Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Day in My Life

To my new followers, thank you! Hopefully I'll be entertaining enough to keep you around. If not, you can leave. Promise I'll only cry a little. :-)

In personal news: Evan and I found an apartment! We're signing the lease tomorrow. Funny enough, it's actually an apartment that some friends of ours lived in while we were all in college there; I really liked it then, and I'm thrilled to be moving in to it now. It's probably twice the size of where we currently live and within walking distance to work/school for Evan, which means we're going to be saving a ton of money once he's not commuting 80 miles a day.

I'm going to have an office!

Well, technically I have to share it with Evan, but still. We've had our desks shoved into corners in our living room for 2 years now. I can't imagine what it'll be like to have our very own room dedicated to our computering ways. We even bought a 17-inch TV at Goodwill yesterday to go in there (for 18 bucks!) because Evan can't function without a TV while he plays on his computer. :-)

First month's rent is free, which means that we can start moving now. Evan has Spring Break next week; I think we're going to get the moving truck and do the monster move then, and in the meantime he's going to shuttle boxes up every day when he goes to work.

Of course, this means I'm going to be here packing. Ugh.

In writing news:

Well, not much to report here. Ever since I finished my short story, I haven't written a thing.
I've had 3 people give me feedback, including our very own DL, from Cruising Altitude. His critique was insightful, thoughtful, and very helpful! I'm sure you all follow him already, but if for some reason you don't, you need to! He's a great addition to the blogosphere.

I'm still researching magazines that I might want to submit the story to once it's all pretty and polished up. I've been taking notes from Duotrope and am getting a good idea of where I want to start. Just for kicks and giggles, I wrote down the acceptance/rejection rates of the ones I'm interested in. And yes, most of these are speculative fiction mags, because that's what I figure my story is closest in genre to, so some of the names are pretty funky! all following stats are from Duotrope

  • Kaleidotrope: 18.52% acceptance, 74.07% rejection 
  • On Spec: 6.25% acceptance, 90.63 rejection
  • Three-Lobed Burning Eye: 2.99% acceptance, 89.5% rejection
  • GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator: 1.35% acceptance, 95.18% rejection
  • Shimmer: 1.07% acceptance, 97.38% rejection 
  • Weird Tales*: 0.94% acceptance, 94.38% rejection
  • Strange Horizons: 0.75% acceptance, 97.01% rejection
I forgot which one this was, but I think the lowest acceptance rate I saw was 0.28%. Pretty encouraging, huh?

*Weird Tales is my #1 pick, kinda like submitting to The New Yorker or Harper's for spec fiction. Mostly because my fantasy idol Ray Bradbury got his start there. :-)

Anyway, the lower the acceptance rate, the more I want to submit. Is that totally masochistic or what? I'm excited about starting the submitting process, even though I still have some revision to go.

Simon's post yesterday mentions writing erotica for $$. I checked out the website and was instantly intrigued! Especially by the link called Smutters Lounge! I doubt I'd share any of this with my mom, but I have no problem writing erotica. Maybe it's my calling...

EDIT: I was looking around on the ERWA website and ran across this article. It may be in an erotica forum, but trust me--it has meaning for all of us.

Blogging might be touch-and-go for a couple weeks, but let's be serious: I really doubt it. Just covering my butt either way.

Ciao, February! Aloha, March!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

No Country for Old Men/Scooby Doo Mashup

My brother passed this along my way.

It's a preview for No Country for Old Men, told through a mashup of Scooby Doo scenes. Love it.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Short Story continued

Keeping it quick today, folks--had a rough morning at PT and the right hand fingers are rebelling.

In good news, I think hubby found us an apartment! Driving up there to see later this afternoon, but need to take a nap first. :-)

And now for the rest of this Hugo-winning masterpiece from the annals of my youth (if you didn't read the first part, check it out) ...

(Danielle) “Come on you numbskulls, fight before I take your turdy butts and kick 'em myself” I screamed at the dozen men I had. It wasn't my problem if they shoot like girls. Besides, they'll be nothing, but pussy, rotting corpses in a few secs, I'm leaving!
(Tricia) “Colonel Dras!”
I turned around to see one of the cowardly Adventure club call hiding.
“Soldier, get your worthless butt out here.”
The soldier slowly came out of his hiding space.
“Your fellow men are dying while you hide.” I stared coldly into his eyes.
(Jeremy) The men who fell to the ground were not really dead, their personal sheilds easily deflected the sniper shots. The act only served to make sure the enemy did not know about the persona sheild. The warriors butchered the army. Their defense was pathetic. Only two soldiers were left. Out of ammo, the soldiers were using their gun buts (as) clubs, swingging them wildly.
Warlord Carthen stepped up to the men, seizing their guns. He snapped the heavy wooden stocks over his knee easily.
“You have courage,” said Carthen in his deep voice. “You shall both be put to the test. Against me.”
The warriors made a circle of rocks on the desert floor.
“Step out of the circle and you will die,” Carthen handed the Colonel a sword, and similarly armed the other soldier. He shoved them into the ring.
“Defend yourselves!”
(Summer) Dross leaped to the side as Carthen lunged at him. He turned to kick the Warlord, but he was too fast. Carthen slammed Dross into the ground. The general rolled out of the way as Carthen's blade plunged into the ground where he had been laying moments before. Dross, although middle-aged, was a hard-bitten warrior who never gave up. He was outmatched by the younger Warlord, but that didn't matter. He would fight this fight, and if he died, then he died. Carthen lunged at the general again. Dross met the blade with his own and pushed hard. But the genetically enhanced man was like a solid rock wall. He faked to the left, then shot his leg behind Carthen's and kicked forward.
(Danielle) Carthen collapsed into a heap. Laughing the whole way.
“I'm sorry Dras I just couldn't keep a straight face anymore!” he said. Dras chuckled and helped Carthen up giving a slap on the back.
“Well, I always knew you were a wimp, Carthen!”
The two men laughed.
(Tricia) Suddenly they heard a barbaric yell coming toward them. It was the soldier who had coward behind the rocks. He was coming towards them with a sword. He had a crazy look in his eyes.
(Jeremy) “End situation!” yelled Carthen forcefully. The real Carthen. The holo equipment must have been exposed to a slight magnetic field. He had simulated the test merely to see what he could learn. Now the equipment was useless. But he did not care. He lifted his heavy sword and faced the ring. The magnetic field had distorted the simulation. The result was the strange fight. Simulated fight. He tightened his grip on the sword and slowly stepped into the ring. He faced his two opponents.
“Defend yourselves or die!” 

NOTE: I remember this ending caused a big fight among us; my brother was irritated that the cousins tried to change the "serious tone" of the story, and they in turn got pissed that he turned it around on them like that...Haha...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Egghead, Blasts from the Past (little bit long)

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a real egghead when it comes to literature. Just felt like I should put that out there.

I commented on someone's blog earlier (can't remember whose) about crit groups and told the tale of my favorite group of like-minded eggheads. It started before I went to college, when my brother and some of his English and Theatre major friends decided it would be fun to get together, read great works of literature out loud, get rip-roaring drunk, and generally have a good time. A picture was drawn. A gong was rung. A chant envoked (which I can't remember), and thus the first Cult Meeting was begun.

When I came to the same private, liberal-arts college as they, I was inducted into the Cult Meeting society. We even had special invitations.

A Cult Meeting could have as many as 8 people, or as few as 3. One of my most memorable was me, my brother, and his friend; we got together one fall evening at the ramshackle house my brother was renting from said friend and had a great cult meeting. Brother has a chimnea he lovingly nicknamed Odin, and we made many a sacrifice to the chimnea that night. In closing we usually have timed haiku writings, then burn them all to close the meeting.

Told you I was an egghead! And I had great company! Another wonderful Cult Meeting I remember was at the same friend's house with just me and the bro. I stuck to beer, but they knocked back a bottle of Jack, we listened to a lot of music and watched Trainspotting. We may have deviated from the purpose, but it was still quite fun, especially when they decided to smoke pipes at 3am.

