Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest Author David Fingerman

Ack!  And somehow this was originally posted as if I posted it yesterday!  Hate those SNAFUs!  I hope we didn't miss any readers who didn't see it.  But anyway, fixed now, and back to it!

First, I want to stop off wishing my American friends a Happy Memorial Day! And to the rest of you—neener neener—I have a Monday off! But seriously, the holiday is about remembering those who've died in wars fighting for my freedom, something I definitely appreciate. And it calls up memories of trips to the cemetery with my mom and grandparents to clean up and put flowers on the graves of family members—the peonies were always in bloom for the visit and I loved that the big gorgeous flowers brought such life to the headstones. So THANK YOU to everyone who has given service. And I am sending out my warm, otherworldly tentacles across whatever boundary that is to let my loved ones know they are missed.

And now, onto topics sincerely less morose... I am not referring to barbeques and beer at the moment, but to guest bloggers promoting their books.

I'd like to welcome David Fingerman (he looks suspiciously like he might have Hart relatives—you're not a cousin, are you?), who is promoting his book of short stories. So I will turn it over to you. Welcome David!

~~~~~~

A little bit about the writer in me:  Like many authors I've met and read about, I am pretty much an introvert. Around friends and people I know, I can be as gregarious as Santa at the mall a week before Christmas. Around strangers? “Call security. I don’t like the way that weird guy sitting in the corner is staring at me.” I don’t do well around strangers.  I've been told I have to get myself 'out there.'  A good way to start is go to conventions and conferences. I’ve been to conventions and conferences. I’ve seen the crowds mill about authors and editors. It’s like an entourage. Bless those unknown and wanna be writers who can push past their own inhibitions and insecurities and dive right in and introduce themselves. That ain’t me. Then there are those who first have a couple of drinks, then feel comfortable enough to join the crowd. I truly wish I could. I’d walk up to the editor, extend my hand, introduce myself, then throw up on his/her shoes. On the plus side, at least they’d remember me.  That's important, right?

Well, thank the writing gods for the internet.  I was swarmed with a list of other things I must do that I know nothing about.  Okay.  One thing that I’ve been told again and again and again is that I have to

Start a website.(√)
Get a MySpace page. (√)
Get a Facebook page.(√)
Start a blog. (√)

Okay, I’ve been writing blogs and baring my soul to possibly billions of people. I can do that because I’ve convinced myself that out of those billions, only a few friends are ever going to read them (after the amount of comments I've received, not even a few). I've been doing some of these things for a while now (I recently surpassed 100 friends on facebook - and I even know the majority of them) and still feel like I'm drowning, but I am learning new things all the time.  So being somewhat of a newbie with still lots to learn, here's my two-cents worth.  Do your homework.  The internet makes it easy.  When querying an agent or editor, make sure it's someone interested in what you write.  And be creative.  They get hundreds of emails.  Make sure yours stand out (but I highly advise against using threats like "I know where you live."  They seem to frown on that and usually don't take it in the humor as was intended). I've found that many editors still want hard copy. That editor whose shoes you threw up on?  Send them a new pair of shoes with your manuscript inside.  Email that other editor ~ “You remember me? I’m the guy you had thrown out of the bar because of the way I was looking at you. If that scared you, wait until you read this.” (Probably works best if you’ve written a horror novel.) In other words – get their attention. Like they say about publicity, there ain’t no such thing as bad.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EDGING PAST REALITY is a collection of horror and speculative fiction short stories that will take you to the precipice of reason ~ and then push you over the edge.  If you think you can always believe your eyes, and you're sure that what you believe is true, it's time to check your certainties at the door.  You can order EPR at Amazon or most other online bookstores.  Or, go to http://davidfingerman.com and click on the cover.  Plus, you can learn lots more about me.

An excerpt from "Snow Crabs"

White as snowflakes and no larger than thumbtacks, creatures were crawling, weaving between his fingers, trying to get under the sleeves of his jacket.  Tiny pincers nipped at the skin, tearing it away as they went.  Leaving the shovel and gloves where they lay, Greg screamed as he raced back to the house.  His hands felt on fire as droplets of blood bubbled to the surface.  He threw the door open and jumped inside.  The creatures leaped off his hands and as he looked down the snow seemed to come apart on his boots.  Snowflakes scurried to get back outside before he closed the door.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Home Alone

Woot Woot! This NEVER happens. At least not for a solid several hours. See, at MY house, I'm the one who disappears to work for 40 hours a week (compounded by my hour each direction walk—or nearly that). The hubster is usually here, other than treks to the grocery store, hardware store or walks with the dog, none of which lasts more than about 90 minutes. Then evenings and weekends, the kids are usually here.

Not today. Hubby is at his class... which yesterday I informed you was a CNA class and it was annoyingly auto-corrected to a 'can' class—whatever the hell THAT implies *rolls eyes*.

So what am I going to do home alone? DUH? PAH-TAY!

Okay, so maybe not so much. I do have a couple things in mind though.


MY MUSIC

Anyone with teens understands that I don't get to choose what is played very often. At the moment, (because it is 9am) I have REM playing—an old CD that I like, but honestly, one even I don't usually pick because when it's my choice I've put in something loud like Jane's Addiction. But for blogging (as opposed to bathroom cleaning) I don't actually need Jane's adrenaline. 10,000 Maniacs is next in the pile... the stuff I used to listen to when I was being mellow that sort of feels like old friend music.

I'm even going to make a REAL pot of coffee, instead of this decaf crap left by the OTHER adult. And I've brought my laptop out of the cave so I can even sit with some sunlight...


Mother Issues

Then it's time to address the letter my mother finally sent. I've been avoiding this. I sent her one about mother's day detailing how to get THERE from HERE, and it took a while for her to get back. See, the trouble is she doesn't deal in reality. Her version of events are delusional, and if I try to present reality she gets defensive and shuts down (that is what led to this whole thing—she cut me off because I insisted we had to TALK about it—can't have THAT!). My mother's day letter said basically, sometimes the only way PAST it, is THROUGH it.

So at least now I know what SHE thinks reality is. I have some time to conquer this letter BACK to her.


Spreadsheets!!!!

Yes, I actually put exclamation points after the word spreadsheets. I'm a geek that way. I am creating two of them, one to keep track of my characters for my BuNoWriMo novel—When I write long hand, I have a notebook with all this, but I am going to be writing both at the computer AND longhand (so there will surely be a notebook involved to go back and forth) but when I'm on the computer, the quickest way to find facts (most often keeping names of secondary characters straight) is just to open my handy doc.  Besides, next to my computer, the stacks of paper are substantial already.

The SECOND spreadsheet is my wordcount one. With working on both a long hand and Word Doc, I need a quick, handy way to COMBINE the two to figure out how many words I've written on a given day and what my cumulative is. I know my longhand is between 250 and 300 words a page, so I am counting those as 250—yes, when I type it up, it translates almost to the page in my one inch margin, double spaced typing.

But besides the spreadsheet, I am also making a couple graphs, which I'm sure you'll get a screenshot or two of.


Powerwalk

I do this every Sunday (and Saturday) but it IS on the agenda, so don't want to leave it off the list. Normally Sunday is my pancakes day, so that 'no cooking' thing gives me a little extra time—heading for the hill. (Yes, there is only one substantial hill in the entire state of Michigan). I would walk this route every time, but it is far enough that it is a 90-minute walk to include it.


RIP Dennis Hopper

Nobody did evil wack-job quite the way Dennis Hopper did evil wack-job. I only hope I can infuse my bad guys with half of what he did. This beer snob may even have to go buy a Pabst Blue Ribbon. Thank you for chilling me to the bones, Dennis; you'll be missed!


Loose Ends

And we're no longer talking about my butt... Tomorrow I have a guest author, so this is my last Blog before BuNoWriMo starts, so I thought I'd give my heads up. I think I have 6 or 7 guest authors blogging in June, which is very handy, timing-wise. I will continue to have a (mostly) daily blog, but they probably won't be as long most of the time. I will also probably not hit as many blogs per day reading—I will make a serious effort to spread them out, so I hit the ones I hit at least a couple times a week, but the writing is going to suck me under to some degree. PLEASE don't think I've abandoned you. I will come out the other side, go into editing mode, and need all of you more than ever!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Missing Motivation

I thought last week that I was good to go. I was wrong. I've been feeling motivated in other domains this week. There again, though, I think I'm wrong. Where has my motivation gone and what do I need to do to bring it back?


Motivational Imposter

