Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays From Me to You!

Happy Holidays everyone! No matter what you're faith system I hope you have a joyful holiday season! I know we are.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree! 

I've had so much fun this season wrapping gifts for everyone. Usually I hate gift wrapping, but this year it was different. Maybe just  buying my own wrapping paper made the difference, but who knows. This is also the first Christmas for Husband and Me. I'm so excited.

I can't wait for everyone to unwrap their gifts this year. The best gift Husband and I got for one another was our new baby bird!

 She's been with us for two weeks and is super adorable. She's about 12 weeks old and "peeps" along to the radio all the time. Getting her was an adventure. Husband and I drove almost two hours away to pick her up from the only parrotlet breeder in our state. We adventured out to the country side and went to a smaller sized house with over 25 birds, 3 cats, and 2 small dogs. They know how to raise baby birds though.

Beaker is such a clown. She loves to swing on her swing and nest into my hair and go to sleep.

She likes hanging out on Husband's shoulder while he studies and plays his video game.

Best gift ever.

So Husband, Baby Beaker and I wish you a happy holiday season!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Writer's Conference Notes (Finally!!!)

Hey there readers. I know I know, I've been all MIA. Why? Intense work week. Good for my bank account but not as good for my blogging life.

So, I decided that I would do what I said (months ago) and tell you about the SCBWI conference I went to. I tried to take some pictures with my iPhone and be all awesome in my blogging, but the pictures turned out horribly.

However, here is a picture of my schedule of the days events and whatnot...

Overall the regional conference was pretty awesome. It was held at a high school near my apartment and people from our region came and hung out for the day. The fact that it was at a high school is important. Why? You may ask... Well because I am a young adult. 24. Not old. I look a lot younger. AND I was the youngest attende of the conference, by at least 10 years. Most of the people there were my parent's age or older. I'm pretty sure they all looked at me and were like, does she go to this school? No, ohhh... she's here for the conference. Yes, I got lots of weird looks.

At first it was really intimating. But then, when I went to hide and freak out in the bathroom, I realized something. I was lightyears ahead of these people. Sure, some of them were more experienced than me in lots of ways, but here I was, 40-10 years younger than them, and I was rocking it out along side them. I was a peer (or sorts) and I was badass.

And then it got even better. I went to my little workshops on how to get out of the slush pile and what literary agents look for and yes I learned a lot (which I will share with you here in a minute) but I also knew the answers to lots of questions that other people were asking. Why? Because I'm getting a MASTERS in creative writing. I get exposed to all sorts of information at school on this stuff. So bam! I was younger AND knew all kinds of info that others didn't. I felt like a little rockstar. Talk about getting some reassurance.

Here's what I learned from Lisa Yee (published author) and Alexandra Cooper (editor at Simon and Schuster)

  1. What really gave Lisa Yee a big push was going to a SCBWI conference and meeting people there. She said she felt like she "meet her tribe" there. (I know the feeling, but I get that more at school...)
  2. Lisa said, "Don't think, just write" (Something I need to do more often) and that she wrote her frist novel like it was an e-mail. It took the pressure off. 
  3. You really do need an agent if you want to get published
  4. Cooper said to find something that works and is working (something kind of popular ((not vampires!)) ) and then put a twist on it
  5. When your work doesn't get picked up by an editor it's not always your fault: the editor can only take on so many books at a time a may have signed something similar to yours already (and by similar it could just be genre or time of year that the book is going to be published aka picture book about chickens would come out around Easter and they might already have an Easter book)
  6. Tips: A) Do your homework: See what's getting attention and see what there's too much of and B) Aim your pitches for people who have done similar books... meaning check out the acknowledgments at the end of books, figure out who in the publishing world published a book similar to yours and then shoot for them
Did I find the conference helpful and awesome? Yes I did.

Would I go to another one? Hell yes.

It was scary and amazing all at the same time. I found my place and realized that I'm not like a lot of these second career/ hobby writers. I know the genre, I study it. I know things and I know what I want. I have put myself in different environments to get what I want. And yes, I will get a book published. It's just a matter of time. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Advice

I am going to start this post out with a big long quote... I'm preparing you but you should still read it. It's a bit of awesome advice.

"It's like making a movie: All sorts of accidental things will happen after you've set up the cameras. So you get lucky. Something will happen at the edge of the set and perhaps you start to go with that; you get some footage of that. You come into it accidentally. You set the story in motion and as you're watching this thing begin, all these opportunities will show up. So, in order to exploit one thing or another, you may have to do research. You may have to find out more about Chinese immigrants, or you may have to find out about Halley's Comet, or whatever, where you didn't realize that you were going to have Chinese or Halley's Comet in the story. So you do research on that, and it implies more, and the deeper you get into the story, the more it implies, the more suggestions it makes in the plot. Toward the end, the ending becomes inevitable." 
~ Kurt Vonnegut (Nov 1985 issue of Writer's Digest)

I think that this one paragraph is some awesome advice. It speaks to me on so many levels. 

