Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Coming Up For Air

Yes, I have been absent and for that I apologize. Life has become decidedly more complex and blogging has suffered for it. Working a full time job and a part time job, a full load of graduate coursework, revising a novel and beginning the query process, and now NaNoWriMo, (oh yeah, and my family) have necessarily pushed some things out of the way. There are only so many hours in a day and if my sluggish exhaustion is any indication I should be spending a couple more of those hours sleeping.

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

At First Sight Blogfest

Thanks to Jacee Drake for hosting the At First Sight Blogfest!

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?”

She died.

“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

Here's to Another Twenty

Happy Anniversary, Hubby. I love you even more now than I did 20 years ago when I said "I do."

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week

September 25 - October 2

This week why not read a banned book? Open your mind and look at the world from another point of view. Personally, I've never understood book banning. First of all, it only proves the cowardice and small-mindedness of the banner(s) and secondly banning something only makes it that much more desirable. Remember prohibition? Yeah. Like that. Alcohol was illegal? Really? Like that kept people from drinking. It only made people more determined to drink.

Hmmmm. So maybe we should ban books in a sneaky backward effort to makes people want to read them more. Anybody see what happened around the blogosphere last weekend when some dude advocated banning the book, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson? A huge wave of support and lots of publicity for the book. So, I wonder if a little reverse psychology would do the trick?

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Great Blogging Experiment - How To Write Compelling Characters

Thanks to Elana Johnson et al for hosting the Great Blogging Experiment. Participants are all asked to blog today about the same subject: How to Write Compelling Characters.

I didn't actually sign up for the experiment, but the subject is interesting enough that I'm going to blog about it anyway!

So, what makes characters interesting?

In my opinion perfect characters are just boring (and I don't personally know you?). I want to read characters who are flawed and human, who make mistakes and learn from them. It's as simple as that (I kid, it's not really easy).

After you create imperfect people to write about, show us all about them (you know, show, don't tell?) Help us understand them by challenging them and making them make dumb mistakes, then show us how they become better people because of it.

Making your characters compelling is kind of a 2-step process: create people with flaws and dreams and then give them challenging situations that allow them to evolve.

It sounds easy, but it really isn't. It's tempting to write perfect people, but that's just plain boring. Writing interesting characters, and writing in general, takes a lot of practice, but that's part of what makes it fun - coming up with new and fascinating people to write about!

So what qualities do you think make compelling characters? How do you approach writing them?

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Thanks to Angela over at Jaded Love Junkie for hosting the Blogfeast! My entry is below, from my WIP, Faerie Fate. It's a cross post from my other blog, Mara Writes.


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?”

“Mmm hmm.”

“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

24-Hour Play Festival Success

This weekend was the 24-Hour Play Festival at the university. What's that, you ask? Well, it's a theatre event where within 24 Hours plays are written, rehearsed, produced, and performed. On Friday evening we all meet, introduce ourselves, and share the prop and costume piece we brought.

Then the actors and directors go home and the writers write plays. The finished plays are due by 6:00 a.m. Then actors and directors show up to learn lines, block the plays, and rehearse. Then the house opens at 7:00 p.m., shows start at 7:30 and by 8:30 it's been 24 hours and we're done!

So this is the fourth year I've written for the festival. The first year I wrote a great play, second year bombed big time (mostly because I drew newbie actors who couldn't memorize the script, but the script wasn't my best, either). Third year was good. This year turned out to be awesome!

When I went into it Friday night, I had no idea what I wanted to write, which is pretty much the point of the exercise. But sometimes as a writer you have some vague ideas floating around in your head. I ended up adapting this, which I wrote for the Invasion of the Bloggy Snatchers blogfest.

It turned out amazing and I was really pleased with the result. Was it perfect? No, there were definitely places I realized, after watching it performed, that I can make adjustments, tighten dialogue, add jokes, etc. But for having been accomplished in 24 hours? It was great!

So tonight was another 24-Hour Play Festival well done. I love this as a writing experience!