Sunday, December 27, 2009

Relations

I'm diverted from my writing by the information that my youngest sister and her boyfriend are spending quality time in the living room at parents' house. This would be something that the oldest sister and boyfriend did for two years before he popped the question and they shortly after married.



That is to say - things seem to be calmed down with the family and our way of handling the interloper.

He is still not exactly what the parents want in a son-in-law. But he has been going to church with her for the last year, given up dating everyone else (including his strange Scrubs-like relationship with another guy), and he spent Christmas with my family instead of his own.

Her car is a victim of the weather (dead battery, frozen gasline, or bad starter/fuse) - which means she is stuck at home and had no way of driving over to his apartment to see him. So he came out to see her the last two days.

Good on him.

I'm humored at the moment, because I sat down with the lovely and thick Jane Austen collection book that mom gave me for Christmas. I opened to page 187 and immediately saw the following paragraph:

"Because honour, decorum, prudence, nay interest, forbid it. Yes, Miss Bennet, interest; for do not expect to be noticed by his family or friends, if you wilfully act against the inclinations of all. You will be censured, slighted, and despised, by everyone connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never ever be mentioned by any of us."

This was the speech which Lady Catherine gave Elizabeth upon falsely hearing from Mr. Collins that E and D were involved and about to declare marital intentions and relations to the world.

I read that parag and laughed, because it reminded me of all of our correspondance with Elizabeth (baby sister) when she and boyfriend began their courtship on the wrong foot according to our family. There was a difference of culture and values between his family and ours. Liz got caught in the middle and chose his side. She fled with him to Chicago and afterwards moved into his apartment with him and two other guys. Our parents meanwhile were stuck with all of her growing debts and dealing with debt collectors (they'd call up to 20 times a day looking for her) and were panicked and worried sick over her moral and physical welfare.

My sisters and I understood Liz' conflicted emotions, but stood by our parents. There were many emails from us to her, begging her to moderate her behavior and not burn all of her bridges.

Let me just say my remaining sisters and I watch Pride and Prejudice and read it with a different perspective than before. The situation with Lydia especially... hits close to home.

It is definitely a reason why I appreciate Jane Austen's books, and always have. While Charles Dickens used his writing to pour out his own personal grief and frustrations in life and gain the relief and satisfaction which he may or may not have found in real life, Jane Austen used her pen to explore some of the social situations which impact people and families even now. She either experienced those things herself in life, or perhaps she was a very observative bystander.
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Lazy Americans

"Lazy American Students -

Writing Note here before I get carried away - I am writing, slowly but surely. One of my projects. I have a vague goal of having one of my favorite projects ready for crit by my birthday (September) and then possibly ready for query by Spring 2011. That is my more generous goal. I really want to have something to query by my birthday.

The above link goes to a muy interesante article regarding one teacher's perspective on the American education system, and in particular her American students vs. foreign transfers or immigrant students.



Chinese undergraduates have consistently impressed me with their work ethic, though I have seen similar habits in students from India, Thailand, Brazil, and Venezuela. Often, they’ve done little English-language writing in their home countries, and they frequently struggle to understand my lectures. But their respect for professors - and for knowledge itself - is palpable. The students listen intently to everything I say, whether in class or during office hours, and try to engage in the conversation.

Too many 18-year-old Americans, meanwhile, text one another under their desks (certain they are sly enough to go unnoticed), check e-mail, decline to take notes, and appear tired and disengaged.

Of course, it would be wrong to suggest that all American students are the same. I’ve taught many who were hardworking, talented, and deeply impressive. They listened intently, enriched class discussions, and never shied away from rewrites. At their best, American students marry knowledge and innovation, resulting in some astoundingly creative work.

But creativity without knowledge - a common phenomenon - is just not enough.


On the subject - personally speaking, I believe it is a culture thing. Speaking for myself, it is really easy to not take the education side of school seriously when your parents, teachers, and peers are pressuring you to have a normal social life. I could be wrong, but elsewhere, parents pressure their kids to put their education first. This could be because a quality education is the difference between living in utter squalor and being successful and going places.

There are other things - like I'm sure we all had to read Amy Tan in college. There is one short story taken from one of her books, where the protagonist's mother is trying to steer her daughter in a direction where she will be rich and famous. The daughter obeys and fails each time, and grows up resenting her mother for pushing her so hard and never being satisfied with her as is.

Compare that to a Christmas movie I watched over and over the past week... I forgot the name of the movie, but Melissa Joan Hart (one of my alltime favorite actress people) plays the main character. She is all set to have a really cwappy Christmas because she has to go home for the holidays and she doesn't have anything BRILLIANT to show her family - not even a boyfriend. Her older sister is going to college to become a lawyer. Her brother is practically married to somebody. She is the only one who doesn't have a lot to show - and she works at a diner as a waitress. So she kidnaps Mario Lopez' character, drags him home with her, and introduces him as her boyfriend.

By the end of the movie, her parents fall apart and mom attacks dad for trying to mold the children into mirror images of him - all successful, respectable, wealthy, and fab. And one by one the children confess how they are all well short of his expectations (sister dropped out of college, brother dumped gf and is gay, Melissa Joan Hart's character is now a felon).

Actually, the only person who stands up and embraces being successful is Mario's character, and the cool thing is he explains how he worked for every bit of his success on his own - this because he came from a poor background.

On one hand... I'm thinking that the movie had one thing right - there is nothing wrong with doing what you want in life, instead of bending yourself out of shape to fit somebody else's expectations. That is the American way. Our kids are taught from daycare on that they can be whatever they want in life. If they think that math is a braincell-straining-nightmare, then nobody is going to push them to become an engineer like Dad. If they want to play games for a living, then maybe there is a career that needs somebody like that.

Hey! Anybody watch Stargate Universe?! The main character is a video gamer who was swooped up by the army because of his gaming skillz.

On the other hand, movies like that drive me nuts - especially since so many are aimed at kids. Somehow or other, they take respectable and wealthy people (who worked for their living) and tear them down to size just because they wanted their kids to be successful and self-sufficient. It kinda encourages parents to look the other way when their kids spend high school and even college goofing off with friends instead of going after those difficult and demanding degrees where they are certain to get a hugely successful job.

ALL RANTING ASIDE -

I read that article a different way, at least from the aspiring writer's perspective.

That line - "creativity without knowledge - a common phenomenon - is just not enough" - reminded me of something I was gabbing about with my older sister the other night. This was after I read "Twilight" and realized to my HORRRRRRRROR that I enjoyed it (you know I did if I started reading Christmas afternoon and didn't stop until 5AM yesterday morning).

We started out discussing Twilight and how I refused to read it beforehand. Then we gabbed about people who simply refuse to read - period.

There are actually people who only read when absolutely forced to (like in HS and college), but spend all their time writing.

I know how easy it is to get into the mental block that reading while writing might unconsciously affect your writing style. This is so true! But the risk is well worth it considering how reading expands your mind and perspective beyond the confines of your skull.

Because writing is so solitary an exercise, it is very easy to get into writing block situations - recycled characters, situations, unrealistic plotlines based on your own narrow worldviews, etc...

Reading teaches you how to develop stronger characters and to go out of your own personal comfort zone.

And not just reading fiction.

Go online and read everything you can of the news, gossip, history, and science.... everything you think will expand your mind and feed it new ideas. And also learn to see the world as other people might see it.

This doesn't mean you have to give up your own viewpoints and go wishy-washy. It just means that when you decide to write a novel with a current issue (teenage pregnancy, for example), you will know how to write that novel to show a certain viewpoint in a way that it can be absorbed by people who have other viewpoints.

FWIW, I reached this 'open your mind and expand' point after logging onto a sorta-religious chatroom and eavesdropping on people I thought I knew well. When chittering to them in person, it is easy for people to be on their best behavior and socially conscious. When it comes to writing on forums or elsewhere, these people turn into something different.

I was honestly shocked by their lack of understanding.... basically they held the proper viewpoints, but didn't know how to explain WHY. They never took the time to educate themselves. Theology is hard and boring, I understand. But if you go onto chatrooms and start arguing with people over theology, you better know how to explain yourself.

What usually happens is these people resort to emotional warfare. And fight by personally attacking their opponents. Their weakness is immediately perceived by their opponents who go to town exposing that ignorance and capitalizing on it. Those opponents not only destroy the ignorant-arguer, but use the ignorant-arguer to attack the establishment that the ignorant-arguer was trying to defend.

This is something that may and frequently does happen with beginning writers.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The DARK SIDE of Christmas Shopping



I thought about this topic after seeing a headline from someone else's blog and relating it to my own experience yesterday while visiting the local Target for dolls for my niece. I also stopped over in the cologne dept, looking for my younger brother's favorite cologne. It also occurred to me to look for my sister's favorite perfume (I haven't figured out the difference between cologne and perfume, and instead of looking it up or asking, I idly assume they are male/female type words like blond/blonde, yes my bad) since I was over there and everything was on sale.



What happened instead was I saw all of these perfumes that I wanted, and it distracted me from the real reason why I was standing in the aisle.