Anyway...I just got distracted for like 30 minutes looking at the pictures I took the summer my brother and his roommate moved into the Ramshackle House. If you were all my Facebook friends, I would make it required viewing.

Ever seen A Love Song for Bobby Long? It's kinda like that. (And if you haven't, you should.)

Moving On... seriously, enough already, right? 

I pulled out my most ancient and revered of childhood notebooks yesterday. It was given to me in 1994, after my family home was destroyed by a tornado...I think the grief counselor gave it to me, maybe? To record my feelings? Well anyway, in true Summer fashion, I used it to write stories in instead. Strangely, though my inscription in the front clearly states I received it on June 14th, 1994, I didn't actually write anything in it until 1998. Actually, on second perusal, I see that there are some pages torn out of the front. Man, wish I knew what those said! 

Anyway, the first attempt at one of my oldest on-going story ideas is in this book, which is why I revere it so much. I was flipping through later pages yesterday and found a letter I wrote to my friend, and in that letter were TWO POEMS! 

You have to understand, I didn't write poetry. My angst was all handled through fiction. I purposefully wrote my first poem when I was a freshman in college and my grandfather, who had been suffering from severe dementia for about 6 years, was about to die. Both poems I wrote that night were read at his funeral. I ended up taking a Creative Writing Poetry class my sophomore year and discovered an interest, but all that is beside the story. 

So, here are the 2 poems I wrote when I was ELEVEN:

The silvery glint of your razor claw
Is marred only by the spreading stain
Of blood. The smell is overwhelming,
Like the scent of fresh-cut straw. 


Tell me, darling, of a summer's breeze
Or a lover's caress. The taste of 
Wine sliding down your throat, its
Feel like silk, the silk that
Covers our bed at night.
Tell me, darling.! I couldn't believe it when I found those yesterday. But what made it even funnier was this little note after second one: "I need to stop having these poetic flashes. I'm not a poet! I'm a writer, for crying out loud!" Ohhh, 11-year-old me, if you only knew...

But the best part of all this comes from the same year, a bit later in the summer, when Brother and I were heading to Houston to spend the summer with my aunt and uncle and cousins. We drove from Georgia to Texas, so we had some time to kill. We decided to jointly write a short story, each writing a little section then passing it off to the next person. 

The result was so hilarious that I had to share it. I'm going to break it up into segments, because it's almost 1,000 words long!

About the authors:

Me (Summer): 12
Cousin 1 (Danielle): 12
Cousin 2 (Tricia): 16? 
Brother (Jeremy): 14

(Summer)The hot sun beat down on the scorched landscape. Lan Dross looked at his exhausted troops. The young men stood at attention but he could read their faces like books. The Riverview Academy were more than ready to be heading back to camp. The retired general looked at the red ball of the sun, which was high overhead.
"Alright men. Time to head back. Forward march!"
(Danielle) Groans arose as well as cheers. Colonel Das knew who the groans had come from. None other than the Adventure Club. He thought to himself with a chuckle.
(Tricia) They were a bunch of wimps, terds waiting for his instruction to whip them into shape. And the (wealth? weany?) Adventure Club will know what a real man is made of when I get through.
(Jeremy) Their armaments clanked together softly. All the warriors were anxious for combat. Ready to feel their lances ram through their enemies body, and watch the ground be purified by their crimson blood. He flexed his genetically engineered muscles against his battle armour. His scanners indicated the group ahead. He lowered his lance and armed his deflector sheild. They relished personal combat. Guns were unhonorable. With his enhanced vision he could see the group ahead. He gave the signal to charge.
(Summer) One of the more attentive troopers saw the attacking army and shouted a warning. Dross turned as the first shots cut into his troop. He shouted for the young men to take cover, then dived behind a mound of dirt. He heard the anguished screams of his troops as he unslung his D9854 Blast-Rifle. He got to his elbows and began taking sniper shots at the attacking men. A few fell; nothing compared to the 30 plus young men laying in bloody pools on the desert floor. Dissapointed in them, he shot a couple more attackers, then quickly counted the number of his troops that were actually retaliating.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creepy Morning, Blogfest and More!

You may have noticed I added my Twitter feed to the blog. Follow me at your own risk: I'm one of those who likes to randomly tweet about my coffee and the state of nature outside my window and that's about it. I also tweet in bursts, but I'm going to try to improve that.

So! My friends at physical therapy had quite the creepy morning! Here's the story:

Elizabeth, an OT student who interns on Wednesdays, was on her way to work this morning when she stopped at the CVS down the street. Before getting out, she noticed a creepy-looking dude standing outside the doors staring at her. Dude had his hand under his shirt with something obviously under there, and he kept looking back and forth between her and inside the store. She decided not to get out of the car, and drove across the street to the Kroger grocery store instead.

After running her errand, she drove the half mile to the PT office, where she sat outside in her car for a minute finishing up her phone call. Then she goes inside and is talking with Krisi, the CHT, when... Elizabeth is out in her car...

Creepy dude comes inside the office! He asks the receptionist for a paper clip. She gives one to him. Then he asks if he can use the bathroom. She says yes, and he goes into the bathroom for about 15 minutes.

SO...Creepy Dude comes out of the bathroom, and Elizabeth just about falls on the floor when she recognizes him. He stares at her as he walks back outside.

THEN he gets in his car and drives AROUND the building, where he sits in his car behind HER car for about five minutes before finally driving off.

I got there about 15 minutes after all this went down. They ended up calling the sheriff's office, who sent out an officer to take statements, etc.

Isn't that freakin' creepy?!?! Poor Elizabeth was scared to leave!

Who knew that going to PT could be so scary? Yeah.

Anyway! Moving on...

John Paul is having a Drunk At First Sight blogfest! Check out the deets! 
I think I'm actually going to enter this one; I haven't really had much to contribute, since I missed the Kissing one, plus drunkenness is something all my characters seem to share. :-) Hope to see some of you there!

So, I let my husband read "A Tender Touch" last night. Reviews were mixed. He likes to give me constructive feedback, but he's not always the best at softening it with positive aspects. :-) Still waiting to hear back from the others, but if any of you would be interested in giving me feedback on a literary-ish short story that's a little over 3700 words long, you can email me at dream.traveling (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Not sure what my plans are for the day. This may be a reading day, may be a writing day, may be a planning day, may be a baking day. Whatever day it turns out to be, let's just hope I don't have any Creepy Dudes knocking at MY door, and that you don't either! 

Ciao, pretties! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

In Which I Take Precious Editing Time to Kvetch

I'm beginning to understand all the hair-pulling, *headdesk* frenzy over editing.

Sure, I've edited and revised stuff before, but nothing like I'm going through with "A Tender Touch."

I know "they" say to leave something alone for a while after you've written it, but I already had a lot of thoughts on what to add and subtract while I was finishing it up yesterday, and I figured I'd go ahead and do some of them before I forgot.

Then I decided I'd go ahead and tweak some more. And some more...

And now I have a raging headache, several hundred new words on the story, several hundred less old words, and still feel like I'm swimming upstream.

I've always enjoyed revision in the past, but this is tough! I'm guessing it's because it's a short story, not a novel, and all the emotion and plot-arcing and such that I'd normally have 200 pages to lay out are all being condensed into 6 pages.

I've only written one other short story, and it came out about 89% how I wanted it to look in the end. The editing process was minor and not painful.

This story came out about 60% where I want it.

NOTE: I just realized that it's 2:30 and I haven't eaten since 8:30. I'm thinking my headache may be hunger-related. I forgot food in favor of writing? Whoa! Does this make me a real writer? Maybe only if I'd been drinking gin instead...

Anyway. Another problem that I'm seeing is that usually in my short stories/microfictions, I'm just writing about ONE scene. In fact, most people suggest that for a short story, you write about the scene containing the climax, and only that.

