Friday, December 4, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #4-- Because It's Worth It, and Mad Libs Words Day

Sorry, I don't have a cute animal pic today :( Not even of my kittens!

Oh, wait, I might:

Here you go! This is my bunny, when she was but a mere 8 weeks old, at my office, with a box on her ears. Yeah, weird, I know. It was cute. So I took a picture. Then promptly removed the box. Sorry it's all fuzzy-- cell phone cameras not so good at capturing adorable memories. Bah.

Her name is HopScotch. Her predecessor, my dearly departed bunny, was named Barley Hops. I have a thing for pun names. At least when it comes to bunnies.

Well, now that I've scared all of you away, let me get back to my message for the day:

Have patience with your writing because it's worth it. It really is, no matter the outcome. You'll better yourself as a person just having tried, whether you make the bestseller list and become the Next Big Thing, or if everything you write stays a secret from the world, a little personal treasure box you can open any time but don't want to share. Learning to write, to craft words above and beyond college papers, is a noble aspiration, and one that will stay with you always. It is, like learning a musical instrument, or a new language, or eating hazelnuts (unless you're allergic), or figure-skating (unless you're me), something that will enrich your life for the rest of your days to come. So take a little pressure off yourself and write, no matter how the stars will align for you. Because you are strong enough to withstand critique and rejection. Because you love it. Because you want it. And because it's worth it.

Also, hey, look at that, it's Friday!! Why don't we celebrate with some Mad Libs?

To play along this week you'll need the following:

Plural Noun
Plural Noun
Verb ending in -ing

It's noun-heavy, so make sure you catch them all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #3-- Because You Want It

THIS is a wallaby. Wallaby, wallaby, wallaby.


As a former zoo keeper, I am insane about most exotic animals. Going to visit a zoo is like pet shopping for me sometimes. That's particularly true about wallabies. And especially particularly true about this one. I just want to take it home and love it and cherish it and (maybe) name it George.

But alas, wallabies require, er, special facilities, and special care. I just don't have the capacity to have a wallaby right now, even though I really REALLY want one. Even more so every time I look at this picture WB and I took at the zoo a few months ago.

So what's a wallaby-wanting girl to do? Wait. Someday, I may have a wallaby. Or not. I can't really say for certain either way (mostly because the reality of keeping an animal like a wallaby far outweighs the fantasy) and so I choose to keep on doing what I'm doing, and hoping that someday I'll get the opportunity to find out if a wallaby is for me or not.

Again, what does this have to do with writing? Well, see, what we all want, what we all strive for-- it's a dream till it happens. This is not me being discouraging. I think each and every single one of us has the capacity to follow that dream, mostly because we all care enough to be here, learning and growing as writers (and artists). But while we work towards that dream, we have to have the patience to keep going with the things we do have in our lives, the tangible things we can grab onto and hold and snuggle till--

Ahem. Excuse me. There are two kittens asleep on my legs right now, their cuteness must be influencing me.

Anyway, my point today is: keep the dream. Keep it real, keep it with you, and when you look at its equivalent of a picture-- your manuscript, or similar-- let the warm fuzzies course through you, taking you away to that special place. But then come back to here, now, and have the patience to build towards the dream.

What tangibles will you hold onto until (and after) the dream comes true?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #2-- Because You Love It

This is my Tally. I have one of those writer-things to do with her and patience week today-- you know, that thing where you compare two things that aren't alike?

Anyway, Tally tests my patience. I've had her for almost three years, and when I got her she was (prepare yourself for some jargon, here) pretty green (= untrained), spooky (=untrained), and barn sour (=untrained, and didn't like anything beyond the stall she had hardly been out of in five years). But I'd secretly been in love with her for that same five years, and when she came up for sale, I could hardly contain myself to buy her. In the year that followed, she grew before my eyes and patient hands into a calm, sweet, brave horse that I got quite a few compliments on.

Until we moved ranches. Moving Tally out of her only recently-expanded comfort zone was a death sentence to the progress we'd made. It's been over a year and a half, and I'm still struggling to get her back where she was. We just recently started riding again, and even now, last Saturday, I was all by myself out at the ranch with her, and had the bright idea to try and ride. No go. She wouldn't let me on. I've been struggling with this for months, and I feel, at times, like giving up because I don't know what else to do, and I don't feel like it's fair to either of us to be so frustrated.

But I keep trying, and I will keep trying, as long as it takes. With Tally, I have infinite long-term patience, even though my short-term fuse is tempted to blow almost weekly. Why? Because I love her. For those of you who aren't close to animals, or are indifferent, I hope this analogy still makes sense. Tally is like a child to me. You don't give up on your human kids, I'm not giving up on my four-hoofed one. (Besides, I use the term "ho" as my stopping command-- easier to say than "whoa." And it's a lot of fun to say, "Tally, ho!" A hahaha.)

Tally is also the last piece I have of Gypsy (the horse I lost at the beginning of September, for those of you who weren't here for that). She's Gypsy's foal (though not a foal anymore by a long shot-- she's almost nine). Every time I look at her I see a spark of her mother, even down to the little fits of attitude she throws. To me, Tally is worth it because she's family. I don't have any big plans of winning national championships with her, just spending time with her when I can, and keeping us both fit, healthy, and entertained. I'm content just being with her, and riding is the icing on the cake. I have all the time in the world to get her back to where she was, but I'm not going to give either of us a coronary pushing us to get there.

What does this have to do with writing? Well, it has everything to do with writing. If you love it, don't give it up, whether the manuscript will let you on for the ride or not. Keep going, keep spending time with it, even when it feels impossible to continue-- because if it really means enough to you, it's worth it, whether you're taking home ribbons or just spending your nights grooming your words, bonding with your characters and feeding your mind. (Did I just go too far? I may have. Sorry.)

I know this is probably a silly question to ask all of you, but it begs a response, even if you don't share:

Do you have long-term patience with your writing?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Patience Is A Virtue, Day #1

But it's certainly a stinky one.

I know some (okay, okay, a lot of) people have written about this before, but I wanted to touch on and then expand what's already been said. For the next four days, I'll be blogging patience.

This may come as a shock to you, but you need patience if you want to be a writer.

*Gasp*, you say. No, it can't be so!

But it is, my friend, it is. I think we're all aware that publishing is a turtle business in today's very-much-bionic-rabbit world (because even real bunnies, as cute as they are, aren't faster than my internet). So I won't go into that again. You need time, and patience, to pursue publication.

Today's topic is: the patience to deal with critiques. This is important because if you are pursuing publication, whether you like it or not, people are going to critique your work. Even if you never show it to anyone but prospective agents (a very bad idea), they will critique your work, too. A rejection is a critique. This is probably the hardest part for me, to be honest. But it's not even that hard, it's just something that varies day to day depending on my mood. I tend to go a little Misunderstood Artist and be all angsty when I get a critique that misses something completely, something I've been careful to include. But this is rare, and it serves a valuable lesson-- obviously, if I thought it was, er, well, obvious, but that person missed it, perhaps it wasn't obvious enough. So even though my reaction might be to set flames to my MS at first, once I step back and let my patience take over, I generally realize something very valuable came out of the encounter. It's valuable whether I use it or not, in fact, because when I'm writing what I'm working on next, I will keep those tiny (or huge) flaws of mine in mind.

