Sunday, October 30, 2011

Warning: I'm About to be Very Lame

NaNoWriMo is imminent. Yup, in just a day and a half I'm disappearing off the blogosphere.

You might wonder, in a few weeks, if I've disappeared off the face of the planet. Or died.

I haven't. Do not worry. I'm going to have to ignore most of you, though, for I know if I have an hour to check blogs and make comments, I need to use that precious hour to make my word count for the day. I only managed half my goal last year, so I really want to make it this time.

So, adieu for now. Love you all, really, but I'll probably be MIA until I put my tree up for Christmas. If I post, it will likely be a NaNo poem, rapidly written and brief. I've even written a poetic lament for it on my Not Writing blog

If YOU are participating this year, though, please let me know in the comments. Tell me your name through the NaNoWriMo website, and I'll buddy you! I'm Shakespeare824, and right now I only have two buddies, so I could use a few more.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Go Big

No need to fear
What others think
Others do not matter

When goosebumps cover
The skin on your arms
And a shiver runs down your back
And the hair on your neck
You know you are alive

Be alive
Not afraid
And you will pave the way for others.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New Blog--Death By Chocolate

The Anthology 

I can't believe I've posted on yet another blog. If I keep doing this I'll end up with seventy-five by Christmas. A bunch of fellow writers and I are creating an anthology entitled Death by Chocolate, so we've started a blog for it. Feel free to check it out!

Today I posted all about titles... especially about how horrifying my own titles are (and I don't mean horrifying in the sense that they fit the slasher film genre I write in... more like they are so AWFUL I wonder whether I'm a writer at all).

Feel free to visit and let me know what you think.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Courtesy of Free Extras

The little pig had it right.

I dare you to try it. While you're stuck in traffic, or doing laundry, or washing toilets, or sitting in front of a towering IN-box at work, just do it. Say, "Weeeeee!" Say it again. If your kids are still sleeping (as mine are), you might not want to say it just yet. If you're in a staff meeting, you might also consider waiting until you get out. Someone might think you've lost your senses.

But try it. Go ahead. I swear, it works. I do it running errands, on the way to take my kids to school, during the most mundane of tasks (anyone for cleaning out the litter box?). The transformation is immediate and undeniable. My whole attitude shifts, and what was just a crappy chore becomes something far more tolerable (even fun). Suddenly the drive to school becomes a roller coaster ride. Cleaning out the fridge becomes an epic adventure (the exclamation sounds weird refracting off fridge walls). Reading a boring book becomes more interesting.

Don't believe me? Try it. I dare you. I double dare you. I double dog dare you with sugar and a cherry on top! (Is that how you say it? I've never double dog dared anybody before.)

Anyway, TRY it. Think of it as my counterpart to Whitman's "barbaric yawp." And once you've actually tried it (don't just be critical without giving it a shot), let me know what it did.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Capacity for Stupid

The idealist in me would love to believe humans are high up in the intelligence chain. I'd love to see the world as enlightened, see our journey through life as one where we start out perceptive as children and learn so much as adults that we see the world truly by the time we meet our end.

My fiction--both the stuff I write and the stuff I love to read--is infused with this hope, that people can learn from mistakes, rise above their limitations, discover the world is more complex than they once believed, grow, and even teach each other so that the world as a whole is a better, more intelligent place.

But then, with a shock, I come back to reality. Honestly, all I need is a few sound bites from political candidates or potential voters, religious zealots or raving lunatics, who all seem to love news cameras, to realize that all people are not on the journey towards enlightenment.

Unfortunately, it gets worse and hits me closer to home. I woke this morning to find my children watching Fred 2: Night of the Living Fred and I cannot help but wonder who my children will be as adults. Right now, it seems their capacity for stupid things is unquenchable. They adored the first Fred movie. ADORED it. I found it so stupid it was unwatchable. And they loved it.

Will their capacity for stupid increase? Will they become one of the willfully ignorant, spewing utter nonsense because they have lost the ability to reason? Or will they grow out of their delight in the ridiculous and find logic a better companion? Will they ever be able to evaluate the world properly, or will they wallow in the inane? Certainly, most adult programming on television serves the tastes for stupid. Watch most reality TV and you'll see stupidity at work in nearly all of it. It's almost enough to lose hope.

