“Artists are people who are not at all interested in the facts—only in the truth. You get the facts from outside. The truth you get from inside.” --Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, May 30, 2022

Hey Writers, Do You Do this?

Have you become attached to your protagonist's name and had difficulty changing it? 


So, why do it?


This morning I searched for a new last name for my male hero. I had chosen one but kept spelling it differently. I would use an "a" or an "e "or an "o." 


The first name was firm. The problem was the last name's meaning, spelling, and connotation.


So, I changed it. 


I guess I'll live with the new name for a while and see if it sticks. I need to make sure I changed the old name to the new one on the over twenty pages where I used it. How embarrassing it is to find your hero's name on page 5 is different from the one on page 35.


You know, too, how most every author wants to be published by a major publishing house. (You, too, huh?)


Well, I'm wondering about that. Yes, we want the validation. We want to believe our work is worthy of being published. But is it?


I read a published short story yesterday. The writer used exquisite language, crafted his story beautifully, had a great concept, but ended with a huh? 


Don't be cute, I thought. I spent time reading your material, so give me something meaningful that contributes to my life. (Maybe it's just me.) 


Once I found a publisher who agreed to publish my manuscript The Frog's Song.

It's not a children's  book ns some think, but the story of my family selling our house, horses, goats, chickens, ducks, packing up our belongings and moving to a tropical Island...and back.


The publisher somehow took a shine to me, and I to her. Not only was she the publisher, but she personally edited my manuscript. We had a lovely time corresponding back and forth—at least I did. I loved her. 


I don't think my publisher wants me anymore, for I didn't make much money selling my book.


And even though my lovely publisher/editor paid for the books, the cover, her time in editing, printing costs, then three books ffor free, except for listing on her site and others like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, the marketing fell on my shoulders. Well, I stunk at that. Plus, part of the deal was that I couldn't sell the book unless I was physically present for the sale. 


So, tell me, dear readers, what do you think of self-publishing? Going the publisher route took TWO YEARS from acceptance to print--longer than a pregnancy, and that seemed long.


Publishing houses have to charge more for their books to cover costs. Although, hallelujah, there is Kindle unlimited. You can sometimes read for free or buy a book for less than the old-time way of purchasing a physical copy.


How invested are you in price? 


If the book is listed with a blurb on Amazon and says buy this book, what's the difference if you publish it or a Publishing House does?


Oh, prestige. 


Readers can trust the material more if a publishing house has released it. At least someone thought it had merit.


One needs to buy my physical book to see and feel the cover. It has a glorious texture. And the book smells new, and it has pages you can bookmark and find again. Plus, it looks pretty on the shelf. 


The trouble is, its blurb says it is a "light-hearted journey."


It wasn't. 


I had gotten discouraged and neglected the Frog's Song site, for I was getting more malicious hits than viewers. I checked in today, placed a spam stop on it, and listened to OZ sing, "Over the rainbow."


Wow. Oz's rendition thrills me every time I hear it. Listen to it. It will calm your spirit and give you Hawaii lust. I see his video has gotten over a million views. 


The Hawaiians symbolize the rainbow as the pathway from which they descended to Earth, and it is the way we will all return. 


              We saw many Rainbows in Hawaii, and Oregon is a top contender.


To hear s Oz singing "Over the Rainbow,"  click on the link.




Regarding book, The Frog's Song:


Amazon.com is now selling The Frog's Song, Kindle version for  $3.61.


The Paperback is $3.80. (That's cheaper than the ones I bought at the beginning of this venture.)


Dear readers, if we don't promote, we don't sell.


And another thing an author must face is that you might end up on the sale table. 


So, let's get with this. If you have not read the book, now's the time. It's selling at a reasonable price, and it's likely to go away real soon.


Here's the link:  The Frog's Song

To read what ended up on the editing floor, please go to my blog on thefrogssong.com.

Here's a portion: If you've read it. Skip it.


 “Leaving the Island”


We were packed.

Husband Dear was driving a rented van, for the vehicles had already sailed away on a cargo ship bound for L.A. 


