If you are here for acoustic neuroma information, click over to Mayfield Clinic, my fave site on the topic.  It is not where I had surgery.

Great Brain News and Stuff I Can’t Talk About

I drove my son to the airport for college orientation, sniff, sniff, and took the opportunity to see my neurologist in the City.

PHENOMENAL BRAIN NEWS: my fiction problem is likely caused by my meds, not my brain, WHEW! This news gives me SO MUCH HOPE. My tradeoff is that this medication has otherwise restored my normal life. I am back to everything else and feeling really good. Changing meds could endanger all of that.

I can still write nonfiction, no problem. As soon as I sit down to start actually CREATING a character or a situation, my brain feels like it’s exploding from the inside. What’s worse, there’s nothing there. No creative idea when there used to be ideas stacked on top of ideas . The doctor initially just said, “Well then just don’t write fiction,” but I explained that he doesn’t understand.

Yes, I’ve had some success writing for magazines and that’s rewarding. But I’m a writer, a novelist. I’ve had to set aside my second book over this and that breaks my heart. While this problem is unusual (most people with this surgery don’t write fiction) a common side effect of this med is trouble thinking of the right words in a sentence, something my kids have noticed sometimes and help with. As a nonfiction writer with the internet and a thesaurus, I can overcome the occasional brain-blank. But I cannot write fiction when creativity is a total blank.

WHAT TO DO?

So I asked if the meds are making my brain better or just making me able to cope with my new brain and the answer was very direct: “your situation is chronic. We won’t cure you, just control the brain.” The meds don’t cause permanent damage, just temporary.

THE STUFF I CAN’T TALK ABOUT

I’m about to embark on a new project that will be taking a lot of my time. I have the possible chance to do something I love that will help others. It’s one of those heart-driven things that I know is the right choice for right now. If I went off the meds, I might endanger the project.

So the fiction has to wait a little longer. But the excellent news is that my brain is not the problem and when I’m ready, I can get it back.

In the meantime, two things:

1) I can get a great 2nd opinion at my son’s university in California where they specialize in this type of tumor.
2) Someone has decided to pick this moment to attack my book for being exactly what it is: a dark mystery about a countercultural community. Of course, they then said loads of other things I disagree with but I figure if I’m writing counterculture and I don’t upset someone, I’m doing it wrong. Thanks for the reinforcement!

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Words, picture, potential.

The past week ushered in changes:  a new physician leading my team, another scholarship for my son, plans for an art exhibit in my hometown and a pristine, new writing project. Sometimes change can feel scary, but right now it just feels great!

Check out my words in a simple little story at the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition blog, then bookmark the blog. It’s chock-full of great art:

Sharing Jason Willaford's Vinyls with Skeptical Teens
Sharing Jason Willaford’s Vinyls with Skeptical Teens

Picture: I contributed a photo of PURE JOY emanating from my son (taken by Enid Library) to Oklahoma Women Bloggers. It’s not often that teens smile that big. Click the logo to view it:

Wordless Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday

And finally, the potential. I’m writing more creative nonfiction and saw a Kickstarter startup this morning that just ties right in:

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A qwerkywriter

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PS: I’m not paid to advertise it or anything on this blog, just saluting a great idea!

Lucie

Catalysts

An idea sends you into action. You can’t stop thinking about it—this magnificent concept that will make some small corner of the planet brighter, smarter, more connected. Sure, maybe it’s just a corner, but if everyone did just one corner…

So I’ve been working on a little art project in my small town and can share that I’m just thrilled with the welcoming response from the community development folks, the state art association, possible guest artists and even the willingness of local businesses to provide space. WOW! It’s just now perched at this moment when it’s about to take off and WILL happen. It looks so pristine as a perfect idea about to become real. Now to knock out the kinks.

My small community seems to be exploding with ideas just now. There’s a film festival opening here next month, ongoing community events and a really energetic local yarnstorming movement. Creativity inspires creativity. Check out the film fest. You have 5 days to submit, I mean, INSPIRE someone.

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Be a catalyst.

THANKS!

My appreciation to All Mystery E-Newsletter for recommending DISTORTION to their subscribers.  If you love mystery, you should really belong to their list.  The Thursday “Dirt Cheap Mystery Reads”  picks the best sale or reduced- priced books each week so you can steal a great crime novel. Seems appropriate.

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Or you can check out DISTORTION at some libraries. Here’s a photo from the time I found it in stock locally. I’m happy to say that the first two times I looked it was out.

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and thanks to Ashley, an OKC reader who made my day with this blog photo. I just love running across DISTORTION in unexpected places.

I’m still not really doing the book promo thing since the relapse, but probably did enough before February that it’s still getting a little notice. I really appreciate the mentions and the support from fans and the READERS!

Write me on the contact page if you have any feedback. I love hearing from you.

Lucie

Suspense for a Long Weekend and Beyond

Thanks to Ebook Discovery for including DISTORTION in their “Not for the Faint of Heart” thriller selections for the day. there are several great selections on the list, including some free ones so check it out here:

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I have sort of withdrawn from the book promotion arena lately so it’s a nice surprise when someone is kind enough to bring up DISTORTION. I hope to be publishing fiction again quite soon. More on that to come.

For those of you who are fans of suspense, I’m working on book column in honor of Hitchcock’s birthday and love to include reader recommendations. One caveat: they must have an OK connection, either on the shelf at an OKC bookshop, written by an OK author or recommended by an Oklahoman. Feel free to send short recs for that on my contacts page.