Well. That just doesn't work for my story. I'm doing my best to keep it to just two scenes before the climax, but for the emotional development that's pivotal to the story, it's pretty tough.

Enough kvetching for now. I ate while typing this, and my head feels better already, so hopefully I'll finish banging out some edits, then let it rest for a while...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Look, Ma! I Did It!!!

Today is turning into an uber-awesome productive day.

I woke up early, went on a nice, brisk walk while listening to a Sherman Alexie short story on my iPod (if you're into that kind of thing, I would recommend NPR's Selected Shorts podcast--it's wonderful!), then came home and tackled my horribly disgusting pig-stye house.

Okay, it wasn't really a pig stye, but it was all cluttered and in need of some TLC. Which I gave gladly.

I can think so much better with a clean house!

In fact, I thought so well that I FINISHED my short story, "A Tender Touch."

Turned out to be 6 pages, 3,428 words long.
I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, though it will definitely need some tinkering before I try to submit it anywhere.

Oh yes, I'm still planning on submitting it.

It feels really nice to finish something, even if it's just a short story.

I'm going to go finish this book on my Kindle that I've had lingering half-way for weeks now.

And a teaser from "A Tender Touch"! :

I move outside the circle, and something pings on my radar. Malevolence.
I follow the current, slipping in and out of thought, in and out of the physical world, dimly hoping I can keep a hold of reality this time and not fall away into Time's current. This malevolence gnaws at my senses, urges me faster.
The town flashes around me, then darkness. I stop short. The presence is everywhere, swallowing up this forest. Rage and fear envelop me, nearly blinding out my sense of self.
Like stumbling through a dark room, I claw to the surface of the spirit's emotion, enough to navigate through these woods. The epicenter pulses. I could find it from half-way across the country, it radiates such exquisite torture.
The spirit's pain becomes indistinguishable from the world around me. Only when a mournful cry shivers the night do I realize that I've passed the source of trouble. I backtrack and see what I missed.
Children, a boy and a girl, squatting in the leaves. The boy holds a flashlight and keeps turning it off, making the girl squeal in fright.
I move closer, until I can smell powder and jam.
“We better get Mommy.”
“We didn't do anything.”
The boy flashes on the light and points it at the ground. I see dirt-streaked white and realize the children are solemnly regarding a human skull.
“I wanna go home.” The girl sounds on the verge of tears. The boy flicks off the light.
“Fine. But I'm keeping the flashlight.”
A whine wells up, then the nasal sound of half-sincere sobs. The boy turns on the light and holds it under his chin, his sneer casting fractal shadows on his thin face.
“You're such a baby.”
The sobs turn into tears. Wind stirs the leaves at their feet, scuttling a twig across the skull. It falls into the eye socket, and the girl shrieks and flies to her feet. The boy looks mildly alarmed, stabs the stream of light into the woods around them. I feel the spirit's anger growing and its consuming desire to get these children away from its pitiful grave.
The wind picks up and the dead forest floor rattles, leaves and twigs swirling into miniature whirlwinds, beating against the children's feet and legs. The boy loses his bravado, but not his wits, and grabs his sister's hand, pulling her along behind him as he tears away from the skeleton.
I imagine these children will not take many more adventures into the woods at night.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Character Building

A short post about something of substance (sort of) while dinner is in the oven.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainy, and I'm crossing my fingers that it will be, because I need to get out of this non-writing funk and get some words on paper! Nothing helps me do that like a nice, gloomy rain day!

But just in case it doesn't rain sufficiently, I'm giving myself an exercise to do tomorrow on building character background--that being, I'm going to do it.

At one point in time, I had a multi-page, ridiculously in-depth character profile worksheet that I actually filled out for a few characters. It took forever, but it also made me think about those characters in a different light, situations I may not have otherwise put them in.

Thought I might try that approach again. I'm not one for in-depth anything, really--I write a page long description, maybe, including goals related to the plot, and that's usually enough for me. I make additions to the page as new traits emerge. World-building is a similar issue.

Weakness in style? Maybe. I am of the "seat of the pants" school, so it shouldn't be surprising.
But a bit of discipline is good for everyone, right?

How about y'all? Do you use character profiles, and if so, care to share any good formats?

These are the three I'm going to cobble together:

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday Evening Post

Hehe. Get it? Get it?

Yeah, I got nothin'.

Anyway, just a quick toodle-loo to take care of some business--

1. Crit group went well. Two of the members had an unexpected ER visit, so it was just me and Lainey, but we had fun!

2...Yeah, really there's not another point.


My posts have been getting lazy lately, huh? I promise that come Monday, I'll have something to show. (My fingers may or may not be crossed as I type this, which is or could be quite a feat.) 

Jen over at unedited gave me this fun award:


The best part is that I don't have to do anything special, just pay it forward!
Without further ado, I give to:

Guinevere, whom most of you know and love, at This is Not My Day Job: she's one of the first who found me and supported me and made me feel welcome to the blog community. 

Kimberly Franklin, who loves hot man morsels, at her self-titled blog: she gave me my first comments, back before I was even smart enough to have email alerts to comments. Hyuk-hyuk!

Also, Tiffany Neal, my unfortunate bad-luck buddy, gave me the Happy 101 award! Yay! I've been fortunate enough to make someone else happy in the past, so I won't torture you with more things I love. The original post is here. Go look at cute Herbie the Munckin kitty!

Have a fantabulous weekend, all!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Such a Disappointment

Well, I made pathetic progress on my to-do list.

I finished critiquing and line-editing Lainey's short story, "The Princess and The Jester," and feel good about our first crit group meeting tomorrow. My critiquing skills are a bit rusty, so hopefully I'll be able to provide some helpful feedback.

I didn't finishing re-reading Four and definitely didn't write any more on it.

I also didn't write a single more word on "A Tender Touch."

So what exactly did I do?

Um, not much. Critiquing the story took up a lot of my time. I also Google chatted with my friend in Michigan. I took a nap.

Important. Things.

I had high hopes for today, really, I did! I got a new temporary splint at PT to tide me over until my new swanky one arrives, and it feels really nice on my poor wrist. I thought, "Hey! Wrist support! I'll be able to type a bunch today without my pinkie finger giving up and dying on me!"

Instead, I ate lunch with a friend and went to Target. Came home, read the rest of the new blogs, and took a nap. In my defense--I've had a bad headache the last two days, and a nap is about the only thing that has a hope of getting rid of one. I can't write with a headache. Just can't do it. Nope.

Now I'm going over to hang out with my dad-in-law while mom-in-law goes to see Godspell with husband. Hopefully we're going to veg, and I'm going to let Herbie the Munchkin cat shed to his heart's content all over my clothes.

And now!

A Video!

Seriously, I know everybody and their mom has seen this, but it still makes me laugh! I think there's a lot to learn about storytelling from this kid (and he's so darn cute, how can you not just love him?) Basically, everything but the action is just mumbo-jumbo. And that's all that really matters... :-)


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Three Nights

First off, we found out what happened to my car. Evidently the timing belt snapped, so both it and the timing belt tensioner have to be replaced. I don't know what these terms mean, but I do know that it's going to be hella expensive, and I'm pissed. But what can I do? Piss and moan. That's about it.

I'm going to get a horse.


This week, I basically have the entirety of yesterday, today, and tomorrow to myself. Husband has work and night class, and tomorrow is going to see Godspell with his mom. I opted out because I loathe Godspell, not because I loathe spending time with my husband.

