Friday, December 13, 2013

Climbing back on the horse

After stumbling along through the month of November, trying to do Nanowrimo *nope* and keep up with NE6 I smashed up against the brick wall of doing too much.

This was compiled with a non vacation vacation. My husband and I took the family to see the relatives who inhabit the Southern states. I remember packing my notebooks and laptop, thinking I would manage to get some writing done either in the car or perhaps in my parents idyllic Tennessee home.
*Nope*

I seem to somehow forget I am the mother of two hyperactive boys, one a toddler, the other borderline Autistic. None of the southern relatives have spent enough time around the boys to understand what we were bringing into their home. How they get into EVERYTHING. Of the three houses we visited none were M&G proof, meaning my husband and I had no time to ourselves. Over the entire week vacation we didn't even get to sleep in the same bed together, having to split the kids to get them to sleep each night.
Aside from the need for constant vigilance at each home, there was the hellish experience of long distance driving with carsick children. The first leg was the worst, as we discovered dramamine has no effect on the toddler, who vomited repeatedly, which I had to clean up repeatedly. By day two we worked out an equilibrium of rest breaks. However this made each car trip to a new destination longer...

The end result of our "vacation" was mind numbing exhaustion and body aches from a myriad of sleeping arrangements. I felt like utter crap when I got home, and had to muster the energy to review a book for feedback for a friend, which ate up another couple days.

Suffice to say, NE6 fell the the wayside. I have been late to post before, but never for more than a couple weeks. Today I am hoping to make up for lost time, post a nice long chapter, update some content and hope my readers can forgive the longer than intended hiatus ><

Sunday, November 10, 2013

An Elite Member of the Zombie Horde

I have been pitter pattering away for NaNoWriMo, though some days are more productive than others. I don't know if I will make the daunting word count as of yet, but I will give it a fair go. I know if I am really going to make a run at this, I will have to sacrifice my most precious commodity to achieve my mad scribbling goal: sleep.
Despite my best efforts, my production during the day is not what it should be, I get what I can done, but it's not easy clacking away on the keyboard with a child who wants and needs your attention. While my children are awesome at playing by themselves I find myself chasing after them for snuggling because they are young and there are only so many years of snuggle time in them. I take it where I can get it. Perhaps if I can sacrifice an hour of sleep here and there, because lord knows I never wake up before they do, then the novel will happen, just with more coffee.
How ironic is it my subject matter is zombies this year :P

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Will Share for Entries >.>

I follow a few literary review blogs. Because reading is an addiction like cocaine but not as many nosebleeds, I am just putting this little gem right here. Not only is sharing caring, but sharing =brownie points/entries for more potential goodies. Ann Aguirre writes some seriously badass sci fi romance (<3 Jax) sooo yes I am interested in this trilogy. Win or not, this is going on the 'to read' shelf.  Nomnomnom.
Click Meh!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

NaNoWriMo: aka Writing Revitalization



I've been bad. This month has been the slumpiest of slumps writing wise. I've been having trouble concentrating on much of anything. The only project I've managed to keep successfully going is New Earth 6, still pumping out my weekly chapter, though I have been floundering with the side mini series I was hoping to post.
It's just been a rough month. Mentally I've checked out. I have been reading and thinking, thinking and reading. My many works in progress have hit construction difficulties. I need a good zap to the system to get up and running again. Big huge goals sometimes get me up and moving so I shall be throwing myself into the ring for another lively round of Nanowrimo!
It's just the kick in the pants I need to get myself back in the ring. I've set up my writer's page, chosen the project I am going to focus on, (Zombies vs. Aliens SHAZAM!), and aside from editorial duties, I shall be joining the furious festival of scribbling. Check out the awesome-ness! Anyone else doing it? Want to be my writing buddy? *grin*
http://nanowrimo.org/participants/krazydiamond/novels/zombies-vs-aliens

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Bookcase Challenge

My husband teased me the other day when I started squealing over a new book coming out.

"You have tons of books on you haven't read!"

He's right. It is one of my bad habits. Husbands are good at spotting those.
I have a book addiction. There are worse addictions, like crack, or hookers and blow. My book addiction is a complicated monster. I hoard books like there is no tomorrow, I own a lot of movies too but books take up the primary spot in our tiny household, overflowing from five (and a half) bookcases, two boxes and various flat surfaces in the house. There are piles of books on both our computer desks, a small library usually hiding in our car, piled up near the back door, and a tottering stack on the computer tower.
That's not counting the kids books.

My reading style is...odd. I often read multiple books at once, either because of my editing job or I need a break from an intense plot line. If I am into a book, I fly through it, if I struggle with a book, it takes me forever. I can put a book down for months and usually pick it up later right where I left off. But my book habit has a dark side, i.e. the hoarding. This problem really took off when I started working in used books. I couldn't do the same amount of impulsive buying working at Borders because then it would be like hookers and blow. Both the used bookstores I've manned gave me access to incredibly cheap books, add to that my habit of lurking in thrift stores and flea markets, I would bring home piles of books and forget about them.

I think subconsciously I was stocking up for the apocalypse or something (how appropriate) but I stumbled onto realization/ enlightenment when I finished reading a stack of books a friend let me borrow. I was searching for a palate cleanser and went for some good ole' YA by reading the newest series by Riordan. It was about halfway through rereading The Lost Hero when I remembered I owned the third book for a while now but had not read it. How long have I owned The Mark of Athena you ask? Well I picked it up when it first came out. about a YEAR ago. I've had it so long, book four comes out this week...
Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!


So here is to the Bookcase Reading Challenge. Excluding the new books by favorite authors, (because that is cruel and unusual punishment) I am going to begin plowing through the unread beauties on my groaning bookcases. It is time!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Muffin Manifesto

Too many posts have been me whining about my writing difficulties.
*Puts issues in a box*
*Smashes them with a hammer*
Yisssssssss

Fuck the downer mcdowner b.s. I shall divert my attentions and energies to doing something productive, and mildly economical. Baking.

I secretly love baking and cooking, I don't do nearly enough of it in my apartment because I not so secretly hate cleaning and our craptastic living space has no dishwasher. *HORROR*

Between the four of us, dishes have a habit of breeding fast and overflowing the counters in the blink of an eye. But in an attempt to save money, and satisfy my craving for baked goods, I have taken it upon myself to try and make a batch of delicious muffins once a week. I had the craving to bake hit me last week and made Chocolate chip muffins and Apple cinnamon muffins. Nomnomnom. It seems like an attainable goal, I have a horde of baking supplies plus there are two very good reasons to bake. 1. I have two muffin trays, so might as well use them. 2. Muffins.

/
Seriously?
So this morning, when the kids got me staggering out of bed at Crack of Ass A.M. I rolled up my sleeves and washed dishes. Once I had a livable kitchen space, I proceeded to make maple bacon muffins, which are as orgasmic as they sound. Of course, as I was putting the batter into the cups, my husband walked in the door with a box of donuts from Dn'D.

I told the bugger I was making them, but whatever. He can stuff his face with crappy pre-made donuts and I shall devour my delicious homemade muffins.


BAM!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Buck Up, Fussypants!

Self doubt has a habit of cropping up at really inappropriate moments. My brain tends to be a minefield for stuff like this, for example when I am close to finishing a project or am cheering on a friend who just had some awesome success in their endeavors. It is about this time some pretty depressing thoughts rear their ugly faces, peppering my brain with doubts about my writing, my creativity, my chances for success. I know these thoughts are ridiculous. I know I am not alone in doubting my artistic ability. Every artist who puts themselves out there is taking the same risk. When I feel like this, especially while a friend is experiencing some much deserved success, I duck my head and bite my tongue because I don't want to take away a smidgen of that feeling if it kills me.

