Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Monday, November 30, 2009

Day Thirty--she rested

Okay, so my goal for NaNo wasn't the same, but I did it. Yay! I finished Scorched. Woo woo! I'm a winner.

So, now that I've finished a book for the month of November, the holidays must commence. I'd planned on writing a story for Genre Wars, but unless I really get a burst of inspiration today--that may go by the wayside.

However, that's not to say that I'm done and ready to sit around. I've been cooking on Honor Six. I'm still waffling on whether to wait until January on querying Honor Among Thieves. (Thank you to my wonderful three beta readers, btw. Amber, Catherine, and Tina--you all rock.)

Then, there is the reality of me.

Getting my kids to school this morning--I don't know if you felt it, but I was forced to move both heaven and earth in order for them to get their socks and shoes on. Plus, I was scrambling to fill out permission slips so that B can see the nutcracker this week. Of course, the homework that wasn't--last night--turned out to have been the homework that was forgotten this morning.

The car is still over-heating. I'm still searching for the bright side on this one.

Today's big task is none of these things, though--I'll be free-hand sketching yards and yards and yards and yards of silhouette scenery on black construction paper for our church's annual nativity exhibit. (Hundreds of nativities on display--it's amazing. Last year, I painted a large stable with animals and everything for a live nativity--I thought I'd be off the hook this year. Hah! ) This should be a note to self: Do not allow people to find out that you can free-hand sketch. (It should be a note to self, but it's too late. They know. They start searching for me immediately when any painting or sketching needs to be done. Where is Wendy? Wendy can do it! Wendy lacks the ability to say no! Woo woo! Find Wendy and rope her in.)

So, I'll be busy most of the day. I'm hoping to get around to blogs later tonight--well--other than posting inappropriate posts in Diana's blog--which had to happen immediately. Snicker. In the immortal words of Bones from Star Trek-- "Damn it, Jim, I'm a writer not a saint." (Right now, my mom, if she is reading this, is torn. On the one hand, I've just sworn--on the other, she's a hard core trekkie and it's completely her fault that I've been breathing Star Trek from the cradle. What a quandary. She'll probably still lecture me--it's knee jerk. She's been told via my sister aka 'the Narky Mcnarkster' that there is a wild orgy of untamed lust in the tenth Sarah book. Sadly, I will be too busy to answer the phone and receive the lecture. Le sigh. See, Mom, I speak French too in here. You'll have to pardon it.)

Okay, I should really go get ready to sketch until my fingers cramp up and must be amputated.

Good luck to those still trying to crank out a NaNo win.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Day Twenty-nine- How do you know when it's ready?

Whenever I finish a manuscript, I get so excited about it. It's like a new baby. It smells nice. It's not so much work yet. I'm all "rah rah" over it. Then, I send it out to betas, and I'm still excited. Then, I do the first rewrites after getting feedback--and I'm still sort of excited. Then, I send it out to different betas--and it's a little older, a little more complicated, and the buzz is gone. They send me back more comments, and it's less exciting. Plus, I've got a new baby or maybe several babies--because I'm psychotic. Eventually, I start looking back at this old manuscript--and reread it, and it's sort of exciting again--and maybe I do another rewrite. I can see the charm in it, and I think it's good, but it still feels cruel to query it, and I feel like it's too soon to let it leave the house. After all, it's still my baby--even if it's just mooching up time and drinking all the milk and sitting around the couch scratching its hairy pits.

So, Scorched is all sweet and cute right now. It's had all my attention, and it just seems adorable. It still has revision after revision after revision to go through. It might be a while before it's time to send out into the world and have people kick the crap out of it. Still, it just always feels too soon.

I know it's partly my OCD that is telling me it's not perfect... and I like the idea of perfect. I think Honor has gone through this about four or five times now--the revision process--possibly even more. Actually, definitely more. I finished Honor Among Thieves in April of this year, I think. I sent it to DAW in August. I sent it to the first agents in September. I still like Honor, but it's definitely not as fun to deal with as Scorched is right now.

For those of you that are doing NaNoWriMo--how many months of revision and so on are you anticipating before you might query it? How many revisions does it go through before you send it to betas? Anything else you always do before you even think about letting a manuscript fend for itself?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day Twenty-eight- Getting all blurbular

So, now that it's done, I rewrote my back-cover blurb for Scorched:

Sidra is obsessed and teased by the thought of fire. It consumes her every waking thought and is the focus of all her art. Nothing matters as much as capturing the light and depth of reds, oranges, blues, purples, and the occasional common yellow.

Well, that's not true anymore.

There is something decidedly strange about the hot new guy in school, Asher. He doesn't seem to care about popularity or grades. Associating with her certainly guarantees his social life will go up in flames. Plus, he asks a whole lot of questions about why she is called "Scorch." When mysterious fires get closer, Sidra knows it's only a matter of time before they start asking "Scorch" questions. People are already staring--well, it's mostly just them--those guys that all look alike.

Hopefully, no one finds the paintings of the fires that she painted before they happened. She didn't set these fires, though. Really. She's too busy fighting ghosts that like to chew on her underwear and deal with her father's past sins that haunt her. He pretty much smoked their little family. She doesn't have time to set fires.

Asher, though--he's been at all the fires, and he casts a strangely dark shadow. What about that dog? The dog that sometimes is with him. It's huge and dark but disappears like a fire jarred.

As things start to make sense--someone else steps into the heated circle. The guy she's been dreaming about is real--like really real--and he might like fire a little more than Scorch. He certainly knows about heat.

Asher. Demons. Dogs. Fire. Maybe it's time to sit back and chill.

Scorch can't, though. What--are you kidding? She just loves to play with fire. She might get burnt, but with Asher around--she'll probably get scorched.

On a completely different subject, I want to work on querying Honor Among Thieves. I'm looking for two or three betas to read the first three chapters. Let me give you the low-down on it. Actually, I'll just give you the back blurb on this too.

Honor is accustomed to meeting monsters, so it should come as no surprise to her that the man she met in the bookstore is more than he appears. Speaking of monsters, the killer that has been dogging her steps for years has hunted her down. Honor may be a thief, but she had no intention of stealing the lives of those around her just for her own protection. Even if all these vampires are twice her size, can they really keep up with her?

The Tiger is coming for its prey, and Honor may have to be a team player if she wants to live. Sure this new guy can growl, but how's his bite? Wait... she knows that already.

As her past and present collide...

Who is fiction?

Who is real?

Who is just a monster anxious for her blood?

So, I'm looking for betas that WILL enjoy the premise of an adult vampire urban fantasy with a twist. I've had dozens of people that have enjoyed this book, so I'm looking for someone to make sure my hook is right and early enough and Honor's voice is clear. So, if you didn't enjoy Twilight... consider this outside your realm of interesting--even though it's a book for adults. I'm really overly protective about this book--so I'm also not looking for strangers. In fact, I might have Di help me eeny-meeny-minie-mo based on who would be the most helpful.

Wow. I'm quite the picky person to be asking for help. Please help...NO..NOT YOU...Anyone but you!!! Not you either!!!

Yeah. I'm a freak, but you all knew that.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Twenty-seven- This hairshirt I wear....

So, in addition to watching Star Trek last night at the husband's insistence, I did the revise on Scorched--the first of many revisions, of course. This was my last revise before it went to both my sisters. Typically, after they get back to me, I fix typos and print three copies on Lulu to give to my beta readers. Then, they circulate for several weeks and make their way back to me with pencil marks, folded over pages, and sticky covers. Usually, they go through about eight readers--the exception being the Honor books which have each been read by probably two dozen readers. I need to put my "Company of Him" books through the process again, so I can start printing those out to hand around.

The strange thing is--you'd think it'd get easier, and maybe it has. Still, there is always that moment when I'm sending someone a manuscript or giving someone a book where it feels like I'm giving them something so personal that I feel like it's peeking into my brain. It feels like I'm giving away my secrets one at a time.