First, it says to me write. No matter what just write. If you just write and keep writing something might sneak into your story; something you didn't even think was important and that thing might unite your entire story. Sure, you will write a bunch of crap and fluff before you get there. But as long as you keep writing it will show up. You just have to watch out for it. Oooh... Like a four-leaf clover. 

Second, it tells me that your second, third, zillionth draft will require as much work and research as your first draft. While that might seem a bit depressing it should be fun. Sure, it'll be more work, but it'll make your story better. 

Third, it tells me that that saying "life if what happens when you're making plans" is applied to writing too. You might have the main plot all figured out, but that's not where the real story always it. 

So just go with it. Trust yourself. Trust your writing. And trust that you have something important to say. The story speaks to you, it might talk to you in another language sometimes and then you have to translate it, but it's always there.

Keep it up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

NaNoWriMo Is Gone and I Didn't Finish A Thing

National Novel Writing Month had come and gone for another year. Did I reach that 50,000 word count mark?


Did I come close?

Well... I think that's all in how you look at it.

Did I come close to that word count while working on my novel? No. But I did write a good bit this month - Mostly for my classes and then here some. So this year wasn't a total bust.

I think next year I'll go for it. Or maybe I'll dedicate my own month to writing 50,000 words. November can be a really hard month for lots of people. Also, I think I'll pick my month to be one with 31 days. Hey, every little bit counts.

Why didn't I get much done on my novel. Many reasons, some of them good, some of them not so good.

  • Work. My work schedule isn't always nailed down and it isn't always conducive to my creative times in the day. I am not a morning person, so working an eight-and-a-half hour day that starts at 6 am really zaps my energy
  • School. Yes, school is supposed to be helping me on this novel not hindering me, but taking two classes is kinda of big work load when you're working close to full time as well. 
  • Not living in my parents house. You don't realize it until you're gone, but living with your parents (at least mine) was kind of heavenly. My laundry was done, dinner was made, I had very few domestic worries. Now I do. And sure, I can put off doing the dishes for a night, but not much more than that.
  • Lazy... That one speaks for itself
  • And family stuff. You read (or maybe not) the posts on my Uncle. Depression kind of zaps the creativity out of me like waking up before the sun and loosing a family member like that brings about those storm clouds for sure.
  • Revision. I tend to get really bogged down in revising what I've already done. Which I think is silly. I need to finish the damn thing before I try to make it perfect (and it will never be perfect but you know what I mean.) 
So new plan. Now that I'm not going to be workshopping anything this next semester (but I will be working on a big research project - oh and did I mention it was on Harry Potter? Hell yes it is!) I will finish the novel. The first rough draft, before I go back to campus this summer.

But then again, my plans never really work out too well. I think I just need to take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Just Checking In

Nothing new is really going on here. Husband is napping and I just had a nice bath with a glass of wine. It was awesome, I listened to all my favorite Christmas songs (not the ones that Pandora thinks I like) and just relaxed. Now I am waiting for the PS3 to update so I can watch more of the last season of Battlestar Galatica.

I did want to check in though. Regular posting and all.

So, I have come the the conclusion that I love my current job as much as anyone can really love their job. This is not because I got "holiday pay" or that the day before Thanksgiving my boss bought us all breakfast and lunch, but it is largely due to the fact that I like the people. For example, this guy I went to high school with works there now and today we had a debate over who in literature throws the best parties. We both decided on Gatsby, but it was fun debating that in the middle of a kitchen.

Let's see, I also thought I would share the awesomeness that is the upcoming Harry Potter Academic Conference that is this July. I'm working on a paper that could totally be submitted (in the hopes of getting accepted) but I wouldn't be able to afford to go to the conference so why bother? It sounds like they are hoping to make it a yearly thing so maybe next year. Anyway, if you are interested in this let me know and I'll pass long the info.

Lastly, I wanted to share with you one of my favorite videos.
I always knew Neil Gaiman was awesome...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Overload and Why Reality TV is Okay

Today was a library day for me. It was super awesome. It feels like it's been years since I've holed up in a study room, gotten strung out on coffee, and knocked out a ton of work. And maybe it has been. Usually when I'm on campus for grad school I mostly hide in my room or sprawl out on the sofa and knock out the work. Maybe it's been since college since I had one of these days.

You may be thinking to yourself: Holy cow, you're crazy! You actually enjoy that?!?


I love learning and being a student and being a student focusing on something that I actually love - as opposed to class that I have to take to graduate. Grad school and college are two different kettles of fish.

