Friday, May 27, 2011

If I Were....

I saw this on my dear friend's blog, The Ranunculus Turtle, and just had to steal it. Visit her list (the link in the last sentence will take you right there), then come back and read my version:

If I were a month, I’d be December.
If I were a day of the week, I’d be Monday.
If I were a time of day, I'd be Midnight.
If I were a planet, I’d be Pluto.
If I were a sea animal, I’d be a Stingray.
If I were a direction, I’d be West.
If I were a piece of furniture, I'd be a Desk Chair.
If I were a liquid, I’d be Red Wine.
If I were a gemstone, I’d be a Ruby.
If I were a tree, I’d be an Oak.
If I were a tool, I’d be Pliers.
If I were a flower, I’d be a White Carnation.
If I were a kind of weather, I would be a Rain Storm.
If I were a musical instrument, I’d be an Acoustic Guitar.
If I were a color, I’d be Dark Red.
If I were an emotion, I’d be Somber.
If I were a fruit, I’d be a Kiwi.
If I were a sound, I’d be Pages Turning.
If I were an element, I’d be Silver.
If I were a car, I’d be a 1935 Rolls Royce Phantom II.
If I were a food, I’d be Mexican.
If I were a place, I’d be a Forest.
If I were a material, I’d be Organic Cotton.
If I were a taste, I’d be Spicy.
If I were a scent, I’d be Cinnamon.
If I were an object, I’d be a Drawing Pencil.
If I were a facial expression, I’d be a Scowl.
If I were a song, I’d be “The Boxer.”
If I were a pair of shoes, I would be Black Combat Boots.

(PS--I left out "If I were a body part" on purpose. Cos, well, ick. Guess that says something about me, too, eh?)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday "Me"

I wish on this Monday-ish of mornings I had something profound to write here. But, alas, I am going to just catch you up on things.

My short story "Cat Call" (flash fiction weighing in at a whopping 490 words) has been accepted by Pill Hill Press for their upcoming anthology, There Was a Crooked House. Stories had to either be about a crooked house or be inspired by the cover art:

I opted for the cover art inspiration route. That's all I will say for now. Oh, and, no, I don't know a release date yet.

I do, however, know that my story in Chicken Soup: Just for Preteens will come out on July 26.

Since we're on the subject of short stories, please go check out Avenir Eclectia. I've got several stories up there, and more to come. It's sci-fi, and the stories are all very short. If you like the world created over there, try writing something yourself and submit it! And please "follow" :D.

Lastly, I've added to my Zazzle store. Yep, if you didn't already know, you can buy some of my artwork on t-shirts and such. Right now it's just my odd assortment of beetles. (Or, rather, my assortment of odd beetles!) The latest design was inspired by my recent obsession with Dr. Who.

That's all for now. (What, that's not enough?)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Top it with Cheese

So, I let a fellow writer read Finding Angel recently. It was only fair, as I had read her entire manuscript and critiqued it from beginning to end. She had some awesome things to say about Finding Angel...except for a few specific scenes.

She said they were missing cheese.

My response: "Huh?"

She explained that she meant the melodrama. The somewhat overly intense use of emotion at times of serious conflict. I thought I got what she was saying, kinda.

Had I been to stingy with emotion?

I opened my document to the first scene she mentioned. Lo and behold, she was right. The chapter before the scene read pretty intensely, with lots of emotion from Angel until...well, until the scene where she should have been completely overwhelmed, but totally wasn't.

I gave it a tremendous amount of thought. I realized a few things:

1) I was relying too much on the events that these scenes highlighted to grab the reader. But no matter what is happening, the reader isn't going to feel it unless the protag feels it.

2) I'd been holding back because I didn't want Angel to be a crybaby. Maybe because I'd read (part of) Twilight and told myself, "Oh, no, I will NOT let my character be such a whiny wuss." But I pulled back too far and went the other way. Not everywhere, just the scenes where the emotion should be running really high. Can you say "backward"?

3) I didn't include enough descriptive physical detail. The scenes are fast-paced, and I must have thought that adding that detail would slow it down for the reader. Hah! You can, apparently, go overboard with killing your darlings.