Critique is invaluable to your success as a writer, both how you deal with it and how you use it. But you have to open your eyes to it and LET it help you, otherwise it's useless. My first instinct is debate. Those of you who have been in class with me know this. I am able to see most points, but if I don't, I want to argue, and have to restrain myself from defending my work and let the person say what they are going to say. I am working on this patience in myself. I want to be the best writer that I can, so I drink in every critique, every counter-point that comes my way. I may not like the way it tastes, but boy is it good for my health.

This may be easy or difficult to answer, but how do critiques of your work help (or hinder) you?

Friday, October 30, 2009


Find Part I here and Part II here.

A bright light and instantaneous crash like the sound of two semis colliding jerks me out of my nightmares. I sit up, gasping. It had seemed so real.

The only light in the room comes from my alarm clock and the still-burning candle. The alarm clock reads 12:47, and the candle is burned about halfway down.

The rumbling thunder and flashing lightning hasn't died down. The wind beats the rain against the sides and windows of my house, and I peer at the backyard, looking for the familiar shadow of my tree to anchor me in the real world during the flashes.

I blink. One instant, the tree is there, and the next, it's not. I rub my eyes. Another lightning flash, and the tree is back.

I throw the covers off me and search for my slippers with my feet. I can't get back to sleep, not when what awaits me is worse than the storm outside. I keep seeing her eyes, iron gray, and her finger, pointing up at me.

"You didn't like that lady anyway," I mutter to myself as I pick up the candle and plod back down the hallway.

My tea is cold, so I heat up a new mug, setting the candle down on the table. I want to be bathed by light, but a quick flick of the switch on the wall tells me the power's gone out in the short time it's taken me to walk down the hallway.

"Great." I throw my spoon into the sink. It clatters off the side and tumbles bowl-first into the jaws of the garbage disposal. I make a mental note to retrieve it before I go back to bed.

I sit back down at the typewriter, my eyes scanning what I've already written. Not bad. I wonder more about what the gypsy lady said, and my anger starts to rise again. There's a story in my head that's starting to form. Forget what she said.

Another thought worms its way in. Am I being the stupid main character in some horror story? Nah, I can't imagine anyone reading about this. My life is so dull, after all. The carnival earlier is probably the most exciting thing that's ever happened to me.

I shake my head and press my fingers to the keys. The story forces its way out.

"The girl was running. In her sleep, she ran, but then she fell, and awoke into a real nightmare. The creature, the creature she had dreamt up, had come for her. It was leaning over her, twisted above her. It reached down with a gnarled branch and gently wiped a tear off her face. Could it be? A compassionate monster?

"But her relief was short-lived. The creature lifted the single tear up into the beams of the moonlight and studied it. She could swear a smile twisted into the bark of its trunk. But there was no mercy there. Only—satisfaction. Satisfaction for what, she wasn't sure, and would never find out.

"In a gesture she found both strange and poetic, the creature wiped the tear off onto a nearby blade of grass, leaving it to sparkle like a jewel beside her. Then it turned its attention back to her, and that was when the horror began.

"The creature reached for her, its long arms scratching across her face. A maw opened in its trunk; a black hole that looked to swallow her. No teeth, but her body wouldn't fit in there whole.

"Her question was answered as the creature picked her up and held her aloft, head and arms in one branch-hand, feet and legs in the other. It was going to rip into pieces, tear limb from limb. If only she'd watered it more—"

Another loud crack jolts me up from the typewriter. This time, I'm sure the tree isn't in the backyard. The wind is howling and the rain is pounding, but I wrap the blanket around my shoulders and get up.

I open the back door, peering out into the storm. There's a giant muddy hole where my tree used to be. I step out, still holding on to the door frame. It can't be, how can a tree—

Something hard seizes me by the waist. The blanket falls away from me as I'm yanked off my back porch and around the corner of the house, then dumped unceremoniously onto the lawn there.

I peer up at the monster above me. It's my tree, but it's . . . sinister, not familiar. It's twisted and wicked, the very epitome of an evil tree. The very nightmare I had just finished writing onto the page. Its roots hold it up like legs, its branches twisted together into arms, just like I imagined.

I feel a tear well up in my eyes as the horror thrums through me. It should mix with the rain and melt away, but it stays there as a branchy hand reaches down and grabs it, studying it and wiping it off onto a blade of grass.

I'm frozen, unable to move, to save myself. Not that I feel like I could outrun the branches of the tree. I just can't believe it's real. The gypsy lady was right.

Oh no. I wrote her death, I—

I look up at the tree. The maw in its trunk is hanging open now, the branches waving as if in a hurricane. I see something glittering in its mouth—a beaded gold necklace.

Something's wrong, though. Instead of picking me up, the tree straightens, and reaches for itself. My mouth drops open as instead of ripping me apart, it starts to rip off its own branches. Its own limbs.

It's moving faster and faster now. Branches and twigs are dropping around me like they fly from a wood chipper. I scuttle backwards, slipping on the wet grass, but making it far enough away that I can watch the rest. It doesn't take long before there's nothing left but two scraggly branches that reach down to rip the roots off and then peel the bark off the trunk. At last, the right limb and the left limb cross to each other and pull each other off at the same time, and the left over mangled trunk falls to the grass, narrowly missing me.

I hear a moaning from inside the trunk of the tree, and a few seconds later, out crawls the gypsy lady, clutching her head.

I sit up and rush over to her. "Are you alright?"

I help her to her feet, waiting for her answer, but she glowers at me and then she slaps me, her hand connecting with a smack and then sliding off my slick wet face. She stalks off towards the front of my house, muttering under her breath. I only catch, "Stupid girl," before she's gone.

What the heck happened? I meander inside, my brain unable to focus until I close the door behind me. Out of habit, I hit the light switch and am relieved when the warm bath of electric light floods over me.

The typewriter. I rush to the typewriter and pull out the page, scanning the section I had written that had just played out in the backyard.

A typo? Seriously?

Happy Halloween, Alliterati! AHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahaha!

ahem* Mad Libs words coming later today in a separate post.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Read Part I here.

At home that evening, I'm sufficiently creeped out. There's only one way to write horror, and today is providing it by the boatload. The storm is back, rain pinging against the gutters of my house in the dark night outside. The heebie-jeebies from the gypsy lady are staying strong, and I sit down to my antique typewriter to pound out the first page. I have a hot cup of tea next to me on the table and a blanket wrapped around my legs. A single candle lights my work area, the flame letting off the smell of candied apples, according to the label. What? It was the only candle I could find.

I set the first piece of paper into the typewriter. Forget newfangled word processors; to me there's just something about the typewriter that seems so necessary to the story I have swimming around in my head.

Not that I've always felt this way. The typewriter's a new addition, just picked it up yesterday. Before then, I had a sleek little laptop that I used to put down the words that spew out of my brain. But I got the idea to write an old-fashioned horror story on an old-fashioned typewriter, and so here I am.

Of course, if I was really old fashioned, I would have gotten a quill and an ink pot, but my hands started cramping at the thought of writing a book that way, so I decided to let some technology in. Mary Shelley, watch your back, 'cause here I come.

I do have a tiny notepad next to the typewriter, filled with scribbles from various random inspirations over the past couple weeks. I flip to the first page, and squint, holding the book a few inches and then a few feet from my eyes.

"Tarp soggy muffin. . . what the heck?"

I flip to the next page. "Mookie teddy bear anvils?"

I throw the notebook across the room, watching it flap like a broken bird against the wall and then fall to the floor. It looks like I'm starting from scratch. Oh well, I can do this.

