Wednesday, November 3, 2010
For now, those of you who are participating in NaNo and would like more buddies can find me there as mkdbail. I welcome your buddyage!
Good luck and to all of you who are similarly overworked, hang in there. You're not alone.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
My submission to the fest is an excerpt from my novel. The set up: Dusty is a secondary character, but one of my faves. He's a faerie who can talk to animals. He's out one morning and meets up with Bamboo, who is a cat.
Dusty pumped his wings harder as he zigzagged through the forest, enjoying the early morning before he and Willow started their day. He loved summer mornings and often got up early so he could visit with his animal friends, making it a point to check in on them and share gossip and news every few days. This morning he’d gone farther than he had for several weeks and was just about to turn around and start back when he noticed that the human house that had been empty for months now had lights on inside. He flew closer to get a better look and saw a woman sitting on the porch, eyes closed, with an open book laying across her chest. The cat on her lap lay sprawled on his back, but he was awake and watched Dusty as he approached. It had been ages since Dusty had chatted with a cat and because he enjoyed meeting new animals when he got the chance, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to talk to this kitty, even if there was a human dangerously close by.
It won’t hurt to just say hi.
He flew down and landed on the porch railing without a sound. He stood still and tense, holding his breath, as he watched the woman sleeping. Her breathing was heavy and her eyes moved back and forth beneath their lids. Satisfied that she was, indeed, asleep, Dusty relaxed and with a big grin on his face he waved at the cat, who eyeballed him suspiciously.
“Pssst, over here kitty,” Dusty whispered, his wave more vigorous. The cat growled at him.
“Hey, be nice! I’m just trying to be friends. Come over here so we can chat!”
The cat rolled upright, glared at Dusty, then jumped down to the porch and sauntered over to where Dusty waited. He was a beautiful cat with fluffy orange fur which made Dusty want to reach out and ruffle his cheeks, but this particular kitty didn’t look excited to see him. He couldn’t understand the cat’s hostility. It had been his experience that most animals were curious and happy to meet him.
“What’s wrong, kitty? I won’t hurt you.”
Dusty jumped down and landed lightly on the porch where the cat sniffed him with cautious contempt.
“C’mon Kitty, what’s the problem? Why won’t you talk to me?”
What are you? Dusty heard the cat’s thoughts flood his mind, happy he seemed to be warming up to him.
“I’m fae. We have a settlement here in the forest. My name is Dusty. What’s your name?”
My person calls me Bamboo.
“Cool name! You and your person haven’t been here long, have you? What happened to the nice old lady who used to live here?”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“Well, isn’t that the polite thing to say when someone dies?”
I didn’t know her, so I don’t really care.
“Wow. You’re not a very cheerful fellow, are you?”
It’s not a matter of being cheerful. I just didn’t know her, so it isn’t important to me. Did you know her?
“Sort of. I’ve seen her a few times, but it’s been a while since I’ve been here so I didn’t know she’d died. Why are you and your person here?”
Holly stirred in the rocker.
You’d better be careful, you’ll wake her.
Now, go check out the rest of the entries and enjoy!
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Friday, September 24, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Their house was small and homey. The space was loaded with a soft overstuffed couch and chairs in mismatched patterns. In the kitchen, Willow was cooking something that smelled good enough to make Shadow’s stomach growl. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was.
“That smells great, Willow.”
Willow began the business of serving the meal and not too long after she’d set out plates and bread, Dusty burst through the door, skidding to a stop in the middle of the room. Starrie and Shadow jumped when the door slammed open, but Willow seemed to take it in stride.
“Where've you been, Dusty?” she asked as she dished up another bowl for him.
Dusty leaned over, hands on his knees, catching his breath. “You’ll never believe me even if I tell you,” he said between heaving breaths.
“Try us,” Shadow said.
“Well, I was flying through the forest, saying hi to some friends, and it was just such a beautiful morning I kept on flying, you know? I ended up in a pretty meadow where I saw a deer I know and she introduced me to her baby, and then I saw some lights through the trees so I went to check it out.”
“So, what was it?” Shadow prompted him.