I don't think non-writers get it.

Even as fast as I write--I've still spent hour upon hour thinking about my characters--wondering what they'd do. I still research everything to death. While I'm driving, I'm thinking "you know, it would be amazing if...." While I'm trying to sleep, I'm thinking of conversation between characters. Then, there is that first moment--when it begins--and something wanders into your mind asking "what if?" At the end, when it's over, there is that elation of it's done--they're done with their trip in my head. You know how it ends--you can return to life. You can breathe again. Each little character walks out of your head with some bit of them that is personal to you. Maybe you see a little of yourself in their self-conscious thoughts. Maybe you spent a long time agonizing over what they'd do in a situation. Maybe you secretly hated them--or loved them.

There is a deep intimacy between a writer and what they write.

Each time I hand off something, I worry that it's too obvious how I feel about something. There is that self-conscious instant like stepping out of a dressing room in an outfit that you grabbed on a whim as you walked by. (Only--it wasn't a whim--and you'd been staring at it the whole time. Still, if you act like it doesn't matter--if you pretend that you won't be hurt no matter what--you can be brave enough to step out of the curtain and hope that if they hate it--they won't realize how much it meant to you.)

You'd think it would feel a little less intimate after so many books, but it still feels like I'm standing there in a shirt that looks like Van Gogh hurled on it and bright orange jeans and thinking "this is sort of the real me" while saying "I just grabbed this on my way into the dressing room. It's crazy, right? It makes my hips look huge. The shirt is a little out there."

For the most part, I don't expect brutal honesty. Seriously, does anyone want brutal honesty even if they act like they do? Even if someone says, I want to improve this--tell me what you really think. The translation is: I've worked on this. I've invested in this. It must be good in some way. Help me find a way to make it work. No one wants to hear: "Put that in a drawer somewhere. No, better yet, douse it in gasoline and burn it."

It's harder to send it out to agents and publishers, of course. It stings a little more when they look at your Van Gogh shirt and say, "Whoa! I can't believe that even made it onto the racks. Who'd ever wear that? No one is going to buy that. I'd never wear that."

It doesn't matter, though, right? It can't matter.

It's business--just business.

I hate that. I hate that we're told to think of something we've written like that. If it was just business, your writing would be crap. If you didn't put yourself in it, then there would be no point to showing it to anyone.

I don't care if it's tacky to say this, but it's never business with me. Never. Not in my blog posts. Not in my flash fiction. Not in my manuscripts. It just isn't. It's a bit of me, standing outside the curtain--fully intending to buy the shirt and the jeans--even if I just hide them away in my closet, proud that I had the guts to step outside the curtain.

Flashy Fiction Friday (Family/ Haunted House/Awkward)

Hey, it's flash fiction Friday! The most beautiful day of the week.

So, this week, Diana got sucked into the writing maelstrom that is Flashy Fiction. Peer pressure is awful--so just give up already and go over there.


Mike raised his glass, "And lastly, I'm thankful for the Witness Protection Program."


It was a shoddy joke and a stupid attempt to ease the atmosphere of meeting his in-laws.

Mike raised his glass. "And lastly, I'm thankful for the Witness Protection Program."

His new father-in-law was the first to break the awkward silence. "What's that supposed to mean?" Don Marcos asked.

"It was a joke," Mike said weakly. He'd eloped with their only daughter, and they hadn't taken that lightly. Apparently, she was to have had a giant, lavish wedding with someone who was "people." Mike was not "people." Whatever that meant.

Don looked around at the others. Maria's brother, Little Don, shrugged and cracked his knuckles. Her father's accountant, Two Thumb Tommy, frowned and eyed Mike before shaking his head.

Maria rolled her eyes and said, "Guys, it was a joke."

Big Don laughed first and the others joined in. Don's wife brought in the turkey and handed Don the largest knife Mike had ever seen.

Standing up, Don said, "This here turkey, Mike--strangled it myself just for looking at me funny." A tense moment went by before Don smiled and said, "That was a joke too."

Everyone but Mike laughed. He was fairly certain it wasn't a joke--he'd seen it happen after all.


All of the lights went out.


"It's simple. I could find my way through blind-folded," I said.

"Idiot," Tina muttered beside me.

My boss, Jack, raised his eyebrows and reached over to the switch. All of the lights went out. The crew groaned, and someone hit me on the back of the head.

"The newbie here brings up a good point. You'll need to know this place in the dark just as well as in the light," Jack said.

"Idiot," Tina muttered again, kicking my leg. "I vote Slim here tries first then."

"Okay," I said--if for no other reason than to get away from Tina--just so I wouldn't accidentally kill her.

I made my way through the house. I was cheating, of course. They couldn't know that I could see in the dark. I kept that secret. It was more comfortable to be in the dark actually. The air seemed cooler and more comfortable. I was anxious for the coming nights when I wouldn't have to venture out during the day. It had been a while since I'd held down an actual job.

The giant spider hung in the air, limp and plastic, and I smacked it as I ducked beneath it. Walking through the indoor graveyard where I'd be "sitting," I skirted all the gravestones. The sacrilege was barely palatable. If only I'd been able to be in one of the dark hallways. Death had my respect. The quasi-mockery of the dearly departed's remains didn't sit well with me. Still, I was the house's vampire, and where else would I be? Besides, this room didn't have those damn strobes. Why haunted houses all had strobes--I had no idea.

In the "killing room" the chainsaw that Tina would be pretending to be "killed" with caught my eye. Tina was so annoying--and yet--tasty. My fangs rubbed against the inside of my mouth--elongating at the thought of her smooth neck, running rich with fragrant blood. She was type A negative, and it was one of the few things I liked about her. She would be the first to disappear into the dark of my own personal haunted house.

I could hear the others stumbling around in the dark behind me. Oh yes. Say what you will about Christmas, but this was the true season of giving in my world. These silly little freaks had so much to give.


"You know, they invented a word for guys like him."


My grandma was chopping carrots as she said, "You know, they invented a word for guys like him." She pointed at me with her knife and added, "And for girls like her too."

"What would that be?" I asked, ignoring the shocked look from some of my cousins. They saw my grandmother rarely and didn't realize how deeply senility had set in.

"Hussy. She wore black nylons to church when she was there for her grandfather's funeral. Then, she married him, and he's no better." Down came the knife--cut, cut, cut.

"No, he isn't," I agreed.

"He's a gold digger. He's after my money, but I'm going to trick them. I'm going to live forever."

"You do that, Grams," I said, pulling out silverware.

"Oh, dear, not that silverware, Sweetie," she said gesturing at what I had. "Put out the stuff with the little flowers on them. I like those better." She called all of us "Sweetie." It was easier that way.

"You don't have any silverware with flowers on it," I said, looking in the drawer.

All eyes swung to me.

"No?" she asked, confused.

No, my gold-digger of a husband had stolen them last year before I'd divorced his sorry butt. That was a year after I'd worn black nylons to my grandfather's funeral. That marriage was a year too long in my opinion. It was strange the things Grams remembered and the things she forgot.

"Whatever is fine, then, Sweetie," she said, going back to cutting. Cut, cut, cut. "You know that Tessa is no better. Why do you remember that one time when she got drunk at the wedding and went home with one of the waiters?"

I smiled at my cousin, Tessa, whose mouth had dropped open in a large "O." Hopefully, there was a word invented for her too. I saw the moment it dawned on her that she couldn't respond.

Yes, sirree, I was thankful for an interesting family at times like this. I half-way wondered if my Grams was faking this just so she could say all of this to our faces and see our reactions. I was going to be just like her when I got old.

"Then, there was that one Thanksgiving when your Uncle Joe told us that he was dreaming of cross-dressing. No, wait. Maybe he just told me...."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day Twenty-six--When you give thanks and have pie.