Ten minutes later, I'm still tapping the edge of my tea cup with my fingernails. The paper stares back at me, clean and white.

A crash of thunder startles me out of my trance, shocking me back into my chair. I didn't see the flash, but it's loud, so it must have struck close. I shiver, and pull the blanket closer around me. My mind is racing, my heart pounding.

My thoughts are back on the old gypsy lady. For some reason, I'm angry with her—angry that I can't think because her warning keeps shoving its way through my thoughts. And then, just like that, the light flicks on in my head. I reach for the keys, and the words start spinning out of my fingers, tapping onto the paper. If every word I write will come true, I'll just write something that can't possibly happen.

"The gypsy lady fell, her body dragged backwards by the creature behind her. It snarled, great shining teeth glinting into the moonlight. Before it crushed her, she could swear she heard the crash and splinter of the crystal ball onto the floor of the tent. The foolish girl hadn't listened—"

A white-hot flash of lightning jolts into the sky beyond my curtains. For an instant, I see the skeleton of the tree in my backyard poised like a scarecrow grabbing at the ground with long, spiny fingers. It whips back and forth in the wind, and then is gone, the imprint of it left behind in my vision.

It's like a reverse-polarity image when I look back at the paper, the tree clawing at the words I've just finished writing.

Oooh—that would be good. I rewind the paper and strikeout a few words.

"The gypsy lady fell, her body dragged backwards by the creature behind her. It snarled, great shining teeth glinting twisted boughs clawing into the moonlight. Before it crushed her, she could swear she heard the crash and splinter of the crystal ball onto the floor of the tent. The foolish girl hadn't listened—"


I tap out a few more words, and then realize I'm wiped out. It's time for bed. I unwrap myself from the blanket and grab the candle to light my way towards my bedroom. I fall into the soft pillows and let myself sink into sleep to the flickering flame.

Sleep isn't peaceful. My dreams are filled with screams and pointed, arthritis-twisted fingers accusing me of their demise. The fingers aren't attached to anything.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


In honor of Halloween, I thought I'd share a little story with you, my dear Alliterati. I'll be posting it in parts over the next three days. Stay tuned to find out what happens... BWA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahahaha!

*PS- for those faint of heart, stay ye course, mateys!

"I've seen this movie before," I say, to the scraggly old gypsy woman. Huh. Never thought I'd actually come across one. Who knew traveling carnivals were so . . . cliché?

I just came here to do some research for the new novel I'm writing—a horror story. What better place for horror than a traveling carnival? Still, knowing it's research doesn't help the creepy feeling trapezing down my spine as the lady glares at me, her eyes filled with conviction, one hand on her hip, the other lowering a withered finger in my direction.

"What I portend isn't a movie, dear girl." She hobbles up to me, and I try to back away, but I'm trapped by her iron gaze. "Come with me, there's something you must know."

Her hand is around my wrist before I can move it, and she's tugging me towards a shabby tent away and behind the carnival's midway.

"Wasn't this an episode of the Simpsons?" I ask no one. She's certainly not listening. But I'm positive all that's missing are visions of a grown-up Lisa in a wedding gown.

We're at the tent now, the sounds of merriment and screams from the rides fading behind us. A wind is starting to blow up, and I roll my eyes as the gypsy lady pulls back the tent flap and gestures me in.

"Seriously? A thunderstorm and a crystal ball?" So far, this isn't the kind of research I had hoped to do. I swear my story will be more original.

She stomps me over by a teetering stool next to the table holding the crystal ball, and lets go of my wrist after I sit down. She sinks into the opulent, purple-velvet chair across from me and leans forward, piercing me with her eyes over the ball.

"What is your deal?" I say, rubbing my wrist.

Her eyes turn from cold steel into lightning and fire. "My deal, girl, is a warning." She pauses, leaning even further forward until the beaded gold around her neck is clinking into the crystal ball. I drop my gaze from hers, my stare falling into the ball as if I'm expecting to see something there.

I'm almost disappointed that there's nothing, not even a mysterious swirling fog.

Her voice is lower and deeper. "You must not finish that which you seek to begin."

Cripes. Not this fortune-cookie vague prediction crap. Where am I, a King novel?

"Could you be more specific? You know, if you tell me exactly what you're talking about, there's an even better chance I won't be stupid and activate whatever curse it is you're warning me off of. This cryptic stuff doesn't help either of us."

She sits back in the chair. I can almost hear her back vertebrae and hips squeaking with the motion. Her fingertips touch before her.

"The spirits do not allow me to tell you of what I speak. You must decipher it yourself, before it's too late!"

I wait. No sudden bank of fog, no evil cackle fading out. She's just looking at me.

"That's it? Don't start what I seek to begin? That's all I get?" I stand up, the stool fainting in fright behind me. "No wonder you people have such a bad rap. Curses this, don't do that."
I pull my jacket tighter around me and stomp for the tent flap. "Thanks for creeping me out for no reason."

I stop at the flap and turn, surprised that she's still just sitting there, staring at the empty space over the ball. "Actually, thank you for real. I can channel this into my book."

I intend that to be a goodbye, and storm back outside, where the wind is whipping through the sparse trees on the little hill back towards the carnival. But a voice echoes down the hill after me.

"You must not write that book! If you cherish your life, and the life of those you love, you will stay your hand! Every word you write will come true!"

I flap my hand behind me, and the voice fades away on the wind as the carnival starts to envelop me again. Odd; as I walk back into the midway where the gypsy lady had caught me, the storm appears to die down and the sterile sun of late autumn is beaming down again. I turn around, half-expecting the shabby tent to be gone, but there it is. The gypsy lady is out front, bent down by the fabric wall near the door, plucking at weeds.

I've had enough, and I'm feeling plenty inspired. It's time to go home and get to work.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Mad Libs Results Day #4

Word Count: 46,636

Here's the source article from

From Susan:

Of greatest interest is whether there is milk ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual laziness and happiness. The data could stumble into the debate over where NASA’s tree spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the playground neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of water could make it whiter to set up future dogs with the ice providing milk and smog.

Data from NASA’s Keyboard Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within slowly blackened craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of milk.

From Matt:

Of greatest interest is whether there is Diet Coke ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual viciousness and nervousness. The data could run into the debate over where NASA’s dog spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Callarion neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of Diet Coke could make it taller to set up future books with the ice providing Diet Coke and helium.

Data from NASA’s Rocket Man Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within deliciously purpled craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of Diet Coke.

From Bane:

Of greatest interest is whether there is Moonwater ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual Spaceness and worshipfulness. The data could drip into the debate over where NASA’s bigfoot spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Olympus Mons neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of Moonwater could make it shorter to set up future Smegheads with the ice providing Moonwater and argon.

Data from NASA’s Plonker Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within fabricaciously marooned craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of Moonwater.

From Renee:

Of greatest interest is whether there is tequila ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual coolness and razor-sharpness. The data could cut into the debate over where NASA’s worm spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Mexico neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of tequila could make it nastier to set up future biscuits with the ice providing tequila and oxygen.

Data from NASA’s Chocolate Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within sneakily white-washed craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of tequila.

From Stephanie Thornton:

Of greatest interest is whether there is Civil War mud puddle ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual creepiness and bloodiness. The data could charge into the debate over where NASA’s horse spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Gettysburg neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of Civil War mud puddles could make it bloodier to set up future soldiers with the ice providing Civil War mud puddles and decomposition gases.

Data from NASA’s Rebel Yell Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within angrily curdled craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of Civil War mud puddles.