The same thing happened when I was in the jewelry and then the clothing sections of the store. I saw ME THINGS, but forgot to look for THEM THINGS. Fortunately, I didn't buy anything for myself. My conscience/budget reared its authoritative head and ordered my compulses and my checkwriting hand to cease and desist.

Heh.

But this reminded me of something in writing.

See? There is always a correlation. ^.~

Basically:

I've also found myself many times sitting down to write a new chapter, and only thinking about what I want to see in the chapter. There's nothing wrong with that. You SHOULD enjoy what you write, especially since you will have to write it over and over again until it is publishing quality.

The problem is when you verge in the 'lazy writer' direction and forget you are writing for somebody other than yourself. Means you have to be a bit more universal in your topic (there is ALWAYS a topic) and you have to remember that agents and publishers are not evil meanies who reject your work because they hate you. It is a business. They will take on something if it will sell. I know there are agents who say that they won't take a project if they themselves do not have a passion for it, but I'm sure they will make compromises if the market is selling projects of that type. It's survival of the fittest.

In Christmas shopping terms, it is either buying shampoo for somebody who is bald, or buying a certain kind of shampoo for somebody who already had ten full bottles of the same exact shampoo.

Maybe find out what that person already has TOO MUCH of and see if you can give them something similar but of a different fragrance. You still get to get them what you want (shampoo), but it will be snagged up with joy.

What? Am I the only one who gladfully snags up presents of new bottles of shampoo, soap, and lotions with joy on Christmas? They can get expensive if you buy them yourself. :)
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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Twitter Twash


Sorry about whatever anyone might have seen down on the twitter feed. I'm not sure WHY this happens, but once every while somebody else's feed appears instead of mine. I don't know if the person is a troll trying to get attention, or if this is something I can blame on Blogger for being stupid.

I just did a quickie search, and apparently this is a known problem with 'third party' (meaning blogger, myspace, etc) widgets. I had to use the official Twitter widget, which you can see below. Shouldn't ever happen again - fingers crossed in hope.

Sorry again if you saw whatever - and nope, that wasn't me.
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Where I've been....



More or less...

I finished NANO, and then went through a week of nought - meaning I did absolutely nothing worth mentioning in a literal and writing sense. I've been going over my budget and writing up Christmas lists - and checking both twice.

Then starting this past weekend, I started my Christmas shopping. First it is window shopping, and now I have money to spend, it's buying presents. And happily I'm staying within my budget. Squee!

Ahem. On a less mundane front!

I picked up a new writing project. This is a supersecret one that I've been thinking about for a while. It's based in the same world of another supersecret project, both which will shy away from the real world until summer I think. At least I hope to have them done by then. These are both YA fantasy novels of the same type as my NSAM and MQTRTDTP projects (two old favorites), except they are a bit more between the urban fantasy world and epic fantasy world. I realized that some agents may be looking for something like Harry Potter or Twilight - not the plot, but the semi-real world setting - and I took that tip and picked up this new world.

I'm also working a little bit on Marbles, though I'm treading very carefully on that one. I really don't want to mess it up. It needs a lot of editing and revision work still, but I know it has the right feel.

My nano - I put aside until I have time to pick it up. I want to gather more ideas before starting again. It needs to simmer on the backburner for a while.

Christmas vacation is coming up in three days. HURRAY. If I don't get too buried by baking, shopping, visiting, sleeping, eating - heh, I may take one of the above projects (not nano) and surge ahead. I hope.

RANDOM ADVICE

I was going to describe some people as villain or Wormtongue type fodder inspiration, but realized that it wouldn't be very kind or polite - even if I'm confident that the two characters I wanted to mock were not very likely to find my blog (they think novels and novel-writing is the work of the devil).

Instead I'm going to broadbrush this and say something that I know we have all heard: if you are at a loss when it comes to building a believable bad guy without resorting to cliches and borrowed traits, open your eyes and watch and listen to people around you.

Even the best of people show their faulty side on occasion - and they are all the more dangerous, because they have the trust and good opinion of people around them. People would find it most difficult to believe that 'wonderful x' could be capable of such VILE behavior. The wormtongue types too, whatever else you feel (disgust, annoyance), you feel somewhat guilty picking on them, because you wonder if they are 'children' or have a mental problem which causes them to behave in such an odd or paranoid way.

The best characters in the world are those that have a human base - whether they are based on somebody the author knows personally or somebody the author imagined based on research into the character (bios of Marie Antoinette, for example), people in the news (criminals like Knox out in Italy, the girl who murdered her roommate), even people that the author only knows a bit about (like people you meet on online forums).

Keep in mind I heard about a case somewhere about a woman who sued an author for writing her into one of his/her books - and she won!

While you borrow from real life people that you may know, for goodness sakes! Don't put those people in any recognizable fashion into your books.

OTHER

When writing accents and such, be aware of the thin line between gimick and worldbuilding.

A proper accent can definitely put a reader right there in a setting and help them see and hear everything.

Too much of a proper accent can also make a book unreadable for somebody who doesn't want to muddle through pages and pages of mangled words.

CHRISTMAS PLANZ

As noted by the pic way above, that is about all I'm MAINLY thinking about this moment, when I'm not thinking about writing. :P

I may do more posts during the next couple weeks, or it might be as skimpy as it has been the last month and a half.

If you are following the blog or peeking in - thank you and welcome!!!

If you follow me, I'll be sure to follow you back (as long as your blog isn't something... ooky or creepy), and I'll keep an eye on you - in a nicest way possible, of course.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays <- I should post before then, but you never know in case I get VERY BUSY.

I hope and pray the holidays find you safe, warm, and happy with your loved ones at home. If this has been a bad year for you, ah, you are not alone. I'm sure I'm not going to be the only one gleefully cheering the banishment and death of 2010. Horrible year that it's been. Speaking to friends at work and on the road, everyone has high hopes for the year to come. May it be.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Encouragement and Confusion



The above picture (martial arts fun in Gaza) could be taken a couple different ways:

1) The next time you go to Kickboxing class and feel vindictive towards your teacher, because he's making you do those horrible squat/kick combos which leave your legs feeling like brutalized flubber, go look at the above picture and put a relieved smile on your face. Your evil teacher could always go the total demonic route and have you lay on a board with your head pressed into what looks like a pile of octopus* while your classmates dance around on your back.

2. The next time you sit down to read through your novel and edit it into shape, even though you are starting to hate reading the same thing over and over and thinking that getting published isn't worth stretching your poor helpless brain out of joint in trying to read your work as a stranger would, despite the fact you have been mulling over the same chapter for the last month at least trying to figure out why the scene doesn't zing like it should - take some relief. Somewhere out there somebody is being forced to lay flat on a board thing with his face squashed in a pile of octopus* while his classmates (or enemies?) dance on his back. Editing is easy compared to that, surely.

The CONFUSION part of my post today has to do with sorting out my emotions upon reading the summary of Meg Cabot's new book coming out next July. She describes it as the 'sequel to Dracula'. The main character, Meena, is a writer who is being forced to write about vampires even though she's sick of them. She meets a vampy guy with a Romanian last name who is like a real life prince. Of course she falls in love with him and then discovers that he's technically dead. Oh, and she also can see the future of everybody she meets, but doesn't know anything about her own future, which leaves her wondering if she has no future.

Two alarms went off in my head -

1 - When I saw sequel to Dracula. I hate Dracula.

2 - When I saw the seeing the future of everyone she meets, etc. Because that's a cliche thingy. I've really seen it a lot in the books I've read.

*exhales*

But it is Meg Cabot!

She's one of my favorites, and I usually enjoy whatever she writes.....

But is's so cliche... and... and... Draculaisbleh.

Maybe it's going to be one I borrow from the library.... This is "Insatiable". See the Meg Cabot link on the right.

............. <- Yes, I've been abusing these things again. You should see my NANO project. Gleeps. I blame the fourth finger on my right hand getting carried away.

Repeats:

LoOk B4 U LP - whether it is on forums or twitter or blogs, there will always be people who go all ranty about things to the point they are abusive and meanspirited. Protect yourself and don't try to reason with them. You can always ignore them until they get over themselves. :)

*Upon second look at the picture, the octopus looks more like somebody's dirty laundry all bunched up. Which may well be a lot worse than being face-rubbed into seafood. Dirty laundry could be a weapon of mass destruction from some people....
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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Writing Joy



This would express the mood I'm in right now.

At first I was disappointed when I recalled a little too late that my new favorite TV show (V) is on pause until March, next year. But then I sat down with my computer and began working on nano revisions.

I chopped the novel down to 10,000 words - which yes, I know is APPALLING and against everything that NANO should stand for. It is my most severest post NANO cut ever - agreed. But as I mentioned before, I was not very happy with some of the chapters which I felt went the wrong direction. I printed them off for reference, but deleted almost all except the first four chapters of the novel.

So I got a little writing and revamping done tonight (and plan to do more), and I'm just in an upbeat mood. I feel like I can do this.

