Thursday, July 30, 2009

Walk this Way! Imprinting

As promised, here is part 2... One of my earliest friends grew up with a Biology professor for an father. She had some amazing experiences--the 12 foot freshwater fish tank in their living room, a skunk baby with the stinker removed… but I think my favorite is the duck who imprinted to her. At their house was a duck egg, and she watched it hatch, and that duckling proceeded to follow her everywhere… I suppose it isn’t such a stretch that a woman who weighs the same as a duck would imprint like one. It’s an odd skill… this mimic thing… but I do have a tendency to pick up some quirks from whomever I’m reading at the time I’m writing something. It’s not intentional, and I never copy actual contents or characters. But when my Digressionista, Mari, read CONFLUENCE, she observed something. “You know, the way you write some of these relationships reminds me of Amy Tan in the Bonesetter’s Daughter.” Now I haven’t read Bonesetter’s Daughter, but I was reading (slowly, and therefore through large sections of writing) Saving Fish From Drowning as I wrote CONFLUENCE. That isn’t to say I don’t have my own style, because in spite of it, I’ve been told a number of times, that no matter what genre I’m writing, my stories feel uniquely ‘Me’ (significant shortening pains, notwithstanding). So what is this ‘imprinting’ I seem to do? Does everybody do it? I sort of think it is like the way vocabulary creeps into the language of teens. If you hear something a certain way a couple times, it starts to seem like the way it ought to be said. I think my psychology background and people observation passion give me the ME flair (along with a certain playfulness that always comes through in a character or two) but the actual diction, I believe, may just be a function of participating in the human race, and I can’t see that as completely a bad thing.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Walk this Way! RUUUUUULES

There are only so many points at which Aerosmith intercepts Monty Python, and being one of them, I decided to play on another, as it gets at several themes that relate to writing. Since each is sort of it’s own thing, I will cover them over a couple days…
People who know me personally may be aware that I have authority issues (and deep suspicion of anyone who DOESN’T). So in my diligent reading of all the advice out there on how to get published, every RUUUUUULE (be sure to sneer that every time you see it) I see chaffs my tender nudist skin. Never do this. Always do that. I don’t allow ANYTHING that has this. Well Poo, I say! Poo! Okay… maybe only poof. Because the fact of the matter is, if an agent has a rule, and I don’t follow it, I can just cross them off my list.
BUT, I’ve studied the devious ways of following RUUUUUULES, and know that there are leaders who get it and people who don’t. A hard-a…bdominal master who has a bunch of RUUUUUULES because they love power, is NOT going to be my kind of playmate anyway (unless I can dress him in lingerie and make him dance like I like). So I will find the agents out there who are Ministers of Silly Walks. I mean, sure, everybody has STANDARDS, but at least some people can make fun of them, get creative, and do a silly side skedaddle into place (an more importantly, will award me points for creatively following them, rather than blindly brown nosing my way in.)

Channeling J.K. Rowling

My first awareness that J.K. Rowling and I were sharing a brain came in early 2006 when one of my Other Prince readers pointed out that Orion (Sirius’ dad) and Cygnus (the Black sisters’ dad) were not brothers, but cousins according to the Black family tree. I frowned and followed the link to the newly released tree, then proceeded to point out I’d named BOTH characters the RIGHT name before the tree was released. Who could have predicted Jo would have Orion marry his first cousin (eww…) who was Cygnus’ sister. Now granted, all the Blacks have star names, and there are only so many star names that make good people names, but I named two important ones the right thing… made me feel pretty darned omnipotent! And then I wrote a (WACKY) version of book 7 called Best Laid Plans (sometimes go awry) that oddly enough had dozens of accurate predictions. Jo actually wrote in nudity and cross dressing, SURELY in honor of me. Here’s the list: if anyone is curious… What I would love to be able to channel though, what I admire most about the Harry Potter books, is that there is a different story for every kind of reader, all nestled in and not interfering with each other. There is the fantastical, magical world, complete with vocabulary for us word-geeks. There is the classic, good versus evil story (with believably flawed heroes). There is the coming of age love story. There is the search for one’s identity. There is the layered ‘can’t always trust the people in charge’ message. There is the masterful use of foreshadowing and mythology that gave thousands of people clues not even in the books as to what might happen next—a search through Veela folklore predicted disaster at Bill and Fleur's wedding, and Jo delivered. Complex characters (who could have predicted Narcissa helping Harry? erm... besides me, of course...), madness, mayhem: it’s all there. My goal is to write something that complex, yet so simply understandable and followable. So Jo, if you’re paying attention… maybe now would be a good time to channel yourself through me again. Anyone interested in my Potterverse exploration can find all my links here:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From Platform 9 3/4