From Jenna:

Of greatest interest is whether there is soup ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual vagueness and whyisthisonheretwiceness. The data could gut into the debate over where NASA’s Me spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the over there neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of soup could make it stiffer to set up future deer with the ice providing soup and helium.

Data from NASA’s You Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within costly soaked craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of soup.

From Laura:

Of greatest interest is whether there is antifreeze ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual lucidness and handiness. The data could wander into the debate over where NASA’s cockroach spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Mammoth Cave neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of antifreeze could make it wittier to set up future sheep with the ice providing antifreeze and neon.

Data from NASA’s Sidewalk Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within incredulously weathered craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of antifreeze.

Aaaaaand from Strange:

Of greatest interest is whether there is vinegar ice hidden in the crater’s perpetual dampness and spiciness. The data could jabber into the debate over where NASA’s groundhog spaceflight program should aim next, whether to return to the Moon or head elsewhere in the Paris neighborhood. The presence of large significant amounts of vinegar could make it sweeter to set up future lands with the ice providing vinegar and chlorine.

Data from NASA’s Juke-Box Reconnaissance Orbiter has already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within merrily soured craters near the Moon’s poles, and hydrogen is most likely in the form of vinegar.

Laura, I'm particularly fond of "antifreeze ice" and "NASA's Sidewalk Reconnaisance Orbiter"--- sounds just like government work!

Renee, I like "perpetual coolness and razor-sharpness. The data could cut into the debate..."

Bane, your made-up words were oddly apropos. :)

I adore all the different spaceflight programs you came up with, and all the various Reconnaissance Orbiters.

I loved them all! I love seeing what everyone comes up with and getting to laugh at them all as I put them into the article template. Thanks for playing along! If you want to express a favorite in the comments, go for it!

Friday, October 9, 2009

There Is A Giant Fly In My Office. Thanks NASA.

Word Count: 39,763

I wish I was kidding. The thing is approximately the size of a WWII bomber. And I'm totally blaming it on NASA bombing the moon this morning.

Oh, and I totally dropped this yesterday: Do

It fell out of the title of my post, and I'm sorry, dear Alliterati, that you had to suffer through my badly-proofread title in your feeds all day yesterday. The damage has been repaired, and your eyes are spared. (Hey! Accidental Poetry!)

Anyway, I am going to keep this short today as I don't have any brilliant ideas and I kinda wrote a "novel" about characterization yesterday. I want to say thank you to everyone who commented since I didn't get to respond yet, and apologize to Matt, for once again, I did not get to your query. I swear, if you don't hear from me tonight or tomorrow morning, you can e-silent treatment me and I'll completely understand. And for the rest of you, if for some reason you don't already follow Matt, head on over to his blog, or the Public Query Slushpile and take a look at his query for CALLARION AT NIGHT and offer some feedback!

On to Other Things: Susan R. Mills (formerly Lazy Writer) has a really good interview up at her blog today about online presences and marketing. I think the first question she asks is just stellar information that everyone should know. So check it out!

And last, but certainly not least: You all know what day it is. MAD LIBS!!!!!!

Ok, so normally I take the top article on and make the mad lib from that, but the top article right now is actually pretty cool in my humble opinion, so I'm going to take something a little more---parodical? paradiocal? parody-able?--- instead. So, are you ready?

If you want to play this week, this is what you'll need to leave in the comments:

Adjective ending in -ness
Adjective ending in -ness
Living Thing
Adjective ending in -er
Plural Noun
Gaseous Element
Adjective ending in -ed

Thursday, October 8, 2009

That thing we all have to do as writers. You know,

Word Count: 37,116

Characterization. Learn it. Love it. Fantasize about bonking it over the head with a cast-iron kettle every now and then. Make it pull over the car and let us out when it doesn't listen to what we're trying to say. Give it the silent treatment for a couple days until it apologizes. You get the general idea.

I've been noticing a trend in tv shows lately. Perhaps it's not a new trend, but to be quite honest, I don't watch much tv. Or I didn't, until lately, which coincides with my noticing of this trend. Hmm. At any rate, the trend is this, and please forgive my formatting because I am not a screenwriter. Clearly.



**CHARACTER does something SO OVER-THE-TOP and RIDICULOUS that we can't believe they're for real! CHARACTER continues to do OVER-THE-TOP and RIDICULOUS things for the rest of the episode.**



**CHARACTER is magically a real human being, only retaining some portion of their former RIDICULOUS and OVER-THE-TOP personality. Just enough, in fact, that we can recognize them as THE SAME CHARACTER from the PILOT.**

Here are some examples of what I mean:

In "Dead Like Me," when we first meet Daisy, Daisy Adair, she is so obnoxious you want to smack her. I honestly don't recall how long she stays this way, maybe for a couple episodes, even, but yeah. You spend a lot of time building this hate for her, and then bam: suddenly, she's practically normal, sympathetic to our MC even, and somewhat reasonable, with fringe bits of her original personality shining through at opportune moments. It was flabbergasting.

Poor "Pushing Daisies." Had so much promise, then bam! Cancellation Hammer Smash! Anyway, WB and I watched all two seasons all the way through because as usual, we totally missed the boat when the show was actually on air. So I spent the whole span of the first season expecting Olive to try and wipe Chuck off the face of the planet. It was quite shocking when she defends and even becomes genuine friends with her, despite the first episode showing that she is madly in love with Ned and would do anything to have him.

"Vampire Diaries". Elena spends most of the first episode being totally emo. Totally Bella, in fact. I just get a real mopey feel from her, the "angst-y" teen who lost her parents. Then, next episode, she's magically almost normal. Only a few references to "how sad she is" are scattered through the next few episodes. We get the impression that she's a real arty type in the beginning, too, then bam! Turns out she's a cheerleader? Also, Stefan. Don't even get me started on Stefan. Moody, broody, angst-y vampire who gets on the football team and can't take out his (deliciously) evil brother because he won't drink human blood and therefore isn't strong enough. Oi. I'll keep watching, and no, I haven't read the books, but it felt like a cop-out to me. Of course, it is a teen drama show. So there's that.

So what does this have to do with writing? Well, writing tv shows is a form of writing, so I don't feel too off-base here. But this tactic is a stretch, for me. There are far easier ways to characterize without having to make your character unbelievable for a few pages. You can describe their intimate spaces, for example, such as their bedroom, etc. Describing the kinds of thing that they keep in their personal space is a great way to bring together a collage of your character.

You can describe their wardrobe. My MC in my new WIP currently is wearing Italian leather shoes and a tailored suit--- in the South. But he wants to be known as "rich blood", so it's an expression not only of his taste and the perfection in clothing he learned to seek during his time in the Army, but also his personality laying the trap that he is.

Facial expressions. Turns of phrase. There's just something about a guy who's got splotchy red cheeks and shakes like Jello when he laughs that we all instantly recognize as jolly. If he says, "Ho ho ho!" we know immediately who we're dealing with. If he says, "I'm going to kill you, Timmy!" well, that tells us a lot about him too.

What kind of car do they drive? Or horse, or steam engine? Or do they prefer to walk or bike? These little things give us instant comparisons to people we know with the same qualities, and we can make assumptive leaps into their personality without huge amounts of description to weigh us down.

So, would the tv tactic work with our novels? I say, in small amounts, or for comic relief, sure. But all this does, generally, in tv shows, is annoy me. Suddenly, it's like everything I knew about the character melts away, only coming out when it's convenient to the plot that CHARACTER does something RIDICULOUS and OVER-THE-TOP.