All I can do is look back to my own childhood. With humility, I remind myself how addicted my siblings and I were to "Popeye" cartoons, and "Scooby-Doo," and "Smurfs." Somehow I turned out fine. I'm not sure how it happened, but it did, and I can only hope and pray that my children make the same leap, fulfilling my hopes for a world where at least some people can move beyond the stupid and embrace the intelligent.

What did you love as kids? Am I panicking over nothing? Are my children doomed? (Okay, don't answer that last question... since it's none of your business.) Really, what do you think?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poem for Autumn

The sun too dim
Rising too late in the morning
To warm our skin anymore

Picks up our hair
Whipping it against our cheeks
Freezing into our ears
Tossing leaves
Into a hiss

Is it all over?
Will we ever feel the heat of the world again?


But now is the time
To glow
To burn with our own fire
No longer depend on the earth to warm us
But to warm the earth

To let the heat within
To warm the world for others
Who too much feel the cold.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Queries have been SENT!!!

Hurray! After much nail biting, query (and novel) revising, and sleepless nights, I have finally sent off my first sent of queries to agents.

Why is taking that step so difficult?

Any insight, readers?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Breaking Out the Old To-Do List

It's time.

Time to stop procrastinating over editing this stupid query letter and get to it.

Time to finish all the prep for Halloween, so that all is ready.

Time to make a list for the weekend, one that I'll stick to:

1. Revise Query Letter 
2. Cut out and make my daughter's costume for Halloween (Almost done)
3. Find gift for a 1-year-old, and attend her party 
4. Practice new Zumba routines
5. Attend church
6. Finish cleaning house and sweep and vacuum 
7. Draft children's story about crayon.
8. Draft death by chocolate story.
9. Sketch scene for cover art (to be painted next week).
10. Write and revise one-page synopsis for agent queries.

That's it. I think it's the shortest list I've ever had for a weekend. Not daunting at all. Highly manageable. I've made the list, and now I have to hold myself to it.

Now to get to it. First thing tomorrow. I don't do evenings.

Put it off 
Until your head has rested
Only after dreams 
Have sifted through your 
Sleeping mind

Only then will 
All the world
To meet your 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood--The BEST Titles

A good title can make or break a good book. Hell, I bet a good title can get even an awful book sold. Gone are the days when it's customary to use just a person's name as a title--like David Copperfield, Silas Marner, or Tom Jones (all great books, by the way). Then again, a well-known name can make a difference, such as with Davinci Code, and many books sell just because of the author's name. 

But when a great title is joined to a great book cover (something that wasn't possible until the 20th century), then magic happens. Even better when that great book cover--title and all--goes with a really, really good book. Check this cover and title out:

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

This is not required review, either. I won this book on a blogsite, and the author sent it to me herself with no strings attached, but I wish I'd paid for it. In fact, I might just be buying some more copies of it to give people for Christmas. The title is both poetic and creepy, and the cover! Wow, if I could only have a cover that good for my novel when it's published. It's embossed, too, so I spent the first hour just rubbing all over it gleefully (something one cannot do with an e-book, I'm afraid), goosebumps rising on my arms in anticipation. I kept thinking, if the book inside is even half as good as the cover, I'm going to enjoy this! 

I shouldn't have set myself up for disappointment, I know. But I couldn't help it, with such a cover. I opened the book with fear, ready to be devastated by a poor plot, bad writing, or lame characters. 

What did I find? An ORIGINAL premise (and when does that ever happen?), fascinating characters, and a great plot. I read like a teenager obsessed, staying up late as if I had the fifth book of the Harry Potter series in my sweaty hands, and thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, as soon as I'm finished reading my current book, I'm reading it again. Can't tell you the last time that has happened. 

Great book. Great title. Great cover. If you like upper YA literature and paranormal events, this book's for you. There's a bit of language and a bit more violence, but I'd probably still let my daughter read it when she's fifteen. In fact, I might just get her a copy now in hardback, so that in a few years she can rub all over the embossed cover and thoroughly enjoy the experience of reading a good book.

Now to work on my own titles... and start planning a cover! Ah, the goosebumps!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

I'm a Writer

My daughter was drawing--as she ALWAYS is, whenever I'm not on her case to do her homework, clean her room, or practice her flute--and my son wandered over to share her art supplies and do a bit of his own.

"I love to draw," she said. Then, eager to one-up my son, she said, "You don't love to draw, though. You're not an artist like me."

My son didn't correct her. He said, casually, "No, that's because I'm a writer."

