Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Blowing Off the Dust

Since Bernadette made it into the quarterfinals, I figure that all hope for that series is not lost. In fact, I have a good deal of hope. So much hope that I went back into my folders and found the half finished sequel to Bernadette (that I had stopped writing because I wasn't sure Bernadette was up to snuff and I figured there was no point in writing a sequel if the prequel didn't make it out there). I read through it, and to my delight, found out that I still really like it. A lot.

Maybe it's just vanity and the fact that we all tend to love our literary children, even if they're malformed, bad at spelling, and just generally a grammatical wreck--but I'm glad that I can still make me laugh with my writing. And hey, I've read this stuff so many times I can probably recite good chunks of it, and if not that then give you a very good overview.

If nothing else, I do know I've got a couple people waiting to read Ria the Odd. If nothing else, that's enough for me. And hey, I guess it's good practice even if it doesn't pan out the way I want (panning out being me finding someone willing to publish it without me kidnapping a purse dog and holding it for ransom).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Apron Induced Hiatus

Not much to report on the writing front since most of it is on hold until I finish some aprons I promised for a silent auction. These little buggers take up a significant amount of time since I am no sewing diva. Still, I think the first one turned out pretty well. I'd post a picture if blogger would let me.

Friday, March 26, 2010


I made it into the quarterfinals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I am happy indeed, though my reviewer did point out something I do need to work on--the dialogue with the townsfolk. My dad pointed it out too, but since I'm still suffering mildly from the deafness I acquired as a teenager I didn't pay enough attention. (I didn't really go deaf, I'm just referring to the tendency teens have of kind of ignoring their parents and doing their own thing--which is just kind of part of growing up, have to make your own decisions sometime). But seriously, listen to your parents if they tell you your dialogue is off.

Also, have a picture of another tree. I like trees.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Issue of Fan Fiction

Recently I've been thinking a bit about fan fiction or "fanfic" and what role it has in the writing world. Going simply by submission for publication requirements one could hazard a statement of--not much. I suppose it can be a fun exercise, and I have nothing against people who enjoy writing it, but I've always have to wonder how I would feel if I saw my characters used in that way. I know there are authors out there that feel it is nothing short of robbery and that the fanfic writer is essentially putting words in their mouths. Not such a great thing, and I know personally I would rather not make an author I like hurt or angry. I'm definitely not in the position of ending up with fanfic right now, but I do imagine if I ever was in that position I would probably end up putting my fingers in my ears and screaming "I'm not listening" if someone came to me and said "Hey have you seen that story where your main character *bleeps* Spock with a *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* rubber spoon."

There is more than one type of fanfic, though, and this one doesn't so much involve co-opting someone's characters as much as someone else's world. In a way you could call it "role playing". There are actually several successful authors that write in worlds that are not solely their own--Salvatore comes to mind for one (and I rather like him). But if you're not Salvatore, will this type of writing help you as an author? Well, character studies are never a bad thing, and if you have a background to work with it makes it quite a bit easier, but the problem that comes up with this form of fanfic is that most editors really do not want to see you write a story about your D&D, Shadowrun, or Exalted campaign. It's just that usually, those types of stories appeal far more to the players than anyone out wandering around the literary world. I suppose if you write it for yourself (as some people I know do) it can help you hone your writing skills.

I, personally, try to keep well away from fanfic in most cases. I figure that I can do my character studies in my own world (or this one) and that if it turns out I really super duper like it and want to try to get it published I don't find myself running up against the "do not want stories containing copyright material/D&D campaigns" wall. It's a personal thing, and I suppose some of it is due to the fact that I really want to get published and don't see writing something that is virtually unpublishable as very productive. But then again, even if I'm doing something just for myself I prefer it be useful--like a hairclip, so it's not so strange that I won't do something if someone (in this case me) isn't getting something out of it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Awaiting the Verdict

On the 25th I will know if I've progressed to the next level in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award competition. Little bit anxious. Yep. That's all.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Big Compliments 'Round These Parts

Today my neighbor told me the cinnamon rolls I dropped by earlier were "better than the ones from Johnson's Corner". That's a pretty big compliment considering I know people who will drive a half hour out of their way just for those cinnamon rolls. I think this recipe is a keeper. Oh, and if you want someone to tell you your cinnamon rolls are better than your Johnson's Corner equivalent, give this recipe a try. Don't forget the glaze.
She took the picture too. Because, you know, she's a great photographer and I'm not.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

And It's Thursday

There goes my goal to update Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week. In my defense, I think I have a reasonable excuse.

