Happy Holidays....

Good Morning!!!

I hope that everyone had a happy, happy holiday. I know that I did. My Christmas was filled with all the people I love, including friends from afar. It’s funny how with really good friends, you can go months or years without seeing them and it still feels like no time has went by when you get together.

That’s the way it is with my blog right? No matter how long I drift, when I come back it feels like no time has passed….right? J

Well I have nothing new to report. I didn’t finish the Nano challenge. I got a little distracted…between my accident, my mother’s surgery and the holidays I just didn’t have enough hours. My final total was just under 22,000 words. That’s almost halfway there…and I’m still writing…so that is good too.

I know the question you are all asking…why is it taking so long…? When are we going to get to read one of your really awesome stories? When do we get to go to a book signing….or a totally awesome book release party? I’ll get there. January is my month!!! Less stress at work and a plot line that gets clearer every single day. I had a little bit of trouble really finding my characters. I had a protagonist that changed on me…but with each change the story gets stronger and better. I’m not in a race to get a final polished copy done, because I want to write a good book and when I just write to get words down I spend twice as much time revising than I would have spent if I had just slowed down and thought it through.

On the short story side, my favorite market closed. (Tear). I have a short coming out on Sciencefictionfantasyhorror.com but the editor is very behind and I haven’t been given a date for publication yet. The contract on the other hand has been signed! Woo Hoo. I submitted another short to the half price books writing contest. But I won’t know anything about that until like march. It’s actually more of a poem than a short story but I really like it and I hope that if I don’t get chosen as a finalist that I will be able to sell it to another market. If I do get chosen the bookstore will publish it nationwide!!! That would be completely and totally awesome…and you don’t get royalties or anything because the money made is donated to literacy projects but it’s wonderful publicity, and exposure and I would be totally, totally psyched. (How many times have I said “totally”?)

So that is my update. I will keep writing and putting a tally up on the blog…so that you all know I am making progress. My other goal is to actually attend my writing group this month. I have missed three meetings in a row because of conflicting schedules. But I am forcing myself to attend by posting something for review. So ask me if I went to my January meeting!

Merry Christmas!!

It's been...one week....

ok, I know. I am so flippin far behind. But don't think I gave up yet. I'm determined. Perseverence is the key.

But in my defense a lot has happened in the past week...and I still managed to get some writing in despite it all. Last Wednesday I was in a tiny little accident...that caused tremendous pain in my back and made it extremely uncomfortable to sit in a chair for more than an hour let alone sit and think. That was followed by a Harry Potter infestation. Go Go Gryffindor. (Go see the movie...unless you're like my sister, the only person who hasn't read the books...you'll enjoy it.) Now I am packing to leave town for the holidays. Ha. Don't think I'll get too much writing done, but I am taking my laptop anyway. Since I'm very much a morning person I figure I can sneak a few thousand words in while everyone else is sleeping. And the road should provide much needed time for reading and sleeping.

So that is it...oh my word count right now...21,122!!! Not even half way. Oh Well. Should we take bets on how far I can get before the 30th?

Happy Turkey Day!!!

Hogwarts Humor!!! Horray for Harry! The Countdown is on....

Day...Could it really be the 15th?

So this is it. The midway point. It's too bad my word count isn't at the midway point. I can say this much, last week sucked. I didn't think it was possible to suck that much, but it was. There were several days when I got very little words in, others when I didn't get anything done at all. And it wasn't because I'm not talented enough to sit down and crank out 1000 words. I can do that in an hour or less. But it's the plotting, the planning, the trying to weave different story arcs together, and wondering if you've even got a story arc at all. I kept getting forced into situations that I didn't like, and I was forcing the characters to do things they didn't want to do. And somewhere along the way I realized that the real protagonist of the story, wasn't who I thought it was.

Regardless, there has been some major, major reshuffling. The plot line is still the same, but instead of one POV (point of view) there are now three. And the first chapter is now the sixth, seventh and tenth chapter. So much for writing in order. I feel like I am trying to piece together a puzzle. I know what the end is supposed to look like, I have some of the pieces, but not all and I am trying to get everything in its place. The more pieces I get in the right spot the more new pieces I discover. But that's good. At least it allows me to move forward. I know from experience that writer's block, at least when I'm in the midlde of a project, is typically caused by my trying to make something work that isn't supposed to work. Sometimes it takes me a while to see that, to figure out what it is exactly that isn't working, sometimes I take it all apart and put it all together again, just to see what I will get. Some of my best work has been a result of tossing something two days before the deadline and starting over from scratch. I work best under pressure, close to a deadline. The adrenaline fuels creativity. I think. That is my scientific answer.

Anyway, you're goint to love the newly restructured book. It is less of what I like to read and more of what I am, I think, destined to write.

Oh and my word count, after doing 3,837 words today, my total is now 17,934. I can't believe how much I got done today, or how easy it all was. Hopefully the rest of the week will go by as easily as well.


Ok, so I fell of the face of the earth for a little while. So shoot me. I have been writing...well kind of... but I've been swamped at work and things all around seem to be a little crazy so I haven't been able to post as regularly as I would like. It's a lot of work getting the totals and then remembering to write the blog entry and update the nano page too. I should be able to count these words as part of my novel. Hell, I should be able to count that 400 page grant I'm writing at work as part of my novel. (ok that was a little bit of an exageration...ok ok an outright lie...)

regardless here are the quick and dirty stats....

On Tuesday I did 1,337 words...woo hoo. On Wednesday I did 0 words. But look at it this way. There's no where to go but up.

My total is 11,352. I need to catch way up. So I am going to go upchuck some todays words!

Ta Ta....

Be sure to check my profile out at the NANOWRIMO website http://http://www.nanowrimo.org/userinfo.php?uid=27420

oh an excerpt from NANWRIMO Chris...

Yep. We've arrived at Week Two. Let the weeping begin.

As you move from the spring wood of Week One into the trying climate of Week Two, one or all of the following are likely to happen: 1) The fun, good-time feel of the first week will evaporate. 2) You will decide that your book is a miserable failure, that you are a creative fraud, and that novels are best left to novelists. 3) You will put 1 and 2 together, and decide to cut your losses and drop out now while the getting is good and the fall TV season is still relatively new.

Make it through the grumpiness and self-doubt of Week Two, and you'll be rewarded with renewed energy and an eerily improved outlook on your novel. Work diligently through this, the hardest week of NaNoWriMo, and you'll see the tangled mess of your story begin to unknot, and your book begin to soar.

I know it's hard to believe. But look at all the work you've done already. You have characters! You have settings! Your manuscript has grown large enough to injure a small dog! Not that you'd want to injure a dog, small or otherwise. But still, you've done more in the last seven days then most writers accomplish in seven months. You've made it through the first huge week of NaNoWriMo.

Day...um...Seven? Yeah...that's it...

I feel like crap right now. I made it to work because I always feel guilty calling off sick, but I think I just might puke all over the keyboard. Sorry, was that too much information?

Yes it is Tuesday Morning and yes the date says Monday. That’s because I’m writing about Monday’s stats…

I managed to get in 1,066 words, which put me up over the 10,000 mark. Woohoo! So my grand total is 10,015!

Congratulate me. Now I’m going to go find a corner to pass out in….

For Fun: My Profile Page

Check this link out: http://www.nanowrimo.org/userbook.php?uid=27420

Day 6: This must be heaven...

Today the writing came easily. Everytime I sat down at the computer I found the words I wanted to say. I've got two really cool characters that are shaping up nicely--Unfortunately neither of them is the protagonist but I think her voice/character/presence will become stronger as I continue writing.

So you want the low-down, dirty stats? ( I know you do...)

Today's Word Count: 1828!
Total Word Count......(insert drumroll here....) 8,949.

Yeah I know, I know. I'm a little short...I should be at 9,996 but hey that's only 1,000 off. That's still a lot of freakin words in one week. Considering on Friday I was at around 4,000 or so. That's a big jump over the weekend.

Best Line: She was dressed in some sort of weird Punk- Goth combination, as-if her wardrobe got confused jumping from one adolescent trend to another.

Worst Line: Most of them...mainly because 99% of the time I don't know what the hell I am talking about!

I just realized I am going to have to make some slight changes in these first few chapters based on establishing a timeline. Right now...I keep jumping back from dawn to broad daylight. I guess I have to pick one or the other and go with it. Just as long as I keep checking for inconsistencies like that.

Ta Ta

Day 5: Gooooood Morning Vietnam!!!!!

It is a beautiful fall day (ok maybe in my dillusional mind) and I am officially at 6,578 words. Not where I wanted to be on the fifth day of this NaNoWriMo competition, but I am happy with it. You've got to pace yourself. It's like running cross-country, you can't sprint the whole way!

Today I did 2,185 words and it all came out pretty easy. I think I can crank out more tomorrow. I don't plan on doing anything besides puttering around the apartment and spewing out 500 words everytime I walk past the computer. I remember the last time I did this challenge. I was living at home with my parents and my little sister. It was a lot harder because they really didn't understand what the challenge was, how difficult it would be, why it was important to me or what it would take to finish. And for me, it is hard to write when there are too many distractions. Noise in the background, the phone ringing off the hook, a messy room...it can all be one big fat distraction. When I first got this apartment I was so excited about the opportunity to have my own dedicated writing space, or to be able to read a book in the living room with actually no disruptions whatsoever. Silence is so rare when you live with a teenager.

