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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!!!!

Zombie Letters from e-zombie.com

Yes, it is that time again. Let the children go crazy and let the candy flow like mana from heaven!!!

Where was I yesterday, you ask? Let's just pretend that yesterday didn't happen. It was one of "those" Mondays!

Now, I thought I'd list a few fun Halloween links. There are far too many for my limited attention, so I'll just share a few.

For all things Halloween.
Want to read the Origin of Halloween?
Want to see a Halloween Blog?
Want to know where the Zombie Friends hang out?
Want to play the Simpsons Zombie Shoot Out?

I'll be escorting a zombie and a pirate (for the second year) this evening. What will you be escorting?

For my writer friends who haven't been over to Cobwebs of the Mind, it's a blog by Teddy Gross. He reviews other blogs (often by writers or about writing) and provides some very nice comments.

Happy Halloween! Have fun and be sure to frolic, but be safe!


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Miss Snark + Google = Mighty Conspiracy???

Yes, Barbara Bauer of Barbara Bauer Literary Agency is in the news again. If you haven't already seen Miss Snark's post on it, you should. Barbara hosted a podcast with some fellow "experts".

Ms. Bauer apparently doesn't like being on the 20 worst list and is pretty quick to react and react about it. In her podcast they discuss the google conspiracy (didn't know about that did ya?) and they discuss the google bombing of her website (what exactly is a google bomb and where do we get one?). BTW, can someone please tell Barbara how to pronounce Oregon? One of Barbara's visitors came up with a brilliant suggestion... are you ready? Yes, let's have the federal government police the internet and protect commerce, finance, and business!!! Wooo - Won't that solve all our problems?

I'm done laughing now... I'm going to go back to my novel... TTFN!

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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why publishers are not discriminating men!

I took a break from writing my novel and began doing some blog surfing. Yes, I love to click that “next blog” button and see where it takes me. Tonight I ended up on Nicholas Borelli’s blog and read his post, Publishing Discriminates Against Men.

In his post he discusses how more books tailored for women flood the market. He suggests that Louis L’amour would likely not be published today because of the publisher’s discrimination of men. Now, I’m a strong supporter of human rights and eliminating discrimination, but I don’t see true discrimination as Nicholas is describing it.

He says on his blog, “this feminization phenomenon is hurting the book business.” The feeling I get from his post is that he believes the publishing industry has focused on women to drive the market. While I can appreciate his point of view and possibly agree with some of his thinking, I must disagree with most of his post.

First of all, I believe it IS true that more women buy books than men. I believe there is a trend that over time more women have taken over a greater amount of the market share of buyers:

“Women buy 68% of all books.”
Lou Aronica, Senior VP Avon Books, Publishers Weekly. March 1999

“54% of fiction is bought by women.”
Publishers Weekly, May 1997, page 13

Allow me to make two points on this topic.

1. Women are more internal and emotional than men.
2. As children, girls show an increased tendency for leisure reading.

Point 1: I’m all for equality of the sexes, but let’s face the facts. Biologically and to an extent, psychologically, men and women ARE different, this includes our brain.

"Men and women are actually from the same planet, but scientists now have the first strong evidence that the emotional wiring of the sexes is fundamentally different.

For men, the cluster "talks with" brain regions that help them respond to sensors for what's going on outside the body, such as the visual cortex and an area that coordinates motor actions.

For women, the cluster communicates with brain regions that help them respond to sensors inside the body, such as the insular cortex and hypothalamus. These areas tune in to and regulate women's hormones, heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and respiration.”

- LiveScience.com

Here's just one more article on the differences.

The romance genre has a long history and a huge following. Very few men read romance so by default nearly all of its readers are women. Romance novels provide an internal world full of emotion. The success of recent “chick lit” also provides some of the same need women have for an emotional tale. Bridget Jones’s Diary is an excellent example. Yes, chick lit may be a trend that has begun to wane. It may even have “dumbed down” fiction, but it meets a need and the demand is strong.

Point 2: A recent study was made with students to check their leisure reading. The results:

“Sex differences in leisure reading are also statistically significant, revealing more female readers (85%) than male leisure readers (65%). This finding of greater female pursuit of reading follows Walter's (1929) early study of youth leisure that claimed that, in 1929, female adolescents, much more than boys, engaged in leisure reading. No contemporary research into adolescent leisure or reading has noted gender differences in reading pursuits.”

If this was realized in the 20’s and is still a truthful condition… it’s probably safe to say that much of the trend for reading begins when children begin reading for leisure. Not for homework; not to improve reading skills; not because mom and dad said so – but to do it for pure enjoyment.

Part of the study asked the teens to identify their favorite leisure genre. Romance was the preferred genre by the girls and was four times higher than the next genre on the list. At this result, see point 1.

