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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She's a doll

This has nothing to do with writing. I just couldn't resist commenting.

As seen here, there is a toymaker making Michelle Obama dolls.



Let's ignore the fact that they were so rude as to put the poor doll in the black widow dress, and focus on the overall looks of the doll. Ick.

No politics here. Michelle Obama has one of those pretty faces and I know my kid sister ran out to get the Michelle Obama hair cut during the elections. Doesn't look like that doll. Or vice versa.

It uhm... looks like a caricature doll to me. Or a bobblehead doll without the head-bobble.

Maybe little girls are different now, but um, I liked the GLAMOROUS collection dolls. That would be really cool if somebody came out with GLAMOROUS dolls of the first family. With sparkly REAL dresses and nonplastic hair. Unless they have and I haven't been paying attention. I only go down the doll aisle twice a year: niece's birthday and Christmas. :P
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Sneaky Wednesday

My week has been fast and uneventful. No writing to speak of, partly because of some kind of bug I've been battling. It's gone to my right eye - something I'm not too thrilled about, because I have to worry about warm compresses and going without mascara. Ugh.

And there's the prob -

Yesterday, I found time (despite eye infection) to sit through several episodes of Psyche (have been buying the seasons, am addicted). I didn't find time to write a single word in my WIPS.

One excuse I have is legit - watching TV is non-participitary. Means, I can just sit there and watch. Or if my eyes hurt too much, I close them and listen. I don't have to think or reason, or hammer away at the keyboard. I just sit there. And sometimes I let myself drift off and think of other things (sometimes writing) or gab with whoever I'm watching TV with.

For most people (like me) writing demands your entire attention, focus, interest, energy, and heart. When you are at the very end of tolerance (as in the ability to gather yourself and do something), you can barely function in the evenings.

Where I lose legitimacy is when I spend the forty-five minutes or so of free time between TV and bed playing with HTML codes - as I did last night. Never mind I couldn't keep my eyes open, or how much they hurt to stay open. I was DETERMINED to figure something out and get my one blog page to LOOK RIGHT. That determination kept me going until I had accomplished what I wanted.

A good portion of the ability to write (even when YOU DON'T WANT TO!) is determination.

That's something I had to acknowledge twice yesterday. The second time was when I closed my computer down last night without clicking into a Word doc and felt guilty.

The first time was when I stopped over at MSFV to see the good news Authoress had re/one of her readers and contest participants. Read about it here. Going by her interview with Authoress, and then her blog, Steph sounds like a plucky and smart teen, who's going after what she wants and kudos to her.

The first thing I saw of the interview and the thing that struck me the hardest as a writer was the following bit:

STEPH: I think my writing is at the stage it's at right now due to one thing: writing. I write a lot and often. I don't talk about writing or think about writing or read books about writing. I just write. I don't particularly enjoy thinking of myself as a writer, I just love the act of writing.


When I was a teen, I had the same mentality, but sort of lost it a little as I grew up and got the day job. Writing took second place to a lot of things - including my own needs. Not saying I'm going to sacrifice my own needs for the sake of writing, but I've often wished I could get that "I love this" feeling back.

Just like any other kind of love affair, it isn't something that dependably is always alive and vivid and warm. You start slipping up and taking it for granted, and it begins to grow cold and tiresome. A responsibility. The ball and chain. A WALL.

That's where the determination is necessary. You have to SIT DOWN and write, even when it's hard and near impossible. For the sake of 'mentality' - set lower goals and surround yourself with good influences. If you spend 90% of your free time hanging out with a writing club that's all about procrastinating... it can become even tougher trying to stay on track.

When you start to feel and see the rewards, that's when it gets a bit easier. The burnt out days and middle-of-the-night worries go away, replaced by the "just ten more minutes, I have one more paragraph to write' bargains with your long-suffering roommate.

Imagine me standing in front of a mirror, because all of this advice is such that I NEED to start taking myself. :)
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Monday, October 12, 2009

I Hadda Dream...

...And it was one of those embarrassing dreams that exposed the deepest darkest desires of my inner self, made me ridiculously happy from mid-dream onward, and left me pathetically unhappy when I woke up and realized it was just a dream.

