Archive for the 'Life' Category

Oct 03 2011

HWA’s October fun

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I’m currently an associate member of the HWA, or the Horror Writers Association, and they’re having all sorts of fun for the month of October.  Check it out, follow along, join in the fun!

Twitter feed: @HorrorWriters

Facebook HWA Group

Facebook HWA Page :

And of course, the blog

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Aug 28 2011

weekend links continue

Published by under Life

Arachnophobes beware: spider silk research into skin grafts

Think we’ve visited this one before, but super-rich Buffet wants to have more of his (and fellow ultra-rich folks’) money taxed

short but cool news blurb about a 98-year-old woman being the first woman to receive the highest degree black belt in judo

east coast earthquakes! How coooool!

in cancer news, a new leukemia treatment is having dramatic results

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Mar 20 2011

on-time weekend links

Published by under Life

mostly very bad pain week but enough breaks that I wrote a couple of blog posts. Hey words yay! Also, collected some links:

I’ve thought about doing a stint as a slush reader, after this whole reproduction thing is past. Here are some Confessions of a Slush Reader, useful for writers especially.

Having just been gifted with some classic Dr. Seuss for the new family arrival impending, I was delighted to see this link about fantastical taxidermy sculptures created by the talented Mr. Geisel.

Stephen King is a more honest rich man than expected

Funny comic that many artists will find amusing…

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Feb 14 2011

VDay story redux — Juno Februa

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Haven’t managed to get this one published but I still like it, and since there’s no new Valentine’s Day story written this year, thought I’d repost it for those of you who missed it last year. Enjoy!

Juno Februa

There was a knock at Alexandra Wright-Phillip’s bedroom door. Alex left her other two friends to their sorting on the floor rug and got up to answer it.

“Hi, Kas.”

“Hello, ladies! Gym class was grand, I got 33 just from them. Check it, my box is full!” Kasturi gave a gleeful shake of her crinkly pink shoebox.

“Oh stuff it, Kas, we all have full boxes. This school is so very friendly, after all,” said Charity Horne from her spot on the rug, surrounded by untidy piles of little cards.

Tamisha Jones was too busy counting to herself to greet Kasturi. Her cards were sorted by size, color, and shape so that each stack was perfectly aligned.

Alexandra waved her inside. “Hurry and catch up, Kas. My mom is at her steam-room aerobics class until 6, so we’d better be done and cleaned up by then.”

Kasturi Patil shrugged off her coat and tossed it with the others on the bed, then took the spot on the rug that would complete their little circle and began counting her shoebox contents.


“Misha, what’s our total?”


“Wow, we are totally empowered!” Kasturi clapped her hands as she said this.

Charity rolled her eyes and said, “How many did we miss?”

Tamisha looked back at her paper before she replied. “256, according to the latest school enrollment.”

Alex nodded firmly. “That’s close enough for what we need. Have you all made your choices for the ritual?”

The others all held up a single card they had each set aside from the larger stacks.

“Then let’s begin.”

Alexandra reached under her bed and pulled out a book. It looked like a diary, but old; the edges were yellow, paper peeling back from the posterboard covers. She’d showed it to the girls last week when she’d told them about the ritual, and how she’d found it while looking for a book on her mom’s bookshelf. She’d used that and the evidence from her mom’s old yearbooks to convince her friends to go along with the plan for today.

She’d marked the correct page beforehand, so she could open right to it. She did so and directed the others to pile all their cards into a large mound in the middle. “Now I’ll start, and then we go around the circle and you do what I do, just like we talked about.”

She didn’t wait for them to agree but picked up the card she’d set aside and showed it to them. “Sweets to the sweet,” she read from the front where the words were spelled out in candy dots on the icing of a huge cupcake. She turned it over. “Best wishes to one of my favorite students, Mrs. Tilsen.”

“Hey, that’s what she wrote on mine!” Kas actually looked upset.

“Quiet, idiot, that’s what she wrote on everyone’s, don’t screw up the ritual!” hissed Charity.

Alex ignored them both as she positioned the card against her finger, then slid the edge rapidly past her skin. She grimaced but didn’t make a sound from the sting of the papercut, and squeezed her finger hard to make the blood well up. “Approval is important.” She smeared it across both sides of the card, then held it up to show everyone again.

“I want to be popular.” With that she dropped the stained valentine into a bowl she’d set next to the heap of cards, and nodded to Charity on her left.

Char sighed, and held up her card. “Be my valentine.” She read from the simple white script angled across a red heart, then flipped it over. “It’s just signed ‘Heidi’. Heidi hates me.” She didn’t even flinch as she cut herself and said “Appearances are important.” She mashed her bloody finger especially hard against Heidi’s signature before throwing the card in the bowl. “I want to be popular.”

“I will forever be true.” Tamisha looked a little sad as she read from the back, “Bestest friends forevers! Love, Alina.” She looked up at the others. “Since I was 5 years, 3 months, and 17 days old, when her folks moved next door from overseas. It’s been fun, but she won’t ever be anything other than what she is.” Misha cut herself and watched the seepage of red appear with detached interest. “Ambition is important.” She placed a neat fingerprint in the same position on either side and lay the card gently down on the stack in the bowl. “I want to be popular.”