When I hit this whirlpool of emotional stupidity, I worry I don't have a thick enough skin to dive into today's close encounters publishing environment. The whole Goodreads bullies fiasco? Christ do I want to really put myself in a Readers vs Authors environment? Or endure the feeling of tossing my e-book in the maelstrom of Amazon which pumps out thousands of self published books every day?

I admit, I have a crippling lack of self confidence. My e-book project, which should have been put out weeks ago, is currently sitting on my top shelf, glaring at me. "What's the hold up, sweet cheeks?" It snarls at me (because most of the animate objects in my apartment are tough guys) "Listen you demeaning ream of paper," I yell at it (don't judge, I am alone with a toddler for most of the day) "I am doing my best here, I am under a lot of pressure right now, from finances and time, and I have other things I am working on, it's not all about you!" It sighs in flagrant disgust and sneers "Keep making excuses and you'll never finish anything."

My surly e-book is right. I keep pushing my personal deadlines further and further back for no good reason. This morning I am struggling to finish a current chapter for New Earth 6, which I surprisingly started earlier in the week. What I don't understand is why I am struggling so hard with self doubt. My serial is experiencing a modicum of success. I had a couple great reviews which have generated an awesome amount of site traffic. The whole point of doing the serial was to create a confidence booster and force myself to share my work. God Dammit woman, BUCK THE FUCK UP!

I don't know what it will take to snap me out of my funk. The best solution is to face forward and keep working.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Behold! New Earth's New Face!

A recent review of the sci fi serial prompted me to give New Earth 6 a serious face lift. The reviewer had a valid point, the starry background made it harder to read the text. So, I went in for a much simpler cleaner design with a new header designed by my West Coast contact *wink wink*


Behold the new, the improved, the bold New Earth Six!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

The Sci Fi Chick: Be it Wars or Trek, I love me some Stars

So this morning I woke up to another lovely review for New Earth 6
It had me squealing with girly glee because I am entering the six month mark for keeping the serial up and running. Though I am behind with some of the things I want to do with it, like finish edits for part 1 or hell, just keeping my universal translator up to date *I am so fail*, I have managed to meet my Friday deadline. Truth, I do spend a lot of my Fridays working all day on a chapter  but that is beside the point. *shhhh don't judge me*

However this review sparked an interesting debate/ internal revelation regarding my influences for New Earth 6. The review remarks how the piece has a Trekky feel. I giggled when I read that, but honestly I would be lying if I denied Star Trek's influence on my work. Most of my science fiction influence comes from watching Star Wars and Star Trek with my father. Confession time, I love both Wars and Trek, both have a hand in influencing my story telling style in different ways.

Star Wars I love for it's grand scale epic story telling. The over arching hero's journey, redemption of evil, corruption of good, rogue heroes, all wrapped up in a setting as medieval as it is technologically advanced. There is a lot on the line in the Star Wars Universe, the big bad is so very big, end of freedom in the galaxy kind of big and the good guys have the odds stacked against them, scrappers and underdogs the lot of them. Star Wars taught me no matter how far out there and wild your setting may be, if your characters are strong, they will pull the audience to the ends of the galaxy and back.

Then we come to Star Trek. *Side Note, I don't understand why trekkies get picked on more than star wars fans, for the love of sci fi, can't we all just get along?* Star Trek has a different medium of story telling than Star Wars. Yes both series have an ass load of books, but visually, Star Trek struts its story telling for Television audiences, and has an epic scale on its own in a very different way. The story telling style of Trek varies from series to series, not really developing a sense of an over arching story line until the beauty that is Deep Space Nine. But what Star Trek did do different was pull us into a multitude of alien cultures, down to a very intimate scale (okay yes, very intimate when it comes to Klingon mating rituals).

While the books of Star Wars take you more in depth to the universe, Star Trek's television medium allowed for an upfront display, creating worlds, cultures, people, some so detailed we learned their mythology. The cultures of Star Trek also resonate with cultures from our own history, though remain alien, different. Star Trek also has a special place in my heart, in particular Next Gen and DS9, because of the complex web of galactic politics and turmoil they weave, especially DS9. The Big Bads of the Star Trek universe are also diverse, bearing different motivations and resolutions. We are given examples of big bads who become close allies right alongside the terrifying unstoppable, irredeemable entities (oh Borg baby!).  I would say Star Trek taught me a lot about world building, and world building over time at that, the benefits of the slow build.

My influences don't stop there (*cough Firefly cough*). I have been a reader and watcher of sci fi and fantasy since I was a wee little lass. I find I have grown up to be a bit of a genre scrambler, weaving elements of several genres together in my work. New Earth Six is a sci fi setting, but there are hints of mythological fantasy, frontier western, and high adventure thrown in the mix, among others.

As a writer, I think it's important to acknowledge our influences. When someone enjoys your work, you need to give a nod to the shoulders you stand on, to the art which nurtured and fed the budding storyteller within, because someday, if things go your way, you could be the influence of someone else.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Sometimes I wish for a yurt...

I love being able to work from home. Truthfully, it is not easy, some days motivation is miles away, the kids are clamoring and clingy and I get nothing done despite the internal and external deadlines looming over me. It's days like that I wish for a place to vanish to, somewhere separate from our messy distraction filled apartment.
I wish I had a writing hut, or a yurt. This actually exists, Neil Gaiman, who is a favorite writing celebrity of mine, has a writing hut. I am envious.
Look at this thing, it's freaking beautiful. I can just see myself foisting the children off on my husband as I slip away to my writing yurt for a day of relaxing production. I don't even need something this fancy, a simple shed would do, rough and rustic, as long as I could make it cozy like Mr. Roald Dahl's hideaway space here.
I could procure a mini generator so I have power, a space heater for winter, hole myself up in there and write for a few blissful undistracted hours. Alas, I must fight to concentrate with small hands reaching over the lap top screen, a little face craning over to see what noise my fingers are making. It's an interesting tradeoff. As much as I struggle to write/edit/ do anything computer based that requires actual concentration, I get to look up at the silly curious face of my son. It's frustrating and far from perfect, and maybe I will strive to own a yurt someday, but for now, I shall enjoy the opportunity to tickle my child when he leaves himself wide open, reaching over my computer screen.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Gaming Vacation

Okay I'll admit it, this past week I have been nerding it up.

After a long but exciting summer of editing, writing and being with my two lovely but hyperactive children, I was feeling a bit burnt out around my birthday. So to keep my sanity intact, I invested in a MMORPG as a present to myself. For those not in the know that is Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. Yes I spent a good chunk of years addicted to World of Warcrack, but since I resent monthly subscriptions, I purchased the one shot deal of Guild Wars 2 and dived into an intense play session. This was pretty much my version of a vacation, granted I will still play now that the week is over but I will split my time with other adult activities like my jobs, writing, home care etc.
Amazing game play, it's as epic as it looks ><

I came down from my gaming haze yesterday in order to finish my commitment to WeSeWriMo and conclude part 1 of New Earth 6 and send Malcolm off for his first day of Kindergarten *squee*. After this bloody long weekend of work (who the hell starts school on a Friday into a three day weekend!) the days will start to take on a rhythm since I will once again have just one munchkin over two. I will be able to devote more hours to editing and to finishing up some novels in progress as well as getting New Earth 6 out as an e-book and continuing the weekly saga. This morning I woke up to a glowing review on Web Fiction Guide, where I have listed my serial for a few months. It made my freaking week and had me blushing for a good hour. It also reinforced my determination to do an editing over haul for typos before putting up the e-book this week.

Big plans, big plans! September is going to kick off another busy month, but at least I have a new game to mess around with on those days I need a breather. Cheers!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Holy Shit I'm 28: Birthday Retrospect

"I wanted to buy a candle holder, but the store didn't have one. So I got a cake."

