Thursday, July 28, 2011

And One and Two, Three and Four...

Why should you do writing exercises?

What a silly question to ask. Writing is not easy, and most of you who read this blog know that (and are probably giving me a chorus of 'amens'). But really, no one wants to get out of shape. Not football players, not actors, and no, not writers.

Do I exercise as much as I should? No. Certainly not. But this is one of those don't do what I do, do what I say kind of moments. Stephen King comments in his book On Writing that a writer should read/write between 4-6 hours every day. Well, that's fantastic if your Stephen King and can afford to do that.

I doubt anyone of Stephen King's caliber is reading this blog. So that's unrealistic for most of us almost-starving-artists.

Instead (do what Delia Sherman told me) and do 20 minutes every day.

Yes. Every. Day.

"But I don't have any exercises to do," some of you (like the me before this blog) may whine.

NEVER FEAR! I have some that I will gladly share!

(1) Describe the room you're sitting in as you would experience it when...

  • you just got in a fight with someone who is really important to you
  • you knew it was haunted
  • you'd just fallen in love
  • like you knew you were going to die
Okay. So, pen, paper, timer. Set it to 20 minutes and...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Book Preview

Here is a video clip for a book I've seen on the shelves at Barnes and Nobel;

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" by Ransom Riggs

 I haven't had a chance to buy it, but it looks really good. And really creepy. Below is the link to the video... I can't wait to read it.

Watch Me!

Monday, July 25, 2011

*Evil Laughter*

I turned in my critical paper. YES!

And sadly, to quote Charlie Sheen... "Winning!" Ugh. I hate myself a little bit for even typing that. Blech. I need to clean my keyboard off now.

Back to the point. Paper = done. Ha! I almost don't even care what grade I get on it. I'm just epically glad that its done.

And yet... And yet it's not my favorite paper so I don't feel the same satisfaction. It's like, sure this is a good paper but it's nothing that I'll pick up again and expand upon. Which is a bit of a bummer because I did learn a lot. So it goes.

And also, the term here is coming to a close, but I'm not all that relieved. I guess it's because it's not like I'll be getting a big break. I'll be doing two online classes this fall (both creative) and then a directed study in the spring.

So, the point of this post. There is none. Just that, no matter how much I complain about writing critical papers. I can do them. And I think I kind-a kick ass at them on a certain level. No. I'm not the next big literary critic, and I don't want to be. But I think that I'm pretty awesome at (and I think this applies for all creative writers that write critical stuff) making the critical approachable and being able to use some nice descriptive verbs and whatnot that make the paper more fun to read.

Suck it vampires (the doubtful kind... see previous post)
Suck it.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Die Vampire, Die!

So... my blogger buddy shared this song with me. It's on iTunes, so you can totally listen to a sample and then download it like I did. But, here are the lyrics... (Fair warning: there is some profanity)

Die Vampire, Die!

There are some people in the world who say that writing stories,
or composing music or dancing sparkly dances is easy for them.
Nothing interferes with their ability to create.
While I celebrate their creative freedom,
a little part of me just wants to punch those motherfuckers in the teeth.
This song, I sing this song for you guys and for all the rest of us. Help me out y’all

We’ll sing backup

You have a story to tell, a novel you keep in a drawer.

Old sock drawer!

You have a painting to paint, but you lazy like an old French whore

Je suis whore

You have a movie to make, Shrinky Dinks you can bake
but you best grab a stake, cause,
in sweep the vampires, in creep the vampires, knee deep in vampires,
Filling you with doubt. Insecurity, ‘bout what you art should be
in sweep the vampires

Die vampire

You sketched that turtle you saw in an ad on late-night cable TV

Tippy Turtle!

But your fourth grade teacher said

Female Backup:
You can’t draw

Aww, those vampires just won’t let you be

Fuck you Ms. Johnson, Word!

And when they come run like hell, see those bats in your belfry, then call on Van Helsing.

In swoosh

Ooh, the vampires

in a whoosh

ooh, the vampires,


ooh, all the vampires

Filling you with thoughts of

Self consciousness

Feelings of


They’ll make you

Second guess
Die vam-

There are so many vampires, inside, outside, and nationwide,
it helps to recognize them with this vampire hunting guide!
Listen closely,
a vampire is any person or thought or feeling
that stands between you and your creative self expression,
but they can assume many seductive forms.
Here’s a few of them!

Tell us Susan!

First up are you pigmy vampires.
They’ll swarm around you head like gnats and say things like:

Male Backup:
Your teeth need whitening

Female Backup:
You went to state school?