The most important lesson here, though, is that for strong characterization, keep your character CONSISTENT. Don't have them over-the-top in the first chapter, and then morose and boring for the rest of the book. You can still surprise your reader, but they should have a pretty good idea how your character will react to certain situations about mid-way through.

You can space out characterization, too. If it comes all at once it feels too much like the tv tactic, I think. If it's spread evenly throughout your story though, it's nice because we feel like we know them, but much like the real people in our lives, we continue to learn new things about them.

How do you characterize your, um, characters?

**Special FTC Compliance Note: The shows described above did, in fact, provide me with products in exchange for my snarky reviews of them by freely broadcasting episodes on their networks. I hope my readers understand this means I have been compromised, and they should run away immediately, screaming.**

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Word Count: 37,116

Today I'd like to write about genres.

Not just any genre, no. I want to focus on the beloved YA.

I'll admit it, I'm young. But I'm in my mid-twenties, so I technically qualify as an adult. This is a great place to be, for me. But I am a HUGE SUCKER for YA books. Twilight? Check. Harry Potter? Check. Just about anything else YA? Check.

Which is backwards, because you know what books I was reading in my YA years? Mercedes Lackey. Piers Anthony. Terry Brooks. Ann McCaffrey. Agatha Christie. Michael Crichton.

So what happened? Did I just stop liking "adult" fiction and revert to my lost childhood of reading?

I don't think so. But--- I don't really know what I think, other than that YA is a really open genre. I think its success in recent years is pulling a lot of writers into it to start, and therefore stories that might otherwise have been "adult" fiction are able to access a broader audience by having a younger MC. Now, to be YA, I was told the major rule is that your protag is a YA. So that's a big difference right there. But other than the age(s) of the MC(s), what other differences are there? Why are a lot of adults so drawn to these stories, too, even though the protag is 17/18, etc.?

I can't puzzle it out. All I know is that YA is a genre I'll buy, and I actually feel sometimes like more adults buy them than actual YAs. But it's not a turn-off for me if a novel is YA, whereas sometimes when I think on some modern-day "adult" fiction, I think: boring.

Perhaps my tastes will change as I mature? Maybe I'm still close enough to my teens that I'm ok with a younger voice telling the story.

Or maybe this comes back to the story transcending all else, including genre. If the main character is compelling and I care about them and am interested in their world, maybe it doesn't matter how old they are.

Just some food for thought. What is YA, to you?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Words I Like

Word Count: 34,647

That's right, I'm copping out today and reverting to vocabulary. Give me a break, I need to focus on le WIP for a bit. So without further ado, I bring you what hopefully, for your sakes, won't be a regular feature:


whilst: I don't know why we don't get to use this word more. Probably because people look at you funny, but I love this word. I intend to use "whilst" whilst writing and speaking more often.

frenetic: We've been over this one already, but it's AWESOME.

occupied: I don't know why. I deal with this word a lot at work, but I still like it.

In that same vein, oculus: How COOL is oculus? An eye to the sky at the apex of a dome in a building? Sah-weet!

onomatopoeia: It's a mouthful, AND a writing word!

oak: Lots of words that start with "o" on here. I'm not hatin' on the rest of the alphabet, I swear. This is probably my favorite type of tree as a word, though I can't stand the ones we have here in real life. Ugly dead-looking things, ugh. But anyway, there you have it. Oak.

indubitably: Indubitably, "indubitably" is a fun word to say and use. On the same level as "whilst."

And last, but certainly not least, how could I forget my favorite made-up words?

meese: While I didn't technically come up with this, I plan to use it often. In conversation. Yes, even if it means I stand out as a stranger. Go Alaska. :)

Alliterati: The Alliterati should tell me in the comments below what their favorite words are. Bane, I already gotcha for corybantic, got any others? I always want to learn new fun and cool words :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mad Libs Results Day #3

Word Count: 33,309

*Note: You may have seen an earlier post with just my word count. That was a whoopsie. I have worked quickly to get the whole post out before anyone commented, so my apologies if I've messed something up. Let me know and I'll fix it :)

From Matt:

Voting was done swimmingly and by tree ballot. It was done in moose(s?) until one city earned a majority of votes. Science Fiction Fantasy Writers Association members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Shannara received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Discworld in the second round.
Shannara Olympic Committee leaders appeared hanged by the news and had no car as they left the voting hall. Mr. Smith-Jones was laughing back to Ankh-Morpork at the time of the vote.

From Bane:

Voting was done rapaciously and by reef ballot. It was done in jugs until one city earned a majority of votes. Hairclub for Men members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Hollywood received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Elenia in the second round.
Hollywood Olympic Committee leaders appeared wittered by the news and had no toothbrush as they left the voting hall. Mr. Jenkins was mincing back to Timbuktu at the time of the vote.

From Jm Diaz:

Voting was done stealthily and by window ballot. It was done in feet until one city earned a majority of votes. Electric Writers members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Centaury received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Tritonia in the second round.
Centaury Olympic Committee leaders appeared rummaged by the news and had no jet as they left the voting hall. Mr. Picaflor was banging back to New Aires at the time of the vote.

From Stephanie:

Voting was done laboriously and by Ghandi ballot. It was done in cats until one city earned a majority of votes. Sierra Club members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Splatopia received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Galamazoo in the second round.
Splatopia Olympic Committee leaders appeared hopped by the news and had no tomato as they left the voting hall. Mr. Tudor was catapulting back to Cairo at the time of the vote.

From Renee:

Voting was done copiously and by insect ballot. It was done in sheep until one city earned a majority of votes. American Kennel Club members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Narnia received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Prydain in the second round.
Narnia Olympic Committee leaders appeared sloshed by the news and had no book as they left the voting hall. Mr. Belfleur was wasting back to Denver at the time of the vote.

From Laura:

Voting was done indubitably and by phenomenon ballot. It was done in viscera until one city earned a majority of votes. The Knights Templar members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Magic Kingdom of Landover received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Middle-Earth in the second round.
The Magic Kingdom of Landover Olympic Committee leaders appeared deveined by the news and had no serendipity as they left the voting hall. Mr. Bucket was meandering back to Gotham City at the time of the vote.

And from Strange:

Voting was done three-quarters and by plastic ballot. It was done in wigs until one city earned a majority of votes. The Society of the Alliterati members from the countries of the bid cities do not vote while those cities are still in contention. Legoland received the fewest votes in the first round, eliminating it and that fate befell Wayne's World in the second round.
Legoland Olympic Committee leaders appeared begged by the news and had no plague as they left the voting hall. Mr. Golightly was begging back to Springfield at the time of the vote.

I would honestly like to see all of these voting/ ballot styles!

I'm particularly fond of Mr. Jenkins mincing back to Timbuktu, and the Legoland Olympic Committee Members having no plague (thank goodness!) as they leave the voting hall.

If you care to, vote for your favorites in the comments :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mad Libs!!!!

To play this week, you'll need:

Plural Noun
Club or Society
Fantasy World
Second Fantasy World
Verb ending in -ed
Last Name
Verb ending in -ing
City, Real or Fictional

Results on Monday!