In other words, I dreamt I got a contract for my Swapped Fate book. From an agent whom I've never queried (because I know she's looking for other stuff right now). I was so happy that she came all the way from New York in person to offer me a contract, that I hugged her (I who never hugs strangers if I can help it), and then invited her to go swimming with me and my family. And we all went swimming together at the nearby lake.

I began to suspect it was a dream when we got to the lake and it was like... summery warm... out there. I knew it was 28 degrees F (always spells it wrong, never tries anymore) outside before I went to bed.

When the agent left without actually telling me the vagueries of the contract, or even talking about what comes next (something, I haven't quite gotten around to mulling over in real life), I KNEW it was a dream.

Well, and I woke up at that point too.

So depressing.

That means I'm back to sorting out all my current editing projects and trying to ignore dear beloved Swapped Fate sitting sadly on the shelf waiting for her (because my projects are all female) time to get back in the limelight.

I wrote a little bit in my UF project (both versions). At some point, I'm going to have to figure out which I'm going to run with. The adult (Geisha) version or the teen (Wesley) version. And yes, in the long run, I'm hoping I can do something with both. Future readers will never notice they are basically reading the same story twice, right?

CHECK THIS BLOG -

Tabitha wrote an excellent post on queries, breaking them down to the basics and (more importantly) making them less scary.

Right here: Tabwriter.blogspot.com on writing extraordinary queries
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Short Published

A quick short of mine has just been accepted by the online magazine 'Everyday Weirdness'. You can see the story here: The Cure.

Yay. I'm proud to appear in the mag. It's a fun quick daily stop - definitely weird sometimes.
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Friday, October 9, 2009

Don't Bug Me....

... because my hands are tied.

I thought I'd mention this, more as a reminder to myself to BAH-HAVE. This also has a lot to do with a mix of blogs and websites that have recently focused on what people don't want to see in an author website. And while the focus was on aspiring/published author websites, I think this applies to all mediums of communication (like Twitter, Facebook, Writer Forums), not just blogs.

As a reader, it really is disheartening and annoying to discover that this author that I felt this psychic connection with...

[Backpedals, because that sounded ooky and stalkerish]

...It's disheartening to click into a blog expecting to be entertained and instead discover that the author (who I really love) is ripping into people who have moral and political views like me. Literally poking fun of them. Deliberately picking out items from the news or even just pictures so they can twist around to make them look or sound like freaks.

In a symbolic sense, it's like discovering your best friends have been slandering you to the entire school on facebook.

These authors assume that the people they are attacking aren't members of their audience, so they feel like they are free to say what they want. They don't stop to think that a portion of the people they are ripping into are actually people who are buying their books.

It doesn't matter which side they dance their little happy dance on. Right or left, there are still good honest people who are forced into a position where they want to defend themselves and their way of life without speaking out and getting into a fight about it with somebody they used to respect.

The same is true when you are an aspiring writer writing stuff on your personal blog. Whether it's agents/publishers or prospective readers looking you up, you do not want to be too controversial. Unless somebody asks you a controversial question, and then maybe figure out how to phrase your words so they are tactful and considerate, and do not generalize.

Unless, of course, those political issues are your platform. Then the odds are the people looking you up won't be too surprised by your opinions, and are in fact following you BECAUSE of those opinions. Two examples would be Michael Moore and Ann Coulter.

On that note, you wouldn't believe how I've had to keep my fingers in check when it comes to issues. When it comes to publishing though... just like in the job world, your online-reputation can make or break your resume.

So the main things that I don't really want to put on my blog, and I wish other people would follow suit:

*Politics
*Religion

And views and stances thereof.

I do promise I won't be going in that territory if I can help it.
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Friday Rounding....

Just a quickie -

I CANNOT believe it's Friday! Where did my week go? Does this bode badly for next month? As in, will I be sitting there on a Friday morning, dwelling on my lack of wordiness or wip-workfulness of the week?