Male Backup:
You sound weird

Shakespeare, Sondheim, Sedaris

Did it before you and better than you, or they might say that you cannot
sing good enough to be in a musical, or they might say:

Ooh, your song’s derivative,
Ooh, your song’s derivative,
Ooh, your song’s derivative,

To keep that song from you! Just tell them:

Die vampire, die!

Brothers and sisters, next up is the air freshener vampire,
she might look like you mama, or your old fat-ass, fat aunt Fanny.
She smells something unpleasant in what you’re creating.
She’ll urge you to:

(Spraying sound)

It with some pine fresh smell ’em ups.
The air freshener vampire doesn’t want you to write about

bad language, blood, or blow jobs

She wants you to clean it up and clean it out.
Which will leave your work toothless, gutless, and crotchless
but, you’ll be left with two tight paragraphs,
All kittens that your grandma would be so proud of.
You look at that air freshener vampire in her fat ass, fat old fuckin’ face and you say


The last vampire is the mother of all vampires and that is the vampire of despair.
It’ll wake you up at 4am to say things like:

Who do you think you’re kidding?
You look like a fool.
No matter how hard you try, you’ll never be good enough

Why is it that if some dude walked up to me on the subway platform
and said these things, I’d think he was a mentally ill asshole,
but if the vampire inside my head says it,
It’s the voice of reason.

You have a story to tell, pull your novel out of that sock drawer!
You have a painting to paint, you best paint it and then paint some more!

Oh baby, you must escape and grab it by the nape of its neck, by the trachea
fuckin’ break it, go on drive a stake in,
Yeah there’s no mistaking, now you’re shake and bakin’

Die, vampire
I said, “Die, vampire”
I said, “Now die vam-pi-re, die!”

In fly the vampires, oh my the vampires, then die the vampires,
filling you with life, creativity, all that you heart should be, out go the vampires
Die vampire, die vampire, die vampire, die!

Saturday, July 23, 2011


So my blogger buddy over at Hughes Views on YA Literature has a post looking at what she's learned this summer being in the MFA program... I thought that was a pretty awesome idea and wanted to copy her.

  1. Being a fan of a writer is not stalking. It's being normal. If you say, "Oh no I promise I'm not stalking you" you become a stalker. So yeah, following your favorite author on twitter and their blog... Totally fine. Knowing what time they do their laundry and what kind of that's stalking.
  2. Yes, there are gatekeepers for the publishing world: they are called Agents. But even if you find one that means nothing. They can give you the key, but that doesn't mean it'll fit the lock right away.
  3. As a writer you should be confidant but humble. The whole publishing world is a house of cards, without the writer is falls apart. So, be proud and don't let the editors scare you.
  4. You can become addicted to caffeine 
  5. Here's something I knew but was reminded of it... There is no such thing as a perfect draft. You can work your butt off to get close to one, but nope. No perfect stories. And that's kind-of awesome.
  6. I don't write long short stories. I like to focus on key scene(s) and stick there. I just do not do well with my characters walking all over the place in one story. I like them where I can keep my eye on them.
  7. There are parts of my personality that aren't strong parts, but ones I can tap into for characters. I found this out when I wrote a short story about a girl who is pretty much a succubus: She uses her sexyness to pull in a guy so she can pretty much just own him. It's written in first person. That's not me. 
  8. I really am addicted to books.
  9. My writing is clear.
  10. And I have characters that are pretty awesome. They have clear dialogue and seem very real sometimes (and other times not...working on that part)
Some housekeeping business... The blog now has a twitter account. Why? Well, mostly I have it so I can follow some of my favorite authors (Holly Black, Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Neil Gaiman) but heck, if you read the blog you might enjoy the twitter as well. So, check it out and follow it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why I Love Castle (Part 1)

Yes, this is at least a two part post. 'Why?' you may ask. Because I don't have time to delve into all of the reasons why I love the TV show... but I will give you a snippet. And yes, I think all you literary people out there will appreciate it.

I have to paint a picture for you since I can't find one...
Castle and Detective Beckett walk into a therapist's office to look at the murder scene. The body is sprawled out on the couch and Dr. Parish (the medical examiner) is taking notes on the body. The body has been shot a few times; however, what really makes this body different is what is written on the face...

Dr. Parish: Looks like a patient lost his patience.
Castle: Also his command of grammar. You're should be you-'-re as in you are, that's not even a tough one not like when to use who or whom.
Beckett: Do you really think that's the take away here Castle?
Castle: I'm just saying whoever killed her also murdered the English language.
Bam! And that is why I love Castle. Well, one reason. Yes. It's a dead body...but he's totally right. Come on.. this plays back to my earlier post about the hamburger place I boycot at home. It really isn't that difficult of a distinction. Your and you're... please

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Everyday Adventures of an English Graduate Student: Perspective

Here we see our young graduate student settling down into her seat on the airplane. It is a window seat. She pulls out the texts she is evaluating for a critical paper and stuffs them into the seat pocket in front of her. Yes, the 45 minute plane ride will be the perfect time to go through her books and see which key scenes are relevant to her paper.