First I think I'll take on this thing that I was THINKING was motivation, but I have not been able to tap... I have FELT like I had a ton of writing motivation and just wasn't able to apply it to the eating right thing (my exercise is going fine—usually does when the weather is nice, as I love to get out there and GO). But the eating (and drinking) within limits has been nearly impossible, so I THOUGHT maybe I had just rechanneled my motivation... you following?

You know about BuNoWriMo, ne? Well I am WAY motivated on that front... like SERIOUSLY. Adrenaline junkie mode is going strong. But her is the real deal... The PROBLEM, is that is more like filling up the motivation tank, but then keeping the switch flipped OFF—I am not firing up that engine yet. I am carb loading for a 30 day marathon in which I need to use all that stuff I have built, so right NOW it is sitting there unfired.

I've actually written VERY little this week-- a drabble for the Burrow's June Project (The Burrow A to Z—inspired by ARLeeBird at Tossing It Out and his Blogging A to Z). And I wrote a 'setting' and some character sketch stuff—but that is all more ORGANIZING. I haven't WRITTEN, really at all. I also have had a HECK of a time doing my daytime job—even on that front my motivation has been lacking... Nope... whatever this is is only POSING as motivation.


Plan to Tap It

But if I'm storing up, I have every reason to believe that come June 1, I ought to be able to FLY with it in all directions, yeah? And there is not really a reason that I can't write like the maniac I am, work at my day job like I'm supposed to, and FOLLOW THE BLASTED PLAN! In fact for this perfect temperatured 3-day weekend, I think I will up the exercise, but not worry as much on the eating (within reason), knowing on Tuesday I am going to SOAR.

Does that sound like excuses? Sort of it is, so probably it OUGHT to, but after all this time, I am pretty tuned in to the mind games I play with myself, so it oughta work...


In the Mean Time

I have a little gardening to do, a fair amount of homemaking (my husband is in a CNA class that is all day Saturday and Sunday through late June—leaving me with such distasteful tasks as making dinner—YUCK!), some chauffeuring childings, and some drinking rum next to my neighbor's pool if I manage to see her out there—handy to have a neighbor with a pool who works outside a lot and is fun to talk to (and likes a cocktail). Really the bonus of the weekend is just the extra day off, so I can rest up after the weekend chores, because the CHORES have to get done whether there is time to rest after them or not.



BuNoWriMo Update

We are at 70 and counting... Discussions are good. Camaraderie is good. We are STILL looking for a word count tracker that is compatible with facebook... Maria is on it though, and she is definitely more technically competent than I am. Though if any of you already HAS ONE, we would be EVER-SO-GRATEFUL if you'd share!

And you are of course STILL invited to join us! The top BuNoWriMo is 'about' and the one on this section is the Facebook link.

Okay, peeps, get out there and enjoy some sunshine! Hopefully it is warm enough that there is a lot of nudity where you are!

Friday, May 28, 2010

A Life of Its Own

So you KNOW two days ago I blogged about BuNoWriMo, yes? Well a couple fellow Burrowers, and a couple more friends ALSO blogged, and several of us invited Facebook friends... yadda yadda yadda... that is how these things go. In the first 24 hours we had 24 participants. WAHOO.

And then the unexpected happened...

I ALSO Tweeted... which I do when I blog. Frankly, it is about the only time I Tweet... I am an incompetent twitterer, unable to find the hot conversation because... well... I don't have the attention span or something... (Honestly, it just moves to fast—I can't stay glued to a computer—I need a conversation I can come back to in an hour and see the answers. Some people spare ten minutes in a row and call it good. I spare a whole half hour, but over a six hour time span... see what I mean—Facebook is just far more my speed... or Blogging... Blogging is good—but I digress)

I Tweeted... and one of my mutual following friends (don't know how I found her or she found me... I am on a couple lists because almost all my tweets are about writing, so I am minimally annoying to fellow writer types, even if I am NOT particularly effective)--Debbie Omi of Inkygirl Retweeted me... but not only THAT, her blog that has more than 400 followers FEATURED US.

I had over 500 hits yesterday—that is about triple NORMAL. Bigger? 90% of those people (according to my tracker) had never BEEN here before and I had a much SMALLER 'view ratio'--meaning more than half the hits were single view visitors. Now that isn't great on the comment front—a commenter always counts as two viewers, but it IS great on the exposure front—almost 300 DIFFERENT people stopped in yesterday—HOLY CRAP! (I even have 4 new followers!)

It is BAFFLING what one effective person can do for us!And so unexpected!

In addition to my blog bump, we also now have 66 BuNoWriMo participants signed on—I'm willing to bet we can approach 100 before we actually set off the starting pistol on Tuesday. One of my friends asked yesterday how many we'd have. I counted the participants I'd noted and padded a little and guessed 30. But this is SO MUCH BIGGER! It's really exciting!

I'd love it if you'd all help me thank Inkygirl by following. It's a great resource for finding online writer events ANYWAY, and this just was FABULOUS!


And Howzitgoin?

FANTASTIC. In addition to HERE, and inviting Facebook friends broadly, I also sent some specific invites to some old Potterverse friends. It feels like having a big family reunion, only better. Why better? Well, for one thing, nobody is being rude to my husband.  *cough*  But there is more!  See, when we were back at the Wizard War thread on HPANA, we had a RULE... oh, I know... I'm not normally one to go in for rules, but see, it was an INCLUSIVENESS rule. Anyone who dropped in for the first time was GREETED, WELCOMED and asked to join in. It made for a super friendly atmosphere. We KNEW we were talking about stuff where people would disagree, but we also had a POLITENESS rule—okay to disagree, not okay to call the person making the statement a Dunderhead.

So even though there are a BUNCH of us at BuNoWriMo who KNOW each other, every time another person ventures in, they are embraced and included! I'm so proud of my HPANA peeps!


And then there's THIS

You've all seen this, yes? Well Joris made a couple alots for BuNoWriMo. They are FABULOUS!

So you are all STILL invited! Facebook: BuNoWriMo... I will approve you (or someone... handy thing about 10 moderators) quickly!

Happy Friday! And for those in the US, Happy Memorial Day! (I LOVE long weekends!)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Favorite Things

So my Burrow peeps and I were having a relatively typical conversation, and it went something like this:

“I could sure use a cold beer.”


“I wish we were having a critique session over a pitcher of good microbrew” (this was me)


“Oh, I like that. Burrow, beer and books!”


“You are forgetting. Boys. We need to Cabana boys to bring the pitchers, apply the sun screen, and periodically massage our feet.”

It was unanimous. Our favorite things: Burrow, beer, books and boys. So I am dedicating a blog to the matter.


Burrow

In all its diverse fabulousness, representing four continents and seven countries, we REMAIN, four score blondes and brunettes between the ages of sixteen and nineteen and a half. But we are BRILLIANT (at least collectively, though I confess to mooching where my own content is lacking... See, I got a REALLY good processor and very little memory storage, so I can DO stuff, but there are times I don't really KNOW stuff. (thus, it is in my best interest to have really smart friends).

But it isn't just a SMART bunch, but a bunch that has complimentary skills in empathy, practical knowledge, life stage info... pretty much across the board, whatever I need, somebody there can offer it up. If I need good chocolate, there are three Europeans. If I need a knitted stuffed animal, there is Leanne (though she is sensitive about sock monkeys *shhhhh*) If I need to figure out how to tell my principal he's a moron in words that won't offend him, there is Chary. Whatever will sustain me...

If I was to be stranded on a desert island, THIS is the company I want (provided I can add a few male distractors, too... but for company, I mean).

Beer

Y'all know I'm a beer snob, yes? It is possibly the only area of my life in which I'm a snob... other than my Pacific Northwest Anti-snobbery thing where I'm snobby about snobs... and possibly really bad literature *cough*Twilight*cough*

But I DO love me a really GREAT beer. There are a couple rules involved... First: beer should be made ONLY with barley, yeast, hops and water. I'm willing to allow a little experimentation for FLAVOR (I've had a few excellent ginger ales, for instance, and Raspberry stout is so good even my cats liked it, back when I lived in Portland and March was Raspberry Stout month). I am NOT willing to compromise for something like PRESERVATIVES. If you need to put preservatives in it, you aren't drinking it fast enough, or you're shipping too far. And you know what the BRITISH do when they have to ship far? INCREASE THE ALCOHOL—yes, alcohol works just FINE as a preservative and solves the problem without messing up the flavor—why do you think India Pale Ales are so strong? They needed to have a high enough alcohol content to sail around the cape of Africa without it going bad! Problem solved! So if there is a chemical name to be seen? DON'T DRINK IT!

My personal favorites: Hammerhead (McMenamins), XX Stout (Pyramid—brewed with Starbucks coffee), Ballard Bitter (Pyramid), Wassail (Full Sail's winter ale), Blue Heron (Bridgeport—Bridgeport has a stout I love, too and I ALSO want to call THAT XX... shoot—hate that I live so far away that I can't keep these straight!), Mad Hatter (New Holland), Sacred Cow (Arbor Brewing), Oatmeal Stout (Arcadia)

So if I can get a regular supply o' THESE on my deserted island, I will be a HAPPY camper.


Books

So in this interim, while I wait to hear about the cozy, as I don't know what I will write next until I know that... I've been spending a little extra time READING. I've read two much discussed books, and am THRILLED both lived up to their hype (mostly).