And finally, a note on believing in yourself:

After an invitation and very strong encouragement from an editor, I applied for a big-time writing grant. Per her advice, the goal isn’t even to get the grant, but to make the finals so national magazines will give me a second look. But the fact is that my writing is already benefitting from the grant proposal. I feel so much better about myself and my words since putting my best out for those judges. It forced me to look at myself in a more positive light.

I won’t know anything until October—and the suspense may kill me—but in the meantime, I have been forced to take myself more seriously. Isn’t that something we all have to do first, before we can expect the industry to do so?

The new Art Focus Oklahoma is On Newsstands

This month’s issue is full of great articles about artists all over the state. I was especially impressed by the art of Troy Jackson and the indigenous photography. Click any of the images here to reach the full issue. I wrote about Jean Richardson (below) exhibiting at the state capitol and the Saltfork Artist-Blacksmiths.

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Click to read online or pick it up at a nearby newsstand for the full effect.
Click to read online or pick it up at a nearby newsstand for the full effect.

I really want to encourage those of you interested in learning the ancient craft to hook up with these artists. They couldn’t be nicer and you never know when you’ll discover that medium that brings out your inner voice. Plus a good fire always lights up party!

I’m feeling great but, I know, not posting often. Just busy writing and working on family projects. My eldest son is prepping to go to USC this fall. My baby is going to high school.

Send me kleenex art.

A Confession and One Reason For Writers to Smile

True bloggers are incredibly dedicated people who consistently deliver real-life insight to us online. They can’t possibly be paid enough for that, but some good companies do pay them and that is great.

I am a writer with a sort of blog-thing: inconsistent, mostly about where to find my writing, and whatever else happens to be on my mind. I don’t get paid for this so it isn’t my focus, but I do try to maintain it as a place where you can check out my words.

Not sure it deserves to be called a blog … BUT at least it isn’t phony. Yeah, I said it, PHONY.

I was contacted the other day by a freelance client. A company I had not queried, but had they had found my CV and some articles online and liked my voice. They wanted me to blog for them. When we started discussing terms, they wanted to contract a lot of articles up front. They wanted a certain number of keywords in each, things I had no problem with doing that were related to the subject.

But then they wanted links to their other websites in the blog posts. Unrelated websites. They wanted me to slip in their other brand’s phrasing to articles unrelated to that brand. And the blog would not be carrying a clear statement that it was related to those sites. What they truly wanted was advertising copy disguised as original content. Actually, they wanted it disguised as a personal blog.

Thanks, but I am not that writer. And I’m tired of turning down green money for not being PHONY so perhaps I’ll reference this post on my CV.

This freelancer can write sales copy that closes, website copy that turns visitors into customers, and original articles that readers remember. I won’t be phony for a buck.

In the long run, I think customers appreciate that. So I guess if you’re looking for return business, you might want someone like me.
How many “blogs”/websites have you read in the past week and forgotten in five minutes? The headlines grabbed your attention but the content was lame, soulless, often nothing more than links to other sites’ content connected by sentences.

Have you noticed that this is even common on “news” sites? Try reading around some of the free culture or news sites like Huffington Post or Slate for a while and see how long it takes before you end up on another site. Not by clicking on an ad, mind you, but by reading what appears to be an article.

What does it mean? If you are a writer like me, celebrate. Smile a little bit every time you end up switching websites.

Because nobody sends you away from their own site if they have enough relevant, engaging, content to support a profit. Everyone needs good content. They just might not know it yet. As long as sites keep trying to sell more advertising to support advertising-laden content, or content from other sites, their readers are leaving. They are curators as much as publishers.

Sure, we have room for some good curating sites, and even really good sites like Slate and the New York Times will sometimes send their huge audiences to another site, but EVERYONE is curating now. Fewer and fewer sites create unique content.

What everyone needs is unique content to curate. And good writers to write it. Don’t sell your skills short.

It takes time but you can find clients. The key is in putting out a few really well-matched queries, not a lot of random ones. At least that’s what’s working for me. I am not getting rich here but in less than a year have developed three regular clients and been published in several other publications. I have a fourth possible regular gig in development … maybe. Not bad for a part-timer who took a few months off for brain surgery.

Plus, I’m making a confession. I am not a blogger, but a writer who blogs now and then to tell my readers what I’m up to. So at the top, it will soon no longer say blog at all. I would never want to be phony, not even by accident.

My First Book Buzz

This one is just fun. My debut as a book columnist. Thanks to Malena Lott for recommending that I try it. I’m open to book recommendations from the Big Five, small presses and indies—as long as they are on the shelf in Oklahoma City. (Even if it’s just in one indie bookshop.) And I’m especially partial to Oklahoma publishers like Buzz Books USA and OU Press, or Oklahoma authors.

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pp. 43-45
pp. 43-45

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In the Company of Forever

I’m so happy to share that my short memoir, “In the Company of Forever” has just been published by Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine. It’s the story of my spring break in Shetland Islands while I was studying at the U of H campus in London. The trip to Shetland was life-changing.

Click to read it at Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine
Click to read it at Outside In Literary and Travel Magazine

And check out the other stories and wonderful editor’s note on the main page for issue 17. Very uplifting. I’m honored to be in their zine.

by Lucie Smoker

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