Mitch Hedberg

I'm not a birthday person, haven't been since I lost a parent a month before I turned 8. Something about death sucks all the fun out of the party. Twenty years later, I still associate birthdays with an odd bitter resentment. It wasn't until the last few years my outlook has started to change to something not so angst ridden. I think I now view birthdays with the same thought process I view New Year's. Birthdays have become synonymous with new beginnings, a time to reflect on the road thus far. 

This year has been a doozy, it was around my last birthday I was trying to pluck up the courage to run my life off its current tracks. I was working in a job I enjoyed but had no real advancement opportunity. I still might have stayed, I was in a bookstore, in my element, but there was the constant whisper. I wasn't satisfied with what I was doing, and I had trouble finding the energy to write after a long day of slinging books and caring for kids. I needed a change. By the end of summer I sat down with my boss and told him I was leaving, probably the scariest decision of the past several years. I had a few ideas of how to help support the family but there were two big driving forces behind the decision. One, I wanted to spend more time home with my children, and two, I wanted to seriously pursue writing. 

By November, I left my job of three years, started my oldest son in an intensive preschool program, aaaaaaand sputtered about. I'm not going to lie, the first couple months without work, I was in a bad way. I did not write ferociously, I tried and failed to get back into grad school (long painful story there), I became horrendously depressed and addicted to video games. I attempted substitute teaching and discovered I hated it, being thrust into a situation where the kids don't know or respect you, don't care about what you have to say, and treat you like crap is a special kind of misery. I respect anyone who sticks it out long enough to become a full blown teacher, because that is one hell of a gauntlet to go through. I managed to pick up a small shift at a local bookstore, one day a week, but it was extra income, got me out of the house, and kept me immersed in what I loved. 

By February, my husband began not so subtly prodding me to get another job, something, anything. This was not my proudest time. I was becoming a full blown recluse, I made a few halfhearted attempts to find work, trying to find something I could stomach. And I began working on the writing again, slowly dragging myself back into the process, amazed how awesome it felt to do so. It was during this month of slowly dragging myself back to the realm of the living, an idea took root in my mind, something I never tried before, something I wanted to do, to force writing into the spotlight. It didn't happen overnight, I chewed over the idea for a month and change before I sat down and penned my first chapter of New Earth Six. 

The end of March/ beginning of April is where this year really began to turn around. Once New Earth Six was up and running, I made it a point to write every day. No matter how unmotivated I found myself, I tried to do something. Don't get me wrong, some days I still did nothing, but the writing came easier, ideas began flowing again, and I felt motivated to do things again, even reading a friend's novel to give feedback. If you didn't know already, that decision lead to one of the best changes of my current adult life and definitely the high point of my year, when the act of helping a friend blossomed into a new job, once which makes me feel fantastic, it feels right. The summer also found me attempting some big commitments, writing wise, with the Clarion Write A Thon and WeSerWriMo. The results of both have been surprising and unexpected. The end of this month will also see another first for me, a big one, one I have been working years towards. I will definitely be releasing one title, the (short maybe?) E-book of New Earth 6 Part 1 and possibly (cross your fingers) another title I have been working on this summer. 

When I was young I used to day dream of becoming an author. I used to fantasize how I would be one of the rare people who published before they left high school. Looking back, I laugh and laugh and laugh at that dream. Writing is hard work, it is also a continuously changing and growing creature. My writing now is nothing like it was in high school (thank the gods) but for the first time since I had those dreams, I'm so close to seeing them realized, though with a humble perspective of the writing business and with a bit more wisdom than my teenage self possessed. 

In tribute to my gaming addiction ;)

Saturday, August 17, 2013

New Earth Six Cover Reveal!

After hosting a poll on the NE6 blog, ala Polldaddy.com, between three cover art runner ups the final product is the muted but colorful cover #2!

This shall be the face of Part One's e-book! I should probably come up with a better name than Part One but I'm lazy.(yeah totally >.>)
Thank you to all who participated, the people have spoken, and other such sentiments. Seriously though soooo happy people took the time to vote .

I shall be promoting like crazy in the next few weeks with the release of this FREE E-book and hopefully the release of another covert secret project (TBA)

ON WITH THE SHOW!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Science Fiction, Double Feature, Picture Show

Sometimes aspects of real life feel surreal. This past week has featured a couple moments of "did that just happen?"

 

Nose Candy:

Thursday morning began as a typical day. After a night of restless tossing and turning, I woke with the kids shortly after the sun crept over the horizon. By the time the husband came home from work, I'd already manned the fort for a couple hours, and begged him for a reprieve before he retreated to the room for the day. This is our dance. My sleeping habits have grown progressively off kilter as of late, leaving me to negotiate for naps with Captain Third Shift, but I digress. I passed out only to wake up to the unholy caterwauling of our eldest, Malcolm, accompanied by the husband roaring my name. Stumbling out, brain about forty paces behind the rest of me, I find them struggling in the living room, Malcolm screeching like a banshee, limbs flailing, while his doting father attempts to peer up his nose. Uh oh. This can't be good. What has happened? Malcolm, in a moment of sheer brilliance has inserted a small piece of candy up his left nostril. Candy we have vacuumed our treacherous carpet for several times, but the bastards keep squatting in those wily fibers. It took our son five years to shove something up his nose, but he chose a winner. The candy was so small we could not see it, or feel it, to extract it. A call to the pediatrician revealed they didn't want to deal with it either, which left....the ER. Balls.

There is nothing worse than sitting in the ER with my son. Between his cat like attention span, utter lack of patience and the zero entertainment options of the facility, my morning was hosed. How much did I dread this visit? Enough to reconsider when he calmed down on the way out to the car. "It's candy," I grumble to myself, "It'll dissolve." But no, the doctor has warned we don't want that going through his nasal passage. Off to the ER we go. After a quick stay in the waiting room, (yay) we are lead to a sparse sterile exam room. After coaxing Malcolm through the usual vitals check in, we are left to our own devices, for an hour. There is nothing to distract my darling boy in this room. We sing, we play a few clapping games, I make animal sounds for him to identify (I can't imagine what the nurses are thinking walking by this closed room). This eats up thirty minutes.

With an inward wince I hand over my cell phone, letting him play with some inane app, watching the battery life slowly drain away. I let my mind wander, keeping his hands off the various expensive machines clustered in the corners. A doctor finally enters.

Malcolm's calm is a lie. Within moments, we have banshee revisited, in stereo since noise bounces like a sound stage in here. Despite an RN and myself pinning him down, the doctor cannot locate the sugary culprit. Their recommendation? They ask me to plug his nostril and blow in his mouth, hoping to pop it out.

What? I feel like I'm being punk'd. With deep reservations I proceed to perform this technique, (did they learn this from Looney Toons?). Malcolm rewards my efforts with a slobbery reverb, blowing back, as I realize I didn't brush his teeth before taking off for the ER this morning. The bloody doctors are chuckling at me, asking if I want to try again. Yeah, thrilled to. Because I'm a masochist I close in to try again, rewarded by a writhing fit of giggles from my son. Zero point zero results.

"Well, can't see anything, it will have to come out on its own. Just watch for drainage."
I want to throttle the lot of them. I want to throttle the pediatrician for sending us on this fruitless time sink. I want to throttle them all over again as they leave me waiting for another hour before realizing they haven't discharged us....

I don't know if the pain or the four hour ER visit has engrained the lesson into Malcolm's head. The end result of our migraine inducing visit was a day fully frazzled and exhausted, another vacuuming session of our carpet "tan treachery", and some lovely colored snot a day later. (Blue, if you're wondering.)

Bad Religion:

My husband and his mother are fighting again. It has been a slow build, the kind where you can tell he grinds his teeth every time she opens her mouth. I have stood, poised between them, my feet on shaky ground for years now. Without the kids and my attempts to bolster some kind of relationship between the family, I wonder if he would have dealt with her at all. While both of them have individuals issues, my husband and I can usually talk through and solve the problems between us. The mother- in -law uses religion.