Oh, yes. Today was a good hair day too. Maybe that's all I need to make me feel more positive and glowing about everything - including the normally dreaded revisions. Every day should be a good hair day.
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LoOk B4 U LP

This is something that occurred to me this morning when I saw a comment from somebody responding to something someplace else. This person is a teenager, I think, but I understand how he/she felt the NEED to speak up and dive into a barbed wire trap. I've felt the same way in the past, right up to last year - even though I'm not a teenager. There is that feeling like you have to stand up for what you believe in. But you are going up against sharks who start swarming as soon as you take their bait.

Something I've done or have started to do now - learn to walk away from conversations if you start to see the warning signs that they aren't civil conversations at all, but a tank full of those nasty sharks out to rip into the first gullible surfer to stick a leg in the water.

So!

If you are that teenager, or have felt like that teenager at some point of your internet and forum surfing life, keep everything in perspective.

Learning to walk away from conversations gets a lot easier if you take the lesson from Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice), when she's telling Caroline Bingley how to ruin Mr. Darcy's good mood -

"Laugh at him."

Ok, maybe don't laugh at ALL of them, but sit back and sort out their weird little deals.

Look at their conversations in general and consider all of their weak points and human fralities. Everybody has a weakness and character defect. Sometimes it is just a minor case of thin skin, or an impulsive temper (like me). Other times it is a bit more serious, and explains why they seem to be so bitter and hateful all the time.

In general, the main reason why people go trolling around trying to pick fights is because it makes them feel intelligent and important. Maybe in real life they're that awkward guy at the gas station on the night shift - you know, the one who looks like Napolean Dynamite except he has pimples and doesn't look people in the eye when they talk to him. I always feel so sorry for that guy at our gas station. Shyness and lack of self-confidence are the WORST things to overcome.

Or it could be that person who claims to live in an exotic location really lives in a cramped and rusty mobile home in a bottom level mobile home park where they are pretty much stuck because of the poor choices they made earlier in life. Or maybe this person DOES live in an exotic local, but is all alone because his/her friends have forgotton that he/she exists.

Once you humanize your attackers, it becomes a lot easier to shrug off their "Need for Attention" inspired attacks.

Or if they said something that really hurt, you can always sit back and wait. They are the types who get bored very easily if they don't have somebody to fight with. At some point, they are going to attack the wrong person and be handed their own gravy in a care package with a little bitter mustard on top (which sounds utterly disgusting, I know).

End line here - don't take trolls too seriously. They usually hide under bridges for a good reason.
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Weakness

Just for the record, there is nothing worse that having a low normal temperature (95.5-96.5). Because nobody believes you when you walk around complaining of fever and chills when the temp goes up to 98.5.

And why is it my head feels like it's floating gently from side to side up and down even though I'm just sitting still. What is going on inside of there!

*pokes sides of head gingerly, half afraid something might poke back*
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Saturday, November 28, 2009

NANO 2009

Just remembered that the Nov 25 deadline has passed and it was time to upload my entire NANO novel on the NANOWRIMO site to get my Winning count.

I get to brag...



54,600 words - at least according to my computer. I'm not sure how but the NANO official counter added a couple hundred extra words to my total. Er, which I'll take. :)

Rah!

Fwiw - I still like last year's banner the best. This year's banner seemed a little blah compared to the past two years. Just saying. <- And that might just be my dazed and confused swaying inflato head talking.


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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

For the Word...



While looking up cheesecakes for Christmas*, I came across www.sporkorfoon.com and saw the picture above.

Although I'd been planning to cut back on cookies this year and only make MY FAVORITES (Kolacky, Walnut Crescents, Shortbread, baklava), I'm sadly losing control of my will again.

It won't hurt to make a few sugar cookies... I suppose. Maybe a dozen or two...

*Every year, my oldest sister (Marianne) and I have a cheesecake competition. About this time every year, we start our recipe hunt trying to find a new and different cheesecake recipe to try out, and we keep it secret until Christmas Eve, when we actually make the cakes.

This year, I'm thinking about doing a pumpkin cheesecake - as it's probably one of those I haven't done in a while. It is also to make up for the cheat I did last year.

Fact: My mom (the judge) loves anything with strawberries in it.

I was out of ideas and made a quick and easy strawberry white chocolate swirl cheesecake last year. This was made with gelatin, so it was lighter than the baked kinds (yet another cheat, as my mom's constantly dieting).

It was yum, and I won as I evilly knew I would.

This year, I'll play a fair game. Ur, even though I did wonder what a pumpkin cheesecake with strawberries would taste like. :O
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Don't do this - any of it!




A word of advice:

If you want to find an agent for your novel, posting a query on Craigslist is not the way to go.

The following particulars especially show you might not be informed as to how the publishing industry works.

Location: MI, NY, CA, IL
Compensation: Going Literary Agent Rate or Best Offer


RULE #1 - You do not pay an agent to represent you (although some might charge you random fees for copies, possibly). They make their money after the book deal.

Could be this woman meant that, but the way this ad is written, it makes me wonder if she's getting a lot of scammers suggesting an hourly rate for handling her work.

Also -

I also have a finished screenplay that could also use the benefit of a literary agent to sell.


I could be wrong, but I really don't think agents handle screenplays. Or not the same kind of agents.

OH GOSH! Here is another one!

I am a writer i have written many short stories and a book. I am working on a sequel to the first book and a skit that would fit the format of shows like saterday night live. I am having trouble publishing my book and I am looking for an experienced agent to help me get it published. The job would pay based on how much i make. i need an agent asap so please reply quickly to the listed email XXX or call me at XXX and ask for XXX to schedule a time to interview


No! Don't DO THIS!!! You are just asking for somebody to come swooping in and scam you.

Furthmore -

This book is kinda of a spin off the Larry David show Curb Your Enthusiasm and the movie Crash. Where this will be a best seller because of the outrageous funny rude people I have met over the past 40 years. This project is for Journalism students, and previous writers who want to Co-Author a book that will pay Royality's if we sell 500,000 books we will both get some $2 million from the book alone not including what we can make off the movie. Look at the movie Paranormal Activity.


I just don't know what to think about this ad.

From the sounds of it, this is somebody who has a great idea but doesn't actually want to do the writing work. That part isn't the huge deal (because God knows there are good writers out there who are wall-blocked for ideas, or work best when given assignments).

The huge deal is I'm not sure how he thinks he will sell that many copies of a book.

Dude. o_O

Look, I have a great story to tell; a true story and I have been writing it but i keep getting twisted up...I need help and I am willing to share credit as well as proceeds for someone that can help me get this thing on paper.


This one actually...

Sighs.

Have you considered how much credit a writer wants for doing all of the work? Anyone can come up with a fantabulous idea. The writing work itself is the part that makes you a writer and the author. That's why ideas aren't copywrighted, but words are.

On one hand, I know how this feels. When you have this idea in your head, and know it will be good - then yes! It can be really frustrating when you can't get the idea to take shape on paper.

If you think about it in sculpting terms (something I wanted to do all day today, because I'm making some presents instead of buying them) it's like lying in bed dreaming up these fantabulous little statues which you want to make for friends and relatives. Then you sit down to sculpt and the clay is too hard to shape properly, or too soft and keeps falling out of shape. Or the paint just doesn't have the glossy finish that you dreamed of (clay statues don't have the same delicate shape and shine as porcelain statues, but I fall for the same daydreams every single time).

Back to the writing deal -

The best thing to do is work on becoming a better writer. Don't rush. Keep in mind that most qualified writing help books tell you to regard writing as an apprenticeship that may take YEARS before you master your trade. Until then, be patient and open yourself to learning and growing.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

After NANO...


I won NANO this past Sunday, though I haven't quite stopped adding to my word count. I haven't gone purple yet. I'd like to stretch myself upward to 60,000 words at least. I'm gaining that point at almost 52,000 words.

Yesterday and the day before I concentrated on going back to my first chapter. I'm fighting a couple of issues that have been bothering me, especially upon witnessing the usual quibbles about the Twilight series spurred on by the recent New Moon movie (which I want to go see).

The main guy character is an alien - or the type of aliens which I like to write about. This comes from my love of Stargate and also my latest fascination with the TV series V. There are nifty particulars about him, but I'm keeping under my hat right now.

Problem is I started the novel with him being a new transfer student - something that happened because he wanted to fit into the community while taking care of family business.

I keep flipping back to the scene where he walks into the homeroom the first time. It's like he's Bella and my main girl lead is like Edward. As if I subconsciously thought switching the gender roles would keep people from noticing the cliche.

Haha. You understand now why I felt COMPELLED to go back and rewrite that first chapter?

Writing plans for the weekend - I'm going to continue revising Bottles (my nick for the NANO).
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Winning NANO

I wasn't really going to do a blog topic on this, but it occurred to me when I saw grieving comments from people who began NANO with high hopes and then never got going. It also may expand on my viewpoint that the last thing you want to do is write cwap just because it adds to the word counts and you have lost control of the plot anyway.

See, my thought is that NANO is one of those affairs where nobody is watching over your shoulder. I know people who are pasting in sections they wrote months earlier for different projects - just so they keep making up the word counts per day. It's all for show, and in the end they won't have anything really to show for it.

