Archive for the 'blwio' Category

Nov 08 2010

A Knock At the Door

Published by under blwio,callie

Patience in waiting was a cultivated skill — one worth nurturing, as otherwise the waiting game could be quite maddening. Callie enjoyed a series of fine meals, work-outs, and mindless media entertainment as she waited for a new development. She spent a portion of each waking cycle reviewing her plans for any desired adjustments, but kept it to a restricted duration so she wouldn’t get too obsessive.

She found the book she had started what seemed like ages ago now, on the end table next to her couch in the sitting room. She decided she was unlikely to get reading interruptions while she waited — and any interruptions at this point would be far more welcome than annoying — so it was an ideal time to finish the book.

She found the inclusion of the “novel within a novel” excerpts to be surprisingly less disruptive than she’d expected. Instead, it was just enough interesting and connected indirectly to the main story to keep the reader going, while not being so engaging that one was disappointed to only get incomplete story pieces. The tension thus created made it all the more satisfying when the novel arc resumed.

The finale was similarly fraught, an uncomfortable completion that didn’t leave the reader feeling like there were major loose ends, yet still left feelings of disquiet, especially in the dream sequence a few pages from the end. All in all a thoroughly satisfying read — as well as rather inspirational, given recent events and likely plans.

Callie placed it back on the bookshelf where it belonged, but didn’t choose another book to follow it. She might change her mind if the wait continued for long enough, but for now she’d go with the tidy optimism of hoping she wouldn’t have time to finish another before more exciting events came her way. She did think that the movie version of the book might be a nice next diversion, however.

She sliced and cored a crisp apple, cubed two ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, and poured herself half a glass of tangy white wine as a snack with her movie. She found the choice of screenwriter a quite interesting contrast to the book’s author. She thought the addition of more actor roles in the movie was done well; she’d suspected Hollywood wouldn’t go for a blockbuster movie with only two actors, but the cut-scenes with the others were at least believable. The lead female certainly deserved her best actress award though she didn’t think the male lead showed nearly the necessary emotional depth for his role. Really, the main disagreement she had artistically with it was the change in the ending — she really felt it diluted the impact of the rest of the story.

As she was rinsing her snack plate in the kitchen afterward, there was a knock at the door.

Callie carefully set the plate down, dried her hands, and moved to the door. She twitched the curtain aside just enough to get a glimpse of her caller. An unexpected event: the person standing on the other side was no one Callie had met or seen before.

A woman, obviously past her first flush of youth but in the indeterminate era before middle-age, stood with easy confidence facing the door. Her features had the exotic cast of mixed cultural heritage, and most standards of beauty would consider her quite lovely. She was well-groomed, wearing a stylish dress suit that looked to Callie’s trained eye to be an original creation, though not a designer’s work she recognized. She held in her hand something Callie did recognize: the letter to Z’Aria that Callie had sent out.

Callie retrieved the kitchen spoon she’d used previously and pushed open the mail slot to better hear.


“We seem to have a mutual acquaintance,” the woman answered.

“So I see. Is there a message?”

“After a fashion. Also, a delivery.”

“Continue.” Callie wedged the spoon into the slot so that it would stay open, while she stood up to look through a corner of the curtains again at the speaker.

“This young lady,” here the woman shook the held paper meaningfully toward the door, as if she assumed she was being watched, “came to us and asked our help. She’d apparently been wandering for some time looking for assistance, as she didn’t really know how to help you in your predicament.”

Here she paused as if waiting for a reply. Callie remained silent. After a few moments, the lady continued.

“After she explained the details and showed us this letter, we realized we could actually give assistance in this situation, strangely enough.”

This time it looked as if she was content to wait out the silence, so Callie spoke. “Not likely the strangest thing I’ve seen lately.”

The woman had a nice smile, very friendly and inviting and natural-feeling. “I preferred to make the errand myself. Z’Aria is a nice young lady but flighty at times, and this seemed rather important.”

She held up her other hand. It held a key. It looked very like the one that fit Callie’s internal deadbolt.

How very interesting.

“This is yours?”

“It may very well be. I would have to try it to be sure.”