I was stunned. Here he was, seven year of age, and he already felt he could call himself a writer.

I'm 41, yet even though I've published a doctorate and a book of ghost stories, have had a handful of my own plays performed, and have worked on writing nearly my entire life, I still have great difficulty calling myself a writer.

But this is the end of it. No more. My mantra is final: I am a writer.

I'm a writer. I write. I go a bit nutty when I don't write. I LOVE writing.

I've been working hard on writing lately, too. I completed my list of agents for The Ghost Portal, and I'm days away from beginning my revision of my third novel. I've read through two fellow writers' novels over that last week, I've planned out a children's book, and I'm waffling between participating in NaNoWriMo or PiBoIdMo--though I'm leaning towards doing BOTH.

Why? Because I'm a writer. I'm a writer, I'm a writer, I'm a writer.

I'm a writer. A real, bona fide writer. How about you?

Monday, October 3, 2011


Ever notice how nothing pretty ever happens in the future? Robots take over the world. Some disease wipes out everybody--or maybe World War III does it, or an asteroid, or a bunch of trash, or too much shopping--as if all the ills of the world as we know it now are multiplied in their use and extremity until we're either mostly destroyed or living lives of desperation.

Yet so many novels seem to look forward to this time, too. Armageddon. The surreal point in time when all the stuff from Revelations--stuff that can be only cryptically analyzed, at best--starts falling into place, showing us that THE END IS NEAR.

We've got another one of those dates coming up. But a whole league of novels have sought to depict the end of days, some with more clarity and success than others.

I can't say I'm a fan of this kind of books, in general. I love books with a spiritual or religious element--I was a big fan of Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments as a child, and I still gravitate to mythic literature--but I've found it difficult to accept the plausibility of most fictional works depicting the apocalypse. Am I a skeptic? Probably.

When I received my copy of Lis Wiehl's Waking Hours in the mail--for free, from Thomas Nelson publishers--I actually didn't know what to expect. I am not a typical thriller reader, but I love the paranormal, and mysteries often captivate me. The book was certainly exciting to read. Good characters--especially Dani and Tommy, who were both complex and sympathetic--interesting events, a chilling murder and a bunch of suspects, and I finished it at record speed. I literally kept talking myself into reading the next chapter, for the chapter breaks usually held enough suspense that I didn't want to stop.

Some of the paranormal elements were truly creepy, too. And I've researched creepy stuff before, but a few events really chilled me. Medieval literature has several of the elements Wiehl uses, adding to the authenticity, and the way some of the plot elements were discovered made them even creepier. It was a good read, a really good read.

Only the apocryphal bent to it--one that will be fleshed out further in the two future books of the East Salem Trilogy--didn't quite work for me. Perhaps it's my own skepticism, but so many things can be used at any point in history to point to Armageddon that I had a hard time seeing some of these events as unique. The Christian emphasis worked better, and yet even for readers who aren't particularly religious, these elements are not too obtrusive to be distracting. Overall, a very good book. I would definitely read the next book in the series.

What apocalypse have you seen depicted best? What's the worst version you've read or seen? (I'd have to say the film Armageddon is my least favorite. Awful, awful movie.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Talent Schmalent

Talent is overrated. And offensive. Nothing is more irritating than someone who has talent and believes, because of that innate ability, that he or she has nothing left to learn. (Often, too, people who are devoid of talent do not know it, and yet still refuse to learn. Blech.)

Okay, perhaps one thing is more irritating than a lazy talented person: it's a person who believes they don't have talent, and uses that as an excuse to do nothing.

Think you don't have talent? Do you read books and say, "Oh, man, I don't write nearly this well!" I say screw talent. Yup. Forget about it. Just keep working. Keep writing. Have other people give you feedback and learn from it. Practice, practice, practice, and then practice some more. As long as you feel you have something still to learn, you haven't stopped growing.

Find what you are good at and hone it. You may not have the same level of innate ability as somebody else. So what? Work harder, try harder, revise, learn, grow. Whatever your talent, you will improve. Your writing (or painting, or singing, or other activity) will get better. Might not happen quickly, but it will happen.

Don't give up.

And if you think you're bursting with talent, don't think for a second that doesn't mean you don't need to work. Stop wallowing in your own hubris and get to work. Use your talents, or what are they good for?

Now get to work, all of you.

[Steps off soapbox.] (I stole this method from Rocket Scientist. She does this a lot, and I like it.)