Dusty gulped a couple of shallow breaths as he went to the kitchen and got a drink. “Willow, you remember the house outside the forest where that nice old lady used to live?”
“Well, she doesn’t live there anymore.”
Shadow heaved a sigh. Dusty’s storytelling irritated him, mostly because it took him forever to get to the point. He struggled to maintain his patience as he watched Dusty guzzle his drink, wipe his mouth and put the cup in the sink. He wondered if there would to be any more to the tale other than an announcement that some old human woman no longer resided in the house she used to reside in.
“If she doesn’t live there, why were the lights on?” Starrie asked.
“Exactly!” Dusty exclaimed, as if the mystery were solved.
“Was there someone else there now?” Willow prompted.
“Yes there was. I got close enough to see a young woman on the porch and she had a beautiful ginger kitty on her lap. He was so furry and it’s been a really long time since I talked to a cat. So I made sure the lady was completely asleep and I snuck up to the porch and talked to the kitty. But it turns out he wasn’t so friendly after all.”
So, that's my entry. It's not a feast, just a little breakfast among friends. Hmmm. Wonder what happened between Dusty and the cat?
Now go check out the rest of the scenes at Jaded Love Junkie !
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
Monday, September 13, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
I'm nearly finished with revisions of my first novel and will be sending it out to betas soon, then beginning the querying process, so I felt it was prudent to begin the process of assuming my pseudonym. An interesting point Rachelle made in her blog post on pen names is that writers should start the query process from the beginning using their pseudonym. Do all of your correspondence using your pen name, and identify yourself in that way. You don't need to tell the agent it's not your real name until they offer you representation. This is good information to know, and something I had no idea about before I read her blog post. So, thanks Rachelle!
Friday, September 3, 2010
As I've commented here before, I'm not a poet by any stretch of the imagination, but I do love haiku - they're deceptively simple yet can be so zen. And I'm not good at writing them. Like I said deceptively simple, not actually simple.
On her site Stephanie suggested that blogfest participants write haiku based on their WIP, so rather than make an attempt at a "real" haiku (i.e., seasonal references, nature-related, moras vs syllables, etc), which I'm sure I'd butcher, I wrote one about my paranormal romance WIP.
Faeries are real. What?!
Rogue fae father wants her dead.
Can soul mate save her?
If I can come up with one for my sci-fi WIP I'll add it tomorrow!
Check out the rest of the entries and enjoy the fest!
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
This is an excerpt from my sci-fi WIP. It's right at the 1000 word limit, so it's a little long. But hope you like it!
“Strip,” Snake commands.
“Yeah, right. I don’t think so,” I say, and a nervous laugh ripples through the crowd. I guess I just challenged the pack’s Alpha.
“You don’t really have a choice,” he says. And although it’s a seriously creepy command, he’s right. I’ve got no weapon and I can’t fight my way off the ship. But I'll be damned if I'll stand here buck naked in a crowd of pirates. I wonder when these guys last saw time in port, on solid ground, and more importantly, in a woman’s bed.
I drop my pack on the nearest bunk and shrug out of my jacket. That’s when Snake, Tiger, and Bug jump me. The crowd cheers. Once on the floor, I manage to draw my knees up to my chest, protecting my softest parts, then roll onto my side. Someone kidney-punches me from behind so I throw an elbow backwards and connect with a satisfying crunch. Whoever it is yelps in pain and his weight disappears off me. There’s a whoop from somewhere in the crowd. I guess he’s rooting for me. Somebody else stands over me trying to kick my head but I have my arms in the way and I’m wedged too close to the bunk for him to land anything. I twist around and kick out with both feet, landing a blow against his locked knee pushing it into hyperextension. He screams. The third guy comes at me, punching at my face. I reach up and grab a handful of his hair and yank his head back. With my other fist I punch him in the temple. That knocks him out cold.
In that instant I jump to my feet, crouched and ready for battle. There’s only Snake and Tiger left conscious and I know I can take them, assuming after I’m done with them the rest of the crowd doesn’t decide to finish me off. Tiger has a broken nose, blood pouring down his chin, and Snake is limping, but they’re still game. It would take more than these minor injuries to disable a couple of pirates. They stalk forward and I retreat.