The woman wrapped the letter around the key for ease of delivery and pushed it through the mail slot. Callie heard a tiny musical ring as it hit the tile of the entry. She bent down and retrieved the package immediately, unfolding the letter and grasping the key tightly in her fist. She looked out the window again, this time opening the curtain wide enough that the woman could see she was being observed.

“Thank you. May I have your name in case we meet again?”

The woman gave a deadpan look in return. “With some small fortune, I doubt we shall meet again. I wish you good luck in your endeavors, but I must return to focus on mine. We have large plans coming to fruition at last, and I wish to be ready.”

“Indeed. I know how you feel.” Callie retrieved the spoon holding open the mail slot, listening to the clank as it closed. She saw the woman raise her now-empty hand in a half-wave before turning and making her way gracefully down the walk and out of sight.

Callie slid the key into the lock. It fit.

She took it out again and went to prepare for another outdoor adventure.

It was time to go prowling.

2 responses so far

Nov 05 2010

Writing update

As I might have already mentioned, I’m bending my traditional dislike of NaNoWriMo enough this year to participate, after a fashion. Instead of a new project, I’m using it as a goad to spur more writing on the long-overdue-to-be-DONE-already novel. I’m also allowing words on the Callie project or the Amazon short story to count. So far I’ve made wordcount, this week so far by an about equal split between novel writing and Callie stuff (had to go retro-engineer a plot outline of sorts for the Callie entries so far, or I was in danger of missing earlier-laid threads and creating more inconsistencies than I’d like). There will also be a new Callie post, but I’ll put it up Monday, as I’ve found that if I put them up going into the weekend then vastly fewer people read and respond to it. I am hoping this weekend to finally bull through a draft of the short story, which should wrap up my words for the first week nicely. Then there’s no more obstacles between me and noveling the rest of the month away!

How go your creative projects, Fearless Readers?

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Oct 02 2010

weekend link spectrum

I laughed until I cried, then laughed some more:  for the grammar lovers out there… (the rest of her blog is funny as well)

Are they out there? Two alien-news sightings here: Interstellar Archaeology and UN alien-Earth liason (yes, really); also follow-up to a previous weekend links reference with this article here: Earth-like planet found? (Linked everywhere this week. Not sure I’m as enthused by the stated findings as some of the quoted scientists are, doesn’t sound quite as certain as the headline implies — also, life as we know it needs liquid water, but stating that all life definitively needs liquid water seems to me a bit limited an idea in a very very large universe)

And can we find them? A mostly theoretical (but still cool) article about warp drives.

Canada does the right thing, let’s hope they don’t screw it up in appeals.  At least now there’s more legal precedent for the concept that laws against prostitution endanger sex-workers.

My will to survive has proven to be phenomenally strong, and even so I still passionately believe in the Right to Die.  So does Terry Pratchett: read about it here.

Along the lines of last week’s links about the current epidemic of gay teen suicides, here’s one person’s attempt to educate on the realities for many queer young people: just because I didn’t kill myself, doesn’t mean I didn’t feel like I was dying

The fabulously talented Andrea of Natural Obsessions Fiber has an unexpected car repair, so if you’ve been craving some new fiber, now would be the time to buy some!  She has top quality, gorgeously-dyed natural fibers just begging to be spun or knitted into beautiful wearable art!  Also, a 40% sale going on this weekend, even more reason to buy pretty things.

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Oct 01 2010

Cancer Chronicles: State of the Writer

Energy and stamina are still coming back online from being almost dead and the subsequent recovery.  For your information, being almost dead is apparently really draining on the body’s resources.  Surgery also.  Combine the two and you’re looking at a minimum of several months of not-optimal functioning — and that’s if you’re healing rapidly!

As you can imagine, any major change in activity or health during this time will slow down recovery even more.  Since surgery, I’ve taken back over house management duties including meal supplying and prep; taken on full-time parenting duties, including two hours a day of chauffeuring; had several weeks of sinus drainage and subsequent nausea; and one or two other things I might discuss elsewhere that are nevertheless similarly physically draining.