She glaces up as a thin, middle age man, settles into the seat next to her. He smile and says, "Hello." His accent is thick and she can't really place it. She smile and says hello back. The two then settle into an almost awkward silence. He pulls out a stack of papers from his briefcase before sticking it under the seat in front of him.

Our graduate student recognizes the format of the first page. It is an article of some sort. A word involving globular or something along those lines is nestled into the title. Our graduate student pays little attention to the article, obviously it is focusing on something that is clearly not in her line of study.

"Why do you mark the pages?" The man asks.

This is what our graduate student should've said: "Oh, I'm doing a textual analysis of the figure of the cross-dressing girl hero in young adult literature and how it subverts the stereotypical gender norms."

Instead she says this: "Oh, I'm doing a paper on girls who dress like boys to get what they want."

Silence. "Uh, so what are you reading?" She asks. She's really hoping that the man doesn't realize how awkward she feels.

"Ah, yes, this is a paper my colleague and I are writing. It's looking at a mathematical equation that will generate a 3D rendering of the growth pattern of brain tumors."


More silence.

Our poor graduate student looks from her books to his paper and wants to jump out the emergency exit of the plane. She keeps repeating in her mind, "My work is important. My work is important." How is it important? Had you asked her that before the plane ride she would've been able to give you a very good answer. But for the life of her she can't think of what it is right now.

"So," the man must sense our poor graduate student's distress. "You want to write?"

She has to bite back, "Well, not any more..." and instead smile and says, "Yes."

"That's good. Literature is very important. It engages the other side of the brain."

HA! Her work is important! Suck on that doubt!

Monday, July 18, 2011


Today has been brought to you by the letter "S"

"S" is for,"sh*t, I'm super stressed out."

Uh. I could go into it. I mean, really lay it on thick why I'm so stressed out. But just thinking about all the stuff I have to do induces a panic attack.

So, instead I'm going to share a link to Holly Black's most recent post. It tells you how to score a free audiobook download of her book White Cat. For those of you who aren't hardcore faerie lovers like me (wow, that could be read WAAAAY wrong out of context) but like fantasy(ish) stuff, I'd check it out. It presents this alternate reality where there are certain people who have gifts/powers and can use these powers on people through touching someone with their hands. They are called Workers. Most Workers are part of crime families, and Cassel is the only non-worker in his family. This book is really interesting. AND, it takes the (little known) fairy tale, White Cat, to a whole new level. But, you don't have to know the fairy tale to enjoy the book.

Actually, it was AFTER I read the book that I read the fairy tale. It was then that Holly's awesomeness blew me away (well, it tends to blow me away most of the time, but yeah...)

So, what have I accomplished by writing this post? Have I revised my short story at all? (No.) Have I gotten any work done on my critical research paper done? (No.) Have I read and critiqued any of the stories for this week's workshop? (No.)

...Nothing. I have gotten nothing done.
*Sigh* another mark of a writer: procrastination   

And I'm still stressed.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Being a Writer is Being a Drug Addict...

You know, I really thought it was just a funny metaphor. I mean, writers have weird sleeping patterns, dazed looks about them, and sometimes bloodshot eyes. We never have any money because we're always feeding our habit. But then I looked up drug abuse signs... And that's when it got funny serious...

That describes me to the letter when I'm working hardcore on my writing. Or even just as a graduate student. 

So this leaves me with a question... Do I need rehab?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How Your WIP is Like and Unruly Child...

For those of you not on the up and up with the writing lingo, WIP is work in progress.

I don't have children. However, I have been exposed to them enough, and been one myself, to know how much you can love and despise them at the same time. No, not despise. That's not the right word... More or less find them super frustrating.

All of which can be applied to how a writer views their novel.

Just like a parent, we the writer create our novel and give birth to our characters. And, also like a parent, there is a little bit of the writer in their novel. How can there not be? And no matter what an author tells you, yes, a bit (even if it's just a pinch) of their personality is in each character.

So, you have given birth to your novel. Isn't that fantastic!? You tell people you're writing a novel and they get that impressed look on their face. And really, at first everything is hunky-dory. Things are flowing and you are loving where things are going.

And then, your WIP starts getting you up in the middle of the night. You have to write when that amazing idea pops into your head, and really, if you go to sleep you'll forget what it was. But it's okay, because it's really not THAT much sleep you're missing.