So....I added back in some detail and ramped up the emotional element. Really got inside Angel's head at those moments even though some of it centered more around other characters. I made sure to read other parts, like those leading up. And it seems I did have all the necessary elements elsewhere--I've got the meat and other ingredients in good amount. The only thing missing was the cheese.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Throw Out the Bones

Authors hear two bits of advice quite often:

1) Read widely--as in, multiple genres, not just that of your own writing.

2) Read in your genre. A lot. Everything you can get your hands on.

So which is it? I know, the answer is obvious. It's both. But when you hear these bits of advice they never seem to be paired together. More often than not, authors are told one or the other in blog posts or writing books, or simply comments by other authors. Yet, they must go hand-in-hand.

If you don't read your own genre, you won't know your competition well enough to at least keep up with them. You must keep up with current conventions as well as the history of story and style of your genre.

At the same time, if you limit yourself to reading only that genre, you may find yourself simply rewriting what's already out there (likely in overabundance). Reading outside your genre opens you up to new ideas and makes sure your writing doesn't get stale.

This translates over to finding critique partners, but it's not quite as evenly balanced on the critique side. Seeking critters outside your genre gives you fresh insight. But, here's the issue I've found--if they don't read my genre at all, they can't give me solid advice. Maybe they can help me straighten out an awkward sentence, or find typos, or let me know overall if they like what I'm writing.

But if they don't have a clue about common fantasy or horror elements, they will try to "correct" where there is no correction needed. I'm not saying their critique isn't useful, but as genre writers we must be knowledgeable about our domain, so that we know what advice to follow and what to ignore.

This goes for age labels as well. If someone has never read a single YA or teen novel, and you write YA, then I guarantee that critter will point things out to you from a solely adult-fiction-writer perspective. Again, not saying don't seek their critique, but be selective about what advice you follow.

A friend of mine once said to me after critiquing Finding Angel, "Keep the fish and throw out the bones." Great advice--but you have to be able to tell the difference first.

Friday, May 13, 2011


So...I haven't blogged in about a week. First, it was not having anything to say. Then, we went out of town (Universal Studios for three days--the Wizarding World of Harry Potter--oh, yeah). After that it was two days of family gatherings because my grandmother passed away. That was followed by two days of Blogger being futsy.

There, those are my excuses. Rack them up with all the other excuses I've given lately for not writing. For slacking off on homeschooling. For not submitting short stories. For not marketing the stuff I have out there now. For not going to the homeschool park. For not keeping up with emails. For barely reading. For...

The truth is, I've been feeling completely burnt out lately. I've been writing for nearly four years now, and homeschooling for six. I. Am. Tired. It's as if all my creative energy burst out in the beginning and has slowed to a trickle, taking my energy with it.

No worries--I'm not giving up. Although the thought has surely crossed my mind. But I can't give up. I'm one of those people who would hate myself more if I gave up than if I spent the rest of my life fruitlessly chasing this dream. I'd spend forever wondering if things would have turned around if only I'd sent out just one more query, spent just one more day writing.

I've been making excuses, but it's only temporary. I wrote a whole new short story this week--about 1800 words long. And I've submitted two others that have been sitting here. So, slowly but surely, I'm pushing the excuses to the side.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wibbly Wobbly Bloggy Woggy Stuff

The title of this blog should tell you two things:

First, I've been watching a heck of a lot of Dr. Who lately. My library has all the latest series (1-5) on DVD and we've been watching a couple of episodes every night or so. I am officially addicted.

Second, this post will be rather rambly. Expect sudden jumps in topic. If you have back or neck problems, or are pregnant or prone to motion sickness, you may wait for your loved ones at the end of the ride.

OK, here goes....

I've been rather blocked lately as far as writing goes, but yesterday I finally got 300+ words written on a short story. Yay! If you are a writer, you know what this means. I was also hit out of the blue as I was falling asleep with an idea for another short story. Now, to find some time for that one, too :P.

Speaking of ideas, I have this really cool idea for a beetle drawing. I won't tell you about it, but I'll show you when I get it done. Again, I need time that I haven't had lately, but that is coming.

Why the obsession with beetles? Well, I'm not even sure. I just think they're cool to look at. They seem to be, along with the reptiles, the thing I am drawn to when visiting museums. No, I'm not keen on holding the little buggers. Just looking at them, pinned on their little display boards. Cruel, I know.