Needless to say (but I will), the writing has suffered.  Surprisingly, I was actually managing to sustain regular writing and editing up until this month’s sinus/allergy attack (fuck you, autumn).  The past three weeks I’ve averaged maybe one or two writing sessions a week (mostly blog entries, though the Callie ones definitely count for writing), and tons of reading research (back to the Crime Library and Wikipedia).  This is significantly down from 4-5 sessions a week plus research time, much of that non-blog writing.  Le sigh.

I’m obviously past another level on the path toward pro if I’m whining about ONLY getting 1-2 writing sessions plus research time a week like that’s slacking.  Which, for where my writing is at and needs to be, it IS slacking.  It’s good to remember where I’m at and where I’ve been, how doggedly I kept writing and editing up to a week before surgery, how quickly I was back to it afterward given my health levels (research from the first week out, writing from a month out).  And also remember how much I am daily pushing my body to the limits of what it can do, so that I can extend those limits, and how careful I must be to not over-extend past limits — there’s a very important difference between pushing and pushing over.  And one thing the cancer experience teaches even us incredibly stubborn over-achievers is how to discern the healthy side of that limit line.

I’m mostly past the sinus stuff.  My always awesome and excellent editor Mary Bass (message me if you need contact info for pro editing!) has given me edits for most of the stories I currently have finished (there might be a couple I haven’t dug up to send her yet somewhere).  This weekend I might even get some editing time in on updating a few.  I suspect over the next few months I’ll ramp up and wrap up a few large outstanding projects as well as meet my “stories out circulating” goals.

And then I’ll take a month off to just read.  Read for fun, what a shocking idea!

After that it’ll be time to start the second novel.  Which already has half-a-dozen people eagerly awaiting it.  That’s a nice feeling.

Staying alive is definitely worth the journey, but only if you fill your life with as much love and creativity as you can fit in.

3 responses so far

May 03 2010

Actual post about writing

(Note: I know many of you are anxiously awaiting more tales about the recent cancer experience, and they will be coming — and soon! — but at the rate that works for me and my processing of what was, among other things, an extremely traumatic event. Anyone needing more up-to-date health info and who is on Facebook can join my Fan Page there, which posts 2-4 times a week on health status and current known recovery info. I appreciate the concern!)

(Also note: SpinAThon raised over $2500 and sponsored 42.8 hours of spinning and knitting! Thanks so much to everyone who participated and donated, that will help a lot towards current medical costs. Stay tuned next week when we’ll have a silent auction and put up for bid the results of the SpinAThon efforts, along with many other lovely unique arts and crafts.)

I just planned out the next year and a half of work.

Talk about milestones on the “feeling like a Real Writer” path! Tomorrow/later today/after I’ve slept more, I’ll be officially “back on the job”. (Thankfully for my recovery I have a sit-down job where I can take nap breaks as needed, since tomorrow also starts Yoga-as-rehab sessions.) I have a much clearer idea of what rate I need to be writing at on certain projects in order to have them completed by my goal dates. The rest of 2010 is still going to be a bit off, but it looks like I might actually get some decent work in, as well as finish a long-overdue project.

No worries, regular blogging will continue on a weekly basis if not more frequently, and Callie posts will continue (probably at a rate of 2-3 a month) until…well, until there aren’t any more posts on that arc to write! I’ll also probably write about this new writing routine and how well it works out, and where adjustments need made, and all the other blathery things I think are interesting about life and work. Glad every day that I’m still here to fill the screen with words, words, words.

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Apr 29 2010

Out-of-time interlude

Published by under blwio,callie,momentum,Writing

(I’m a terrible tease, since this isn’t the section I’ve been working on, but it’s better than nothing at all…right?)


“Inari, please wake up. I’ve talked to my dads all day but they still won’t move. Ember neither. I’ve tried and tried, but no one will wake up and I don’t know what to do!”


“Inari, please wake up! I’m so scared.”


“Inari, please wake up. I saw people outside and tried to get them to help but I don’t know if they will and then I woke up after sleeping and there was this key under my pillow and I don’t know how it got there or where it goes.”