Publishers are not proactively dictating the market of book type. Publishers are fulfilling the basic principal of economics: supply versus demand. Publishing is a business. Any writer who doesn’t accept that fact will likely face some great disappointment. The main population of book buyers desires certain components and certain styles in the books they read. Publishers respond to that need. Now, publishers continue to present books in other genres, new and unique novels, and novels told from different views, tones and styles. After all, not 100% of book buyers all like the same thing. However, the publishers release those novels in smaller quantities and less frequently to match the need. There are tons of bestsellers that are written by men and also fit the arena of not being tailored specifically for a man or a woman. If there were a greater demand for the style or genre Nicholas is focusing on, I’m sure there would be a supply to meet it. It’s not as if publishers do not have a wealth of manuscripts being thrown at them every day to choose from.

Note: I'm completely bypassing an entirely different point that discusses the quality of writing and how agents and publishers select the best writing they see, versus mediocre, poor, or even crappy writing. And it is this point that is probably the most pivotal point of the publishing process. If your writing isn't good enough to sell to more people than your parents and a handful of friends... it's not worth their time.

As far as identifying feminism, “as something that is hurting the book business” I must strongly disagree. Let’s list internet, ebooks and television as the primary culprits and a few other things before we get to feminism.

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The Story of Jo

This is the story of Joretta, or “Jo”. Her story is a pendulum, swinging in vast arcs from joy and laughter to tears and pain.

Most of her story involves her family. She had two daughters with her first husband. He wasn't the best of men. He ran off and was later found dead in a cat house (bordello if you aren’t familiar with the term). Jo then married a struggling mechanic, Jack Rogers, who had two daughters of his own. Together, they had an additional six children.

Jo worked as an emergency paramedic and later, the sheriff’s office. In addition to being a mechanic, Jack was an alcoholic. He enjoyed beating on his family, broke a few bones, even tried to strangle Jo. Two of the children had to jump on him and pull him off before he managed to kill her. Jo grabbed her children and ran. She divorced Jack. Then they reconciled and remarried. He carried a broken spirit and a darkness within him that shadowed the lives of his family. Eventually, Jack took his own life.

The children were grown and living their own lives. Jo met a man and for a time she was happy. Alan seemed kind. Unfortunately, Alan carried some of the same darkness that had resided in Jack. Alan became abusive. They would fight and Jo found herself lost, unsure what to do. Fate entered her life again and took Alan. A car of teens ran him over, killing him instantly.

Jo became a grandmother, many, many times over. It seemed as if fate was finally dealing her a good hand. She met her soul mate, Bill. He was a retired Canadian Mounty. He cared for her; he protected her; he loved her. Jo’s children were happy that she could finally experience true joy. One night, they went out to have dinner at a restaurant. Halfway through a bout of laughter, Bill experienced a heart attack and died right there, next to the dinner table.

It seemed fate had not yet finished toying with her life. Her baby, Michael, was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He fought valiantly and viewed his upcoming death with humor. When he died the family mourned deeply, but also took comfort in how he had experienced life.

Time passed and Jo became a great-grandmother, many, many times over. She met a man who had lost his wife from cancer, Joe. Together they were “Jo and Joe Rhude”. Her children didn’t care for Joe, but they saw she was happy and that she enjoyed his company. For a time, life was peaceful and life was good. Jo rejoiced at her children’s lives, and her grandchildren’s lives, and her great-grandchildren.

When she was diagnosed with multiple Myeloma cancer the children were devastated. She died on September 17th, 2001. Nine of her children surrounded her deathbed as she slipped away. But, her story was not over. Her dying wish instructed her children to spread her ashes to rest with her beloved Bill. Jo was cremated and for one year, the ashes remained with her first born. After that year, the children, many of the grandchildren and several of the greats gathered to celebrate with a memorial. A huge bonfire lit the sky and the family shared memories, funny stories, and hardships.

The next morning a caravan of vehicles drove to a specific golf course. Two of the daughters carried with them small bags filled with ashes. While the family members began to play nine holes, the two daughters snuck away. Careful to avoid the golf course watch guards. They snuck to the 18th hole and released the ashes.

I will never view a golf course the same way again.
Here’s to you grandma.

Note: Yes, this is a true story… It would take me an entire book to write the true life of my grandmother. My mother’s family has some of the most unusual and entertaining stories I’ve ever heard, remind me sometime to share the story of the Weeping Willow. I love sitting with my aunts and uncles and hearing them talk about their lives growing up. I wrote this today because someone was talking about golf courses recently and I just needed to get it out.