Should I give the other stats...

Best Line(s): "What did you expect them to use? A chopper with their hit man logo on it? Maybe an advertisement for the underworld to go with it? He shot towards the side of the helicopter."

Worst Line(s): There all bad!

Mood: Happy and content.

Day Four: Still Slumming Around...

OK, so today the writing went a little better. I added a character...like I said. He's goofy but fun and makes the pages a little easier to write. I think it is hard for me because when I go to write a scene, I don't necessarily visualize it first. I hear it. I hear the dialogue, then I see the characters, then I see the backdrop, the setting etc. Maybe I need to consider writing some screenplays. They make better money anyway...

So I didn't make my goal today either. I doubt I will even though it is only six pm. I left the file I was working on at work...so now I can't remember where I last left off. that's the problem with working with multiple computers. I have three and save everything via multiple email accounts. So yeah...I will go to work tomorrow morning so that I can write off and on throughout the day...

Oh...how many words...I believe 900 or so...maybe 1000. I will have to confirm that tomorrow.

OH yeah...and speaking of countdowns...I am looking forward to the fourth harry potter movie. the fourth book really is my favorite still, although I really did like the sixth one too. I'm not doing a premiere party this year, I will be seeing the midnight showing with my HP friends then on saturday we are going to go see it on IMAX...I think Saturday...Maybe Friday. This is why I need my outlook calendar at all times. Anyone visiting cow-town is welcome to join me!


Day Three: Complete and Utter Failure

I know, I know. I haven't posted stats yet for day three. That's because it was a complete and utter failure. I only managed to get 424 words in. That's abuot a half a page to a page...I don't know. The sad thing is that I was actually trying to write. But everytime I sat down I couldn't come up with anything decent. In fact, it's not even just that the writing is bad, its that my character's are stuck and I still haven't figured out how to keep this scene from being boring.

So I followed the aged old advice and killed off a character...that almost worked. But then she was all alone...wondering around...nothing exciting there..so I had to add in a completely new character...who I was originally thinking I would kill but the more I write with him the more he pleads for his life. I guess well see. At least they have more chemistry on the page than the last two characters had. Anyway..that was the update for thursday.


Day Two...Nano-what-oh?

Ok, so I haven’t reported my update for November 2nd yet… Sorry. Don’t be too disappointed. I didn’t meet my goal. On the other hand I had dinner at an amazing restaurant with amazing people and it was very much worth it. I’ll catch up. I’m psyched about the weekend because I’ll just spend the days puttering around moving from laptop to computer, room to room, writing off and on until I get my words in. So here’s the stats if you’re keeping track. I’ve been swamped today..haven’t even started…looks like it’s going to be a long night. Hey maybe I’ll still be up at 11 and get to watch Smallville!


Novel Title: Book One: Exposure
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy/Horror
Daily Word Count & Pages: 967 words
Total Word Count & Pages:3133 (Technically I am only 92 words behind. I need to do at least 1612 words a day).
Duration of Time Writing (min): Just under 2 hours maybe…it was slow…
Best Line: There were no good lines…or…no…there were no good lines…
Worst Line: “I had an appointment with Colonel Sanders”
Mood: Oddly calm.
General Comments: I keep writing in circles. My characters are trapped beneath a building at the site of an explosion…if I could figure out how the hell they get out then I can speed up the writing again…

Updated Stats...click on image for a closer view...

Day One: WTF

I must be insane. I am convinced that the only reason I am completing this stupid challenge again is because I mentally blocked all the pain and anguish from the first experience from my mind. I just made it to 1000 words; I need to do at least 1612 words per day if I am going to make 50K by the end of the month. And I know from experience that there will be days where no writing occurs, which means there will also be days when double the writing occurs. I can see my life fading into the distance. This is what Chris, the NaNoWriMo chair said in our week one newsletter…

“Are you crazy?

We here at NaNoWriMo think you might be.

No one in their right mind has ever accomplished anything truly great. It's a delicious sort of insanity to reprioritize your to-do list and move this freaky, creative adventure of novel-writing to the very top.

Well, near the top, anyway.

Showering is important too.

As is napping.

The bathing and sleeping, we'll keep. But as for all the chores and favors and selfless acts of kindness you've spent your life bestowing upon the people around you...Well, in November, you're off duty.


Let the dog walk itself. Empower your kids to drive themselves to school. Nothing instills character in a child like operating a piece of heavy machinery. Cooking? Bah. A host of local fast food chefs stand ready and waiting with a wondrous array of largely edible delights.

Pizza is brain food, after all. And you have more important things to do than cook. You're going to be busy building universes and forging lives. In November, we spare no moments for drudgery, devoting our limited hours instead to frantic typing, long, bookish walks, and soulful glances out the window (which serve as restful interludes between prose creation and much-needed practice for our future book-jacket photo shoots).”

I am insane. This is insane. I’m never going to live to see tomorrow. Dear God, give me strength.

Tomorrow I’ll update you on today’s results. You’ll have to excuse the delay. :)

WooHoo Baby! WooHoo...

So as of Saturday it’s official. I signed my first contract, made my first sale in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genre, and will be receiving my meager allowance shortly! What perfect timing too! Tomorrow I will embark on the NaNoWriMo challenge once again. Winning the Halloween contest has inspired me to take this challenge head on. I’m totally pumped and ready to go.

I’ve mentioned NaNoWriMo a couple of times before. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. For those writer’s out there with fulltime jobs, and some semblance of a life it can be done. For those of you who have never faced the perils of writing a novel, 50,000 words is a lot!!! I would say your average novel is anywhere from 80,000 words to 130,000 words. If you can picture a young adult novel that is about the size we are shooting for.

Of course, I don’t write young adult novels…and I don’t intend on starting now. So I can’t decide whether or not I am going to just aim for 50,000 and have an incomplete novel, or aim higher and shoot to finish a draft. My goal was to have a draft completed by the end of the year. I have one that is about 2/3 finished…but I have been stuck for a really long time. If I start a novel in November and don’t get it finished I’m afraid I won’t come back to it. If I can go insane and get an 80,000 word draft done then at least I will have completed my goal of getting something finished. This will be cause for a big celebration! (Speaking of end of the year celebrations, I should totally have a New Years Eve party…hmm…)

Where was I. Oh, so the funny thing about the Halloween Contest. I actually critiqued the short story that won! How funny is that?

With the NaNoWriMo, there is a forum/message board where you post your daily results…i.e. daily word count, total word count, most interesting line, worst line etc! I can’t decide if I want to post the info directly to the site and let my fellow fans read from there…or just use the blog to update my results. Or I could copy and paste…any suggestions from the peanut gallery? I’ll have to get on the site tonight and see what kind of access non-registered visitors get.

And the countdown is on baby!

The Weakest Link

Ok, I’ll admit it. I’m a failure. Not at writing. When I put a little effort in it you’d be amazed at what I can do. No, I am a failure at submitting my writing to interested markets. My number one, big fat problem is getting a piece of fiction from my desk to the mail and in front of the eyes of an editor, any editor. It’s a challenge. It’s not that I don’t understand the process. I am a smart person; I recognize that nothing will ever get sold and thus published if an editor or agent can’t read it. But there always seems to be some complication. Every single market, print or online, has different submission guidelines. Some want it double spaced, three inch margins with multi-colored text alternating at every other word.

OK, that’s not true. But you get my point. Before I can send anything out, I need to reformat. Change everything to single spaced, hard return, make up something to say in a cover letter, guess how much the postage will be and then get it to the post office. You gotta make labels, and actually have stamps…it’s just a major effort.

Well online should be easier, you say? Wrong. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. What kind of file do you save it as? Do you send it as an attachment or do they want it in the email of the text? Some files have to be single spaced with hard returns…others have to be double spaced with no breaks. Is the email you’re cover letter or do you attach it as a separate file as well. What happens when the file bounces back!

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. I met Gordon Van Gelder (Editor of Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine) this past weekend (he’s totally gorgeous by the way) and he said that on an average he gets about 150 to 200 unsolicited manuscripts each week. EACH WEEK!!! And John (his assistant and slush reader) is charged with getting the slush turned around in 48 hours. It sound’s crazy, but I greatly, greatly appreciate his efforts. There’s nothing like getting a rejection slip four days after your manuscript was postmarked! You think I’m kidding. Try waiting four months to find out your story didn’t grab the editor. It would be different if you could send out one manuscript to five or ten different places at a time and see what bites. But that’s a big no, no. Editors/publishers really hate multiple submissions and usually state that in their guidelines.

Anyway, I look forward to the day when I can hire a part-time assistant to work for me. Someone to make copies of my manuscripts, track where they were submitted and when they came back etc. (I have a nifty computer program I use right now) and manage my fan mail (I can dream can’t I?). Then I will have to find something new to procrastinate.

Crazy ramlings...