And then, it's not just that it's keeping you up at night. Your WIP starts to develop a mind of it's own. The character's will want to do one thing and you (as the more experienced individual) know what is best. Every once and a while you let the characters do what they want, and sometimes it works out, but mostly it just turns into a train wreck. One where you are left picking up the pieces.

Then, you'll want your characters to do one thing, and they just won't do it. So you have to give up and move on and try something else. Because sometimes, you really don't know what's best.

The WIP enters the teenage years and really, I hope I don't have to tell you what that's like. Lots of slamming doors, fights, the words "you don't understand" are thrown around a bunch, and you WISH that things would go better. So, you take a break. Not give up, because no parent (well, no good parent) will give us on a child. You and your WIP still have to be in the same room together, and slowly, you make progress.

And then it goes to college (now I've never had a WIP finished or published, but I think I know what it'll be like...) You'll miss it. You'll think of all the good times you had together and you'll think how you weren't ready for it to leave the nest. There was still so much you had to do, so much you still could do. But no, by then it's all grown up and out there in the world, making it's own way.

You smile and miss it so much, you start another WIP.

And the cycle begins again...

Friday, July 8, 2011

I Never Said I Could Draw...

This is what I do when I get bored in class... I realize my handwriting it hard to read. Sorry!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

News Update!

Kudos to Stutts who is my first and only person to publish a comment. Warm and fuzzy feelings are headed your way!

So, whoever reads this out there might not know... I have it so ANYONE can comment on blog posts. You don't have to sign up for anything. Just click the word "comment" at the bottom of a post. Or click the title line of a post. And TADA! A window to post a comment in.

So, come on. I know you can do it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Found Poem I Found

So I discovered this poem posted on a door in the English Graduate building. I don't know who "wrote" it, but I thought it was something that writer's would enjoy...

Okay, so if you can't read the super small print here's what hasn't been marked out:

Looking back
           We can't do without the writing
and boy
                  writers don't

Monday, July 4, 2011

Writer's Should Take Over the 4th...

So here's my thinking...

We get all patriotic on the Fourth because it's like the birthday of America, right?

Well, maybe we should be celebrating the power of words. Yes, corny. I know. But come on! I'm a writer. We have an entire holiday centered around a really old document. Why doesn't that get any attention? The Fourth isn't about fireworks, getting drunk, or grilling. No. It's about a bunch of dudes that sat around with post-Enlightenment thoughts and were like, "Hey, this is crap and we need to do something." So what do they do? They get Thomas Jefferson to sit down and write something. Sure, maybe after they all signed it they went to the nearest pub and had a celebratory drink (and maybe that's where the drinking tradition came from) but it was all about the words and what they said.

As writers I think we should get more credit sometimes. No, we don't just live in our own little world... well not all the time anyway. We do important things. And no, I'm not saying there should be a holiday centered around anything I've ever written. I'm just pointing out...

Writer's kick ass. 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pet Peeve #1

Okay, so I'm sitting here watching "Platinum Hit" on Bravo and one of my biggest pet peeves was literally vocalized.

One of the songwriters was talking about how he fell in love with this girl when he was 16 and they were together for three years. And then she dumped him. Here is how he phrased it: "And then she literally ripped my heart out of my chest, stomped on it, and then drove away."


For real, does he not know what "literally" means? If she had literally ripped his heart out he would be dead and she would probably be in jail for murder. The word I think he was looking for was "figuratively". But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she really did pull his heart out, step all over it, and now he has some bionic heart or whatever.

And what makes this even worse, he's a songwriter. A WRITER! Come on. I'm a bit stunned. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Good News and Bad News about Being a Writer (Part 1)

I'm going to give you the bad news first. Why? Because it's better to end on an up note.

So, having met several published writers (John Green, Daniel Wallace, David Sedaris, Ellen Kushner, Delia Sherman, Gregory Frost) I have come to a bit of a sad conclusion. 

Wait a second, let me back up...

I'm not sure about anyone else, but I have always viewed those writers who have been published (and have actually MADE money off of their work) as being on the other side of this void. It's like they all know the secret password to open the door, or the right path to take to get to the other side. And yes, I know that they all met their hardships in the void, but they made it through. All of them. For the longest time I held out hope that there was a map or something, and if you worked hard enough someone would pass it down to you and you could break through the void.

I was so very wrong. There is no secret formula to getting published. There's no way to just plug yourself into an equation and then come out of it with a book deal. I think I've known this for awhile, but like with Santa Claus, you just don't want to admit the truth. 

So that's the bad news...

Good news! There is hope! I mean, everyone found their own way across the void, so there is not one right way. There are many. Which is good, because you can always find a way across that works for you and you alone. Sure, it'll take hard work, but when you get to the other side, you know that it was all you. Just you and your writing, and really, what more do you need?