Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Family Christmas Quotes

My family can be particularly funny, as I'm sure many families can. Here are some highlights from this weekend's family Christmas.

One of my uncles: "Without cats, there would be no Internet."

My cousin came through the rec room with a cookie, Elka hot on her trail. My grandfather asked "What is that, a cookie? You're not going to give that to her, are you?" My cousin said "No." He said "Good, you shouldn't. I'm an old man, though, and don't know what's going on."

A little later, my aunt came through the rec room with a piece of leftover ham. Elka's nose caught the ham currents on the air, and she zeroed in and sat down in front of said aunt, staring intently. When no ham seemed forthcoming, she showed off her begging trick, which is throwing her left paw into the air to "Testify". My aunt's eyes got big, and she said "What was that?"  I said "Oh, she just loves Jesus. Elka, are you full of the Holy Spirit?" and Elka threw her paw in the air again. Then each aunt and uncle got called in to see the testifying Doberman, so I threw in a "Pray with me" (I hold out both hands and she puts her paws in them) for good measure. My other aunt laughed and said "Oh, we're all going to hell."

One of my aunts: "well, as it turns out, breasts are meant to move, and you're supposed to touch them."

One of my uncles: "What, we're opening the box of Twinkies? Aren't they worth more intact? Can't we sell them on eBay? That might be the last box of Twinkies in the world. The other ones are in peoples' fallout shelters."
Me: "Yeah, with the Crystal Pepsi."
My uncle: "I think I'll pass on that."
My aunt: "Where did those Twinkies come from?"
My other aunt: "they were a gift for the whole family."

My aunt: "When we celebrate Christmas not on Christmas, I don't know what day it is."
My uncle: "It's Sunday. You know how I know? The church up the block from us had the street all parked up."

Monday, December 17, 2012

Brain tricks

Some things are so bad that they don't seem real. We don't want them to, right? I think it's a defense mechanism. Rather than thinking about the horrible, our brain kind of puts a blanket around our shoulders and guides use to the back of the ambulance for the hot chocolate and Valium.

Example: September 11, 2001. I can still picture clearly, viscerally, seeing the smoking towers through an open door on my next-door dorm neighbor's tiny television perched atop her also diminutive fridge. I've been to New York City a couple of times since that date; the first trip was when they were doing that twin beams of light thing.

I still default to thinking that the towers are there. Eleven years on, and it's still a surprise. It just seemed so impossible.

I also did not personally lose anybody on September 11. Nobody in New York City, nobody in Washington, DC, nobody on a plane. It was a shared national tragedy, but it was not personally mine.

Example: Loved ones that you know have passed away are alive in your dreams. I don't mean "oh, do you remember when...?" alive, I mean alive. Actually there, so that when you wake up you think "I need to call so and so and tell them about...." or "I should email those pictures to..." and then the crestfallen pause. Those would be calls and letters to nowhere.

Example: School shootings. No school I've ever attended has had such an instance occur. I remember when Columbine happened; I remember the "disaster drills" that my school did, the way some rules changed about people visiting the school. I remember watching the loop on television of that police officer waving that fire truck through (or was it an ambulance?) over and over. I remember people blaming the trenchcoats, blaming the video games, blaming guns.

There's always the finger pointing, isn't there? Another defense mechanism, I think. "That would never have happened if....", "Somebody really should have.....", "Why didn't they ever...."   Questions unanswered.

These things have been going on for a very long time. They are not an American problem, they are not a video game problem, they are not a Dungeons and Dragons problem. I don't know what kind of a problem they are, just what they are not.


I will not be "lighting" any candles on the Internet. I will not be sharing Facebook photographs of the deceased. I will not presume what it was like to have been there and survived. I will not presume to know what the families of those who were there and did not survive feel.

Every grief is different. Every grief is personal.

I hear rumblings that in the DSM-V that's eventually coming out, "normal" grieving will be given a timeline, and then after that it's a diagnosable disorder. As a writer, words fail me when I try to articulate just how horrible this is. On the one hand, if an individual's bereavement is destroying their life, then yes, they should be able to get quantifiable help, and everybody knows that insurance companies need hard facts (or that's what the Internet tells me). But that isn't something you can put a timeline on. Everybody's "normal" is different.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

It's that time of year again.....

I just got the email yesterday. You can enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award between January 14, 2013 and January 27, 2013. Or between January 14 2013 and when 10,000 entries have been reached. Whichever comes first.

I have yet to enter the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I've considered it, but mostly, I haven't had a completed novel that didn't, say, infringe heavily on somebody's copyright (my 2008 NaNoWriMo has more Atlas Shrugged reference in it than I think the Ayn Rand Institute would be strictly pleased with), or a completed novel that just wasn't too rough to consider.

Now, I haven't done the rewrite for Learn to Howl just yet, but more than a month may be just enough time for me to do the rewrite (the beginning specifically needs work. Not hook-y and compelling enough. I know this already). I also haven't finished The Wolf You Feed yet, but I'm not worried; a mid-novel break isn't a bad thing, and it lets all of the story factors percolate in the subconscious.