Kasturi made a face. “I hate blood, ladies.” She picked up her card without further protest, and smiled as she read first the front, “You stole my heart,” then the back: “Hey let’s hang out and play again soon! Love Jeremy.” She learned forward and whispered, “He was my first kiss, three months ago when we were playing house.”

Charity hissed, “We know. You’ve told us 57 times since then.”

Kas tossed her hair and said, “Now who’s interrupting, Char? Anyway, adoration is important.” She whimpered as the sharp card edge slit her finger. She looked away from the wound as she marked the sides, then completed the stack in the bowl. “I want to be popular!”

Alex picked up the lighter she’d set next to the bowl and caught the edges of the bloody cards on fire. They sat quietly watching until the smoke had filled the room enough to set them all coughing.

Alexandra got up to open the window. “That should be good, thanks. See you all at school tomorrow, oh and don’t forget to wash your hands on the way out. I don’t want you getting blood all over Mom’s stuff.” Alex made scooting motions with her hands as she pulled bandaids from her pocket and handed them out. She put hers on, then started her ceiling fan to let the smoke out.

The rest of sixth grade was much better after that.

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Jan 29 2011

writing weekend links

Published by under Life

It arose as a discussion in writing group last week, so here’s a discussion of the trickiness of the passive voice for your edification.

More moderation on the piracy/e-books front from Tobias Buckell.

From the same guy I linked to last week who wrote Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing, here’s an essay about the common scams modern writers can find themselves entangled in…

And in a slightly more general business vein, I linked to this a couple of weeks ago but I’m about halfway through reading it, and it deserves another shout-out due to the usefulness of info within. The Freelancer’s Survival Guide is written by a writer but has large amounts of relevant information that are applicable to anyone trying to freelance in the early 21st century, check it out!

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Nov 12 2009

NaNoWriMeet doubt supplemental

To follow up the previous post…

I thought up a saying that may very well be found elsewhere in slightly different form, but which I thought conveyed a good concept for many writers:

It’ll never be as good on the page as it was in my head. But it might be as pretty in someone else’s head, when it’s done…

Of course I’m not the only one being supportive of the NaNoWriMo participants, so here’s another link about “writer’s block”.

And a bonus link, to whet the appetite for those of you ultimately interested in following through to the business end of the industry (otherwise known as selling/marketing your finished book), an article from a well-recommended agent about writing query letters.

And don’t forget, SLEEP! (I posted this link several months back but the Storytellers Unplugged site did a massive redesign and moved all the links. I found it for you again!)

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Aug 13 2009

sleep the sleep, I pray you…

I butcher a Shakespeare quote in the title to introduce today’s topic for thought. It might not look like sleep directly relates to writing, but one read of this article and you might see it differently.

I was chatting with a dear friend yesterday and we both found an interesting correspondence in sleep patterns, and I find myself wondering if others have noticed similar patterns. My friend and I have both discovered, in the course of our long and varied working lives, that if we follow our own body rhythms of sleep and wakefulness as those urges arise, we actually need less sleep than if we are conforming to someone else’s schedule or daily calendar. Sometimes these differences can be fairly significant: I notice I can do 5-6 hours easily on my own schedule, with maybe a bit of a nap now and then, but need a solid 7 hours or more to function well when I’m on another person’s clock. My friend has an even more dramatic difference, from 6 hours following her own rhythms, to 8-10 per day if she’s on some other schedule (often 6 hours and then a 3 hour nap later), especially if it requires early morning hours (she’s naturally a night person). She mentioned that it’s frustrating to realize that when she’s working for someone else, she loses several hours more than just the eight punched-in hours each day due to the sleep (and commute, and…)

I’m curious if any readers out there have noticed a similar phenomenon in their own patterns. Or are there folk who are reversed, needing less sleep when working for someone else and more sleep when working for themselves? Thoughts, experiences, questions to ponder?

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Jul 02 2009

travel break soon, writing ramp-up

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About to embark on the last major trip I’ll have to take for several weeks, yay! I really enjoy traveling, but would prefer a bit more time to recover in-between major jaunts whenever possible. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. I am so glad I’ve been in such a physically healthy place lately; not only did I make it through the winter without a major illness for the first time I can remember, but my stamina has held through this last crazy month-and-a-half of running around the country.

My writing projects to-do list has tripled in the past week, as I come up with at least three new things to be working on in addition to the novel-in-progress. I’ve been doing fairly well at continuing to write regardless of whatever else is going on in my life, and I’m testing my (current) limits a bit under the theory that the more writing in various venues I do, the more likely it is I’ll start to earn some income from it. Not to mention continuing to increase my name recognition wherever I can. Also, my breadth of writing ability is being tested, and I’ve never wanted to be limited to just one or two genres anyway.