“Inari, please! Namah needs you, she might be in trouble.”

When Iris awakened from crying herself to sleep, with a hand finally on her shoulder and shaking her, she burst into tears. At least twenty minutes passed before Inari could go about the business of waking the others — or at least Namah — while Iris ran to get the key from where she had hidden it.


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Jan 28 2010

A Box Has No Windows

She fumed as she was thrown out of the story abruptly.  These interruptions were beginning to be intolerable.  She had planned to be reading for the afternoon, and now had several empty hours to fill again.  Usually the lack of windows in her rooms didn’t bother her; she was as uninterested in looking out of them as she was in anyone having an easy line of sight into her home.  At this moment, she’d likely be smashing the glass.  With a last frustrated glare at the firmly-closed book cover, she rose from the couch and left her sitting room to check the door in the main room.

Locked, as it usually was, and no key readily available.  The viewing window set into the door at eye-level was no help either.  There was no one out there to see regardless of which angle she peered from.  She dropped back the dark blue curtain covering the door’s window and spent a few moments absently stroking the edge of the velvety fabric as she thought.  When no brilliant epiphanies ignited her mind for the wishing of them, she decided to work off some of her irritation with exercise.  A session with the free weights should tire her out enough that a shower and nap might follow nicely after.

Her exercise area was at the opposite end of the large main room from the door, angled in such a way that someone working out could easily view the media screen on the left wall.  She didn’t load anything to watch.  The exercise mat was clean; she always wiped it down carefully after each session.  Her weights were on a rack against the wall, and her innate design preferences were evident here.  The weights themselves were neatly aligned in the rack and evenly spaced with each other, but there appeared to be neither increasing nor decreasing organization along the shelves in terms of relative weight.  She selected a pair of twenty-pound hand weights from where they lay next to a two-pound barbell plate and set them down at right angles to one corner of the mat.  She stripped down to her bra and the thin linen pants she was wearing, draping the rest of her clothes on a rod she’d attached to the back wall for just that purpose.

Maybe after her nap she’d be able to read again.  The image of her door standing open, her rooms empty, kept appearing in her mind as she worked up a thin sweat.  She tried to manipulate the image to view it from different angles, but it remained stubbornly static.  Empty rooms; an open door.

If she couldn’t read, she’d find where the key was.  Perhaps it was time to venture outside again after all.

2 responses so far

Jan 20 2010

Writer-as-protagonist in story

Steve and I were talking yesterday about his irritation at the “writer as protagonist” that often shows up in fiction. One of the most famous examples of this (and arguably the single biggest reason for the popularity of the trope) is Stephen King. It can be seen in his earlier works such as The Shining or Salem’s Lot, and continues to show up in several of his works throughout his bibliography (The Dark Half, Secret Windows, Lisey’s Story). Dean Koontz, another huge name in the horror genre, has also written stories (such as Lightning or Mr. Murder) which feature a writer in the main character role. Nor is this trend limited to horror; Kurt Vonnegut and Charles de Lint are two of several authors in the sff genre who have placed writer characters in starring story roles. I’m not as well-read in the more literary fiction end of the spectrum, but I’d be very surprised if a similar pattern wasn’t present there as well. (Feel free to mention and discuss other examples in the comments.)

I’m still a bit unclear on exactly why Steve gets so irritated by writer-protagonists — hopefully he’ll clarify his position a bit more in comments, hehe. I remember from our last chat that he feels like having a writer as a protagonist in a story you’re writing creates too many situations where you are tempted to be clever, or clever-seeming, possibly even superseding the priorities of the story. I think he said it’s the difference between an author being clever in how they tell a story, versus using a technique that says “hey, look at me being clever over here”.

I suppose I can see that point; certainly some of the more forgettable stories I’ve read with writers in the lead role felt rather like what Steve describes. On another hand, some of the more interesting examples of the trope do play around with some neat ideas. Koontz’s Odd Thomas books reference the unreliability of a writer narrator throughout the stories, making references to editing and eliding events even as he tells the tale. de Lint uses writer characters as he does other artists and musicians in his Newford stories, where the act of creative generation unlocks hidden magics in the surrounding world. Vonnegut’s writers don’t seem to be able to self-referentially change the story due to their own writing; I get the impression, reading some of his quasi-auto-biographical fiction works, that his characters are often writers because Vonnegut himself is one. However, Vonnegut didn’t always do the writer-character-as-avatar for himself. I’ve read several references to his famous Kilgore Trout being a poke at Theodore Sturgeon, which amuses me to consider.