*I did work on my blog designs - influenced by Liana over at LianaBrooks.blogspot.com. I got over my fear of HTML codes. I still am not completely literate, but at least I'm not afraid of playing around with them now.

*I set up my NANO blog (see link/tab above) and will be lightly updating that over the next couple months. I just posted a disorderly and babbling brag there about the rough synopsis that I figured out for my planned WIP (Four Bottles).

*I also figured out how to create file folders for all of my files at the online storage place. This means I also got up the courage to delete old work files off my computer, because I can now easily find what I want online.

*I'm also planning to stop by the library and pick up a few books to start filling out the empty cells of my 500 book challenge sheet. I was going to be specific and only borrow YA Fantasy books, but I'm going to widen my turf and also read ALL YA books. Why? Because I realized that I really want my NANO wip to have a Joan Lowery Nixon feel to it. There are some JLN books I haven't read yet, so I can read and also study her plot pacing.

*Plans for the weekend - I'm going to see if I can write up a chapter plan going off the rough synopsis. This will not be put on my NANO website (for obvious reasons), but I'd like to have one. It also gives me an excuse to sorta work on my NANO without breaking the rules.

*Research - I did a little bit this morning, but need to find out more about police, amber alerts, runaways - and how this is all handled here in Michigan, which is where my WIP is going to take place. The missing character is going to be 17, which I understand is the odd borderline age where police may be waffly about getting involved (unless there's evidence of a crime) with a runaway case. Originally planned on having the character be 15, but want a plausible reason for the police to be dragging their feet.

*Currently the only waffling issue I have right now is the age of the main character. I have two options:

-1- make her be 16 - despite me twitching about her being so close in age to her missing sister. I wanted there to be a little distance between the girls - a reason for them to not be too close and involved with the same stuff and friends. And then I know I don't want her to be younger than 16.

-2- just to have it be a blended marriage. That actually might work. Hmm... could base on the Clancy family (somebody I know from church). It's a good reason why the girls might be close as sisters, and close in age - if not the same age - but not best friends forever.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Inspiration

Something I read on a news site (AP, Fox News) this morning:

LONDON — Researchers say a new find near the famous Stonehenge monument shows the religious significance of the site.

The smaller prehistoric site is being called "Bluehenge" because of the color of the stones that were placed there thousands of years ago but have since disappeared. All that is left are the holes made when the stones were put in place.

An artist's impression of the stone circle as it would have looked in prehistoric times was released Tuesday.

Researchers believe the newly discovered stone circle and the larger Stonehenge circle may mark a "domain of the dead" that was linked to the "domain of the living" by the River Avon.

Experts say the stones were incorporated into the circle in about 2,500 B.C.


My first impression: How did they know what color the stones were, if they are long gone?!

What I love here is the last bit about the stones marking a domain of the dead linked to the domain of the living. It is just the sort of information I really want to use in a story somewhere. Only I would play around with the definition of 'dead'.

In my sci-fi (ish) stories, I play around with time folds. This comes from a conversation I had with my dad a while back on time travel.

My mom is a sci-fi/fantasy fan like me. We confab over Stargate and shows like that. Shows that take you elsewhere but still maintain a connection through human stories. It's the ET thing - we love aliens and visitations, but we are more interested in the aliens than the spaceships. Which is why a lot of my sci-fi (ish) novels treat spaceships like cars. Functional and assumed - so we don't need to talk about them anymore than describing every inch of the car a character in a contemporary novel is driving. :)

My dad is more of a hard science fan. One of his top favorite movies was 'The Day the Earth Stood Still'. A movie that I don't.... appreciate. He is fun to talk about re/dislocation and time travel. Talk to him about the Philadelphia Experiment, and his eyes get all wide and he elbow props. He also believes that Time Travel and in fact "Hyperspeed" space travel is possible through the time/place fold theory. Too complicated to explain here, but he took a napkin and drew two dots on opposing corners of the napkin. Showed the distance with the napkin flat on the table. Then showed me the distance after folding the napkin in such a way that the points were right next to each other.