This morning, I woke up feeling like a new person. (LIKE a new person--not feeling a new person---just in case anyone read that and wondered if I was tramping out on my husband.)

The NaNo novel is done, and I'M excited to do rewrites. Yay!!! There will be some hacking and slashing. There will be a bit of adding and embellishing... but most of all, today, there will be pie. The sister aka Heidi has promised me glorious banana cream pie. Yummmmm.

Today, I'm thankful for the husband's job and my two wonderful kids who can also be slightly annoying. I'm thankful for the husband and all he does to help our little family stay afloat. We'll have been married twelve years next month and I'm thankful for the good and bad years and that we've grown together. I can't even begin to tell you all the wonderful little things he does every day just because he is the person that he is.

I'm thankful for one car that magically decided to turn off its "check engine" light after three years. I'm not sure why it was on. I'm not sure why it's off--I just know when to be thankful for the little things.

I'm thankful for a wonderful friend in real life who makes me laugh about crappy things. I'm thankful for cyber friends who are so genuine. I'm thankful for my family and how close we all are.

I'm thankful for a belief in God and religion and the knowledge that belief doesn't make me a sheep--but a person that has made a choice to believe in something greater than human frailty and a finite existence and I'm right--and I know I'm right. Truth is stronger than fiction--even if it sometimes also seems stranger than fiction. I know that I'm raising my children in a way that I can respect and accept. I'm grateful to live in a place with the freedom to make these choices, and I'm grateful that my parents raised me to respect the choices of others.

Even with all the stress that comes with it, I'm thankful for the rush and thrill I get from being a writer. I like the feeling I get when I reread something I've written and it feels alive and real and I think, "I did that. I brought that to life. I made that." I like telling the stories in my head and having the characters get their time in the light. I'm grateful for the weird quirky characters that make me smile like Honor... and Reeve, and the Master, and Beth/Juliet, and Devi, and Jake... and Asher... and Scorch. I'm honestly grateful that my memory is so wickedly horrible that I laugh at jokes every single time. I woke up this morning with a few thoughts on things to add to Scorched in the final two chapters--and I'm grateful for that too. These stories feel like living, breathing things to me and it feels nice to be a part of that.

I'm grateful for the moral upbringing I had which has instilled in me the desire to write stories that I can share with my kids someday. I'm grateful that there are other people out there still willing to write stories that I don't feel ashamed to read and recommend and quote from and talk about.

A special thank you to Shelley for writing a children's book that made me smile and call my mom right away.

Another thank you to Diana for writing Sinister which started my day out right today.

I'm grateful... very grateful to be alive today and surrounded by people that I love and who love me. I'm grateful for a laptop to take with me today so I can be surrounded by the characters I've created and sneak in a little editing. (Shhhhh... Everyone will fall asleep after turkey anyway.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Day Twenty-five- It's ALIVE!

I think I might take a few minutes to be excited about finishing a book, because it's been months since I have and I was beginning to worry that I was lost. (It only takes a few days for self-doubt to creep in and swallow me alive.) If only this was one of my WIPs from prior to November 1st.... Oh well.

I noticed a bunch of my NaNoWriMo buddies are closing in on 50K. Good luck to all of the rest competing. You can do it! I think this is the first day you can upload your text and get your winner's certificate. (So, anyone who finished before today was just a huge nut job--I think that's what we're meant to think.)

So, the husband sent me the perfect "Books coming to life" video. It's even stop motion animation--he knows I'm a huge fan. This should get you jazzed about how awesome books are:

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day Twenty-four and a bit--and finished.

That's right! Woo woo! At 80, 407 words, it's finished. Scorched is done--other than a massive rewrite, because I decided my new villain needed a more central role--and redemption. Sweet! A redeemed villain.

Plus, I changed about three people's names today alone. Holy cow! Everyone got a new name today. I even swapped a shadowhound's name with a demon. So there. Neeners.

Still, it's done. This calls for Frosting and maybe some sugary liquid of some kind. I could go for some ginger ale.

Day Twenty-four-- The plot thickens, congeals, and becomes lumpy

So, as you're approaching the end of a WIP, do you ever think that maybe you've got too much plot? I mean, clearly, you need plot. A story without plot is like gravy without flour or starch of some kind. (When my kids were on the gluten free diet--common among Autistic interventions--I made gravy with potato starch. It thickened so fast. I know it's also common to make it with corn starch--but strangely--I'm allergic to corn.) Anyway, enough about gravy. I have gravy on the mind with Thanksgiving coming. Mmmm. Gravy. I love gravy.

Yes, gravy--I mean, plot is important.

I should have something with gravy on it for breakfast.

Hold that thought. Back in a bit. Gravy.

I love microwave dinners which make it possible to have gravy at 8 a.m.

Anyway, so plot and Scorched. I think I have too much plot. I've got side plots. Main plots. Plotting plots by two separate villains. I think I've over-plotted. Do you ever take out plot points on revisions? Too much plot! Even if I can resolve all this plot... it might make for a lumpy finished product. Too much. Too much. Too much.

In my ill-plotted personal life, the water pump continues to vex the husband. T was a maniac last night from hyper energy. My migraine continues to play hide and seek. I did go see New Moon with my friend yesterday. I liked it, but I know where it goes from here. I've read the fourth book. Why did I read the fourth book? It killed the series. Plus, it felt creepy to watch the movie and think Jacob was so hot. I felt all cougar... and like I needed to shower off the "thirty year old lusting over a teenager" weirdness. I felt the same thing when Harry Potter was doing that theater run including a nude scene. (No, I didn't look at nude pictures of Harry Potter. That's just a whole new level of weird porn.) Even the playbills made me feel all creepy "old woman" stalker, though. Eww. Gross. Wrong! Put some clothes on.

So, I may be able to finish Scorched today--not like "finish" but complete it. Well, that might require me to ignore my house for another day--which I'm not sure that should happen. The poor husband is living in squalor that should cause weeping. I've been sick for so long and then working on NaNo when I'm well. Blech. Seriously. Bad. Bad. Bad.

If I ignore other blogs to do those things, you all won't hate me, right?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day Twenty-three--when your villain becomes shades of gray

So, I figured out what was up with Scorched. It came to me last night while I was typing. I had the wrong guy cast as the villain. A new character had appeared, and he is going to be a "gray" villain. He's not entirely bad, but he's not good. His motives are based on an unhealthy desire for someone. He was like a secondary villain, but I've decided he is much more of a main character villain.

That's not to say that my previous villain wasn't a villain. He is--and he'll, hopefully, still be a surprise. He just lacked passion, so exterminating him was going to feel a little like squashing a cockroach in the last scene--sure he is evil, but he was just going through the motions. (Don't you hate it when evil just becomes rote?)

Anyway, that also means that I might need to back-up and rewrite earlier. He comes in a little late, but we'll see how that works. I'm struggling with villain issues in Honor six too. Those villains.

Luckily, this new guy I've been casting as villain will do nicely.


Oh... ouch. I'm digging my way out of a migraine. The husband stayed home to make sure the kids made it off to school. So, no more loud evil laughter. Everyone keeps their evil laughter to themselves. I might go sit in front of the fire for a while again too.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day Twenty-two-- Disgust, Despair, Dread, Depression, and Disturbed Diatribe

It's rare that I get depressed, but today I am that. It's not over anything specific and yet it's over everything.


Dealing with this new issue with the car is frustrating. The husband has been trying to deal with it, and it just seems to be defying him at every turn. It keeps over-heating whenever it feels like it. I just really want everything around me to continue to function indefinitely. Is that so much to ask? We go through these months where I feel like we're hemorrhaging money--and having our car break down just before our annual big road trip to visit family--and just before Christmas. AHHHH! I just want to go scream into a pillow.

