Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What's real?

I've had so many wonderful experiences with people who do not want my characters to stop being in their lives. I just talked with a woman this morning who just read my book twice so she could keep them in her life a bit longer. So, my daughter's come up with a plan, and that is to create snippets of Langsberry life right here on my blog and post the happenings as they occur.

 A lot of people have wanted to know how much of this is autobiographical. They think because I'm a fiber artist I made Grace one. That's not how it happened at all though. While writing the book I would get visions in my head of what Grace was making, and since those visions wouldn't go away, I devised ways to make what I saw. Therefore, Grace made me a fiber artist. Hm...

What is autobiographical? I really did have a dear friend died of ovarian cancer. I really did work for my husband in his office and despised it. However, it was a chiropractic office, not an accountant's. I did leave him, but I did it long after the manuscript was written. So, again Grace did it first.

I live and work on a square now, but didn't while writing the book. I really didn't even know anyone who did until moving to McKinney, TX in 2008. I did grow up in the Dallas area. My mother is still alive, but my dad died of myocardial infarction (better known as a heart attack) when I was 24 years old. I was married for a hundred years to the same person and we have a daughter, unlike Grace.

What's interesting to me is that the husband character, Jack, is really based on someone I had a crush on in high school. When Grace is talking with Gordon about what her high school boyfriend said about love, that was a conversation I had had with this guy back in the '70s.

As soon as I graduated from Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas, I did go to Western State College in Gunnison, Colorado. I did meet the man I would eventually marry there. He was two years older than me, but I did complete my undergrad degree before marrying, unlike Grace.

We did live in a small town in Colorado, but there was no square to be found there. As a matter of fact, it was a metropolitan area compared to Langsberry.

The question I get asked the very most is if there was a Gordon in my life. The answer is no, and yes. It was interesting because I happened to be in Aspen one weekend editing my manuscript. I was on a page that described Gordon's flannel shirt, jeans, and work boots. There were very particular things about his clothing, and I had just read it when a friend of mine from college called to take me out to lunch. When I got in his car, he was wearing exactly what I had written about Gordon's attire. This man and I did not do art together. However, he opened me up to my own love of flying. The first time we flew together was from Aspen to Gunnison on my 48th birthday. The next day I asked for a divorce. I wanted to fly in every aspect of my life. I still do.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Writer's Life

"Monday morning Grace rose with sadness. There was no cedar scent in the air, no fog outside the window, and certainly no sound of waves crashing against the rocks like she'd heard at her rental home in Maine. She felt drugged, nailed to the bed. It was so hard to move her feet, one after the other, to the shower.

She had stayed up late last night rearranging her studio, but never mentioned her intentions to Jack. That was so typical of them to let things build up, to not talk, and to wait until disaster struck before discussing it. At least that was what Grace did. Jack never divulged his intentions. He just did as he pleased. Grace knew he assumed she would want to do what he chose for her, like working in his office. For twenty years she had done nothing else. How could she stop now?

She slipped into her panythose as if it were a regular Monday morning. She clothed herself in Pendleton wool like she did so many other work days, but this time she also wrapped around her wrist a glass bead bracelet that Gordon had made for her. Cheap glass beads and memory wire, something she thought she'd never be caught dead in. Only her John Atencio diamonds and her pearl necklace had graced her before she went to Maine.

Now was a different story. This morning, unlike other ones, she put her hair in a long French braid instead of the curls pulled back with a silver barrette. Her hands trembled as she twisted the rubber band around her hair. Her beads clinked together. It was easy being someone else when she was somewhere else, but here in the tight tentacles of Langsberry she wasn't sure just how defiant she could be. She slung her braid over her shoulder, straightened her jacket lapel and headed to work as if she were a rabbit being thrown into a lion's den."

This is the first page of the second chapter in my book, Healing Grace. The book signing held last weekend was a tremendous success, beyond my wildest dreams. Thank you to everyone involved! I saw family and friends I hadn't seen in ages, and met so many new people that I look forward to seeing again. Michele Stevens Bernard was an absolute saint for hosting the event in her studio, Write Above Spoons. I am grateful for all of it. Finally getting this book published has truly been a dream come true for me in ways that I never even thought of. As a writer, I imagined what it would be like to see my name in print, to have a bio and author picture on the book jacket, and now that it's finally here I am amazed at how tranquil I feel about it all. I have a real sense of calmness. The sales have been better than I ever expected, and I know this is just the beginning.

I have loved hearing people tell me about the book, how they've gotten caught up in the story line and unable to get on with their lives until they finish. I am so touched by their words especially after all the times spent alone hovering over the computer, deleting, editing, writing over and over again until one word looks just like another.