Back to my initial point and related to the Stargate shows - "dead" could be more than the end of life definition. If the person has stepped across a fold in place and time, and is 'known no more', then you would say that person is dead. Same thing when you consider the ghosts who haunt your house or aliens who live in dimension other than ours.

In the novels I'm playing around with, it is possible for folds or holes to exist all over earth. And the only way you can find them is by the level of activity or 'strange visions' witnessed thereabouts. Sometimes these are marked by monuments - such as Stonehenge or "Ways" (those spots around the world where the natives speak of fairies and Others who will work mischief and evil on anyone who treads or builds on their turf). Other times, they were brushed aside as ordinary haunts, especially when natives 'see the dead' walking about old houses and repeating activities over and over.

*wants to be home writing*
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Monday, October 5, 2009

A 'I can't Resist Mentioning' Post

This is definitely something I'm going to do to poor dear sweet Wesley from UF. It is about the only thing that will make me feel better, aside from the knowledge that I do have brow pencils just for the occasion.

I already made her 1/2 Armenian. Which means that (like me) she knows a handful of ways to keep the eyebrows tame and non-fierce. See? I'm not too cruel to my characters. They will have zits, bad hair days, bad clothes days, and naturally bushy eyebrows - but I shall empower them. Well, most of the time.

Now, I know waxing and plucking are the best way to go, but I rarily have time. Which means like tonight, I grabbed a razor and did a quick job on the eyebrows. Did one perfectly, but was kinda daydreaming when I did the other one.

I shaved half my eyebrow off!
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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Random FYI

Spent my entire Sunday learning about HTML codes and how to manipulate the standard Blogger template.

Aside from some annoyance over how I haven't figured out how to fix the header on this page (shrink the header border), I'm fairly happy with the results.

The tabs above go to:

*my very rough and empty NANO page that I'm setting up.

*the accountability page for the first 100 of the "500 Books in 5 Years Writing Challenge". <- because I said I would keep track and read more - will update as replace the ? with read books.

*I added another tab "Backwork" for something else (I forgot why I wanted the button by the time I figured out all of the tab HTMLS).

So rah!

I need to feed the doglets now, but writing will follow. It will seem very easy after squinting at codes for the last eight hours. <- Before you look horrified for activity and socialization's sake, I should add it was rainy and cold outside. Perfect day to zone out on the computer. :P
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Friday, October 2, 2009

Bookmark

ABC News story, 'Albinos' hunted in Africa -

I couldn't help but flag this story and think about how this is a real life example that people could use to shore up their work when they are writing fantasy novels or even 'historical' novels.

There are witch doctors and fortune hunters in Tanzania who believe that by hacking off the arms or legs of 'albinos', they can use the body parts in magic potions that can bring wealth and good fortune.

This is horrible and leaves me with a sick feeling in my stomach imagining people behaving like this. The girl highlighted in the story was five months pregnant when she was attacked by guys with a machete. They told her they only wanted to take one arm, but if she screamed they would take both arms. She screamed. She miscarried her child because of the ordeal or illness afterward. It was unclear whether they took both her arms, or if doctors were unable to save them, but it is to the same result.

Writers should pay close attention to how people behaved in this story, as well as their own gut reactions. These are important things that will aid them in writing later, particularly if they are writing a fantasy about witches being hunted by 'normals', or fair folk hunted by humans, or even the vice versa.

In this case, I noticed that the people hunting the 'albinos' were motivated by greed or need. Not out of fear or hatred. This speaks much (to me) as to the lower depths of human nature. It helps you understand history when you pick up books and try to understand how or why people were capable of enslaving and peddling human being, shipping them around the world like cattle. Further that, take a tour of old European castles and listen to the descriptions of the torture chambers and the fate of 'criminals'.

In the case of these people, I would point a finger at the isolation of their villages and the superstition and rituals which they have been surrounded by since birth. A lot of these people don't know any better.
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NANO Conflict

I'm definitely planning to take a break from the daily grind, and I guess I see NANO as an opportunity to practice your writing and hone your plotting and plodding skills.

