February 1, 2014
Welcome to Cubagirl, a live journal. This project knits together all the threads from an original blog, Switched at Birth, plus all of the findable iterations that have followed in its circuitous path from September, 2003 to this warm, breathing moment, and even inserts shards of pre-digital age photos and journal word scraps. Until tonight, I didn’t realize this gathering, this repository, was even possible. So I feel a little fluttery, giddy, and happy beyond all reason to witness this homecoming of all my little word clouds and photo puff balls.
My essays have appeared in Meg Sefton’s Florida Flash: A Christmas Anthology (2013); The Boiler: A Journal of New Literature (March 2013), Brevity, Brevity’s Blog, Prick of the Spindle, Girls with Insurance, Dead Mule, Camroc Press Review, Emerald Coast Review and others. I’m still working on a novel. It’s a coming of age story, wrapped in a romance, inside a secret, dipped in danger and deep-fried by a hurricane. Progress is slow. Sometimes it goes in reverse. I started out to write a mind candy book, but somewhere along the way the small literary corner in my head began to turn on the lamp lights and fluff pillows, and now I have this weird braided hybrid of a suspense novel told chronologically and a more literary novel told backward. I’m still not sure if they’re both the same book or two different ones, but they seem to be clinging to one another like a kudzu vine and a junked car by the side of a Georgia clay road.
My husband, Buck, and I live in a hundred-acre Longleaf pine preserve near Pensacola, Florida. He recently completed his first novel, a thriller whose working title is Death Never Dies. We’re in agent query boot camp now. I want to tell them potential agents that if they will tiptoe through the testosterone-laced façade even if they think it’s not their thing, they will find not only a hero (Matthew Stone) worthy of the name, but a heroine (Kimberly Calabrese), too, who is smart and courageous. And they’ll find a surprise in the heart of his book, an intriguing “what if?” scenario. True enough, the Beta readers are male and they have loved this page-turner, stay-up-all-night-reading tale. I’ve heard their voices booming through the speaker phone two rooms away, talking like excited boys about the fun read, and how they couldn’t put it down, and wondering when will the next one will be finished.
I still miss Maggie the chocolate Lab, more than two years now since that sad November day. I imagine her soft ears in my hand while I’m working at my desk, and her snuffly warm breath and dream yips. Dogs will listen to us read our novel drafts when everyone else’s ears have fallen off. They won’t make faces or suggest we kill our darlings. They love us 100% no matter what we do or don’t do.
Dylan Landis, author of “Ordinary People Don’t Live Like This,” says of writing:
To write well, you must be willing to hold your finger in the flame.
So, if you come to these pages and catch a whiff of woods smoke, it’s just me, rubbing sticks together, hoping the pages will catch fire.
Welcome, and thanks for reading.
– Elizabeth (Beth) Westmark