I am dedicating a couple days to Harry Potter related stuff, as… well… you’ll understand if you read… Who was it who suggested that we begin at the beginning? Bilbo Baggins? Winnie the Pooh? I swear I can hear Pooh say it. And far be it for me to dismiss a silly old bear without his due consideration and poke in the belly. I suppose the beginning for me, though I didn’t know it at the time, was when my daughter (then 6) brought home Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone from her school library. I was sucked in from the start, to JK Rowling’s humor and way of putting things, and after I’d put my daughter to bed, I closeted myself away with the book and fell in love. Santa brought us the first three of the series for Christmas, and the Goblet of Fire followed on my next trip to Sam’s Club. We had to wait for the 5th, which at that point was only marginally hard, but Order of the Phoenix made me a die-hard fan, forever and inexorably. Photobucket In 2005 I joined a fan site (HPANA) and sought out the community forums to find other fans to discuss the books with. I found a place called the “Wizard War” dedicated to predicting what would happen in the next two books. There I met not nameless people, throwing out ideas and disappearing, but real people who visited daily, with well thought out ideas, personalities (and quirks), silly banter… an online family of sorts. And a lot of silliness ensued. Without them, though, I don’t think it ever would have occurred to me to dig as deep, explore as far, connect as many dots… and without that, I don’t think I ever really would have understood what was required to write. Photobucket Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always written, but before this it seemed a muse-inspired random occurrence, like getting hit by lightning… sometimes it just happened. But that isn’t how it is. It is, in reality, a list of a lot of pieces that all need to fit, that can be connected through the puzzle of prose. A broad outline of main events, sprinkled with details, and then connected through the relationships of the characters becomes a book. I tried my hand at this first with a story called The Other Prince. I had a theory that Lord Voldemort required all Death Eaters, as initiation, to kill their own fathers. I decided to explore it through Eileen Prince (Snape), who I imagined went to school with Tom Riddle. And amazingly, I found a readership, but more amazingly, I finished my first ever very long work (it runs about 200 pages) and was sucked into writing for life. So I just need to thank those Wizard Warriors who pulled me in, and helped me understand what went into a true book, and my earlier readers (Tara, you’ll always be my first!) and the seed planters who encouraged me to write something entirely original (Natasha, this one’s on you). And Cheeser-when I get my book contract, I promise to become a site supporter rather than a moocher… *sniffs*

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Run for the Castle Aaaaagggggghhhhh

Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail is my favorite movie EVER, but the ending is a little frustrating… that last scene where they are running at the Castle Aaaaaaagggggggghhhhh and each time it pans away, then back to the runners and they are back where they started. I’m feeling a lot like that at the moment. It’s not that I am uber-eager to have the French dump their poo on my head, but I keep running, and running, and running, and every time I think I’m getting somewhere, the camera pans away and I am back at the beginning. What I am referring to is this editing process. I publish scientifically, so I am completely aware… content even… with the idea that works take a few rounds of editing before they are quite ready. I finished my book in October and began immediately editing in the things from a notebook I’d been keeping to ‘check on’ or ‘add later’ (usually earlier hints at stuff I wrote in later that couldn’t come out of the blue). Then in November I started my ‘typo/grammar check’ editing. In December I began my first read through, rewriting portions. So we are at what? Five? At least at Arthurian counting. Then at the end of January I sent the book to three members of my writing group for feedback and sat back to start a different work for six weeks. Feedback came and I began yet another round of rewriting/editing. Then I polished it and thought I was done, only to learn 200,000 words is IMPOSSIBLE for a first time author to get published--that only established best-sellers get to do that, and that agents likely were seeing the number and pressing ‘form reject’--not even looking at my hook. So on to the SHORTENING rewrite. I have finished that and begun polishing again, only to hear ‘no longer me’ stylistically… Do you see me back there? Running for the castle yet again, from WAY back at the place I finally emerged from the cave with the Beastie? URRRGHHHH! But I began yesterday with chapter one, looking at the hard copy I used in shortening, and deciding line by line whether removals changed style or not. Only a few of them did, in my opinion. And when I was done the chapter was shortened by 1200 instead of 1500--so ALMOST as good… (down to 18 pages, rather than 17). I’m not sure if it will work, but I think the plan is to go with this and round down… it is page numbers that really matter anyway, ne? And maybe some day the whole thing will get to be published in its entirely--when I am famous and all… For now though, I am just eager to get close enough to be taunted a second time.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Naked Thursday


Since I’m not allowed to start Naked Thursday in the Common room, I figured maybe I could try it here now and again. Since it’s my first Naked Thursday in the Confessory, I am just going to throw a little party for some of the people who have helped, encouraged and kept me going, writer-wise.

I have to start with my writer’s group—The Burrow ROCKS. I LOVE these people.


Here are 5 of us in Cardiff last August, I’m in the middle, but make no mistake, that is MY big brown beer at the front.


And the same batch at our B&B with our Hogwart’s scarves, knitted by Leanne because she ROCKS (the same Leanne of the buff puff quill that is doing my post polish sparkle on CONFLUENCE).

And to prove these are the funnest people in the whole world… (because funnest IS a word when we are involved)


Here we are set to go to our French Taunting.

This is only five (and I recognize in that last picture, to get five, you have to count like King Arthur) of the thirteen of us, but these fabulous people are the core that keeps me encouraged, has the guts to tell me when something doesn’t sparkle like it should, and have been editing and advising, each to her own strength as I make this journey.

So Ladies (er… and Jason).. THANK YOU!

And Joris—special thanks to you too for always being my graphical go-to guy, whether it is a book cover or Lucius in drag I am looking for.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t also thank the FABULOUS people who have read and encouraged my fan fiction stuff (at HPANA: screen name Gnargles&Snorkaks). The format, posting, instant feedback, chatter—mostly about cross dressed death eaters, my naked world domination tour, and innuendo, led to confidence, belonging, and… obligation… I couldn’t stop what I’d started and thereby learned to finish… the last step in a first draft, and something I had never before accomplished.

And then I have a new couple batches to thank… my real life friends who have been so encouraging since I ‘came out’ as a writer, and the established writers who have been so helpful and encouraging as I transition from ‘pre-published’ *snort* to published.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

After the Climax

Should I bask in the afterglow? Or is it better to sneak out while the memory still has him breathing heavy? Is he asleep now, anyway? (Is the preference gender specific?) In my process of shortening CONFLUENCE I recently did some serious analysis of my last chapter. Some of it is totally necessary to how things end up, but a lot of it was the tidying up of ‘what happened to so-and-so’. Do I mention the trial? Do the bad guys go to jail? Does the nut get therapy? What is the best way to end things? Is all that matters that it’s OVER, or is there a need for some closure? My son is ten and I still read with him almost nightly. We’ve read some GREAT books together and there is a noticeable trend. He is COMPLETELY uninterested in the prologue and the epilogue. Just read the book, mom! You see, he doesn’t consider the prologue or epilogue as part of the story. I, on the other hand, want the juicy set-up of the prologue. I love that anticipation of where it will fit in. I like to get a little tingly before dive in. And I want the tie-up of the epilogue, maybe just to make sure the Author really remembered all the plot strands, but I definitely want to know how it REALLY ended up. I don’t know whether these preferences are his maleness, or his ten-ness (or my femaleness or forty-somethingness), or if they are just stylistic preferences. It DOES, however, offer a solution to my own dilemma. I’ve pulled out the extraneous stuff from the last chapter and put it into an epilogue. The people who don’t want it, don’t have to read it—their story will be complete without the pesky aftermath of who is supposed to call whom, but those of us who prefer he spend the night spooning us, will have the option. I’d love to hear others’ preferences on how a book ends!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Silk Sheets