I'll let you in on a little secret. I love to critique writings. I love it. That might explain why I'm up at five in the morning and resisting the urge to go get my little red pen and start scratching away at the pile of manuscripts by my printer. In fact, I love critiquing manuscripts so much that it is almost impossible for me to read a novel without once questioning some element or literary device that the author has used. I have gotten better about ignoring it with some authors and worse with others. There are some writers I just can't read anymore because the quality of their work has gotten worse instead of better. I think that's the curse of being a bestseller. Once you make it that big, people want consistency. The readers know how you write, and they want to see it over and over again. The editors/publishers know how much you bring in, and they want you to do it over and over again, and the agent, well they just keep lining up deals that makes everyone happy. But the writing suffers, as the books come out faster and faster. I know some famous authors who used to workshop their stuff before it went to the editor and now they don't and honestly, I want to read the book that was workshoped. I sit there and think to myself, if they had let someone impartial look at this, then the plot would be different. Or they would realize that this character has done a complete 180. But whatever who am I to complain?

I love critiquing manuscripts so much that I am now in three different workshop groups. When I sit down with a story, I just get sucked in, only coming up for air every two hours or so. And today I learned that it doesn't even have to be a manuscript. I have in deed spent at least four hours editing a three page book synopsis!

Overkill you say? Nonsense. Not when you take your responsibility as a critiquer seriously. on many an occassion I read a piece twice if not three times. The first just to get an idea of the structure, plot etc. I get a feel for what is on the plate. Did the end feel satisfying. Was the beginning slow? Was I confused during the middle? The second readthrough is to ask why. I know what I liked, and what I didn't like, now what might have caused that. The third read is typically grammar/line edits that might not have gotten picked up the first two times.

And you know what, the really great thing about reviewing someone elses work? You still don't get everything. I go to my writing group and think....I've got this story down, and sometimes I am surprised to see what others picked up on. Sometimes what I think is a flaw works for someone else. And that is ok. The important thing is that the author knows that.

People who don't have much success in a writer's groups are the people who don't know what to do with the information they are given. Some people simply can't handle criticism. I've had people react very badly to my words. In fact one new member to our group finished the meeting with, "and now that you've all stomped the life out of my writing..." He was shocked, and unprepared for our comments, and felt they were harsh. Maybe they were. I think we are all used to getting to the point. There's no reason to pussyfoot around. What good do you get from me telling you that your work is great, if it isn't? If we don't tell you, some agent or editor will (maybe, if they think you deserve even more than a form letter rejection from the slush pile.)

Other's just willy-nilly change things, taking every single suggestion that comes their way. I want to scream out NOOOOO while shaking them madly. You're the writer. It's your work. You have to know what it is you want to do with the story/novel before you can guage the feedback you recieve. If you write a horror story, and someone says, I don't like this, It was scary... you don't go back and take it out. You are writing a horror story, something that person simply may not have known, or may not like. People who don't know what they want out of a story, make so many inconsistent changes that in the end, the story can be worse off. Then they wonder why people still don't like the story. (I'd like to say, with a few stories I am guilty as charged!)

So that is my five AM tangent. Love your reviewers. Thank them dearly, especially if they spend hours pouring over your words. In the end, I don't do it to make myself feel better. I do it because I truly believe in helping each other write better. I learn so much in the process. And as wonderful as I am critiquing other people's work, sometimes I can't even identify the basic flaws in my own. Often I'm just too damn close to it. I rely on people putting in as much effort on my own work as I do theirs. And will I use all their comments? No way. But listening to them is the first step....

Fun reads!

Well, they aren't my writings but they are good. Check out Hell's Notes by M.K. Hobson and Catalytic Poltergeist by Michelle R. Rasey. Buth fun stories that I love for different reasons. I hope you enjoy them.

On another note, I had a pretty good friday night. Me, a red ink pen and a bottle of wine. I put on a little music (the soundtrack to Something's Gotta Give) and went at it. Sad when you look at a pile of writing and think, God, I am going to need something stronger to get through this!!!

I did critiques for both my online and my face to face writing group...or at least I tried. I had to stop once I read a whole chapter and failed to notice that the point of view character had changed! I was a little confused and kept asking myself, why did he start calling himself Tait! I thought his name was Jimmy. Duh. I should apologize to the author, and maybe reread that piece sober. Next time my drug of choice will be caffine.

I'm off to tackle the manuscript...and then do some grocery shopping. A certain coworker has hijacked my favorite store and now I have to shop further away to avoid running into him. I'm such a dork.

The Upside....

Good news….

So I have been beating myself up over not working on my novel…and last night I suppose out of boredom or curiosity I picked up the draft of a novel that was probably ¾ of the way completed (a good 75,000 words) and just started reading. To my surprise it wasn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Don’t get me wrong, it was still bad and nothing that I would ever let someone see, it just wasn’t as bad as I thought. And the things that I thought needed to be worked on were skills that I have actually become better at in the year and a half since I set it aside.

This is good news for many reasons. First, I believe it is salvageable. Second, I stopped writing because plot wise I got stuck. The second manuscript I stopped writing because I couldn’t find life in my characters. And can you blame me? You try building a character around someone who has been alive since the creation of earth. That’s an awful lot of memories to build upon and difficult to make believable. Sure lots have people have tired. Some would even say there are authors who have succeeded. But I have yet to find a book where a character that is that old doesn’t come off as cumbersome and overbearing. There’s just an awful lot of baggage to deal with.

But the first novel has amazing characters and after reading a chunk of the manuscript last night I decided that maybe the two can come together in harmonious bliss. Is that possible? And do I get to go on the honeymoon if they are happily married?

Anyway, the other day I posted a message on losing focus. So my solution was to go back to the writing and find a strategy to refocus. Some of us writer folk have been discussing putting together a retreat and I decided to do my own mini boot camp. For every day I have assigned a topic, all related to refocusing the novel. My goal is to have a finished and viewable draft (i.e. polished enough that I can let others look at it without scratching my name off) by the end of the year. This is ultimately my pacing goal. Normally I would say this is a big jump for me…but considering the amount of legwork I have already done…I don’t think this is unrealistic. So this week I have been preparing for the Writing Boot Camp as if it were a real workshop. I’ve made copies of all the tools story development, plotting and characterization tools that I want to use. I have a plotting board, magazines, newspapers, photos etc. that I can begin to use as world building and even have the schedule posted on my office door. The goal is to have everything taken care of so that I don’t use lack of preparation as an excuse.

It might sound a little hokey, but a few years ago I did the NaNoWriMo. That is the National Novel Writers Month where writers take on the challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. You log in your daily word count each day and cheer each other on. It is a big deal and lots of people participate. And it seems to work if you’re looking at an isolated period of time. As soon as you try to make something a permanent habit that is when it starts getting easy to let things slip. So to make a long explanation short, I think it will work as long as I am committed to getting it done that week. Three hours a day minimum and five days a week.

Wish me luck. Maybe I will update each day on my progress. So you know that I am not just talk. I’ll put the link to NaNoWriMo up to so that you can check it out if you want.


Hurricane Katrina....

I got this email forwarded to me this week about a college friend of mine and had to fight to keep from crying. It’s funny how as long as I can keep myself distanced from what happened in the gulf with Hurricane Katrina I am ok. It’s not quite real. I didn’t personally know anyone there, and I was grateful that it wasn’t somewhere that I did know a lot of people.

I didn’t know X (name removed) was there. Now I feel sort of helpless again, and hearing what she is going through makes this whole thing a little harder to digest. I remember reading a novel once about the aftermath of a deadly fire in California that destroyed hundreds of homes and the feeling of insecurity and vulnerability that the people felt afterwards. You always see so much about people fighting natural disasters and never how they cope afterwards. You aren’t seeing news stories about the insurance companies who are refusing to pay out claims just people pointing fingers at each other about whose to blame. And sure there are telethons and donations galore. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing about how x, y and z are raising money for victims. But sadly, in a month it will be old news, and the media monster will be zeroing in on the story of the minute while people like X are still fighting to piece together their old lives. That is what really bugs me.

[Excerpt from email....]

I hope you all are doing well.

First, I would like to thank you for your calls and emails. It was reallynice to know that people care. Second, I apologize for not responding.Things have been really crazy and to be perfectly honest, I haven't feltlike talking about my current situation. The uncertaintly surrounding mylife has made it difficult for me to explain what I am doing or where I amgoing.The bottom line is that I am currently at Washington & Lee Law School inLexington, Virginia. I arrived here last Monday and am living in the lawschool dorms with two law students, one from Tulane and one from Loyola.There are about ten students here from New Orleans, which makes it a loteasier to adjust. W & L started three weeks ago, so it has been difficultto try and catch up on what I have missed.

As many of you know, I was able to evacuate New Orleans before the storm. Iwas at the law school library when I received the first news that Katrinawas headed toward New Orleans. At that time, she was only a category three hurricane and no one anticipated the level of destruction that the storm caused. Upon cancellation of classes, I began looking for a plane ticket to Columbus, but I was afraid that any flight leaving on Sunday would eventually be cancelled. The phone lines in New Orleans were already clogged and it was next to impossible to reach certain 504 cell numbers.