I have a few goals for this time, even though I squandered a lot of yesterday. Here are the goals:

  • Read and critique short story for Lainey Finish line edits. Get ready for crit group meeting on Saturday.
  • Finish "A Tender Touch" (my short story) 
  • Finish reading through Four and write part of another chapter. 
Not too many goals, but I'll be surprised if I can accomplish all of them. When I sat down to write "A Tender Touch," a had a good, solid idea of where it was going. I didn't think it was going to be over a thousand words. Now that I'm actually working on it, it's becoming a lot deeper and more emotional than I'd expected. And a lot longer. I doubt it will be over 3k, but we'll see.
    Wondering what "A Tender Touch" is about? (Of course you weren't, but I'm going to tell you anyway. And please don't recall that I said it was an awesome story idea, especially if you think it's dumb.)
   The basic idea is this: a ghost who has made it a personal mission to eradicate disruptive poltergeist realizes it is about to become a poltergeist itself, and must decide whether to destroy itself or become a poltergeist and live in hypocrisy.

   That's a horrible description! Ah, well. So that's what "A Tender Touch" is about. How did I get the idea? Funny you should ask... I was riding to my in-laws' house with Evan and randomly thought out-loud: "How weird would it be if there was a ghost-killing hunter who salted and burned a body, only to find out that the body was its?" Yeah, I watch too much Supernatural, I get it. And don't worry, it's not some sort of Sixth Sense-type thing--you know it's a ghost from the beginning.

I don't know how many of you follow The Blood-Red Pencil, but there was a good guest post today about easy self-edits. Check it out!

Also, all of you already probably follow Shannon Messenger, but she's having an awesome give-away contest. I'm not entering, I'm just pimping for kicks and giggles.


The fantabulous Kimbery Franklin and Christine Danek gave me this award the other day!


So sweet! I'm supposed to list 7 random facts about myself. We'll see how far I can get:

1. When I was in 11th grade, I got knocked unconscious by a stray flying discus. I was on the track team: wrong place, wrong time. Had to go to the ER and get a CT scan...No concussion, but I did get whiplash from it! (My husband's been after me to tell this story on here. He thinks it's hilarious.) 

2. I once hairline fractured my knuckles trying to punch my older brother. He ducked out of the way, and I punched the wall instead. I had some temper problems back then. 

3. One of my favorite authors is Ray Bradbury. I really wish he was my grandpa. 

4. I kick ass at Scattergories. 

5. I can't stand to kill any living creatures, including bugs--EXCEPT for cockroaches. Death to all cockroaches. 

6. My neck curves the wrong way. Like: ( instead of: ). I was born this way. My neck is extremely weak and I have poor range of motion in it. It's not as severe a curve as the parenthesis--mostly straight with a slight backwards curve, but it's enough... 

7. My middle toes are shorter than the toes around them. 
Okay, enough weirdness about me. Now to the fun part! I'm going to pass it on to some fairly new-to-me blogs that I really enjoy:

-Christine at Christine's Journey.
       *I'm a complete bumbling idiot! When I wrote this post, my car-related brain-mush let me forget that Christine actually gave me this award too! How stupid and redundant of me to give it back. Jeesh! But I'm leaving her name up because I love her blog. :-)
-Tiffany at Tiffany Neal 
-Anne at Piedmont Writer 

Check out these lovely ladies and follow them, if you don't already. 

I leave you with this funny cartoon:


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

An Attempt to Be Helpful (hefty post)

EDIT: Adding another conference!

I'm going to indulge myself and preface this post by complaining. I'm having a bad, BAD spell of luck lately with my car. Yesterday, I had to run off the road to keep some jackhole from hitting me head-on. Scared the crap outta me, and made me wrench Hurt Wrist really badly.

This morning, fresh from a physical therapy session in which the therapist tells me to take it easy on the wrist for a few days, I get about 20 feet out of the parking lot when my car just DIES. Engine cuts off, power steering, brakes, etc. all go out. I had enough momentum to coast into a parking lot, where I then had to put the car in park and pull the emergency brake to actually come to a stop. Thankfully my father-in-law recently retired, so he was home and available to come to my rescue. We ended up having to call a tow-truck, and my car is now at the mechanic... F-I-L seems to think it could be a bad alternator. Who knows? All I can say is the car gods HATE me and Evan. We've had the worst luck with our cars the last year...

Anyway, I just got home about thirty minutes ago and am still trying to shake the chill of standing outside in 20-degree weather with 10mph wind sucking the life out of me.

Whining over now. (Woe is me.)

So for Christmas, Evan got me a subscription to The Writer magazine. I highly recommend it as a "trade" magazine for anyone interested in becoming a better writer, PLUS it has a classifieds/market section in each issue.

Some highlights from the March issue:

-Give your fiction focus (step by step advice)--7 steps to find and develop a theme which unifies all the elements of your tale.

-3 essentials for a successful screenplay

-6 ways to use character goals to draw in your readers

But what I'm going to write about today is this part: 59 U.S and Canadian markets, agents, and writing groups

Here is some advice from Ron Sandvik, the managing editor of the North American Review on submitting:
"Don't rely on blind simultaneous submissions," he says. "It's like setting up a machine gun during hunting season and hosing down the woods with lead. If your objective is to put a rabbit in your pot, then before hunting season begins, find our where the and drink beer."

He advises writer to research a few publications a day and read them! Make a list of 20 publications you'd like to appear in, then craft a personal cover letter for each one.

"The first paragraph should cite a specific piece and pay it a sincere compliment," he notes. "You're engaging with the text and publication. To find that someone's read my work and engaged with it, and wow, paid me a sincere compliment--you couldn't get to my heart quicker."

That may not work for everyone, but still something to consider. Two websites he suggests visiting when making your lists are:


I've just briefly looked at these sites, but they look amazing! I know I'll definitely be using them when I'm ready to start submitting.

Something else:

If you're like me, you vaguely know about associations for writers, but don't know about many other than SCBWI and RWA. The Writer includes a big ol' list of associations, so I thought I'd share! I might leave a couple out, just for the sake of typing all of this out, but I'll try to include the ones I think will have the widest appeal.


  • The Academy of American Poets ($35--2,500/year dues;
  • Association of Writers and Writing Programs (dues vary;
  • The Authors Guild: largest organization of published writers in the US--must have published a book or have published 3 articles in general-circulation periodicals in the prior 18 months. ($90/first year, sliding scale subsequently;
  • Canadian Authors Association ($157.50/year;
  • Electronically Published Internet Connection, EPIC: for published and contracted e-book and print authors, organized to advocate for electronic publishing ($30/year; 
  • International Women's Writing Guild ($45/year;
  • Mystery Writers of America ($95/year;
  • National Association of Women Writers, NAWW ($127/year;
  • The National League of American Pen Women, NLAPW (dues varied;
  • Romance Writers of America, RWA (dues vary by geographic location;
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, INC [SFWA]: open to any writer who has sold a work of sci-fi, fantasy, or horror to qualifying market. See website for details. ($60-100/year;
So maybe you'll find something you like!

Not done yet!
Next: Writer Events!


-AWP Annual Conference and Bookfair: Denver, April 7-10. Details at

-ASJA Writers Conference: New York, April 23-25. Details at

-Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference: Ridgecrest, N.C., May 16-20. details at: writers

-Pennwriters Annual Conference: Lancaster, Penn. May 14-16. Keynote speakers James Rollins and Elizabeth Kahn! Details at

-Crossroads Writers Conference: Macon, Ga. Feb. 26-27. Registration $25 for students, $45 for non-students. Details at
    --Thanks Lainey, for this information! I won't be able to go this year, but it sounds awesome, and I see that Judith Ortiz Cofer is going to be there! She's a creative writing professor at UGA, and I've had the opportunity of hearing her speak before--she's amazing!

I've seen a lot of contests in the blogosphere lately, so here are a couple outside of the nets:

-The Nimrod Literary Awards: submit an unpublished short story up to 7,500 words and 3-10 pages of poetry. Deadline: April 30. Entry fee: $20. Prizes: $2,000/ $1,000 and publication in each category. 
Contact: Nimrod Journal, Literary Contest (Fiction or Poetry), The University of Tulsa, 800 S. Tucker Dr., Tulsa, OK 74104., 

-Wabash Prizes for Fiction: submit one story or a series of related short-shorts up to 10k words. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: $15. Prizes: $1,000; publication in Sycamore Review. 
Contact: 2010 Wabash Prize for Fiction, Sycamore Review, Dept. of English, 500 Oval Drive, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907;; 

-Writers-Editors Network Writing Competition: features contests in fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and children's literature. See for details. 