The husband is doing everything right and then some, but I can't seem to help feeling this way. It's like this pervasive sickness that no matter what I do--it's there. I've been sketchy on taking my OCD pills on time and maybe that's a little to do with it. (I don't suffer from depression while medicated or unmedicated unless I don't keep on schedule for my OCD pills.) Also, my husband lost my keys by accident--which also isn't a big deal until it's on top of everything else.

I bumped into someone who'd gotten my books from her daughter and she wanted to know where she could buy the Honor series because she had a lot of friends that wanted to read it, and she wanted to pass the books to them, but she couldn't. It should have made me feel good, but I just feel so stuck. Where do I go from here? What do I do with Honor? Where should I focus my time? I keep thinking that I need to sit down and get out some more queries on Honor, but I feel sacked every time I look in my inbox and see a rejection. Do I really want to deal with that so soon and right now? Nothing ventured is--but still... what if I don't feel like venturing right now? I don't feel like being rejected anymore. Honor is good. People LOVE Honor Among Thieves. Still, the thought of throwing her out to the wolves again fills me with dread.

Ugh. Then, here we are on Day Twenty-two, and I just don't know what to do about Scorched. Normally, I've finished and done a reread by now. What's wrong with me that I just feel so lost? I feel a little stuck over the ending. What am I doing with Scorched? Why do I keep getting nailed with the dreaded Writer's Block in regards to it? I can sense I'm about five thousand words from the end, but I just keep stopping every thousand words because I don't know where it's going. This isn't like me. I'm just so lost.

So, the normal solace I take in writing--is even frustrating.

Today in church we had a discussion about, of all things, the prevalence of profanity and moral decay in the media. Someone said, "What you permit--you promote," and my mom took me to task over profanity when she came to visit. It has me thinking and rethinking what profanity I do "allow" in my current bunch of books. Every time I write, I do so knowing that I'll be basically handing it over to a thirteen or fourteen year old stalker fan to read. Am I okay with the level of language in my books? So far, no one has said anything to me really, but it's just one more thing to think about--especially with Scorched being YA and having more than my usual amount of profanity due to who Scorch hangs out with every so often. (Auto shop guys don't use the cleanest language.)

Speaking of 'F' words:

I feel like a failure that I don't want to deal with queries right now. I feel like a failure because I don't want to clean right now. I feel like a failure because my kids are making me want to scream so frequently. I feel like a failure because I can't seem to write an ending to Scorched. We're stuck on a Sunday and I need to get to Friday. I just can't seem to fabricate four days of stuff. I can't get from Point A to Point B. There is no straight line! AHHHHH! Why? Why is there no straight line? There is always a straight line in my head.

So, I guess if we use the psychology of first and last on this post. I guess human nature has revealed that I'm most frustrated about my car and not being able to finish Scorched. That might be it. I don't know. The rest very well could be filler.

Anyway. This is more of a rant and a gripe than a post, but there you have it. I'm going to go eat frosting in front of the fire and hope for the ending to Scorched to slide into my head.

I hope, hope, hope, hope everyone is having a better weekend than me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day Twenty-one- Superstitions, jinxes, fate, lore, old wives tales, and hexes

So, I posted about how valuable "awful" can be, and then my water pump seized on my car on my way to visit my sister. This caused over-heating, and getting stranded, and whining kids. T knows how to push my buttons in a crisis mode--mostly because he gets impatient and can't sense my frustration and stress. Then, he fell apart in a Target because he couldn't have a cheese pizza (when I was trying to buy oil and anti-freeze.) He also dumped poor B straight in a puddle. There was crying from her. STRESS! In the middle, T kept asking, "When are we leaving? I don't want to be here anymore. I'm hungry. I want to go." (T doesn't "GET" situations--especially the more emotional they are. So, in his opinion, I was just wasting time and irritating him.) I'm stranded at my nice, sweet, obliging sister's house without meds, clothes, and the husband is trying to track down parts and figure out how to tow the car. Yeah. So, some awful experiences ARE NOT valuable.

So, I sort of feel like I jinxed my day by posting yesterday. I'm not a superstitious person in general, but I tend to subscribe to the whole "don't say how lucky you are out loud, because it's like asking for trouble" way of thinking. I feel like I can logically justify that in my head because I believe in the devil. On the other hand, I'm baffled by other superstitions like the complete standstill some of the world experiences in regards to the number thirteen.

Black cats? I don't care for cats, honestly. Kittens are cute but then they grow up into controlling bags of allergies. Still, I just found out that people have to keep black cats inside on Halloween. What the crap is that about? They're cats--they're no more evil in one shade over the other. (Yeah... I really don't like cats--partly because they always drape themselves across me as if they know I'm allergic. Oh... and they know. They're creepy smart.)

Ladders--I love to walk under ladders.

Mirrors--Isn't breaking them already enough bad luck in itself?

Despite all of this, I like to write about superstitions and such. I find creepy lore especially interesting. I wonder if perhaps some people believe about superstitions just to hedge their bets--or for a good excuse to take a day off work. (The husband says traffic is disturbingly light on Friday the 13th.) What is it about human nature that creates these strange illogical quirks? Sometimes, it's related to religious beliefs--even if it's just a general "if there is a force of good... there is a force for evil" belief. I also like to write about characters that can wield that "evil power" in some way or another. There is something tangible about the concept of "cursing and hexes." I like that. I guess it's good that I'm not superstitious about writing about superstitions. Nearly every one of my stories has some elements of folk lore or superstition built in.

My NaNoWriMo book deals with demons that are created by fire, and dogs that can drag them back to hell. I also have a "men in black" agency... which I would call a more modern paranoia. Still, demons... demons are fun. (In fiction--probably not so fun in real life. Definitely not actually.) My Honor series deals with superstitions and lore on a near constant basis. Magi, vampires, zombies, cursed objects, elixir of eternal life, skin-walkers, hellhounds, etc. It's all fun and games when dealing with the dark.

Is anyone else as fascinated by the weirdness that is superstition?

Isn't it weird that someone uncomfortable with even numbers actually isn't superstitious? If I could describe it, though, it wouldn't be that the numbers are unlucky so much as "sharp" as if they have an edge to them. I view even numbers with the same leery misgivings that I would a sharp knife being left out. It makes no sense--which is key with OCD. You know they don't make sense--and yet, they are.

Happy Saturday to everyone. Hopefully, I'll be home and in a better mood by tonight. I really hope so anyway. Yesterday was "sharp spike to the eyeball" awful. Today MUST be better. Do you hear me, FATE! Did you hear that??? Fate owes me better than this CRAP!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Day Twenty-- When a heinous past proves golden

Growing up with OCD is hell. I won't sugar coat it, because there is no sugary coating deep enough to take the sting off. I could tell you more but it would take too long and upset my mom--who had no idea and things like this weren't "talked about" when I was growing up.

Still, I survived. I get by. Drugs ease the pain of days and all that. Plus, and this is the real reason I'm grateful, with B having it--I know the worst of things, and I can help her so it won't affect her as much.

Also, and this can't be under-valued, living through things gives you a point of reference as a writer that you just can't research your way into.

My dad was military so I've lived a lot of different places. I've been in a lot of different schools. I've made a lot of different friends. I've had a lot of "first day at a new school" experiences.

My high school experience was bizarre--there is no other word for it. I went through the first three years in the cesspool of moral decay where gangs were prevalent and shootings were frequent, and it was a mad chaos of humanity. The last year I spent at a sheltered school where everyone, other than the guy I dated, was the same religion, and it would have been the polar extreme from where I'd come. I was never popular, but I hung with both crowds somehow. I knew a few rejects--I knew a few popular kids. I saw a lot. I was amused by both those wasting their lives and those sheltering their lives. It felt easy to get into the minds of those around me, because I noticed everything due to my OCD.