For my birthday my husband bought me (read: us) new sheets. They aren’t literally silk, but they have a 500 thread count, which I didn’t know existed. They were half price and STILL cost twice as much as I’ve ever spent on a set of sheets. I’ve often told him he has Nordstrom tastes and a Penney’s wife--a point that is important because his Penney’s wife is not only CONTENT there, but that’s all she can afford, as the primary wage earner… but I digress. The metaphor actually hit me as pertinent to my writing. You see, these sheets are REALLY nice. They are smooth and soft, and feel nice to wrap myself in (critical as a naked sleeper). But the second night I slept in them, my toenail caught… then caught again. The next night, the bottom of my feet. (yuck, right? What’s up with that?) I have since been filing and pumicing to be adequate for my sheets. Seems an awful lot of work, just to go to bed. (The metaphor starts, when?) I’ve been writing for what, 30 years? Journals, letters, poetry. For the first 25 I was very private about the matter. My journaling and poetry were nearly never shared, the letters only with the intended (except my kid at college series--those went to my whole extended family and are admittedly entertaining). There were novel starts--one 250 pages worth, but not shared, except conceptually. Then 4 years ago, I came out as a writer with fan fiction stuff--just to prove some outrageous Harry Potter theories initially, but the response was good. My writing was liked. And as I worked, I went from the private ‘burlap worthy’ to a handy practical cotton--maybe 150 count. I had an audience who liked me. But this novel thing is different. I’m not asking people just to read and enjoy. I’m asking them to PAY for it. I have upped the ante. My fan fiction stuff has always been edited and proof-read, but not rewritten. I’ve never even had it beta-read, because honestly, for the format, my journalism degree is adequate. The quality is as good as other beta-read fan fiction. But as I go through the editing, rewriting, shortening, editing again process with the novel, I’ve realized something. There are still some rough patches. I need to get out my file and my pumice stone if I am to enter this elite world. I need to be worthy of sliding into the smoothness if I hope for it to embrace me, rather than just making me feel inadequate. But that’s what I plan to do.