Disclaimer: Religion in general is one of those hot button topics. I have many opinions on the subject, but I am open minded when it comes to religion as a whole. Religion, itself, is not bad, it comes down to the individual. To me, religion is a guideline, a moral code to live by. I respect religion, I respect faith and beliefs, I will not tell you your faith is wrong, or sneer at your belief structure, and I expect the same courtesy in return. My relationship with "faith" as a concept is complicated and could fill a whole post on its own. I am gratified to have many excellent examples of religious people in my life, people who I respect for their faith and beliefs. Sadly my mother in law in not one of them.

Why? Here is spark which lit the five alarm fire:
She has refused to help watch the boys while my husband participates in his gaming activities because the gods in his game represent false idols and are trying to lead him astray, down the path to hell.

My husband tried, he listened to her view point. He tried to explain it was a fantasy game (legend of the five rings) and he does not believe these gods exist. He even took the approach of people worshipping various faiths around the world. Her response was unflattering to anyone not of the born again Christian faith. He argued it was fantasy, made up, not real, but she refused to budge from her stance. When he countered she reads fantasy, she responded with "only Christian authors."

We are big gamers in this household. We both play D&D with our circle of friends, various RPGS and video games. Now our relatively innocent lifestyle is being snubbed by a case of bad religion. I have trouble taking her serious. I am also pretty freaking insulted. Yes, my husband is going to be out of town for his nerd convention, but I asked her to watch our children so I could go to work, not flaunt my pagan ways with a rousing session of dungeon crawling, worshipping the God of Thieves. This development in her faith is unsettling and is a recent mutation. What's more disturbing than her off the wall judgment is she doesn't believe us when we tell her we don't believe in these fantastical false idols.

I find myself between a rock and a hard place. Is there a manual to deal with this? I do not want to shut my mother in law out of the lives of her grandchildren but do I want to expose them to this kind of behavior? The fact this whole zany issue has driven a wedge into our family is uncomfortable, as if my skin is too tight to breathe in. I still have trouble believing this argument was real, that someone actually thinks this way. I guess I shall go back to writing my speculative fiction and further cement my place in hell.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

So Much Time So Little to Do....Wait

Universal truth: There is never enough time.
I have been struggling with this feeling for the past two weeks. Every time I attempt to work on a task, be it housework, taking care of the kids, writing, working, this consuming feeling of needing to do everything at once is sucking me down.
I'm not sure if it's a matter of simple time management. I set aside so many hours in the day to work on a certain task, trying to find a balance for everything, but it seems like one or more facets of my life gets neglected, chores pile up, my writing becomes harder to focus on, my social life goes right out the window. It's this that or the other thing. There are never enough hours in the day to accomplish all the tasks I wish to. I know I'm not alone in this feeling, it plagues most grown adults.
I think I'm still trying to get my sea legs. This feels like a new phase in life, coming at warp speed, I'm losing sleep trying to keep my feet under me. August is going to be a difficult month but the rewards I seek to attain will be worth the struggle. I am finding a rhythm with line editing, it can still be time consuming, taking apart someone's work to create something better, stronger, new, but I think this is the most gratifying job I've ever had.
With my own work, the end of August will hopefully see the completion of the two novels I've been scribbling away at, and finishing the revisions of the YA Novel. August will also conclude the first part of the serial blog, and my participation in Web Serial Writing Month.
I will be juggling work with kids, Malcolm will be home for the month of August so I'll need to arrange time out and about for the stir crazy boys. Tim will be traveling to gen con for the better part of a week mid month, leaving us by our lonesome, and me juggling the jobs, the kids, and the homestead alone. The end of August also marks my birthday, another year older, and perhaps wiser. Here's hoping I survive to see it!
From: http://www.designformankind.com/2012/12/an-optimistic-planter/

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Accidental Self Censorship

I'm a huge advocate against censorship. I think the idea of changing classics to fit into some modern ideal of political correctness is utter bullshit. I grind my teeth when I hear the (ridiculous) various reasons books are banned. Ignorant people fear books because ideas, like viruses, are highly infectious. An idea can germinate in a child's mind, and when you are trying to force feed your narrow minded doctrine into the youth of your community, you don't need books encouraging them to see the world beyond, to see the differences between us aren't so very different after all.

Yeah it grinds my gears, which is why I find it hilarious and frustrating when I start censoring myself.

My writing often strolls on the shadowy side of the street. Though I write speculative fiction, I still deal in some pretty heavy issues, my serial blog alone has already tackled sexual exploitation, slavery, and rape in one character's story arc. It can be hard to write, especially when you are dealing with something as dark as rape. There is always the sliver of doubt in the back of your thoughts people will be put off by scenes like this, even if it advances the character's story line and development. I have whole paragraphs crossed out from my drafting notebook as I tried to convey this heavy subject, somewhat tastefully, in a bite size chapter.

The current novel in progress is a violent horror comedy. It does have zombies, there is the consumption of brains. As I work through the draft I will catch myself avoiding moments of description, where I could go very graphic. It's an internal slap up the head, I drag myself back and get down and dirty in the details because details, even the gory ones, pack the punch in a story. Game of Thrones is mainstream, the Red Wedding scene is shocking but Martin sure didn't skimp on the details. Who am I to shy away from a little brain matter? And who am I to shy away from the interactions between my characters? Whenever I catch myself in a moment of political correctness I know I need to go back and re-write the sentence.

Fiction reflects society, and humanity. This is especially true for the speculative genre, possibly more so than literary fiction. Where literary fiction offers a mirror, speculative fiction takes you into the looking glass to have to explore, to see beyond the surface. Censorship has no place here. Speculative fiction wonders what if things were different, for better or worse. Right Fucking On.
Sauce: http://dummcomics.com/2009/05/14/no-mas-censorship/

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mother of Sci- Fi

I have stumbled into many a conversation about women authors in sci fi. The most insulting comment is probably "Women can't write science fiction."
Yeah.

What a load of shit.

The truth is, somewhere along the way, science fiction became a "man's domain". I don't say this in a derogatory way, but science fiction is usually marketed towards men. If you doubt this, check out the scantily clad females on the cover of many a sci fi novel from, what, early as the 1930's?
Sci-fi, and a great deal of fantasy, became bro fiction, Westerns with ray guns. It's a stereotype which is still around. Even though there are many good female sci fi authors out there, it is difficult to break into this genre. Many women used pseudonyms, initials or ambiguous names to slip by, such as C.L. Moore.

In 1948 women comprised about 10-15% of the science fiction, or speculative fiction as it's being toted now, authors. A lady did not win the Hugo, the coveted award in Speculative fiction until 1966. These days, women comprise about 40% of the sci-fi authors out there, but the genre has not completely shaken it's gender lean.
Andre Norton
Working in the book store, I get the reader's eye view. I know women read and buy sci fi/ fantasy, a lot of it.  In this same setting, I've had male customer's tell me they won't read sci-fi written by women, women can't write sci-fi, etc. My favorite one was a man voicing this opinion while buying a stack of sci-fi containing three Andre Norton books. *Snicker*

Despite how ridiculous this opinion is, I cringe inwardly because this is the genre I write in. Both my YA novels and adult novels are speculative fiction. My serial blog is sci-fi. I wonder how many male readers will dismiss my writing before cracking open a book based on my name alone. Maybe if I throw a bikini clad woman holding a weapon on the cover it will sell more.

I follow in the footsteps of some pretty amazing writers. Norton, McCaffrey, Bujold, Le Guin, the list goes on. With all those women in front of me, you'd think I'd be confidant enough to put my real name on the speculative novel I'm working on right now. Maybe it's not a matter of confidence. Maybe it is the desire to sell my writing before I sell my name. It is hard to listen to my male customers belittle my role in 'their' genre and not think about it as I write. Ultimately, a writer writes to be read, you think about shit like this whether you want to or not.