On Monday I was packing care kits for Haiti with my church. I was helping people, that counts for something right? (Like it totally excuses not updating).

On Tuesday I saw my nearest and dearest friend from high school off to her plane headed to Mexico. I won't see her again for another 10 months. I'll miss her, but I know she's following her dreams.

On Wednesday I helped my friend orchestrate a St. Patrick's Day celebration. I spent my time cooking (and eating) more corned beef hash than is reasonable for one person (and cookies, and bread pudding, and stew). So now I'm stuck glaring at the scale lurking in the bathroom closet. I know it's watching me. It doesn't have eyes but it watches.

And today I planted the lettuce, spinach, and corn salad (don't ask me, I don't quite know what it is either) that I should have planted yesterday but didn't get around to. Then I went grocery shopping. Then I came home. Good times, good times.

P.S. chicken wings are kinda slimy

The lovely lettuce picture comes from I only wish my lettuce looks like that when it does finally sprout and grow in. I just hope it sprouts. Haven't done salad greens before.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Flight of Dragons

Flight of Dragons was possibly my favorite movie when I was younger. This despite the somewhat questionable animation and the fact I never got to see the ending since my grandpa had a bad habit of taping over the end of everything (even though he was great about editing out commercials).

I loved Carolinus, Gorbash, Smrgol and the others. Ommadon and his fierce black dragon Bryagh terrified me--as I suppose they should. But all the baddies, even Ommadon with his horrid teeth and twisted features, paled in comparison to the sandmirks. Yes, sandmirks--those little rat goblin things that were supposed to be on the beach but were magicked into the forest by Ommadon.

I don't know if my hatred of rats was solidified before or after the arrival of the sandmirks, but I'm going to go with both. Nothing reinforces the hatred of rodents quite as much as seeing their twisted little cousins try to cause the hero's brains to leak out of their ears. And the queen, oh the queen, she was an epic of horror and nightmares that would haunt me every time I watched the movie (including that time a year ago, and I was what? Oh 23 at the time).

And this, my friends, is why I will never be able to totally make my peace with rats. Thank you 1980's animated fantasy.

Sandmirks appear in earnest at 1:46.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Get Off Your High Horse Before Someone Kicks You Off It

Today I was going to talk about Flight of Dragons and how it has possibly forever shaped my psyche, but that is going to have to wait because a dormant, red-eyed monster is stirring in the back of my brain. And that monster is directly related to people, authors/writers in particular, who like to tell others "how it's going to be."

I don't know what it is about us writers, but it seems like we really like to tell those that are even one rung below us on the progression ladder just how their writing career will pan out. In particular, the people who like to talk about how they slave over their work, they suffer for it, it took them hours upon hours just to write this tiny article, and how you'll not amount to much if you don't realize that it's going to go the same way for you.

This, quite frankly, is so damnably arrogant that it really makes me mad. How can anyone know what it's going to be like for someone else? How do you know that they won't take to writing like a fish to water and burn us all up like a supernova hurtling through space? The truth is that some things just come easier or harder to different people. Some will pound out a poem and dash it off to the editors, others might spend years slaving over it. Why is one more valid than the other? Quite frankly, it isn't.

And yes, sometimes I resent that people who I feel don't write as well as me somehow are widely published and popular. But you know what? Good for them. They found their niche and they filled it and I'm not somehow more of an artist than they are because it has taken me more time or more effort. This life is not evenly stacked-- there are plenty of people who have had life experiences that just make writing awesome stories easier for them, there are others who just have insane talent, and then there are still others who happen to be doinking the editor. SO WHAT?!