After highschool, I did a little college with a focus on English. I stayed in dorms for a while. I went to technical school. I got a job. I got into an abusive relationship. I got out. I met my husband and fell in love. We moved to the PNW--the most beautiful place on earth. I focused on my career for a few years where I met a huge scope of different people and learned what made people tick from an adult's perspective. Then, I had kids--and that opened up the world of parenting, Autism, and therapy. The husband and I went through marital difficulties due to stress. We've bought and sold houses. We've dealt with the suicide of a neighbor. People married. People divorced. People lived. People died. In the middle, I sat watching.

As writers, regardless of what you're writing, it'll only be as real as it is to you.

If you can't understand the lone girl at a new school, you can't write her story. You won't know her story. You won't know how someone will react when they've just received bad news, if you've never gotten a call in the middle of the night--or sat in a doctor's office and heard the words that would change your life. If you've never fallen in love, you can't know what it feels like for the rush of emotions--and the way your heart feels a little like it wants to explode.

If you've never been to Prom, you can't feel the magic.

If you've never been to a funeral, you can't understand the unreality despite proof.

It's true that we'll still need to take a few steps out into the dark of imagination and fill in blanks, but writing a novel shouldn't feel like grasping. You should be able to step into a different pair of shoes and know a few of the steps so you can imagine the journey and the dance.

Anyway, I was thinking about what I've lived through and how much it's impacted my writing. I know why people are the way they are. I know why I am the way I am.

There are days I'd want a redo on despite their value to a writer, so I'm grateful we don't get that chance. If I had to have it easy, I would. Having it hard, though, has been the best resource for my writing, and it's not something you can duplicate or hand to someone else other than through your characters.

One of my friends said that one of my characters is the most like me, but I find myself thinking that every last one of my characters is a little like me--even if it's just in the tiniest way. I'm them. They're me.

Okay, this is a little deep for a Friday--especially after a bunch of silly Flash fiction.

Still, has anyone else thought of how much the bad experiences as well as the good have impacted their lives? Were there specific experiences that really taught you about human nature?

I'll be gone for most of the day, so we'll call it "unplugging" because I also want to work on Scorched. I got a sudden burst of inspiration last night after a week of shuffling along, and I want to work on it before I take off for the rest of the day. Have a good weekend everyone!

Friday Flash Fiction (Bloody Mantis Aliens)

Okay, so I've dragged my flash fiction over from Flashy Fiction. If you're not there--you're square--that's the only reasonable explanation. Each day they post a prompt and everyone so inclined writes like a fiend for ten or twenty minutes and posts it. It's a fun bunch, and they have a November contest which only requires you to post. So, just do it! I order you!

"Awww, Trevor! How'd you manage to get blood all over that?"

I won't say that vampire hunting is a highly skilled job. It used to be, but that was back when people assumed that vampires were smart and hot. That was when they were still stuff of legends. Now that every fourth person is a vampire--no one wants to track down their neighbor and stake them. Besides, the first thing to go is their minds, and it's like dealing with large, deadly cockroaches really. They were slower than cockroaches, though.

This new recruit they'd stuck me with was as dumb as they came. I'd been bailing him out of one mess to the next.

"Trevor," I yelled again. "Oi! You're supposed to be aiming for the middle of its chest, you git!" All he'd managed to do thus far was to make sure the stupid vamp could never have children. How was his aim THAT bad?

"He keeps moving," Trevor yelled back.

This was what came of dropping the benefits and making it contract work. No decent person wanted to stake effin' bloody vampires at five a.m. when the only company was the sanitation workers.

"Training another?" Tim asked as he dumped the trash from a nearby dumpster into his truck.

"Always," I said. "I'm always training another. We're starting off slow-like here in the burb park, but I think it might be a week before we even make it into the city."

Tim laughed and asked, "Hey. Can I have a try?"

I tossed him a stake. Like a javelin, it flew from Tim's hand and right into the vamp's chest as he was trying to fall on top of Trevor. (Why was Trevor laying there?) The stake had just the right amount of power to dust the vamp, but fall effortlessly next to Trevor.

"That was bloody amazing," I said, impressed.

"Thanks," Tim said.

"Would you ever...?" I started to ask.

"No! Are you kidding? I make twice as much doing this," Tim said. He waved and his truck took off.

Trevor wandered back to me. "He kept moving."

"Yes," I agreed.

If you wanted to call that moving.... The old man had been moving slower as a vampire than he probably had in life--and he looked to be over a hundred.

"You just don't have the killer instinct, Trevor. Come on. Let's go back to the building. Dawn is about to break." I tossed him the spare stake bag to put in our trunk.

"What's with all the pouches of blood in the back?" Trevor asked as I opened the driver's side door.

"Bait. If we can't find any, we drop a bag of blood, and they come for miles."

Trevor nodded and slammed the trunk shut.

It was a quiet drive back. I drove Trevor through some of the more vampire-rich areas on our way back--as a sort of inspirational ride. They scurried around in shadows--just waiting their turn to be staked.

We'd parked the car and gotten out when I heard them.

"What the...?" I asked as I stared into the darkness.

"What's that sound?" Trevor asked.

I saw it... a large pool of blood trailing from our trunk out into the street.

"Aww, Trevor! How'd you manage to get blood all over that?"

There was at least a dozen of them snarling in the dark. I opened the trunk to get out the stakes. That's when I realized that Trevor had upended the bag of stakes on top of the now empty bags of blood. We'd been dragging blood all over the city, and now we most likely had dozens of the giant blood-sucking cockroaches heading for us.

"Well, Trevor, today you're actually going to earn your minimum wage. Try to stay alive until the dawn breaks in..." I looked at my watch. Yeah. I'd been training a new guy tomorrow. There was no way Trevor would last twenty minutes. Maybe I'd let the new guy stake Trevor.

I look at him. "Look. We have to end this. We're over."

"Why?" he asks, pouting.

I check my watch. "Um, in about four minutes you're going to want to eat my brains."

Okay. That was fun--mostly. Now to the dirty, ugly business of killing.

I look at him. "Look. We have to end this. We're over."

"Why?" he asks, pouting.

I check my watch. "Um, in about four minutes you're going to want to eat my brains." It's weird to be wearing a watch, but we were trying to fit "in."

"Are you sure we don't need to do it again? I liked that," he says.

I roll my eyes.

"Anyway, I'm pretty sure you're wrong," the creature who'd chosen the name "Bob" replies. "I watched that documentary on mantis too. It was the female that rips the head off the male after copulation."

"Are we sure that mantis and man are similar?" I ask--again.

"Bob" shrugs. "The great overlord told us that we needed to watch educational television if we were to properly infiltrate this alien life form. Man... mantis... they're just different breeds of the same thing. We've copulated and I've given you my seed... you're supposed to rip my head off."

"Do I have to eat it?"

"C'mon, Batty, we went to all the trouble to time from copulation to cannibalism--we even suffered through those stupid hair soap and infant butt padding ads to get the timing right. Don't you want to fit in?"

"It's BETTY not BATTY."

"Whatever. I told you to go with Jane," "Bob" says.

I ripped his head off--he'd made it fun. There was no way I was going to eat it, though. It's not like he'd know.


"You're late."
"I swear, I have a good excuse!"
"You'd better. You've got three seconds to explain."


Courtney was waiting inside the theater with her dagger-sharp eyes poised on the door for my entrance--my very, very late entrance.

"You're late."

"I swear, I have a good excuse!"

"You'd better. You've got three seconds to explain."

Three seconds? Last time she'd given me ten seconds. This didn't bode well for our relationship.

"Aliens," I said. "I was abducted by aliens."

Growling, she hissed, "Owen, you little twerp! What is it with you and aliens? It was cute the first time, but this is the third time, and it's just a little ridiculous to hear from a grown man."

"I swear--it's the truth, Court. They picked me up outside my house, did a little probing, dropped me off here. I'll need a ride to my car. It's on the side of the road about a mile from my house."

She scowled at me. It wasn't attractive, but it seemed a poor time to mention it. "Are you ON something?"