“What’s with the fight, guys?” I ask.
“You have to earn your place,” Snake says.
“I never asked for a place. I don’t even want to be here.”
“You’ve gotta earn a rank.”
“This is how you rank your crew?”
“It’s as good a measure of a man as anything else,” Tiger says.
I’ve gotta give him that. Tiger lunges for me and I step aside, but he still lands a glancing blow to the belly. I grunt in response. Snake rushes in and lands a punch to my left eye that sends me spinning. Tiger's ready with another punch but I duck to the side to avoid it and see a pile of dishes on the bunk next to me. I grab the nearest utensil, a three-pronged fork, and swing at him, sinking the fork up to the hilt in his belly. He stops short and looks down at his trunk, surprised to see the fork buried there. I use that moment to knee him in the groin then, as he doubles over, grab him by the back of the head and ram his face into my knee. He falls like a sack of grain to the floor. That’s two down.
I spin to face Snake, who springs at me, much like his namesake, and I notice just in time that he’s armed with a knife. I jump back and just miss being gutted.
“Hey, I give, man. You win,” I say.
“I’m not done with you yet,” Snake says and leaps for me again. I jump back and trip over something on the floor. On hands and knees, I scramble between the bunks away from Snake. A glance to the left and I see a shovel under one of the beds. At this point I’m not surprised to see anything in here. Snake’s footsteps get closer. I reach under the bed and grab the shovel, and quickly gain my feet, then, before Snake can see what I’ve got, I turn and jam it into his gut. At close range it doesn't do much damage, but maintains some distance. He grunts, but then tosses the knife in the air and catches it by the blade. Quick as a blink he hurls it at me. My reflexes are good, especially when it comes to self-preservation. I hop sideways just enough so that the blade drills my biceps instead of my chest. Now I’m pissed. Enough is enough. I jerk the shovel up so that it catches him under the chin and crunches his jaws together, snapping his head back. His eyes roll back, he loses his balance and he falls on his ass.
“Are we done now?” I ask. “Do I pass your little test?”
“Yeah,” he grumbles. “You’ll do.” The crowd is dispersing. Some of the guys congratulate me for surviving, avoiding Snake’s gaze. Someone helps Bug and Tiger, who are now coming around.
Tiger is up, cradling his sore balls in his hand. “You fight like a dog,” he says, his voice boggy from his swollen nose.
I find this amusing since he was out to kill me first. I shrug at him. “If by that you mean I fight to win, then sure.” Really I was more concerned with surviving than winning, but a little bravado after the fact never hurt anyone.
Now, hop on over to the Fighter Writer and check out the links to the other entries!
Monday, August 30, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Friday, August 27, 2010
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Speaking of college...I'll be stepping into the classroom as an instructor for the first time tomorrow. And let me tell you, I am totally freaked out. I'll be teaching freshman composition, so it's not rocket science, but I've never taught so this will be a learning experience for me, as well. I will spend this semester finding my teaching style and learning how to teach. These poor kids will be my guinea pigs. I'm also going to be teaching second semester composition at the air force base. That will be an entirely different teaching experience.
But....I've written a thoughtful and workable syllabus, so at least I'm prepared (I hope). And I think it works in my favor that as freshmen, these kids have no idea what to expect from university instructors, so I probably won't suffer too much by comparison.
Here's hoping I get through tomorrow without barfing or babbling or, even worse, drawing a complete blank and having nothing to say!
If nothing else, this whole experience will replace the golf course for me as a source of writing fodder.
Friday, August 20, 2010
Actually, it's been pretty dull on the course for a while now. We had a couple of tournaments which require two beverage carts to keep everyone happy (read: to keep everyone boozed up). People drink a lot on tournament days. On those days Hubby drives the second cart. We split the course: front nine and back nine, and even then I can't keep up. We make it a little more interesting by placing bets to see which of us can sell the most and who can earn the most tips. It's even more fun when I tell the people I'm serving that Hubby and I have bet against each other...sometimes they take pity on me and tip me extra. But some of them are snitches and when they get on the back nine and meet up with Hubby they laugh, hahahaha, and confide in him what I told them, then tip him too. On the one hand, being uber-competitive as I am, I resent them. On the other hand, all the tips end up in the same place so we end up with more cash because of it.