Friday, July 17, 2009


I added labels yesterday and it occurred to me an had only a single post that included content, and a DIFFERENT post that included a writing sample, so I decided to pull a piece in that was sort of exciting but didn't give much away. This is from Chapter 8. “Pledge, we have business with you!” Kurt yawned and said, “sir, yes sir.” It had taken a lot of pounding on his dormitory door to wake him. The pounding had entered his dreams and played a role until now. He had squinted at the clock, 5:30 a.m. They led him through his hall, clad only in boxer shorts and a t-shirt. Doors opened as his hall mates peeked out to see what the racket was about. He descended the stairs between four masked men, though he recognized it for hazing, so he wasn’t actually afraid. Outside, the cold cement nipped his bare feet and the hairs on his legs bristled, erect. He was pushed into a covered pick-up bed between three other bodies. They all lay face down as they’d been pushed in. The pick-up bed closed and the engine rumbled as somebody drove. “Who else is here?” He whispered. “Quiet Pledge!” Kurt cursed himself for his mistake. Apparently a senior member was riding in the back with them. He wouldn’t make the same mistake again. They drove on for a long time. The road wound slowly down a long hill then flattened as they drove in the winding darkness. As they climbed out, they were blindfolded. With difficulty, they were marched up a steep path. There was the unmistakable sound of a generator, masking the sound of water. Then they were corralled into something metal that didn’t feel particularly stable, but once inside, there were benches. Kurt kept bumping people as he found his place along the bench, the ground below him swayed uncomfortably and then there was a lurch. Movement in one direction was added to the swaying. Kurt decided they were in some sort of gondola. He thought of the ski lifts near his home, but this wasn’t rising quite that sharply and felt too rickety; it was definitely older. Then the gondola jerked to a stop and they were slowly herded out. The water sound here was louder away from the generator. Where he stood though, felt rocky. They followed a sandy path and then they were told to stop and stay still. What followed was a sweet, smoky smell that Kurt was relieved wasn’t marijuana. He’d hate to be a blind prisoner of a bunch of high people when they were apparently on rocks by a river. After a short while he felt himself herded into a stark coolness that allowed no light at all to filter under his blindfold. “Hold out your right arm and move until you feel the wall.” Kurt did as commanded. “Now walk until you are told to stop.” The wall was rock, unfinished rock. Kurt knew this was a cave. He liked caves, but he hoped his captors were familiar. Caves could hold undesirable surprises, and he didn’t want to meet one while he was blindfolded. They were told to stop about forty steps in and Kurt heard a scraping, like the sliding of wood against rock. They were then made to crawl through an area with a low ceiling, and finally they were told they could stand and take off their blindfold. Not that it helped. They were in pitch blackness. “Hold perfectly still.” There was a very faint whistle and then a rustling. It felt as if they were in the midst of an autumn storm, leaves whipping their faces. One of his fellow pledges screamed and thrashed at his head, an activity that apparently made things worse, as his screeching grew more frantic, but then it stopped and they walked again. They followed a complex system of turns and finally arrived at a dimly lit room with a cage. They heard another mechanical noise, so loud it nearly overwhelmed him. When a rudimentary lift arrived, Kurt understood. They all climbed on and descended the equivalent of several floors. Once they were off the lift, Kurt observed the white dripping walls. They walked down a tunnel and were forced into boats which crossed the strange, white lake that radiated cold much stronger than the cold of the cave. They got out of boats and went down a long, winding tunnel, until they came to a large open ‘room’. Masked faces stood about in a small circle and the pledges were moved inside the ring.
Kurt had to admit the effects were pretty wicked. Candles gave a flickering light that caused leaping shadows. The pledges were on their knees in a circle and in the center was a small urn of some sort with aromatic smoke seeping from small holes in the sides. A figure stepped forward in a horned mask. He seemed to glow. He asked each of them in turn, “why do you wish to pledge Kappa Upsilon?” He then began in a different place and asked each “what do you value most?” And finally he asked, “What is your greatest weakness?” This last was asked with a menacing voice and Kurt, transfixed but unbelieving, said, ‘Cynicism.” Another figure then stepped forward with a small ceramic bowl full of some paste. He smeared some under each of their noses and Kurt felt immediately light headed.
The figure who had stood at the front of the room, completely still, began to speak in another language. Kurt thought it might be Greek, but he wasn’t sure. Then another figure stepped forward and put a card face down in front of each of them.
He told them all to turn their cards over. Kurt saw it was a tarot card, the hanged man. He was still questioning the meaning when all went black.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Must Be a King