Looking at King’s extensive bibliography and publishing history, I’m struck with another thought that’s occurred to me before. So many of his writer characters struggle with aspects of their craft–even to several of them blocked on writing, alcoholics, or otherwise engaged in unstable and self-damaging behaviors–which fascinates me when compared with the fact that, since 1974, there has only been one year that King didn’t publish one or more finished pieces. It doesn’t seem from his observable public output that King, the person, suffers from much in the way of writer’s blocks or dangerous instability preventing his writing. Did much of the potential for that self-destruction get sublimated and exorcised into the more troubled writer-protagonists of his stories?

What do you think about this trope of the writer-as-protagonist? Do you like it? Does it irritate you when you encounter it? Are there similar metaphoric parallels in other artistic disciplines, for you other creative types out there? Let’s discuss!

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Jan 16 2010

Inside the Box

Published by under blwio,callie,characterization

Her suite of rooms seemed more confining, lately. She had been living here for some time now–longer than she was used to staying in one place. This morning she meandered, stopping at whim to examine things more closely before wandering on. She wasn’t much inclined to watch visual media regularly, and today felt just dreary enough that mindless computer entertainment didn’t appeal either. Her touch lingered briefly on the dressform next to the drafting table, still draped haphazardly with several samples in a riotous conflict of colors. She didn’t have an inspiration for this piece yet, and wasn’t in the mood to look for one today.

Outside her suite was its own set of problems to deal with, and again not something she felt like handling this morning. The others called her area The Box, and for all she knew it even looked like one from the outside. Inside, however, everything was apportioned as she liked it, and even on aimless days like today she took pleasure in each room’s decor. She finished up her walk in the sitting room, and decided that reading a book would do for a temporary distraction.

Her three full-sized bookshelves were made of identical black particleboard and arranged along one wall in a uniform line. The books themselves were a chaotic mix of hardbacks and paperbacks, most of them well-used. They were arranged alphabetically by author and then by title from left to right; the first unit held A-J, the middle K-R, and the last the rest of the alphabet. She tended to pick each week’s reading selection by a blind grab, but balanced her randomness with the ordered formula by which she chose the shelf to pull from. This week it was the middle bookshelf’s turn, top shelf. She closed her eyes and shook her hand back and forth a bit before moving it around in loops and spirals through the air in front of the shelf. When it felt right she pushed forward, her fingers ready for the first brush against a bound spine…ahh, a hardback this time.

She opened her eyes and examined her selection. One of the classics in its genre, but not one she’d previously made time to read. The author photo on the back could not possibly escape notice. She spent an interested minute analyzing her reaction to the pose; it looked like an attempt at “intense, thoughtful and brooding” had become instead “nervous, weird, and slightly dorky”. She suspected the closed-off body posture contributed heavily to eroding the overt intent of the picture. When she tired of this game, she read through the dustjacket teaser for the story inside and now her interest was fully engaged. A thrilling premise, not to mention one that started all sorts of fascinating ideas and possibilities cascading through her mind.

She curled up onto the firm but plush couch, which was just the right length for her to stretch out in comfort, with pillows propping her upright and a blanket tucked around her legs and toes. Bringing the pages close to her face she inhaled deeply, savoring the papery, musty used-book odor. She ran her fingers lightly across the covers; as she reached the closed pages, she gripped their edges and riffled them quickly front-to-back as one might a flip-book, enjoying the buzz-whir sound and the tickling feel against her hand. This pre-book ritual, she found, put her into a pleasant frame of mind and ready for hours of reading enjoyment. Sensory demands thus satisfied, she turned back to the first page and began to read.