For those of you unfamiliar with North Dakota weather, it changes really fast. One of the favorite local sayings is, "if you don't like North Dakota weather, just wait a few minutes." We've had a couple of days on the course where it starts out sunny, hot, humid, then as the hours tick away the clouds build, the wind picks up, and before you know it you're stuck at the tee box on 4, which is like half a mile from the clubhouse, and suddenly the clouds open up and literally dump an inch of rain. Okay, so not so much dump as blow sideways, and no matter how fast you try to get the stupid cart to drive it's not fast enough to avoid getting soaked to the skin so that when you walk into the clubhouse Hubby and boss and everyone laughs at you.
Today was a pretty slow day. It topped 90 degrees and probably 150% humidity. Pretty miserable. Every single time I stopped to sell something, somebody had to ask me "hot enough for you." I mean, really. Is it necessary to ask that? Because clearly it is hot enough. It's more than hot enough. But how do you answer that?
"Why yes, yes it is."
"It's hot? I hadn't noticed."
"Oh yeah baby, it's hot. Just like I like it."
But it got better when the really, really old fossil of a man who golfs every single weekend but has never, ever said a word to me, much less deigned to buy anything from me, asked me to take my top off. Okay, back up a little. He was golfing with about a dozen Canadians (who are notorious on the course for getting liquored up but quick...no offense to Canadians in general. It's just our local ones)(they come down from Saskatchewan and load up on American beer they can't get in Canada).
So Fossil is golfing with all these Canadians (I don't know if they're friends, relatives, business associates, or what). And Fossil actually buys some beer from me. Apparently it loosened his inhibitions and his lips a great deal. At the tee box for 7 he asks me:
"Hot enough for you?" (big surprise there). I give him a polite, noncommittal and dismissive laugh. then he says:
"How can you stand to wear that sweater?" (I was wearing a lightweight sweater over a tank top.)
I say: "The heat doesn't really bother me that much." (it does, but I'm not about to wear just a tank top around these guys)
He says: "You should take your top off."
I'm like, what?! Then he says, as he's back in his cart and driving past me to the next hole:
"Hehe. Dirty old man, huh?!"
Ewwww. So I don't see him again until the back nine, tee box for 14, where he and his buddies buy yet more beer. Fossil says:
"It's still hot. You should take your top off."
I ignore him and sell beer to his more polite Canadian friends. He tries one more time:
"When are you going to take your top off?"
I say: "When I get home tonight."
Which makes the Canadians guffaw, probably because they're all drunk, because it wasn't really that funny.
Thankfully, that was the last I saw of Fossil and his pals today. I hope he goes home and sleeps it off and the next time I see him he's back to his ignore-me-and-don't-buy-anything self.
So that's all I've got for golf course stories for now. I'll probably have more later. God knows that place is a gold mine for a writer.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Saturday, August 7, 2010
We finished out the second day of the fiction workshop which was, of course, awesome. Even though my piece was workshopped on Monday I still learned a lot by listening to and participating in the critiques of other people's writing. It's a good way to find out what works and what doesn't for form, style, and story. And some of these people are writing some very fascinating projects.
Later in the day we had a lecture and then a wrap-up where we discussed the things that work and don't work for the residency and the program in general. It's sort of the program administrators' way of doing quality assurance, and I don't know how useful it is to them, but it seems to be a good forum for students to air grievances and highlight the things about the program that work best for them.
Finally, the day ended with an open mic for students and readings by a couple of former students from their current works. I read a piece of flash fiction for the open mic (nervously), and some of the other students read some really good writing...mostly poetry, which is really hard to do well. I was seriously impressed with a couple of them.
So now it's early Saturday morning and I'm mostly packed (except for my laptop), getting ready for the shuttle to take me to La Guardia. I slept crappy last night anticipating a long day of travel so I'm tired and I'll likely be cranky when I get home, but seeing the shiny happy faces of my kids and hubby will temper that somewhat, I'm sure. It will certainly be nice to sleep in my own bed tonight.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
The morning workshop I attended was "Teaching Creative Writing to Non-Writers." The instructor was really great and she gave us some awesome ideas for ways to engage non-writers. We participated in several very fun and productive writing exercises that I can see being useful for teaching both creative writing and adaptable to academic/composition writing. So I was inspired after the workshop.
