Archive for October 2009
I'm so happy Halloween is here. It used to be my favorite holiday because of my dramatic flair, but that was run out of me a long time ago. Now I love it because it's the end of my craziest, poorest, busiest time of year--school expenses (fundraisers, pictures, clothes, supplies, etc), five family birthdays, and Halloween costumes. It seems pretty silly that the Christmas season seems relaxing in comparison, but that's how it is. Especially this year, because I hit the reset button last Christmas and it unwound me. I can look forward with open eyes instead of squinty, fearful ones. Thinking about making Thanksgiving my main family holiday, and downplaying Christmas.
But that is a concern for a future date. For now it is only Halloween and I shall enjoy it. Though my hips are screaming at me for a looooong walk I took yesterday, I will gamely hobble around town and encourage my children to beg candy from strangers. Hope y'all have fun, too.
So today I'm thankful for Akismet, which controls my spam comments. Even though there's only been one legitimate comment caught in the spam filter in the entire previous year, I still check all spam before I delete it.
However, I'm also grateful for the spam itself, because I always get a good laugh, normally because of the way they sneak the stamina-enhancing drugs into the conversation, or the enormous lists of crazy porn categories. But lately there's been a trend where the spammers include a joke. Here are a few I've received:
- What do you call three rabbits in a row, hopping backwards simultaneously? A receding hareline.
- What do you call bedtime stories for boats? Ferry tales.
- What is a Mummy’s favorite kind of music? RAGtime music! or wRAP!!!
- What do cats like to eat for breakfast? Mice Krispies.
They have the right idea. Spammers should make us smile, then we won't hate 'em so bad.
One opportunity is the Red Dirt Book Festival, happening next weekend right over there, in the next town. As a wannabe writer I usually approach events like this as work so I put a lot of vague pressure on myself, which is silly because I don't have a book to sell. This time I'll go with no expectations. If I feel like leaving after ten minutes I will. If I feel like talking to people I will. My goal will be to have fun and only that.
I have a lot of housekeeping that needs to be done since I was sick, plus I have a lot of writing to do, and I have to pay bills and go to the store...I can feel my jaw start to clench just thinking about it. When I worry about everything I need to do, it gets done...but when I don't worry, it still gets done. My body is telling me to choose the second option today.
I've been thinking about my huge breakthrough yesterday, the realization that sometimes I resist writing because I don't want to feel my characters' emotions. Yet I don't remember having this problem with the previous book, and I was trying to figure out what exactly had changed from the previous book to this one.
For sure, I identify with the current main character in the WIP more, in that she is a contemporary young lady with father issues, so that may be one part. But though I'm more familiar with that situation than, say, a woman who is in love with her dead husband's brother as in my previous book, I'm still drawing from the same well of my experience. Both women were abused at home and fled to foreign lands, and in these foreign lands they are both uneasy, searching for their place. Those are the main feelings to which I must return over and over.
Then there is the difference of contemporary fantasy vs. medieval fantasy. In this book, I'm pretty much using the language that you see here, modern and conversational, and in medieval fantasy I use a bit more formal language. That could create distance that using my "real" voice can't.
Here's another thing, and this might seem weird, but difference might have something to do with the number of POV characters each book uses. While both books are in 3rd person, the medieval fantasy uses several points of view, and the contemporary uses only one. Switching POVs to get the reaction of the other major players in big emotional scenes seems to offer a way to complete the circle, so I don't feel as lost as the characters. I remember one specific example where I was writing an emotional scene, feeling more and more uncomfortable, until it was time to switch POVs, and once I switched it was quite a relief. Even though I know and understand what the non-POV characters are feeling in my WIP, I channel them and work through them.
Anyway, those are my thoughts today. What do you think?
Lately I've realized that's not healthy. Emotions are not a deformed and murderous twin who must be chained to the basement floor. They are part of me. So I've been working on feeling whatever emotion comes to me. Not necessarily letting it manifest outwardly, but looking at it, accepting it.
Well yesterday morning I sat down to write, and got that same old butterfly nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes when I get that feeling, I stand up and do something else without even thinking first, just my instinct telling me I need to run when I feel that dread. But yesterday I looked at it and wondered about it, and opened the document anyway. The next scene to be written was a hugely emotional one. When I finished I was drained and lonely, needed a hug so bad, but there was no one here but me.
Huge breakthrough. Because I'd examined my emotions at every step, I was able to make an important and previously unseen connection. The dread came from subconsciously knowing I would end my writing time feeling lonely and lost. All those emotions swirling around, yet there was no one I could unburden myself to. Even if my husband had been home, I couldn't very well expect him to understand what was bothering me. He would probably just tell me, Get over it, it's not your problem, it's your character. No wonder novelists, actors, and other artistic types seem to have so much trouble with substance abuse. We take on emotions which aren't our own, and which in the context of our lives have no ground. There's no event to pin them to, yet we carry them with us. It can make one feel quite bonkers.