I finally got ahold of myboyfriend who was leaving to visit his family and wait out the storm. After speaking with him, I had about 20 minutes to pack my bags. Looking back on it now, it's easy to see that I should have taken more from my apartment, including my car, but on Saturday afternoon the storm was not as large or as strong as it grew to be by Sunday.When I left New Orleans on Saturday I assumed, as did most people, that Iwould return to the city no later than Tuesday. I anticipated only minor damage, if any, and my biggest concern was completing all of the school workI would miss due to the hurricane.

After Tulane closed for the semester, I frantically searched for a place to spend the remainder of the fall semester. I lost my car in the storm, so I needed a place that I could walk around, I also needed a furnished apartment that was cheap (since I thought I would still have to pay rent in NOLA) andI wanted to be close to DC so that I could continue my job search. I settled on W & L because it fit all of those goals and X (name removed) was able to get in as well. As for my life back in New Orleans, I was holding out hope until this weekthat my apartment would be relatively OK. I knew that my car was probably gone, but since my apartment is on the second floor and the flooding was only 7-10 feet in my area (sounds funny to say ONLY), I assumed that most of my stuff would be alright.

Unfortunately, I received some bad news yesterday from my roommate. Her father is a Doctor and was allowed back into New Orleans to work at the hospital. He drove by our apartment and reported that the entire roof has caved in and it is literally raining inside our apartment. He made itinside the apartment but was unable to walk around since he was worried that there may be structural problems to the entire building. His report is that pretty much everything is gone. Those things that are still alright will probably be ruined since our apartment is open to the elements and will continue to be until my landlord can make it back to the city. At this point we are assuming that the entire apartment building suffered extreme structural damage and will have to be torn down. I am holding out hope that at some point I will be able to get back to New Orleans and that some things may be salvagable from my apartment. However, if the structural damage is as bad as they report, it may not be safe for me to reenter my apartment at all. This news has been very hard to me to handle. While I know that they are only material possessions, it is still hard to believe that everything I have is gone. To make matters worse, my insurance company is fighting my claim for the damages to my apartment. I know that I am lucky to be out of New Orleans and to have a place to stay, but honestly all I want to do is go home. I miss my life in New Orleans, I miss my friends, and I miss the stability that I had. I am planning on returning to New Orleans in January when Tulane reopens, however there is still a lot of uncertainty. I'm not sure how long it will take to rebuild my apartment, or even if my landlord will decide to do so.

I apologize for the somber tone of my email. I am hoping to know more inthe next couple weeks and I remain optimistic that my next email will bemore upbeat.

Take care,

Spring clearning...fall style

I realize now that I might be stating the obvious, but it seems I might be biting off more than I can chew. I have joined several different groups and organizations all vying for a piece of my time and can’t seem to be able to find a balance. I realized yesterday that I haven’t logged onto my Harry Potter group in weeks. I missed two impromptu get-togethers and a meeting (huddle as we call them, but that was intentional). And I haven’t been very helpful at planning upcoming events either, like the Halloween party or the GOF opening.

Then there are my writing groups, which oddly enough are competing with my personal writing time. That’s not really how it is supposed to work. I like all three groups for various reasons. It helps to have a different set of eyes that can review something…and I can get more immediate feedback on writings by participating in more groups. I don’t have to wait a month for another meeting to come around. But again, somehow I still have not managed to revise my short story from last month’s Writeshop meeting. And today is the deadline to post anything that will be critiqued in Sunday’s meeting. I doubt that I will have something ready by this evening.

Then there’s the consulting. I love doing consulting work. And even when I am not working on a specific project I am putting together some articles and developing curriculum to teach at grant writing and fundraising workshops. I would like to maybe self-publish a book which I can use as part of the class, but there goes another chunk of my life. My goal was always to be able to write fiction fulltime, preferably novels, but I guess I always thought I would get there by writing part-time and consulting part-time. One can bring in a much better chunk of change consulting than they can writing short stories.

Then there are other personal hobbies that seem to become more and more of an interest when I am avoiding writing, such as scrapbooking, and stamping and other various crafts. I started out making them for fun, and now a friend and my mother are trying to convince me to sell some of them at the local craft shows. As if I have time for that! But the extra income is nice, and unlike the writing I can do these projects with only half my brain in tact. Click on the TV through in a DVD and tada! I can have a smallville marathon in my living room while making tile coasters and Halloween magnets. Multitasking is the secret to success.

But maybe my life is one big multitasking blob. And I can’t help but feel like I am failing. I am juggling so many different balls in the air and two or three of them are bound to smack me in the head. Instead of being on top of everything I have yet to find my stride. So I wind of working on whatever project is the most crucial at the given time. I’m always working towards a deadline and the things that don’t have deadlines, well the just automatically become a lower priority. Unfortunately those things aren’t less important, the novel, my family and friends…sometimes I can’t squeeze them in. I feel a little guilty because I promise to visit friends or return calls and never seem to get around to it. I’ve got family mad because sometimes they only get to see me at holidays and even then, it’s just a maybe. On the other hand…it’s kind of like…I’m in my 20’s trying to make a career before I wind up married with a family of my own and even more balls to juggle….and they love me so they will be supportive and understand. Some do. Some don’t.

So my goal for the next few months is to reorganize in an attempt to manage everything that is going on. Can you tell I am a true Virgo? I didn’t used to be this way! I’m not sure how, and when I figure it out I will let you know. But right now it seems to be a matter of setting concrete goals. I just hope I don’t end up one of those women who have to pencil in everything in order to be sane including…well let’s not go there! I have some vacation saved up maybe I need to take a week off, lock myself away in some secluded, remote place and crank out some serious writing I haven’t touched my novel in over three months, and I don’t have the time or the energy to devote 100% to it. Of course then here’s me going, sure I want to work overtime hours over the holidays! Sign me up! But I need to save money…and that stuff doesn’t come easy and it doesn’t stay long. But I’m willing to work hard now. As long as I don’t have a heart attack! People have survived worse. And I’m nothing if not persistent.

Pretentious Writers

So for almost a year I have been a member of the Online Writing Workshop (www.onlinewritingworkshop.com) and I pay $50 for the privilege of having my writing critiqued by my peers. All in all it is a pretty good system. If people are willing to part with the money, it usually means they have a certain level of commitment to their writing and writing as a craft. It also works on a sort of crit-for-crit basis, meaning you have to give critiques in order to receive critiques on your own work. The flipside is that you also get a lot of know-it-all pretentious wanna-be writers who are narrow-minded and use the internet as a free pass to be blatantly rude. I have heard of these encounters and never quite experienced one until last week. And trust me, I am not just being overly sensitive about my work. I write all day and all night. I have people giving me feedback 24/7 and I know from experience that to be able to detach my personal feelings from my written work and look at comments and criticisms of my writing objectively means that in the end I have a much stronger piece. I am, all around, a big time fan of critiquing and revisions.

So here is what actually happened.

Over the past month I have been experimenting with flash fiction. I try to write 500 words a day, and sometimes they are parts of a larger story and other times they are pieces that stand alone. Regardless, I posted some of these writings to get some feedback, inspiration, and a better understanding of what was working and what wasn’t. When you submit you have the opportunity to select rough draft, middle draft or completed draft. So I select rough draft, because I know that I am going to be making some major changes, and I just want to get a firmer grip on what direction to go in.

Let me back up a minute to say that for each critique a member does they get one review point. When you have four review points you can post your story to the queue for reviews. If you are the first person to review a story then you get a bonus point, (I think this is intended to ensure that each piece gets at least one review in a relatively timely fashion). So needless to say, the flaw in the system is that certain people give drive-by reviews, where they copy a bunch of text from your story and make a few lame comments, just to meet the length requirement for the reviews and then take the review points and run. So a member who has 200 reviews under his belt doesn’t necessarily mean that they are highly reputable and/or competent. It simply means the did 200 reviews.

Now, I post some flash fiction pieces and the very first review I get is from a gentleman who instead of critiquing the piece (which was only 1,000 words, that’s like 2-3 pages of single spaced text) writes it off in the first sentence of his review as too literary to be posted on this science fiction, fantasy and horror genre board and then gives me a one page explanation about the difference between literary and genre, what it is and why he feels it will never mix well. Ok fine. You don’t like literary stuff. Fine. It wasn’t intended to be an extremely literary piece. If emotionally driven characters and motivation vs. plot is your definition of what qualifies as genre then fine. I don’t agree but as a writer I can see where you are coming from. Then this person continues on his tangent, suggesting that I have never written before, and am trying to imitate writers such as Stephen King, who may use some literary elements in their work, but are the exception and should take time to figure out what I want to write first before going any further.

This is what I have a problem with. And I keep seeing it over and over again. There are some genre writer’s who want to keep it old school. If their aren’t aliens or hobbits and it doesn’t fit into the structure of what hundreds of writers have already done before then it doesn’t belong. I think that most genre writers grow up being a fan of the genre first and naturally they want to continue seeing what they fell in love with years ago. But there is some incredibly wonderful stuff that doesn’t follow those same conventions, that blurs the lines and meshes the genres together and that is always what I as a reader have been fascinated in. I read vampire novels, but not Anne Rice novels. The vampire novels I read are also mystery novels or hard-boiled detective novels. Neat combination, right? And the novel I am writing blends the lines between science fiction and fantasy, because the science element involved is the human reaction to the magical world they discover. And in reality isn’t that how it would go? Wouldn’t humans look toward science and technology to level the playing field? I am all about cross-genre writing, and it should be noted that those stories were posted in the cross-genre category. So what was his problem?