"Like what?" They'd asked me to bring out my girlfriend, but I'd declined--maybe I should mention that--win some points back.

"Forget it!"

Storming out, the beam caught her mid-stride. As they towed her up into the mother-ship I yelled, "Be strong, Court. It's really not so bad--just stings a bit the first time. I'll just drive your car back to mine--if that's okay. Guys, if you could drop her off at my house when you're done, that'd be great."

Looking down at the movie ticket in my hand, I changed my mind. There was no point in wasting nine bucks, and I'd been anxious to see this.

"Take your time!" I yelled up, pointing back at the theater.

The first time took the longest anyway.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day Nineteen--Nothing like a little Hooky

Diana and I have been discussing this back and forth about our WIPs and manuscripts we've been beta-reading. I really need to go back to the beginning of Scorched and check out my "hook." Does it come early enough? Is it strong enough? Do I immediately bog it down with other things? Is it "hooky" enough? (LOL... that sounds funny, but I'm leaving it.) Does it continue to hook through the manuscript?

I read a depressing post on an agent's blog this week saying that in this market "really good isn't good enough."

So, that goes back to the idea of your "hook" being strong enough. I have to run, but this is like a mental note sent to myself for later to check out my "hook."

"Hey, baby, check out my hook." Wink wink. Nod nod. You know what I mean?

Oh... and I posted a fairly irritable and conservative post on Lisa and Laura Write. The video annoyed me to no end. I like Lisa and Laura a lot, but the video made by another author... left me unimpressed. It's a fairly rare thing for me to be that annoyed, but the video tipped the scale. As I said, though--nothing but love for Lisa and Laura. They rock.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day Eighteen-- My Beautiful Wickedness

Imaginary rep points awarded to the first person to post where the phrase above comes from. (Aside from Diana if she is reading blogs--we talked about this last week as a possible book title--before I realized it sounded too close to Wicked Lovely--in my opinion. Le sigh.)

Villains. Whether they're metaphorical or real, every story has an antagonist or an antagonistic element. Otherwise it's like Seinfeld--a story about nothing. Well, okay, there are those stories, but they usually bore me. I like conflict. I like angst. I like villains a lot.

I know I bring up the subject of YA topics a lot, but I think this spreads beyond that while still being pertinent.

How evil can you/will you go with your "villain"? Does it seem like sometimes that you have to "off" someone to prove your villain is truly evil? Is it to justify killing your villain in the end? Okay, let's play murder by numbers here:

Dream a Little Dream: Serial Killer (12+ body count) Comeuppance- Hero smacks him in the head with a rock-booyah-arrested.

A Little Crazy Talk: Mad Deranged Killer (body count of one) Comeuppance- Hit in the head with a maglight-booyah-arrested.

Someone to Watch over Me: Stalker (proof of abuse) Comeuppance- Suicide

Face of the Phantom: Psycho (attempted murder and assault) Comeuppance-broken face by chick-booyah-arrested.

For in that Sleep: Serial Killer (body count of two) Comeuppance- Nailed in the head with a baseball bat-so satisfying-arrested.

Quality of Justice: Hitman (high body count) Comeuppance- Killed in defense of another.

Parallel Lives: Multiple villains (criminal mischief and body count of one)- Comeuppance-beat to unconsciousness with a garbage can and/or arrested.

Stories and Magic: Multiple villains (attempted murder in the case of two, execution by another, a barrel of hitmen with an unknown body count) Comeuppance-life ruined/sent to rot in a small village jail manned by people who hate you (my favorite comeuppance EVER) and arrested.

Share with me a Lullaby: Multiple villains ( 12+ body count for some ) Comeuppance- killed by other villains or suicide.

My Little Runaway: Multiple villains (body count of one and attempted murder) Comeuppance- tasered and arrested.

Re: Straint: Multiple villains (hitmen with unknown body count) Comeuppance- poisoned or killed by other hitmen or dying slowly from disease

Sheri's Tales: Multiple villains (attempted murder) Comeuppance- killed by crushing them.

I won't go through the Honors (serial killers, skinwalkers, etc) because it would actually be spoilers, but you get the point.

So, Scorched: I've got multiple pyro demons including one sire (criminal mischief and considering the possibility of murder) Comeuppance-banishment to hell. (As you can see--this is a new and exciting comeuppance for me. I even like to say it in a deep voice.)

Still, I find it interesting that all my villains receive their comeuppance in a very satisfying way. Is this a psychological thing--that I need them to be caught and punished in some way? I need it to be "fair?"

Actually--I do. So little of our lives outside of fiction are fair--and I like to see the bad punished and the good win. When I was reading "The Ruins" it left me dissatisfied, because that didn't happen. So, I guess that makes my writing unrealistic, but I don't care. There is something cathartic about everything working out--even if it's not perfectly. I like to see resolution. I love a good comeuppance.

How about you? Spill on your villains... or your favorite villains for the non-writers. What's their body count or infraction? What's their comeuppance? Do you need resolution like I do?

Can evil triumph?

Does a YA book get a different level of villain than an adult book?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Day Seventeen- Excuse Me, I Speak Jive

Okay, so some of you may remember the above dialogue from Airplane. (It's also why occasionally I say that I picked a bad day to stop sniffing glue... for those of you wondering if I had a drug habit.) They pick the most ludicrous person of all to speak "jive" of course--the older lady.

I'm currently listening to an audiobook that makes me want to stick pencils in my ears because the author thinks she speaks jive. She sooooo doesn't. Her twenty-one year old MC has the out-dated image of what a twenty-one year old was like--well twenty-one years ago... or longer. Her dialogue is hokey. The ideas are old-fashioned. It's just not reality. The problem is that this particular writer has been writing for thirty or forty years. Her audience has grown with her and, lucky for her, they're near her age. Okay. Fine. Write for your fans. That's fine. On the other hand, keep your characters over the age of thirty or forty, because you CAN'T write from the viewpoint of anyone under that age. Ugh. It's so terrible that it defies description. I've tried to explain the sheer awfulness of it, but it's just not possible. The two MCs are like caricatures of twenty year olds. I nearly want someone else to listen to it to share the horror that is this book.

So, that brings me to the topic of "speaking jive." I think about half of us are writing for a YA audience--at least at times. We've discussed language before, but it just keeps dancing around my brain.

I once read a review on Amazon from a mom on a book that was vying for the "Breakthrough Novel Award" and she said something to the effect of: This book is simply not realistic because there isn't any swearing in it. On the other hand, I wouldn't let my daughter read it if there was swearing in it. Well, that's what we call "a paradox", isn't it? I think a lot of parents feel that way. How will our intended audience feel about it?

Do they want reality?


Do they want something that dodges around reality without getting their book snatched yet without being patronizing?

That's a fuzzy line. A really fuzzy line.

That's even before you get to slang... and my personal conundrum: texting.

I'm currently writing the occasional text conversations into this book, but I'm not writing them in "text speak" because it would make my head explode. Seriously. It would. My sister and I text back and forth, and I use full sentences and punctuation. I feel like texting is contributing to the fall of grammar as we know it. I was reading a book with text conversations in it--painful. Agony. I felt brain cells dying.

Suddenly, I find myself questioning: am I doing the same thing this author--who has nearly driven me to drink--is doing? Am I attempting to speak jive when really I'm not?

How do you handle these things?

Now, for the Seussian challenge in regards to texting conversations: "Would you, could you in a box? Would you, could you--with a fox?"

No, Sam I am, I really, really couldn't. If it comes to writing the conversations in text speak, I'll cut them--rather than make my eyes bleed. That's even besides the fact that I can't speak that level of jive. Shudder. It makes me want to climb into a corner and sing songs like Kum-ba-ya.

Day Sixteen- Following their instincts....

So, I'm still pushing off my planned topic because I noticed something today when I was dropping my kids off.