Apparently my last two blogs weren't very popular. Or everyone has been busy. I'm not surprised--on both counts. But they were things I felt I needed to say. I'm not upset at the lack of feedback, though. 'Tis the nature of blogging. Besides, I'm feeling much less ornery today.

My kids have been watching the Twilight movies as I check them out from the library. I already reviewed the first one on here. I won't bother with the second one. My daughter liked it--of course, she's eight. My son and husband hated it. As did I. Although, I thought it slightly better than the first. I realized, at the end, when Edward became a dominant character in the story again, that it was his absence I was enjoying. Oh, and the whole shirtless werewolf thing--can you say, "Tacky?"

Bin Laden. Yep, I've said it. I don't normally have anything to say about politics, because, to be honest, I'm not as informed as the people who love posting about politics. But I wanted to say, one more time, as I posted on FB: His death does not mean this is over. He wasn't the wicked witch of the west. His evil soldiers and flying monkeys will not be broken out of his spell. One of them will, however step into his place. So, whether you're celebrating or not, or arguing about whether we should be celebrating or not, is beside the point, imho.

I am desperately trying to get through my to-read pile of physical books on my shelf. Then I intend to jump back on my Nook and read the books I've not read there. I just finished Needful Things by Stephen King. I'm normally a fast reader, but that book took me ages to get through. Worth it in the end, but I think if ole Steve were to go back and look through it, he'd grimace at the amateurish stuff in there. If he'd cut the -ly adverbs, cliches, and redundant sentences, the book would be half the length.

Hm, I think this post has gotten long enough. Not much more to talk about at present anyway. Things happening, sure, but can't tell you all of them yet. Be patient, my pretties.

Until next time....

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Writer Understands

I held back from blogging yesterday because I was feeling, well, crummy. Not sick...whiny. Grumpy. Maybe it was the new moon--sometimes I think those are worse than full moons when it comes to throwing my emotions off-kilter. (Yes, I believe the moon affects people. Work in retail long enough, and you'll see. The kooks all come out at the full moon. And my kids go wild the week before. Call me crazy, I don't care.)

So, instead of blogging, I called a writer friend. Someone who can understand the way I feel. The frustration that comes along with this journey toward publication. It's not just dealing with rejection letters. It's the waiting, even when you know something good is coming. It' s lulls in our writing. Call it being blocked if you will. The point is, only another writer understands.

Only another writer understands the importance of marketing, and the pure frustration over hating it at the same time. Only another writer understands the *need* to write, the absolute drive, when there is nothing given in return--no publication, no money, only a handful of congratulations, and more than a few looks that say, "Yeah, so?"

Only another writer understands the guilt that goes along with spending so much time on a seemingly fruitless endeavor. Only another writer understands the joy of seeing their name in print, even when there is no payment or real recognition for that story.

Non-writers can't quite wrap their minds around this most of the time. They don't see how important writing is to us, how badly we want to make it, how it can be worth so much unpaid time and effort when something like 98% of books never see the light of day.

I have my "non-writer" moments where I can't see beyond that either. Most of me sees this as something I simply must do. I've tasted the wine, and it's good. I'm not putting the glass down. I am absolutely driven to see my name on the spine of a book. And someday, I want to see that book on the shelf of a brick and mortar bookstore, so I am willing to work my tail off.

But another part of me wants to start getting paid for my writing--not just bits and pieces of it, like now, but all of it. I'm tired of giving away my writing. I'm tired of feeling like this will have to be a perpetual hobby. Part of me says it's just not worth it! I have a family to care for. I have other stuff that could easily fill my time. When my kids get a little older, I can go get a job somewhere. Great, you say, that can fund my writing. Sure--but will I have time left to write?

It boils down to this: It's not fair that I get next to nothing for doing all this IF my writing is something other people want to read. And if it's not...then I have no business doing this at all!

So, there. That is the crux of my dilemma yesterday, the reason for my rotten mood. Venting to my writer friend helped. Being understood helped. It cleared my head a bit, and made me take stock of how much I've put into this and my willingness--or lack thereof--to walk away from it all.

A blog post would have given me a chance to spew it all out, too. But it would have come across as an online, and most likely wordy, temper tantrum. Much better to have those in private--or in the ear of a friend. A writer friend who can smack me with some reality. A writer friend who understands.