So, I responded to his review via email and asked that he kindly review the actual writing and not provide career advice or editorial commentary on the writing industry. It wasn’t requested and it really irks me that he got two review points for simply going on a tangent about his personal thoughts. There was absolutely nothing in that review that was useful. Luckily I received four other reviews within the week that were useful. Hmm, how is it that they all found constructive criticism and he couldn’t think of anything to say?

The good thing about it, I think I was prepared for this kind of experience. I have known others who have had far worse luck with online critique groups. I am also used to weeding out comments and being able to evaluate what suggestions should be followed and what ones shouldn’t. I think the two most important things to do as a writer are to: 1) learn how to take feedback and make revisions on your work and 2) have a strong enough understanding of the story that you want to tell so that you are always in control. Some people will completely change their story based on a critique, not realizing that it is just one person’s view. I think it was Charlie (http://home.earthlink.net/~ccfinlay/ )that told me, “everyone who reads your story might find trouble with one particular element but it still doesn’t mean that the element should be cut. It might simply mean that you didn’t do your job well in setting up the other elements so that that one component makes sense.” And that was probably the best advice anyone has ever given me. So if everyone keeps telling me XYZ doesn’t work and I want to include XYZ then I need to find away to alter the structure of the story so that it does work. And this is why writing takes so damn long.

Harry Potter Alert: New Trailer

So I thought to myself, I need to check my favorite news source for Harry Potter goodies and see if there is anything new out and low and behold they released a new trailer online. Well sort of. It was put online by a french site, so there are subtitles (in french) at the bottom. The trailer isn't as cool as the teaser, BUT it does show lots of new stuff. It's all very, very, exciting.

So here is the link to HPANA which has the trailer available in the three media viewers.
But I can't guarentee how long the link will be working. Sometimes they get overloaded. (The sites HPANA refers to, not HPANA)

And if you are wondering what HPANA stands for go to the website. Ok I'll tell you. Harry Potter Automated News Aggregator. :)

I hope this works!

Growing Pains

It looks as if I might have outgrown my writing group. :( It's bittersweet but I think I have been wondering this for the past few months and am finally beginning to see it as a reality. Reality sucks.

It's not that I don't still enjoy it. But I realized today that I have been in this group for two years. I grew a lot as a writer during that period, met some fabulous people who taught me a lot as well. But like everything else in life people change. The group has changed, several people have moved on, attendance is down. Lots of things lurking on the surface that are making the expereince less and less enjoyable and useful.

We had a meeting on Sunday to discuss some issues and look at how we can restructure the group. Sadly I think I am at a point where I need a group that is more productive and rigorous, with more demands for producing work. One published author i know was a part of a crit group that met once a month but had to bring something to submit every time, could not miss more than two meetings and had to have evidence that they were submitting work. All of them got published. But it's also about networking. There used to be a sense of helping each other out, working together, mentoring the new kids. Now it feels like everyman for himself. No one says, I think you should send this here, or hey so and so would really like this kind of thing. No more, I'll show you the ropes because I think you have potential.

As the blood of the group changes we seem to become more exclusive, for fear that someone will come in and upset the balance. People's writing isn't strong enough, they can't take critiques like professionals...it's te same people so is there group think? I'm not published and sometimes I feel like the outcast. I don't belong to the inner circle. My opinion might not count as much because with what authority to I speak? By some wierd twist of fate I am still the youngest person in the group. I would like to argue that I should get a ten year curve for the generation gap. I wonder sometimes now, if I would have even ben able to get into this group today if I wasn't already a member. I wonder what they would say about my quality of writing, my style, my inexperience. When did the world get so exclusive?

I am not going to abandon ship yet. I will give it another month or two to see how the new changes take. Hopefully I can submit something to the next meeting allthough I would have to have it in by next week according to the new rules. And I still have the online group...


Sometimes Democracy is a Bitch.

Life imitating art...or art imitating life

This has to be the funniest thing. I wish I could say I read this article and then came up with the idea for the story but oh well. Check out this blurb from the Washington post.

Gone, Forgotten
Mary Hurst wants to honor her mother’s wish to be buried aside her husband, Hurst’s father, who died nearly 40 years ago. Problem is, the Libertyville, Ill., cemetery where she says he was buried says it can’t find his grave. Hurst says her father was buried at St. Sava Cemetery on Nov. 10, 1966. But when she recently called the cemetery to have his remains moved to Texas, she was told the grave couldn’t be located, she said. The cemetery administrator said it’s possible the grave was moved in 1979, when some graves were relocated to another property nearby. (AP)

WooHoo: Good News....

Ok Ok, so it wasn't a sale, but no form rejection for this wanna-be writer! My story did make it out of the slush pile! (And for any of you who know anything about the publishing industry, making it out of the slush pile is half the battle.)

While she didn't like it "enough" to buy it for the site (which publishes 50% new writers and 50% established writers) she was sorry I hadn't submitted something for her last anthology. You remember that right? The infamous Trickster anthology. I am eager to see what stories made it in...the short story I was going to submit to that gave me nightmares and finally I felt like it just wasn't working...I was forcing myself to write on a topic to which I could not relate.

Anyway, I did not submit then, but I am determined to sell my short stories to Ellen so I will keep trying. I am working on one now that is actually science fiction and not fantasy....so that is a first for me. Well see how it goes. There will definitely be a lot of critiquing on that one. I just think out of all the professional markets I have looked at she really selects pieces I like. Plus she publishes more often because it is an online site...(although she only does one at a time and others do multiple...) I guess it is a toss up.

Look at me, I am rambling on and on. I can't even think straight. I am so excited. I am going to spend whatever free time I can get critiquing stories and i have a writing group meeting on sunday...oh wait, uh oh it might be saturday and not sunday. Or it mught be next weekend. yes next weekend. Well that is good I think. Give me some time to catch up, post Harry Potter.

So this story goes out tomorrow to another market. I think that I am going to pull it out of the pro markets and try the semi-pro or webzines...only because I do think it is good enough to be published, and I don't know if it really fits the audience of the pro markets. Plus the Pro markets are so darn slow. I guess I am going to have to start writing faster. I want to keep stuff (high quality stuff) on Ellen's desk. She's a good person to have in your corner. Especially in this sometimes overly masculine field.

ok time for dinner..then stories!!!

Hip Hop and Classical Blends

I'd say I don't have anything against rap. But I do. This...this is real music with real talent. Notice they didn't resort to profanity, sexually explicit language or derrogatory terms. I love it. Click on the photo for a sample of their music. or visit www.nothingbutstringz.com

Oh...another reminder

I keep forgetting to put this in the posts... if you want to join the mailing list to get email notifications alerting you of new posts send the email address you would like to use to ml101400@ohiou.edu

Moment of Zen. "I wanna be a rock star...I wanna be a rock star....I wanna be a rock star....""The computer Gods have graced us with another piece of crap! Yessssss!!!!!"

FanFiction: Part two

How is this for a coincidence? I just got the August monthly newsletter for OWW (online writers workshop) and under the sales announcements, there was an article titled "The Appeal of Fanfiction" on Internet Review of Science Fiction (www.irosf.com). So I jumped over to the site to check it out, as I am almost more intrigued about what published writers have to say about this fanfiction phenomenon than fanfiction itself.

The article, it turns out, was somewhat informative. The author names two widely used websites for fanfiction (that I didn't know of but probably would have found with a simple Google search), Fiction Alley and Fanfiction.net. I opened another browser to check out these new sites and was a little bit blown away. I was very aware that fanfiction was popular and widespread. But there was literally a story posted for every TV show, Film, or Book you can think of. From Shrek, to Friends, Days of our Lives, and even Dark Angel (she says with a rush of excitement). There may only be fifty-four posted fanfic stories for "sex and the city" but Harry Potter fans watch Accordingrding to this article in April "Harry Potter had an impressive 186,525 stories". In just three months that number has jumped to 196,622. That doesn't include any stories that get published on smaller fan sites specifically for a tv show, book or movie.

The article also brings up the question of why Fan Fiction is so popular and why it is so prolific in science fiction and fantasy genres, (besides the obvious, that we're geeks!) To me, I think this answer is a simplistic one. Fans fall so deeply in love with the characters and the world created that they either A, can't stand the idea of it ending or B- are curious about the what if? There are times when reading a novel or series I think, what if she had married him, or what if she had double crossed them and became a bad guy. It is sort of a flashback to those choose your own adventures (honestly part of me thinks they should make a comeback!)

I first stumbled upon fanfiction about five years ago when I started reading the Anita Blake laurelby Laurell K. Hamilton. She's an interesting one that Laurell. Will swear up and down that all fanfiction is an evil, bad thing, completely illegal and something she will not discuss or condone. On one hand I agree with her. She spends countless hours creating these characters, building these worlds and designing the perfect plot, only to have some stranger swoop in when she's not looking and kidnap her characters and stories and rewrite them as their own. Of course most fanfic writers give credit to the author don't they? And isn't it a compliment that someone loved your work and ideas so much that they would spend their free time creating new stories? It's not like they are getting paid, or making money. Now that would be illegal.