There's nothing wrong with this, but it just... I dunno. It belittles the efforts of people who really are writing fresh material every single day and have a mostly finished novel by the end of the month. Then again, those people get the last word, because at least two that I know of have polished and cleaned up their novels in less than a year and have tentatively hooked agents. Compare that with people who deleted their nano novels directly after the Dec. 1 deadline, because it was such a mishmash of junk.

Speaking for myself - I have been in the in-the-middle camp. I am highly guilty of writing all my favorite scenes first and getting my word counts that way, while err... getting stranded in the end because all the dull drab annoying parts are left over waiting for me to get my bum into a seat and write them. :)

I'm also guilty of blocking a LOT of stuff out and pasting it at the bottom of my document while I continued to write and replace scenes I didn't like the day after I wrote them. That's why my 50,000 word WIP gets chopped down to 20-30,000 words after Dec.1. Gladly so.

That is completely different from continuing to write the novels in a steady line, even though you know a bad scene has led you in the wrong direction and you are wasting time writing stuff that you don't want to keep. That's probably about the time that some people get silly and start spoofing their work, just so the word counts grow. <- I could never do that. My brain doesn't work that way. I imagine if I had a novel like that, I'd wind up deleting the entire novel and going back to square one. Something that a LOT of people do.

W/regards to the people who ran into a wall and can't meet the first milestone (10,000 words), my advice is that maybe they just need to organize their thoughts a bit.

1. If they want to just be able to have 50,000 words in the win column, they can do the spoof route. While I look at that as a waste of time that could be better spent on something that WOULD sell (even if I stop doing nano and go back to my old novels), other people see it differently. As long as you are writing and playing around with characters and worldbuilding, you can look at it as practice for that moment when you are READY to write that novel.

2. Don't compete with people who are better writers than you are. Do what you know you are capable of - especially if you are like me and have a dayjob. I know a lot of people get burnt out and stressed during NANO, because OMG! I'M SO FAR BEHIND THE BFF AND LOOK LIKE A BAD POKY WRITER! GADS! MY BRAINS ARE FRIED AND MY BURNING EYES ARE FALLING OUT OF MY HEAD AND I'M STILL BEHIND. I REALLY AM A CWAPPY WRITER!!!!!

Stop it. Just remember 1667 words a day wins NANO. If you really have a hard time nicking out 1667 in one sitting, then break it up. Write a little at different points of the day.

Poky or pokey? Pokie...?

3. Do what I do. When you get stuck trying to explain how characters know each other, even though one just appeared out of nowhere and gives off mafia vibes, jump ahead and write the scene you enjoy writing. I know somebody who wrote 20,000 words in her last week of NANO simply by writing all of the love scenes in her book. Made me laugh at her, but she was just happy she scrapped out a win.

4. Write or Die - I mentioned this in another post, but it really does help if you sit there and have to write 1000 words in a half hour, or DIE! It's all mental, but it helps. Do a couple of sessions of WOD a day, and you will stay ahead of the game.

5. Another trick when you are completely stuck and don't want to go the 'write anything' route - go back to the beginning and start expanding. This does two things. While you expand out in scenes, describing surroundings and developing your characters just a tiny bit more, you are also going back and finding the threads and intrigues which will hopefully guide you out of your blue funk and make you remember where you are going next with the novel. I've used this trick often, not just with this year's nano, but with other stuff in the past. It works.

6. Add action, throw in turns - thought I'd add this one, because it serves more than one purpose. By giving your character PROBLEMS to deal with, you are giving yourself plenty of material to constantly work with. Because, if you cause a problem, you have to show the character getting out of the problem. It also trains you to think outside the box and get away from cliches and similarities to novels already on the bookshelf.

The other purpose is that agents and them who know want to see more action and nonpredictable (as opposed to the 'blah predictable') turns. If you spend huge portions of the novel with characters talking and looking at each other (something I'm so guilty of doing in WIP), then you got more problems than your characters.

7. Indulge in all of your bad habits. This is not the same as writing scenes and whole chapters you do not intend to keep. This means, write as many adverbs as you want, because you can always edit them out. Start every chapter with your character waking up in bed, if it gets the ball rolling fast. You can always figure out a different way to begin each and every one of those chapters later. If you want to throw in sparkly vampires, do it. Just remember to change the vampires to something less Twilightesque when you edit. If you want to make your main character a Mary Sue or Gary Stu - DO IT and relish the moment. You will have plenty of editing to do later, but it isn't like you will have to scrap the entire novel. You will have something to work with.

8. Always remember that you don't have to be perfect. Agents request that people do not send their NANO novels in directly after finishing them. You are expected to edit and revise over and over until you have a polished product. So, see point # 7 and have at it.

9. Write up a quicky summary of what you want to accomplish in the novel. This could be an in depth synopsis like I wrote, including various notes and info I copied from around the web to help. I did this and sometimes consult those notes at different points. It keeps me from going too far off the beaten path.

10. Talk out your problems with your friends, even if you don't really want to show and tell re/your plot just yet. If you are stuck on something, then go forth and ask people questions. Don't expect anyone to write your novel for you. Gather inspiration.


********* Speaking of NANO *************

I've officially notched the 45,000 mark. This means I could be done with NANO - TONIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <- Yes, all of those exclamation points are necessary, because this would be the earliest I've ever finished.
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The harsh reminder of limitations

Or the limitations that go along with being human.

That is - a human who spends an awful lot of time sitting in front of a computer (at work) all day, and then comes home to do the same on own computers can expect to have certain issues with the blinkers.

I have a bad case of eyestrain, and have been trying to rest my eyes the last two days. It is slow going, but I'm hoping it's settling down. I tend to think that eyestrain is just like bronchitis and pneumonia. Once you have it, you will always be susceptible to developing it at the most inopportune times. Like NANO.

So I'm stuck at 40,000 words at this time, waiting for my eyes to calm down and defraz.

Wish everyone else luck with their writing and editing.
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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Random Thoughts...

"All right, I'll admit it. Radisson, Georgia is a quaint little town. I say little because, well, it is. The welcome sign at the city limits boats a population of 14,877." - Ghost Huntress, Marley Gibson


The above quote made me grin, because I'm fully aware that the sign for my hometown boasts of 7,700 people. And we like to think of ourselves as busting out and growing. Certainly we are compared to neighboring towns who are still stuck in the hundreds. :P

Speaking of small townisms - stopped at the bank on my way home from work on Friday. This is a little story that has stuck in my head and has been bothering me all weekend long. The gal at the bank is vaguely familiar to me, but not to the point that I know her name or would tell her apart from my dog's vet. However, she knew me. I offered to show my ID, and she laughed at me. Said that she recognized me as one of the K- girls. She sees my mom and sisters all the time. Said we are so similar we are practically clones.

Ugh. I thought as I usually do when people say things like that, "Huh? Is she BLIND!"

It is something odd though, and I wonder how it would be described if writing in a book - people don't just recognize people based on the color of their hair, skin, eyes, or their height. They are looking at something else... I haven't quite figured out what.
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday - EARLY

So I don't forget in the busy restfulness that is tomorrow...

Writing - hurrah and huzzah! <- I've moved my numbers up to 35,000 words typed. This means I'm officially 1/4 of the way through my plot and almost halfway through the novel. I have all of my characters introduced, detailed the backworld information, established my main character quite firmly, and suddenly brought a character (whom the reader is led to believe dead and rotting) back to life. Or at least, her texts. As in, she's suddenly texting her sister after being mia for two years. Where is she? Is it really her texting my main character? Oh my goodness! And that is where I stopped off tonight, because my fingers hurt. And my eyes are going crossed and blurry. Tomorrow is another day though, and there is always tomorrow for dreams to come true... *hums madly* Or, I'm hoping to hit 40,000 tomorrow. It can be done.

Writers Tooling Friend That would be "Write or Die", or This place. I used it all day today, and it got me 7000 (or so) words. What I usually do is set the word count to a manageable rate and speed (1000 words per half hour) and I get to work. I generally come away with 2000 words per 35 minutes, which I will definitely take. If you stop writing and get to daydreaming, the screen goes red and rather alarming looking. Supposedly it makes sounds as well... only I've never dared let it get to that point.

Round of Published Author Websites that I admire and browse frequently:

Maria Snyder - or she who wrote the Study books. I like how understated, noncluttered, but full and useful her website is.

Sherwood Smith - who is the reason I grew to love fantasy. It had ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with that dull boy Tolkien. She has made herself very accessible to her readers and her readers who are writers, which I think is lovely of her.

Maureen Johnson - I'm sure I mentioned her website already, but meh. I loves it. And not just because waving my mouse over the buildings on the front page makes that ringing sound and I like little gadgets like that. Check her blog. So much fun.

Meg Cabot - who is the diva of authors, and probably the one who got me hooked on reading and writing books in the 'first person'. Nobody else does it half so well. Her diary is hilarious, but she also has an extremely helpful forum for writers. Check for necessary info.