Now it's off to more events, more signings, and more readings. This Saturday at RejuveNationLifeSpa in McKinney on the square my fiber art, clothing, and signed copies of Healing Grace will be for sale. It's the annual Art Walk on the square. You just don't want to miss it. Musicians and artists will be everywhere on the square. And besides that, where else would you rather be anyway?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Healing Grace book signing!!!!!

When Grace stepped off the airport shuttle on Main Street, there was a shift in her step, nothing major, but enough of a difference to know something about her was no longer the same. She'd been gone; she had left the state, the region for weeks. Was that all it took to change twenty years of marriage?

She stepped down on the crusty snow with her bags hooked to her shoulders. She breathed in, cold air slicing her lungs, and looked around the square, soaking in the four blocks of shops and offices surrounding the park. All of them were closed and dark. All except one, The Women's Clinic. She knew it wasn't the doctor in there; it'd be Rowena, his wife, filing insurance claims. Tom was most likely at home in his recliner with a beer, watching a football game.

Grace trudged through the softball diamond, her luggage weighing her down and her boots sinking into the snow. She didn't look up. She didn't have to. She knew with her eyes closed how each shop and office would look. She imagined the stuffed poodle at Carman's Cut 'n Curl dressed up with red bows and gold balls dangling from its ears, twinkiling white lights in The Bridal Boutique, not-so-fresh garland around The Men's Clothier, pin lights and gold tinsel in Patsy's Perm Palace, and nothing in her husband's window. She hadn't bothered to decorate before she left, except for the wreath she bought from a client's daughter for a school fund-raiser. It would probably be brown by now, stiff, miserable. Grace knew that when she fingered it, pine needles would shed on the porch step. One day soon, she would take the wreath down and act as if Christmas were really over. It was January, and the shops around the square didn't acknowledge the end of the holiday season until it was time to put up the Easter displays. This year it would be different at her husband's office. A lot would be different there. A lot.

She wound her way through the bare maples surrounding the gazebo. Rose bushes were clipped back to gnarly fingers, snow dusting their limbs. There were no footprints on the brick path except for the new ones Grace made. She liked stepping into virgin snow and creating her own footprints,...

This is the first page of my new novel. I'll be at Write Over Spoons, Suite 206 on the McKinney Square Saturday night, May 8th from 6-9:00, hosted by Michele S. Bernard. The first 20 people who purchase books will also receive a work of my own fiber art. Come one, come all! There will be wine, refreshments, photography, fiber art, and amazing people. This is a must do. Just go upstairs above Spoons restaurant to room 206. Lots of fun to be had by all. Look forward to seeing you! And if you're unable to make it, you can always purchase the book on amazon.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I have spent the day on the computer. Do you know how much information there is on this thing? In five minutes alone I've been on multiple sites and have no idea what I was looking for in the first place.

I've spent so much time lately in my studio creating amazing artwork that I've never done before, nor have I seen anything like it either, and now it's time to get it out there and market it. First, I had to see what there is out there to market to. What I discovered is what is there NOT????

I'm blown away by the enormity of the market out there. The universe is truly abundant. There is so much at our feet. Looking through the possibilities on the net is like going to the ocean with semi-trailer trucks and pipelines for water instead of the thimblefuls I've been picking up. (Thank you, Wayne Dyer, for that imagery.)

So, my book has been selling without much advertising by me. I don't know who's buying them, but I am so very grateful. I'm finishing up my work with the PR department so the book tour will be starting by next month at least. The main character, Grace James, is a textile artist, which is something I've also become, so my latest art pieces will be traveling with me. I've discovered that there are a lot of people out there who have no idea what a fiber artist does. That encompasses anything with fibers. I choose not only fabrics, but threads, papers, and even stretch the definition to include paints and beads.

So, Grace and I will be hitting the road soon. In the meantime, I'm gearing up for a lot of marketing, setting up websites, and blogging like crazy. I'll be on the radio on March 18th at 8:00 p.m. central time. Once I get more of the facts, I'll let you know. To the life of a writer and artist. Finally, I'm doing it...

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Believing anything

The very first copy of my very first book. As my father would say, "How 'bout them apples?"

The very first time I saw the digital proof of the cover I was working for a shaman in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I pulled it up on the computer at the front desk, and my heart pounded to see my name in print. The cover is in Tibetan prayer colors, my shaman's wife informed me. She said that it would be perfect to sell in the office with her Tibetan singing bowls and her red and gold decor. The book never came to life there in Steamboat. It took a year after moving to McKinney, Texas before it materialized.