The Art of Blogging

Word Count: 32,140

1.- Come up with TOTALLY ORIGINAL! and NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE! idea for blog post.
2.- Spend hours crafting delicately.
3.- Get frustrated and delete.
4.- Spend 15 minutes writing down whatever comes into your head on brilliant topic.
5.- Publish post.
6.- Await accolades.
7.- Whilst awaiting accolades, peruse other blogs and comment.
8.- Find at least two other instances of/ references to/ blog posts about TOTALLY ORIGINAL! and NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE! idea, usually by bloggers who are much smarter and more capable than you, and whom, by the way, if they had only taken 15 minutes to write their post, would
still have a brilliant basis for a doctoral dissertation on the topic.
9.- Take down blog post.
10.- Blame post disappearance on hamsters/ gremlins/ similar.
11.- Write TOTALLY ORIGINAL SATIRE! and NEVER BEEN DONE THIS SARCASTICALLY BEFORE! blog post extolling how everyone else already has the same ideas you do.
12.- Await accolades.

. . .

. . .

Well, crap.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Benefits of Being Cliche

Word Count: 29,868

I've been thinking. (Ah! RUN!)

Being cliche isn't such a bad thing, if you use it properly. You may now be wondering what the heck properly using cliches could be, and I'll happily tell you, then you tell me if you agree.

Here's the closest example to what I mean:

Dialogue tags. The general school of thought is to use beats of action to denote who's talking. But sometimes you can't help but use a "said" or, oh noes, a "replied." Even a lot of the "he stuttered," "murmured," "answered," etc. used in place of "said." These words are invisible to the eye because we are so used to seeing them. The brain jumps right over them and on to the important stuff: the dialogue. And here's where cliches come in.

I think cliches are invisible. I think our brains are so used to knowing what they mean that we immediately infer valuable information from them and move on. Information that may not be able to be conveyed any other way in the story at that moment. So while I know cliches are a general no-no, they do have their purpose.

Take this example from my new WIP. I have three guys sitting in a bar. My MC has just told them that he's ex-Army Special Forces, and the line goes something like:

"[They] look at me as if I've grown a new arm."

Now, this is only one word different than a cliche statement, and when I read it, it takes my mind out of the story very briefly to process the new phrase. Whereas if I had used:

"[They] look at me as if I've grown a third arm."

the brain tends to jump right over this and process it immediately, because it's so familiar. Third arm. Got it. Check. Moving on.

So why is this beneficial? Let's say you've got a scene that's more focused on the action, but you need some setting. You don't want to bog down the action with description, so you can pepper it throughout, but you can also make your description, particularly of lower consequence items or areas, invisible to the reader by using cliche. Her hair shone like the sun. It was a crisp fall morning. It was a dark and stormy night.

Now, in my example above, I am avoiding cliche because I want my reader to slow down here a second and process what I'm trying to say. But if this scene was snappy dialogue and fast paced, I would go ahead and use the cliche, so the reader would infer everything I was trying to say without getting pulled into thinking about what I just said.

Cliches can be broader, too. The setting for most of my book is, by definition, cliche. It's a racist Southern town. There's not much I can do there that hasn't been done. But that's ok. It gives my reader expectations about the town that I don't have to fill in for them. Instead, I can move right on into the twist and NOT-cliche that is my MC. This is probably the single biggest difference I'm feeling between genres right now, by the way. In Fantasy, you have to describe every ounce of your world because no one's seen it before except you. This whatever-I'm-writing is pretty nice because the rules are already there.

I'm not saying your whole book should be cliche, cliche, cliche, especially if it's action packed. Please, don't. But here and there, cliches aren't the awful thing that most writers (at least in my crit group, and a few online) seem to think they are. Sometimes they have benefits.

What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Thanks to Matt at FreethePrincess... we have a LOGO!!!

Matt Delman at FreethePrincess advised me on Friday that he had been working on an Alliterati logo. So; without further ado, I proudly present to you: (<--- look that way)!!!!

YAY!!! Thanks Matt :)

Please feel free to add the logo to your blog if you're feeling cheeky, and spread the Alliterati love!

Just another Mad-Lib Monday! Whoa-oh! Results #2

Word Count: 27,335

Source Article from the NYT here.

From Lisa:

After months of zooming about the need for engagement, Mr. Obama appears to have made a leap toward viewing slimy new sanctions against Denmark as an inevitability. He avoided President Turtle at the Westminster Abbey this week, despite his having said lazily that he would seek dialogue with Denmark leaders. Instead, Mr. Obama spent much of his time in foot pressing the case, particularly to Hogwarts and Narnia, for younger Security Council measures to rein in Denmark's green ambitions.

From LW:

After months of blackmailing about the need for engagement, Mr. Obama appears to have made a leap toward viewing arrogant new sanctions against Ireland as an inevitability. He avoided President Pencil at the Church this week, despite his having said soundly that he would seek dialogue with Ireland leaders. Instead, Mr. Obama spent much of his time in shoes pressing the case, particularly to My Head and Your Head, for uglier Security Council measures to rein in Ireland's smooth ambitions.

From Matt:

After months of conspiring about the need for engagement, Mr. Obama appears to have made a leap toward viewing stupid new sanctions against Finland as an inevitability. He avoided President Book at the library this week, despite his having said cuttingly that he would seek dialogue with Finland leaders. Instead, Mr. Obama spent much of his time in hats pressing the case, particularly to The Belgariad and Star Wars, for crappier Security Council measures to rein in Finland's slippery ambitions.

And from Strange:

After months of slapping about the need for engagement, Mr. Obama appears to have made a leap toward viewing fuzzy new sanctions against France as an inevitability. He avoided President Hovel at the barn this week, despite his having said equally that he would seek dialogue with French leaders. Instead, Mr. Obama spent much of his time in hero pressing the case, particularly to Brigadoon and Middle Earth, for scrawnier Security Council measures to rein in France's fleshy ambitions.

Hee hee; very funny fellow Alliterati! Which brings me to my next post... stay tuned!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mad Libs Results Day #1

Here's the source article.

From Lazy Writer:

The White House issued a sly statement characterizing the daring plan as a positive step. “Last week, the president laid out his rock to bring book[s] and balloon[s] to Americans who have insurance, and high-quality, affordable phone[s] for those who don’t,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a White House [noun]. “The Senate Finance Committee mark released by Chairman Baucus is another boost of momentum for the president’s effort to reform the health system.”

It would run benefits to millions of people who are dry by quickly expanding Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the humble, and by offering subsidies to individuals and chairs with modest incomes to help them buy insurance.

(Sorry, LW--- didn't catch that I needed another noun from you til now.) :(

From Renee:

The White House issued a pretty statement characterizing the fast plan as a positive step. “Last week, the president laid out his girl to bring stapler[s] and panties to Americans who have insurance, and high-quality, affordable biscuit[s] for those who don’t,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a White House yarn. “The Senate Finance Committee mark released by Chairman Baucus is another boost of momentum for the president’s effort to reform the health system.”

It would run benefits to millions of people who are stinky by slowly expanding Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the yellow, and by offering subsidies to individuals and daisies with modest incomes to help them buy insurance.

From Regina:

The White House issued a callous statement characterizing the daffy plan as a positive step. “Last week, the president laid out his scientist to bring papers and hairspray to Americans who have insurance, and high-quality, affordable bottled water for those who don’t,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a White House laser. “The Senate Finance Committee mark released by Chairman Baucus is another boost of momentum for the president’s effort to reform the health system.”

It would laugh benefits to millions of people who are glossy by calculatingly expanding Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the lush, and by offering subsidies to individuals and cartoons with modest incomes to help them buy insurance.