The Hunger Games: the dystopian future world where each 'territory' is supposed to send a pair of children (randomly chosen... sort of) to play a brutal and deadly form of 'Survivor' for the viewing pleasure of the capital *shivers*) The idea is so gruesome, but the reading was fabulous. The characters were mostly likable but also flawed; you were rooting for them, particularly the narrator, Katniss. DEFINITELY worth reading.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: This one I felt was slightly under-edited at the tails—a little heavy on the tell don't show. But as the author was DEAD by the time his books were released, I forgive this—I wouldn't have wanted another editor to change Stieg Larsson's story, and that would have been the only other alternative. It was DEFINITELY worth releasing and reading, as the tale woven was FABULOUS!

I will read the next on BOTH of these (both are parts of trilogies)

My OWN book the next... TITLED, this morning on my power walk. I'm calling it 'Kahlotus Disposal Site', which is based on location and an in-joke by the kids living there. See, I wanted rural (middle of nowhere rural) and when I used to drive from Portland to Moscow, I would pass through the Tri-Cities in Washington, and then there was a cut-off toward the highway I WANTED (the main Washington one running between Seattle and Pullman)--I spotted it by the sign that said Kahlotus Disposal Site. Kahlotus is actually a small town (population 90, or some such thing), not just a dump, but the sign seemed an appropriate metaphor for what I want this book to be about, so there we have it.

And FINALLY, back to my island... ALL of us are readers. I figure we would ALL bring books, and other than having 13 sets of the Harry Potter series (make that 18—Leanne will probably bring it in multiple languages), the overlap probably wouldn't be that great, so we'd be able to read read read. But besides that—we'd each be WRITING new books all the time, so the new material supply would keep growing!

Boys

They are so useful, aren't they? They can refill the pitchers, apply sunscreen, read to us when we want to close our eyes, massage our feet... Just darned handy to have along...

Yeah... if I had those four things I could be VERY happy for a VERY long time...


THIS JUST IN!  Inkygirl with 400+ followers has linked yesterdays post and it is getting retweeted like crazy--I suspect I will break all records today on hits, but the GREAT news is BuNoWriMo folks!!!!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BuNoWriMo

So it's done... committed... perhaps I should be committed... BuNoWriMo formed a Facebook Group for the execution of Writing a Novel in the Month of June. (and the Burrow officially thanks our GoToGraphics guy Joris Ammerlaan for his FABULOUS design.

ANYONE who wants to join us, PLEASE DO SO.

If you aren't SURE if you want to join us, but you MIGHT, PLEASE JOIN.

If you know you won't but want to offer immoral support (hey, I set it up--I can ask for whatever kind of support I want) PLEASE JOIN US!

We are under BuNoWriMo at Facebook. (there are 24 members already!  If I was supposed to invite you and forgot, FORGIVE ME!--Alex, you weren't forgotten, but I can't find you, are you on FB?)  We did it there because we figured no matter WHERE we did it, people would have to join SOMETHING, and people are mostly already THERE. If you DON'T really want a FACEBOOK account, sign on under a pen name and let us know... then you aren't stuck being friends with people you aren't really friends with.  The plan is to stay 'invite only' until right before (Maybe Saturday) and give people a chance to voice objections--if no objections, we will go public.  See, I'm a kindly, opinion seeking kind of ruler...


PREPARATION

So I have no clue yet whether I am getting this cozy gig, so I am writing one thing or another, ne?  Well if I write the ONE thing, I am four chapters in already, with some plot loops mapped out (if I can find them *shifty*).  If I write the OTHER, I have an IDEA... Oh it's a wonderful, terrible, awful idea... I'm REALLY excited about it...

So last night I drew the 'institution'--oh, before you go getting all impressed with my art skills, I used graph paper and mostly counted squares (four feet per square, what size would this type of room have to be).  I am no artiste, but I did always get As in mechanical drawing.  I've also written a list of characters (institutional staff and 'residents'), though I have yet to name people... names have always just sort of come to me, but I am feeling a little blocked...


MIND SET

I've got the adrenaline rush going that only a WriMo seems to build.  I am antsy with anticipation and excited to get going, and feeling a lot of love for my writer friends... It's a warm squishy sensation.  Some of my friends who couldn't do it last time are in, though sadly, a couple who did are out... guess that is the cyclical nature of this thing...  I think the real strength of WriMos is that such stamina is needed to finish a book, but stamina with an end in sight is SO MUCH easier than indefinite stamina.


Related... Sort of...

I had a couple friends who were AMAZING yesterday with their blogs... not that that doesn't happen all the time, but seriously... AMAZING.

The first two helped me think about my WRITING PREP (for the above)

Crazy Jane had a post about not getting complacent... making up your mind, and then following through at every level.  It was a great reminder.

And then Erica at Chapter by Chapter did this experiment... blindfolded herself for four hours... just to see what her other four senses noticed because she felt like her writing descriptions depended too much on visual cues... COOL, huh?   I love it when my writer friends are so smart!


And then finally... 

What Have Books Meant to You?

Everything, right? I mean... we're WRITERS, most of us. We would not be called to do what we do, if we didn't love BOOKS. As a young reader, I had little guidance. My mom was only 18 when I was born and frankly, was clueless. We HAD books, and when I was REALLY little, it was fine... and I remember a couple really GREAT books she read to me (Tom Sawyer, Little Women), but she didn't know how to find appropriate chapter books for me AT ALL (and I think assumed they'd help me at school--wrong). So I stumbled around... reading skill slightly lagging my interests... it took until 7th grade when I discovered 'paranormal' before I found things that fit interest and skill. I think I've done far better by my kids, but part of that is that in the meantime, I became a real reader (and lover) of YA... and there is the internet to find recommendations... and my friend Leanne who's read EVERYTHING. But imagine if you didn't have access to books...

My Thursday Twin Natasha has found an organization dedicated to getting books to kids who would otherwise not have them. PLEASE go check out her blog today and pass it on! Books Make a Difference.  

This is one of those feel good things that is EASY and HELPS... (love those).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Naked Award Ceremony

So I'm way lame.  I've gotten a bunch of awards, and sometimes I've passed them on, but far more often I put them on a mental list to pass on later... to add to my blog layout later... but y'all KNOW how reliable my mental lists are (pfffftttt)... so I am TRYING to do some catching up today... acknowledging and passing on some awards...

I have FINALLY put my awards in a handy little photo album (at the bottom of the page) and I am passing them on! To make it Tart-like, not just another awards ceremony, I've brought in naked singers (above) to create a little ambiance and have a Naked MC, because... you know how I am...

Awesomesauce was awarded by Mel at Writings, Musings and Other Such Nonsense though in my head is the idea that maybe B. Miller also passed on such a thing... (remember... nothin' in my noggin)

I would like to award it in turn to:  Jan at Tartitude  Fellow Tart, Jan never fails to entertain, and oddly enough, usually informs, or at least makes me think.

The Most Excellent Blogger Award is from Jessica at The Alliterative Allomorph

To Roland at Writing in the Crosshairs Roland has a great mix of writing, networking and informative, and I always get sucked in over there.

And Elizabeth at Mystery Writing is Murder because she is doing ALL this stuff right...



TheSunshine Award was given by my Thursday twin Natasha/Rayna at Coffee Rings Everywhere

I'd like to pass it on to:

I'm Not Hannah  not because she is always perky, but because she always sheds some light--lays it out there to look at honestly, sometimes on hard topics, and I always come out of it feeling like there is hope.

And to Kierah Jane Reilly because she always makes me smile.


Cherry on Top Awarded by Raquel Byrnes at Edge of Your Seat Romance

I'd like to pass it on to:Natasha at Coffee Rings Everywhere.  My Thursday Twin she may be, but she offers insight into a part of the world few of us know, and there is always a lot of heart in what she presents.






And then the next several, I've been given more than once, so I am just going to pass them forward...


I'd like to pass the Kreativ Blogger Award to:

Helena at Becoming Layla
I'd like to pass Circle of Friends to:

Now this one, I'd like to pass on to ALL of you--it is hard to narrow a list... but I decided I must, so I limited it to people I've MET through blogging, that then the friendship has gone another step.

Elizabeth at Mystery Writing is Murder
B. at B. Miller Fiction
Jessica at The Alliterative Allomorph
and Jan at Crazy Jane




And then from Mel, I was tagged in one of these blog games...

If I were a: MONTH
I would be June.  Yes, my birthday is then, but it is more about thunderstorms and the weather being a comfortable temperature, but behaving so dramatically.  That's me... drama in a comfort zone...

If I were a: DAY
I would be Thursday. A little of this (okay, maybe more than a little) is delusional Thursday, but most of it is because I LOVE anticipation.  I actually prefer anticipation to the actual event much of the time… the JOURNEY, not the BEING there… Oh, yeah.  I’m all over Thursday.

If I were a: TIME OF DAY
Dusk.  The time of day when I can put away my obligations and write alone or relax with friends.

If I were a: SEASON
Totally SUMMER.  Hot and a little too much, if you know what I mean *snort*.  Seriously though, this is when you can be immersed in the water, or lounge lazily in the sun.  Bright daytimes and sultry nights.  That’s me.