I’m currently excited, writing-wise, about:

  • My novel-in-progress (yes, I get frustrated just as often as excited, here, but today excitement reigns)
  • My next novel (I already have most of what I need to jump right into this after the current wip is drafted–plus, it will hopefully be my first series!)
  • cleaning up the old to-do list (finally found my notes to finish up a couple of old projects that were put on hold when things imploded several months back, which will be a psychological weight lifted)
  • a regular column idea (this one looks to be endless fun)
  • an academic-style paper (research for this will hopefully speed the wip along, too)
  • sketch comedy work with a friend (the invitation for this came along on the same day that I was talking to Nathan about wanting more experience writing humor, yay!)
  • whichever short story comes next (only a couple of idea seeds here, not rushing this since there are plenty of other projects to focus on)
  • trolling the trunk (printing out mostly completed story pieces and going over them to see which, if any, can be brought up to my current standards enough to send out)

Whew! I’d say that’s a decent chunk of writing projects. Now to manage the trick of working on several at a time while NOT dropping off work on the novel. At the least I’ll learn more about where my current saturation point is, and I’ll post about my progress here as it develops. I currently have three stories out looking for a publishing home, and I’ve decided that’s my new minimum preferred standard for number of circulating stories.

For those readers able to work on more than one major project at a time (in whatever field), how does that process work for you? I know every person approaches their work differently, but I’m always curious about other folks’ processes.

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May 26 2009

Still writing, but traveling, now sleeping

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Just got back from a great camping trip and art festival so the writing post for the week will have to wait until more sleep has occurred. However, it was my best Flipside yet, and I really enjoyed my first year Rangering and will definitely sign up for more shifts next year. I loved the chill no-drama camp atmosphere, awesome campsite, tons of needed exercise, great conversations with beautiful loved ones, even the weather was the most temperate all around I’ve yet experienced in five years of attending the event (Texas summer conditions still apply, of course).

So, to get the writing thoughts flowing while I sleep, what defines a character as “real” to you? (or “alive” or “developed” or “ready to be written”, etc.) How do you distinguish that from other internal conditional perspectives that most people carry around with them on a daily basis? Does any of this change when you have long term fictal residents, such as characters involved in a multiple-novel series? Where do your characters “live” when not actively dancing to your whim and will upon the page?

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May 14 2009

first fans and character momentum

I may very well have found one of the best “first readers” ever.  Bouncy enthusiasm along with insightful critique, in-between more bounciness.  And at least for this project, she’s exactly the sort of reader I’m trying to entertain with this novel.  I mostly mention it because I know she’ll blush and get all squirmy when reading this (insert evil chuckle here).

Onto the writerly chat for the week:  I was chatting with a friend the other day who asked about character momentum.  This friend felt that their story character was uninterested or unwilling to tell the rest of their story, that they had run out of steam.  We discussed a couple of more personal possibilities for why, but I spent some time after the conversation thinking and chatting in a more general sense with my local expert perspective on this topic and thought I’d share that here for potential wider writing discussion.

For myself, I find that I usually assume that a character who isn’t cooperating while stilll living in my head just isn’t ready to tell their story yet.  Once I figure this out (you’d think I’d get faster at it, but it varies), I let he, she, or it roam around in the back alleys and halls there while I go to work on telling a different character’s tale.  This becomes less convenient if I’ve already started writing the recalcitrant character’s story, and for now my easy answer to that is “that’s what ‘the trunk’ is for”.  Learning how to set aside a stuck or stale story into the trunk is its own lesson, and I also presume that when I start having to deal with contracts for books not yet written, my method of managing mewlishly mute characters will have to change to accommodate a storytelling time restriction.

Occasionally I’ve found that a character won’t cooperate because I’m trying to tell the wrong story.  I often approach my storytelling by crafting a character first, with a much more vague idea of specific plot, and then see what the created character does with a setting.  If one story path fizzles, I metaphorically turn the character loose to go walkabout and see if they bring back a better or more interesting story.  There’s one character that’s lived in a little nook in my mind since I was 8; I still haven’t found the exact story where she goes, though I think I might have at least figured out the genre.

Steve says that the number one reason he knows that a character would no longer want to tell his story is that the author has already told it.  It’s apparently the reason why many writers won’t talk about their in-progress work before a draft is finished.  This is certainly not a problem I share, given the peculiar verbal aspect to my writing process, and I wonder if that might not be one of the differences between storytellers and writers — whether telling the story once through causes one to lose interest or just see a different way to tell it next time.

Steve also suggests that a loss of momentum could happen if you are asking your character to do something that is not in their nature to do.  Asking them to behave “out of character” can cause them to become stubborn or feel unreal.  One trick he uses for when this happens is to have a “fallback scene” ready, some stock scene that your character can go and do while you-the-writer figure things out (and stay in your regular writing routine while you do).  Steve will often have Vlad go and eat a meal to figure out what to do next; when Vlad solves the current problem, Steve will delete the irrelevant parts of the mental noodling and get on with the story.

What are some of your found tricks for jump-starting a stuck piece?  Or do you have other questions about this topic we haven’t yet discussed?  I’m always interested in hearing about the processes of other artists.

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