Thursday, July 29, 2010


We're having a contest over at Critique this WIP to celebrate reaching 100 followers. You really should go check it out. It would be a shame if you were to miss out on all the fun!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MFA Residency Countdown

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

On the Nature of Muses

I had a great post planned for today, a companion piece to the adverb post from not long ago. But life got in the way and I haven't written it yet. I promise I'll get to it shortly, though.

In the meantime, please go check out today's post (authored by moi) at Critique This WIP, all about the Nature of Muses.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Blogfest of Death

Thanks to the lovely Tessa at Tessa's Blurb (and CritiquethisWIP) for hosting the Blogfest of Death!

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.

“Yes, Master.”

“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!”


Now, go to Tessa's blog and follow the links to all the other fun death scenes!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tagged - What's in My Bag?

Looks like I've been tagged by the lovely Suzie over at Writer Junkie (and one of my partners in crime at CTW) to reveal what's in my bag/purse.

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

Happy Birthday, Rachel

Thirteen years ago today I gave birth to my only daughter, Rachel. Although the birth itself was an horrendous experience, and she and I barely survived it, she was the perfect baby and has been an amazing joy ever since then.

Happy birthday, my sweet Rachel!

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Luke Warm Defense of the Adverb

If, as a writer, you're anything like me, the adverb, at least in the first draft, is your dearest friend. When you're in the midst of the fresh new love affair with your story, adverbs seem like a natural element which are at home sprinkled among your verbs and adjectives, frolicking with abandon and adding spice and verve to your prose.

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!