Then there is J.K. Rowling. With 200,000 odd stories floating around on the internet it may indeed be impossible to stop, but Jo doesn't seem to give off the impression that she wants to. What is it hurting after all? It certainly doesn't affect the number of people buying her book. Fans aren't choosing fanfic authors over the new Half Blood Prince. In fact, it would be interesting to look at how many new stories have already been posted following the release of the 6th book. And what happens after the 7th? Are all these people going to quietly surrender and fade into the dust? I doubt it. I predict that HP fanfic will become even more prolific after the final book in the series is published. Like newly rehabilitated junkies, fans will flock to the web to get their Harry Potter fix.

But not everyone captures the magic like Jo, and not every story deserves to be praised. In my next entry I intend on reviewing a few fanfiction pieces (a good variety... some storylines I know and some that are new etc. ) to get a better feel for what is out there. Any suggestions or requests? Know any must die for stories? I'd be happy to include them in the next post.

(Fade to Black)

Fan Fiction: the good, the bad and the ugly (Part One)

So I think that I am going to do a set of entries on Fan Fiction. I have my own opinion about it all, but I know that my opinion is based loosely off the few encounters I have had with fan fiction and probably highly biased. As a writer there are things that I like about fanfic, and things I dislike. But I have a feeling that the writers and readers of fanfic might get a bad wrap.

So I think what I will do is spend a week looking into fan fiction…reading some highly recommended stories (because the ones I have read were pretty bad) and then spend a week looking at what published authors think about the subject. Then I will write an entry on each one or on several ones.

Why am I doing this? Part of it is because I see the appeal of fanfic. In fact in some way it was probably how I became a writer. My first true motivation for writing was finishing a book and going, well then what? What happens next? Or other times it was, no way. I would never have ended it that way. I would have done this…and then I rewrote the chapter.

Of course I quickly grew out of that phase, wanting to create new characters, build new relationships etc. Then it was that I wanted to steal bits and pieces of my favorite worlds and characters to build my own stories. I think part of that still exists inside me. When I started working on my novel I had very strong ideas about character, about setting, about what I wanted to accomplish. But part of the fun is taking that seed and helping it grow. Of course I feel like I am trying to grow a 100 year old redwood!

Speaking of novels, I have changed the structure of my novel again. I had some characters that I was going to have each do a stand alone novel in the same world, and then bring them all together in a later novel. Now I think this first novel will be the story of how these three came to become the leaders and protectors of this city. Funny how the stories morph into one another. All these ideas I had and thought had to occur in separate books keep coming back together. So I will just go with it and see what happens. Does someone want to give me a deadline for the first draft, so that I can stop floating aimlessly around. Although to my defense, typically what happens isn’t that I purposely change something but I realize that something isn’t working. I am writing everyday, so that is a start. Although I am not writing everyday on my novel. I have several short stories I am working on, which is nice because I am not in the mood to work on something I just work on some thing else. But it is a good way for avoiding my novel. I have to do something about that.

Ok. I am going to go write, now that I said all that.

Back to reality....

So I survived my Harry Potter weekend. It really was a blast. I finished the book yesterday, and that was while trying to pace myself! But I was torn by my desire to take my time and my fear of running into pricks like such, on the Live Journal Communities that were releasing spoilers on the internet the day before the book came out. Apparently one of them scanned in a copy of a page from the book and were posting it all over the live journal communities. And this is what they had to say about it....

1. But I thought it might have been a fake, so who cares.
2. It was coming out in less than 24 hours and there were going to be spoilers everywhere else anyway so what is the big f'n deal?
3. Harry Potter Sucks A**. Yeah for bringing down man.
4. If you're actually upset over this you have no life. It was a joke man. And I got the last laugh because I outsmarted the publishing company and ruined their precious book/surprise.

Ok dumba**. See I heard about the sites very early on Friday, and pretty much avoided touching my computer from Friday to Sunday because I wasn't taking a chance, but I went back to see if the spoiler was true, what it looked like and I really could not believe it. Apparently now, not only is their a photocopy of the actual page, but someone actually took the time to retype the entire manuscript online in like word or some crap like that. Which as a writer makes me really, really mad. Not only is it completely illegal, but god, there are so many pricks out there... I really hate when people walk aruond thinking they are better than everyone else, above them. I find that a lot of people who look down at "the masses" for liking pop culture/trends are usually full of shit. They are more fake than anyone I know. I try really hard to respect a difference of opinion. And you know what, I don't ask everyone in the world to agree with me, but respect would be nice. Respect my wishes to live my life how I want to and I will gladly do the same. I just can't stand the fact that their are people out there who get pleasure in stupid stuff like this. It's like the kids who get the prom cancelled because they set a fire in the girls bathroom, but they thought the rpom was for losers anyway so they don't care that they ruined it for everyone else. It's just flat out selfish and rude. And a really important lesson that the rest of us seemed to learn in grade school.

I suppose the simple act of the spoiler wasn't what angered me the most. Sure, 24 hours after the release half the people were going to know anyway. What really angered me was reading their comments afterwards, about why they did it. Or their responses to other LJ readers who were upset by the original post. I didn't post anything because I don't have an LJ account and I realize that it is just a waste of time to get into a cyber argument with a bunch of guys who can't mentally comprehend what they did wrong. It's like trying to explain to a 2 year old why he should vote for a certain president. They just aren't going to get it. NO sense in wasting your breath in that battle.

But several smarter people like me thought, well that is just stupid, why waste my time talking to you when I can click over to scholastic and raincoast and some of the other publishers and simply report it. So then this guy gets these letters from legal people at the publishing houses and he's like, oh they aren't real. They can't do anything. and come on man, it was a fake page. Well umm...what you did was illegal in several countries....so yes, idiot. They can do something.

I hope they get sued. I know they probably won't care. it won't make a difference to them. They will still just think it's cool because they got the loser publishing companies to waste money and time on their pathetic lives. But god, people like that make me so mad. Why don't you go and do something productive with your life instead of sponging off of society, and taking up space. There are bigger problems in the world, and these pricks actually have it pretty made and still they walk around thinking they are better than everyone else and just causing trouble to cause trouble. AHHH. Grow up. And this is why people like Harry Potter and the temporary escape it provides.

More fun stuff...

I just read the back cover of the UK edition for HP Half Blood Prince and it sounds so great!!! I can’t believe that it has taken this long to get them to release the jacket blurb. What is up with that? I know they want it to be a surprise and everything but come on!!! Book Jacket blurbs don’t tell you anything. They just heighten the intrigue and suspense.

Anyway, here’s the link to the blurb in anyone is interested:

And this is the link for the book jacket design of the deluxe edition:

See I try to provide my fellow blog readers with nifty links and random facts!


The coolest place ever....

So Westerville’s Public Library is so cool!!! They have so many features that Columbus Public (which claims to be the second best library in the country) doesn’t have. Like the mp3 players that you can check out and download audio books on. Or the technology center, complete with three video editing stations, scanners printers, burners, you name it they have it. They email you when your books are almost due, which is perfect for me because I continue to lose those stupid slips of paper. I tell you I was so lost when they stopped stamping the due date on the back of books. At least that was something you couldn’t lose. Well unless you lost the book of course.

So anyway, they have a lot of really cool things, including something that I just discovered about five minutes ago. They have book club kits! Let’s say for example my friends and I were starting a book club and we wanted to read the secret life of bees. Aside from the books they have, the library has put together a kit that comes with 10 copies of the book and a discussion guide for the leader that includes reviews, questions etc. How awesome is that. I just totally love that idea. My friends and I once started a book club. It was a lot of fun, even if we only made it halfway through the book. We were reading Catch-22. It was great, I really enjoyed it, but we were all so busy with classes that it just became too difficult to get the reading in and find times to meet. But I might try it again, with some friends. Last time we met in a coffee house on campus. But it would have been easier if we had a guide to work from. I think we had decided that we were all going to bring in a set number of questions to discuss. Or maybe there was a different leader each time. I can’t remember. We weren’t 100% organized.

So that was really what I wanted to share. I am trying to keep this blog focused on writing, and books in general…sometimes I stray of topic but I am trying not to do that. Oh and speaking of off topic….my friend just walked by my desk. She just got back from Rwanda two days ago, no three. Wait what day is it? Oh well. She just got back, after about a month in Africa and I get to go and look at all the artwork and crafts she brought back to sell at our fundraiser in the fall. How awesome is that! She really is one of the coolest people I know. She was talking the other day about how hard it is to adjust each time she comes back to the U.S. These people (Rwandans) have been through so much, and are doing so much with so little, she said she just didn’t feel like she should be allowed to walk on the same earth that they did. Her quote was, “I think I’ll just try to breathe less air.”

