Saturday, May 29, 2010
So what, pray tell, has occurred that I'm posting early? Nothing. That's right. I accomplished absolutely nothing this week in terms of my creativity workshop goals. But I promise, I have excellent excuses:
1. I started a new job which had me in fits of anxiety all week. After being unemployed for 2 months I sucked it up and took another transcription job after I swore to all that is holy never to do that again. However, paying the mortgage and feeding the kids trump my deep dislike for my never-purposely-chosen career, so now I'm back at it and because I thought I had escaped the work I've done for nearly 20 years, and tasted a brief but sweet reprieve, I am now beset by anxiety attacks. I know, it's silly, but it can't be helped. I do continue to seek other employment, but the job market, it sucketh.
2. I've been madly working at editing my novel. My goal is to have it agent-ready by the first week of August, when my next MFA residency is scheduled. Often the university will invite agents to the residency and the students may make appointments to visit with them. I would very much like to have a finished novel to talk to them about. However, with only two months until the residency, I need to work my ass off to get my novel even close to ready.
3. State high school track meet was Friday (it's actually Fri and Sat, but our son only ran Friday) in Bismarck. We drove down Thursday after work and stayed the night, then sat in 90+ degree heat all day long (I forgot sunscreen and I am now a beautiful shade of medium rare. I even burned thru my shirt. yikes.) Son didn't do as well as he'd hoped, but it's his first trip to the state meet so at least he knows what to expect for next year. (The pic is Son with his 4x800 relay team - he's second from left.)
So, what is next week going to hold for me as far as the creativity workshop? Well, I'm going to have to rearrange my goals. For this first 4-week block I was going to write stories in 4 different genres: sci-fi, horror, western, and detective. My rearrangement is going to consist of dumping the detective genre, mostly because it'll likely just frustrate me, but also because I really want to at least start the western. So I'm going to chalk up this week as a wash and start next week fresh with the western. I'll be working the golf course Sunday and Monday (weather permitting...it's gray and drizzly today the day after 90+ degrees...go figure ND weather), so we'll see just where I can cram writing into my schedule this week.
Wish me luck!
And hope everyone has a good Memorial Day weekend, whatever you're up to!
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
First, I've got to say, there's a surreal feeling to doing this job. How many of you have ever played Sims Golf? I have, and driving the golf cart around the course is eerily like playing that game. The same sounds of geese honking, balls being whacked, etc. And I'm Sally the refreshment cart girl (or whatever her name is, I forget at the moment). Frequently as I make my rounds I'm put in mind of Sims Golf and it makes me giggle.
So anyway, this Sunday was a dud. The weather was nice, but nobody was on the course. I spent six hours driving around in circles and only sold about $150 worth of stuff. The highlight of the day was catching the same guy peeing on two different trees.
Friday, however, was a hoot. In North Dakota, Canadian geese are "protected" and they're freakin' everywhere on the course. You literally end up chasing them out of your way. Golfers have to golf around the geese, you're serenaded by their endless honking, and since it's spring it's baby Canada goose season, so there are dozens of little puffy yellow geese everywhere. At one point, as I sat patiently waiting for a herd of them to cross the path, I counted 23 babies being urged along by two grownups. Holy moly, that's a lot of kids.
While we're talking about animals, there are tons of ground squirrels on the course too. I nearly ran one over Friday. Well...technically he ran under the cart as I was driving. I squealed and waited for the bloody crunching sound, but he was lucky - he timed it perfectly to get under the cart between the wheels without being squished.
The Canadians were out golfing in droves Friday. Nice afternoon, eh?
It was a beautiful day, but super windy. This, of course, prompted multiple ball jokes.
- All the guys on the course or golfing balls to the wind.
- I've never seen so many guys wandering aimlessly in search of their balls.
You get the picture. I amused myself no end all day long - until I was actually hit by a flying ball. That had me on guard the rest of the day. It's no fun to be whacked by balls falling from nowhere out of the sky.