A story is always best when shared with others.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Top Scariest Movie Moments (C/o Bravo)

I love scary movies... I like old black and whites. I like silly ones like Evil Dead. I like the new ones like the Dawn of the Dead remake. On Bravo today they went over 100 scary movie moments. I missed the first half, but I thought I'd share the list I did catch:

48.Thing (This is one of my favorites. I so could watch it right now.)
47.Nosferatu (A classic!)
46.Sentinel (Never saw it)
45.The Wickerman (the old one, not Nicolas Cage version)
44.The Game (I didn't realize it was a scary movie... but ok. It's the one with Michael Douglas.)
43.It's Alive!
42.American Werewolf in London (Oh, I loved this one as a kid. I had it copied from a video and watched it all the time. The transformation scene was definitely awesome for its time.)
41.The Hills Have Eyes (the original, not the remake)
40.Black Sunday (never heard of it)
39.Dawn of the Dead (Original - not the remake with Ving. Since zombies are the only thing that scare me, I'm totally fascinated by them. This is DEFINITELY one of my favorites. In fact, I have Max Brook's Zombie survival guide in my bathroom.)
38.Peeping Tom (Nope, not ringing any bells)
37.House on Haunted Hill (I prefer the remake)
36.Cape Fear (original)
35.Aliens (Ok, the Alien set is also one of my all time favorites. #3 is my least favorite but I'll sit down and watch all five of them to get my Alien fix).
34.The Hitcher (Rutger is just so awesome)
33.The Fly (I loved this movie - the Jeff Goldblum version, of course)
32.Pet Cemetary (Stephen King... I could NOT finish the book and didn't much care for the movie)
31.Friday the 13th (Ah yes... )
30.Blair Witch Project (The ending really stuck with me. They did a great job)
29.The Serpent & The Rainbow (One of my husband's favorites)
28.When a Stranger Calls (How many times have they remade this movie?)
27.Frankenstein (Another classic!!!)
26.Seven (Excellent movie until they screwed it up at the end... *grumble*)
25.Phantasm (I don't remember this one.)
24.Suspiria (Don't know it)
23.Rosemary's Baby (Now wasn't that trippy)
22.Don't Look Now (Nope, I don't know it)
21.Jacob's Ladder
20.The Ring (Yup, I found it creepy)
19.Hell Raiser (Those pins just look dreadfully uncomfortable)
18.The Haunting (I like the story)
17.Nightmare on Elm Street (I got so grounded when I walked to the theater without my parents to watch this movie - the theater didn't really care about that silly rating system)
16.The Omen
14.Halloween (How can you not consider this a classic?)
13.Scream (Definitely enjoyable)
12.Misery (Oh yeah, the hobbling scene is definitely one that sticks with you)
11.Audition (Some crazy foreign film)
10.Wait Until Dark (Well, it's got Hepburn in it, so I'm sure it's good)
9.Night of the Living Dead (WOOT!!! Zombies ROCK!)
8.Carrie (Trippy!)
7.Silence of the lambs (I can't count how many times I've seen this movie)
6.The Shining ("Redrum!")
5.Texas Chainsaw Massacre (I have actually NOT seen it)
4.Psycho (Love it!)
3.The Exorcist (Good for its time)
2.Alien (YES!!!)
1.JAWS!!!!!!!! It's a family favorite... my kids love it (9 & 6)


Things to do INSTEAD of writing & Friday Fun

Item #2 on my list of things to do instead of writing is... (drumroll please) WORK.

Don't my bosses know that I want to spend my day either writing or surfing the internet??? I mean, come on... who wants to work, especially on a Friday. Aren't customers all supposed to be quiet on Friday anyway?

"Sigh" I do like my job, though. I get to work from home and I do a lot of project work so I've got a lot of variety. Every now and then though, the snowball rolls down from above and drags every second of my day with it.

FRIDAY FUN!!! Woo It's Friday; It's Friday. Yay!

It's Friday and that means we all need something to have a little fun. For those people that enjoy speculative fiction, The Electric Spec Editor Blog is a nice spot to check out, and they seem quite nice. Most of the writers that are blog freaks like me already know about the Rejecter, a new blogger in the world of literary agents. Rejecter is certainly on my daily stop list.

If you like those internet tests that tell you about yourself because you aren't sure who you are exactly - Similar Minds has quite a few personality and "brain" tests.

I took the personality disorder test... why? Well, I seem to be fascinated by a variety of different things and who doesn't want a label these days? I thought everyone had one... "I'm ADD" or "I'm OCD" or "Well, I'm suffering post traumatic stress from a fender bender that happened to me 10 years ago...." Labels are the IN thing. So, here is what Similar Minds told me about myself. I'm not really sure what it all means... and really, how can a website diagnose me in 55 questions... but hey! Let's go with it.

I'm not really sure what the heck Schizotypal is... but it's not a very pretty word. I think I'll have to keep searching for my label. My interest has waned and I'm on to other things.... Like tacky halloween one-liners... here ya go!

Do zombies eat popcorn with their fingers?
No, they eat the fingers separately...

Why don't skeletons ever go out on the town?
Because they don't have any body to go out with...

What do ghosts add to their morning cereal?

What is a vampire's favorite sport?

What is a vampire's favorite holiday?

What would a monster's psychiatrist be called?

What did one ghost say to the other ghost?
"Do you believe in people?"

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Definitely an interesting site.

Written Wyrdd often posts a cool site of the day and I try to pop over there at least a couple of times a week so I can see what he's been seeing. Today he listed a neat link to Uncle Orson's Writing Class, it lists some great questions and feedback (lessons) from Orson Scott Card. If you are surfing the net, instead of writing... (yes, I know I need to start chapter 7) you may find it interesting and informative.