If I were a: PLANET
Jupiter.  Jupiter rules LUCK which I like, but it is the biggest, and on the extravagant side, and I like that Io is covered in mice.

If I were a: DIRECTION
I would be West.   This is an identity thing that I can’t quite explain, possibly related to rebellion.

If I were a: TREE
I would be a weeping willow, long armed and flashy, in that lazy sort of way they have, but with cozy crooks to keep people safe when they need to get away and enough strength for plenty of play.

If I were an: ANIMAL
I would be a dolphin—smart and playful, with near human intelligence *cough*.

If I were a: MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
I would be bagpipes… a little loud and off key for some… people love ‘em or find them obnoxious, but at least they won’t forget the experience.

If I were a: FRUIT
Huckleberries… playful and tart! (excellent covered in icecream *wink*)

If I were a: FOOD
Lime chicken enchiladas… spicy, cheesy, but full of sustenance.

If I were a: COLOR
Silver.  Cheaper than that other flashy stuff, but definitely more versatile.

If I were a: BOOK
I would be Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins—a quirky heroine bent on achieving her dreams despite detractors and obstacles, a mad journey full of horny satyrs and nymphs and a lot of time bendy strangeness, all tied up with a lovely odor…

If I were a: SONG
I would be Bohemian Rhapsody:  A really GREAT tale, told melodramatically enough to be both funny and classically beautiful at the same time.

If I were a: MOVIE
I'd be the Life of Brian:  Cross-dressing, naked silliness, chock full of Innuendo, but some classical references and philosophy in there just to keep you thinking.  And it's true that I'm not the Messiah, just a naughty girl...

If I were a: FLOWER
I would be a California Poppy. A bright, cheery surprise that, before you know it, has taken over everything.

If I were a: FACIAL EXPRESSION
I would be the raised eyebrow reminding you what you said can be taken as innuendo, whether you meant it that way or not.


And finally I just want to tell you how FABULOUS you all are.  I love this big old Blogofamily--such a friendly, inclusive group.  Makes this painful slog toward publication MUCH less painful than it might otherwise be.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Guest Blogger Margaret West

And here we are... back at approximating normal... I'd like to welcome Margaret West as a guest blogger today.  It looks like she's got a little eye candy and so chances are, you are going to find something you like.  She also has some excerpts to give us an idea about here writing, so dig in and enjoy!

 ***

Hi, it’s so nice to be here. Let me tell you a bit about myself first.

I’m an author..of course...but, I’m also a Clairknowing medium, Crystal Therapist, Parapsychologist and a Psychic Development tutor. I live in England and reside in the country, where there really are just cows and sheep milling about outside. I’m a romantic at heart. I married a man who is a true romantic too, so life is good LOL


My publisher is Eternal Press. I’ve got a few publishers for different things, but I intend to stay with EP for my novels for the foreseeable future. They are very author friendly and the other authors are very supportive.. It’s been a long hard road to get published, with many tears and enough rejection letters to paper my toilet, but I’m glad I’ve persevered.

I started my spiritual blog to separate it from my writing, yet now I have paranormal authors popping over to it for information they need for various writing projects LOL so maybe it’s supposed to be linked somehow!

I write Romance and Romance with paranormal elements. I like to try and incorporate my spiritual life into my work where I can. I don’t have huge sex scenes in my books, but there just has to be an element of seduction, otherwise it’s just plain boring!! My latest release, THE HEART OF A WARRIOR is about a Native American called Yuma and a nurse from the UK called Belinda. I based Yuma on about a 20 different characters I’ve seen and met. I have to tell you, I often sat and day dreamed about what he’d look like for real!! In the end I think I fell in love with him a little myself. LOL

Yuma’s culture means because he is a high ranking chief, he has to carry on his blood line. Where does that leave him and Belinda? In a right mess, that’s what. How can she fight traditions that date back hundreds of years. How can Yuma handle a sassy English woman, who is independent and never does as she’s told? Can Belinda put everything she knows behind her and embark on a whole new way of life. It’s a romance that’s fought in every page. You’ll be laughing and crying with this oddly matched pair.

Here is a small taster.

“Are you sure this thing can fly?” Ahiga said, staring out of the planes window dubiously.


Yuma laughed. “Of course, stop panicking; the trip will be an experience for us both.”


“I’m told there are more people in London than on our entire Res,” Ahiga said, buckling up his seat belt.


“I heard that too,” Yuma said, clicking his belt into place. “Can you imagine seeing so many Hogan’s piled in one place?”


Ahiga laughed. “I think it’ll be very crowded. I also think you should’ve tied your hair more modestly, Yuma. Your braids are causing a lot of attention. One woman almost fell over her case when you passed her.”


Yuma’s hand shot up to his braids. Fingering them absently, he’d never admit that he wore them because Belinda liked it this way. Her opinion mattered to him. It was important she saw the man she fell in love with and not a man who blended in with all the others. He was out of his environment. The outsider. He didn’t much like the
feeling as they taxied down the runway, Yuma sighed when he saw Ahiga grip the arms of his chair. “Now we’ll see if the plane can hold our weight,” Yuma teased.


“It had better. Otherwise Aponi will scatter your bones on the runway if you kill her fiancé.”


****


Ahiga grabbed his holdall from the revolving carousel of assorted luggage. He shivered as a cold draught blew in from behind it. “It’s colder than hell outside. We should’ve brought thicker jackets,” Ahiga complained.


Yuma pulled his bag from the carousel. The airport was huge and he was beginning to think the stories about the amount of people in London were true. “We need to go outside and get a black taxi. Harry said they are just outside the main doors.” Ahiga’s smile almost split his face in two. “I’ve always wanted to see inside one of them.”


“Don’t get too used to it,” Yuma laughed. “It costs a lot of money to travel in such luxury.”


“I’m not really good with the currency here. So if you don’t mind I’ll leave the money side of things to you.”


“And you think I understand it any better?” Yuma replied. As they walked through customs and towards the main door, Yuma was aware of the stir he and Ahiga were causing. Dressed in shiny cowboy boots, denims and a shirt, he thought they would blend in, but it was having the opposite effect. Maybe Ahiga was right, his shoulder length hair and coloured braids seemed to be causing too much attention. It was becoming embarrassing.

My next release is a short coffee break read called Two faces One Life. It’s based loosely on someone I know who fought for many years to overcome her disabilities and become a strong and empowered woman. Ted and Sarah meet by complete accident in a park. Both have devastating injuries. While Ted had learned to deal with his, Sarah believes her life is over and wants to die.

This has been called an inspirational romance. I’ll leave you to decide. I’m giving away a free autographed copy of this book. Everyone who comments will go into a draw for it. So please, do let me know what you think.

Here is an excerpt.

“How old are you?” Ted interrupted her thoughts.


“Eighteen,” she replied. “Why?”


“Because you sound…how can I put this? Well…you sound old before your time. As though you’ve all the worries of the world were balancing on your shoulders.”


“I don’t know what you mean,” Sarah snapped defensively. She couldn’t let him know about her burns. What if he got up and left? He was the first person, apart from her parents, who didn’t judge her on looks alone.


“Yes you do. Look, I know what it’s like to feel frightened and alone. Okay, we don’t know each other that well, but I’m always on this bench if you ever need a friendly ear. I’d like to think of you as a friend.”


Sarah felt her heart jump at the thought. “I could do with a friend right now.” She was surprised how much she was enjoying Ted’s company. “My friends don’t come and visit anymore.”


“Why? Is that why you were crying?”


“I wasn’t crying,” Sarah lied.


Ted sighed. “Okay, if you won’t tell me what’s wrong, tell me why you cringe back in the seat every time someone passes us.”


Sarah turned sharply and examined Ted’s face. She couldn’t see his eyes behind those dark glasses, but he must be blind. Why else would he have the white stick beside him? “How do you know that?”


“I’m blind, Sarah, not stupid. I can practically hear you squirming. My blindness isn’t a disease; you can’t catch it. You don’t need to feel uncomfortable.”


“Oh, no, I’m not bothered about that,” she protested. “It’s me… I mean, well, people stare at me. It makes me feel awkward.”


Ted moved to face her and fumbled for her hand until he found it buried in her lap. His face held a questioning smile, as he held it tightly.


“Okay. Now we’ve sorted out that, tell me why you sat next to me. This is a big park. There are plenty of other benches.”


Sarah was mortified. How could she say she sat beside him because he was blind? “Please don’t ask me,” she begged.

You buy these hereAmazon

View the trailers
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0JPoQwM8ok The heart of a warrior
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIm9H3lV61k&feature=channel Two faces One life


Well, thank you all for popping by. You can find me at
www.margaret-west.com
Writers Blog. http://Margaret-paranormalromanceauthor.blogspot.com/
Spiritual Blog. http://magsx.blogspot.com/
Facebook & Twitter: mwest

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dark Tart/Light Tart

Y'all have heard me grumble about my crabby hubby from time to time, yeah? You know he can be difficult? I had a big giant reminder this week as to WHY such a light hearted, happy-go-lucky gal as myself might choose such a person as a partner... let me e'splain...