-Glimmer Train: accepting short-story submissions now through end of month (March). See writing guidelines and make submissions online: Payment for stories accepted for print publication. $700-2,000. 

Well, hope that wasn't too boring. 

Let me know if this was helpful, and if you'd be interested in posts like this every once in a while (I get the magazine every month.) And if any of you end up doing anything from these opportunities, let me know!!  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Little Less Conversation, A Little More Action, Please

As you are no doubt figuring out by now, I like to jump around on projects. I figure writing is my hobby, I'll do it how I want! I'm not trying to get published (right now), I'm writing for funsies, and since I like to have funsies, I have set myself a new goal...

I got this idea yesterday for a short story.
A really neat idea.

I also had some major angst going on and had a very youthful-rebellion moment in which I decided I was going to SHOW YOU ALL--YOU'LL SEE! and try to get something published.

Y'see, I've also always been a pretty big short story and poetry writer. I like it. It's FUNsies, and more importantly, it lets me prove to myself that I actually CAN finish something [sigh].

So, I'm going to write this short story, and then I'm going to submit it.
I've got a little list going of magazines that might be good matches, and I'll continue researching and adding to that list.

If nothing else, I'm at least ready to have a rejection letter to display proudly [and with secret tears].

All this being said, I braved the 15-degree wind chill weather (and it's really, really windy) and drove to Wal-Mart to buy a new notebook. For whatever reason, I still have to draft my short stories and poetry by hand before I can transcribe to computer. More in tune with the words, I suppose, and probably why my short stuff is better than the pages upon pages of typed-up crap.

Ahem. Anyway, so I have a shiny new notebook (green) and my favorite pen and I just ate a PB&J sandwich and a handful of sunflower seeds, so I'm ready to get crackin.'

How about you all? Anybody published any poetry or short stories?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

It's Not Even Light Out

I can't resist posting, even when I have abso-frickin'-lutely nothing important to say, except that I'm in the middle of a great brainstorming session on Reckoner.

I added my playlist to the sidebar! They may be additions eventually, but for now these 25 songs encompass the feel of the story, so check it out!

I'm so excited to tell this story. It's been swimming around in the deep crevices of my brain for two and a half years now--no wonder it's getting dark and twisty! What else can I expect?

Anyhow-ways, I'll see if I can't get to another good excerpt spot in the next couple days.

In the meantime, happy Valentine's Day to everyone. I'm going to eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast, watch Supernatural all day with the man, then let him cook fettucine alfredo for me--it's what he cooked on our first date, which was Feb. 14, 2005.

Oh, and we had some fun in the snow yesterday. It pretty much all melted today, but we got four inches! Whoa!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Feature Friday

Yeah, I just made that up.
The hub and I are taking a break from our Supernatural binge so he can do some homework, so I thought I'd work on Reckoner some more, and then I thought I might share a little bit...

Anyways, so if you're interested, this is the opening:


Branches whip into my face, stinging my eyes, drawing blood, blinding me as I run. The strap on my flipflop broke and I kicked them off so I can get a better grip on the soft ground even though the fallen twigs and pine cones and sweet gum balls and occasional rocks cut into my feet, but I'm above being bothered by physical pain. My heart pounds in my ears and my sides are stitching, forcing my lungs to squeeze up tighter and tighter as my unfit body pushes itself beyond its limitations for the adrenaline powering me now. I can hear him behind me, hear his ragged breath and steady footfalls and know that eventually I will fail, will succumb to my weak physical form and he will overcome me.

And I don't see the drop-off until I'm already pitching forward over it, flailing in midair to try to orient myself, trying to throw my balance in the right direction so that when I land I won't fall, but it's no use and my breath is forcibly expelled from my lungs as I smash into the ground. The scent of decaying leaves and there's blood in my mouth along with intense pain and I realize that I've bitten my tongue severely, and I have just enough humanity left over the fear to wonder if I've bitten it off and what will happen if I have.

He lands on top of me, knees smashing into my abdomen. His eyes are wild and lips drawn back over his teeth and he doesn't look human, doesn't look like the boy I thought I loved as a dirt-covered hand closes over my face. I thrash beneath him and scream deep and guttural. One of my arms is loose and I lash out at him, but he is larger and bats it away, so I claw at the back of his hand even as fire envelops my face, whiting out my thoughts with searing pain. I feel one of his fingers thrust into my mouth and I bite down without thinking, bite down harder than I've ever bitten anything in my life, embracing the animal I truly am as I feel his skin splitting and the resistance of bone, but I keep biting even as his blood mixes with mine. He falters for a second, just long enough for me to wrap my fingers around the skin of his wrist and pour everything I have into that moment and I know it is going to be the end for both of us, a clash of wills on the top of my mountain, my refuge, and our howls rise together to the blazing sun.


OHHH Snap!

It's happening, blog friends!

SNOW in Georgia.

I know most of you are like, pfft, that threat of 3 inches is nothing compared to the thirty feet we're dealing with, but COME ON! This is the land of sweet tea and 200% humidity and average summer day temperature of 102! In the 18 years I've lived in Georgia, I've seen decent snow maybe...oh, 5 times? And one of those was a blizzard that knocked the whole state on its rear-end. Our average winter temperature is around 45.

So yeah, snow is a big deal. Which is why if it even threatens, the whole state panics. I mean, this particular storm is supposed to hit Savannah! Man-oh-man. Good thing I got my bread and hot chocolate and marshmallows already! The man and I are set to be shut in for the weekend.

Kinda romantic, right? Snowed in for Valentine's Day weekend, plus he's already taken Monday off, so even better! This will be our 5-year anniversary, but we don't have any special plans. This will be the first year we haven't done something big or special or cheesy; with him working this new job and in grad school and me being hurt and housebound and grumpy, we're just happy to be able to spend some consecutive days together. We're going to drink hot chocolate and binge on Supernatural and generally enjoy the shut-in life. Can't wait!

So, this is what is keeping me company until he gets home:

It's snowing, but you can't tell.


 There are even more as I type this...wish I had better quality, but I didn't want to scare them away, so I had to snap what I could through the vertical blinds.
Probably not going to hear anything from me until next week (or not. We shall see!) 

Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Writing in Flow

It has never been my intention when I sit down to write a blog post to give out advice to anyone who comes across these words. I don't know a whole lot about fiction writing, and what little I do know is intensely personal and probably only helpful to me. I know about writing research papers, response papers, poetry explications, annotated bibliographies, and any other kind of paper that involves a works cited page, but that's not what this blog is about.

I don't plan my posts out in advance. Sometimes I'll get a thought stuck in my head and say to myself, "maybe I'll blog about that tomorrow." Most of the time I either end up writing 2 blog posts in a day, or I'll write something completely different the next day. This not-planning may be a detriment, but at this point in the game, I'm not a professional writer. I'm not really networking, I'm just trying to make virtual connections to people who have the same interests as I. And it's fun. I check my blogger dashboard thingie every morning while I eat breakfast. It's my new ritual, and I really enjoy it.

A lot of the blogs I and many of you follow give out a lot of advice, and that's wonderful, because those people are way ahead of me in the game. They've written MSS, queries, researched agents, played the waiting game--that's the kind of advice that's actually helpful. They're the people you turn to when you need some reassurance that this business really CAN pan out.

I'm just here to write some random thoughts and indulge a purely selfish need to entice others to read what I have to say. I try to make it worthwhile, try to make it funny, and try to make it widely appealing. Hopefully I'm doing a decent job of that...

Anyways, the point of this ridiculously long preamble to introduce some writing advice that we all could use. This comes from a great book I used in my first creative writing class called Writing in Flow, by Susan K. Perry (Ph.D.) It's all about cutting out a special time to work on your writing and how to make the most of that time.