But that's not what this post is about.

No, this is about the after effects of studying for 6 hours non-stop and drinking too much caffeine. Sure, there's that accomplished feeling you get, but then you want to veg out.

This is easy for my husband: He plays video games. Which is fine with me, gives me time to write and read and he gets to decompress. Win win in my book.

But I think decompressing is harder for English people. What do we do for fun? Read. What do we do for work/study? Read. After 6 hours of reading that's the last thing I want to do. I don't care if it's fun reading or not. It's still words. Words that start swimming across the page.

So what do I do to decompress?

I watch horrible TV. Not awesome TV that requires me to think. Total and complete brain candy. And non-English people just don't get it. They don't get the draw of the totally idiotic and stereotypic characters of reality TV. You don't need to pay attention to what's going on to make connections later in the show. There is always the bitch. There is always the "good" girl/guy. The slut. The goof-ball. The backstabber. It's just new faces each time. It's not like you're invested on a deep level.

I would argue that a healthy balanced dose of horrible television is needed in a person's mental diet. Okay, and here you can substitute video game or whatever. But yes, when you study for 1/4 of a day it's allowed to watch 2(ish) hours of complete crap. For the same reasons Weight Watchers allows you to splurge a little bit each week. To keep you sane.

Now, for all of you people who are like: Why don't you go out there and get some exercise?

You obviously haven't studied for 6 hours non-stop. Or are really intense.

Thus I rest my case.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

In Memoriam (Again)...

As I mentioned about a month ago my Uncle (Uncle Perrin) suffered a massive stroke and we had to take him off life support. He finally passed away almost a whole week later. I don't know how familiar you all are with life support, but when they take you off it they take you off everything. Food. Water. But not meds. They still give you pain killers (thank God) and anti-anxiety medicine. So sadly, when people say that something is worse than death... this was one of those times.

And I will mention during that time I was floored by the strength and wisdom of my little cousin, who is almost seventeen and amazing. Literally, amazing.

But this post is about my Uncle. My Dad's older brother. And this is a happy post. All about my favorite memories of him. There are some memories of him annoying the hell out of me, but those are for later.

Uncle Perrin was the guy who, when I was sixteen, decided to teach me how to drive a stick shift by sitting me in the passenger's side of the car and explaining the inner workings of the engine and transmission. I remember sitting there staring at him, watching him use these wild hand gestures to explain how things would click together and thinking "wow, I really can tune people out." He was like that. Uncle Perrin could talk for FOREVER. Another memory of him is talking to him on the phone at my family's farm house. It's kind-a old school out there (far far away from civilization) and we have a phone with a cord. Mind blowing I know. So, during this intense thunderstorm Uncle Perrin calls the farm house. I answer and listen to him for a few minutes  before saying, "Hey can we call you back? There's a really bad thunderstorm and there's a lot of lightening. I think I should get off the phone...." Did he stop talking? No. Did I get slightly electrocuted through the phone? Yes. 

One of my absolute FAVORITE memories is when I graduated from high school. Mom and Dad threw this big(ish) party for me and invited family and family friends. It was so much fun. And there was Uncle Perrin, on the outskirts of the crowd hanging out in his black t-shirt, black shorts, black socks, and black flip-flops. Just doing his thing. Later, it was Uncle Perrin and Dad who cornered me and told me that if I didn't go to the party with my graduating class that they were going to force me in the car and drive me there.

Another memory is when my college roommate and I went to spend MLK weekend (of freshman year) with Uncle Perrin and family. Uncle Perrin took us jogging on the mountain trails (and by us I mean Uncle Perrin and my roomie jogged and I huffed and puffed behind them) and then later took us to the only bar in town where roomie and me drank lemonade out of a bottle and we all played darts.

Lastly, and most importantly, Uncle Perrin gave a toast at my wedding a few months back. He had already suffered a serious stroke six months before and hadn't really been his old self for a while after that. But at my wedding, he got up in front of everyone and raised a glass to me and my husband. Just thinking about it makes me so happy that I tear up a bit.

One last memory is one that's I've written about and posted here before. It's supposed to be a bit of humorous writing but I don't really think it comes off funny at all. It's from when my grandfather died. If you want, you can read it here.

And there are lots of awesome things about Uncle Perrin that I didn't witness but knew about. How after his first round of strokes he was up and walking 3 weeks before the doctors predicted (only a few days after his stroke) that he had an enlarged heart (and was a very kind and loving person so that's symbolically appropriate) and even though he was on disability he was enrolled back in school so he could learn a new skill set to try and get back in the work force and be there for his family.

That's how awesome of a man my Uncle Perrin is. Because my cousin is right, Uncle Perrin isn't gone. Not really. He lives on in our memories.  