I know I browse plenty of other author websites at random or as I have bookmarked around my computers... but these are the main ones that come to mind. Just lovingly sharing.

Books to read: I'm reading one book at this moment, and trying to make up my mind whether or not I like it. Invisible Touch by Kelly Parra. The writing is good (expected, as I like Kelly), but at different points the plot reminds me of something else I've read or seen. Hmm. I'm looking forward to hitting 40K on my WIP tomorrow, so I can relax the rest of the day, curled up in bed reading the rest of the book.

That is all off the top of my head.

Happy new upcoming week to everyone.

Hopefully it goes very fast and brings us closer to the Thanksgiving holiday.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday's Free Moment

- before lunchbreak anyway.

NANO Writing: Going strong. I'm now just about at 28,000 words and aiming for 30,000 words before tomorrow. If I'm not too tired tonight, that is.

I was going to wait until Sunday to plop in my next post, but something occurred to me while reading Fiction Groupie's post yesterday (see bloglist on the right) about how to do a successful blog.

I've fallen off my blogreading this past month and a half while prepping for and now doing nano, but Roni's one of the handful of people I still regularly check, even though I don't always have time to leave a comment.

Roni's advice stands up, btw - I found her blog after she posted a comment on somebody else's blog. I snooped and immediately liked the way she knows her stuff but isn't overbearing about it. So I 'followed' her and began making a point to click on her blog every time it updates.

There are other people I follow regularly - some I have on my blog following list on this site, and some who I need to add to said blog following list - who are the same way. They don't always use their blog presence to lecture other aspiring writers on the finer arts of writing. There is this other blog I absolutely love which is done by two gals (sisters and coauthors). They blog on anything and everything, including celebrity critiques ala GFY (Go Fug Yourself where Fugly is the new Pretty). Love it. And there are other bloggers who supply info on the publishing industry as they themselves scope out possible agents and their likes and dislikes. And other bloggers who do book reviews and just post random comments on their life and writing progress.

There are many reasons to follow a blog... but it all comes down to maybe a couple rules:

1. Extend beyond your inner circle and acknowledge that your audience is a bunch of strangers who want to be entertained.

- Meaning, don't be tightly centered and assume you are talking to somebody who knows you well, is a relative or critting partner. Some people can pull this off if they have a theatrical sense of humor and can make cleaning house details sound like a RIOT. Like Maureen Johnson. I really haven't read any of her books (though I probably should, idiot me), but I'm this horrible stalker who is following her blog and twitter feed. I'd probably also follow her on Facebook, er... except I've made an eternal vow to pretend Facebook doesn't exist.

Treat your blog like a novel or a story and supply information if you think it is interesting and necessary. If it is just dull or mundane, infodumping, whatever, then edit it out.

2. Post regularly. If you slip on posting (as I have), you will lose the interest of new readers who will peep at your blog and think "Dead Blog" when they see the last posting date was a month ago.

*** Back to my original point. When I read Roni's post, I thought about myself and my blogging habits. I like people who post informative posts on the writing craft with all the howtos, bewaries, and inspiros, but I haven't really felt the tug to do such a blog myself. My excuse has always been: I'm an aspiring writer, I'd feel weird telling other people how to write. That's not going to change that much. If I've learnt something or have a little detail to share that might be helpful to other people, I'll post it, but in general, I'm shy about getting too bossy on a blog. :P

That said, the ironic thing is how I feel about dogs and training dogs. I'm training my young dog (that's him in my blog header) for AKC Obedience shows. We are in Novice B and getting ready for his shows (Novice B is the level you have to show at if you have already gotten an obedience show title on a previous dog, as I have). While I have met success at the training, that does not mean I'm expert or teach classes for a living.

Still, it was tickling at the back of my head to start writing an Obedience Training how-to blog to help people train their own dogs, or at least do all of the groundwork on their own before they get their dog to the first obedience class. Or even if they aren't going to do the obedience classes, there are still things they can and should do at home.

I'd post informative things on this other blog and be bossy about it, in other words.

I laughed at the contradiction... well, until I realized the wincing difference. Confidence

I guess I'm afraid of coming off like one of those people at dog class that you see sometimes.

There's a good example from a puppy class I went through this past spring -

I always show up to classes at least ten minutes early, to allow my dog to settle down and acclimate. I did so this one Saturday and did my usual quick warm up (basically walk around the room, mixed with quick sits and play comes), and then I sat down in my usual spot to let my dog relax while we waited for the teacher to arrive.

These other people showed up early and their method of warming up was completely different from mine. They...um... let their four mostly full grown poodles (think giant dogs about the size of a German Shepherd but 10X as hyper) loose to run around and play on the training floor.

OMG. I was in a state of shock - and not just because my puppy had jumped into my lap to get away from the four zoo animals whipping around the room at full speed in a four-way playfight.

The rule I've always stood by is teaching your dogs there is a time and a place for them to act all goofy and hyper - and that is never on the training floor.

Those people on the other hand thought they knew exactly what they were doing, and they were happy during class because their dogs were too tired out to behave badly during class.

When it comes to writing and writing advice, it could very well be the same thing. People who are a bit more rigid about writing rules (the outliners, for example) would probably die from shock if I started telling them how to succeed... my way.

Another example (and probably a more relevant one) that doesn't include dogs, I guess, is if you are a mom and a woman who isn't a mom starts telling you how to raise your child. <- Urk and ick, right?

Because I have a title (including two show wins) and years of training backing me up, I feel fairly confident offering dog training advice to people.

Writing though... even though I've published shorts.... I still feel somewhat unproven in my methods. Even if I had years of training and education behind me (which I do have), I still feel somewhat squeamish speaking up for fear of treading on uncertain ground and looking like an idiot.

Mweh.

How about you and your blogging habits? Do you feel somewhat embarrassed or second guess yourself when you give advice? Are there ever any points when you write this huge post on how to do something (like writing a query) and then feel like a total fraud?

Or is this lack of confidence the reason why you are mentally hiding under your bed when you think of all of the unpleasant sales work that comes after hooking an agent?

HAPPY FRIDAY THE 13TH btw!!!!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Looks Hassled...

Clicketty me


I'm using the computer without a proper mouse and paint program, so don't laugh at my really really bad graphic art skillz. :P

Or laugh. That's ok.

The above really bad pic expresses my quandary most days perfectly. Finding time to write when you really have a real life pulling you in other directions. Or, as my pic expresses and I feel today, I'm like a ladybug walking up a tree that has two main branches leading in opposite directions. The one I really want to go to doesn't have a branch at all and I'd have to go flying up after that goal, but it will make me look bad in front of my friends if I skip out on BOTH of them. <- Oh, ladybugs reveal their true beetle ID when they take flight and are less than adorable.

*sighs*

I'll have to make a decision soon.

Writing is going good. 20,000 words baby!

*** DANCES ON TOES!!!!!! <- My toes, not anyone else's'. :)

12:40AM ET - Finishing word count is close to 26,000 words. That means I'm a pinch over 50% completed. I'm now going to take care of my burning eyes and rest them for the night.

Aiming for 30,000 tomorrow. Hope I can get there.

Hope everyone else out there in the nanosphere are doing as well. :)
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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Irresistable Sidetrack

Avert your eyes while I make a necessary sidetrack here -

Top 100 movies of the 00's -

Check out the list and see how you fare.

For my part, I was thinking that there were a a LOT of movies surprisingly NOT on the list. I know I've seen more than the following movies in the past ten years.

Least I'm pretty sure. :O

96 Shrek
90 Bend it like Beckman
79 Spiderman
75 School of Rock
66 United 93
64 Spirited Away
62 Devil Wears Prada
43 The Dark Knight
41 HP and the Sorcerors Stone
38 Pan's Labyrinth
33 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
31 Pirates of the Carribean
28 The Queen
9 The Passion
5 LOTR
3 Incredibles

That's all. I either chose not to see the others on the list, or I never heard of them. Bah.
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Monday, November 9, 2009

Monday Pop

*waves*

I'm still in nanoville over here.

15,000 words written. Which means I'm 30% into the game. Plenty more time to get the remaining 70%.

70% <<- Urk. So intimidating. Especially considering that last week I was at 90% to go. Unless I'm opening my Word doc and actually checking out the three chapters completed, it doesn't really look like I've done much. :)

Writing inspirations:

While reading the news this morning, I came across the one story about the guy in Colorado who woke early in the morning (Saturday or Sunday) to the sound of his dog barking. He went outside and found a dead body on his front yard. The body was that of somebody who had lived nearby.

That is a mystery waiting to be written. There is always a mundane explanation - the guy 's corpse got dropped off at the wrong house. The killer just randomly threw the body out of his truck/car/bike* and amscrayed.

*Yes, I'm mostly kidding about the bike, but you never know.

Where the imagination comes in is trying to figure out an out of the ordinary explanation for the body. Like maybe it was deliberately planted on that guy's property. You never know. I have neighbors who keep getting pranked by people who don't like them. They get dead deer or parts of a deer dropped off on their yard every once in a while. As the corpses appear to be several days if not months old, the neighbors assume they're getting planted.