I sat in the passenger seat with my little dog, Peaches, on my lap. In the back seat, Daughter Dear shared space with her year-old son, a laptop, a diaper bag, and a purse while trying to avoid being set upon by Bear, a 150-pound Newfoundland dog.


Behind her, the dog carrier with its top nested inside the bottom held cat carriers holding Hope and Zoom Zoom. We were aiming for the airport on the other side of the Island.


Moments ago, I said goodbye to the house, the yard, and the Tiki room across the expanse of green. I watched the green enlivened grass almost every morning as though the goddess was turning up her rheostat.


Alongside the road, deep canyons carry water out to sea. From the bridges over those ravines, we looked over that incredible green dotted with red flowers that sit atop 100-foot trees like parrots.


Fifty miles from home, a flagger stopped us. "A tanker rolled over," he said. "It will take half a day to clean up the spill." He waved us away with no suggestion of an alternative route.


We sat dumbfounded.


Our belongings were gone, the car and truck were gone, and that tip-over probably scared the bejeesus out of the driver.


Bear needed to be deposited with United Cargo by 9 a.m. as United Airlines demanded he go Cargo, and we had arranged connections in L.A.


We were in shock.


A roadblock.


A back seat scream: "Get Me off this Damn Island!"


Husband and I stared at each other as angry purple ooze spread through the vehicle. "Take Saddle Road!" We say in unison. So, we backtracked the 40-miles back toward Hilo to where Saddle Road exited the highway.


We drove the one-lane Saddle Road up and over the mountain, down the ravines, over single-lane bridges, and across the Texas look-alike countryside with more cars this morning than other times. We arrived at United Cargo before the nine o'clock deadline.


However, as Daughter Dear spoke with the forklift driver and with him shaking his head, I knew the results looked bad.


The dog kennel had been modified. The driver would not take it. Continental Airlines carried Bear from the mainland to Honolulu in it. Aloha Airlines Cargo carried him to the Big Island in it. No amount of my pleading would get that dog in that carrier on board that airship.


Okay, we raced over to Pet Co, where—miracle of miracles—they had the largest airline-approved kennel available. The last time we visited that store, they had none.


Daughter dear bought the new, expensive, airline-approved kennel. It would be a tight fit for Bear, but we figured he would have to manage.


We raced back to Cargo. We fit the top and bottom of the carrier together, tightened the wingnuts, and asked Bear to try it. "And, compliant dog that he was, he climbed in. You couldn't ask for a better dog.


They told us they would not load him on the noon flight and that we had to go that night at eight o'clock.


We raced to the airport ticketing, where a man changed all our tickets to the 8 p.m. flight. Ah. We go back and rescue Bear from the confinement and the heat.


"Be back at 2 p.m.," they told us.


Two o'clock for an eight o'clock flight?


Okay, we were back at 2 p.m. We deposited Bear at Cargo and went into town for a bite to eat with the other animals in tow. Along the way, we got a phone call.


Someone somewhere canceled our flight.


They scheduled us to leave the following morning at ten o'clock. I envisioned a hot night in the car, as the hotels on the Island are not pet-friendly. And there was Bear confined in a kennel that fit him like a wet suit.


We go back to the airport. Daughter reminded us that the Cargo hold closes at 3 p.m., which means Bear was locked in—oh, that was why he had to be deposited at two o'clock. We must wait until 6 p.m. as no person occupies the ticketing booth until then. We encountered other passengers in the open-air waiting area who received the same phone call we did. "What happened?" asks one. "The plane didn't leave San Francisco," says another.


Bottom line: no plane.


Nina and I shake our heads at the irony, how the Island called us, how it got us there, and how we thought it was pushing us off. But we were still on.


I would have laughed, except as I sat there on the bench at the airport, I felt like the little anole I accidentally painted into the porch steps. I didn't mean to do it, dusk was settling in, and I didn't see that a little lizard was in my paint path. Instead, I found his flat little body the following morning, a lizard relief in the gray-blue porch paint.


I felt like that little lizard—stuck.