Because of the weather, I couldn't keep enough beer stocked on the cart. Of course there are always a few wise guys who think they're funny when you ask what you can get for them and they answer, "well, I'll take a cold beer unless you've got some warm liquor." Haha. So clever. Those guys are usually halfway hammered already and think they're seriously amusing when they're just idiots. I did sell a record 18 beers at once to one group of four guys, though. And they were also already well on their way to drunk. I was hoping I left the course and was safely home before they hit the road. Yikes.
At one point, as I was parked between holes 4, 6 and 7 waiting for customers to show up, there were three older guys finishing up hole 4. It turns out one wasn't wearing a shirt but I hadn't actually seen him yet. Some older lady finished hole 6 and saw me sitting there. She came up to chat and confided to me:
"Have you seen the guy golfing without a shirt?"
I said no.
"Well, I'm 63 and nobody would want to see me out here golfing without a shirt."
That goes without saying. She was a heavy 63, too. Yucky mental image.
"He must think he's some kind of Adonis. Nobody wants to see that. Especially with man boobs."
I laughed, not knowing the guy's like almost right behind her, putting on the 4th green.
"Well, you have a nice day sweetheart."
Okie doke. When she left I focused on the guys behind her, one of whom was Adonis of the man boobs. Ewwww is all I've got left to say on the subject except that just because you can legally go shirtless doesn't mean you should.
Finally, I'm starting to learn the names of some of the regulars on the course. It helps to ingratiate myself with the good tippers, and when you're making a living mostly off of tips, ingratiation is an important part of the job. I've learned Tim, who drinks Coors and spends a lot of money on the course, and is a super good tipper; there's Auggie (which I think is short for August, but I never asked), who doesn't always buy beer but he's nice enough anyway; and then there's Chuck who I met a couple weeks ago. He told me his name was Chuck and asked me what my name was. Margaret, I say. That triggered a discussion among him and his group about nicknames for Margaret.
"Do you go by Maggie?"
"Don't insult her. How about Marge?" another guy in the group asks.
No. And how Maggie is an insult I'm still trying to figure out. If I had to choose between the two it would be Maggie. Marge? Really? Blech.
By this time they'd all teed off and started the trek to the next hole.
"See ya later Maggie," says Chuck.
Okay, next time around Charles, I say. This elicits a hoot of laughter from him. So this weekend I see him again. He doesn't buy anything, but hollers across at least one hole:
"Hey! It's Mags!"
Indeed. He thought that was pretty funny. I had no answer for him. Just waved and kept on driving.
Wonder what next weekend's gonna bring?
Monday, May 24, 2010
This 4-week segment of the Creativity Workshop is, of course, my self-challenge to experiment with writing in different genres. This week past I was going to write a short story in the horror fiction genre. Why? I don't know. I don't read horror, per se, and I don't watch horror movies, but I decided to write a horror story because it was so far outside of my comfort zone as to be a serious challenge.
At first I was like, WTF am I going to write?! I considered something zombie-related, but decided against it (maybe another time). I was finally inspired for a story idea by a comment made by one of my MFA colleagues on our online workshop. He said, about another colleague's poetry, "I felt like painting a giant, dark, wall-sized abstract painting and scratching those poems into it with a bloody knife." Great compliment, eh?! So anyway, that inspired me to write a horror flash fiction. I know it's kind of a cop-out to write flash fiction for a creativity workshop, but I actually think it worked well. Sometimes super-short can be super-compelling.
So what genre am I going to attempt this week? Western. Yep, pardner. I've had an idea for a western novel for a while now so I'm going to start exploring that in greater depth. Again, not sticking strictly to the short story form, but it's a creativity workshop and this is my opportunity to push myself into a place where I'm not necessarily comfortable, but a place I need to go nonetheless. Otherwise I'm likely to keep pushing this story down the "to-do" list until I never do it.
This week I'll work on doing some character studies (they're not going to be the same old overdone cowboys - MC is a woman), do some research into the old west for the purposes of becoming familiar with setting (maybe reread some Louis L'Amour?), do some brief outlining, then start writing the story.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I'm tardy posting this, but only because I was at the regional track meet all day!