Other story recently in the news which is a bit darker and... well, thought provoking is the one down in Ohio. That would be with the guy who had been living with 11 (if not more) dead bodies all over his house and property.

What an author can take from this story is the character details - learning how to create a perfect villain without falling into the cartoony "he did this evil thing because he is evil and likes to do evil things for the heck of it".

Looking at vids of the guy in court, I felt almost a bit sorry for him. I know that sounds BAD and I'm by no means excusing anything he did. It's revolting, horrific, terrible... monstrous. But that guy is clearly mentally ill. You can tell by the look on his face in the videos and pictures. I know people like that. They generally live in an alternate reality, and get all obsessive about imagined wrongs or perceptions.

One guy I know snapped suddenly in his mid-twenties. Suddenly he started talking about a relationship he had with a neighborhood girl who had died ten years before. A completely fictitous relationship that we knew couldn't possibly have happened. But he was convinced it had. He was convinced the girl was haunting him and he hated her passionately. And he was convinced regular girls he saw at the stores or elsewhere looked like her or were her. There was another neighbor, a boy this time, who this guy had a similar reaction to. According to the crazy guy's alternate reality, they were friends who played basketball together, but this guy betrayed him horribly, so the crazy guy hated him passionately and kept trying to get out and throw rocks and dirt at his house. That crazy guy had the same look in his eyes as that guy down in Ohio. As he got worse in his head, the more violent and obsessive he got about those people he hated. There is no telling what the crazy guy I know would have done if his family were not involved and keeping him under control.

The thing that bothers me the most about the case down in Ohio is the feeling like this sort of thing has happened before throughout history. If you read up on Jack the Ripper, it was basically the same deal. The unwanteds in society were preyed on and murdered. If anyone got away from the guy, they were afraid to go to the police because they had their own problems with the law. The local police were slow-moving or nonresponsive, because they had no real interest in that portion of society - because they were the common rabble and petty criminals.

It's just really sad and sickening how the worth of some humans can be less than others. Even now, the public reaction is mesmerized, but there isn't the same level of instant HORROR and OUTRAGE that happens when a single person of higher ranking in society is murdered.

Anyway - If you are a writer and trying to build a believable villain, consider cases like the guy down in Ohio and build the layers.
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Sunday, November 1, 2009

I DID have a post today, and this...

...had something to do with my procrastinating last night before the NANO hour (I didn't make it - I fell asleep on my computer quarter to). I was looking up idioms, and found a website with a list of the more popular idioms, organized by alpha.
Here - http://www.idiomsite.com/

I read through and thought about a fun exercise for a future novel, and this may be something I take advantage of if I start wuthering off the deep path (or something mixed up like that).

Take the first idiom of every alpha and set it as a Chapter title. You would use that chapter title as a theme for that chapter, as you develop your plot and push forward.

I would honestly change the order of some of those chapters and trim out the ones that I find less inspiring or whatever, but overall this gives you a theme for every single chapter, and gives you a focus point for when you otherwise might be floundering in between plot points.

So:

CH1 Back seat driver
CH2 Dark Horse
C3 Feeding frenzy
CH4 Get down to brass tacks
CH5 Jaywalk
CH6 Make no bones about
CH7 Nest egg
CH8 Off on the wrong foot
CH9 Pass the buck
CH10 Raincheck
CH11 Saved by the bell
CH12 Under the weather
CH13 Van Gogh's ear for music
CH14 Wag the dog
CH15 X marks the spot


***

My (writing buddy) sister and I used to play the same game when we were bored. We'd write down the first line of every single page of a book we were reading, and figure out a story from the muddle. It could be hilarious sometimes what we came up with.
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NANO HEADS UP

I'm going to be posting less this month thanks to NANO work. I will still try to post regular stuff as it occurs to me and I'll still be checking in on people during the day, but expect that production may be hampered as I'm distracted.

I may post random weekend progress notes on the NANO blogsite. Those will be on Sundays, just before the start of the work week.

*nudges blogsite thoughtfully, it doesn't wiggle back like jello which seems to be good, I think*
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Turn your attention to the sidebar...

Or just go to this link: Agent Savant, Post Apocalyptic fiction the new trend in YA, bye bye vamps...

What do you think?

The main theme of this new breed of YA books (and Laurie gives examples in her post) is the bleak future when civilization breaks down. And about here I should note that I know various people who currently are writing dystopian novels. If they get done soon enough with the editing and revisions, they should be able to cash in on the new rush.

Personally speaking though, I can't say I'm ultimately thrilled. I don't like darkness and chaos. The other thing that worries me a little - the 2000's were ideal for fantasy and paranormal writers. It was our heyday with the Harry Potter and then Twilight series.

A dystopian novel on the other hand sounds more like scifi instead of fantasy. Makes me wonder if we are on the verge of scifi taking over the toadstool while fantasy slides sadly off the chart.

I'm not sure if readers of Twilight would switch over that quickly. I really can't see that. But who knows what the future will hold. Suppose a dystopian novel comes along that has the necessary romantic and supernatural elements to wood readers over... that would work, I suppoose. Does anyone remember the series Dark Angel? I LOVED that. I'd read something like that. :)
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Have you done something smuggable today?

I have.

Could be wrong, but a guy decided to pick today to be rude to me and label me as something I'm not by any stretch of the imagination. And he did this publically. This guy did the same type of thing a year ago at this time. That time I was a year younger and upset enough to send an email to moderators (this was a writing forum) and then I personally emailed him. He got into trouble then, at least judging by the moderator's response, they edited whatever he said, and that was that.

When he made his stupid comment today, it occurred to me to repeat my actions from a year ago. I actually typed up a very long email going into my private family history and experiences, and even the topics I choose to focus in my writing because of that history and experiences, to show how wack he was for throwing that label at me. And I wanted to send that email to him in a huge booyah backatcha thing.

But I deleted the comment and played the adult. I brushed aside his comments on that public forum. Something I remember from school days - if somebody tells a ridiculous lie about you, no comment is necessary to defend yourself. You just draw attention to the lie and make yourself look touchy. :)

Yep, it did hurt that nobody corrected him for me, but meh. It wasn't necessary in the long run.

Considering I'm impulsive by nature, it felt good drawing myself back and deleting that comment.

I smug.

I also stayed awake until 3:30AM yesterday, editing three chapters for my Marbles novel project. It's amazing how I can always find something to edit when I pick any of these WIPS up. But the edit lists are shrinking and for once I'm perfectly satisfied with the first few chapters of Marbles. They feel right.

I also stayed awake that long because I was seriously freaked out. My mom waited until midnight to call on me and tell me all about a Ghost Hunting meeting she attended yesterday. Ack!

The guy explained he first got into spiritualism when he was a teenager and he and a friend were playing around with a oujia board. He said that they wound up opening a vortex to a very bad place. The entire house smelled like rotting garbage and flesh, and they were freaked out about their grandma (it was her house) coming home to that. He read from the bible and suddenly the smells vanished.

There were other stories like that, going into local spots that he and other investigated. My mom was fascinated. Me? Well, I stayed awake, knowing I'd otherwise be lying in bed listening to every sound in the old house and twitching.

Paid off in the end, because I got necessary edits done.
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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Personal Reflection



This has nothing really to do with writing, and it is personal. Long story short, there has been a rift between my family and the youngest. If you think about any of Amy Tan's books, she's like one of the protagonists, struggling for independance to the point that she will not permit herself to take comfort in what family and culture has to offer even if she just meet them halfway.

Everything my parents have said to her - it has given me a new appreciation of the one aria from La Traviata. This would be the one where the father tries to woo his wayward partying son to give up the salon life and come back home.

The sea and soil of Provence --
who has erased them from your heart?
From your native, fulsome sun --
what destiny stole you away?
Oh, remember in your sorrow
that joy glowed on you,
and that only there peace
can yet shine upon you.
God has guided me!
Ah, your old father --
You don't know how much he has suffered!
With you far away, with misery
has his house become full.
But if in the end I find you again,
if hope did not fail within me,
if the voice of honor
didn't become silenced in you,
God has heard me!

I've heard the same sentiments from my parents, reminding my sister than she knew only happiness and comfort in our home, that they love her and wish her no evil and would not hinder her pursuits. That they are there to support her, if she'd open up and kinda remember they aren't the enemies.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Call me names.....


... but when people misspell things (consistently) and/or misuse words, it gets under my skin.

And I'm not exactly a fussy (1) type person who snickets about little weird things that other people scarcely notice or care about.

Yep. I'm guilty of typing whole passages (stories or comment) really fast, misspelling a few words and leaving other important words out. Or I phrase things wrong or backwards (because my brain works weird sometimes). But I try to correct as fast as I can, because little errors rattle my cage.

The funny (or sad) note about the story I published recently is I was terrified about what I was going to see when I clicked on the magazine and read my story as published. This has happened to me before, because not all online magazines edit the things they publish. They probably should, but sometimes minor typos sneak through. It's like with your local newspaper too, sometimes typos slip past all the editing staffs' eagle eyes. With online magazines slipped-past typos are all the more prevalent, because the mags have a smaller staff.