So here are some thoughts from this book:

How Flow Occurs
 Theory states that you enter flow state when the following requirements are in place:

1.Your activity has clear goals and gives you some sort of feedback.
2. You have the sense that your personal skills are well suited to the challenges of the activity, giving you a sense of potential control.
3. You are intensely focused on what you're doing.
4. You lose awareness of yourself, perhaps feeling part of something larger.
5. Your sense of time is altered, with time seeming to slow, stop, or become irrelevant
6. The experience becomes self-rewarding.

So how often can you say that you're in flow for any activity, not just writing? Personally, the only time I can really relate to this idea is when I'm reading a great book. I'm that person who becomes deaf and blind, much to my husband's irritation. I've only come close to this state a few times when writing, but it's something I strive for every time I open my MS, and something I hope that we can all someday accomplish.

I'm meeting my brother for dinner at 5, so I have 4 1/2 hours to try to write as much as possible. I'm shooting for an additional 2,000 words, which means I won't be able to keep taking email, blogger, and facebook breaks...

Flow, I'm coming for you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Here and Now

I'm doing something new. In all my years of writing, dabbling in writing, and playing at writing, I've always naturally written in past tense. Never questioned it. Never thought about it. It just came out. It was right.

A good friend of mine has written 2 books and is about to finish his 3rd. All have been written in present tense. I asked him about it once, not too long ago, and he said that it never really occurred to him not to write in present tense. It works well for the books, too, and believe me when I say all 3 couldn't be more different. He has a very strong Voice (that reminds me of Karen Marie Moning's Fever series--anyone read that? Love it.), which contributes to the overall feel of the story, of course, but that present just drives the narrative, giving it a real sense of movement and urgency and flow.

So, as I said in my post yesterday, I've started back up with an older story idea of mine. I've discarded most of the original concepts, just retaining the core idea and the young adult audience.

When thinking about this story, there were a few things that stood out in my mind instantly:

1) I wanted it to have an atmospheric quality. I'm setting it at my grandparents' old cabin in the mountains, and if I've ever been witness to real magic, it was there. I want to try to capture that sense in the story, that sense that when you're standing alone at the top of a mountain, surrounded by hundreds of acres of woods, that anything can happen.

2) Because the protag is finding out something extremely hard about herself and her family, I want the reader to experience it in the same blow-by-blow, process-it-as-it-comes fashion that she herself has to.

3) Even though my target audience in my mind is young adult, I believe in pushing the envelope, probably stemming from being an English major who likes to play with convention. I was a smart teenager, and there are tons of smart teens out there reading, so I'd like to offer up something a bit different, something that could possibly act as an open door into more experimental literature. OK, I'm probably getting way ahead of myself and patting myself on the back here, but hey. It's my blog. I'm king of the world here.

So all of this is to say that I've decided the only way to tell this story is in present tense.

I've never written present tense, but it's going pretty well so far.

Present tense, stream-of-consciousness-esque supernatural. I want it to be creepy and beautiful and chilling and evocative and gut-wrenching.

I also want a million billion dollars and a new right arm, but I'll just settle for getting through this manuscript, eh?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


It's another cold, rainy day--my favorite kind. I'm done with physical therapy and have the whole day stretching out in front of me. I put a roast and vegetables in the slow cooker and am looking forward to smelling that all day. My wrist is a bit painful, but I got some more electrode-therapy (I don't know what it's actually called) today, which relieved the more insistent pain zingers.

In my personal life, I've come to a crossroads concerning my future education. I've been planning to start a 3-year master's in teaching with initial certification program, but my husband and I got into a "deep talk" the other night. He encouraged me to look into the post-baccalaureate certification program instead, which would give me the certification I need to teach, but would keep me at a bachelor's level pay grade--hopefully making it a bit easier to land a job with no experience.

So, I did some research, but unfortunately since the post-bacc certification isn't actually a degree program, there is no financial aid available to cover it. Which means I'd have to pay $7-9,000 dollars out of pocket. Which I can't do.

So, back to square one: the M.A.T. program. I like to think that the economy will be looking up in 3 years, when I'm finished and ready to get a job, but who knows? Either way, it seems this is my best option...


I had a long hard look at myself yesterday, while I was enjoying a day off from writing. I decided that it's futile for me to force myself into writing on the same manuscript every day, even when I'm pulling my hair out. A creative outlet kind of loses its point if it's causing more stress than it's relieving, right? So, I decided to give myself a break and to let myself explore some of my other work that's been on hold for a while. I've always been a good multi-tasker, so hopefully stretching my brain in more than one direction will benefit all of my writing. 

Starting today, I'm going to blow the cobwebs off a (you guessed it) YOUNG ADULT idea I came up with while I was in my senior year of college. It's funny to think how many (in my opinion) unique ideas I cooked up during the most stressful year of my life. Good under pressure, I guess. 

Anyways, the working title for this one is Reckoner, so...cross your fingers for me and hope that this will actually be productive, and not just another way for my mind to scatter further...and further...and further...

PS: Who's excited to see The Wolfman? Me! It's going to be our V-Day date movie! Woohoo!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Honest Crap...I mean, Scrap

Nicole gifted me with the Honest Scrap award today! I think I earned this one more than any of the others...cuz I do spew a lot of honest crap on here. Scrap, I mean. Scrap! You're probably shuddering at the thought of me sharing 10 MORE personal things, right? I mean, as if my Things That Makes Me Happy wasn't bad enough...

Too bad!


Ten Honest Things You Never Wanted to Know:
10. I play an MMORPG (Guild Wars), mostly as a way to entertain me and the hubby and to keep in touch with my friend who moved to Michigan and my brother-in-law, who lives in Maryland. Plus we love it. Yeah.

9. I bite my fingernails, have since I was an itty-bitty-child, and probably will forever. 

8. I heart brussels sprouts.
7. Even though I'm not sure I want to publish, the only "job" I've ever imagined having and have ever wanted is a writer. 

6. *gulp* I tell myself that I don't necessarily want to publish because secretly I'm afraid I'll never finish a manuscript, never get an agent, and all my spirit will be crushed forever and ever. 

5. I have an overactive imagination and scare SUPER easy. Unfortunately, my husband likes to take advantage of this from time to time. 

4. I honestly wish that the paranormal stuff I love to read and write was real, and that I was an immortal shapeshifter. 

3. I love hamsters. Just looking at a sweet little hamster face cheers me up. 

2. I can only maintain about 4 close friendships, including my husband and brother. 

1. I've had the same thumbnail bitten through twice: once by a cat, once by a dog, both in the line of duty. :-)

And I'd like to pass it along to J. Kaye, who is honest in every post, every day!

Old School

I had a fairly draining weekend (not fair, right?), so I'm going to stick to another cheater post that's mostly filled with words from a writer that is not me...Oh, and a meme!

Old School by Tobias Wolff 

(I just started reading it this morning and am only 35 pages in, but I've already come across a few passages that really rang true with me, so I thought I'd share, especially considering what my last blog post was about. Enjoy!)

EDIT: Finished reading Old School a few minutes ago and HIGHLY recommend it, especially for us writer-types. 

"How did they command such deference--English teachers? Compared to the men who taught physics or biology, what did they really know of the world? It seemed to me, and not only to me, that they knew exactly what was most worth knowing. Unlike our math and science teachers, who modestly stuck to their subjects, they tended to be polymaths. Adept as they were at dissection, they would never leave a poem or novel strewn about in pieces like some butchered frog reeking of formaldehyde. They'd stitch it back together with history and psychology, philosophy, religion, and even, on occasion, science. Without pandering to your presumed desire to identify with the hero of a story, they made you feel that what mattered to the writer had consequence for you, too."

"All of us owed someone, Hemingway or cummings or Kerouac--or all of them, and more. We wouldn't have admitted to it but the knowledge was surely there, because imitation was the only charge we never brought against the submissions we mocked so cruelly. There was no profit in it. Once crystallized, consciousness of influence would have doomed the collective and necessary fantasy that our work was purely our own." 