Anyway, if you haven’t seen Hotel Rwanda, go see it. But take some tissues, and have the number of a good therapist on hand when you do. I know some people who saw it and couldn’t even manage to talk about it afterwards. It was like they couldn’t figure out how to process it. But for me, knowing people who are actively involved in helping, and having that personal connection helps. I don’t know that I will ever go to Africa, even the larger cities like Cape Town in South Africa. It’s like the only place I don’t want to travel to. I think I may have to do a little more self discovery before I get to a point where I feel ready to make that journey. When Oprah took her trip to Africa she said it was so life altering that she was glad she was older and better able to understand it all and give back. Maybe for my 50th birthday I’ll make that journey. I don’t know.

So that was my digression, which I said I wouldn’t do. But oh well. If you want to read more about Rwanda there is another post in the archives…. http://missylynnryan.blogspot.com/2005/02/the-power-of-filmthe-horrors-of-life.html

The coolest place to be....

2 days, 5 hours and 36 minutes....wait 35 minutes

There was a great article in the Wilmington News-Journal on the Harry Potter event this weekend. Click here to check it out… http://online.wnewsj.com/index1.php The article is on page 17 and 18. I enjoyed reading it (as if I am not already excited enough). I don’t know how I am going to get through the next two days!!! The suspense is killing me. The HP group has all sorts of predictions for the new book and it is fun trying to guess what is going to happen, but it only makes it harder to wait. It’s like trying to guess who is going to win awards at the Oscars, once you have an investment in who wins you are much more anxious about the big day.

So I decided that I am going to make a scrap book on the whole event. I have a few clippings already about the event and I am planning on taking a ton of pictures. I might even include some of the scraps of fabric from my costume. Speaking of costumes, mine is almost complete. Somehow, by the grace of God to sew on the racing stripes and the numbers. Well the numbers are large iron-ons made out of that thin white plastic material that they use for sports jerseys. I have a t-shirt to where under the robe, with another number and gold trim. Not quite what the movie uses, but it’s recognizable I think. The only thing left is to figure out if I am going to wear the knee pads and shin guards. I kind of want to, but that is more money that I don’t have and I’m worried I might get to hot.

I suppose the good thing is that when all this is over I will be able to get back to my writing. I wasn’t expecting this little hiatus! And speaking of writing, Charlie’s book came out last month and I am not sure if I mentioned it or not. I have read some of it and it is really good. But Charlie is a pretty awesome writer. If you’re curious, check out his site at http://home.earthlink.net/~ccfinlay/ . There is info on the book that just came out and his next book too. I’ve really learned a lot from his workshops at Context, and the few writeshop meetings he’s attended. But I understand how hard it can be to make all the meetings. I’m not even getting published and this summer I have been struggling to get my schedule to work around writeshop. Once again I will not be able to attend because of the Wilmington thing this weekend and I will be too busy reading harry potter to review anything else. But I am trying to start an online group with a couple of writer’s I’ve met at different conventions who write similar to my tone and style etc. Lots of my stuff has witches, and vampires and magic and it’s not the traditional fantasy but more of a dark fantasy, or a cross between dark fantasy, contemporary fantasy and horror. I just think if I was working with a group that was reviewing and submitting more than once a month it would keep me working on the novel instead of running from it. Deadlines, whether artificial or not, really get me going. Unfortunately I sometimes tend to be a procrastinator. So if I don’t have a deadline it just sort of flounders.

So that is the plan Stan. Costume, Wilmington, Harry, Writing, Critiquing, Done. (sounds like one of those Nextel commercials)

Rent is Due!!!!

I went to the movies last night...and guess what preview I saw. RENT!!!! YEA!!!!! This is one of my favorite musicals. Now I am a happy camper because they made Chicago and Rent! I was worried about Chicago, and eventhough I think the live show is better, I was very impressed with the final project. I was also impressed with Evita, so I have no reason to doubt that I will not like Rent. Besides, the cool think about this movie is that they are using a lot of the actors from the original cast! That is pretty cool.

And guess who the Director is.... Chris Columbus...(in case you don't know he directed the first two harry potter movies which were much better and more true to the books than the third!) Ah the circle of life. It's like the Kevin Bacon game or something. Anyway the site is pretty awesome. the movie comes on on November 11th, (Goblet of Fire comes out that month too!!! scroll down for the trailer).

Ok, I think that was everything. I really have to get back to writing. I have a deadline next week and I have two of the greatest friends in the whole wide world coming to see me this afternoon! I can't wait but I know I won't want to do anything once they get here. I am hoping we can see fantastic four, and not war of the worlds which I saw and pretty much hated. I did see Sin City last night. Interesting. I'm not sure what I make of it. I think I'll do my own review in my next entry. Oh I have two more things to write about. Oh well. There just isn't enough time in the day.

Holla Back

Rent Fun....

Click to see trailer!

If you go to sony's site for Rent you can also watch the trailer but the really cool thing is the Blog that they ahve set up. You can watch video entries and read entries from the cast and crew. Pretty great.

I keep telling people who aren't using the internet or blogs for publicity that they are missing out but some of my writer friends act like it is a fad. Get over it. It's not going away.

Peace out

Where oh where did the money go?

I've gotten two conference reminders in the last two weeks. "Did you forget to send in your $300 check to reserve your spot with an agent who doesn't know squat about your genre?" "We have over 50 pointless sessions for you to sign up for, and we promise to deliver an incredibly horrible lunch with a lame keynote speaker that will make you want to beat your head repeatedly against a brick wall. "

OK so maybe they didn't read exactly like that, but honesty is refreshing everyonce in a while. I've been back in Columbus for just over two years now. My first summer back I found out about the two day writer's conference and I was dying to go. But I couldn't get enough money together. The second year I marked my calendar early, saved my money and then at the last minute contacted the conference coordinator to ask if they needed volunteers. What do you know. For a mere $40 bucks and a few hours of your time you can avoid that sizeable debt.

So I went.

Then I discovered it was not all it was cracked up to be. And anyone who knows me, knows that that is saying a lot. Considering I love writing and talking about the writing business, and publishing trends...I just find it all extremely fascinating. But this was just an amateurs conference posing as a professional one. I sat in one panel where the woman had to explain to the group what point of view was. Come on. Can you seriously call yourself a writer if you don't know the difference between first person and third person? Sure it can become complex when you look at the different types of third person, or purposely switch between a different POV. But just being able to identify the two. That's like a police officer who can't identify his own gun. Or more accurately can't tell the difference between a revolver and a riffle. Hmm. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

If it had just been one or two people then I would have felt better about the whole thing. I would have let it slide. But there were so many novice writers, people who just rolled out of bed one morning and decided that they would write a novel, that I almost find it a little insulting. I'm not saying that people shouldn't go after their dreams because they should. But I find that most people aren't doing it because it's a dream of theirs. Most people are doing it because it seems easy. And there is always some sad tale about the guy who didn't go to college and wrote a novel that sold movie rights and became a millionaire.

Not to burst your bubble, but that doesn't happen. I may sound cynical, but more realistically, if you look at any "new" author, you'll find that they have been writing for five, ten or fifteen years. That this recent novel took them two years to write and three years to sell. It was rejected 42 times. You would think there wouldn't be enough publishers to reject it that much. You have to find an agent that isn't a crook, but the good agents only work with established authors and no matter how good you work is...Slush is slush.

So yes, I find it insulting because I studied writing in college, because I have spent the last two years, learning my craft meeting with industry professional and and doing my homework and then people come up to me and ask stupid questions like, "what does it mean to show and not tell?" Come on people, the answers are out there!

Hmmm. I can see I went off on a little tangent here. Back to the purpose of the post, which was, I don't know if I am going to spend the time going to this conference this year because it was such a disappointment last year. Don't get me wrong. I did get some useful information. But I kind of feel like, hitting them up once every two or three years would be just as well. Plus if I am going to go to Salem this fall then I had better save my money (and vacation days) for that trip. Between Salem in October, and Wilmington on the 15th...I don't know if I can carve out anymore time for writing exploits. (ok, ok I will admit, some of it is for play too!)

Speaking of Wilmington, the group I just joined had a get together last week, and it was really a lot of fun. I stayed for like six hours, and usually I go to something like this, make an appearance and then make a run for it the first chance I get. But aside from being a total dork, who is still trying to comprehend how she ended up in a "fan club" anyway, I am having a lot of fun. There are a lot of younger folks, which is nice since sometimes it feels like everyone I hang out with is over 45 with kids my age.

Anyway... I am adding the link...tot he Wilmington event (http://www.hp-ohio.com/hbp.html#who ) so you can see how cool it is. I am going to be playing Angelina Johnson, Gryffindor Quiditch Captain for the event. Now here is the funny thing. I am making the costume myself. I have never sewn anything more than a square pillow. In fact I don't even own a sewing machine. I seriously considered stapling the cut out pieces of cloth together! Well somehow this weekend I went from having no machine (and being utterly panicked) to having two machines. Amazing, I remembered how to use it too...And started sewing no Monday. On Monday I sewed the armhole shut. On Tuesday I sewed the sleeve on inside out (so that you could see the seem). Let's not even think about how I am going to sew on the yellow racing stripes. But see, this proves that I am not afraid to learn. And I wouldn't have such great stories if I hadn't tried. I'll have to remember to take pictures so that you can see how horribly this costume turns out. Turns out I should have attended one of those costume sessions at Marcon!