Dark and Mysterious Leanings

I've mentioned before that though I am drawn a little like Barbie's flat-chested little sister, I prefer to think of myself as more of a Vixen, a Wench, a... yes, I'll say it, a TART. I don't CARE that I don't look the part, I crave sexy, naughty and shocking as part of my identity. I will NOT behave, and I refuse to let YOU without doing my darndest to make sure you know this other way is more fun. So there.

I even like a little DRAMA, though I prefer the variety that can be put on and taken off over the kind that sort of buries you.  Because over all, I'm relatively HAPPY, and like to stay that way...


Mistreating the Nice Guy

Since I don't look the part though (the Vixen-Tart), I have periodically attracted NICE guys. And here is where we get to my reminder...

I didn't really have a 'boy friend' in high school, per se—oh there were BOYS, and I went on dates, and there were the normal hanky-panky things, but the things that were emotionally serious, were NOT exclusive or monogamous. See, I was typically drawn to the BAD BOYS who didn't go in for that sort of thing.

Get to college and I met a very cute, very NICE boy who was interested in more, and it was a time when I was sort of craving something more committed. And it took, and we spent all our time together, and it was really pretty wonderful until my dark corners started demanding attention.  I'd learned some of my naughty lessons from those bad boys, and had internalized them...

Turns out if the PARTNER I choose isn't dark and dangerous, maybe I will make up for the fact. I wasn't very nice in the end... not admirable or worthy of someone who deserved to be treated better. That craving for drama? Oh yeah... I can create it.

I've mentioned I'm a collector, yes? If a person is ever in my life they are FOREVER in my life (including all of you--you know that, right?)—and it's true. At my wedding I had four exes of assorted seriousness. But until this week, this nice boy from college was the exception. He'd cut me off (and deservedly so). But this week, just when I was so irritated with Mr. Darkness, I got a friend request on facebook for the nice guy... reminding me conclusively why I NEEDED to be married to someone DARK. Because otherwise it would be me.



The Sane One

In my marriage there have been some lousy times (and some wonderful ones, but it is the lousy ones I'm writing about, as they are more pertinent to my point—yes, there's a point). I have sometimes wanted to fall apart—wanted to melt down or have fits. But you see, in a family, somebody has to be the SANE one. I've noticed, reading other people's blogs—hearing other people's stories, that SOMETIMES that sanity role falls on the kids and my heart goes out to those people—it isn't fair and is too heavy a burden. Thus far though, in my own life, I've managed to be the sane one.  Had I MARRIED the sane one, I might be the nut (or more likely the drunk)--whatever the case... it falls to me to create the BALANCE.



The Writing Outlet

I LOVE this idea in literature... sane people who suddenly have the leeway to fall apart... people who might otherwise fall apart but the situation demands they hold it together for a while... situational sanity interests me greatly.  As does the balance in a family... the character holding it together while things fall apart around her.

I also like that writing now affords me a channel for my darkness. I didn't used to have this on the same level (in fact with the college boyfriend I quit writing, as he wanted to READ everything and was very disturbed when the darkness showed), so I had to make up for it in LIFE, but NOW, I can just write the darkness. Not sure my hubby has gotten the message yet--that he no longer needs to be my darkness and can just be happy and nice now, but I see moments of sanity, so hopefully he will get there...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Taking Control!

Erm... Sort of.

It's funny how EVERYTHING is going along fine or EVERYTHING stinks, innit? [excuse me—I may borrow a little Taff here and there, as my friend Tara seems to be radiating...]   I mean for a while it's all hunky dory, then suddenly the will power is SHOT and you aren't writing, you aren't eating right, you aren't organized... sorry if I'm projecting here, but to me it seems like life is either relatively IN control, or TOTALLY out of control.

I blogged earlier this week about the 'funk'... a general malaise that was affecting my writing and my mood... well I think it ALSO was affecting the EATING, though last Saturday I pulled THOSE reins in (a full four days before pulling in the writing reins)... and you know what?

THE TART IS IN CONTROL AGAIN!

This week I remembered some things about doing what I need to do. The first is that, corporate giant or not, Nike has something with Just Do It. Just write. Just exercise. Just eat write. Just SKIP the whiny baby feel sorry for myself snacking... Just DO IT.

And it worked.

The writing pulled me out of the funk, and the eating right edged me off the plateau... no not a REAL plateau, because I was there because of not doing what I needed to, but I'd been there for pretty much six weeks. THIS WEEK, my highest weight was my weigh in last week. Before this, I had dropped below that, but only for a day at a time. Now it's solid. Weigh in this morning was only down half a pound, but DOWN, and this is the highest since last Saturday, so I think it is a fluky UP instead of a 'didn't really lose'--if you know what I mean.


Logline Contest

And so... as I stumbled around yesterday, I ran across this logline contest for a novel at the Time Guardian Blog...

Nathan Bransford, Quinetessential Boy Toy of the Agent world... okay, so he is probably also a utility model, but he's so darned CUTE... has suggested ALL OF US need to have three hooks in the form of ONE SENTENCE, ONE PARAGRAPH and TWO PARAGRAPH versions, so if we ever have an agent's undivided attention (say in the elevator), we are ready to pitch. Bryan (blog author and contest head) suggests the one sentence is ALSO what you want for when people ask about your BOOK—MOST are only asking to be polite, but it is STILL a chance to reel them in--if you're quick about it. So in one sentence, how would you describe your book? It's a handy exercise, so I thought I'd play.

I should probably give credit where due here, too. I ran across Bryan through Roland, who also has a GREAT blog... for all that full disclosure stuff... but anyway... I thought I'd give a shot at my sentence (we are allowed up to five because then we can get feedback on what works and doesn't).

So... if I might ask you to check out MY options and the other entrant options, and give some OPINIONS (I KNOW you have tons of THOSE)... Now these are off the cuff—not polished or worked on... just me trying to think of the different ways I start off describing my book... but feedback HELPS! You know how hard it is for me to get to the point!


1)Legacy begins with a young boy witnessing his father's murder and a young girl escaping her mother's drug dealer, and goes on to show what happens when children are left holding the explosive pieces of their parents' legacies.

2)It's about three families connected through a circle of thieves who are stealing art from Romania and selling it on the black market in the U.S.

3)It's about four kids: a runaway who is escaping an addicted mom and a trio whose mother was abducted and father murdered; they realize their families have always been entangled as they help each other stay safe.

4)Legacy is about what happens to children when they are left holding the explosive pieces of their parents' lives.

5)Legacy is about art thieves, runaways, drug addiction, and abduction, but mostly it is about what happens to children when they are left holding the explosive pieces of their parents' lives.

So there we have them... off the cuff a little, but my starting place, so worth the exercise, I think...


And THIS JUST IN

I've got a list of NINE (in addition to the Burrow who will be about that) wanting to participate in BuNoWriMo in June... let me know if you're in so I can makes sure you get all the info you need to join us! Writing a BOOK in June! WAHOO! (then you have all summer to polish for the September Query rush, because I hear MANY agents are just plain unavailable in July and August anyway, yeah? So what better timing?!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Schrödinger's Cat

I told you I'd been thinking about Schrödinger's Cat. I wasn't lying—I wouldn't lie to you! It's actually a sort of apt application, too, though FIRST: SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT!


I've drawn the winner from the giveaway last week and I'd like to congratualate Alica (Fire & Ice)! The light and journal are on their way!


And back to the story of the day...  erm... in a minute...

I think another explanation for my stress lately is the uncertainty of what the next few months will hold. It is this or that, and I won't know until I know... Let me e'splain...

To start off... feeling much better now... Why?

I have Powered Through

The Tart is in STREAM ROLLER form! Obstacles BAHAHA! You're NOTHING! Waiting? POO! I have all the time in the world! Editing? PISH! You don't scare me! I am WRITING!

I think I have all of you to thank for returning my attitude, and this Cracker song, my favorite of theirs, says it fairly perfectly:

I See The Light by Cracker

I'd really like to see you now
In your father's combat boots
I'd really like to be with you
'Cause we could be so dark


It was only for the grace of you
That I got this attitude
I'll show you my gratitude
When I make it through


I see the light at the end of the tunnel now
(I see the light)
Someone please tell me it's not a train
(Train, I see the light)
I see the light at the end of the tunnel now
(I see the light)
No time to speak, no time to explain


Sometimes I imagine you lying in your bed
Sometimes do you imagine too?
Do you sometimes lust
For the grace that others have inside?


The simple peace they make with life
They feel love like some summer's night
Well, I want it too

chorus chorus, blah blah blah (it doesn't really say chorus chorus blah blah blah, you know... it has more words, but they are mostly words already there... *deadpans*)