I think I'm going to take a break from writing today and probably read all of Old School--it's only 195 pages. 

The Meme

I have a few theories why these things are called memes, but it's strange for me, because Meme is what I call my paternal grandmother. Meme is my grandmother and nothing else....But I digress.

Over at Confessions of the Un-published, Sarah is getting a weekly writing meme going, and I thought I'd jump on board, so here goes:

Where I am in the Writing Process: unpublished and still not sure if I ever want to be...maybe, maybe not, but writing nonetheless. Thirty-two-thousand words into my third novel, a tale of modern-day faerie, evil, family, betrayal, the end of the world, and donuts (hey, could be!) Owner of 3 taped-up boxes holding every scrap of writing I've done since age 9, when I decided I was a writer, as well as careful backer-up of computer documents. 

Question of the Week: Language in mainstream fiction: how real is too real? All 3 of my novels have so far had fairly explicit language, for no other reason than it seemed to fit the character. Two are urban fantasy, the other "literary fiction." Most of the mainstream urban fantasy/PNR/whatever I've read doesn't really have much strong language...why do you think this is? More mainstream appeal? I'm just not sure I can write Payette (my male MC) without his colorful vocabulary... 

Friday, February 5, 2010

Frankly, My Dear...

I've been watching a lot of TV lately, and it's gotten me started thinking about how media influences my writing. I mean, every time you see an amazing movie, something about it may resonate with you, may make you say, "I want to write something like that." Or it may even be less obvious, like the way a certain character talks, or a specific car that someone drives, or even a simple plot idea that you think up a neat twist on.

I think anyone would agree that nothing is original. Give two people an identical plot, and you're going to get two completely different books. Everyone processes visual, aural, olfactoral (think I made that word up) and tactile information differently, right? How we perceive things is influenced by our culture, our upbringing, our religion, our politics, our sexuality--essentially everything that makes us us. So it goes without saying that anything we in turn produce is colored by our particular world-view. That's why I can read a dozen different paranormal romance novels about a human female and vampire male becoming lovers, but they're all different. This is not new information, of course; people talk about this all the time.

I guess I'm tongue-in-cheek advocating taking inspiration from what you love without shame. Musicians do it, right? How many guitarists name Jimi Hendrix as their idol? And how many of those guitarists incorporate elements of that Hendrix style into their own playing? It's got their spin on it, of course: it's their fingers playing the chords, their brains processing the information, but the influence remains the same. The pattern is still there being copied.

How about YA novels? They're quite the rage lately, aren't they? And why do you think that is? Sure, lots of people, myself included, enjoy writing for that age range, but I bet if some of those authors were being completely honest, if you asked them what influenced their ideas, they'd cite pop culture references. Twilight is everywhere I turn around, and unfortunately some people seem to think that Stephenie Meyer invented the idea of pasty wallflower girl falls for big, mysterious vampire against her better judgment, so now whenever a new book comes out with a similar pattern, they immediately cry foul.

So this is me, taking a stand for media influence. I watch a lot of TV, folks: I've been home on worker's comp for 5 months, and trust me, the TV becomes a good friend after a while. That means I've seen all kinds of strange and good programming, and just like with real-life experiences, I firmly believe that you can take something worthwhile from any TV program that you watch (except maybe Jersey Shore.)

I'll use some example from my own personal tastes and what elements of these shows have influenced my own writing:

Criminal Minds: suspense, teamwork, dark human psyche; I like the way Spencer Reid, eidetic supernerd, talks because of his memory, so I blended that with some of the unsubs who've had OCD to create the personalized speech patterns of one of my characters. I also like Morgan's easy sexiness and Garcia's unabashed geekdom. No direct correlation to my writing as of yet, but I'm storing it away for future reference.

Rome: wow. If you haven't seen this show and have a high tolerance for...well, everything graphic, then GO! Run to the nearest store and BUY IT! It is amazing. Politics. Sexual maneuvering. And violence. Yes, I learned some fight moves that I would never have been able to dream up on my own...and I can't wait to incorporate them. Also, I really appreciated one of the main characters' moral ambiguity and have flavored my MMC with a bit of that.

Supernatural: well, besides the obvious pairing of two incredibly hot guys...hello, it's a show about my favorite thing! Not only am I getting valuable information about urban legends, but the chemistry between those two brothers is wonderful. Oh, and ladies: if you'd like some insight into good male banter, this show has it! Plus delicious eye candy AND one of the most badass cars on television.

Grey's Anatomy: um, yeah. I've been with Grey's from day one, and though I've sworn up and down more times than I can count that I'm DONE, FINISHED, that was the LAST episode I'll EVER watch...somehow I always tune in the next Thursday. Why? Characters. I am addicted to finding out what's going to happen with those characters. I don't always like them, but I always love them. I love Alex's anger and tenderness, Cristina's drive and vulnerability, Bailey's determination and empathy... Even if the show is dramaculous, you have to admit that those are some compelling characters. If they've kept ME coming back for 5 years now, then there's definitely something there. I can only hope to write characters that are half as compelling...

Modern Family/Arrested Development/Cougar Town/30 Rock/The Office: ah, the 20-minute comedies. Now, I like to think I'm fairly funny in person, but putting humor into my writing is something that takes practice. I'm not entirely sure how much watching these shows helps, with perhaps the exception of AD--most of the humor is fairly situational and requires the visual element. Maybe that's why I watch so many of them--the more humor I pound into my brain, the more I'm hoping will stick.

I could probably go on, but I think I've made my point by now. Do I blatantly plagiarize these shows? Of course not. And I like to think that if you read my stuff, you'd probably not even be able to point out where the influences are coming from, but this is me admitting it, and me encouragining you to admit it. And it's not just TV, of course: movies, plays, commercials, even--they all play a part.

And if admitting this makes me seem like less of a writer, well...frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

How about you? Anything like this that you're willing to admit is a big influence?

Thursday, February 4, 2010


That's something we are decidedly lacking right now, huh?

Jen, over at unedited was kind enough to give me this award AND say something really nice about me at the same time! Thanks a lot, Jen! It completely made my day, and it gave me something tangible to show my husband about all my blogging time. :-)

Now, in a little turn-about, I'm actually going to direct everyone to the blog that is guaranteed to cheer me up and make me laugh, no matter how bad my day is going, and that blog, folks is...
Thanks again, Jen!

I Can't Help Myself

A new idea has hit me, HARD! It's following me around. It wanted some of my pizza, and it's sneaking my chocolate when I'm not looking. It even came into the shower with me, and insisted on talking the whole time I was washing my hair and trying to give my usual water concert.

I'm listening to my AC/DC pandora station, and this idea LOVES these songs. I think it's somehow bribing the website to play the most badass, awesome songs possible to distract me from the project I'm working on.

It's writing scenes in my head, scenes not even in the scope of the first book. It's showing me past and future and how things twist together. It's tantalizing me with elements of my favorite kind of writing, dark, edgy elements that make me squirm with restrained desire to pull up a new, fresh document.

Look, Idea: I'm in the middle of something right now, and it's going really well. We've made it to second base, and I really think we might go all the way, IF you don't interfere. Just hang in there...I'm the love-em-and-leave-em type. Most writers are. So please, Idea, won't you wait for me? I promise I'll make it worth your while...

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I'm not feeling overly clever today, so I thought I'd just share a snippet from Four that I wrote at the doctor's office this morning.

Scene: One of the many towns in the sidhe (fairy mound). Our male protagonist and his newly acquired tag-along...