Contest for newly published authors.

Barnes & Noble offers a discovery contest where they choose the best new author. Here is the link to check out the Discover Great New Writers Program. I don't believe authors can suggest their own work... but, it might be something to discuss with an agent/publisher if you've got something coming out next year.


The King takes on Love! Steven King branches out!

Now, I'm not that big of a Steven King fan. (Put your flaming arrows away for a moment). But I admire and respect his talent. He's got a few books that I do enjoy, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon is one of my absolute favorites.

Mr. King is expanding his talents. There is an interesting video of him discussing romance.

That got me poking around and I was reading some of his recent articles. I thought this one in the Washington Post was pretty interesting!

Here's a blog entry where Nora Roberts reviewed King's romance thriller, Lisey's Story.

I wonder how he'll do with this particular story. I may just have to get this book and see.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Lovely Chaos of Life!

You know you've had a fun day when the following occur:

Apparently you must have invisible fruit flies. You know this because you left salsa out on the counter over night and there is a SWARM of fruit flies buzzing about.

You look over and see the plate of pumpkin seeds... "Mom, we are going to keep these seeds so that we can bake some of them and then we can plant the rest" yeah right... Now you know precisely where the nasty little flies came from.

You stand with the plate of pumpkin seeds next to trash can and you can't decide which will be worse, leaving the plate of seeds... or listening to your daughter cry because you threw them away.

You actually look at the trash can and realize you can't throw the pumpkin seeds away because you are now out of trashbags.

A cauliflower has just sprouted out your ear because apparently today was teleconference day and you had to sit through 5 hours of telephone conference meetings.

You haven't showered yet.

You really wanted the children to clean their rooms. You thought it would be a good idea to let them wear their halloween costume after they begged. You quickly realize just how bad of an idea that was.

You realize you haven't read Miss Snark, The Rejecter, Pub Rant, or any of your favorite blogs in over 8 hours.

You forgot that your husband's aunt's cousin from Louisiana has come to town on a business trip and you are all going out to dinner tonight and you STILL haven't showered yet.

You suddenly learn you are out of toilet paper.

You haven't been able to write in two days because you've had to do too many "real life" things.

My little bundles of chaos!

Photo taken by their father.


Links of Interest

Re-Imagining the Final Thoughts of the Beheaded by Jacki Lyden. I found a link to readings from this book on NPR. The blurb reads:

The premise for each story in Robert Olen Butler's new book is disturbing. Severance recalls the last thoughts of those who have been decapitated. St. George, Marie-Antoinette, Medusa, Anne Boyeln Sir Walter Raleigh, the Lady of the Lake ... In Butler's imagining, their last words are poetic and brief, and reveal what is most precious about being alive.This sounds interesting to me. I wonder if any of you have read it?

News for writers:
Lesbian/gay writers of Alabama!

Time Magazine Article, “Hustle & Grow” :
Big publishers discover that entrepreneurial street-lit authors have written the book on reaching an untapped market

Blogs in the news:
Interesting author weblog piece.

From the archives:

I found this an interesting article with a bestselling author: Author Discusses How He Survived Child Abuse.

If publishers weekly isn’t already in your favorites, you may want to take a peek.

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Upcoming fun stuff!!! Attention bloggers!

Yes, I should be working this morning... *cough* I'm working *cough* on a um, special project.

Anyway, through the blogvine I heard about the NaBloPoMo event. Think Nano for bloggers. You post a blog each day in November. And how can you go wrong with Yoda!!! I wasn't quite sure how to sign up, so I sent an email to the Fussy one. If you already make a post each day, might as well sign up anyway!

Then I started going through the blogs of the current participants and I stumbled across a reference to The Great International City Swap. A new twist on pen pals actually! I love learning about new places, especially when I'm researching for a new novel. I think this will be a fun dalliance and I look forward to participating. Check it out, you may find it interests you as well.


Things to do INSTEAD of writing, Item # 3

#3 Take silly little tests to get HTML items for you blog.

I did a search to find a quiz to tell me what kind of book I am. Here is what I discovered.

The Warm Cozy
Hmm, very interesting! You scored 114!

Well liked, and so well loved that the binding is worn through. Strong character is the driving force of the story and indeed what draws such high sales. A little suspense spices up a predictably happy ending, so you make for great reading on a rainy day in front of a roaring fire – very cozy indeed. People are known to pack you in with their luggage because they want a real treat while on holiday. A warm cozy is always good company.

Link: The What Kind Of Book Are You Test written by saucygirl on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

You're The Things They Carried!

by Tim O'Brien

Harsh and bitter, you tell it like it is. This usually comes in short, dramatic spurts of spilling your guts in various ways. You carry a heavy load, and this has weighed you down with all the horrors that humanity has to offer. Having seen and done a great deal that you aren't proud of, you have no choice but to walk forward, trudging slowly through ongoing mud. In the next life, you will come back as a water buffalo.