I love the idea of lusting for the grace that others have inside, the simple peace they make of life. Isn't that a lovely idea? It's like a big sexy Buddha or something.

And in case you're wondering what kind of twist I've gone around, I am practicing SELF TALK. So there... getting all philosophical and stuff... But the way I figure it, you guys REALLY helped pull me up day before yesterday.

Side Assistance

I've also been First Reading my way through some stuff for friends of mine and LOVE the process. When I do that, I become more objective in MY stuff. I notice things that aren't quite right—things about pacing or tension that I have a hard time spotting in my oh-so-familiar manuscripts, but coming back after the more objective read gives me distance.

I also also (yes, two alsos) took Jan's advice... hmmm... how to distinguish the Jans.... both Canadian, both tarts in their way... though I suppose only the one is OFFICIALLY a tart... Maybe I should go with province... Nova Scotia Jan wrote herself a letter of edits to make in the future... THAT allows you to stop worrying about it NOW because you won't forget (or stress about forgetting)... I adopted it and wrote... okay, so my version was more like a list... but it DID help to write it down... release the tension of this 'at some future date' editing project.


So where is the damn cat?

It's coming. You see, I have a PLAN! (a plan you say? I see some of you running away screaming. I know there are some pantsers out there, but I can't abide by pants. I need a PLAN) [never mind that I rarely follow said plan; it still makes me feel better to make one]


THE PLAN

1)  I have two ideas looming, but you KNOW my theory about stewing, yes? The ideas need to stew before they are properly fermented (because who wants to tell a sober tale, ne?) BUT writing SCENES before they are fully fermented actually HELPS this process. I am okay with the fact that these scenes are never recognizable in the final project. They still help me get to know my characters. So until I hear about the cozy (the answer of which is my Cat), I am writing SCENES.

2)  When I HEAR about the Cozy Gig, I reach the point where I know whether the cat is ALIVE (I get the gig) or dead (I don't get the gig). (see how it fits? I won't know whether it's alive or dead until... I find out. Until then, both the alive and the dead exist and I have to plan for them! *snort *)
*   If I GET the gig, I then write the cozy
*   If I DON'T get the gig, I then EDIT LEGACY until June 1

3)  (We're still on Schrodinger's cat—two versions, equally real (or unreal). Because until you know, you never know, eh?) But on BOTH FORKS, as of JUNE 1, the Burrow is doing a NoWriMo (BuNoWriMo)--and you are WELCOME to join us. Our reasoning is that November is a baddish month for anyone educationally affiliated (which is about half of my group if you count students, teachers and other academics)
*   So if I GET the gig, I am going to madly write the book I am SUPPOSED to be writing
*   If I DON'T get the gig, I am going to write the ghost story that is currently stewing.

4)  In JULY I edit. No matter what. The Cozy or Legacy. Then, whichever one goes to FIRST readers, and we get back to being cats.
*   In presence of Cozy, Legacy will be 2nd editing project.
*   In absence of Cozy, Deniability will be 2nd editing project.

5)August I get reader feedback and finalize whichever one is the next polished work for a September send out.

Probably that is as far as I oughta plan...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Stranger than Fiction

So I was power walking this morning, thinking about Schrodinger's Cat (I'm serious—come back tomorrow if you don't believe me). I get about ¾ of a mile from home and hear this 'crack!' or maybe it was a 'pop!' but hearing it over Greenday means it wasn't like... you know, a branch snapping or something, so I take out one head phone and listen. I hear it again. If I were a betting woman, which I'm not really—I prefer sure things-- I would have pegged it as a b-b gun or caps like my kids get for the 4th of July. I am alert though, because when I lived in Portland one morning, I actually saw someone shoot a gun—same time of morning from down the block, just like this seemed to be. That was LOUDER and I actually SAW the orange flash as it fired (I went around the block that time too).

You see BOTH TIMES I had to get PAST the spot of the action... anyway... caps seemed like teenagers, so I started up the block. I see a person—but from clear down the block, right? Then I hear yelling... okay, equation changes. I am brave enough to walk by a teen throwing caps, no matter how inappropriate at 5 a.m. I am NOT brave enough to walk into the middle of a confrontation. I turned around and went another block over.

I get up the block and see someone walking. He's banging a stick on the ground (or so it looks from a distance) and then he starts talking, so I slow down. I'm in shadow a little from the trees. I turn off my music and watch, and he goes past the street I'm on, so I keep walking. He gets maybe 20 feet up the street as I am approaching and a car comes along. He starts cracking what I now realize is a WHIP, yelling 'get out of my face!'  (sadly, nothing like THIS man)

The car (not apparently realizing this guy is INSANE) slows, but keeps coming, so the guy steps in front of the car and WHIPS IT. “Get out of my FACE!”

I scuttle quickly, but try to be as quiet and subtle as I can, across the street and HURRY up the next. The car, I see, pulls over (hopefully calling 9-1-1, because I don't HAVE a phone) and the guy back-tracks. He yells up the street I'm on, “get out of my face!” but by that point I am almost to the next block (very short blocks at this point, so I don't feel SAFE, but when I cross the next street I crest a hill, so will be out of vision, plus it's a slightly BUSIER street (though busy at 5 a.m. in Ann Arbor is relative) but I figure putting some distance and obstacles between me and this nut is a GOOD idea.


Now what would make a person behave this way? In my mind there are two answers, possibly working in conjunction. Schizophrenia or drugs. I know it's Delusional Thursday, but people who aren't ACTUALLY insane wait for a reasonable hour to begin their shenanigans. And to reassure you, I had NOT yet begun my delusions for the day.


But you know what? I did some character plotting (and wrote a prologue) last night for a story (read:  novel) I've been thinking about... and I HAVE a schizophrenic person in it... I am going to FREAKING USE the scene I just experienced! Ha! So THERE! Take that, crazy person who scared the crap out of me! You will make me famous! (okay, so maybe now the delusions have begun).

That said, y'all were RIGHT that writing would help pull me out of my funk. And the diaspora of looking at a true LUNATIC makes the nut I'm married to seem relatively harmless by comparison. HIS only delusions are the things he thinks I ought to be doing that I don't care to do. He is also behaving better though, too, so that helps.

Prologue is only 4 pages, but it feels good to have the set up going. My MC is a little chatty, which might be a challenge, as this will be my first book told from first person (she's making me). I think it will be fun to write though. I DO need to do some research on... you know... nuts... (hopefully I don't have to experience them all—not sure I want to deal with THAT, but universal forces can be strange that way).

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pay It Forward

Erm... but let me whine a bit first. *shifty* You may or may not have noticed, but I've been in a bit of a funk and nobody needs a Funk-Tart. It is multi-tiered and every level throws in its own noise.

First, I just returned from traveling, which throws my routine off. I dived RIGHT into edits that had to be turned around quickly for the cozy audition, so there was no real mental REGROUP. Then we get to the big stuff.

Last Thursday I was in a fair amount of pain (throat), was achy, possibly even fevered, and I had the kind of sinus thing going on that gives you a headache and slow drip (as opposed to plugging me up). I stayed home from work Friday, proceeding to sleep 12 hours, which knocked out the sore throat and aches, but the head stuff stayed (and the work pile mounted).

Then Saturday my husband's midlife crisis flared (he's been having this since he was around 27, mind you-but it comes and goes). When it's bad though, it's bad. He is smoking again, and I think experiencing a self-loathing that comes with FAILURE (never mind that they TELL YOU quitting takes practice, and in 22 years this is only the second time I've seen him try)--He was successful for 3 months and was feeling a lot of improvements. All shot. *sigh * I've asked exactly twice when he plans to try again, but acts like every time I see him I have nagged.

Oh, nobody does self-loathing quite like my husband can. It's a lovely 'give it back' kind of thing... not good after my illness, too busy, been gone thing.

THEN, I just realized part of the problem is I'm in EDITING mode, rather than WRITING. If I am writing, then every day I have an escape for a good 90 minutes into whatever story I am writing. When I am editing, I am stuck in the present. Have I expressed how I hate reality? Even my BLOGGING is in reality... partly because of being behind, so I missed a bunch (especially the prep time needed for several blogfests)... it's been sort of a dry week, with yesterday veering dangerously near the precipice of nasty...



But a few really great things have passed me this week, and I thought I'd share them with you.

First: Y'all know there is NOTHING better than Monty Python, right? And nothing CAMPIER than Star Trek, and this little number uses Monty Python to make Star Trek even sillier, and it makes me HAPPY!

Star Trek Meets Monty Python


Second: This fit my mood pretty darned perfectly because it is one of those CUTE, then so terrible that it's hysterical things (compliments of B. Miller that I found it)

How a fish almost destroyed my childhood


And finally, and this is probably my favorite: PAY IT FORWARD (also compliments of my buddy B.)