Bryan over at the Time Guardian Blog was kind enough to host this blogfest today, and since I can't pass up a good blogfest, I've posted my five loglines below. However, I post them with one caveat: I just now wrote them, so they're most likely not agent-worthy!
Anyway, hope you enjoy them and be sure to check out Bryan's site for links to all the other participants!
1. Holly Reed yearns to belong, but when she learns she's half faerie, and the father she's never known is a renegade bent on killing her, the only way she'll be allowed to stay in the fae realm is to accept the protection of a faerie she just met who also claims she's his soul mate.
2. Meeting her soul mate is the last thing on her mind when Holly Reed discovers she's half fae, but his protection may be all that saves her from being killed by her renegade father.
3. Holly Reed isn't the least bit interested in marriage, especially to a faerie who claims he's her soul mate, but when Holly discovers her father is a renegade faerie who wants her dead, marriage may be her only chance to survive.
4. Discovering she's half faerie turns Holly Reed's world upside down, but things only get worse when she learns that her father is out to kill her, and her only hope of safety is to accept the protection of a faerie she just met who claims she's his soul mate.
5. When Holly Reed discovers her father's a renegade faerie out to kill her before he starts a war with humankind, her only chance for survival may be the faerie who claims she's his soul mate.
So which one do you like best?
Monday, May 17, 2010
The blogfests are flying hot and heavy around the blogosphere...which is fine with me cuz they're loads of fun. Today is the Let's Talk blogfest hosted by Roni over at Fiction Groupie. After you read my sizzling dialogue (ahem) go over to her site and check out all the other links. You'll be so sorry if you don't!
So, this scene is from chapter two of book one of my still unnamed paranormal romance novel and trilogy. Dusty is a faerie, Bamboo is a cat, Holly is a human who has yet to discover she's actually half faerie. This is part of the conversation when Holly meets Dusty for the first time.
“What are you?” She repeated.
“You can see me? And hear me?” He asked.
“Of course I can. Why wouldn’t I be able to? You’re plain as day.”
“Not quite. More like evening.”
“Still, it’s hard to see in the evening sometimes. I could be a trick of the light.”
She giggled at him, her fear quickly dissipating. “That doesn’t explain hearing you.”
He appeared to consider that. “You’re right. Maybe you’re dreaming and it just seems really real.”
“Uh, no. I’m pretty sure I’m awake.”
“But you shouldn’t be able to see me or hear me. I don’t understand.” He landed on the handrail of the banister again and began pacing, arms behind his back, leaning forward and appeared to be deep in thought. He muttered to himself as if she weren’t there. “There must be something about her. Some reason why she can see me. It’s just not right. I should be invisible.”
“You hush up kitty, you already made a mess of things. If it weren’t for you she never would have seen me. I don’t want your opinion anymore.”
“Wait, you can talk to my cat?” she asked, eyes wide with amazement.
“Sure. I can talk to all kinds of animals.”
“Okay, back up a minute. What exactly are you? Do you have a name? Where do you come from?
“My name is Dusty. I’m fae. I live in the forest.”
“You’re a faerie? But that’s impossible. There’s no such thing as faeries.”
And as he said it, she felt the truth of it. It was like something in her heart woke up and felt right.
“Are there more of you out there?”
He had stopped pacing and stared hard at her, his eyes dark now. “I really shouldn’t be talking to you at all, and I definitely can’t tell you anything more about fae. It’s too dangerous.”
“Why? I’m not going to hurt you.”
He looked surprised at her comment, and then his face fell into sadness. “I’m sorry, but I can’t believe you. You may not mean to hurt us, but somehow you will.”
“I would not!”
“You can’t be trusted. I’ve already said too much. You seem nice enough, but I’m going to have to make you forget you met me. It’s the only way to keep us safe.”