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Which Classic Novel do You Belong In?

I believe you belong in Pride and Prejudice; a world of satire and true love. A world where everything is crystal clear to the reader, and yet where new things seem to be happening all the time. You belong in a world where your free-thought puts you above the silly masses, and where bright eyes and intelligence are enough to attract the arrogant millionaire/prejudiced young woman of your choice.
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code


Monday, October 23, 2006

A professional critique from an editor

This is a continuation of my earlier post.

The very first novel I started was titled, "The Art of Death." The basic premise was that a detective had been murdered during one of her investigations. The older brother and best friend join forces to uncover a political scandal. A politician was selling black market art pieces that had been siezed during the holocaust. I started it. Bagged it. Started over. Bagged it. Started over, you get the idea. As a new parent I didn't have the time or the experience to properly dedicate my time or my energy to my craft. I knew that I wanted to write. I knew I had good ideas. I just didn't know what the heck I was doing. Question my use of gerunds and I'd say, "um... what's a gerund?" and everytime someone said, "use active NOT passive" I wanted to throw my hands in the air and scream... "what do you mean?"

I started it in 1998 and the novel turned into my lesson in writing. I worked on short stories, other ideas, and toyed with the novel. I'd try different techniques and then share it with critique groups and other novice writers to get feedback and suggestions. In 2003 I received a gift from someone to send in the first 30 pages of my novel to a group called Inside Sessions. They would have an editor give me a professional review. I grabbed one of the versions I had sitting around and mailed it in. I kept the letter I got and wanted to share it:

Dear Rashenbo (no that's not my real name),

Thank you for submitting an excerpt from your novel titled The
Art of Death
to InsideSessions and for your patience at awaiting a reply.

There is always room for another gripping novel in the vein of James Patterson or Kay Hooper. I enjoyed reading your submission and think this is a nice start to a potentially interesting story. The dialogue moves the story along nicely and helps reveal important information about the two protagonists as well as the plot.

However, I think the opening scene here can be improved upon. It currently lacks a sense of drama that is necessary to set the tone for the rest of the story. As the scene unfolds, I did not feel a connection to what was going on. As I'm sure you're aware, a good suspense/thriller must do many things, but first and foremost the story should hook our interest right away and then keep us curious throughout the course of the novel.

The rest of the excerpt sets up the relationship between Tegan and Robert as they begin investigating Jamie's death. I also think that Tegan's relationship to Jamie could be deepened a little more, perhaps shown through flashback. It's difficult to get a sense of their close relationship as the text currently reads.

As I mentioned, this is a good beginning but it doesn't have a compelling edge that is so necessary to compete in today's fiction market. Writing takes practice and with some attention to crafting suspense and elements of surprise, your novel will rise to
a new level.

I think when I first got this I had a little bit of a bubble burst. I wanted the editor to tell me how fabulous I was... REALITY CHECK. The letter was polite, included some positive comments, and then pinpointed areas of weakness. He was completely correct in his comments. When I read over this novel I see the glaring plot holes, weak transitions and boring passages. It was, and still is, a valuable lesson for me to learn.

It is hard to be objective in an field that is so subjective in its nature. What one person loves, another will hate. As a writer, it is likely that eventually someone will tell you that your work is not good enough. You will be told you need to improve and you may be told your plot stinks and your characters are flat.

The only thing you can do is keep trying.

Then and now... Learning your craft.

The opening of one of my previous novels. I didn't finish revisions as this was the piece I used to practice and learn from. I will follow up this post with a professional critique I received from an editor on an excerpt from this novel.

The Art of Death (unfinished/locked away in a cabinet)

Jamie crouched on the planks beside a luxury yacht. Its giant hull blocked the breeze that drifted in from the water. She shivered and pulled her jacket tight around her as she hugged herself to keep warm. Taking deep breaths of the cool air, she tried to calm the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. She unzipped her jacket slowly to keep from making too much noise. She grabbed her gun, waiting for a feeling of reassurance that didn't come. Boats bobbed in the water on either side of the pier. She peered at the sailboat across from her trying to see something in the predawn shadows. The wooden boards creaked eerily beneath her feet.

The only sounds were that of the water lapping against the boats. It would have been a calming sounds on any other morning, but not today. Her ears strained for the sound of human movement. Standing up, she leapt from her hiding spot. Adrenaline rushed through her body. Holding the gun in front of her, she spun in a circle searching for her pursuers. No one was in sight; she ran down the pier. Hope filled her. The parking lot was only a few minutes away.

Wow, I look at that now and say... "CRAP!" Good grief... how many pronouns did I use? I can't even count them all! I may have had dreams of slapping out a first novel and immediately getting it published. Instead, I never completely finished but I did learn a lot. Not only did working on this help me learn the craft better, it also helped me toughen my skin. When I first shared this with peers, I reacted. I would get defensive. I would hurt. I would doubt my ability. I would pout and not write for weeks because I was bruised. Learning how to cope with feedback - positive or negative is something every writer needs to experience.