By the end of the month, I usually think about that part from Blue Castle (LM Montgomery) when the guy went on a trip for the first time in his marriage to the main character (I haven't read the book in ages, so I'm drawing a blank on the names atm). When he came back and saw the houselights burning and the chimney smoking, and his wife waiting for him, he felt a surge of emotion from the revelation that he was HOME and she (Valancy! I remembered ONE of the character's names, too lazy to hunt through my book stacks for the one little paperback. His name started with a T, I think) was a huge part of that. I don't know if he discovered that he loved her yet (it was a marriage of pity on his side, she thought she was going to die and proposed to the guy she loved, making sure he knew that she wasn't going to live longer than a few months anyway and it would be one last lark before she dropped dead from an aneurysm). He didn't mentally acknowledge his love for her until much later when she almost got hit by a train.

BUT I DIGRESS!

My point here is that taking a month off to suffer through the angsts of working on an all new strange and often problematically annoying plot gives me enough time away to fully appreciate how clear and fully set up the old WIPS (that have already been through multiple drafts and revisions) are.

In more basic terms - it's like slipping on my old comfy shoes after wearing brand new heels all day at work.

THE CONFLICT

All summer, I knew exactly what I was going to write for NANO. It's a super secret idea that I came up with last year when joking around with friends. I still want to do it, but now I'm wondering if I should broaden the plot a little bit. Give myself room to emote over some of the stuff that I'm going through in real life. Or I can do the OTHER thing instead.

The other thing is a contemporary coming of age story, as seen through the eyes of a pained older sister, who sees her life getting turned into a Jane Austin novel, but without the heroes swooping in to fix things. Something like - "In real life, Elizabeth would have had to do a bit more to help save her sister besides sitting next to the mail box waiting for letters from her aunt."

The conflict comes in at the point that I'm REALLY having a hard time trying to take my 'Jane Austin Novel, for Realz' idea and turning it into an urban fantasy. Unless I go the newfangled version of Sense and Sensibility route and turn an important character into a sea monster (I still feel sorry for poor Col Brandon).

Going with the new idea alone - I basically wasted all of the secretive NANO research and brainstorming I did earlier in the year. And I still want to work on that super secret project dang it!

The main reason why I want to work on the other novel right now is because my emotions on the matter are still close to the surface and would aid in the writing. It would be good therapy too - especially since as an author, I am in full control of the outcome of the situation.

Is a puzzlement...

*sighs thinking about happier days and launches into a random confession*

As kids, we loved playing out movies we watched - which fortunately were just musicals like the King and I and Sound of Music. My oldest sister would always play the King, because she had Yul Brenner's facial expressions down pat. She solved the baldness problem by wrapping a towel around her head and hiding away her long thick hair.

My baby sister and brother played *all* of the Siamese children. And they did a fairly good job. Was hilarious.




Back to NANO this is going to be my third year. Two wins so far.

Writing 50,000 words = easy.

Writing 50,000 words that make sense = er???
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bookmark

Confession to the world:

I'm addicted to this website: Wondermark

If you secretly love Steampunk and are trying to figure out how to turn your NANO project into a Colonial era version of Victorian steampunk (uhm... like me), you would be addicted to these comics too.



The above picture refers to the Read 100 and Write 1 challenge that I'm tentatively going to do over the next 5 years, in a cheater fashion (instead of wracking my brains trying to figure out 100 books that I MUST read, I'm just going to fill in the blanks as I go along). I only need to figure out how to keep a visible list somewhere here on the blog without cluttering my world.

Check the Fiction Groupie for more details as to the challenge. Thanks for the heads up, Roni!
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Dressing your Characters....




When I write fantasy novels, I tend to be hopeless when it comes to sorting out the 'otherworldly' clothes that characters are wearing. Although it isn't advisable to blow the whistle and march a stop sign out in the middle of a story to describe every article of clothing and decoration that your character is wearing, to a certain point it is necessary to drop bits and pieces here and there.

Here's how it helps -

Fantasy: It is a major part of the world building. And like any type of world building, it is done smoothly and in relation to the plot. If you want people to believe they are reading about characters from a different time and place, you should go the extra step. No matter where you go, clothes are ingrained into culture. It is the FUN part of culture, right there with food, music, and language. If you think about the parade of nations (Olympics) when some of the athletes wear traditional garb. Or more to the point - think of the show put on by the host country.