“He hasn’t got sh*t all over him.” I’m just going to grumble a bit about being covered with the muck myself… my complaint… them with resources, gots opportunity… Photobucket Case in point: Attend conferences. It is a strong recommendation for networking in the pre-published stage of a writing career, which I’d like to think I am. The problem? The day job. The family. And the lack of money to pay for conference, hotel or eating out. You see… I’m the only wage earner in my family right now. Michigan’s economy has been in recession since 2001 and I’m just darned lucky to HAVE a job. So physical conferences are an impossibility. [I throw out a HUGE thanks to Elizabeth for alerting me to the existence of online writer’s conferences, and I plan to make use of them once I can research a little which are most appropriate for me.] Issue #2: Know your market. I need to confess that I get 95% of my reading material at the library. I just can’t afford to buy brand, spanking new books very often. I reserve the honor for the rare books I will read several times through. I LOVE books, and I read as much as I can fit in (between the job, the writing, the family…) so mostly just on my commute—still, about 90 minutes a day. It just isn’t CURRENT. Issue #3: Time. I’ve listed my time suckers already, but there are other things that require time. The blog I like, so it’s not too tough to steal half an hour I can call a lunch hour for that. But researching ‘books in my genre’, agents, reading all the industry and writer info out there (this one I ALSO like, but have little time for). It just takes a lot of time I don’t have. What it all leaves me is fantasizing about a some day when I am only a writer for my job, when I can split my work day between writing and networking, instead of having to take out that bothersome trouble of spending 9 hours answering to the people responsible for my paycheck. But I have now read enough to think… this takes a while… no day job bye-bye until I hit BIG which may not be for several books, if ever… So I just felt compelled to throw a little pity party… tantrum over… I would LOVE to know though, what the norm is for published authors… How many books that are how successful does it take before a person can give up supplemental income?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Holy Hand Grenade!

Religion can be a very touchy topic because people hold their beliefs… well, religiously… I am wondering… and perhaps working through my thoughts, on religion in literature here. Before I get into it, I should probably say I respect anyone who holds sincerely to any set of beliefs that does not harm others and is not practiced in judgmental ways (anyone gets holier than thou, though, and all bets are off). I respect it even MORE if people have done some questioning and searching and by that ARRIVED at (or confirmed) their faith. But I am not one. One what? One anything. My spiritual beliefs are very personal and it was my own journey that got me here and organized religion isn’t part of the place I arrived. I am skeptical of group-think and deeply suspicious of any faith that believes they are right and everybody else is wrong. So that is where I am coming from. That said, I LOVE literature that does some questioning of the status quo, whether the conclusion is faith or doubt. Poisonwood Bible is one of my favorite examples of this, a missionary family in the Congo… the primary message is of errors in translation. What works for some may not make any sense at all to others. I loved DiVinci Code that looked into secret sects and strange practices and the roles played by those who had an agenda in defining history. Religion and conspiracy theory make brilliant bedfellows. But where is the line? Who does a writer risk alienating. Both of the above books found huge readerships, but I suspect the former and know the latter had protests from devout groups. How large are those groups and does the controversy hurt or help in the long-run. In my journalism program we learned in the end any publicity is good publicity because it makes people remember and want to know. My first memory of Harry Potter was the supposed controversy from religious protesters. It made me want to read them, to be honest (and having read them, made me believe those nuts miss the whole point of literature—I know for a fact there are a lot of religious people who LOVE those books, because they are classic good vs. evil books based in fantasy, so it really WAS only a subset of nuts). I can’t stomach ‘inspirational’ literature, and I think there is a lot of ‘Christian lit’ that has no real plot because the only point is ‘saved by faith’. I very strongly believe a religious experience is not an adequate substitution for a conclusion. That said, literature about real life that ignores the role religion plays for many people can feel hollow. It’s a reality in many people’s lives and so to write multidimensional people, we can’t ignore it. With CONFLUENCE religion is important to the setting because I have a town somewhat split between the scientific and religious factions (demonstrated in stem cell controversy). It was useful to me to create tension and plays a role in where the story goes. It may rub the extremely religious the wrong way, but it was an important element to the mood of the story. So how do we walk the line? Are there differences by genre? Seems to me romance and mystery can ignore the subject. Are there clichés to avoid? Are there risks I’m not seeing? I would really love to hear what people have to think on the subject.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Weighs the Same as a Duck

