Davy and Roget come in (see below, and see here for a nitrous oxide timeline).

At this time, “various scientists and others were doing experiments with the gas and its use as a recreational drug spread.” The drug was introduced in the US in the 1840’s, by the way, when “side show entertainers gave laughing gas demonstrations”. The dentist Horace Wells happened to be watching one of these shows and started using the gas in his practice, leading the drive for surgical anesthesia. In the 1860’s, decades after such use in the UK, laughing gas was popular as a recreational drug in America.

One interesting thing I’d like to mention, of particular interest to some romance writers and readers, I’m sure, is that there is clear mention of Roget in Sabrina Jeffries’ last book “Let Sleeping Rogues Lie,” where she gives insight into the use of nitrous oxide in 19th century England for entertainment, rather than anesthetic, purposes. From Sabrina Jeffries’ author’s note: nitrous oxide was used in medicine only around 1846, despite the fact that its anesthetic properties were discovered, in her words, way before in 1799 by Sir Humphrey Davy (who wrote a hulking 579 page book about it!).

In the intervening years between 1799 and 1846, before the substance came to be recognized for its medical benefits in England (that is, to numb pain), it was therefore primarily utilized for entertainment purposes, in much the same way as opium. People inhaled nitrous oxide in order to “get high” and as a means of “escape” just like they would many other drugs, and some were hopelessly addicted to it. So do I know of any well known characters who fell under nitrous oxide’s spell? Sabrina Jeffries mentions a few, in addition to Roget—namely Samuel Taylor Coleridge (who used it to buffer his opium addiction), Robert Southey, and Thomas and Josiah Wedgwood (that's right, you guessed, those guys from the famous family of potters, descended from the Darwin - Wedgwood family... and here I'm refering to THAT Darwin, too), who all enjoyed getting regularly “stoned”. I did have fun reading this book, and it prompted me to do a little research about this particular 19th century underworld populated by the intelligentia and artistic genii addicted to the use of the gas.

Since we are on this subject, here’s a more comprehensive list of renowned nitrous oxide users lifted from David Wallechinsky’s “Book of Lists”:

• Allen Ginsberg, American Poet
• Gregori Corso, American Poet
• Humphrey Davy, English Chemist
• Ken Kesey, American Writer
• Peter Mark Roget, Author of Roget's Thesaurus
• Peter Ouspenski, Russian disciple of Gudjieff
• Robert Southey, English Poet
• Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English Poet
• Theodore Dreiser, American Writer and Journalist
• Thomas Wedgewood, English Physicist
• William James, American Philosopher
• Winston Churchill, English Politician

Yes, Churchill, too. Who'd have imagined? My mom told me she knew about this from a History Channel documentary. Unfortunately, I missed that particular one.

So, let's get on the home turf: is use of nitrous oxide legal in the US? According to one website, it isn’t unless it's for medicinal purposes; but, here’s what it says: “Technically it is not illegal to possess nitrous oxide in the USA, it is an unscheduled drug. However, in many states it is illegal to use nitrous oxide for recreational purposes. If you use it to get high, you are committing a crime. Possession of nitrous oxide with intent of inhaling is illegal in many areas, unless you are under the care of a dentist or doctor.”

Others, such as Dr. Drew (ever caught him on TV spewing his wisdom on relationships and sex?), say that use of the drug is tough to regulate, because it’s “everywhere”: “Pressurized whip cream cans containing enough of the gas to get high are sold at convenience and grocery stores all over. Dead heads and neighborhood head shops peddle metal or plastic canisters of pure N20 (known as crackers in inhalant lingo) for pocket change. Also hawked at head shops are poppers, small devices specifically made to pierce crackers, releasing a powerful blast of nitrous oxide. And in college, enterprising students pilfer entire tanks of the anesthetic from campus laboratories, then sell it by the balloonful at frat parties and in dorms for as little as $5 a whack.”

I wonder what Roget would have thought of this, of how this invention has been both a blessing and a curse and continues to be so in modern society. I wonder what he would have thought of its use among children and youth. Roget was early in catching on to the trend; he played an active role in assisting Sir Humphrey Davy in Bristol, UK, with his nitrous oxide research. Thus, he went to great lengths and traveled far to nurse his habit and experience, in Dr. Drew's very words, its "euphoric effects.”

But Roget was not only a depressed drug addict and creator of a thesaurus. He also did many other laudable things which he is less known for. He was both a prolific writer and an inventor.

He was a genius who before his death in 1869 gave considerable contributions to the world. Here are some: he “invented an improved slide rule used until the development of pocket calculators, and the pocket chessboard… [and] he did research on vision physiology which he published in 1825 that is the conceptual basis for motion pictures.”

In case you need one, a FREE copy of Roget’s Thesaurus may be found here at Project Gutenberg.


~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Vacancy: Lexicographer


Perhaps feeling weary after so much limelight thrown on Mr. Charlton Heston's passing, with whom (despite his renowned thespian talents and, I'm sure, much deserved recognition) I had nothing in common, including ideals, opinions and values, but for whom I sincerely wish eternal peace (although I assume there are no guns in the "other" world, unfortunately for him and fortunately for many others)--I wish to steal the spotlight from such a heavily touted personality and place it for just a few moments on a more obscure figure who deserves the attention and yes, even the utmost respect, of those of us who consider ourselves authors. Although this figure does not hold Hollywood star status in the hearts and minds of the general public, far from it actually, there is ample reason for me to honor him on this blog. Why? Because as a writer engaged in an ever-growing love affair with language, I have an interest in doing just so...