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Dec 06 2009

NaNoWriMeet wrap-up

Published by under blwio,momentum,NaNoWriMeet,Writing

I realized I forgot to post my final post in this series, so here it is a bit belatedly. For my part, I’m planning to return to a more weekly rate on the about-writing posts instead of maintaining a daily rate, but I hope you enjoyed the extra. Other effects for me were that I really liked the challenge to ramp-up my own writing that I took on mid-month, even with the increasingly comedic series of interferences in that plan. I still got several thousand words written and a MUCH better idea of what I’m doing with my novel. (Still re-writing chapter three, and deleting much of what I copy-and-pasted in, but at least theoretically it’ll make for a better story. I’ll report here when I’ve gotten through all that mess.)

Even on the days I’m not writing about it I’m back to talking about it daily, and I have housemates that are genuinely interested and wanting to help my process so that makes things MUCH easier. In addition, I have an awesome inner circle of friend-fans waiting for the next piece to be finished and encouraging me along in their excitement, which also helps a bunch. It’s refreshing to be around people who are stimulated by rather than threatened by other folks’ creative pursuits. I nearly always find myself inspired to new ideas when I see the beautiful creations of the lovely people I’m blessed to know. If you’ve been struggling with staying the course on your own creative work, consider some of these options if you don’t have them already. Steven Brust thinks that it would benefit every writer to have someone who gazes adoringly at them with the attitude of “wow, you are the Best Writer Ever.” He got a dog, which works quite well for this. If you don’t already have a dog or room for one, try finding a parent, lover, or awesome friend with a similar attitude. Sure, critiques have their place and usefulness, but sometimes the “wow someone thinks I’m totally awesome!” feeling helps more than any constructive criticism.

Another angle to try is to break the writer trope of the solitary artist locked with their computer into a room to scribe Art for the Ages. If you’re repeatedly getting stuck in the word mire on your own routines, take a different path. If you have portable word processing capabilities, try out a variety of different venues for writing in public. The most common places are bookstores and coffee shops; a quiet restaurant that isn’t obsessed with table turn-over might also work. In nicer weather, a park or picnic could be a refreshing and inspiring change of scene. Heck, even try different rooms in your own home, or setting up (in nice weather) in your backyard.

A compatible community of creative folk is another valuable resource. Whether you have a more formal writer’s group, or a more informal collective of artists wanting to support each other in their endeavors, or a full-on collaborative project, the exciting things that can happen when multiple creative minds meet together in the same “space” is exhilarating. Quite often it’s the equivalent for your creative flow of slamming down a four-pack of energy drinks. If you’re isolated enough that all you can do is an online equivalent of this, then try that. I was active for several years in an online writer’s group that is sadly not very active any more, but was quite helpful and enjoyable for a long while. Some of us met in person a couple of times, but it was mostly online and worked really well that way. I would expect that recent interfaces such as Google Wave and the like are quite useful places to try and set up such an endeavor. However, for any of you that can, I’d recommend trying some in-person creative jam sessions as well. I’m not so 20th century as to rant against online community or its usefulness, but I’m realistic enough to note that the benefits one derives online are certainly different in many aspects from those you get with in-person creative brainstorming. I think they’re complimentary, and I’ve noticed it feels better when I perceive myself to have both in-person and online creative support. So ask around, figure out which of your friends you enjoy being around who also want creative support, and form your own “artist’s collective” where you meet up regularly and each work on your own creative projects; or perhaps more focused brainstorming sessions, where you each get some group time to help bash through a stuck spot on whatever project you’re creating at the moment. There are multiple options that work based on the individuals involved; however you decide to, remind yourself that it is work worth doing.

I’m interested to hear about the experiences of those of you who tried NaNoWriMo (or a modified variant of it) this year. It’s so easy, especially if you didn’t make your goal, to just drop the subject and slink back into the not-creating land from whence you arose. So I challenge each of you who tried it, to comment either here or in your own journal, and give a report! Document what worked as well as what didn’t. Note at least three things you learned about yourself and your writing. Look the really hard thing you attempted head-on; not as “I failed”, but “I tried something really big and am not ready yet. How can I get more ready for next time?”

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