Your path is particular to you. Talk about it all you want. Wax eloquent if you so desire, but don't start telling others that just because it took you years to finish and publish your first book that it will go the same way for them. Sure, warn them that it wasn't easy for you, but don't even start with the whole "maybe if you put in 100 more hours on this project it might be worthwhile" path. They're not you, they don't have to approach it the way you do, they don't have to use your method, just because it works for you doesn't mean it works for them. This isn't math people, where do we get off proscribing formulas for everyone else?

If you work for it, if you work really really really hard, be proud of yourself. If it comes easy to you. If you just throw it out there and the editors clamor over it, well then count your blessings because you have a gift. Just don't go tell someone else how it's going to be.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Cat is a Weird One

Yes, yes she is. For one thing, she's all of seven pounds and roughly shaped like a beach ball. Her legs would be better suited to a basset hound or a weinerdog. But it goes beyond the look. Far beyond.

For one thing, she likes to bite my shins. It's like some weird form of affectionate expression for her, especially in the morning when I'm doing my hair and only when I'm wearing knee length skirts--most every other outfit means my shins are covered.

I solved this problem by keeping the cat out of the room, but sometimes I wander to a mirror in a different part of the house and she'll follow me. I figured I was safe today since I was wearing pants. No dice. She went for my toes. It is indeed quite difficult to do a french twist when the cat is trying to tooth your toes. I must start wearing socks. That way she'll have to go for the elbows and I know for a fact she can't jump that high.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Importance of Reading When it Comes to Writing

Well, at least if you're me.

I've found there is one big thing that has made a lot of difference in my writing--creativity level, paragraph structure, word choices--and that is reading what other people have written. Not necessarily critiquing, that's good too, but just reading reading readingreadingreading. And I don't mean novels. I mean short stories.

Why do I like short stories? Because they can be read and analyzed easily in one sitting, and if you're me, you can read them by the fistful between killing things in World of Warcraft and watching the Food Network (what? It's a hobby, don't judge me).

Also, if you're reading things from a published zine, you know one thing about these writers--they're where you want to be. Now, I'm not saying copy someone. That's not the point. But read what they've written, see what they're doing, familiarize yourself with what that particular market wants (and if you can't stand the stories, move on to another e-zine). If you're like me, you'll see your writing start to change for the better.

Here are a couple of my favorite online magazines.

Strange Horizons
Beneath Ceaseless Skies

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Hobby Lobby is a Vampire in My Wallet

You see those things, right over there? Those are lobster clasps. They were what I was planning on buying today when I went to Hobby Lobby. That was it (ok, and some beads and elastic to fix some jewelry for a friend of mine). I was being disciplined. I didn't really *need* anything else.

So of course I walked out with lobster clasps, four tiny glass vials, some short hair forks, a length of jewelry chain, some beads, and the elastic. That's what, only three more things than I planned on getting? I am not a craft junky, I swear. It's not my fault I came up with something to do with the other stuff on the fly.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Wall of Red

I have a little folder on my desktop, it is called "submissions" and it is full of lines and lines and lines of red. Why? Because that's what I mark all the little folders of stories inside this folder when I get rejected. There is not one green mark to be found. Sometimes it's depressing.

However. Rejection, I have been told, is nothing new to an author. It happens. It just is. You just have to pick yourself up and keep going.

I've found telling myself that I'll probably get rejected helps. It's morbid, some of you would probably even find it defeatist, but it lets me bounce back up and get back out there. The rejection rate is enormous anyway, something like 97% of all stories get rejected. If a rejection puts you down and out, how are you ever going to get published.

I'm off to buy some bootstraps and pull on them. One day, one day, one day--I'll freak out and think an acceptance was actually a joke, then I'll hyperventilate because I'm not used to having someone say "yes, we want it", then I'll hide under the bed with the cat, and then I'll get over it and probably be happy.