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Christmas Musings and Gifts for the Writer in Your Life

We all know Christmas is coming up. If you haven't already been bombarded by all the Christmas related decorations and commercials then you must live under a rock. I don't know about where you all live, but Halloween day in my town the local radio station that plays the Christmas music every year started up and Target and Walmart raced each other to put up cheery banners reminding you that Lay Away is available.

Am I a Grinch? With a heart "two sizes too small"? No. I think I'm just sane. I refuse to decorate the apartment for Christmas before Thanksgiving.

BUT... that doesn't mean I haven't gotten some shopping done. I like to beat the holiday rush and I hate fighting the traffic that surrounds all the shopping centers. So yes, I get my shopping done early.

For myself included. And by that I mean I make my wish list and send it out. Usually it gets ignored, but that's fine. It's still fun to make.

I thought I would share with you all my new favorite place to shop online.
Link for gifts for writers and readers. There is even some gifts for Castle fans and Fairy Godmothers. It is so much fun. I can spend hours on this web page laughing at all the funny designs they have.

So, can't find that perfect gift for the writer or reader in your life? Then look no further than this blog. Christmas shopping can be fun if you know how to do it right.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

When to Show and When to Tell

It's not even Thanksgiving and already my plate has too much on it. Metaphorical plate that is. I have so many different blog posts I want to put up, homework to catch up on, regular work, house work, Thanksgiving stuff, the list goes on... HOWEVER, if you keep reading this post I do have an awesome (kind of long) entry on description and showing vs telling in fiction.

So have I been writing? HA!

I wish.

And while this won't be a lengthy post I did find this that helps me through the days...

I will post here the paper I just wrote on description for my tutorial class online. I hope it helps some of you. It's a bit on the long side but it includes awesome info that will help if you have issues with showing vs telling, some exercises and just a few tips. So, enjoy...

The Description Dilemma: When To Show and When To Tell

            Description is not my strongest suit. I’ve never really found the right balance of words and have a really hard time avoiding clichés. But what writer doesn’t in a first draft? I’m also haunted by the phrase, “Show, don’t tell.” I hear it in every workshop several times. And that’s not a bad thing. It can be great advice. However, it can be really overwhelming advice as well.  What does that even mean? Sure, I understand the words and their application, but I have a really hard time figuring out how to apply it to my story. If you show everything then your short story will be about as long as the last Harry Potter book. That’s intense! Obviously critiquers aren’t really telling you that. They are saying, “I would like more detail. What you have is simply not enough. Don’t tell me something, let me see it.” However, there are times when showing can be just as bad as telling. As writers we need a balance.
            Before we really delve into the presentation I want to make sure that we all know what description is. Chris Lombardi in her chapter in Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Writing Fiction cites Webster’s New World Dictionary to define the verb describe. It offers these two definitions:
1.     to tell or write about; give a detailed account of
2.     to picture in words (105).
I think as writers that is what we strive for, to give our reader a vivid picture given to them via the media of words. Right, and to do that we know (or will know by the end of this presentation) that we need to do this by showing and telling.
            Now we have a good solid idea of description we need to tackle the difference of showing and telling. And really, it’s very simple. Monica Wood in Elements of Fiction Writing: Description explains that “ ‘showing’ is generally thought of as using vivid details and engaging the senses, therefore painting a bright descriptive picture for the readers [and] ‘telling’ is generally thought of as the absence of vivid detail – uninspired narrative that serves only to explain what is going on in the story” (18). Which is a misconception, you can make telling very vivid if you use the right words, but more on that later. In the most basic sense showing is scene and telling is narrative. You may be thinking, “Great, now what does that mean?” And I’ll tell you. According to Wood, “Scene serves a specific purpose; it usually contains dialogue; it has a beginning, middle, and end; and it moves the story forward. Narrative is the flow of prose – the string of sentences and paragraphs – that tell the story” (21). So now the importance of balancing showing and telling is (hopefully) becoming to become clearer. It’s hard to have a story that is all scene and no narrative and vice versa.
            HOW TO TELL: I suppose that since I’m told very often to “show not tell” then telling would be the easy part. Sure. It’s easy to say something like: “Rover walked across the yard.” That is telling. However, you can dress your telling up so that no one really notices that you’re telling them something. Such as “Rover pranced across the yard” or even “Rover sulked across the yard.” See that? The verbs are so dazzling that in your telling, you are giving the reader even more, you are giving them Rover’s emotion. And you can do even more with telling: “Rover sulked across the yard, his tail tucked between his legs and shadow growing long behind him. In the human’s house, his master stood over the shattered vase, hands on hips shaking his head.” Look at all that telling. We see that the dog is sad (by the verb we use for walking and by his tail), that it’s later in the day (because of the shadow) and that his master is exasperated but not super angry at Rover (based on the body language). See how we dressed the telling up to make it look like showing? Here’s when having a great vocabulary comes in handy. The more you make the verbs work the better the telling will be.
            HOW TO SHOW: Here is where things tend to get tricky for me. I know you all have read parts of my WIP, Breaking Through, where I’ll say something like “Mac was acting weird.” Straight up telling. This is when I need to show. But another trick of showing, which is just as important, is knowing when not to show. For instance, Liam’s love of his tea does not need to be shown to the reader in epic detail. I don’t need to show the readers him sniffing the steam rising up out of the cup of tea and him quivering in delight. That has no importance in the story what so ever. HOWEVER, Mackenzie’s sudden shift of character, her “acting weird” is a MAJOR part of the story. You all want to see the scene where Brea notices her acting weird. See? One that needs to be shown and the other that doesn’t. Is this a first draft worry? No. Which is something that I believe is really important to keep in mind. You don’t know what’s more important in the story yet (Liam’s tea and Mackenzie’s behavior are extremes) but you will know by the second or third draft.
            I always like examples.
            Here’s a fantastic one…
The day after they moved in, Coraline went exploring.
            She explored the garden. It was a big garden: at the very back was an old tennis court, but no one in the house played tennis and the fence around the court had holes in it and the net had mostly rotted away; there was an old rose garden, filled with stunted, flyblown rosebushes; there was a rockery that was all rocks; there was a fairy ring, made of squidgy brown toadstools which smelled dreadful if you accidentally trod on them.
            There was also a well. On the first day Coraline’s family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was, and they warned her to be sure she kept way from it properly.
            She found it on the third day, in an overgrown meadow beside the tennis court, behind a clump of trees – a low brick circle almost hidden in the high grass. The well had been covered up by wooden boards, to stop anyone falling in. There was a small knothole in one of the boards, and Coraline spent an afternoon dropping pebbles and acorns through the hole and waiting, and counting, until she heard the plop as they hit the water far below. (Gaiman 4-5)