When I clicked on my story, you can bet I immediately spotted two errors that still bug me. I pointed them out to my sister (my writing and reading buddy for forever) and she laughed at me. Even though she is exactly the same way! Hfff.

Do other people feel the same way? Or are they ambivalent to their errors until somebody else spots them? Or do they just not care?

While browsing the forums on NANO (they are alive and stirring in anticipation of the month ahead), I noticed various posts with various blatant typos. These are the type of typos that are excusable if a child under ten makes them (my niece has the most endearing typos ever), but they get a little embarrassing the older you get.

I don't really like people who are correct all the time and put on airs. Everybody needs to remember that where they might have strengths, they still have weaknesses elsewhere. That isn't the point.

I'm just saying that if you practice good grammar in speech and good spelling/grammar in writing, it gets to the point where you instinctively spell and write things the right way the first time without relying on your spellcheck and critters for editing. And of course, you don't have to worrying about paying $ for editing services just to make your novel readable for critters.

I'm saying you should practice good spelling and grammar all the time, not just when you are officially writing. Good habits save time.

The other thing that bugged me is the misuse of words - and this quibble was triggered when I spotted somebody saying they were 'humbled' to receive an award. PEOPLE PLEASE STOP SAYING YOU ARE HUMBLED WHEN YOU MEAN HONORED OR PROUD. THANK YOU.(2) The proper use of 'humbled' would be in those cases when you realize how far you have to go to measure up to the greatness of others. I am humbled every time I read a great book and realize how much I need to improve my writing.


Random notes that may or may not have something to do with writing:




*Andrew Lloyd Weber wrote a sequel to the Phantom of the Opera (POTO). I'm not 100% sure of the title, but technically is "The Phantom of Coney Island". In the story, Eric has given up on Le Parisian life and moved to New York (or New Jersey) where he became the founder of the Jersey Boys. No, I'm kidding. He becomes the owner or something at a Coney Island (which apparently is some kind of park?!) . The story is all about him wishing he could hook up with Christine again. Something we know isn't going to happen, because we all saw the tombstone in the movie where she was the wife of Raul and mother of his offspring. I haven't the faintest idea WHY you'd want to see this. Even if the music is good (my sister has been listening to snippets on Youtube time and again, and vouches for the goodness). Phantom of Coney Island? That just brings up mental images of coney dogs and striped uniforms. Also, greasy coney island diners. Never!

*NANO is officially next week. Saturday. Midnight. Thanks to DST, it means I can stay up an hour later without worrying about being a zombie the next morning. YAY. I'm planning on getting my first 1000 words done. Tempted to cheat and begin at 11PM, claiming that in my house the clocks are switched before bedtime, not at 2AM. I'll behave though.

*We are having a real fall after all! Went for walk with doglet and friend, and it was warm and golden outside. I'm pleased. We have odd birds lingering in the area - possibly stopping in for the nice weather before they continue their travels south. Heard a bird call that made my heart twist up. It sounded like a hurt puppy. I almost thought it was a hurt puppy and would have gone trompsing rudely into somebody's backyard to check. It moved very quickly and silently almost a city block distance while still making that weird call. Very likely an owl or night hawk. This means I'll be sitting on bird id trying to find the exact same call.

*While looking up owls on "What Bird", discovered that a group of owls is called a "bazaar", "glaring", "parliament", "stooping", and "wisdom" of owls. Why do those terms crack me up? Particularly the "glaring". Can you imagine announcing to the world, "World, I just saw a glaring of owls." Haha.

(1) Said fussy, simply because I hate using the word 'anal', even if that other word would probably fit better.

(2) Yes, I screamed that, and it was necessary.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday Chatter

Preliminary Weekend Summing

Writing - Some
Editing - Some

Some = I opened the document, stared, changed a word here or there, added a word here or there, deleted unfavored lines, saved, closed the document and called it a day.

My favorite excuse is I'm saving up all my energy for doing NANO, but in reality - I'm just really tired by mid-day and can't keep my eyes open. I'd like to be dramatic and claim sleeping sickness, but meh. Just change of the weather affecting me. It should settle down as my body gets used to the cold and early darkness.

Winter is officially here...

I bought a new horse blanket for my horse and put it on him. He looks adorable. Dark blue is his color (he's an old chestnut). He is also lame, possibly from the ground hardening up and the cold bothering his old joints. If my energy levels aren't too plummeted by end of working day, I plan to head out there with apples (because he's adorable) and a fresh pound of mineral ice (for joints).

We're lucky it's just joints bothering him. His older brother doesn't tolerate his shots the way he used to. He's sick bad.

Random Cheer

Not even the end of the month, and I have the company newsletter (my portion anyway) typed up. For fun, I plopped in something on Massasoit and how he and his tribe helped the pilgrims survive the first couple years of their existence. Fascinating guy, and I wish that somebody would do a Thanksgiving play on his side of the story. Or from a member of his tribe's perspective. Or maybe it would be better as a written story. Massasoit and his tribesmen went around completely naked, except for decorative furs thrown over their shoulders and beads strung around their waist.

This reminds me of a reenactment I attended this past year, where the clothing details were as true to facts as possible. This meant painted and naked 'indians' walking around in the woods by the lake. I couldn't believe they did that... er, with kids attending the event. Indecent exposure anywhere else, right?

The odd thing is the bio I read had a critical view of Squanto (does anyone else remember Squanto from their 5-8th grade history books?) and a positive view of Massasoit and the other 'indians'. What I can remember is how sorry I felt for Squanto becuase of how he was used and betrayed by everyone. Massasoit was downplayed compared to Squanto. In school, EVERYONE wanted to be Squanto. Poor guy.

Personal Good Advice for the Day:

I debated about adding this, because it does delve into personal life stuff, which = boring to most other people.

But I thought it was important, just in case anyone is going through the same thing.

I live in Michigan, which has been going through a major league recession. I thank-the-bosses still have a great job. Unfortunately, my wages have not gone up to balance out the rising costs of everything, so that means that most times I'm pinching pennies and stressing out about paying off credit cards so I can buy a car if and whenever I need to buy a new car (current car is 9 years old and starting to burn oil faster). Argh! Stress.

I realized I was making myself sick worrying about things, and that led me to opening up to my parents. Not asking them to pay my board bills, give me money, or whatever - I just wanted somebody to talk to, and somebody to tell me that everything was going to be all right. My parents are made of awesome and didn't mind me talking their ears off about everything. I'm still dealing with weather-change-sags, but at least the heartburn and migraines are less frequent.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you find yourself in my position. Don't do what I did for the past five months and hold it inside and let it eat you up. Find somebody in real life to talk to and ask advice from - preferably people who won't fly off the handle and slam you for not doing enough. It makes for a healthier mind. And of course, a healthier mind is more imaginative and inventive.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

A Few Notes While I Edit

*Excedrin is a miracle worker. The overal fug(1) that had wrapped around my head and suffocated off all of my energy and left me feeling like I'd been rolled over by a steamroller - GONE. Just two little white pills.

(1) Fug is a stuffy atmosphere: a stale or airless atmosphere.

*I have a very bad habit of using dashes, emdashes, and hyphens with reckless abandon. Must stop. Now. Without abusing periods, commas, and ellipses.

*Since I'm all perky (thanks to that lovely Excedrin boost), I'm going to see how far I can get in UF. 1000 new words tonight would be splendid. Am working in the adult first person pov version right now.
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Friday Etc...

Click on the below for a bigger image:



The above picture was the first thing I saw when I got the mail yesterday. Front page of the Wall Street Journal. My prayers are with his family, and I hope this doesn't come across as too callous if I note that I would come back and royally haunt my family if I were this guy and this was the only picture that they made available to the newspapers. Poor man.

For the record, in case I drop dead anytime soon, I already have a picture saved on my computer (somewhere) that I want to go with the obits. Nothing showing me awkwardly half-standing, half-lunging at the camera with a devious grin on my face (thanks to Disney, the grin of a green-eyed person is always devious).

Week in Review - Urk. We'll skip this.

Weekend goals - I got nothing. It's 3PM on a Friday, and all I'm thinking about is curling up on the couch, wrapped in my favorite blanket, and snoozing the evening away. Sleep. Sleep. Glorious. Sleep.

Personal note: Embarrassing, but I'm gullible. One of my sisters called and told me that my cat got inside a helium balloon and floated away. I was like, "What? (heart pounding) What happened?" I completely forgot about that national story which had me glued to the TV all evening yesterday. Or mainly, I was just listening to my sister's voice (darn she's good), registered something BAD happened to one of my creatures, and I didn't exactly hear what she said. Yah. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random Query of Frustration...

The previous post (telling families) reminded me of a personal issue that I'm dealing with right now with a family member, and I'm wondering if other people have the same problem or know how to handle this.

My brother-in-law is also a writer. If you think about the series Psych, he writes something like that except with superheroes. The novels are based on a comic strip series which he did through high school in his school newspaper. He is a talented artist and he knows how to write to entertain. He's really funny.

The problem?