So when I turned on 'Prophets of Science Fiction' to relax as I cuddled the baby to sleep, I found myself engrossed by the first episode, talking about the inventor of the Science Fiction Genre, a story which took the science of the time a step further, explored how it could be warped and used for evil. Explored the idea of Man taking the creation of Life into his own hands. Yup, that bad mamma jamma was none other than Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

At the age of 18, on a dare, she penned a timeless classic and created a whole genre.  Aside from feeling like a total slacker, wondering what I've done with my life, I realized I not only have some amazing female authors to look up to, but I have her. Man's club or not, a lady built the clubhouse. Frankenstein is an amazing work. It has survived the test of time, it still resonates with us, and it has hooked itself into minds around the world. Mary Shelley may have written the book as a contest among friends, but she created a strong foundation for Speculative Fiction.

It's  a hard act to follow, but it's a little comforting. No matter what I hear, I know I belong here. Mary Shelley has my back.




Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cover Art: Not One of My Strengths

Potential Cover, still in the works.
This has been a long morning. My son got up at 5am, I haven't been able to concentrate on anything I should be doing so I messed around with artsy things for a while.
My comical horror novel is coming along at a decent speed. I have plans to try e-publishing with this one, but I am poor and cannot afford a cover artist, so I started thinking of cover ideas I could create. It's tricky trying to make my own covers when I'm not really an artist. I am not a photoshop aficionado, hell I can barely maneuver Paint. After an hour of trying to outline an object I gave up. I ended up actually creating a simple collage and scanned it into the computer. It's very simple, as I said, I am not a great artist, so I feel an attempt to draw something/someone will not end well.
For a book like this, I think simple is better.

It's still rough around the edges. It looks okay as long as you don't zoom in ><. I'm not sure of the pen name either. *Le Sigh* But for a first crack at it, it's not that shabby. Could be worse.

Slightly altered, different name 
The idea is to create a spark of interest, so anyone stumbling across it while browsing sci fi novels will go "What the hell is this about?"

Then and Now: Pitfalls and Successes

The Pitfalls:
When I left my previous employment back in November of 2012, I had big plans. This was it, I told myself, you are going to finish editing your novel, submit it, write or bust!
Yeah 8 months later, edits on the Novel are crawling along. I spit out a redone chapter every few weeks. There are 5 chapters left to edit out of the book, but each one is pulling teeth. I need to finish the overhaul to do something with it, so I have incorporated it into my summer goals.
Back when I started this blog in April, I think my second entry was about seizing opportunities, like having enough income to pursue writing for a few months. It felt like the very next day my husband turned to me and said "We need more money." Further proof you should never open your mouth when you think things are good.
If I hadn't spent my first months of self employment floundering about trying to find a direction, things might be different. It didn't happen like that. On top of battling some pretty severe depression, I was pretty rudderless for a while.
Finances and emotions haven't completely leveled out yet. Some days are better than others, but I feel I am in a much better place mentally than I was six months ago.

The Successes:
This morning my web serial reached 1,000 views.
New Earth 6 now receives a steady 100 views a week. I have learned a great deal about the web serial world. It is hard to establish an audience in this format, you need to be consistent with your posts. In retrospect, I was so eager to get started I didn't consider all my options when it came to platforms and publishing choices. I learned how to advertise a web serial. You have to mention it a lot, not just to friends and family, I advertise on four different websites and link each chapter to face book and twitter as I put it up.
To me the biggest success with NE6 is not just the views, it my continued commitment to posting it. New Earth 6 was a risky endeavor and a huge step for me as a writer. It's challenging, pumping out a chapter each week. Some weeks I do write, edit, and post on Friday. Not the smartest way to go about it sure, but I spend all day working on it to make sure it gets done. It's not polished, it's not perfect, but it's mine and I've stuck with it. I've put myself out there.

Entering a Write-a-thon reminded me I have very supportive friends and family.
I am tearing up as I type this. It is so hard to gain perspective through the tunnel of depression. You become so mired down in your own self doubt you miss the hands reaching to help you out. This is the first time I've done something like this, I don't know if I'll be able to do it every year, but I think it's what I needed to do. Not only has it kept me writing every day, friends and family rose up with financial and verbal support, cheering me on, sponsoring my fundraising efforts, reminding me "We'll here, we're backing you all the way."

Becoming a freelance editor: I know more about writing then I give myself credit.
 I am far from a perfect writer. I make tons of mistakes drafting like everybody else, I often miss mistakes when editing my work, I am plagued by the sensation I've missed something every time I post a chapter of NE6. It's the perfectionist side of my writing self, I think it's the side which holds me back the most.
I do have a decent eye for detail. I have a knack for story crafting, I can see a story's bones, and point out what needs mending. These past few days I rolled up my sleeves and dove head first into the deep end of the editing pool. This is my first paid editing gig, so I've been pouring myself into the effort. Line editing is a bit like sketching a map as you walk along, it takes longer detailing everything from eye level than from an aerial view.

It's been a season of heady changes. I hope the trend keeps upward. It all comes down to commitment and effort. All my successes have happened because I put the work into it. Now I just need to keep it up.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Surprising Opportunities

First, not only hit my $$ goal for the Clarion Write-A-Thon, but sailed on past. $330 as of today, WOWZER! I am blown away by the generosity of my friends and family, seriously I'm tearing up at how supportive they are. What does this mean for artistic endeavors? Well one of the prizes in the write-a-thon is:
  • Writers who raise $250 or more are entitled to a free story critique by a Clarion alum (our choice).
I have no idea what this entails, but Clarion has a reputation for excellence which gives me hope of receiving some punch drunk feedback.

Awhile ago I posted about reading a friend's book with intent to give her feedback. Little did I know the windfall from helping a fellow writer with her creative pursuits would lead to an opportunity of sheer awesomeness!
She shared my feedback with her publisher, who was apparently impressed with my attention to detail.
S.M. and I have gone back and forth with our financial woes, so when we came up with the idea of seeing if her publisher would possibly be interested in hiring me for freelance editing, well, it turned out better than I expected.
Within a day of broaching the idea, I had an email in my inbox starting up the conversation. The next day, I had a book in my inbox waiting for edits. BAM, that fast I went from rudderless to being handed a key to the factory.
I've been tinkering with the idea of freelancing for months, with no idea how to start, what to charge, who would hire me. Starting up a Freelancing business takes time, you need to get your foot in the door, build a clientele list, etc. Between my own writing, the boys, and the part time job I didn't see myself being able to start up any time soon. So landing a best selling Sci-Fi/ Fantasy author and his protege as my first client, Hachi Machi. I'm excited, they're excited. Everyone's excited!
Between this and the boost of generosity I've received through the Clarion write-a-thon, I feel the gears of fortune slowly shifting in my direction. To land a job in the field I went to college for: dream come true. I'll be reading and writing for a living. Just keep on trucking along.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Editing and My Gag Reflex

Okay so the phrase 'gag reflex' can't be used without a load of snickering, but in all seriousness, nothing makes me queasy like editing.

Correction: nothing makes me queasy like trying to force editing.
It's a bit like bashing your face against your keyboard for all the good that does you, everyone and their mother tells you editing is a natural part of the writing process and necessary to make a book better. I know this, I see this, I see all the shit I have to fix in my piece. Doesn't make it easy.

Editing my work brings out my inner sado/masochist. Oh, this passage isn't good enough? Let me just slit my wrists and make the corrections with ink made of my blood and tears. You get the idea.

I have been systematically tearing apart the novel for months now, my edits have edits. I have reached the final few chapters and walked face first into a wall of procrastination. The rational part of my brain is screaming "What the hell are you doing?? This shit is almost done! Once you fix all the big stuff, it's just finessing from there!!!" To quote that lovable, annoying redneck "get er done!"

"Ah, but it's not that simple" says the inner artist. "I must recreate whole chapters of this story to fix it, and I am le tired."
My inner artist might be a little French.