It's dumping rain here... buckets. So, a lot of parents were dropping their kids off at school. Plus, our school is a nice school so we have a lot of parents that "open enroll" their kids from outside the boundaries so they have to bring their kids. The end result being that the parking lot is mad chaos in a circle for about twenty minutes every morning... and more so on rainy days.

I'd already dropped the kids off when it happened. As I was waiting in line to exit the parking lot, the first group of kids with a parent (on foot) went out of their way to cross in front of me. It happened again and again. I was watching around me and I would guess that people were four or five times more likely to cross in front of my car than other cars. I even had people choose to cross in front of me over the cross walk right behind me. I don't know what it was specifically. I'm overly cautious by nature (OCD in action) so I tend to leave a larger gap in front of me when it comes to driving and idling. Was it that? I also am not a rolling idle sort of person who eats up inches as soon as they become available. So, my brake lights were severely obvious, and I wasn't moving--was that it? What part of these people's instincts said that I was the right person to cross in front of? Their instincts were right--I'm cautious to the point of disturbing. I'm also the one that lost children in stores come to. I can't tell you how many times I've taken a child to find their parent or walked them to the courtesy desk. Children also come talk to me over other adults. What is it about me that says "safe"? When I was helping in T's preschool class, I had several kids--the first day--go home and mention me as a friend.

Instincts. They're weird. Sometimes they're logical. Sometimes they aren't, but they are there. I just wrote a scene that involved instincts of a crowd--which are even more baffling at times. Did you know that if you're ever being assaulted... instead of yelling for help... you should yell "FIRE?" I learned it in a self-defense class put on by a police officer. Statistically, you'll be more likely to have people rush to see the fire than to help. (Plus, I imagine it'll confuse the heck out of your attacker.)

I feel like instincts are key to writing three dimensional characters. Writing fast--as the NaNo opportunity provides, I think gives you even more of an ability to get into characters--to write THEIR dialogue and not yours. Every time I say to myself, "No, he/she wouldn't do that--she would do this," I mentally pat myself on the back for recognizing the difference between my instincts and my character's.

The other nice thing about NaNo is that you can go wildly off onto tangents that you might later cut, but it does get that word count up. Plus, who knows... maybe your tangent is right on your character's instincts.

If you don't feel like talking about this, the post below is empty... so you can say anything you feel like.

I'm having a bit of a Thanksgiving type of day today. I'm so freakishly thankful for antibiotics. I'm also thankful the husband replaced the tire on my car. I'm thankful for meeting Diana. I'm thankful that my parents are home from France after a year and a half and we'll get to see them this week. I'm thankful for a wood pile that is keeping my house warm. I'm thankful my kids are in school for several hours so I can find some peace and quiet. (T has been out of control. I think the strange feeling from his head wound is setting off his sensory system. He has this same problem every time he gets his hair cut.) I'm thankful for so many online and real life friends. I'm thankful that I'm meeting a friend this week for pie and a place that makes amazing pies. I'm very thankful for what sleep I got last night after so many nights of coughing and feeling like my lungs were drowning. I'm thankful for a friend that turned me onto to Castle. I love that show. I'm thankful for a laptop that makes my life so easy. I'm thankful for my husband who made the best roast in the world yesterday on a day that needed it. I'm very thankful today. I'm very thankful for the Frosting I'm about to go eat.

Have a good Monday everyone.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day Fifteen- Halfway to Emptiness

I had some idea about what I wanted to talk about but I'm pushing it off until tomorrow.

This is ANOTHER empty post. That's right! No subject. Say whatever you have on your mind. Nothing is a tangent because there is no thread of topic here.

Oh... antibiotics--good. I had an awful time getting to sleep last night, but I woke up feeling LESS horrible than I did the previous morning. Everyone at church kept saying, "You look terrible." I answered, "Yes, but I'm less terrible than I might have been." Apparently, this is a silver lining that not everyone sees.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Day Fourteen- Don't cross the streams--most of the time.

Okay, do you remember that part in Ghostbusters when they've got their packs on and:

Egon: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.

Peter: What?

Egon: Don't cross the streams.

Peter: Why?

Egon: It would be bad.

Peter: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean "bad"?

Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

Ray: Total Protonic Reversal.

Peter: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

While I think it's a rare day when Ghostbuster's logic doesn't explain life as I know it, some of you might be wondering if I need to see a "special" kind of doctor. I'll explain. First of all, you'll remember at the end of Ghostbusters--they cross the streams, right? It's the only way at times.

So, you're currently booking on your WIP or NaNo book.... Everything is going either good or bad, but it's going. At what point, do you bring a beta in to assess? I mean... if you're only 20K into something--it's maybe one third of the way done, but YOU KNOW it's going to go through heavy rewrites before you really WANT to show it to anyone. For crying out loud, if you're Diana, you've probably got a bunch of embarrassing homophones hanging around laughing at you behind your back. Write, Diana? I mean, right? (Snicker) Just kidding. Homophones are tricky little buggers.

On the other hand--what if you're taking it the wrong direction? What if your audience is like "what the crap? I have NO idea what you're even talking about here." If you get a beta in there to assess the damage and praise the good stuff--maybe--just maybe you can get things going in the right direction.

The reason I'm thinking of this is that my sister had a really, really, really bad week this week. Funerals. Pet death. Bad. Her sister bailed on her due to some lame sickness that has brought her nigh onto death. So, my sister asked to read all my WIP because she needed to read something new that would restore her joi de verve. It's rare that I let people see my WIPs--especially since I can finish them so fast. I held off on Honor Six (which I've discovered people have been desperate to harass me about, but afraid I'll quit if they do.) I handed over Scorched, Versus the Bounty, and the Chosen Changeling. As I did so, I realized that I actually wanted advice. What was worth finishing next? I'll finish Scorched of course, but I wasn't sure what to do about the Chosen Changeling. I was booking on Versus the Bounty for a while, and then I got distracted by NaNo. So, anyway... she came back saying that she liked the Chosen Changeling the best (which I wasn't shelving, but it was lower on my list of things to finish. I was genuinely shocked. It might be the genre, but still....)

So, bringing in betas to give opinions on an unfinished product... can you do it? Even if there are major flaws that would embarrass you if your beta buddy mentioned it on her blog?

I'm a perfectionist so it takes a really good reason for me to hand around copies of something unfinished. On the other hand, the wisdom of Ghostbusters--sometimes you just need to cross the streams.

Today, I'm going into the doctor--as soon as the temperature outside is about forty degrees. Brrr.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Day Thirteen- When Your Luck Runs Out

I didn't write at all yesterday. GASP! Scorched was unscathed the whole day. The husband made a point of noticing that I reach 51K and then sit back and do nothing.

I was just busy "networking" aka "running all over the internet commenting on everyone's business."

However, it is Friday the 13th, and I wanted to talk about dust bunny books. There are two books that are commonly held to be your "practice" books. The first book you write--and anything written during NaNo.

I've got this first book--the first book I wrote, and I don't know what to do with it. They say your first book is a throw-away book, but I like this book and it's integral to the Sarah series. I don't want to throw it away, but it's sort of... pacing impaired. I think it may have been over-edited. Plus, it's about someone with OCD written very stream of consciousness, so it's choppy from that too.

Has anyone recovered a book that was drawer-worthy? or will edits just Frankenstein it to something hideous and unrecognizable?

I almost feel like starting over, but I don't want to do that either. Ugh. I just don't know. Plus, the poor thing was even shifted to be second in the series, so it suffered through a batch of rewrites over that. I have friends clamoring to get their hands on this other series, and some of the later Sarahs are rocking awesome. I really wish I could save Devi from the middle of the books and give her an entire series.

It's not that bad, but... ugh.


Also, can you actually shelve books? Will you shelve your NaNo book if you're writing one? I can't stand to see books shelved. It just seems so sadly tragics. Stories going untold. Characters thrown away. Sniff. Sniff.