Other than that - no matter what we all think of the 'new' Star Wars movies, we all must admit that the clothes were fantabulous and world building perfection. In Phantom Menace especially, I obsessed much about all of the thought work and world building that went into Queen Amidala, her makeup, and her clothes.

Side point, but I hope I'm not the only one hopping around with excitement at the possibility of the Olympics coming to a midwestern city. Please yes please!

Contemporary: It is a huge part of life. I know that agents and publishers are tired of 'chick lit' with characters obsessed with shoes and mall prowling - and to a certain extent, I'm right there with them. Because I'm not obsessed with shoes or malls (not to say I don't like shopping, but I'd probably shop at a hardware store and still be happy, it isn't only about shopping for clothes, perfume, and jewelry). Still, clothes have that ability to affect your self-confidence and happiness levels like nothing else can, except good/bad hair days. It isn't shallow to look at yourself in the mirror when you get to school and wonder what you were thinking when you chose X outfit, and consider how bad it would be if you went to the principal's office and asked for one of their punishment shawls(*). I still have those days as an adult. Like today. Which is why I started writing this. Somehow or other, I convinced myself that a white blouse with poofy short sleeves and a ridiculous front ruffle would go very well with green clam-diggers and a thermal 'under shirt' with pink, orange, and yellow flowers on the long sleeves. Urk!

*Don't have your character run to the mirror in the first chapter and describe everything that s/he is wearing. I know some of these sneak through into published books, but it still drives me nuts. Possibly because I was raised in a full house. Mirror gawking was done behind closed bathroom doors - otherwise you got teased about it later. And even then, you didn't admit to analyzing your appearance for any other reason than to make sure your clothes matched. Otherwise you got teased. *so, fine, I guess, my disbelief stems from childhood teasing trauma* I do know that I'm not the only one who does the "Is this necessary to the plot?" exclamation when I see the warning signs that a full self-examination is coming up. It reminds me of something I critiqued a while back. Carefully speaking here (to protect the innocent), the first chapter consisted of a character coloring her hair and looking at herself in the mirror, listening to her favorite songs on the ipod, and then going back to rinse her hair off. Nothing happened, and the chapter revolved around the bathroom mirror. It didn't even assert the character, other than to tell us what she looked like from head to toe.


* Don't be afraid to world build with clothing descriptions, and this doesn't just mean put your favorite comfy clothes on the characters at all times (old pair of jeans and ratty purple x-small sweatshirt that you are strangely fond of, even though it's better days had long passed). Give your characters bad/weird clothes days too, as long as it is part of the plot. You need to give your character a reason to be in a rotten mood all day, or lurking in the shadowy back part of the room at all times, the root cause could be the puffy white blouse, which she secretly wants to hack the puffy sleeves off, if only it weren't a gift from Mom.

*This could apply to guys too, btw - despite the fact I mainly aimed at this from the female perspective. They get twitchy about bad clothes choices and bad hair days too.

*laughs thinking about the brother-in-law and his hair*

(*) We didn't have air conditioning at our old church/school. In the summer months at mass and catechism classes, some people would try to get around the rules when our old priest wasn't looking. This didn't apply to new people and visitors, but regular parish members and students weren't supposed to wear revealing outfits - particularly shirts. There would be old ladies and teens who'd come in wearing shirts that clearly revealed their bras and everything. The ushers were instructed to stop those people at the doorway and hand them a punishment shawl if they were attending mass. If they were a student, the parents were called to bring a change of clothes, but until they arrived the punishment shawl was worn.

And they were the UGLIEST shawls ever! Like something your grandmother would make for somebody she hated. Like for the other grandmother whom she was competing with for the 'best grandmother ever' label.

My church doesn't use the punishment shawls anymore to prevent summer revelations. They discovered a subtler and more devious method. They hike up the air conditioning so the church feels like a porous igloo down in Antarctica.
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My Shelfari Bookshelf

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