I'm currently working on a novel that I'm calling "Work in Progress", but in my files it's titled "In Search of Prey". I'm only 10,000 words into it, so I haven't started the serious revisions yet. But, here is the opening I have for my new novel that I intend to polish and attempt to publish.

Light flashed through the canopy as the sun began its descent. The forest woke to greet the evening and the shadows darkened, stretching toward Norberto. He felt the deep sigh of life within its depths as creatures began to stir. A tangle of lianas wove a web of thick vines before him. In the distance, the barking of the spider monkey warned him that a predator was beginning its search for an evening meal. He shivered and looked behind him. The boat, heavy with Mogno, was silent and still.

“Hoje é dia näo para mim,” he muttered.

“Wrong! Meu amigo. Today is a good day, a very good day.” A man pushed aside thick palms and stepped onto the river bank.

Norberto frowned at the slender estrangeiro. “There is something not so good in this forest, Peter.”

You may not see the difference, but I do. I look back on items that I wrote years ago and think to myself, why on earth did I think this was that good? When someone tells you to learn your craft, it's not necessarily an insult.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

When your vocabulary leaves you high and dry...

I was writing a scene and I could visualize exactly what the environment looked like. If I had any talent for drawing, I'd sketch it... Alas, my only skill is to paint a picture with words. But, really, what do you do when you just can't find that right word? The word that's got me thinking is poke... and then protrude... they work for the scene I'm working on, but poke is just so "blah" and "protrude", it just isn't a pretty word. It doesn't roll off the tongue and I don't think it accurately conveys the image. My handy thesaurus isn't offering up any better alternatives...

Of course, my thought process could just be completely hosed because a) I stayed up way too late... or b) I spent the entire morning at the emergency vet clinic with our boxer. Yes, he got a little too "excited" and couldn't calm himself down. (I'll keep my canine viagra comments to myself and just say, "ick") $234.00 later, he's all better, but it can sure as hell throw off your entire day.

I think I'll go read some Evil Editor archives for some quick giggles to get my groove back... then I'll hunt down just the word I'm looking for.

What's blasting from the headphones? Willie Nelson & Ray Charles, "Seven Spanish Angels"


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Breaking 10,000... Yay me!

I had a goal to reach 10,000 words this weekend. I just broke it... my 10,000th word? 'she' Gotta love those pronouns. Here it is, the line that broke this week's goal:

"Sean realized this was the most she had said to him. He enjoyed hearing her voice and didn’t want her to stop. "

Looking at it here all by its onesie makes me think it's a pretty weak passage... and the itch to edit it is already making my fingers twitch. I'll have to set that urge aside for now. I'm on a roll and want to keep going while I've got the steam. Now I'll have to give myself a new goal for next week.... I'm thinking breaking 15,000 by next weekend.

Current Stats to the Action/Thriller "Work in Progress"
Deaths: 2
Subplots: 3
Chapters: 6
Words: 10,071
Blaring out the headphones: "Comfortably Numb" Pink Floyd


Things to do INSTEAD of writing. Item #1

Item # 1 on the things you do when you should be writing is:

Yes, I completely wasted hour after hour yesterday reading blog after blog. I spent most of the day reading many posts on queries and query letters. Storytellers unplugged had an interesting one on query letters. Miss Snark always has entertaining and useful advice and comments. I almost spilled Mt. Dew all over my keyboard laughing at the Face Lifts Evil Editor has posted.
Agent Query has some excellent pointers for query letters and has some examples for review.
I have no idea why I'm reading so much on query letters. Am I ready to send out some queries? Nope. Not even close! Today will be a writing day for me. I'd like to end the day with at least 1,000 more words, if I could break 10k this weekend, I'd be satisfied with that progress.


Friday, October 20, 2006

Just insult the entire romance genre... brilliant strategy.

There happens to be a gentleman in the fine state of Texas who has decided to include some good 'ole mudslinging in his campaign to be an almighty comptroller. His opponent? A woman who wrote a romance novel nearly 20 years ago. Not only does he get into some good name calling, he proceeds to insult the entire romance genre and to me, all the readers of the romance story.

This is how he describes his opponent:
"Susan Combs claims to be a person of high moral standards. Her record of writing, having published and selling a pornographic book clearly shows that Susan Combs is a two faced, hypocrite who was obviously more concerned with her literary career and seeing her name in print than the morals of the young People of Texas who are exposed to her 222 page book, A Perfect Match, which has her name at the top of every other page - - - a clear testament to Susan Combs’ insatiable ego and desire to see her name in print. "

Here's the link to the page that talks about his opponent.

Well, I just couldn't keep my mouth shut after reading this. I don't live in Texas, but that doesn't stop me! It's not the best representation of my writing skills, but I was a little heated and just slapped it together.

My letter:

Dear Mr. Head,

Recently one of my friends pointed me to your website. On your website you launch into a rant about Susan Combs. You attack her morals and the basis of this attack is that she wrote pornography. Quite frankly, I am disgusted and insulted, and not only by the inflammatory remarks that you make. First of all, I do not read pornography, but I do read romance novels.