He's not doing everything he can to understand the publishing industry, right down to editing his work before sending queries in. Then when he queries, he isn't following the submission guidelines - and I think this is partly because he isn't looking up how to write a proper query or cover letter. You have looser agents out there, but from what I can tell some are sticklers for form. So many agents point out that if a person doesn't follow submission guidelines, this generally shows a lack of respect and first clue the person would be a difficult one to work with.

I just glanced at something he sent out, and felt myself squwinging (yes, that's a word in my dictionary) when I saw the unorthodox query style and punctuation and grammar errors in the first chapter (which he sent to an agency I know only wants to see the query). <- These are amateur mistakes, and those he'd figure out if he signed up with a critting group and took advantage of the websites and books I've subtly pushed at him.

The other thing is this guy is nearly fifteen years older than me, and is higher up on the family-respect rung. This means that when my next older sister and I sounded the alarm when he submitted his first novel to a shall-not-be-named-defamable-vanity press-that-everyone-intheknow-avoids-and-loathes, nobody listened.

He learned his lesson... sort of. I freaked out when I saw he is touting the first book as a publishing credit, not knowing that it is very much a discredit.

He was in danger of making the same mistake all over again when he found another defamble vanity press, because apparently vanity presses are the only presses opening doors to him. The traditional presses and agencies are gently turning him down because of the errors above.

My question for the void - how do you help people like that?

I do like the guy and want him to do well. And somehow I want to help him and set him right without telling him outright that he has been burning his bridges left and right and needs to take a year or two off of querying until the publishing industry forgets his trespasses.

The other problem - in real life, I'm not as pushy as my adorable little green-eyed mascot. This isn't the first time I've seen a query of his that is ALL-WROOOOONNNG and felt compelled to set him right... somehow. The last time, I pulled my parents aside and discreetly told them to talk to their daughter about talking to her husband about what he shouldn't put on queries. I printed up a thing from Predators and Editors and highlighted a couple things on there to be passed over in his direction. I'm still not sure if the message got to him.
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Don't Tell Me...

... which is exactly what I hope my parents will say if and whenever I finally start publishing some of my novels.

This is a topic that came up over at one of the critting groups I hang out at, and it is something that I ponder sometimes. I'm not going to get into religion or morals or anything like that, but let me say I had one of those Catholic upbringings, and it is a huge part of who I am and how I conduct myself in real life. When it comes to writing though, I don't like to feel limited.

I like writing fantasy - BAD thing over at the church I attend. Technically, I wasn't allowed to read any fantasy through school. Thankfully, my parents were OK as long as I was reading and there weren't any dirty pictures.

I like writing romance, and sometimes that means writing edgier stuff - "Content", in other words. I'm sure my parents would be amused and baffled, but not exactly puritanically horrified if they knew. Doesn't mean it isn't an awkward topic to broach.

How do you let your families know then?

I'm of the opinion that people need to be conditioned before you throw something at them. There are things you really don't want to SUDDENLY surprise them with, particularly if your family is more puritanical than mine.

The way I handle it is through levity and opening myself up little by little. Remind them again and again that the way my protagonists think, feel, and act doesn't reflect the way I think, feel, and act. I remind them that the best part of writing is going out of your comfort zone on some things. Maybe exploring the other side from time to time.

That's part of the reason why I posted the previous thingy about Heather Graham and the news bit about the transgender person in trouble for trying to go back to school under false pretenses. I'll admit that there are certain parts of the story that I don't know. It could be that person intended to hook up with teenagers in the school, or had a record. What I immediately thought about though is what prompts people to do stuff like this. Are they really just doing it for pervy reasons, or is it a psychological glitch?

If I wrote that story and my parents found it, I'd simply give them the original news story and talk their ear off about the what-ifs.

With the NANO project I'm planning to do, there may be content (I'm not sure yet). If there is, I do have a clear reference as to why it's going in. The novel is partially based on something in real life. I simply took the original facts and built a story around them.

Re/people who write hot romances and erotica, then you probably have a LOT of hinting and warming up to do before you tell anyone what you write. I'd definitely use a fake name, just so you have control over how people find out about what you write. But even if you want to write under your real name, the worst you can do is get all defensive or militant about what you write. A good sense of humor and fun is the best icebreaker.

Worst case scenario - tell your family that instead of writing hot and steamy novels, you could be acting in them. They may count their blessings. :)
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Ever feel like your life is a cliche YA novel?

I looked Heather Graham up on IMDB, partly because I've secretly wondered if she and the author were the same person (yes, I'm happlessly weird and out of it). I know who Heather (Actress) Graham is, partly because I've always thought she was so pretty. If I ever were to break down on my (NO BLUE-EYED BLONDE PROTAGONISTS) rule, I would probably make my protagonist look like her. Heather (Author) Graham - I still have to look her up.

Just quickly though, this is Actress-HG's profile on IMDB:

Heather Graham

Birth Name
Heather Joan Graham

Height
5' 8" (1.73 m)

Mini Biography
Heather Graham was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and raised in a strict household. Her father worked for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and her mother was a former schoolteacher and author. Heather and her sister, Aimee Graham, were forced to relocate often as a result of their father's occupation, and Heather became increasingly shy. Surprisingly, she had a passion for acting from an early age and despite being labeled a "theater geek" by her peers, she was voted Most Talented by her high school senior class. Unfortunately, her love of acting created a tension between her and her family, although her mother obligingly drove her to auditions in Hollywood throughout her adolescence. After high school Heather moved to Los Angeles and got small roles in a variety of films, including Drugstore Cowboy (1989). When her career did not take off as quickly as she had hoped, Heather enrolled in the University of California at Los Angeles to get her degree in drama. It was there she was noticed by actor James Woods and he secured her a part in his film Diggstown (1992). Heather dropped out of UCLA after two years to pursue her acting career on a full-time basis. Aside from gaining a modeling contract with Emanuel Ungaro Liberte, Heather has starred in such films as Swingers (1996), a role she received after being taken out swing dancing by Jon Favreau, to blockbusters like Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) and Boogie Nights (1997).

IMDb Mini Biography By: Kimberly Hannigan


Trivia
Was voted "Most Talented" by her Agoura High School class.

Modeling contract with Emanuel Ungaro Liberte

Had to turn down the female lead in the film Rounders (1998) because of scheduling conflicts.

Older sister of actress Aimee Graham.

Was fired from Scorchers (1991).

Graduated 1988 Agoura High School, Agoura Hills, California. Dropped out of UCLA her freshman year to pursue acting

Worked at Toys R'Us when she was a teenager

Was forced to turn down the lead role in Heathers (1988), because her parents thought the language was too risque.

Her father is an FBI agent. Her mother is a schoolteacher/author.

She once worked as an usher at The Hollywood Bowl

Enjoys yoga and cooking and playing poker

Has not spoken to her parents in two years because they disapprove of the movies she stars in.

Was named one of the 50 Most Beautiful People by People Magazine in 2001.

She is of Irish Catholic extraction

Was the subject of the power pop song "Heather Graham" by the Washington, D.C.-based acappella quartet, Da Vinci's Notebook. The song appears on the group's 2002 CD, "Brontosaurus."

Ranked #4 in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women in the World" (2002).

Went to the same high school as Mike Shinoda and Brad Delson of Linkin Park as well as Adrianna Costa.

She attended Augora High school with Shane Stanley, Beverly Peele and James Robb and Mike Shinoda.

Played a porn actress twice: in The Guru (2002) and Boogie Nights (1997)

Practises Transcendental Meditation. Appeared meditating on the cover of the August 4, 2003 issue of Time Magazine.

Ranked as #74 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2005" special supplement. (2005)

Named #98 in FHM magazine's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2006" supplement. (2006).

Chosen by Femme Fatales magazine as one of the "50 sexiest women on the planet". [February 2006]

Was a contestant on "Scrabble" in 1986 for the Teen Tournament.

In 2003, for a photo shoot by photographer Sam Jones, she was levitated several feet in the air by a magician. Later in the same photo shoot, the magician also sawed her in half.

Had her ears pierced in her teens, but has now let them heal up again and can no longer wear pierced earrings.

Has a cat named Mittens.


I'm still grinning at her Dad who was in the FBI. The sounds of this - it struck me as a synopsis or something for a YA book. An edgy one.

Reminds me - I really want to do something like that for my NANO project. Sort of like all of the background unimportant before-the-story-began information that you aren't supposed to put in the book. Not a prologue.

More like if you remember those old Nancy Drew mysteries (the ones from the 90's, not the old ones), where they had the crime profile on the first page. I loved those things.

The other thing I saw today which snagged my attention - somewhere, a 24 year old person who is in the process of getting a sex change (female to male) claimed to be abandoned and homeless, lied about his/her age, and enrolled at a high school as a 15 year old boy. She/he is in trouble now - as a sexual predator. I'm not sure if that means he/she enrolled at the high school to get at teens. Maybe I'm naive, but I immediately wondered if it could have just been a troubled person trying to relive the teen years the way she/he wanted to. I may write a short later on topic. Must run home now. Ta.
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