   With every drop of the liquid, his body relaxed further. Closing his eyes, he leaned his head back against the wall and let out a deep sigh. Peaceful, at last. Still, unjostled, quiet--
    "Are you sure this is safe? I'm fine, I told you a million times." Despite its low, raspy quality, that voice somehow managed a pull of perkiness, too.
    "You may be fine, but I'm not." He cleared his throat, voice clogged with dust and mucous and god-knew-what-else. Blood, probably. Opening his eyes a slit, he watched the girl, Vinita, hover her way around the small room. "Would you sit down?"
    She dropped obediently into the other chair, crossed her leg and started jiggling her foot. Her hand fingered and twirled her unruly hair thoughtlessly as her huge dark eyes skipped around the room over and over.
    "Are you sure we're not in trouble?" she asked. Payette clenched his teeth, grateful for the medical-strength ketal rushing through his veins. Keeping him sane.
    "I told you, Vinita: it was self-defense."
    "But she wasn't attacking you!"
    "She was trying to kill you," he said, opening his eyes all the way. "Nobody would dispute it."
    Vinita tugged harder on her hair, shaking her foot so hard it was a wonder she didn't vibrate right out of the seat.
    "The family won't like it. They won't like it," she mumbled, eyes darting to him, then away again. Since she'd regained consciousness, she'd not held eye contact with him for longer than a few spare seconds. He'd seen plenty of humans who acted like this, like they couldn't contain their own essences. Jerky, bouncy, looking for suspicion in every corner--however, he didn't think that she was a junky, mostly because nahual metabolized everything too quickly for any sort of high to take place. That, and he was getting the feeling this girl hadn't been outside the sidhe, ever.
    He closed his eyes again. 

    A soft voice woke him.
    "Excuse me, sir?" His heart hammered and his hand flew for the gun in his pocket before he realized where he was, recognized the wizened face of the healer he'd sought out. Blinking rapidly to try and clear his vision, he lowered his hand from the weapon .
    The healer smiled. "I have the results back. For both of you."
    Vinita. Fear gripped him. Had she taken advantage of his sleep to slip out? He'd saved her life, but she didn't exactly seem comfortable with the outcome.
    "What do they say? Good? Is it good?" There she was, sitting on the floor in the corner, thin arms wrapped around her knees. His jacket still bunched around her, hiding the swell of pregnancy that had been so obvious.
    The healer bobbed his head. "Mr. Moreau, you've sustained three fractures to your ribs and some cranial contusions, but no concussion. Two more regular doses of ketal and plenty of rest, and you should be feeling back to normal in no time."
    "What about the girl?" he said, shifting in the chair. His left leg had fallen asleep.
    "No major injuries, and the child is unharmed as well. Your youth and vibrancy serve you well," he said, smiling at her. "You're a bit thin for child-bearing, but otherwise in fine condition."
    Relief fluttered through his chest. "So we're free to go?"
    "If you so desire, although I'd recommend resting a bit longer."
    "I have things to do," Payette replied, and the healer nodded. "Can you get this thing out of me?"

    Rubbing the spot where the IV had gone in, Payette ushered Vinita out of the clinic and into the deserted street.
    "Keep your head down and walk fast," he said, then headed for the transport station. Vinita trailed behind him, humming something to herself. Frowning, he stopped and waited for her to join him, then grabbed her by the arm and pushed her up the steps to the station, other hand resting ready on the butt of the gun.
    "You're hurting me," she whined.
    "Be quiet," he snapped, then pressed her against the outside of the wall, holding her in place with his arm as he slipped the gun out. Wincing as his ribs twinged, he used the gun barrel to push the station door open, then peered around the edge. No movement, no scents, nothing to indicate anyone lurked inside. Glancing hard at Vinita, he pushed her firmly into the wall, then edged around the door, gun at the ready.
    Satisfied that the station was truly empty, he stuck his head back out the door.
    "Come on."
    Frowning, Vinita hurried inside, tripping slightly on the raised threshold. He caught her arm and straightened her.
    "You okay?"
    "I'm fine. Fine." She gawked at the station's interior, eyes widening as the took in the hand-carved runic circles. "What is this place?"
    Payette laughed shortly. "You're kidding, right?"
    "No, I'm not kidding," she said, sounding indignant. "What is this?"
    "Transport station, Nita. You've used them before."
    "No, I haven't," she insisted, following him to the teleporters. "How does it work?"
    "Magic," he growled, then situated himself and pulled her against him. "Hold on."

NOTE: I seem to have lost the 1,000 words I wrote yesterday and am furious! I'm a compulsive saver; I KNOW I didn't just forget to save...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Guilty Pleasures

The thought occurred to me this morning, as I was driving to physical therapy, that I wanted to change my reading challenge list for the year to all banned books. I'm not sure why, but I looked up the most-challenged books from the 90's on Wikipedia and turns out I've read 38 of the books on the list. Some of them I've never heard of, and honestly some of them I won't read. Just not interested.

Anyway. I'm currently reading I, Claudius by Robert Graves. Not only is it interesting and funny, but it was also listed on TIME magazine's best English-language novels from 1923-2005 list. After that, I'm probably going to read Tobias Wolff's Old School. I've read bits and pieces of it before, so it'll be nice to read it all in context.

I got my degree in English literature from the University of Georgia in 2008, so I've given myself a break from "real" literature for quite some time. I read a few here and there (notably, Hardy's Jude the Obscure--fascinating read), but most of my leisure reading was in my guilty-pleasures genre.

The idea of any book being a guilty pleasure has always been a back-and-forth for me. My family raised me reading; both my parents are avid readers, and my brother and I started reading very early. My dad, who was in the NSA when I was young, has always liked spy novels as well as science fiction and fantasy. My mom also likes fantasy, as well as westerns and Gothic women's literature.

My brother and I were homeschooled all throughout elementary and middle school, so we had a bit of different kind of curriculum during those years than most of our peers. We read a LOT. And all different kinds of books, some that we were WAY too young to be reading. My parents never really tried to censor what we read, though if we felt guilty about a particular book, we'd be sneaky about reading it.

My brother and I both majored in English in college, and we are both pursuing Master's degrees in English education. We took many of the same literature classes, creative writing classes, poetry classes--on and on. (He's 2 years older than me, just for the record.) After my sophomore year, I transferred from the private college we were both scholarshipped to and went to UGA.

UGA's English program is amazing. I learned more in those two years than I ever thought possible, and not only did it make me a better reader, but I improved as a collegiate writer in leaps and bounds. I had professors who would forever change my ideas about literature and whom I will never forget.

Anyway, all this ramblings is to say that I read a ton of "serious" literature in college, everything from a class in Medieval Romance (whew) to 20th Century Modernism. Even to a bibliophile like me, that's a lot of serious reading to be subjected to 24/7, and when I finally finished, I celebrated by treating myself to reading only "guilty pleasures."

My guilty pleasure books have always been mysteries, romances, and in the last few years, urban fantasy/paranormal romance.

My brother continued reading "serious" books, and every time he'd see my bookshelf, he'd give me a hard time about reading "trash." Why waste my time reading these books when I could be expanding on my spotty Victorian literature knowledge?

Why are we somewhat embarrassed to show what we're reading to a perfect stranger, heaving bosoms and naked chests on the covers?

Why do we, often as both readers and writers, feel like we need to justify what we read?

I like to read classic literature. I like to read poetry.
I like to read erotica. I like to read about vampires and werewolves.

I like to write modernist-type poetry, to experiment with poetical form.
I like to write modernist-type fiction.
I like to write love stories.
I like to write about fairies and vampires and werewolves.

So what's the shame in admitting that I like to read them, too? Why should anyone have the right to make me feel guilty about having a two rows of Laurell K. Hamilton books? So what if it's soft-core porn? I like it. My life is short enough that I should be able to read whatever I want, especially since I read pretty fast.

When I'm on my deathbed, I'm going to think: damn, glad I read all those books I enjoyed so much; not, damn, wish I'd read just a bit more Dostoyevsky (I like Dostoyevsky, but it's work.)

So, embrace those heaving bosoms or blood-spattered footprints or dragons and unicorns or spaceships. When aliens invade Earth, what is going to teach them more about our culture, Thomas Pynchon or Janet Evanovich?