But seriously, now that I've realized this, I can start working around it. How about you? Do you find that your character's emotions affect your life?
I walked with my daughter's kindergarten class this morning on the yearly trip to the Pumpkin Patch. It's not a real pumpkin patch, but an empty lot where the local Methodist church sells their pumpkins, and which over the years has grown to be a bumpkin amusement park. There's a train engine and tractors and a fire truck to climb on, roping and bean bag toss games, and a homemade kiddie train pulled by a lawnmower. It's country fun at its finest, and the kids have a blast. I was happy to have a school activity for which I could actually volunteer--since we were outside the whole time, the fragrance was negligible, especially since I took it upon myself to be the caboose along the way, while the other parents stayed up toward the middle of the line. Not only was I helping myself, but I also provided a needed service, which was keeping the stragglers somewhat with the group.
Maggie Rose was delightful, as usual, and was proud to have me there. I befriended a couple of other kids whose parents couldn't come. I wish I'd had more time to talk to those two boys, because they seemed to have things they wanted to get off their chest, like having an adult willing to listen was an opportunity to be jumped on. I remember what it was like to be a kid without a voice. We all need to be heard.
WE'RE GOING TO BE WRITING HORROR. 500 to 1,000ish words of spec fic horror, poetry or prose, humorous or creepy. (You can go over 1,000 words, but please not by too much.) And no slasher horror pretty pretty please.
SUBMISSIONS. Send your submission to me in the body of an email, single spaced. Addy: writtenwyrdd (at) earthlink.net. Heading should read "Chthulu contest submission." Be sure and include the name you want me to use on the post. I won't be naming individuals during the voting round, but at the announcements round. MORE THAN ONE SUBMISSION IS ALLOWED, BUT SEND THEM SEPARATELY. (Please keep it to two, though. We don't want to stack the deck.)
Writtenwyrdd has announced that if she gets more than 20 entries she'll add a runner-up prize, so get cracking on those stories!
Anyhoo, please excuse the mess around here while I play with things.
Thanks to Darcsfalcon for passing along this award to me. It's always nice to be recognized by your peers. It comes with a requirement to list seven other people with lovely blogs, but some of the blogs I would list are quite personal in nature, so I'm not entirely sure if I should. Aw, what the heck. Perhaps by linking to these blogs I'm leading someone to the inspiration they need. I'm sticking with girls, because the award is pretty girly. Feel free to display the award, ladies, without feeling obligated to tag anyone else. You all deserve it.
I'm working on bringing some maturity and professionalism to the blog. Not a lot, mind you, just enough so when editors come here they don't shriek and click away. I think I need to re-do my "about", including bio and contact info. I came across this post about author websites from the point of view of an unpaid intern, and it reminded me that professionals who visit my site looking for information about me as an author don't want to wade through posts about my sinuses, nor do they want to read my sad attempts at political diatribe. They want to know about my books, my experience, how to contact me, and how to contact my agent (though if they're here it's probably because she contacted them first).
I thought about creating two pages, one for editors and one for regular folks, the thought being that the info relevant to a visiting professional wouldn't be buried within the site, but visible on the front page. Under each page would be sub-pages, the editor page having the professional info--contact, book descriptions, links to relevant posts, etc--and the regular folks page having the talky traditional About Me, and all the social media contact stuff. There may be some overlap.
Another thought is to have one About Me that everyone would visit, and on that page have a link for editors to click if they want. The goal is to make it easy for everybody to find what they want.
What do you think? I haven't seen much besides the single About Me, with a vague outline of the blogger's interests and location. I'd be grateful for a link to examples of other types.
Rachel Naomi Remen:
The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention.... A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words.
via Wisdom Quotes
I'm not very good at the silence, mostly because I got it in my head some time ago that silence was uncomfortable. I've been feeling quiet lately so I've done the minimum amount of social networking, and as a result have felt apart from everyone. Maybe when I'm feeling quiet I shouldn't cut myself off from people, but rather listen without interjection. Maybe there's something I need to hear but which usually gets lost in my noise. Maybe you have something to say that nobody wants to hear. So here's your chance to say what you've been needing to say, about me, about someone else, about public issues, hang-ups, confessions... I declare this an open forum for anything you'd like to get off your chest, about any topic. Be anonymous if you like. I'm listening.
Here's a tip for you: Super Metroid is not conducive to sleepy times. Usually when I can't sleep I'll get online and play some Dynomite or something, but since I'd acquired the thermal visor earlier today, I thought I'd explore a little, no biggie. Except that there are big, bad monsters to kill and much jumping from platform to platform. I'm tense. And I keep thinking monsters are going to jump out of the dark kitchen and start shooting at me. (Oh man, I just got the pee scared out of me. Just as I was typing that, a kid got up to go to the bathroom and knocked something over. Geez!)