BTW--I'm still sick. It's time to see a doctor about a culture I think. (I meant a throat culture--because I'm not sure if that made sense. I'm a little impaired myself today.) I'm worried I have Strep throat. I used to get it so often when I was in my early teens that they decided I was a carrier. Now, I seem to have no tolerance to it. This has been an odd sickness. I'm not piling up Kleenex by the box load. It's just in my throat and lungs. Every time I get something like this and bring up Strep throat, the husband goes into public service announcement mode with the kids and brings up that Jim Henson died of strep throat. I think this makes us sick in a new way, but I can't be sure.

B got an award today, though. She got a "Terrific Kid Award" at an assembly. T got this last year and has turned into a braggart about it--to the point that he's become a pest. Thank goodness that B got hers now too. We get to put the bumper sticker on our car and become one of "those" parents. It feels like we're slapping on a badge of "uncoolness" in doing so, though. I'm not sure how to counteract it. I did wear a Pantera sweatshirt to the assembly, so that would win me cool points--except for the fact I wore it because it's warm and snuggly. Well, also, I've never gone to a Pantera concert, and I don't know where I got this sweatshirt. I usually get "nods" from teenagers that see it--like I'm hard core. Is it wrong that I don't correct their impression?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Flashy Fiction Friday (catty chat, speed dating)

So, I only have two flash pieces this week but I may have extra next week. The Thursday Flashy person didn't post a prompt, so I think that's why there isn't a prompt for Friday either. I can either get my trousers in a twist or go into a corner and cry... or I can just wait patiently and tack it onto next week.

I say this every Friday, but I also employ sarcasm sometimes and there is no sarcasm font, so this might be why you're not all running to the site. Flashy Fiction is awesome. Go there. Now. They post a prompt. You think about it. Flash on a brilliant work of literary fiction. Write it up in ten to twenty minutes. Praises galore. Instant gratification of being a success. Ego rises above the dismal swamp of rejected queries. Yay! Plus, it's good practice. Deb, Walt, and Girl with One Eye (GwOE for future reference because I'm lazy) all post there.

Okay, here are my pieces for this week:


I stared at the cat. "Did you just talk?"

It stared back. "No."


I stared at the cat. "Did you just talk?"

It stared ba
ck. "No."

No, of course it hadn't. Wait. "Are you trying to trick me into thinking you're not a talking cat?" I asked the gray tabby. I couldn't believe I was even having this conversat

"No," it said again. That creaky voice sounded familiar, and the cat's mouth hadn't moved.

"I'm going to go eat all the lemon cookies, do you want some?" I asked.

"Staaay Awaaay from the lemon cookies! They're not yoooours," it moaned. I saw a tuft of gray hair peek above the back of the couch, slightly above th
e cat's perch.

"Okay, kids, who switched Grandma's
meds out with tic tacs again???!!!" I shouted behind me. "You know how weird she gets when you do that!"



I hate speed dating. Why did I let Kendra talk me into it again?

Oh look. Here is my date for the next fifteen minutes. He looks like he just got out of prison.

"My name is Doug," he says, sitting down.

"Amy," I reply with a frozen smile. He's date number six.

Meanwhile, Kendra is at the next table with the guy who I assumed was a mortician and unable to smile, and he's laughing his stupid head off. He'd yawned while talking to me and looked at his watch six times.

I hate speed dating. My fake smile is starting to hurt my cheeks.

"Here are some break the ice questions," I say, holding up the sheet I'd been given in case a date isn't going well. It's true that it's too early to call on this guy, but I have a hunch.

Doug leans forward, saying, "Look. Let's cut to the chase. You want me. I want you. You can try on all these other guys but none of them will make smoke come out your ears as you scream their name...if you know what I mean. Let's just exchange phone numbers, and we'll skip this talking crap."

I look at the break the ice questions and answer them in my head on Doug's behalf. No. As black as my soul. No. A naked lady on my bicep. Yes. An STD. OH YEAH. Smashing beer cans with my head. Seven.

"Alright, Doug," I say, writing down Kendra's cell phone number on a napkin. "Sometimes I like to play hard to get--just to keep it interesting."

"I can't wait. I like the hunt." He fakes a bite in the air, and for a moment--I almost feel guilty.

Then, another round of laughter breaks out from the mortician, and Kendra puts her arm around him, giggling.

"Let me give you my work number too," I add with my first real smile.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Day Twelve-- Optimus Prime Says: "Know Thy Audience."

This is selected text from my son's new Transformers book:

"We Primes represent the entire cybertronian race, standing inviolate, incorruptible--a figurehead. We encapsulate an ideal, an archetype...."

"Despite vociferous, if duly respectful protestations from Prowl, I take Ark-32 and set course for the Muta-Gaath Nebula, and, within its far from welcoming gaseous volatility...."

Wait for the sound effects, though--surely THEY should be easy to understand. Saying them out loud SHOULD help you hear the action, right?









Uhh... yeah. Maybe not. It sucked to have to admit to my six year old that I had no idea what his Transformers book said. I turned it over to the husband who was able to translate it effectively--though with some frustration. You know--because every six to twelve year old boy knows what the term "vociferous" means. The husband walked by while I was reading it and stopped cold in his tracks, asking, "What on earth are you reading?"

Which begs the question: "If a thirty-three year old English Major doesn't understand what the book says, who were they writing this for?"

By the way, this is only the first small section of the book--the first twenty pages of a two hundred page book.

I know this subject (word choice) has come up in a few other blogs: Bane's, for example. Still, I have a question about it in regards to POV.

So, my NaNo manuscript is going well, but I'm occasionally wanting to stick in words that just may not be right. If this were a third person book, I'd have more license, I think. If you're writing a first person book from a seventeen year old's perspective, how far can you stretch the vocabulary when describing actions, attributions, giving a little back-story? In dialogue, it would be obviously stupid to start vociferously peppering my speech with complex vocabulary. (Although if Optimus Prime does it... doesn't that means it's okay?) Should the entire book have the same exact level for both thought, perceived, and spoken language?

I'm beta-ing a book for Diana that is in the first person, and I noted a word used in a description that I thought was too much for a sixteen year old, and it got me thinking about my own book. (If I'm going to be hyper-critical of anyone, it's going to be me.) BTW, Di, that's part of my reasoning for thinking the book should be shifted to third person--language constraints.

So, while this might be a rewrite thing to address, I'm still curious. If a seventeen year old wouldn't say it to the person next to them, can you still use it in non-verbal communication in a first person narrative?

Okay, I'm going to "out" Diana--which may horrify her, but it illustrates my point, and she might forgive me. The sentence that got me thinking about this started with "I demurred..." but it was this teenager mentally describing an action.

Can a sixteen year old "demure" in a first person narrative?

Can a robot vociferously toss around ten dollar words in a first person narrative meant for young boys?

On the one hand, you don't want to talk down to your audience, but there must be allowances made for your audience, right? Even with context--in a first person narrative--there are constraints, right?


Yes, I'm nitpicking, but we're all big kids, and I've crossed the 50K mark, and my middle name is "nitpick." (Thanks, Mom. Way to make my life awkward in junior high.)

As for me, I still sound vile, and it's hard to sleep at night when your lungs feel like they're drowning you. T's eyebrow wound--should have been stitched. The glue is not enough. I think it's too late to go back and have them redo it, though. Dang it! I called it too. I walked in and said, "Stitches." I got over-ruled by so-called medical professionals who are not professionals in a six year old boy with sensory issues who WILL bang his head against every available surface. T was sort of excited to tell the story at school. (Hopefully, he drops the part about it being his little five year old girlfriend. They're going to get married some day, so he might as well learn to stand up to her when she is young. She's a bossy little thing, but that's part of her charm.)

Happy Thursday, everyone. Go have some Frosting. (Wink wink, Deb.)