Yes, I borrowed this passage from Neil Gaiman’s Coraline. He is just fantastic in my book. And this passage does a fantastic job of giving us examples of telling and showing (although I know that this is all narrative and not really scene – I think it still does a good job of showing the two.) First the telling. We are told about the garden. Sure, we get to see some of it, but mostly it is a pretty broad description – “old tennis court” and “big garden”. But we are also shown some aspects about Coraline. From this passage we learn how stubborn she is. She takes not one, not two, but three days of looking to find the well. The well that is behind the tennis court and behind a clump of trees covered up in boards. See? We have a  balance of showing and telling – not at all boring, and descriptive in all the right places. Like the well; the well that is critical at the end of the book. So it’s good we get a great picture of words on it so early in the novel.    
            Lastly I have a few tricks and traps of description to share – the kind that when you do need to tell (or show) will make it either pop and crackle or fizzle and die.
            TRICKS: Chris Lombardi references one of my favorite quotes of all time; “Mark Twain once noted that the difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightening and a lightening bug” (118). So obviously word choice is a big trick. And how do you make sure you know you have the right word and not the almost right word? You expand your vocabulary. You make sure you know the difference between crisp apple red and blood red. You make sure you have a plethora of hardcore verbs and nouns to pull from. Adjectives and adverbs are those kinds of things where less can be more. The better and more powerful your verbs and nouns are the less you need to depend on the modifiers. Lombardi makes the point that “she walked lightly can effectively be transformed into she glided or she floated, each more evocative than the version leaning on the adverb” (113). Another trick: amp up those sensory details. Like in the Coraline example: “squidgy brown toadstools which smelled dreadful if you accidentally trod on them.” And then there are several tricks us fiction writers can pull from poetry. Let’s take over some of those fancy tricks they use; the figurative language – the metaphors and similes; lyricism – the “prose that plays with sound and rhythm in the way that poetry does” (115); and synesthesia – the trick where you use “an image or adjective usually associated with one sense unexpectedly with another” (117). An example of the last one (because I needed one) comes from John Keats (via Lombardi): “Taste the music of the vision pale…” (117).  Tada! All those tricks can make your narrative sizzle and fizzle and your showing crackle and pop.
            Now some pesky TRAPS to look out for…
            Clichés. I am guilty of using them more than I should, but yes. Clichés make for lazy writers. For instance, “skin as pale as snow” or “hands as cold as ice.” We’ve been there and done that. What makes for fun description are the hands that are frozen from a kiss from Jack Frost. Also, watch out for vagueness and imprecise language. Lombardi talks about how she used to use “grey eyes” a lot. Then one day she realized that “grey eyes” was a lazy way of goging about it. Instead aim for “slate grey eyes” or even “eyes that could rival the storm clouds” (maybe a bit cliché but we’ve moved on from that…). Last trap to watch out for are those mixed metaphors. The best one that Lombardi references is “He felt like a punching bag without air” (121); punching bags don’t have air. So with sentences like that you not only annoy your readers but loose credibility with them. Another way to use mixed metaphors is have a character run fast as a horse but also has the grace of a swan. Are they like a horse or a swan? It’s confusing.
            Bottom line: there are tricks that can amp up your showing or telling and traps that can make them even worse. The important thing to know is that there is a fine balance between showing and telling. So, even though “SHOW DON’T TELL” is rookie advice (according to both Lombardi and Wood) it’s worth listening to. If your readers are wanting more, then more likely than not it’s important to them and important to the story, but only you know where to draw the line.