So, we sat in a hot, humid airport waiting in Island time for a ticket booth to open. Six o'clock, they said. No one occupied the booth until six. Okay. We waited.


Daughter and her son entertained themselves with travel brochures—a fiery volcano, horseback rides, helicopter rides, zip lines, orchid farms. Husband Dear, read a book. Peaches stretched out on her stomach on the cool cement. The cats were quiet in their carriers. And Bear? You know where he was, in lock up.


My mind wandered back to the house we left behind only a few hours earlier. It is vacant, alone. But it isn't alone. The neighbor's horses will be right outside. They are using our property for pasture. The neighbors will mow the property in return for free pasture. Jeff, the carpenter we hired to bring the Tiki Room up to building permit standards, will live in it. He will watch out for the house and keep the property looking lived-in until it sells.


I called our neighbor and told her she could have dog carrier that my husband has made into a stretch limo, if she would drive to the airport and get it.


I thought about my horses and how we wanted those ten acres for them but didn't ship them. I thought about the sad day I gave them away and how my Daughter gave away her two horses.


 "You can hold me," I told the Universe, "you can rain on me, mosquitoes can chew on me, dark energies can roll over us, but you can't keep me here. You can give Husband heart trouble to make him leave—he was happy here, he would have stayed, but I am not having him die here. None of us are dying here. We want to live, and it will be beyond the horizon that we do it!"


I felt a jiggle as my little grandson crawled up beside me on the bench. My telephone/clock whispered to me that it was 6 o'clock.

In-mass we go to the ticketing counter.

 Whatever caused the log-jam of this day's events was about to burst. I could feel it. It was not without fear, however, that we approached the desk.

 Karen, the ticketing person, a take-command lady, changed our tickets to another plane scheduled to leave that evening at 8:55 p.m.

 That night!


After a stop-over in San Francisco, we were scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles around nine in the morning. I was stunned. HAPPY DAY!

Lovely Karen called Cargo to have Bear shuttled over to our plane. She checked in all four animals, had them taken aboard, checked our carry-on bags—they didn't charge us for that service—and bumped us up to first class. We were off—just like that. (And we arrived in L.A. earlier than we would have on our initial schedule.)

 In First Class, there was food for the family and a glass of wine for me. I settled down with the prayer, "Get us to the mainland," and lay my head against the seat's headrest.


We taxied down the runway.




What was that I heard?


It was Peaches, our poodle. I didn't know the animals were right beneath us. She could hear us, and every passenger on the plane could hear her. And so embarrassed, not claiming we knew who belonged to that dog, we sailed out over the ocean to the tune of, "Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, Yap, yap…


 Book link: https://www.amazon.com/Frogs-Song-Joyce-Davis-ebook/dp/B07K3XW21T/ref=sr_1_1?crid=10I8DU8CJSN9G&keywords=the+frog%27s+song+by+joyce+davis&

or click on image.


Tuesday, May 24, 2022

This is The Work



“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all.”—Vincent  Van Gogh


 “Put your ass where your heart wants to be and don’t ask anything else of yourself.”Steven Pressfield.


He says he doesn’t worry about how many words he will write, about punctuation, or anything. He knows that if he sits for his allotted time per day (his is about 3 hours), in six months, he will have a book. In a year, two books. 


Cool! It helps that he has some writing skills at his disposal. 


True, I could probably write a book in six months, but from my experience, then it will take 6 years of rewriting and editing, and proofreading. Then does anyone what to read it? (Diabolical laughter.)  


Maybe I need an attitude adjustment.


This morning, as I often do, I opened a book on writing as an oracle. I open the book to a random page, read a couple of paragraphs, and it sets me up for the day. Read an entire book on writing in one sitting, and your brain will go out to lunch, leaving you behind to starve. No, I take that back, read the entire book, then keep it around for a refresher.


This morning it was Steven King/On Writing:.


“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story. Good description is a learned skill.” (Oh, goodie.) “One of the prime reasons you cannot succeed unless you read a lot and write a lot.”