This Pay it Forward was a beautiful post by B. Miller about doing the right thing, and a CHALLENGE to all of us to Pay it Forward... do something nice NOT because you expect something back, but because if we all do, the world ends up nicer and ALL of us have more nice things happen... or so I look at this cosmic karma thing. I tweeted, I shared... but I also took it to my favorite people on the planet (yes, even before my children some days)--the Burrow.

We have a project in the works now, our July feature for our website: www.the-burrow.org. You see, about every other month we do a 'feature' where we all work together and create a project. Most reveal themselves slowly, inviting people to come back as the month progresses. In June, we are doing Alphabet Drabbles, largely in thanks to arleebird April Blogging A to Z idea.

Drabbles, for the uninitiated, are 'stories' in exactly 100 words. Mine are typically more slice of life or philosophy than story, because you know how hard it is for me to get to the point—STILL, it is a challenge of word economy and grammatical creativity sometimes. So in July, we are going to Pay it Forward. B. has even agreed to guest Drabble with us! (we're so excited!)

Adding to this, Kierah Reilly—a new twin of sorts (she and I are sharing geography if not timing) tagged me with her Pay it Forward Post in which she asked her followers to follow three people (me included!)--Her blog is GREAT, and I would LOVE it if you would return the favor, but I ALSO wanted to Pay it Forward.

I am doing two sets of three, because I have a couple long time friends who are relatively newer (or getting back to) blogging who I REALLY think you should follow. All of them are people I know because of Harry Potter... there are SO MANY of those...


Artistically Amy: Amy just finished her Master's Degree (MEd, I think), and is a TALENTED photographer. She is no slouch as a writer, so her blog is a fun mix of pictures and prose (typically prose about the pictures she's taken.
Awkward Book Girl: Bridge is a TALENTED young writer—she writes an emotional punch like nobody's business, and is brand new to blogging—her reflections thus far have been very sweet and entertaining.
And Bronx Tales and Inner Musings: Chary is one of my Burrow sisters, and her essays about her life and family often move me to tears. It's funny, of my fellow Burrowers, Chary is geographically closest, but she grew up in the Bronx, and so her life experiences are as opposite as this Idaho girl can find, yet they speak to me on every level. She's also got a special skill at writing really spicy stuff, if you'd help me talk her into it.


And THEN, I also wanted to recommend three blogs from people I've known far less long—blogs I love, people who've been incredibly supportive with comments.

Alex Cavanaugh 
Ella's Edge:
Alliterative Allomorph:



So, fine friends... go check these guys out... follow them if you will... and Pay if Forward!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Race Relations

Sometimes I feel compelled to dive into it—I'm not sure if it is a self-destructive streak, but the honest answer is... I don't get it and I'd love to have some intelligent feedback. So here we have a mini-rant, with a real life question... Please read patiently, as I fumble a little and don't want you to take away something different than I mean.

My kids' elementary school had some press while I was gone. I had no clue until I got back, but when I heard my husband's version of details, it didn't surprise me overly much... you see, there was a scientist of some sort (possibly an astronaut) visiting the area, and a 'lunch bunch' was invited on this special field trip and nobody else got to go... fine... bonded group who has had an investment... I'm okay with that... but the fact of the matter is the scientist was Black and ONLY KIDS WHO WERE BLACK got to go (it is completely beyond me that this lunch bunch would be only black—this is NOT a segregated school, and only about 20% of the kids are black—I suspect they are an economically disadvantaged group and lunch bunch is a euphemism for a little extra school help—but the OTHER kids in this group did NOT get to go). My issue here is such a hard one to articulate, because I am a SERIOUS advocate for the fact that society has wronged MANY groups of people for a LONG time and we have some making up to do—I am an advocate of affirmative action and believe the supreme court got it WRONG when they said race couldn't be considered—a case at the University where I WORK, so I am VERY familiar.

But I ALSO am a social psychologist who knows if the selection criteria is strictly racial you open the doors to criticism of ALL SORTS, and among elementary school students who don't really understand the full social implications of history, all THEY GET is one group gets to do something and THEY don't. It creates a huge division—a chip on the shoulders of the excluded. These poor kids were 'booed' on returning from this field trip that was supposed to be a special treat. THAT is not the legacy you want from an 'opportunity'--resentment from classmates? No thanks.


Some Situational History

Now this is the principal who was VERY willing to paint my (blond, blue eyed) son a BULLY when another kid LIED about him. This principal is, I think, too ready to SEE racism in a place I just am not willing to buy it is happening. As fourth graders the fact that my son and his friends used the term gang for their 'gang of friends' HE too to mean... you know... GANG... holy CRAP, this is Ann Arbor, Michigan. REALITY NEVER COMES HERE. Among these kids with highly educated parents, it is JUST A FREAKING WORD. Both my kids have friends from several racial groups, and at the moment BOTH have black best friends (my son's has been for years the same boy, so I don't see it changing). The principal, when accusing my son, actually seemed surprised to hear this FRIEND was the group 'leader' (being a charismatic guy) but happens to also LIKE everyone, so he is not the one to ever exclude anyone. It is perhaps my son's status as this boy's best friend that caused the jealousy that led to the lies... My POINT though, is I think if my son had brown skin, the principal would have cut him a break. I think the principal WANTED to see Sam as the bad guy—real easy—tall, handsome, good-looking kid... but he is a kid who NEVER lies and is almost always nice and considerate (and a straight A student). Yes, he has a low tolerance for jackasses, but we think we've finally taught him to hold his tongue on the topic, and he only EVER said, 'you're annoying, go away'--nothing ruder. (something that when most of US were kids was the correction needed to change behavior of said annoying child)

I KNOW as a GROUP we need to ensure institutional racism doesn't happen (or rather, STOPS happening, because it's REAL)—I am SO FOR THAT I can't even get it across—sheesh-I study HEALTH disparities for a LIVING, but I feel like this INDIVIDUAL is going too far with INDIVIDUALS to counter stuff. Well I guess he got busted.

And on some level, it is too bad. It sounds like it was a good opportunity, but it also sounds like it could have been handled SO MUCH better—ALL the lunch bunch included... or maybe all the FREE LUNCH kids, then let others 'pay' to go, if they could and wanted to.

I GET wanting role models for Black kids—successful scientists are a fabulous form of that, but if you are trying to convince me that white kids don't need to see successful black role models, you don't get it. I really HOPE that isn't how they see it (though I suspect maybe the principal misses this point). Instead what they saw was a black principal offering only black kids this special trip. The lesson ALL these kids need is ANYONE can do ANYTHING. I grew up in the Stephen Hawking era, and if a quadriplegic man can do the things he did, THAT is inspirational... not that this other stuff isn't—it is... I'm just saying you don't have to be LIKE somebody to be inspired, and to get the message ANYBODY CAN achieve high standards.

So there we are... mini-rant over. What is the answer? How do we balance giving kids from disadvantaged homes a leg up without creating resentment from other kids? How do we both acknowledge our miserable racial history and move past it at the same time. I KNOW the playing field has not been leveled—it may NEVER be, but... in a place with little racism, should the rules be different than in places where it is rampant? Was this principal RIGHT and I am missing it because he mistreated my son?

Anyone out there address race in your writing? I would LOVE to hear about that. I try to not be completely white with my cast, but my familiarity... ability to be authentic, requires that be diversity that includes whites, as I just don't think I could accurately portray the interactions without reflecting my own experiences, which have always included a white person...

So maybe we should end with a nice, diverse group hug...


And on a completely different note: thirty years ago today Mt. St. Helen's blew... 

 [<--this is a before and after shot] 

they'd been saying it was going to and watching it for quite a while, so THAT wasn't terribly surprising. What WAS surprising was the direction of the wind and the warning that Moscow, Idaho, some 200 miles due east, was going to get some ash falling... and did we. School was canceled for the rest of the year. We had to wear masks for a while, and it was the STRANGEST stuff—so incredibly soft to run fingers over. I have a few pieces of pottery that have been glazed with ash and they're beautiful, but it was very surreal to have it get dark in the middle of the day and have that strange stuff falling from the sky. I guess compared to what Iceland is doing to Europe it's not so much, though I would argue the primary difference is in population density—the entire state of Idaho has maybe as many people as Cardiff... In fact it is so SPARSELY populated, that if you walk in the deep woods by the lake where my grandparents used to have a cabin, you can STILL kick up ash from under the fern leaves because nobody else has been there in the last 30 years.

So there you have it...

Monday, May 17, 2010

Guest Author James C. Wallace II

Hello, fine friends!  And welcome to my 300th post... seems like they ought to give me some sort of present for that, doesn't it?  Ah well...  I will have to go with enjoying a guest author, which is a fine present.  James seems to have everything well in hand, so I will turn it over to him!

Welcome, James!