Then it was lunch time and I started getting really nervous because this afternoon at 2:00 was the agent Q and A panel followed by agent meetings...and I was signed up to meet with an agent. The panel Q and A was fantastic. Four different agents representing vastly different genres, all in the same room and available for us eager writers to pick their brains...which we did. They were a wealth of information.
After the panel it was meeting time. I was totally freaked out trying to remember my one liner pitch, but as it turned out I didn't even need it. Several weeks ago we'd sent intro letters, synopsis and first 10 pages of our projects to the agents we were meeting with, and she didn't even ask for a pitch. She just launched into a discussion about my project and basically said she really liked my story and characters and thought the writing was good, etc.
I was really worried because it's not completely revised and polished, but apparently the agents make allowances for that when they meet with MFA students. Whew.
So she finally asked me, "you'll have this edited in, what, 1 month? 2 months?" and I said, "definitely!" She said, "good!" She said she only has one romance client herself, but she just hired a new agent who handles more romance and she said when I have the manuscript finished to send it to her new agent, then she gave me the new agent's e-mail address.
I'm so stoked!
So now I'm going to give up sleeping and spend every waking minute that I'm not working, eating or doing other vital survival-related activities on editing.
Today was definitely an awesome day. *sigh*
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Day 2, Monday, was the first of a 2-day fiction workshop. All participants exchanged 10-20 pages of a current fiction WIP and critiqued it before arriving at the residency. Then we spent the 3-hour meeting time workshopping each others' pieces. Because it's such a wildly popular, well-attended, and intense workshop, it's split into 2 days. My piece was workshopped the first day and received very positive reviews. Whew. That's very good news since I'm going to be pitching it to an agent on Thursday. Hope she liked the first 10 pages I sent her.
Monday afternoon there was a lecture by one of the instructors, a very humorous reading actually, then we met for peer workshops where our group really just bounced around new project/plot ideas. I didn't have anything to contribute. Then Monday evening we had readings (one was really great one was okay) and the Flash Fiction Slam. I read for the flash fiction slam, but I was totally nervous and I had 2 pieces to choose from for reading: a cerebral type humor piece and a dark, grim piece. I chickened out on the dark piece and wasn't very happy with the reading of the humorous piece. But it was fun anyway.
Tuesday was supposed to be more workshops, meetings, lectures, but....
I got sick. It wasn't food poisoning, and I'm not entirely sure what the heck it was, but it involved mostly vertigo and dizziness and sore back and neck. So I spent the entire day in bed after ingesting Dramamine and Advil. There wasn't much on TV, but between what I could find on TV and a book to read, and room service, I made it through the day and after a decent night's sleep I was sufficiently better this morning to return to the MFA hijinks.
Today, Wednesday, was an interesting revision workshop, then a sort of sobering lecture entitled, "Can I Actually Make a Living At This," (i.e., writing). The conclusion was: sort of.
After that we sat thru a panel wherein program graduates talked about what they did for the internship/practicum component of their degrees. There was a wide range from working for a literary journal to teaching to working as a grant writer.
Finally, several students gave presentations summarizing their enrichment projects. One of the requirements of the program is to do an enrichment project which is not at all related to your thesis or your writing studies. For instance, one of the students today gave a powerpoint describing the Italian American Art Festival she developed. Another designed a bilingual newsletter for a small town in an effort to bring together the Latino and Anglo populations. The third presentation was another powerpoint describing the stage play the student produced and directed.
So only 2 more days. Time really flies at these residencies. And tomorrow is the agent panel and directly after that? Agent meetings. I'm so nervous I'm trying not to think about it, otherwise I might be sick. Wish me luck, okay? I'll let you know how it goes.
Monday, August 2, 2010
I was talking about a week ago about all the preparation I was doing for my MFA residency, and how I was looking forward to all the inspiration and creativity.