As an author, a reader, and most importantly, a woman - you have insulted me and insulted my fellow women. By claiming that Mrs. Combs wrote pornography, you are also claiming that every person who reads romance novels also reads pornography. You’ve insulted the entire romance genre! The dictionary defines pornography as obscene writing, writing with no artistic merit, and whose primary purpose is to cause sexual arousal. Romance novels are not obscene, they do have artistic merit, and the primary goal is NOT sexual arousal. They are stories that enrich lives, bring hope and for many women, bring some peace and simple enjoyment in their otherwise busy lives. By belittling the author of one of these pieces you are belittling the readers who enjoy the romance, love and life that these stories can bring.

You make a fallacy by claiming that she is immoral because she wrote a romance novel with sex scenes and is therefore a supporter of pornography. Well, if we make hip-shot judgments about everyone we can say that Stephen King must be a murderer or at the very least supporter of murderers because he writes about killers. Or that J.K. Rowlins is delusional and believes there are witches and magic schools... why? Well, because she wrote about them, of course.

As a writer, I sometimes write about things I do not personally believe in or even support... I do it because it's part of the story. I have no idea about Mrs. Combs’ morals; the fact that she wrote a romance novel does not make me question her morals at all. Actually, it makes me admire her; it's difficult to get work published. If I lived in Texas, I would oppose your appointment simply based upon your comments and attack of Mrs. Combs.

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The Friday Fun Chronicles

Taken from the creative mind of The Cesspool Messiah
"You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are not an idiot. You are a fucking idiot. This book claims to be “an easy-to-follow, reassuring and responsible guide that shows how you can use hypnotherapy to identify and overcome unhealthy modes of thinking, deal with emotional issues, improve performance, and banish bad habits.” It also has a section on law suite procedures in the event that you stay convinced you are a chicken or continue to yell “I am sir fancy pants” or bark like a dog whenever you hear a bell. The preface is a self guided hypnosis that the reader must perform in order to use the rest of the book. Basically it asks the reader to stand in front of the mirror with a rock on a string and chant “this book is helpful, this book is serious”. Once the reader has been sufficiently brain washed, the rest of the book reads like a well written novel."
You've got to follow that link and check out the Idiots Guide to Books For Dummies... Quite entertaining for a Friday afternoon.


To NaNo or Not to NaNo

As November draws ever closer I wonder if I should participate in the National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo to the writing fools who join in!

I've been a NaNoWriMo'er since 2004. It's a fun event and the energy you see on the forums is amazing. Meeting some of the other local Nano's was a new experience in 2005.

I haven't completed a 50,000 word novel in a month yet, but giving it a shot is challenging and fun. I think I will have to skip Nano this year for two reasons. First, I'm five chapters into my current novel and I don't want to set it aside to focus on an exercise like the Nano. Second, I'm on a family vacation for two weeks in November. My writing time will be quite limited.

But, for all those gearing up, doing research, scoping out the coffee shops and sharpening the pencils - I will be cheering for you, and likely lurking in the forums.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Things to do INSTEAD of writing

I shall periodically list things that I do when I should be researching or writing my novel.

Things to do instead of writing

Item #5: Take a free "certification" test to meet some arbitrary need to prove your mad skills to... well, yourself

Look, brainbench says I'm a MASTER!!! MUHAHAHAHAH Surely this gives me some great and mighty power. I even have a logo I can use for my very own!!!


Welcome to Writing Aspirations

Writing is my passion and I know that I'm a little obsessed about it! I also know that there are others just like me. I'm in the process of writing a novel and I'm constantly online researching, reading blogs, reviewing, etc. I thought I'd make a blog to chronicle my journey in writing and to make a comfy little spot to let out my obsession.

Welcome! Thank you for visiting!


Sunday, October 01, 2006

The first chapter of my novel.

Hello, this is the first chapter of my novel, In Search of Prey. It is unfinished and unrevised. I've played with this chapter a little, but it's not polished. If you are interested in seeing my style or seeing how my story starts... here you go. I hope you enjoy it. I'm not the best at formatting in Blogger... so this may not be as "clean" as you'd like to see.

Light flashed through the canopy as the sun began its descent. The forest woke to greet the evening and the shadows darkened, stretching toward Norberto. He felt the deep sigh of life within its depths as creatures began to stir. A tangle of lianas wove a web of thick vines before him. In the distance, the barking of the spider monkey warned him that a predator was beginning its search for an evening meal. He shivered and looked behind him. The boat, heavy with Mogno, was silent and still.

“Hoje é dia näo para mim,” he muttered.

“Wrong! Meu amigo. Today is a good day, a very good day.” A man pushed aside thick palms and stepped onto the river bank.

Norberto frowned at the slender estrangeiro. “There is something not so good in this forest, Peter.”

“What? It’s got trees, and animals,” he swatted at a large bee, “and bugs. Just like any other part of this godforsaken place.”