“Now wait just a minute…”
Now I'm going to go start reading all the others! Have fun and enjoy the blogfest!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
As many of you know, I'm driving the beer cart weekends at the local golf course in order to earn some extra cash.
Unfortunately, I fell victim to a nasty stomach bug on Friday which meant I couldn't drive the beer cart on Friday or Saturday. Hubby works at the course every summer, too (he's the chef...err...cook). He wasn't scheduled to work on Saturday but graciously volunteered to take my place on the cart so at least we'd keep the money in the family. The big turd earned over $120 in tips during his shift (none of which, I might add, he was willing to share with me).
I was well enough to work on Sunday and because it was such a beautiful day I was looking forward to raking in the tippage. For some inexplicable reason, the course was nearly a barren wasteland. Nary a golfer to be seen. I managed a measly $40 in tips for a six hour shift. A paltry sum.
I was amused when one golfer handed me a dollar tip and quipped that he was "contributing to the college fund." (like a buck would put me over the top so I could afford tuition). Ironically, I am a grad student. However, I suspect that either he didn't look very closely at me and simply assumed that because I am female and I drive the beer cart that I must be a 20-something coed (which I'm not), or else I can actually pass for a 20-something coed (pffft - excuse me whilst I scoff).
I was not so amused - nay, quite irritated in fact - by a cranky old guy who told me what a crock it was that I was out of Snickers bars (I had actually just sold my last one to a guy at the previous hole...they were a popular item). He ranted about how it was bullshit that all I had left was M&Ms, KitKats, Reeses, Salted Nut Rolls, and Twix. "Well, that's all just a bunch of crap."
I longed to tell him what he could do with the non-existent Snickers. The stupid candy bar was only going to cost him a buck, no matter which one he chose, and he wasn't going to tip me anyway, so I was eager to move on. He finally bought a Reeses, and bitched about it the whole time, and I had to bite my tongue while thanking him sweetly. I nearly gagged on it.
Otherwise, I sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 130 beers and 46 sodas in six hours. I'm really hoping next weekend I can capitalize on three days of tip-worthy weather. And in the meantime...I'm going to find out where Hubby hid his tip hoard from Saturday and siphon some off. He'll never even realize what happened.....
This week in review: I chose to open the first four-week sequence by writing a sci-fi story. I think overall I would call this a success. I did some research into the genre in general, developed characters, setting, and plot, and began writing the story. Unfortunately, I'm having difficulty wrangling the short story form. Used to be, back in the day, that's all I ever wrote. Now it seems that I'm novel-fixated. The story I plotted quickly mutated into a screenplay in my head but no matter how much I fought with it, the best I could do was begin a novel. Which, in the end, I don't count as a failure because it could turn into an awesome novel. I'm certainly quite pleased with the 3500 words I managed to write over the course of the week.
Recap of next week's goals: This is where I start fidgeting. The three remaining genres I plan to write in this first four-week block are western, horror, and detective. For some reason detective freaks me out the most so I'm saving it for last. I already have an idea for a western novel which I'm going to cheat and use as the basis for the western genre story I plan to write...so basically I'm just going to start that novel. Horror has me...well...horrified.
I know absolutely nothing about horror as a genre, at least in literature. My only exposure to horror has been in movies, and even then it's been limited because I just don't watch horror films. I really hate slasher flicks, and don't consider them "real" horror because they're just gratuitously bloody. So, where does that leave me? I could go with psychopathic criminal kind of horror...but that makes me uneasy and I don't think I can write about that. I find bugs horrifying, but I wrote a horror story about bugs already so I should try something else. For some bizarre reason I find myself amused by zombies - probably because they're so ridiculously unrealistic as to be humorous.
So I guess basically I have no plan for this week other than I'm going to write a horror story. I'm going to fly by the seat of my pants. Maybe I'll write it as a micro flash fiction so it's over faster. We'll see how the whole thing turns out. Wish me luck.