Today I choose to blog about Eugene Ehrlich - The New York Times has recently called him a "word connoisseur", a self-taught lexicographer who wrote or co-wrote "40 dictionaries, thesauruses and phrase books for the "extraordinarily literate"" or for those who really, really wish they were. During his esteemed career, Mr. Ehrlich wrote "three to five million words about words." Impressive, ain't it? Alibris.com supports this fact with three pages of search results for the name "Eugene Ehrlich," whose first book was written in 1961 and held the title "How to Study Better and get Higher Marks." This purveyor of high-brow lexicon died on April 5 after a long illness at the quite ripe age of 85.

If you are one of those who think that the only thesaurus worth owning (or even that the only one that exists) is that compiled by the more widely known Roget, think again. Ehrlich's works are for those intellectuals who make words their art, their sophisticated weapon, their purpose, and are not, admittedly, for the average Joe who needs grammar and sentence structure tips so he can write better emails on the job. And Ehrlich does not only tackle the complex battlefield of the English Language; indeed, some of his books expouse his knowledge of Latin and French...even with very humorous titles, such as (my favorite) "Les Bons Mots, or How to Amaze Tout le Monde With Everyday French," published in 1997, or "Veni, Vidi, Vici: Conquer Your Enemies, Impress Your Friends with Everyday Latin". Apparently, according to Mr. Ehrlich, there IS such a thing as everyday Latin.

This blog is to commemorate such a grand personality, who, to the very end, felt it necessary to fulfill his assumed duty as grammar watchdog. According to the NY Times:

"Some family members were so used to Mr. Ehrlich’s habit of correcting grammar that some studied up before visiting him. On his deathbed, Mr. Ehrlich heard somebody ask, “To who?”

“To whom,” he said, with a weak voice and great authority."


May you rest in peace in "word heaven," Mr. Ehrlich. I would have liked to meet you and converse with you, even at the cost of occasionally embarrassing myself with poor word choice.



~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Yet another contract! A lovely new home for Cole and Olivia...

My debut contemporary short, Mile High to Heaven, has also been accepted for publication by Whiskey Creek Press. I'll be getting a new cover and all, along with a whole new crew of esteemed author buddies -- I'm very grateful!

"Mile High to Heaven" has received great reviews, including a 5 star Recommended Read rating from Romance Junkies (I know, don't beat me--still haven't uploaded it) and I'm happy for the opportunity of seeing it on the virtual shelves again.

To reflect the new changes, I'll be working on updating my website soon, promise.

Thank you, WCP!


~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mile High to Heaven"--Xtra hot!!!--Contemporary short. Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press
"Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--A toasty warm holiday tale--TBR 2008 by WCP

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Another reason to dump him (or her)?

Well, well, when I read this NY Times article, I could hardly believe my eyes but there it is. According to Rachel Donadio, in her article, "It's Not You, It's Your Books", there are people who actually dump each other because of the books they read, and apparently, there are people who take this fact very, very seriously.

Perhaps, there is some sense to this, after all. So after reading the above link, I wanted to create a scenario in my head.

I thought, let me just imagine for a moment that I'm single. If I met someone whose ABSOLUTE favorite book of all time is The Satanic Bible for pure philosophical purposes and his library is filled exclusively with these works of literature (some very creditable, I admit, close to being my favorites, particularly Oscar Wilde, Bronte and Dostoevsky - but there is a pattern there, isn't there?)... and let's just also say it's not for "knowledge enhancement" or "reference" purposes because of some specific project he's working on (eg. one never knows, he may be an undercover agent preparing to infiltrate "the darkness"...ok, mind's running too fast here) - well, in this case, I'm pretty positive, my alarm bells would start chiming a REALLY loud tune. Basically, I may be, um, slightly put off by this particular specimen (just trying to be diplomatic here). I'm not trying to offend anyone, and I do love a good, chilling occult movie or some related interesting reading. I also love to explore some dark elements in certain of my books. Therefore, I would look this literature up if knowledge of it were to prove crucial for one of my characters or plots, so I'm not shy about that sort of thing. There are many roads I would cross for the sake of my stories. I'd probably do anything short of joining a cult. That is just WAY too creepy for me. What I want to say, however, is that my occasional fascination with the subject STOPS there, and does not touch areas of lifestyle or creed. So presently, as I have had so far no use for it from the research angle, I DO NOT own a copy of The Satanic Bible, nor have I ever read it or borrowed it (or wanted to borrow it) from a library or person (I don't actually know people who'd own such a book - my life would seem very boring to some). Coming to think of it, do public libraries carry those sort of books?

BUT I'm really digressing here. See what happens when I let my mind take the lead?

Anyway, going back to the title of this blog, the NY article mentioned above goes beyond all that...we're here entering the realm of "book snobbery". Would romance readers therefore be considered "below par" according to this lofty standard? And what about romance WRITERS? (***she shudders)

Damn, what a thought! I'm so glad my dear husband hasn't dumped me! Should I emit a sigh of relief that he thinks my reading "adequate", hmmm?

So I ache to know - what do you think about this? Would you really dump someone because of his reading choices (assuming they're not too far out as in scenario above)?

Tell me please, I wanna know!!!


~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
Website: http://www.angelaguillaume.com
MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/angelaguillaume
Yahoo Group: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/breathtakingromance/
Blog: http://angelaguillaume.blogspot.com
"Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--A toasty warm holiday tale--coming 2008 at Whiskey Creek Press!