I'm also rather a novice at figuring out whether the rights and requirements listed in the contest could really screw me or not. I'm sure somebody's talked about it on Absolute Write, or will soon; I haven't perused enough yet. I will say, it's exciting that they have 5 categories this year, instead of just "fiction" and "young adult" (or whatever past contests were). This year, the categories are

  • General Fiction
  • Romance
  • Mystery/Thriller
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror
  • Young Adult Fiction

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Next Big Thing

Special thanks to Thea Landen for tagging me to participate in this! 

All righty. So, the Next Big Thing is ten questions about my current work in progress. When I've finished, I'm supposed to tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links (which might be a rule I'll break.....I haven't been so great about networking with other writer-bloggers. That's writers, we're real rule breakers!)

Rules you shouldn't break:

Rules of the Next Big Thing
Use this format for your post
Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (work in progress)
Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

But, I'll answer the questions, anyway

1. What is the working title of your book?

The Wolf You Feed. Any time I actually have a title, I tend to be quite attached to it. I'm pretty bad at titles, in general. 

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Well, years ago (2005?) I had the idea for the main character, Alleluia (typically called Allie) when a friend was running an old World of Darkness mixed game. Allie was a werewolf, but we only played for three or so sessions. Fast forward to March of this year, when I found the character notes I had written on Allie, and I read them, and then I wrote the book with my own flavor of werewolves, seperate from the World of Darkness, that comes before my current Work in Progress, Learn to Howl. The Wolf You Feed is the sequel.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Ooh, this is getting ahead of myself, isn't it? Hmm. Well, Brad Pitt could be one of the male military types that Allie encounters, and so could Norman Reedus (I'd tell you names but really.....it kind of doesn't matter right now.) Her cousin, Morgan, could probably be Eliza DushkuJulianna Margulies could be Rachel, who is Morgan's mother (so, Allie's aunt). For Allie herself? Maybe Zooey Deschanel. Though really, it would be better for not big-name actors to be cast  in all the roles (well, except Norman Reedus and Brad Pitt, as I'd sure like to meet them.....)

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Oh, this is something I need to get better at. Synopses, elevator pitches, all of that.

"Following the events of Learn to Howl, Allie Culver works with her aunts and cousins to uncover the schemes of the organization headed Starheim and Silvernail Enterprises, to bring the company down and expose it as Bad Guys" (yeah. I told you it would be bad.)

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Well, I intend to polish Learn to Howl after I finish The Wolf You Feed (which is currently my NaNo book. We'll see if I finish the story in the month!) I also intend for there to be a third book, I think, so I should do an outline of that. Then I'll probably shop Learn to Howl, once I figure it's not too embarrassing to show strangers. 

So, the short answer is that I would love to be represented by an agency, I just don't have one at current.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I'm currently in Chapter 15 on day 22. So, at least 8 more days, maybe a little more.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Blood and Chocolate, by Annette Curtis Klauss. The Jane Yellowrock books, by Faith Hunter (book one is Skinwalker). I'm writing about werewolves, but I've tried hard to go back to folkloric sources. I'm not ripping on the World of Darkness, or Twilight [perish the thought], or Underworld, I'm trying very hard to be writing my own story.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A facet of this book, and the one before it, is the American road trip. Having a destination, but maybe no hard timeline. Stopping to get gas, going to diners, dealing with road food. Fighting over the radio, and maybe not having the most steady relationship with your driving partner. 

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

I've tried to write a present day book, with real experiences. I'm writing about family relationships, and the lengths that people are willing to go to for one another. There's discussion of responsibility, there's witty banter, there's pop culture reference. I'd like to think my characters are interesting, though some of them are not "go have a drink with" likeable. Oh yeah. And werewolves. 

All righty, bloggers to tag.  

My friend Kelly at http://spoerk.blogspot.com/ 
Stefan, otherwise known as Doctor Checkmate
Christina J. Michaels at The Muse of My Imagination
Cylee Blake at Escapist at Best
Ava Jae at Writability

(hell yeah, I did it!)

Ten Interview Questions for the Next Big Thing:
What is your working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Putting Yourself in their Shoes (or head) ~ Schizophrenia

On the Absolute Write forum, somebody listened to this audio representation of Auditory Hallucinations.

From the video description:

This is designed to provide the listener with some understanding of what it might be like to experience auditory hallucinations. Content in this presentation is based on things our clients tell us they hear through my experience as a mental health outreach worker.

It's a hard thing to listen to, and it's only 3:38 long. I'm not a mental health outreach worker (though I was a respite worker for a year out of college, for an individual with Asperger's Syndrome. I took him to his college classes, and he could certainly be considered "high functioning". Even so, I am not well suited for that work.) I am a writer, and a gamer, and am frequently putting myself in the head and shoes of a character. In The Curse of Imagination, I talked about how that kind of visceral imagining can be pretty bad, when you hear those bad news stories. I won't presume to call myself "plagued" by these things (really, the things I'm plagued by are migraines and stupid people), but hopefully I can learn to have more empathy for people when I deal with them. I don't know what's in their heads at the moment they're dealing with me. It could be this.

I sure hope not. It would be horrible to wish on somebody.

This one has a visual component as well