I have kept myself writing by turning to other projects, I am happiest when I'm creating. I have given myself another poke of motivation by including these edits in my pledge for Clarion, hoping to trick myself into doing them for a good cause -_-.

The hilarity of this situation is I love editing...for other people. I do love helping a story come to fruition, I love helping someone mold and shape it into a flowing work of art.
The perfect partnership would be to find someone exactly like me. We shall edit each other's work and make millions...millions I tell you!
*cackle*

Well, that rant is over, guess I shall go back to banging my head on the desk til this chapter fixes itself.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Beating the Summer Slump

I love my children, but nothing kills my writing drive like school letting out for the summer. I go from being able to write on and off most of the day while taking care of the 1 year old, to squeaking in time between the two of them. If I'm not too burnt out by the end of the day, I try to write before collapsing in a drooling heap on the bed.

While I have the relief of a summer school session to look forward to, making sure my eldest gets out of the house regularly and with friends, I must find ways of getting over the hit to my writing the heat season brings.
So instead of simply relying on my own gusto in the hopes my 'go for it' attitude gets me going, I've signed up for Write-a-thons! Two to be exact.

Clarion, the excellent resource/support network of the sci-fi/fantasy community hosts their write-a-thon for the next six weeks through the month of July. This one is intense, it's goal is to raise money so they can keep running their yearly workshop, which I hope to apply for next year.
http://www.clarionwriteathon.com/
Here's my own personal jobbie:
http://clarionwriteathon.org/members/profile.php?writerid=599895

I'm aiming high, setting myself some pretty hefty goals, a tri-fecta of editing, creating, and up-keep. It's a do or die summer, I'm finishing the edits on the novel, creating as many new chapters for the novel in progress as I can manage, and continuing posts for New Earth 6. Whew!


Aaaaaand once the Clarion Write-A-thon comes to a close, WeSeWriMo starts up immediately.

 Heard of NaNoWriMo? Same concept except this one focuses on Web Serial fiction, and it's a perfect kick in the pants commitment to keep me working through the blazing heat of August. This one is hosted by Epiguide, one of the heavily populated web forums for all things E-serialized.

I'm aiming to make this a productive summer, one way or another. If I can take the plunge and commit myself to these big projects now, hopefully it will string me along no matter how zany the kids drive me.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Nuttin' Left to Write? Bollox I say!

One of the bloggers I follow recently did a post about the stumbling block I think many up coming writer's hit. The terrible sensation there is nothing left to write.

Bollox, bollox I say.

Every generation has its vamps.
Sometimes it seems like everyone is writing about the same thing at once. Trends like to smash readers over the head with so many books on a subject it seems redundant. We see them in every genre, vampires is a good example, vampire fiction has a habit of cropping up every few years. People talk about how they are sick of vampires but it is the beast that never slumbers, in another decade someone will publish another Vampire novel that will upstart the trend all over again.


Supernatural creatures aside, there is always a story to tell. What writer's get caught up on, I think, is the feeling they must come up with something "original".

Ah, Originality, you mythical beast you, rarer than unicorns and natural tits in porn.

The 'original story' is an inflated myth. You get so caught up in the idea of trying to come up with something original you forget what storytelling is about, how it began. Storytelling was an oral tradition, it is how people kept their history, taught their children, and passed on their culture. And most important of all, it was entertainment through the long dark nights. Yes, entertainment is most important because ultimately, listening to stories is how humans used to relax, we took comfort from them, were inspired by them.

The beauty of this practice is with every generation of storytelling, with every storyteller, the story changes, new words are added, characters are embellished, change, built on over and over until the story is hardly recognizable from its 'original' version.

This is the heart of storytelling, something I think we lose sight of in a world of copyright infringement and publication rights. We want to own our words so badly but the truth is, once we put it out into the world, the story will change. It might not happen immediately, but if you are lucky, it will inspire people. Someone might write fan fiction, or adapt your story in a new form.

 As a writer, my goal is to support my family with my craft. But I know my greatest creative tool as a writer is not my originality, but my voice. My ability to spin the story and create my fictional world. Why do so many vampire novels exist? Not because these writers are lacking in originality, no, each lends their own unique voice, creating something entirely new from the 'original' idea. They create new characters, new rifts, new worlds.

We all pull our inspiration from somewhere, from myth, from life, from history. These are the foundations we build upon, the concrete beneath the dazzling skylines.

Want a better example of this process in motion? Look at Harry Potter. Here we have the incredible voice of J. K. Rowling, her characters have become iconic, her books continue to entertain the upcoming generations. The world of Harry Potter is heavily influenced by Arthurian legend, stories of witches and wizards that have been around for centuries, but Harry and his friends are all 'Original'.

As long as writer's are fueled by their imagination and have the courage and drive to spin their words, we will always see fantastic stories, no matter the form, be they traditional novels, or web fiction, or what have you, stories will always find a way to be told.

There is always a story to tell.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Scribblin'

Scribbling down the latest installment of New Earth Six, I finally hit the back of the notebook. No really, I had to finish the chapter on the back cover.

Choosing to draft on actual paper was a perfect choice for me. Rather than spend hours drafting on the computer, while I constantly distract myself with the internet, I can curl up on the couch, cuddle my little ones, and scribble away.

It does have issues. My fingers cramp up and my wrist hates me, but the physical act of writing out my words is highly beneficial. It does take more time to lay out my ideas on paper, my hand can only write so fast, while I can type like demon, but being forced to slow also makes me think of what I am trying to say. I don't just string words together to look pretty, every word counts, I self edit my thoughts as I go. It seems like an extra step, writing it out, then typing it up for the blog, but for me, the process is definitely worth the time.

Now that I have filled one notebook cover to cover, I will keep up the process. I have a closet full of left over notebooks I have saved for years, likely for just this purpose.

I think I have always secretly preferred the side of my hand covered in ink.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Man of Steel, aka Plotsmash

The attempt to revamp Superman has left me with mixed feelings.

First: I did enjoy this movie, I love superhero flicks for the sheer pleasure of seeing the comics of my childhood up on the big screen. Pure visual candy. Not all superhero movies are created equal. Some come off as corny, some come off flat, Marvel's early years before the success of Spiderman and X-men were pretty appalling. Though I would say Marvel's Avengers Arc has nailed the Superhero franchise over Nolan's Batman trilogy. Don't hate me on this, I loved the new gritty Batman movies, but Marvel has threaded it's universe together a lot better from a comics standpoint.
I went into the theater interested to see what DC would have to offer me. Snyder's films, while not always succeeding on nailing the source material, are fucking beautiful in the graphics department. The man makes the prettiest violence you ever done seen. But Snyder films often suffer from Plotsmash, cramming too many elements into the movie running time and inevitably falling short in one huge element or another. It happens in just about ALL his movies.
It also left me wondering where the writers drew their source material for the extremely Non- superman moment at the films culmination. It's hard to talk about without spoiling it soooo

*Spoiler* Do NOT read the next paragraph if you haven't seen it yet. Or do, I'm not your mother.

Don't read the paragraph, just look at this beautiful man.

Superman kills the villain. If you are not familiar with this god-like DC figure, I can understand why your reaction would be "And your point is?" 
Well Superman is the one overpowered DC character who upholds life above all else. He would never just up and murder someone. He is the hero who goes out of his way to save even the nastiest Villain to the point it becomes a character flaw. Fucking Smallville got this through their crazy mixed up plot lines but maybe Man of Steel's writers missed it. Alan Moore, the fabulous mind behind Watchmen, wrote a Superman what if comic where he does murder a heinous bad-guy when left with no feasible option and it destroys him. 