Well, travel was uneventful, thankfully, and I arrived without incident a couple of days ago and yesterday was the first day of actual workshop. I signed up for a session on flash fiction.
Before the residency we had all sent each other a piece of flash fiction and then yesterday we discussed flash fiction in general then workshopped each others pieces. It was a great experience. Everyone has such wide ranging stories and backgrounds, and most of the stories were well done. I got some valuable insight into my piece which allowed me to come back to my hotel room and revise it last night.
Yesterday afternoon we attended a panel where several graduates of the program spoke about their experience in the program and how it has propelled them in their careers...basically what they're doing now and how what they did in the program helped them to get there. It was very insightful.
We met with our mentors for the courses we'll be taking this semester so we could get down the nitty gritty of actual academic work.
Then in the evening we attended readings by a recent graduate from her memoir (it was very powerful stuff) and by one of the instructors (who is an awesome writer) from his recently published bestseller and from a novel he's currently working on.
It was a busy day, but that's what residency is all about. Packing an insane amount of academia, creativity, and inspiration into one week...enough to send you through the entire semester.
What's today (Monday) got in store? A fiction workshop, peer workshop, more readings, and a flash fiction slam contest tonight (I'm gonna read my newly revised flash fiction piece....wish me luck!!!)
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
As many of you may know, I'm working my way through an MFA in creative and professional writing (2 semesters left, yay!). The program is low residency which means it's independent study for the most part, except that twice a year I travel to campus for a week-long series of workshops, panels, meetings, readings, etc.
The next residency is coming up July 31 - Aug 7. I've signed up for workshops in fiction, flash fiction, "obsession as the engine of literary invention," and "teaching writing to non-writers."
Plus, I'm so excited (and by excited I mean completely and utterly freaked out) that I will be meeting with an agent during the residency (every summer there's an agent panel and afterwards the agents take meetings with some of the students). Gulp. I'm dealing with this by pretty much not dealing with it. Although I should probably figure out how the hell to best use my meeting time to my best advantage.
On Monday afternoon there will be a flash fiction slam...of course I'm participating with a micro-fiction piece of 153 words. That should be interesting.
For the fiction and flash fiction workshops all the participants are required to send pieces ahead of time so that we can read and critique each other's work and be ready to workshop it. For the flash fiction workshop, that's not such a big deal. All 15 or so people each sent in selections of 1 to 3 pages. So was able to read through those pretty quickly. But the fiction workshop? With 15-20 people each sending in between 10 and 20 pages (most of them close to 20 pages because they insist on sending the page maximum), that comes to somewhere around 225 pages to read and critique in a week. Not so easy. I'm slogging my way through it now.
Finally, I'm doing my teaching practicum this semester by teaching two sections of composition at the local university (one on campus and one at the air force base annex). I'm madly trying to get a syllabus and lesson plans written since classes start on Aug 23. At least I managed to get books ordered for the course. Now I just need to get organized and finish the syllabus!
So Saturday morning I'll be heading to CT, and as I have for past residencies, I'll be blogging about the different workshops and activities.
I'm really looking forward to the fun!
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Saturday, July 17, 2010
I had another scene I was going to use, but I realized I'd already used it for the Murder Scene Blogfest a few months back and because I don't want to repeat myself, I decided to use a different scene. My antagonist leaves plenty of death in his wake, so I have several scenes to choose from.
Tessa's rules state that for the Blogfest of Death at least one person has to die...I went all out and killed a whole town. Mwahahahaha.
Ahem. Okay, so this scene is my antagonist, Rand, doing what he does best...being a bad boy. He's a rogue faerie-turned-human who's pissed off a humankind and wants to start a war with them. I think the scene itself is fairly self explanatory. Enjoy!
“Is everything ready, Victor?” Rand asked his mage.
“Good. Then let’s get on with the test.” While Abelo was out searching for his daughter, Rand had decided to test his newest weapon. He needed something to keep him busy, and since weapons test was on the to-do list there was no better time than the present.
He’d chosen the small, isolated community of Fossil in central Oregon as his target. The name was just too ironic. He and Victor were positioned on a high point outside of town and prepared to launch the prototype weapon.