I don’t know what sensory experience. I want you guys to gain from reading this. It is non-fiction, which some successful writers say ought to be crafted as though it’s fiction. I’m simply talking. You are sitting in front of your computer. I am in front of mine. I use an external keyboard, for I simply cannot type on the computer’s keyboard--it drives me nuts. Maybe it’s because I learned to type on a typewriter. I like keys that pack a punch. And I have raised my screen to about eye level, as my Chiropractor suggested, so my back is straight. Whoops, I just straightened up. 


I sit in front of a window, my favorite spot for writing. I like to look up and see the green trees, the birdies flipping about, and if I raise up a bit, I can see my four chickens as they are in the backyard now. The area where they used to be behind the Wayback gave ample opportunity for the marauding raccoon to use them for snacks.


Safe house


The pink dogwood tree I see out my window is replacing flowers with leaves. I really praise that ancient tree for recovering from its extreme cut-back. See how we can recover even if we are ancient. Remember how in Hawaii, I sat at my desk by the window and watched the Morning Goddess slowly meticulously adjust the morning sunlight until it totally enlivened the acre of green between me and the Tiki room. Oh, maybe you weren’t reading me at that time—it’s been ten years. (Really? It seems like last week.) 


And now, I open Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones, a book I read when?? In 1986?! I don’t know; that’s when her book came out. Since I left the book behind in California, I rebought it in Oregon. The following is from the 30th Anniversary Edition.


“If you capture that reality around you, your writing needs nothing else. You don’t only listen to the person speaking to you across the table but simultaneously listen to the air, the chair, and the door. Take in the sound of the season, the sound of the color coming through the windows.” (Color has a sound?) “The deeper you can listen, the better you will write the truth about the way things are… Jack Kerouac, in his list of prose essentials, said, ‘If you can capture the way things are, that’s all the poetry you will ever need.’”


I wonder how this meshes with my reading Joe Despensia’s book, Be Your Own Placebo, where I learned that the brain has “Plasticity, that is it re-invents itself according to what you experience and learn.


Isn’t that great? We aren’t “stuck” in anything.


My movie/book suggestions:

Watch the movie Operation Mincemeat, about a fantastic clandestine operation during WWII.

Book: David Michie’s The Dali Lama’s Cat; Awaken the Kitten Within.


“As kittens, all it takes is a windblown feather, an unexpected delicacy, or the alluring rush of water, and instantly we are caught up in it. Wonderment. Enchantment. Being fully absorbed in the here and now.”


Is it possible to recover the unaffected zest for life?

Thursday, May 19, 2022


I’m getting a good readership on this blog, thank you very much, and perhaps it doesn’t matter if I know to whom I’m speaking. However, I know I am talking to you. YOU. THE PERSON READING THIS RIGHT NOW. 


Out of the entire world of human beings, we landed on the same page. Isn’t that something?!


Wow, I just inspired myself.



A few minutes ago, I moved a smaller box my husband had labeled “Sharp things” from a larger box, looking for my Seagate external drive that took an excursion on its own somewhere between moving my desk from the living room, to my new office in the Wayback (An external building behind the house.) There beneath the small box was not my Seagate drive but my old coffee warmer hot spot. Ah ha. Now I have warm coffee—but still no external computer device.


The Universe works in mysterious ways.


I’ll give that drive time to reappear. In the meantime, Steven King in Steven King/On Writing admonished me to eliminate cliche’d similes, metaphors, and images. “He ran like a madman. She was pretty as a summer day, the guy was a hot ticket, Bob fought like a tiger.” 


I better check my manuscript to see if I dropped any such chestnuts. 


King says we are lazy to use them, and we haven’t done enough reading.


“Hey, King, there are only so many hours in a day.” 


You know what? All this attempting to write well, is like the Circus performer spinning plates atop poles.


And among my notes, I found this: “We observe what is, instead of creating what we want to see.”


“Reality is so compelling,” I had written, “It has so much momentum going it’s hard to stop or change its direction.


 “How do you feel? That’s the test. When you are resonating with the good, you feel good. When you focus on the dire, the dangerous, the sick, you feel down, depressed, complaining, or just off kilter.”