Okay it's safe again


Movie's failings: After the intense action scenes, Man of Steel delivers no fallout. This is what Avengers Nailed with a capital N and why whatever failings it did have are easy to ignore when it did such a good job representing Aftermath, something way too many superhero movies gloss over. Hell, Marvel took it a step further with Iron Man 3 and brought to light the deep mental trauma a superhero would have to deal with, especially one as vulnerable as Tony Stark, in the aftermath of a violent battle.

Movie's Success: Zod as always is a cold bastard, an nonredeemable but understandable villain. I love those kind of villains. Superman has got great villains because the hero has such high morals, so they make up for it with the dastardly and the insane. The interweaving of Clark's childhood as he tries to find himself is well done, instead of following a series of chronological flashes, they tie in his memories to how he deals with people in the now.

Biggest Success for Me!
Whether you agreed with the casting of Amy Adams or not, Man of Steel finally gave me a Lois Lane I can get behind. Lois is supposed to be a SMART, intrepid reporter. This is something just about every incarnation has failed on. In Man of Steel, Lois is still the irrepressible snoop, immediately falling into danger as she tries to uncover secret government shenanigans and is saved by a dressed down Supe. When she can't convince her editor to print her close encounters story, she hands it over to the internet and proceeds to *I shit you not* track down Clark's cross country trail all the way to his fucking front door.
Finally a proactive Lois Lane who actually acts like a fucking reporter with a soul, because not only does she find the big guy, she actively chooses to conceal his identity, even when she is threatened by her editor and then abducted by the U.S. government. FINALLY, finally, a Lois with giant balls.

This is where I tie all this into writing and character development.

As I've stated above, Man of Steel does suffer from plotsmash, especially with it's ending. Endings are tricky, I struggle with endings all the time, whether the story is a stand alone or part of a series. It is too easy to fall into the danger zone of glossing over the trauma you have just put your characters through to reach an ending that won't leave your reader as traumatized. You want them to come back for book two, not cringe at the prospect of what hellish journey your will put them through. Unless you are a George R. Martin fan, that man is just brutal and he gets away with it because he's really up front about how much he is going to fuck with his characters. You know when you pick up a Martin book, not everybody gonna make it. 
For Superhero movies, this is an especially hard task, and not every movie in the Marvel franchise came through with aftermath. Avengers shows how the battle of New York devastates the population and heroes give them hope but in Thor  they destroy an entire town and nobody bats an eyelash. 

If you ever tackle larger than life events in your story, beware this mighty pitfall. With the influx of post apocalypse literature, showing the full spectrum of human reaction to trauma is vital to the success of these stories. This is where you make 'end of the world' real for the reader, not in the over the top action and destruction, but within the minds of the characters. Literature provides an added layer to characters which movies don't by way of  their thoughts, we can usually see exactly what our protagonist is experiencing as the world falls to pieces around him.
Want a piece of literature which nails the human perspective of super heroes?
http://www.amazon.com/books/dp/1423101960
It's amazing I promise.
I highly recommend Hero by Perry Moore for it's characters, it's characters are absolutely amazing. The plot is your typical 'hero must save the world' with a few excellent twists but where Hero really hits home is the complexity of it's main character Thom Creed, and the aspiring heroes in his squad.

On the subject of Superman: Big Blue is secretly one of my favorite characters but perhaps not for the best reasons.
Superman is my favorite because he is probably the most difficult character to write well and not come off as completely vanilla.
Superman is a God living among men, he is invulnerable, maybe immortal, and his sneeze could kill you. He also has the morals of a saint, as I said, Superman goes out of his way not to kill people, to the point where villains use this as a character flaw against him.
This is surprisingly hard to make interesting for the 60 plus years the character has been around, often falling on the knack of making him powerless in some way to see how he deals with it. Problem is most of the time writers fail me. When Superman loses his powers, he just stops being Super and tries to be normal. BAH ! The writer's who succeed with the Superman character, like Alan Moore, get into his psyche because that is where this man is interesting.
How does a person deal with being a God when raised as a human? How do you deal when you have all these powers but still can't save everyone? When it's so easy to just up and kill the villain rather that maintain a high regard for life? Is Superman immortal? Does he have perfect control over his abilities or is it truthfully a constant struggle not to crush the ever living fuck out of people with every hug and handshake?
Superman, in my mind, is the ultimate crash test in character development. Here, I'm going to give you a God, make him interesting, make him human, make him sympathetic. Not as easy as one would think.
Source: http://www.shootbus.com/movie/superman-fail-1

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hunting for Crumbs

It seems I've been heading in about nine directions lately.
Maybe it's anxiety over finally finishing a project I've been working on so long, money worries, lack of sleep, whatever. It's a big blobby mass of Ugh.

Focus issues aside, I've been foolishly throwing around the idea of creating another serialized piece of fiction for Jukepop, which is an awesome platform for those who write serialized fiction since you have a chance to get paid to do it. BUT, there is always a but, it is kind of it's own entity, they usually pay for unpublished work rather than published, so while I might gain more audience points for New Earth 6, I might not get paid for it. Plus, call it a hang up, simultaneous submissions make me uncomfortable.

Throwing my work out there is hard. It's not like I'm a delicate flower who will wilt under criticism, it's just hard to put myself out there. I think I fear the idea of No Interest over Negative Interest.

See here I am losing focus again. Thinking of Jukepop and what I could do with it, I wondered if I could produce another story worth serializing. I have lots of ideas buzzing around the noggin, but I wasn't sure if I was up to spinning a whole new universe while trying to edit one book and write another.

This morning I found myself opening the closet to yank out my binders of old scribblings.
I have mixed feelings about writing I did years ago. These are stories I penned before I really understood things like plot points and world building. It's a bit like throwing a bucket of paint on the canvas rather than using defined strokes.

It's cringe worthy, there is stuff in these binders I don't remember writing, or hope I was in an alcohol fueled haze or something. High school angst haze? Anyway I save these shuddersome pieces for two reasons.

One: I like to occasionally pull them out when I'm feeling particularly unmotivated and say "See, look how far your writing has come! Now get back to the computer, you sloth, and type faster! *whip crack*"

Two: Times like this. Then I go hunting for Crumbs. Crumbs are ideas that flashed through the brain over the years but I lacked the time/skill/resources to fully realize them. I hold onto them because I know someday I will find a use for them. I found my Crumb after an hour of flipping through the deluge, a short novella I wrote freshman year or so of college.
The story is meh, but it's not about the writing. The writing will be stripped away, I'm after the bones of the piece, that's where my Crumbs are.

Now it' s a matter of balance and priority. I am teetering on the edge of taking on too much at once. There is just so much I want to do, but I must create an order to do things, or POOF, up in smoke I'll go. I may have unearthed my Crumb but it, and Jukepop, may be cast on the back burner until one project is off the table. Perhaps forcing myself to slow down will inspire my focus. If I complete something, I can reward myself with this.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends....

I'm wicked excited because as I pull up the heinous time devouring Facebook after dinner I see another writer friend, the fabulous S.M. Welles, has updated her status with: "Novel finished, I need test readers!"

Her First Novel

Without hesitation I signed on board for a first draft reading. Because the most important thing you need when you are trying to break into the writing world is support, especially from people as crazy about the craft as you are. The writing world these days isn't all about getting accepted into the big six, sometimes it comes down to the people you know. I don't necessary mean that in a 'know the publisher's daughter' kinda way, I mean this in the people you surround yourself with in the creation of your baby, the one's who cheer you on during your slumps, who not only act eager to read your new piece but will actually stay up until three in the morning because they couldn't put it down. Friends who will give you honest feed back, both positive and negative. They will tell you what works in your story and what doesn't, these people are vital.
I know whenever I critique someone's work I make a list of the good as well as the bad, you can't have all and not the other, gloss over mistakes for praise, or bad mouth a piece without reprieve. There is give and take.

I am excited to read this piece, not only because I've watched her progress over the past couple months writing it, but because I believe in the importance of the writing community. To quoteth those legendary Brits:" I get by with a little help from my friends." I know when I finish the second draft of the Novel I will be sending my own feelers out.