What was the delay? I have no answer for that. I realize that I'm not in a rush for so much in my life. Before, years before now, I wanted everything NOW. Now, now, now. Now, I just want to be in the now. Now, I want to pay attention, to absorb the textures of what's around me, to have the sounds sink in, the colors swirl through me, and I want to feel the joy in it all. And after a whole bunch of nows, the book is finally published. And the length of time it took doesn't matter. It's here now. It's on the couch beside me as I type this. There are many, many moments throughout my days and nights where I forget it's done. It used to consume me, and now I can go through most of my waking hours without a thought of it.

Now, what consumes me? Besides the PR department at the publishing company? Besides the artwork that flows through my thoughts? Besides the to-do list that sits on the coffee table in front of me? Besides the dirty footprints and pawprints on the floor that need to be cleaned up? Besides all of that, nothing really. Nothing.

And if you believe that...well, you'd believe just about anything.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

As of yesterday, January 19, 2010, I experienced a dream come true, a dream I've dreamt since I was in fourth grade. I received the galley of my first novel. For the first time in my life I held in my hand the very first copy of my very first novel -- ever.

I expected something different since I'd dreamed it for so long, but what came over me was a calmness, an absolute peace. I'm not sure if having a dream of such magnitude arrive in the mail has sent me into shock or what. It feels like a calm knowingness, an utter peacefulness of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that this has already happened and I'm now just catching up to what's been waiting for me.

I've spent today reading. It's a 261 page novel. I'm on page 99 and took a break to call a fellow writer in the Colorado mountains. And now I'm still taking a break while workers are up in the attic in my studio. (It's too distracting to concentrate.)

I'm reading to look for errors. I'm checking for anything that's not to my liking, and here's what I've discovered. Even though I've been editing, re-writing, and meticulously combing through this manuscript for years, I'd change a multitude of things even to this day. Because why? Because I'm different. Because I'm different I want my characters to respond differently, my wording to be joined differently, and my messages to be conveyed differently.

That's why it's taken so long to rewrite this. How do I know when it's finished? When I say I'm done. I'm feeling very done. I feel it's time to finish diapering this baby, pat it on its butt, and send it on its way. It's time for me to move on, to accomplish the next thing in my life I feel called to do. It's time for me to explore new venues, to speak before crowds, to design new images, and to create new worlds, not continue to rewrite the ones I've already been through.

So, that being said, it's time to get back to reading page 99 and the rest of its relatives. And the men are still crawling around the attic above me with the ladder pulled down behind my chair. I can proof anyway.

Because it's time to call this bad boy done. Ah...I feel the load lifting as I swivel my chair back around to the book. Soon, it will be available to the masses through Amazon. Its name is Healing Grace, and mine is Jill Luigs. And with a few clicks on the computer the book could be in your hands too.

So, let me finish reading...

Friday, December 11, 2009

my best night ever

I have been blessed with an amazing friend that travels extensively. He happened to be in town last night, and my daughter, another friend, and I met him at one of our favorite restaurants, Cafe Malaga.

Cafe Malaga serves tapas that are out of this world. Eating their delicacies transports me to lands I've never been before, and to top it all off, my dear, wonderful traveling friend told us of some of his many adventures. Since my daughter has lived in Italy, the two of them took off to foreign land packing us with them. It was so much fun reliving their experiences of coffee and gelato near a piazza. My daughter's tale of how she spent the last of her lire on gelato before heading back to the states was enamoring. Our traveling friend leaned forward, plastered a broad smile on his face, and nodded before jumping in with his adventures in Rome.

The night, the music, the wine, the conversation, and especially the people, especially my traveling friend, made me want more. I wanted to travel more, read more, write more, just be more than I've been before. I just want more, more exciting moments with laughter and crazy-ass dancing. I want to hear foreign languages in an Italian villa. I want to feel textures of Parisian couture. I want to meander through the Louvre. I want to take a boat down the Amazon. I want to fly a single engine aircraft over a volcano.

There's so much to experience. Where to start? Well, I started with the trips I took last night with some of the most enjoyable people in the world sitting together at Cafe Malaga sipping Spanish wine and learning about the Brazilian airport named after the first aviator. (And we thought it was the Wright brothers...)

And I continue my travels today walking from RejuveNation LifeSpa to my studio above Spoons. Who knows where that trip will really take me. Yesterday in Rick's Chophouse bathroom a whole new world opened up for me. While in the center stall, I overheard a conversation that crystallized the first scene of my next novel. Last night we called it Lightning Bolt in the Bathroom. We'll see what it turns out to be when it grows up, but in the meantime, I'm getting off the computer and beginning my next journey across the square.

To my wonderful, beautiful friends and daughter who created my best night ever with me, thank you from the bottom of my heart. My greatest wish is that we take this conversation over to the best coffee shop in Italy sometime soon.