Norberto watched as Peter walked to the water’s edge. Peter pulled something from his hip pack and rinsed it in the water. When he stood he tossed it to Norberto.

“With the Mahogany on the boat we will make some good money, but finding the Tucuma Palms will just give us something more to sell.” Peter smiled, “After all, money is good, yes?”

Norberto tossed the fruit back. “Where are the others?” Peter was new to their crew and often annoyed the others. They had probably sent Peter back to keep him out of their way.

“Looking a little more, but they want you to bring some of the empty crates from the boat.”

As Norberto stepped into the shadows, leaves and branches tugged at his clothes. He paused and tightened his grip on the crate. Behind him he could hear Peter whistling, the sound of it unnatural in the heavy foliage. Norberto scowled, Peter’s careless ways would make trouble for them. He followed the small trail that had been made when the others entered the forest. Norberto stepped over a tree root and stopped to wipe his arm across his face. The dampness clung to his skin and lightly tickled him. He could no longer hear the whistling. The sounds of the rainforest surrounded him, the leaves whispered, soft drips of water drummed a gentle beat and restless animals shuffled along the forest floor.

A sense of uneasiness settled around him and he held his breath as he waited. The sun had set and only the faintest rays of light remained. Illegal logging was dangerous. This crew had been together for five years, sneaking in and out of the jungle laden with rich timber. They had survived tribesmen, poachers, the law, and conservationists. Norberto remembered all the times they had narrowly escaped those who would stop their foraging. The forest suddenly seemed to still around him as the cacophony of sound faded into silence. He quietly lowered the crate to the ground and drew the long blade he kept at his waist. A slight draft stirred the air. He tensed; a bird flew from a nearby tree. His ears strained.

Suddenly, the leaves rustled as something moved toward him. Norberto crouched and lifted his blade to greet the danger. A short, skinny man jumped out of the darkness and flew past him. Norberto barely recognized Celio as he ran by.

“Run!” Celio shouted. “The Curupira has come for us!”

“What?” Norberto asked, but Celio had already ducked under a branch and disappeared.

A scream tore through the forest. Norberto turned toward the sound, the direction that Celio had just fled. He heard another scream, one that ended abruptly. He placed a hand upon a large green frond and pushed it aside. He took a step, concern for his friends pulling him forward. The skin on his neck crawled. He squeezed the handle of his knife and took another step. Something moved in the darkness, something large. He heard a snap, like bones breaking. Leaves crackled under Norberto’s boots, and a snort responded. Glowing eyes appeared and seemed to float in the inky blackness, eyes that stared into Norberto.

He turned and began to run, dodging leaves and vines. Bushes scraped against his boots and bits of forest debris poked into his pants. His lungs burned as he pushed his legs harder. He wove between the trees, vines tugged at him while his mind filled with images of bright yellow eyes. Fear kept him from looking back. He could feel the invisible claws of a beast reaching for him. He leapt over a large root covered by a creeping plant. A sharp flash of pain in his ankle brought him to the ground. He inhaled the thick scent of earth and decay and struggled to keep from coughing as his lungs pounded for air. While his ankle throbbed a large, brilliantly colored beetle scurried along the root. He groaned and stood, carefully putting his weight on the twisted muscles. The first step brought tears to his eyes. He listened, but could only hear his own thundering heart.

He was far from the trail. The night was warm and humid, but his skin was chilled. A forlorn call from some forest creature echoed and faded. Swatting at the bugs that buzzed around his head, he tried to get his bearing. The river traveled north to reach the Amazon. He turned right, and peered up to the sky. Green darkness blocked his vision. The night sky was beyond his sight, hidden above the canopy. He stepped through the undergrowth as he walked deeper into the jungle. Vines curved up the thick trunks of the trees that soared into the canopy. Roots spread high across the ground. Mosquitoes swirled around him, eager to land and drink their fill.

Something light against the shadows caught his eye. He moved toward it, his throat tightened as he realized what lay before him. The pale fabric of Celio’s shirt was tangled in the large green leaves of a Heliconia bush. The red claw like flowers blended into the blood-soaked cloth. A trail of black glistened against the yellows, greens and browns of the forest floor. Norberto swallowed the bile that pooled in his mouth and followed the trail. Massive leaves, fronds and small trees created a carpet of dark green and brown. A massive Ceiba tree, blanketed with Orchids, appeared out of the shadows. Beneath the thick perfume of flowers Norberto could smell the coppery scent of death. He stumbled when he found what remained of Celio. The headless body lay near the tree’s base. Large gaping lacerations covered the torso. One arm had been sliced to the bone. Flies crawled along the cooling flesh, their buzzing filled his ears.

Norberto felt the hair on his arms start to rise. He could not see anything, but he felt the eyes on him. He could taste his own fear and knew the creature could also taste it. Norberto’s stomach rolled as he watched insects disappearing into the open wounds. Moving slowly, he retreated from the body. He turned and ran, this time much deeper into the jungle. His heart pounding, he prayed, O Dues, ajudame.