Well, I could go on for a long time like this but it won't make me any sleepier. Guess I'll go play some soothing Dynomite after all, and hopefully get in bed before one. Night all, or if you're reading this on Friday, Good morning!
Despite my grogginess yesterday, I did have a pretty good writing day. I'm ready to be finished with this project so I can start on the next. Not sure what that will be yet, but I do have a few ideas which have been inside my head for a while and want to get outside:
- A middle grade or young adult book about orphans who go to live with their hoarding aunt, make a network of tunnels through her mountains of stuff, find treasure and have adventures (tentative title, Catacombia).
- A medieval fantasy about twin girls separated at birth, one of whom is adopted by an innkeeper and learns that her sister has been raised to be the dragon's next sacrificial victim
I'd also like to finish a middle-grade that I started with my daughter several years ago--it's about halfway finished--and I'd really like to revisit the Ea's Gift world. That wouldn't be wise, I guess, since it hasn't sold yet. Better to spend my time on new things.
Have you had any new ideas lately? Care to share? I won't steal them, promise.
My fragrance fog may be why I had trouble keeping my composure while listening to kids doing karaoke. First up was a middle school boy who chose AC/DC's "Highway to Hell." Now mind you, this was a family event with children of all ages running around, and we're smack in the middle of the Bible Belt. I personally have no problem with the song or my children hearing it, or even singing it, but it seemed a bit inappropriate in the middle of that group, with tiny children lined up for balloon animals and the singer punching that word, "Helllll." Funny, but then it was over and I figured they wouldn't let that happen again.
Then I heard the opening strains of "Family Tradition" by Hank Williams Jr., and I knew I had made a wrong assumption. I was watching the balloon animal guy, but when a sweet little voice sang, "Country music singers have always been a real close family," my head snapped around. The singer was a little girl, I'm guessing nine years old, long hair in a French braid, wearing capris and high top sneakers.
I knew what was coming up in that song. The anticipation nearly did me in, but I looked around at the other parents, and other than a couple of small smirks the faces in the crowd were stone. I controlled myself, just waiting for the chorus, feeling it build, and then finally she sang, "Hank why do you drink? Hank why do you roll smoke?" and I almost lost it! My body shook and tears came out, and I tried really hard to be quiet about it, because I didn't want the girl to see me. There was nothing wrong with her performance. She did a great job singing about the problems associated with being a stoned old country singer.
I think since I was by the wall and I kept my head down, nobody noticed. Well, except for my husband, who didn't think it was as funny as I did. I blame the fragrance fog.
- Writtenwyrdd is having a contest with a Halloween flavor. I know some of my readers write flash horror, so you guys might want to go on over and check her out. The prize is a cute little stuffed Chthulu. Yes, I said cute.
- Ian has a brand new look to his website.
- I've lost a Google Reader subscriber. Why? Why don't you love me anymore?? *sobs, then realizes that person isn't here anymore and soldiers on*
- When I'm home doing whatever I please for 9 hours while during the same time my hubby is busting his tail to bring home the dough, I'm wracked with guilt. Bringing in a little money would help alleviate the guilt, and I've been trying to figure out what jobs I could get. Well I figured it out. I don't need a new job, somebody just needs to start paying me for the one I'm already doing. I'll take that advance now. Thanks.
- Hubs used fingernail polish remover this morning, so I had to open the windows and turn on the fan to suck in fresh air. Fresh, cold air. Can't feel my toes. However, I can feel my brain cells de-fog as I type. (And you're correct if you think that means I have no problem blogging if I'm feeling too stupid to do other things.)
- Went to the bookstore yesterday to spend the last of my birthday money. Well, actually it was to spend my birthday money on some books similar to my WIP. Research, you know. I couldn't find anything even close. All the angel/demon books had a pretty much traditional, Biblical mythology; books with jaunty, tough female protags were written in first person; no alternative Underworlds; no unique non-human creatures (or once-human creatures, for that matter). Either I couldn't find anything like my book because it's never been done before (good), or it's never been done before because it's a dumb premise (bad). Here's what I ended up with: Working for the Devil by Lilith Saintcrow, Red-Headed Stepchild by Jaye Wells, and Scar Night by Alan Campbell. Tried to pick things that might have a similar voice or subject matter to mine. Don't know how well I succeeded.
- My broken finger is still sore, still crooked, but it's getting stronger every day. I snapped my fingers last night, lightly. I'm ecstatic.
'Kay, feeling smart again, so it's time to get to close the windows and get to work on m'book. Later.
I want to try it out before I buy one, but they don't have any for free on the Simon and Schuster website. Here's a trailer for the Jude Devereaux novella Vook, Promises. What do you think?