One: Describe a character who is going abut the mundane job of cleaning their home. Write it from the POV of this character (either first, second, or third person), which means the character’s consciousness will inform the description. Here’s the twist: the character has just recently fallen in love, and you should let this emotion color the description without it being directly stated. Then rewrite the passage, but this time the character has just had a painful romantic breakup. (Lombardi 124).

Two: “Complete the following similes and strive for specific details and tight, lyrical language in your comparisons […] try to resist the temptation of comparing a sound with a sound, a taste with a taste, a sent with a sent.
·      The morning sun tastes like:
·      Her voice smelled like:
·      The music sounded heavy as:
·      The color green feels like:
·      The color red tastes like:
·      Midnight rain is bitter as:
·      The wind looks as _______ as:
·      Seeing him walk was like hearing:
·      Tasting the night’s dinner was like watching:
·      Hearing her cry was like tasting:
·      Smelling the gasoline was like touching:
·      Touching her dying father’s hand was like seeing:”
(Now Write! 193)
Works Cited
Ellis, Sherry. Ed. Now Write! Fiction Writing Exercises from Today’s Best Writer’s and Teachers. New York: Penguin. 2006. Print.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline. New York: Scholastic. 2002. Print.

Gotham Writer’s Workshop. Writing Fiction – The Practical Guide From New York’s Acclaimed Creative Writing School. New York: Bloomsbury. 2003. Print.

Wood, Monica. “Chapter Two: Showing and Telling.” Elements of Fiction Writing: Description. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books. 1995. Print.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Headed Toward My Goal

In the last post I told you all that I had a new goal: to finish chapter 9 before the end of the month. That is much more feasible than the loftier goal of finishing one complete (rough) draft of my novel.

One hard reality of being a writer (and an artist of any kind) is that real life tends to get in the way. I hate to say it but, making money to pay for gas and groceries and save up for rent takes precedence over writing these days. And it's not that my job is frightfully hard, but that added to two online classes (which I'm far too behind in for my liking), being married (which is amazing but comes with dinner for more than just one, laundry, cleaning, etc...) and just life stuff (like your Uncle having a massive stroke and being off of life support for more than a full week before passing away) tend to muck up the writing process.

BUT! In honor of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) I am doing my best to seriously write everyday (because even though I should do that all the time, it just doesn't happen) and track my words per day. And I'll do that here. Maybe not EVERY day...but you get the idea.

So today I am at a grand total of (drum roll)....

475 words!

Yes, I can do better, but they are good words. They are productive words. I finally figured out how to make chapter nine work better. My new elfin knight was supposed to be dangerous but was coming off as a total flirt -- when really I needed him to be both. So, I made him a bit more dangerous.

Here is a sampling of Chapter Nine...