This blog, unlike most, is more of a rant on how people should and should not act, with nothing to do with writing. I should probably confess that in spite of a theoretical belief in equality, I often actually feel I belong to the superior sex. Women cooperate instead of posturing. We are compassionate and helpful. We’re observant and communicative. We make better friends, for the most part because we can just listen instead of trying to FIX IT. But I had a lesson this weekend that brought home some ugly truths. Our sidewalk was lined with half a dozen bicycles and their respective boys tossed water balloons, filled buckets, squirted hoses, and held an all out war of the most enjoyable kind; my daughter was in tears. “It’s happening again, mom.” “It” being the plight of 14 year old girls. Backstabbing. Two girls, each a good friend, get together when one isn’t present and share a bunch of mean, rotten things, sometimes real frustrations, sometimes exaggerated crimes, sometime fictitious slander. My daughter had been at a friend’s house. Said friend ran an errand with her mother and my daughter waited, as she and the girl had plans. My daughter opened her laptop to get online while her friend was gone and found a conversation. Should she have looked? No. But when you open a program to see your name, I dare ANYONE to close it again without reading. The problem is, this isn’t the first time—(different friends, making this more devastating—is there no one trustworthy?) Nor, sadly, will it be the last. Fourteen year old girls (±2 years) are horrible about feeding off of each other, getting each other going, and becoming nasty gossips. So I am offering some rules to live by. I don’t ascribe to “if you can’t say anything nice…” and I don’t really ascribe to “honesty is the best policy…” They both have merits, but miss the point. If something is bothering us to a point where we are angry and frustrated (friend #1) we either need to talk directly to the person and resolve it, or GET OVER IT (some 62 year old mothers could benefit from this too). Now this DOESN’T mean ‘her hair bugs me, I need to confront her’—that is something that is none of my damn business. Too much honesty is really just an excuse for meanness and I can’t condone it. But not being able to say it when it is interfering with a friendship means somebody needs some work in communication skills. What NEVER solves the problem is going behind the back of someone you are angry with and talking to someone ELSE. It comes back to bite all parties concerned without fail. Secret communication is NOT. Anything SAID can’t be UNSAID. And the worst crime of all? Flat out making shit up. Anyone who has to resort to making up stories about somebody to feel better about themselves should just go crawl in a hole (you know who you are). It’s never okay. So, weighing the same as a duck and all, I am sending out fair warning to anyone out there with future plans to backstab, gossip or lie… I’m calling it the karma curse—what you send out WILL come back to you. Nobody messes with my kid. Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Accio Mojo!

So I have another super secret obsession besides Monty Python and writing, and I believe I’ve just given it away (though only to people who have also imbibed), but what I wouldn’t do for some mojo about now. Actually, I’m not sure it is lack of mojo so much as excess of life hassles. The shortening of CONFLUENCE (now below 170K) has interfered for a couple weeks now with my writing, so that IS a mojo matter, but now I am suffering major computer problems at home. The desk top, never great… a lemon among computers, chosen by the single member of my family who doesn’t use computers because he thought he was being helpful… has always had trouble, but recently succumbed to the big daddy of malware--the virus that attacks anti-virus stuff. AGGGGHHHHHHH! But I did a hard drive recovery and immediately put on new and improved Malware defeating stuff and scanned and rid the computer of an army of Trojans. More critically though, my lap top keeps freezing and every trick I’ve found on line seems to fail to stop the problem. I’ve got CONFLUENCE saved on a memory stick, but it is really throwing me off to not be able to count on the trusty laptop that has seen me so far. Finally though, an idea that had been nagging at me, a bizarre world young adult story thread in which I’d written a ‘hook’ but no more flushed itself into not just a book, but a series this morning. I’ve got a detailed outline for book 1, story ideas for 4 more, and character details for the four characters who will be almost sole actors in the first book (other than family, and because they are teens, a few peers). It’s a good idea. It draws on my Psychology background and what seems to be my primary M.O. otherwise (stuff that SEEMS paranormal or fantasy but in reality is something plausible and real). I’m excited about it. It has me writing again, which my Mystery novel I was working on seemed not able to do while I was in edit mode. I like the teen voice and teen problems, and I think I may be able to make a go of it. I’m pretty sure it will be an easier sell than CONFLUENCE, if only because it is easier to describe and is potentially a franchise… Wish me luck!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Death to the Adverb!!!