From NWA:

The White House issued a[n] alarming statement characterizing the callous plan as a positive step. “Last week, the president laid out his chia pet to bring dogs and horses to Americans who have insurance, and high-quality, affordable sheep for those who don’t,” said Dan Pfeiffer, a White House Alan Ginsberg. “The Senate Finance Committee mark released by Chairman Baucus is another boost of momentum for the president’s effort to reform the health system.”

It would slog benefits to millions of people who are chivalrous by gallantly expanding Medicaid, the state-federal insurance program for the moronic, and by offering subsidies to individuals and novels with modest incomes to help them buy insurance.

And there we have it! This was my first shot so I'll try to be better next time about getting exactly the kind of word you need. I realized about mid-way through that there were three plural nouns in the middle, but it worked out alright :)

How's everyone doing today?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not that this should be news to anyone, but I like to do what I can for my fellow Alliterati members:

Elana Johnson's much-awaited e-book FROM THE QUERY TO THE CALL is out today. (Yay Elana!)

Go check it out here if you don't already subscribe to her blog; this book is going to be insanely useful, and not only do you get the book when you buy it but she is offering to critique your query on her new blog here if you do, as well!

What a bargain!

Congrats Elana!!!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Patriot Day.

I get it. I mean, it's hard to come up with names for these things now, I'm sure. And "The day the World Trade Center was blown up by two airplanes, a third crashed into the Pentagon and a fourth crashed into a field, changing thousands of lives" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But I feel we're losing something in translation here. Just like I don't really, fully understand WHAT we're memorializing on Memorial Day or laboring on Labor Day, I don't think my children will know what Patriot Day really stands for.

How awful it was, even as a citizen completely shielded from the devastating effects of the day, to wake up to that on that morning.

To watch it, throughout the day at school, and cry as the towers collapsed.

To hear the stories of heroism and bravery afterward and just wish there was something, anything, I could do.

To know the pain of the families that lost fathers, mothers, wives, husbands, daughters and sons that day.

To be angry and feel futile and small against the terrors of close-mindedness and tradition. To not understand.

I still will refer to it as 9/11. Because to me, while yes, that's just a date, when I talk about "after 9/11" to my kids, they will ask, what's so special about 9/11? If I say "after Patriot Day" I'm afraid they won't ever be curious enough to ask. And I owe it to them, when they arrive, to share the history that I have experienced, because history is so important.

I don't begrudge anyone their Patriot Day. I just want to hold on to my 9/11.

Bless all those who were affected by this awful day 8 years ago.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Secret Society of the Alliterati

Word Count: Tender subject right now, okay?! Okay, okay. . . twist my arm--- it's still the same.

Ah, writers.

I love us.

I notice things, because I'm cognizant like that. One thing I've noticed in my fairly new wanderings into the blogosphere is how alliterative us writers are.

Actually, what this introduction boils down to is that I couldn't think of a clever alliterative title to go with "Thursday" for today's post. There, I said it. So, I think instead, I am going to try to write this entire post without being overtly alliterative.

Dang. I think "overtly alliterative" means I lost already. Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound, right?

Kidding, I won't do that to you. Yet.

At any rate, we are a bunch of dreamers and imaginers. Word craft comes to us as we strive to find new ways to describe new things, or even the same old things. The blog posts and comments of writers are gently crafted, carefully nourished and when able to fly at last, set free into the internet for all to see. It's a beautiful thing.

But I think the thing that I like the most about writers online is that it's like belonging to a (very public) secret society. Some of us are anonymous, others share their real life and name without hesitation. Some of us play things close to the vest regarding our works, others post excerpts and whole chapters. Each member's level of secrecy is different, but everyone comes together into this great shifting whole that is a joy to belong to. I LOVE reading everyone else's thoughts and musings on their work and the writing process, and I love success stories. That's not even to mention the vast amount of knowledge available. I get all of that, here.

For me, it's like a place where I belong. I haven't told very many people in my life that I wrote/ am working on a book. Why? Because they give you that LOOK; you all know the one I'm talking about. The ones I have told have been extremely supportive, but the rest, probably won't know til/when/if it hits the shelves, and I can point to it and say, hey! Look! I wrote a book! (Ok, to be honest, I'll probably spill once I get my first rejection letter. A patient person, I am not.)

It's not that I don't belong in the real world, because obviously there are a few people that know, and I have my crit group, but even there, because it's at a college, I think, pursuing publication is somewhat of a high-falutin' idea. But here, in my secret society, I can freely express my hopes to be on the shelves at B&N someday. And you all support that hope, because you share it.

I am a proud member of the Secret Society of the Alliterati.

Say it with me, now. . . it's time for the Induction Mysteries:

I pledge to support all other writers' hopes and dreams as fully as my own, and to be the writer I want to be here, amongst my fellows.

I'm not going to hold you to that. But seriously, what do you like about blogging/ being a writer online?

I wish I was good at graphic design. I'd make a little badge.

Happy writing!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Wait; isn't this a writing blog?

Word Count: 87,310

Well, yes, yes it is a writing blog. But I am in limbo again; finished my first round of edits and revisions based on my first beta reader, and since I basically have a completely new draft, I told my mom to go ahead and wait til I got it over to her before starting her read while she's on vacation this week. So, that was the plan last night, but then my printer ink cartridge died (again) and the office supply store was closed (of course) so, yeah. On my lunch today, I will go get a cartridge and then drop off my MS on my way to my writer's group tonight.

The upshot of all that convoluted nonsense is that I can't do anything to my MS today. It's already a third printed, so if I make any changes it might screw up the rest of it. So, I thought I'd write about what the Julie/Julia Project I linked to on Friday did to me over the weekend.

It made me cook.

Gah, you don't understand--- I am the girl who won't touch raw meat, doesn't do more than three steps and NEVER makes more than one or two dishes that require more than that. Not from a lack of effort, mind you, but rather utter failure every time I tried.

Until Saturday night. I had Julie/Julia on the brain, and my grief for my horse needed to channel itself into something creative, so I looked at Wonderful Boyfriend and said, "I want to cook dinner tonight."

He promptly checked my temperature and, on reassurance that I was not terribly ill, nor possessed of an evil spirit or succumbing to madness, followed me patiently through the grocery store.

Perhaps I was actually succumbing to madness, or possessed of some spirit--- not evil, necessarily, perhaps a gustatory spirit?--- because what followed was somewhat insane, for me.

I decided I wanted Greek Food. Wonderful Boyfriend wasn't so keen on the idea (he has no taste, and I don't mean that all insultingly, he just doesn't appreciate a lot of food, and doesn't like very many flavors, so I often wonder if he literally has no taste), so I opted out of Greek Rice and into Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes. But the rest of the menu would remain: Greek Seasoned Chicken, Tsatsiki Sauce, and Tandoori Nan (store bought--- I ain't THAT crazeh).

I started with the Tsatsiki Sauce--- a whole cucumber, seeded, grated into a sieve and left to drain for a half hour, then squeezed and pressed dry, mixed with a cup of yogurt (plain, non-Greek, though Greek yogurt would have resulted in a thicker sauce), 1 tsp of lemon juice, dill, salt and pepper. Chop one clove of garlic finely and add. (In retrospect, I could have done without the garlic, it adds a bite that I prefer it without.)