The setup: Holly and Shadow are faeries. The two of them have only recently met and there's chemistry between them, but they're confused by it. Holly is an empath, which is why she can sense the emotions around her. In this scene they're at a Lunasa harvest festival. I only recently added this chapter to the novel, so it is, as of yet, unedited.
She kept her eyes on Shadow who seemed content to continue watching her, for now. His steady stare stoked a heat in her belly which quickly translated to her cheeks. The swirling storm of everyone else’s wild emotions just outside her focus was getting stronger, the drumbeat more insistent, and Shadow’s gaze possessive.
She sipped her drink, keeping her eyes on him. She thought they’d stand there deadlocked all night as the party raged around them until he took another long draw from his drink, placed it on the table then started in her direction. She watched his progress, her hand sweating and her mind racing. What’s going on with this guy? When he reached her he took her cup from her and placed it on the table, too, then took her hand and led her to the dance floor. He took her in his arms where, she noted with not a little chagrin, she felt right at home. In a daze her arms went around him, their eyes never leaving each other.
“Dance?” he asked, a cocky grin on his face.
To her own horror she realized her mouth was hanging open and she was still staring at him, as if in a trance. She snapped her mouth shut and broke eye contact, shaking the cobwebs from her head. Was he using some faerie magic to lure her in? But she could sense his feelings clear enough; he wasn’t faking his attraction to her, he just wasn’t sure what to do with it.
“It looks like we already are,” she said, feeling it was safer not to look him in the eye for now. He had some power over her she needed to figure out. Dancing with him sure wasn’t helping. His hand at her low back, he pulled her closer until they were snug and then with his arm wrapped around her he swept her off her feet, hovering into the crowd above them. This took her by surprise and she clung to him. “Whoa!”
He chuckled. “Just use your wings.”
She blushed, feeling silly. She was so distracted by him she’d forgotten about them. He lifted her chin with his finger, bringing their eyes back into contact, and her heart lurched again.
“Relax,” he said, burying his fingers in the hair at the nape of her neck and brushing his thumb over her cheek. “This is supposed to be fun. You’re tense.”
“Why are you being so nice to me all of a sudden?” She asked.
“You get right to the point, don’t you?”
“The last time I saw you, you ran away like I was a leper.”
She was finding it easier to deal with him if she was irritated. Otherwise was afraid she’d get lost in him, he was that overwhelming to her senses.
“Well,” he said, a wicked grin spreading slowly across his lips, “as you recall, the last time I saw you, you were stark naked.”
“I guess you weren’t so impressed if my nudity sent you running.”
He chuckled. “Let’s just say I was taken aback.” Still holding her close he traced the line of her tank down one shoulder, across her chest stopping briefly at the valley between her breasts, then back up the other shoulder, making her shiver. “But as I recall, your nudity was quite impressive.”
The heat bloomed on her face again. Between the wine and the music and Shadow coming on so strong she found herself flustered and confused. She didn’t buy his lame excuse for disappearing so quickly the last time they were together. He had definitely been freaked out. And now here he was oozing sex appeal. The way he was moving against her, holding her so close now that she could feel his breath in her ear, and the way he smelled, so masculine, like an invitation to remove her clothes and be ravaged, was fogging her mind so she couldn’t think straight.
He leaned in and laid a gentle kiss on her cheek, then pulled back enough to stare into her eyes again. She forced herself to breathe. One of his brows went up and a slow, confident smile developed on his lips before they descended toward hers.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
So, without further ado, here is my 8-sonnet sequence. Please keep in mind: 1) I am not a poet; 2) this sequence is meant to be snarktastical, not classical; 3) Please forgive the not always perfect meter and the occasional stretch when rhyming.
By the way, since I have yet to title this baby, brownie points to the person who comes up with the best title for it!
Sir Simon, our hero, a right proper Scot
(No really, he has a tattoo to prove it)
Master of wordplay, and skillful bon mots
A poet and scribe, of unequalled wit
Journeyed to the glorious land of Blog
Where he found himself outnumbered by far
Man among women, the clear underdog.