Very Simply Shortly Barely Nearly Briefly Almost Really GONE. While we’re at it, to hell with perception!!! It seemed She felt He believed And kill those linking verbs! Is Am Was Were Are Be Being Been Looks Appears Seems Becomes (did I really have 60 of these memorized in grade school?) Oh, and those verb tenses!!! Ne’er again will past perfect be seen!!! EASY tenses! I suppose on the up side... strike that... The benefit (2 words, rather than 6)... it is forcing me to choose more precise verbs and take a stronger voice, so paring down isn’t all bad. And I suppose as a dedicated nudist, I should appreciate the story stripped to essentials. If I have to remove a limb though, I’m going to be mighty miffed (even though I can't suppose it and won’t be allowed to use mighty to express it)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Naughty and Nice

The classic tale is, of course, good versus evil, but the naughty versus nice debate is not nearly so flushed out. Contrary to the slander flying around about me being an evil twin, in the battle of good versus evil, I always fall solidly good (I heard that snort, I don‘t know who it was, but I heard it). I really don’t want anybody to be mean and if they are, I want them to pay. I am decidedly, instead, the naughty twin. But the whole debate sent me on a tangent… something required of my religion: Digressionism, so it’s good. I’ve read interviews from soap actors (I know, just another skeleton in my closet) and actors who play really rotten characters talk about a release. They are able to play out every horrible thing they’ve ever thought, so the demons no longer lurk at the edge of their home life. Peter Bergen (once the beloved Cliff on All My Children, since then, the ruthless Jack on the Young and the Restless) said his wife prefers him playing the bad guy because he’s so much nicer at home. What I’m wondering, and bringing up for discussion, is the question of whether the writer gets the same release, and are there parameters around which it works and doesn’t work? I’ve written some bad guys, I’ve even gotten in their heads, but inevitably I come to understand and sympathize and am so compelled to redeem them that it is almost beyond me to stop. In fact, the transition I usually make is that they come to understand they are not meant to be evil, just a little naughty. So the effect of writing a bad guy, for me, has been an expansion of empathy, I suppose, and an increased urge to be a little bit naughty. The empathy fits making me nicer, but not in the way I was thinking because it is so convoluted. Empathy for evil people doesn’t make one act more nicely, necessarily, except maybe in relation to those evil people. I want to know if anyone has succeeded in getting deeply in the head of someone BEYOND redemption, and if it has had a positive or negative effect on their personality. Does writing awful things act as catharsis and so bad behavior in real life goes down, or does it desensitize and permit a little of one’s evil self to reach the surface and grow?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Creative (Un)writing?

Eh… not so much. So I am currently doing my best Zombie impression and picking apart brains. The whole right brain/left brain thing is well known, sure, and creativity is tied to that… Photobucket [now to test if the moving image moves in a blog…] The woman above is moving both directions. If she’s not spinning, you may have to use your imagination, but the point is, it depends which side of your brain is being used. Now I am a very left brained woman. I do statistics for a living and she inevitably moves clockwise for me. But there are times, out of the corner of my eye, or when I am performing certain tasks, that she will do a reverse and go counter-clockwise. I suspect she’d go counter-clockwise when I am in the bath writing. I have triggers and tricks that allow me to use the other side of my brain. Sure, my writing will still be more about relational and structural elements than beautiful language, but there is some creativity to tap. My problem? In this shortening process… eliminating words… eliminating almost 10,000 to date and probably 60,000 to go… one third of my novel GONE… this is a left brained process… can this go? If I take that out, how do I plant the information needed for that? Can this dialog be turned into a one paragraph summary? It is turning out I am not BAD at the task—that is my stronger portion of my brain after all. But I am finding myself completely unable to get out more than a page of new material a night after my editing task. I am used to shooting for five to ten pages but it just isn’t in me. I would LOVE feedback on whether others feel like the editing and cutting process is as hard on creativity, or if this is a wacky phenomenon of my own madness…