~~~~~~~~~~~~

In celebration of the 154th birthday of Lyman Frank Baum, Royal Historian of Oz and author of
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,
The Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma is proud to present

Volume 2 of the Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy:
Shadow Demon of Oz
.

Front & Back Cover Art by Dennis Anfuso

Authored by James C. Wallace II, who was proclaimed by Her Majesty and Royal Sovereign of Oz, Princess Ozma as the Royal Liaison, Shadow Demon of Oz is the continuing story of Jamie Diggs, great-grandson of the original Wizard of Oz and his journey to become the Royal Magician of Oz.

It was in the early month of Spring when the old humpback trunk of O.Z. Diggs, the original Wizard of Oz was opened by his great grandson, Jamie Diggs,
revealing a magical heritage lurking within.Following in the footsteps of his great grandfather, a young boy named Jamie pursued the ways of magic and soon found himself transported to the magical Land of Oz where, alongside Dorothy, he faced his greatest fears and the fearsome
Army of Trees in defense of the Tin Woodman.Now the young magician is called to return to the Land of Oz to take his place as the new
Royal Magician of Princess Ozma; Ruler and Sovereign of Oz.
And for his first Royal Command, Princess Ozma sends her Royal Magician and his best friend Buddy off to battle the Evil Shadow Demon and save the Hyups of Mount Munch.

Shadow Demon of Oz is available through Scientia Est Vox Press at:

https://www.createspace.com/3443392


Royal Magician of Oz Trilogy
Volume One: Magician of Oz
Front & Back Cover Art by Dennis Anfuso

New characters and creatures abound in the old Land of Oz while many of the old characters we know and love make their appearance in this newest tale of fantasy, adventure, truth and friendship in a familiar,
yet not so familiar world of Oz.
There's the Leader of the Sycamores, the Gnarled Scrub Oak,
the Flowering Plum tree and the Council of Trees.All of these magical and strange characters prove quite the challenge for
a young magician who finds himself in a strange and wonderful land.

Of course, we also get to meet Dorothy and Ozma, Glinda and the Tin Woodman, as well as Toto, Bungle the Glass Cat, Billina the Hen and numerous other beloved characters from
L. Frank Baum's original tale of wonder and magic.


Magician of Oz is available through Scientia Est Vox Press at:

http://www.amazon.com/Magician-Oz-James-C-Wallace/dp/0578023539/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246224375&sr=8-1

Who is the Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma?


James C. Wallace II, originally a native of West Virginia, currently lives in Terre Haute, Indiana with his wife Amanda. They have been married more than 26 years, with a herd of 5 children and 12 grandchildren. His background covers nearly 26 years in children's education, including experience working for the world's largest children's museum; The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where he was the Planetarium Educator for SpaceQuest Planetarium. In addition to children's books about Oz, he is recognized by NASA as a leading developer of web-based educational games, educational exhibit design, curriculum development and implementation. In addition, he is involved in the DiscoverHover program, which is an educational program developing and utilizing hovercraft in a unique and fun way. He now serves as the Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma, Sovereign Ruler of Oz and endeavors to fulfill her royal command to tell the tale of her newest Royal Magician to the children of the Great Outside.

James C. Wallace II; Royal Liaison to Princess Ozma can be found at:

Facebook: James C. Wallace II
or
Facebook: Magician of Oz

Twitter id: magicianofoz

email: magicianofoz@hotmail.com

Front & Back Cover Art for Magician of Oz & Shadow Demon of Oz
courtesy of Dennis Anfuso.

More information about the artist can be found at:


http://dennisanfuso.com/

Logo Art for Shadow Demon of Oz by
The Good Witch of Haute
Suzi Overton

More information about the artist can be found at:

Facebook: Suzi Overton

All content courtesy of Scientia Est Vox Press; 2010