Then--- check this out--- for the Cheesy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, I sliced up another clove or two of garlic and sauteed it in butter until brown, then added about a cup and a half of chicken stock and let it reduce to half at a simmer. I boiled three small/ medium potatoes, chopped into chunks, in chicken stock and when done, added a 1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, a tbsp butter, and drained the garlic reduction stock through a sieve into the pan to get out the bits of garlic and fatty film. Then I added about a 1/4 cup of 3-cheese Italian blend (had parmesan, asiago, and one other kind, dangit I forget), mashed, and let sit to melt the cheeses while WB made the chicken on our grill. Toasted the Nan to dip in the Tsatsiki and OH MY G I actually COOKED SOMETHING.

But it didn't stop there, my friends--- the spirit was quite prolific and encouraged me to bake cookies, as well. White chocolate chip cookies following the directions on the Toll House Premier White Morsels bag, *but* I added pistachios instead of macadamia nuts.

I followed it up the next morning by making WB scrambled eggs and toast.

Wow, reading this over again makes me realize I really MUST have been possessed by something.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Word Count: 85,090 (Oh dear, it's going backwards.)

I spent last night sleeping in the front seat of my car out at my ranch, waking up every 45 minutes or so to my apparently correctly-installed auto-mommy-alarm to check on my horse. I was too scared to leave; too afraid of what I would come back to if I did. She seemed to have a slightly improved appetite this morning, and was drinking a little, but she's still super dehydrated and I'm going to lose her if she doesn't start drinking more today. I feel hungover; finally fell asleep at midnight and was wide awake at five for the second day in a row, and I am definitely the" need at least 8 hours" kind of person, so that, plus waking up all night, is taking its toll on my brain and body. If none of this is coherent, that's why.

At any rate, this is a writing blog, not a horse blog, so I'll stay on topic now:

I picked this layout, because it's cleverly called "Scribe" and I didn't feel like bothering to create my own when I started my blog, but I've now noticed that a lot of writers also have the same layout. This is not a bad thing because it's an awesome layout, and I love it, but I want something of my own now (though maybe today isn't the best day to try; I'll probably end up with neon something or other on accident that will be impossible and/ or hurt to read.) So anyway, how the heck do I make my own layout? I can't seem to find it anywhere on my dashboard, but again--- lack of sleep. Help?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nine Years

Crazy day today. I actually took my lunch, so I had no time to do more than a few sentences in my novel. So, since I have no real progress to show anyway, I thought I'd take a break from writing about writing and actually write something today. In memoriam of my father:

It's been nine years tonight. Nine years since I held your hand and begged whatever higher power I could think of to stop the ebb of life out of your body. Nine years since I lost my best friend, constant companion, and father.

Nine years have passed, and I can tick them off on my fingers like any other number. Like how many apples I have in the fridge, or how many hours I spend at work each day. But the pain doesn't pierce me so sharply when I think about apples, or hours, like it did when I thought of you. Nine used to be the number of times I would cry in an hour in your memory. Now its another number, another place I find myself in my life after you. Another year since that awful, awful day.

My life has been separated by the divide of your passing. I define myself as the me before, and the me after. The me before had so little to worry about. She had an ideal of what her life would be, and you were always in it. The me after has come to realize that life isn't guaranteed, and that every time she says goodbye to someone, it could be the last.

I often wonder how different my life would be if you were still here. I've learned to bridge the canyon you left behind, but I wonder if I still would have needed it. If some other force would have given me a yawning maw to traverse anyway. I like to think it would have been easier with you there, beside me.

I still cry sometimes, Daddy. I still miss you when I think how you will never walk me down the aisle. You never saw me even graduate high school. You'll never get to be a grandfather to my children, or finish being a father to me. But I cherish the time we had, and I honor you every year on the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

I think you would be proud of me. I know you would love me. I hope you are finding peace from the pain you carried where you are now.

It's been nine years, and I still feel like a little girl when I think of you.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Welcome :)

All right.

Welcome to my blog.

I feel almost presumptuous starting one. But I have been a life-long lover of books; I began reading adult-level books when I was six (no joke! My mom used to have to share her library with me). I started trying to write my own when I was eight. That story, involving copious aliens and their abductions on Earth, got to about three pages and then went nowhere.

Seven years ago, the summer after my senior year of high school, I had nothing better to do with my time than sit around, and think, and read. It was in doing so that I came across an old children's folk tale from a childhood book of my mother's. This story sparked an idea in me; an idea to write about a character that fascinated me: the North Wind.

I wrote furiously that summer, getting all the way up to fifty (!) pages of text, before. . . I let it go. It was always in the back of my mind, but I had written myself into a corner and didn't know how to get out of it. Finally, in January of this year, I had my wonderful boyfriend (who, after I had told him about this story I had fallen in love with but couldn't get to on my antiquated computer anymore, volunteered to retrieve it for me) follow through with his promise and hand me my old files on a flash drive.

I opened the document for this story, and read it again for the first time in seven years. This time, I didn't hate it. It needed work -- a lot of it-- and the story was still unsolvable in its current state, but I still loved the idea. It was time to ask for help.

I enrolled in my college's novel writer's critique group and that, to date, is one of the smartest things I've ever done. *preens* I submitted my first chapter for class-wide critique within the first two weeks, confident, like so many other new writers, that the rest of my class would fall over themselves to bow at my feet, offering me sacrifices if only I would bless them with more of my story.

Well, after witnessing the first class-wide critiques of other author's works, I was horrified. Everything everyone else was saying was wrong with their manuscripts. . . was wrong with mine! I hurriedly pulled my first MS--though it was technically too late, everyone already had a copy of it--and re-wrote my first chapter in time for my critique. And. . . they didn't hate it! There was a lot of, er, constructive criticism, but among that was "I'd read this" and "I'm fascinated by your story".

Since then, it's been a long ride. I've been motivated to work on this story like never before. After several late-night thinking-out-loud plot sessions with my boyfriend, I finally got my plot nailed down, and finished my first draft at 64,000 words last weekend. I'm now in Round 2 revision and expansion, and I thought I'd start this blog to chronicle my steps through the process-- editing, revision, querying, and hopefully: agenting, selling, and publishing. Not only do I hope it will help me actually work on my MS and hold myself accountable for it, a part of me hopes it can help someone else out there too. I'm sure there are hundreds of author-chronicles out there, but this one is mine, and if you're reading this, I hope that you will find it useful, witty, entertaining, informative, and updated.

Oh-- it's also my goal to have a short story on occasional Sundays posted here. I think this will be a good exercise for me; not only to keep me writing during the querying process, but also to just keep me writing, and honing my art.

Right now, as I said, I'm just starting Round 2 revision and editing, trying to get my word count up (not that 64,000 is bad, but I'm shooting for Adult Fantasy here and it's a little shorter than I'd like, even as a first-time author), and expand on some parts where I could show or explain more than I do. I'm trying to find that perfect balance between showing too much of my world and too little. I'm trying to figure out how not to use pronouns so often. I'm battling with adverbs, and awkward phrasing. I'm wrestling with punctuation marks (semi-colons and dashes are really feisty, let me tell you!) I'm fighting really really hard to keep two of my characters distinct and separated, even though I really should combine them. And I'm trying very hard to find all the last remnants of my old plot and either twist or change them to match the new one.

I've started working on my query letter, and am sending it round to friends and family, asking one question: would this make you want to read my book?

So far, most of them don't know I've been writing one, so I've mostly been getting a lot of question marks and funny looks in response. Ah, well. No one ever said this was going to be easy.

Here's to publishing, good books and good stories. Cheers!

Comments will always be enabled, I'm open to suggestions and discussions.