Rand lifted the lid on the wood crate which housed the device. Once the lid was open, the weapon floated free of the housing and hung in mid-air, a thing of beauty. The size of a basketball, it hissed and crackled with electric blue energy. It took Rand’s breath away.
“Shall we?” He asked Victor.
Victor handed Rand a vial of opaque white liquid, which he uncorked and swallowed in one gulp. The warmth of the substance tracked down to his center and then quickly raced to his limbs, energizing him with additional magic. He closed his eyes and began to whisper the spell he and Victor had designed to direct the weapon. His arms out at his sides, he threw his head back as the words gained momentum and his natural gifts took over. It felt good to control the weather again. He had so little opportunity anymore and after years of not being able to use his magic, he reveled in it now. Wind began to rush and gray clouds swirled from nowhere, obscuring the blue sky. The weapon responded to Rand’s urgent words, first spinning wildly on its axis, then whizzing away as it closed the distance between the men and the town. The tempest blew stronger, dark menacing clouds forming overhead as the weapon neared the first buildings.
Rand called on the winds and weather, bending them to his will until he was satisfied to see a twister drop lazily from the clouds as the weapon reached the center of town, where it hovered, waiting for the twister to meet and trigger it.
Even from his vantage he could see humans as they stepped out of their homes and businesses and stared up at the sky, no doubt wondering at the anomalous tornado – and the strange glowing orb hovering over the center of town. He snorted a derisive laugh. How stupid they were – when faced with a threat from nature, they stood like fools and gaped at it. It wasn't until the twister breached the edge of town that people began to race around, frantic and confused about where to go. Rand urged the wind to blow harder, pushing the tornado to meet the weapon. And then they met in a glorious blue explosion of destruction. When the orb burst it released its energy in a shock wave which shot straight down and then rippled outward. As it came in contact with each human being they disintegrated into a cloud of dust and blew away in the wind. Blue lightning streaked across the sky, and fat drops of rain began to fall as the last of the people in town erupted into puffs of dust and disappeared into the storm until the town was deserted and every single human being had been wiped from existence.
“Perfect,” Rand said. “Absolutely perfect!”
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Let me start by saying I loathe carrying a purse so I try to use the smallest purses possible. This is my current purse:
The lighting is bad in my office where I took this pic, so if you can't tell the purse is powder blue. Not very exciting overall, huh? Okay. Here's the contents:
As you can see I like to keep it simple. A change purse for money, a checkbook and pen. My antique cell phone, clip-on sunglasses (cuz I wear glasses and it's easier to just clip on my sunglasses). Some loose change and a receipt. And for breath hygiene and appearance emergencies: gum, a compact and lip gloss. That's it!
So now I'm going to tag the rest of the girls in CTW!
Jill (though don't think Jill has a personal blog...)
Have fun girls!
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Monday, July 5, 2010
And then you turn your baby over to your critique partners and whammo! the red (or whatever color your CPs use) "track changes" marks slash all of your lovely adverbs and you get vicious comments about choosing stronger verbs.
Adverbs are a class of words which modify verbs, adjectives, clauses, sentences and even other adverbs. They typically answer questions like: "when," "where," "to what extent," "in what way," and "how."
Although there are several different kinds of adverbs (including comparative adverbs [more/less]; adverbs of place [outside], purpose [in order to], and frequency [always/never]), the most commonly criticized in fiction is the adverb of manner, or the -ly form. Supposedly, these are the "scarlet letter" that mark writing as amateurish and weak. But I would argue that used judiciously and in proper circumstances, adverbs of manner can enhance your story.
There are several reasons why -ly adverbs are frowned upon in fiction:
1. They are redundant. In the sentence, "She screamed loudly," the loudness is already implied by the screaming, which is generally understood to be loud.
2. Adverbs make it easy to choose weak verbs. Compare: "He turned abruptly and she moved quickly toward him, 'I hate you,' she said harshly" with "He spun to find her stalking toward him, 'I hate you,' she growled." Still pretty melodramatic, but no cheesy adverbs!
3. By cutting adverbs you give yourself opportunities to show rather than tell. Instead of telling us that your heroine is beautifully groomed, describe for us her hair, her makeup, or the colors and textures of her clothing.