“Where is everyone?” I asked Foster in a horse whisper.
I felt the pressure of the blade on my neck before I knew anyone was behind us. “Getting ready for the festivities.” The voice was like warm honey and yet it still made my skin crawl. Swallowing only made the blade break the skin on my neck. I stood frozen in place. Until this moment, my life had never truly been at risk. Having a blade pressed against my throat made me feel jittery. My limbs tingled with the desire to flee and go someplace safe, but at the same time I was stuck. I glanced down at Foster. His eyes were wide in fear.
“Now, what are a little mortal and a solidary doing parading around the depths of my Lady’s Court?”
“We intended no harm Robin,” Foster said, shaking and bowing at the waist. “The lass here just needed an escort to the trolls. I was in a position to help the young thing out.” He straightened up and pulled his cap off, loosing his poof of white hair.
“You have not been invited. And yet,” Out of the corner of my eye I could see him peek over my shoulder at my face. “And yet I’m tempted to see what a pretty little mortal plans to do once she finds the trolls.”
“I want to play their game.” My voice was shaking as much as I was. I let my eyes flutter closed before taking as deep of a breath as I dared with his dagger or sword or whatever pressed against my neck. “I am in need of some armor.” There, try to be brave. I couldn’t die here at the hands of this Robin guy. No, had to get just a bit further. If anyone was going to kill me it was going to be Rowan.
He removed the blade from my throat and air flowed into my body. I spun around to face him and raised my fingers to my neck. I could feel the slickness of my blood under my fingers. My heartbeat thundered in my ears and that cold aftershock of fear coursed through my veins.
“Who are you?” My voice was stronger now. Foster sidled up next to me and placed a hand on my knee. It was affirming to know that he was there.  
“Robin, head knight to the Queen of the Seelie Court. And who might you be little mortal?” His cocky smile was annoying, but it matched the cocky tone of his voice. In fact, everything about him was cocky; from the way his sun-kissed blonde hair fell around his tan face, to his stupid posture. Even the way his elfin ears poked through his hair seemed cocky. But he could afford it, because he also made sure you knew he was dangerous.  
That doesn't really give you too much insight or context into or about the story. But whatever. There it is. Robin. He'll fill out the romantic triangle and will serve me very well in other ways during the story. Oh yes, I have plans for him *slightlyevilchuckle* 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Strife and Woe...

Ugh. Do you know what month it is? Other than November... I mean, that's obvious. But apart from that. Do you know what month it is?

National Novel Writing Month.

The month where participants attempt to write an entire novel in the span of thirty days. They even have this awesome webpage for it. You can sign up and do lots of fun things. It's pretty awesome.

Except it makes me super depressed.

I have been working on my novel for three years and I haven't completed a frist draft. Yes, I have revamped the chapters I have done, but I haven't been able to power through. And now I"m at this huge writer's block. I think I might even dislike my novel.

Stupid Chapter Nine. I thought I had figured out a way to fix it but no...

This is my sulking post. I will suck it up after this one and power through. Because as Ellen Kushner said this summer, "It might be shit but at least it's shit you've got on the page and can work with" (or some variant of that...)

Maybe I could just skip over Chapter Nine and work on another one... I don't know. Creative juices aren't flowing as much as I would like for them too. Ugh. Woe is me.

OKAY! I'm done!


New goal: I will get Chapter Nine written by the end of November.
Loftier goal: I will finish my book by the end of November.

All starting tomorrow...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My New Favorite Show...

Okay, so I finally watched the frist episode of NBC's Grimm. And, as you can probably figure out from the title of this post... It's my new favorite show.

Once Upon a Time is good. But this is way more my style... this far.

Before I discuss the awesomeness of the first episode, maybe I should set the stage a bit. I think I've said this before (maybe not on here) but this show -- totally gives off the feeling of Law and Order: SVU where the victims aren't being attacked by your evil humans, they are at the mercy of fairy tale inspired monsters. A child molester who can turn into a wolf -- intense. So, I think the TV-14 rating is pretty fair.

Oh, did I mention that this show comes to us via the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a (the?) writer of Angel? I'm all about some Joss Whedon (the brilliant mind behind those shows and also Firefly) so anything coming from people who worked on his stuff -- yes, I have high hopes.

And they didn't let me down.

Here's what some tweeter's had to say...

Yes, totally the perfect blend of tension, horror, action and comedy. I love it. So, more in-depth premise. From what I can tell is that there are monsters in our world who loose control and attack people. Right? Okay, so the Grimm's tried to warn us (I assume with their stories) but who would believe that? So, now there are people who are given a "gift" of sight -- they can see these creatures for what they really are -- and are here to protect us. They are called Grimms.

So, our main character, Nick, is a detective. Life is pretty normal. Except, he starts to see women who have creepy faces and men with snake tongues. How does Nick respond to this? He just focuses more on the case in front of him: a young college girl who was out running in the park and was torn to pieces. Did I mention the red hoodie she was wearing? Or the fact that there were no animal tracks around? Hmm... Well I should've.

Anyway, Nick does his job and gets home. Ready for a night with his (almost) fiance, when he realizes his aunt (the lady who raised him -- since his parent's died in a car accident...or did they?) is visiting. She's dying of cancer and is the active Grimm. As far as I can tell, when she dies, he'll inherit his full power.

I won't tell you anymore about the frist episode... apart from the fact I can't stress how awesome it is. Oh, also, the aunt? Yeah, she winds up in the hospital at one point and the doctor is all "Hey, did you know about the scars?" and Nick says, "What scars?" Turns out she's covered in scars that look like they've come from being kickass. When the doctor asks what he job was we find out she was a librarian. Having worked as a librarian I was very excited by the kick-assness of this.