Peace out.

This is Angelina Johnson in The GOF movie (her real name is Tiana Benjamin) I thought you would like to see...plus I just like inserting pictures!

Here is the only photo I could find of her from the movie. Althuogh she has a much larger part in the fifth book when she becomes captain.


Sorry I haven't sent anyone email alerts about the new updates to the Blog. I've just started using this new program they have set up to insert pictures and photos. It's pretty cool, but since I was trying to get familiar with it I thought I would wait before saying, "Oh look new entry!"

So yeah. Life has been pretty bizarre. I'm still writing, a lot. My goal is to sell a short story this summer. And if I do...well then it's off to Salem I go. No I am not going to be tried as a witch, I'm going to the Witching Hour Conference....whohoo Harry Potter. Four days! and some of my favorite authors are going to be there, Holly Black, Charles De Lint, and Ellen Datlow (editor of scifi.com will be there..we like her and want her to buy one of my stories!! She's a good person to know. We met once at Marcon last year. She was hanging with Maureen McHugh, but she was pretty cool.)

I'm still writing grants, and other business writing stuff to make extra money. I have a grant project coming up in July that I am going to start working on...but if anyone has any grants they want written...or knows someone who needs a good professional writer I'm your gal! My fee is minimal, really! I swear! I was thinking about doing mini grant consults to for grassroots non-profits. You know, a one on one where you get an opportunity to explain your project or need, and someone points you in the right direction... or if you are thinking abuot a grant you get someone to go through the RFP or announcement with you to kind of get started on the right direction. Everyone wants grant dollars but they are hard to get, especially for those smaller groups.

Ok off my soapbox. Check out the Harry Potter trailer. It is so much better than the one for the Prisoner of Azkaban. I still have some issues with that movie, but it grows on you I guess. The fourth book is still my favorite (but that could change after July 17th. I will have to let you know...) I like the fifth book too but I think that Order of the Phoenix is really a transition book, from a writer's point of view, Rowling does a lot of setting up--planting of clues, etc. So i anticipate big things with the 6th book. the other thing I like about the HP Books is that she started out knowing that there would be 7 books, and it wasn't a secret. I think that is what keeps people like Warner Bros. making the movies...It would be really easy and tempting to go on and on and on....but even though the books and movies could stand alone...it's not really a series persay. More like an extended trilogy. What do you call a book divided into 7 parts? oh well. If you think about it, the first three books are much smaller so they could actually be one story...no that still gives you five...ok maybe it is a series. I just like knowing that it's contained and I think it has maintained the readership....

Goblet of Fire!!!

Click here to see the Harry Potter GoF Trailer http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/gobletoffire/index.html# it's way cooler than PoA!

Warning...nerdville ahead...

I joinged a Harry potter Fan Group and couldn't be happier. And guess what...

Ha ha ha...I have a home. I mean house...well you understand. WooHoo!!!

Interesting. U.S. Extremists. There are 177 photos on the yahoo news sight alone of the marches and protests of these abuses. Most of them outright attacking the u.s. in a manner that upsets me, offends me, but most of all scares me. It is anger and hatred that keeps people from talking. It is a war of ideology, and I am afraid for our future.

Government Conspiracies and Freedom of Speech

Hmm. I wasn't following this story too closely. But I do know that I everytime the government goes to a national or worldwide media source, like ABC News, or Newsweek, and a story is retracted, a big red flag goes off in my mind, telling me that whatever it was, was probably true. In this case, not even full month later, and the US Military is admitting that their were abuses to the Quran.

The action alone is intolerable. If the government of a primarily Muslim country desecrated the bible, or any of the other actions that are coming out in this report....do you not think that there wouldn't be riots here? It's is sad, and once again, sickning that as a nation we are so egotistical, and self-righteous.

But what I really want to know is, who was pressuring Newsweek to retract the story? And how did the tables turn so that the military had to admit to the public that this story was indeed true. Would they do it just to tarnish their credibility? To make people skeptical of sources such as newsweek?

I don't know. But you would think that this would be one of the many wake up calls to our country...the people of our country.Wake up. Are you really that retarded? How many signs do you need before you realize that there is something majorly wrong with our "moral" leaders... How many innocent lives must be lost?

It's called the flooded forest, and I think it is one of the many miracles of nature that exist today. The unexplainable is all around us.


The most inspiring and motivating thing anyone has ever said to me related to writing is this. "Just remember that a lot of stuff gets published that isn't very good." That quote keeps me going, and most of the time it reminds me not to put too much pressure on myself. There is very little that is perfect. There will always be someone who doesn't like your work. Sometimes I need to stop and ask myself. Is my goal to write the perfect novel, or is it to write a novel that sells? There we go, back to that money thing again.

But my goal was never to write a perfect novel. I simply wanted to write what I like to read. I had ideas, characters floating around in my head, that I wanted to get on paper, and see in print. Man, there is just something about seeing my name in print that puts me on cloud nine. I get such a rush. And it doesn't have to even be published. There is just a fulfillment and a sense of pride that comes with printing off a 400 page manuscript and saying there. It's done. And knowing that you did that. That you created that. And that someone out there is going to get it, going to love it, the way you love it.

I'm not asking for a million fans. Would it be nice...hmmm. I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. But a handful will do. Or a handful of fans and a lot of innocent succers who happen to purchase my book. Because on the flipside, if the book doesn't sell, more don't follow.

Anyway, I am trying this thing out...with another blog...and I am not sure how it is going to go. It seems like a good idea now, but I will have to play around with it a bit before I know if it is working and I really don't feel comfortable sharing the link yet...so you will just have to wait and see.

Well I am getting tired now. I have been reading for a while, and sitting at this computer is making me antsy, so I think I will search for something else to do.


Look at ME!!!

I know. You are all having de ja vu. Didn't we get our monthly post from Melissa already? But I just couldn't help myself. I've been writing like crazy this week. All kinds of writing. Writing articles, writing proposals, writing short stories, and cover letters, and chapters. Writing, writing writing. And why shouldn't I write. I have nothing better to do. (sorry that is the workaholic and perfectionist in me speaking).

So I just keep writing, regardless of whether or not someone is actually reading and I have been meaning to post a follow up to my last entry but this is the first free minute I have found. Typically what happens is I go to work. Where I write for 8 hours. Then I come home and write for two to three more hours. On top of checking my emails, doing research and journaling. By that point my eyes have become weary, my butt hurts and my fingers are tense. It is all I can do to crawl into bed and watch some mind numbing tv.

You'd think with all this writing, I would actually get something done. Not true. Don't believe it. Again, part of it is my perfectionism. I can't stop working with a piece until I feel it is just right, and I never know when I am going to get that feeling. Like today. today revised a short story for just under three hours. All I did was revise!!! And this was the third draft. But revising is about rereading something, trying to identify what it is that isn't working, trying to find words to replace what it is you have finally identified as not working and then retyping all the changes into the actual draft. I have to have that last step because I really can't revise on the computer. I need to see it on paper. To carry it with me. There is something about being able to cross paragraphs out that brings a rush. It's not the same on the monitor.

I used to work really well with my old supervisor, because he was a pretty decent writer as well and somewhere during the middle of my, it's almost there but not quite, he would take it and say, it's fine. Stop working on it. Sometimes I need people to tell me to stop working on it. Because the truth is that I'm never really going to be satisfied. I will always be able to find something that I think might be better if said differently. Even after it gets printed or published. I can still pick it up, look at it and say, man that first paragraph sucks. But the average person doesn't care, so maybe I should just relax.

I do want to apologize to all of my high school english teachers. I can't count the number of times we all whined and complained about being forced to analyze something to death, searching for clues and hints that the author probably hadn't intended us to find. I was wrong. The author knew what they were doing. It was done on purpose. I hate that I even for a moment thought that it was all just a big coincidence. The funny thing about it is that now I realize that it is in almost all books. Even the silly ones, you think are just beach reads can be pulled apart into many complex layers.

Now I get chills when someone asks me if I am still working on my novel. Um, yeah. Do you know how many thousands of words go into a novel. Do you know that you have to make them all up. it isn't like writing a report or a paper, where you reasearch everything and draw your own conclussions, reporting back to others. It isn't like academic writing or technical writing where everything has its place and it's just a matter of getting the write information there.

In fiction writing you are creating an entire world. You are giving life to not one, or two but dozens of people, each with their own wants, and fears and complexes. I could go on and on and on about all the things it takes to put together a novel that works... but most people won't get it until they've tried. And if any author ever tells you that writing their books is easy, they are lying. It might be easier, than when they first started, but it was never easy. Being an artist is never easy. That's why so many of them have died tragic deaths.

A friend of mine commented on my personality when we were having a philisophical discussion of some sort, and she said, "well maybe you just see the world differently. Through the eyes of an artist. You see things others don't. You are more perceptive, and intuitive, and because of that more sensitive."

Maybe that was her polite way of saying that I am just another overdramatic and moody/needy artist who is trying to boost their self-ego by seeking praise for their work. I don't know. I do know that this is my favorite kind of writing. Because I don't have to think. I just go. Letting whatever hits the page stick. Too bad life can't be that way.