4. Why not choose a strong action verb instead? Try "sprint" instead of "went quickly" or "crave" instead of "really want."
5. Adverbs of manner are frowned upon in fiction because they tend to be distracting and prevent the reader from experiencing emotions or delving into the intentions behind the action. Good writing needs to pull the reader into the experience of the story rather than just relating what's taking place.
However, there are situations when -ly adverbs are appropriate, such as:
1. In dialogue. Realistic dialogue would include the use of adverbs because people actually use them when they talk. "I probably shouldn't steal money from my mother's purse because she will be seriously pissed off at me if she finds out."
2. They work as awesome placeholders when you're deep in the frenzy of a first draft and you don't want to take the time to craft the perfect sentence or search for just the right verb. Slap in a "looked longingly" and find a better verb in revision.
3. As long as you use them sparingly in places where they work hard and produce strong results, then -ly adverbs can be your friend.
As you can see, adverbs of all persuasion play an important role in fiction, but the dreaded -ly adverb can be especially tricky if you're not careful. However, if you use them sparingly and responsibly they can enhance your writing beautifully. (you see what I did there?)
Now, you tell me how you feel about adverbs!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Below is my Secrets Blogfest entry. It's from my current sci-fi WIP. The secret in question is that the two main characters don't speak the same language and are trying to communicate without words (for the most part). It's not a secret in the standard sense, but I think it still works. Setup: Jaska inadvertently finds himself on Earth where he runs into Amie who decides to help him. They're in New York heading for a subway but Jaska wants to explore this strange new world. Amie is the redhead to whom Jaska refers.
The door of this particular shop opens and someone walks out with a steaming cup of something and a round bread-like food wrapped in a papery cloth. The aromas flow from the open door and make my stomach growl. I grab the door from the person before it shuts, and I’m ready to go inside when I feel a hand on my arm. When I turn, I find the redhead with an exasperated look on her face. She’s babbling in her language and I can hear the translator buzzing and clicking in my ear, trying to keep up with her. It still doesn’t have enough information to translate, though. I just shrug and turn my back on her and walk inside. She makes a disgusted grunt at me, but follows me inside. I smile. On this planet less than a day and already I’ve got women following me wherever I go.
Inside, this shop apparently sells food and books. The ceiling is low and intimate and the décor is woods and sleek black. The walls are covered in bookshelves. The tables are packed and there’s a line at the counter where I can see a glass case full of foods. I head in that direction, cutting through the line of people so I can inspect the offerings. The redhead is close behind. “Hey!” she says and pulls me around by the shoulder so I’m facing her. Hmm. She must have said that to me enough that the translator figured out what she meant. I point at the glass case of food, then to my stomach. She raises an eyebrow at me and crosses her arms across her chest. It pushes her breasts up so they’re bulging at the vee in her blouse. Nice.
So I’m reduced to ridiculous sign language to communicate. I take a deep, appreciative breath, sniffing the good smelling food. I paste a silly grin on my face, then rub my belly and lick my lips. Think she’ll understand that? Apparently she does because she sighs and rolls her eyes, then goes to the counter, cutting in line, and says something to the guy working there. He looks angry at her, she sounds angry back, but he gets a big bag and I watch with my nose on the glass as he takes one of everything and puts it in the bag. She throws some green paper on the counter, grabs the bag out of the guy’s hand and shoves it into mine, then grips my other hand in hers and pulls me through the line and out the door. I chuckle at her when we’re back outside, but the look on her face is a mood killer. I make like I’m going to inspect the contents of the bag, but she pulls me along. I guess I’ll have to wait.
Jaska shares my obsessive love of pastry. Below is my Literary Crush blogfest entry. It's unconventional. I happen to adore Stephen King's Dark Tower series and my love letter is to Roland Deschain, the Gunslinger himself. (Frankie originally created this blogfest for YA characters, and I crush on some of them too but it felt a little too, um, cradle-robber creepy for a grown woman to be writing love letters to adolescent boy characters). I've got enough adult literary crushes to keep me busy writing love letters for a while.
My heart aches for you and I wish I could convince you that there's more to life than that blasted Tower.
All my love,