I think as viewers we are promised so much in this first episode. Mystery, (What the hell is going on? What really happened to Nick's parents? Who is the man in the car at the end?) humor, action... It has the makings of just being plain awesome.

Don't believe me? Check out this preview of the season...

Not enough for you? Or maybe you missed the first episode and want to watch it... Either way, go to the webpage. It is chock full of goodies.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Well, I would be posting about last night's episode of Grimm (which I'm sure was awesome) but I had to miss it. Family comes first.

I got word the other day that my Uncle had another stroke. He had a massive one back in January but recovered. Then, the other night he had a stroke when he was alone and wasn't found for several hours. This means that they missed a window to give him this super intense drug... What it would've done I have no idea. And he's been unconscious for over two days. Which, sometimes is good for stroke patients. It gives the brain time to un-swell. But then he quit breathing on his own. And that's bad. So, the family flocked to my Grandmothers and now my dad and his sisters are meeting with my Uncle's wife (my aunt - duh) to talk about taking him off life support.

I have no idea how to feel. I feel scared and worried but not for my uncle. More for my dad (he's only a few years younger) and my cousin (we're both only children and I know how close he is to his dad). I don't know what I would do if the tables were turned and it was my dad on life support. So readers, keep my family in your thoughts and/or prayers. I know that my uncle isn't in pain and really, I think (and when it comes to statements like this maybe it's not fair to say what you think they'd want but...) I think if he somehow woke up, he wouldn't be happy living the way he'd have to live. The brain damage is bad enough where he couldn't swallow on his own. And if that man can't ride his bike then he's miserable.

And a weird thing is: My best friend's Dad just had an intense stroke earlier this week. Like Tuesday. And he's good now, up walking and talking. But, (and with my family too) the thing is I really like seeing the power of family in these situations. Someone isn't doing well at all and everyone (who can) comes running. I like my family. I mean, I think when it comes to family on some deep level there will always be love (even when they are awful people) but you don't have to like them. I'm glad to be here with my family.

So even with the dark, foreboding cloud that is hanging over us... there is a little bit of light shining though. (That was corny, but whatever, corny things are true) 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

Last night LOST fans and fairy tale groupies tuned into ABC to watch the new show Once Upon a Time. I say LOST fans because Once Upon a Time comes to viewers via the creative minds of the writers of LOST.

And I wasn't disappointed at all with the show. 

The show starts out with Prince Charming pushing his horse to the limit, riding into the forest, only to find Snow White dead in her glass coffin. We all know the rest of the story. Well, the typical ending of our fairy tale is only the beginning for this story.

I won't go on into detail because I want you to watch the show... But, the fairy tale portion of the show was ridiculous in ways that only fairy tales can get away with. I will spoil one little scene where Prince Charming (now King Charming... I think his name might actually be Theo) is battling two Black Knights while holding his newborn daughter. And wins. Crazy. For real he singlehandedly defeats them... Okay, had to make the reference there. 

Anyway, the fairy tale portion overlaps with the modern day story. Emma, a bailbonds woman is coerced into going to Storybrook, Maine. Where, and I quote Emma, all the fairy tale characters are "Frozen in time in Storybrook Maine." 

Emma is told by a boy, Henry, (the baby she gave up for adoption 10 years before) that she is a fairy tale character. And that time is frozen in Storybrook and when people try to leave bad things happen.

Emma tried to leave and bad things happen.

The episode ends with Henry staring out of his window at the old town clock. The one that has been stuck on 8:15 his entire life. And suddenly, as Emma check into Little Red and Grandma's bed and breakfast, the hand moves.

Okay, I hope that gives you a taste without giving too much away.

One thing I like about this show so far are the subtle/not so subtle details. The Evil Queen in the modern world has apple cider and decorates with apples. She also has a scene where she is standing in front of a mirror. 

Snow White's modern day character is a teacher who has a good relationship with birds, children, and also works at the hospital as a volunteer. 

Oh, thing I wasn't so sure on... The kid Henry has this book of stories and is like "all the stories in here are real and all the people are stuck here." But then we get a close up of the book, the pages turned by the wind, and illustrations from The Wizard of OZ and Alice in Wonderland flip across the screen. To me, those aren't really fairy tales and I'll be really hesitant if THOSE characters show up...

Husband even said, "Hey this show has a LOST feeling to it." I snickered and then realized that he was serious and wasn't aware that it was written by the same people.

I'll hold out on my overall opinion until a few more episodes. I feel like you can't really judge a series by the pilot episode. That is for the network... it's the following episodes that are for the viewers. 

I think that it is for SURE worth watching. So, next week you should tune in and let me know what you think.         

Missed it on TV this week? Go to the ABC webpage and watch it! Limited commercials... Always a plus.

Excited? I know I am. Check out a preview of next week...