He flirted, cajoled, and bantered galore
Making the ladies of Blog swoon and sigh
But when legions of followers did not
Flock to his side, he was sure he knew why
‘Twas his gender that ailed him – a lot.
But he’d learned a lesson, and now he knew
What it felt like to walk in women’s shoes
(Cuz we all know it’s an actual place)
They offered umbrellad drinks every night
Life was sweet, lived at a leisurely pace
But Sir Simon was restless, for manly
Endeavors. He craved vodka and metal
(Of the symphonic variety)
So he resolved ‘twas time to test his mettle
With a quest for his yearned-for libation.
Quickly he made his way to the stable
Keeping to shadows, his nerves tight with tension
He must find a ride both sturdy and able.
He found Schwinn, and Fuji, and Roadmaster,
But chose Peugeot – because it was faster
He jumped on his bike and charged from the scene
Giddy with joy to finally be free.
Heading east for Scotland, so long unseen
And so he began his own Odyssey.
His trip went well, obstacles avoided
Except for the sirens: he listened and loved
Crushing on Charlotte and Simone the Redheaded
But thirst for vodka and homeland beloved
Were stronger than the sirens of metal.
Slightly heartbroken and melancholy
Face to the wind, and his mind on his goal
With no more ado continued his journey.
Still deep in thought he had no way to know
Nearby was trouble for him and Peugeot.
(and because he is the great Sir Simon)
With the laws of physics he quickly dispensed
And easily crossed the Atlantic Ocean
On a bicycle, only to find his
Beloved homeland ruled by a new queen.
He parked Peugeot outside of her palace
Beside a strange squat cart, and surveyed the scene.
As far as his eye could see were scores of
Old men swinging clubs at little white balls
Urging them down tiny holes with love.
By this strange turn, Sir Simon was appalled
Determined to get answers he entered
The palace, and by his courage was bolstered.
Curled by a fire and reading a good book.
Instead of traditionally queenly
She seemed to be down to earth, by the look.
“Welcome, Sir Simon. I am Queen Embee”
“Good lady, what have you done to my home?”
“You would have these men wear skirts so wee,
Eat haggis, and fore’er the highlands roam?”
“’Tis Tradition!” he roared, all riled up.
“This system works: I sell them beer, we flirt
For a while, they play golf. A good setup.”
“I won’t have it, the old ways must revert.
Back to old men in pubs where they’re well met.
And all the rest, on this I’m firmly set.”
I know ‘tis the vodka grail you truly seek.
Tho your homeland ire you really do feel,
‘Tis not the ultimate goal that you seek.
Those old men that you see golfing outside
All came in search of the vodka grail too.
I know its location, which I will confide
If you win the challenge I give to you.
In addition, should you succeed I will
Return this land to its old traditions.
But if you lose the land is mine and you’ll
Join the rest of the losing cretins.”
“I have little choice but to agree,” quoth he
If I am to have the grail and be free.”
Queen Embee laughed, “I choose sonnets my dear.”
“Beg pardon? Methinks I misheard you maybe.”
“Indeed you did not. ‘Tis a form I revere.”
“Then I am game and on you should bring it.”
And so it began, the hero and queen
Trading sonnets for more than a fortnight
That neither could win was an unforeseen
Until to a draw they agreed with delight.
“You are a worthy opponent, Good Man.
Honorable and true, ‘twas a good fight.
I shall reward you by gifting half this land
And by relinquishing to you the grail.
With no clear winner, ‘tis a right fair deal.”
And tho I weep that the Land of Scot will
Not remain whole, take what I can get I will.”
He bowed, she nodded, their bargain fulfilled.
“And now let us celebrate, Good Hero.”
With a flick of the wrist the grail appeared
A fifth of vodka which set his eyes aglow.
They drank and to each other they cheered
And to two new nations: The Land of Scots
Where traditions continue to rein true,
And the Land of Golf where all the old farts
Continue to hit their balls and sip their brew.
And at the end of this sequence so clever
Everybody lived happly ever after.