Off I go to immerse myself in a good read.

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Mad Dash

My thoughts have been on pulp fiction all week, not the movie, I love me some Tarantino, but I'm talking about the writing style.
I plunged myself into a writing experiment, because I just didn't have enough writing to do between the edits and the sci-fi blog. Yup, I went and started on something I plan to pump out at max speed, pure pulp, tackling two sub genres I'm itching to tie together while the getting is good.
It was a slow start, I wrote the first few pages over the weekend while taking care of the boys and going to work. Needless to say, I managed five pages in two days. But school is still in session, so with just the one munchkin running around, snuggling, and napping, I wrote a solid fifteen pages.
It feels good, I'm pumped. If I can keep up this pace, then I will hit my goal and use this particular work to experiment with small press/ self publishing.
No big spoilers yet, it's still my secret baby, but now I need to think of a pen name.

W.P. Scriggins
M.E. Rathbone
A. M. Crillroy

Oh the possibilities are endless.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pulp Production

Producing a weekly chapter has turned into an interesting animal. Despite all my good intentions, or maybe because of them, instead of working on the piece throughout the week, I usually slam it out Thursday Night/ Friday Morning, right before I post it. This leaves me with mixed feelings. I decided before I even started that for initial postings, I would do sight editing, try to flush out the big mistakes, but I was not going to rewrite a chapter five times every week, this is a side project, one meant to give me a steady creation outlet while muddling through edits with The Novel. That vicious beast. 
Going into it, I didn't have any illusions of producing something unique and original, more of producing an enjoyable pulp serial, entertainment for entertainments sake. Most of these chapters will end on cliff hangers, it is part of the schtick. I do have a mapped out outline of where the story is intended to go, but no chapter by chapter outlines, I'm mostly flying blind.
The unexpected side effect of my project is my snow balling obsession with giving it an audience. It's pulp sci-fi for cripe's sake! There is  nothing incredibly original about it, it smacks of themes often used in science fiction. Yet here I spend several hours a week plugging it on blogging networks, finding new places to drop it for notice. Why? Why bother at all? It's just a side project right?
Well, every one has to start somewhere. New Earth Six has evolved into a dual sided project, to keep up a writing regime, and to plant the seeds of a social writing network. If The Novel does find its way to the press, then I have the roots in place to begin an author's platform. 
There was also the interesting magic of blogs make into books. Quite a few of the fiction blogs I discovered on my journey have not only established an impressive network, they have gone on to create "novel" editions of their work. 
But I got really excited when I realized I have become a part of the pulp machine. It's not as sneer worthy as it sounds. Pulp fiction is a long practiced tradition that has changed forms over the years. Many writers considered classics of the 20th century were the pulp novelists of old. There are so many lofty ideas tied in with writing these days, if its not literary fiction it's genre aka trash writing. What happened to writing for entertainment's sake. 
That is what I want to do, that is what I hope I am doing with both my serial blog and The Novel. I find myself straddling the fence. Here I am polishing the crap out of my book, I want to produce a decent product for submission, while producing my pulp, my mildly edited, character driven, space opera. 
The pulp has been rather liberating.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Recharging

After a burnt out spell of watching the boys all weekend without reprieve, yesterday I took a recharge day. With the fabulous Miss V in tow we caterwauled around our tiny corner of CT. We hit up our favorite used bookstore, dined in cheap and snazzy style, even stumbled onto the glory that is Five Below.

Miss V. is not impressed by Five Below like I am.

Honestly, it's a glorified dollar store, only slightly nicer since the limit is a fiver. They have cheap fun t-shirts, toys, seasonal junk galore. I love this kind of stuff, I am a thrift store beast by nature, with the occasional indulgence of Angry Bird pajama pants from Wally World. But I am a bargain hunter born and raised, my home town boasted a huge Flea Market in a two story mill.

My thriftiness is probably exacerbated by my hatred of clothes shopping. Aside from the fact I have to shop in the plus sizes whenever I walk into a clothing store (I am tall and curvy), the clothing racks at thrift stores are based off older sizes, therefore I don't have to buy an XXL t-shirt just to fit over my bahzangas. Plus you find some pretty cool shit.

So yeah, Five Below is totally my bag. I "splurged" on a Mario t-shirt, because it hit me right in the childhood. As I perused the rest of the store I thought "I could totally do my Christmas shopping here."

After a day of thrifty discovery, inane debates on the merits of the New Avatar cartoon vs the Old Avatar cartoon, discussions of world politics and social structures, and delicious foods, I call this recharge a win win. You don't realize how much you need them until you schedule one in.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Reading with Gremlins

I don't think I have to expound on the importance of reading to your children. I mean there are hundreds of books, documented proof reading to your kids is beneficial in tons of ways. Hell, I grew up reading, my father built a bookcase just for my room out of scrap wood, which I still have by the way. I love that fuckin' rough cut bookcase.
So when I eventually produced children of my own, I had big plans to make them readers. My children have taught me a great deal about the reality of reading with kids.

Lesson #1: Don't feel guilty if you don't read to your children every night. I think I went through an identity crisis when I couldn't perform this simple task consistently. I was all gung ho about making this part of the evening routine, to spend a good chunk of time every night reading a few books from the HUGE selection of children's books I have collected. ( I think I have as many children's books as I do adult books) I tried, I really did, but sometimes I was exhausted, sometimes I had ninety things to do before my own head hit the pillow, sometimes, my son was just too wound up to sit for a book and needed lights out.

Lesson #2: You will find the opportunities to read. They will present themselves, just make sure you shut up and take notice. The biggest hint will be when you stumble on them looking through their books. Derp derp, go read with them! Sometimes they will come find me with a book. I am fortunate to be in a situation I can stop whatever I am doing and read their precious selection. You will also make opportunities. In the long road to potty training, I purchased a old school wooden picnic basket from goodwill and filled it with books. It provides some protection from my splash happy kids and they now consider our bathroom story time central.

Lesson #3: Your gremlins do not consider books as precious as you do. I am guilty of going through a period where I hid most of the picture books in our bedroom. I have two boys, and no matter how much I stress "don't stand on the book!" "you're bending the spine!" "ah, ah, ah you're tearing it!", well shit happens. I shed a little tear for the books I had to throw away but if you aren't willing to sacrifice a few to the Toddler Gods, they don't learn how to treat books period. I was so proud the day my son learned how to turn the pages of his regular picture books properly, something his younger brother picked up from watching him.
There are still accidents, but I have calmed down quite a lot, now I leave out a good selection of picture books...and hide the rest in the bedroom for down the road.

Lesson #4: As much as you want to introduce them to as many new books as possible, they will latch onto a select group of favorites and demand to hear them over and over. Okay, so reading "The Very Lazy Ladybug" for the 100th time makes me want to grind my teeth, but I know this is how my son is learning to read. It is his go to book. It did take me forever to realize, hey instead of just reading this by myself, I can get him to read with me. Some books we have read together so many times, he has them half memorized and one actually reads to me. That would be Mo Willems's "Time to Pee".

Lesson #5: Books are fucking magic. It never ceases to amaze me which ones they attach themselves to. My older son has a rotation of about five or six he wants to hear all the time. Most of these selections have sound effects, like "Roar" which he loves to do with me. But curiously, his absolute favorite is a long story, one that leaves me flabbergasted. My son cannot sit through most Dr. Seuss stories, he has attention and learning disorders, but he will sit for "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon. He will also find it, no matter where I hide it in the house...



I read to my children everyday. Somehow, somewhere, we find a chance to sit a read together. Usually in the bathroom. Book love spreads, like a happy virus. As my youngest watched how much his older brother enjoyed these potty story times, he soaked up the book love. He now sits in my lap, pointing to the pictures, and picks his own book to join in. His current favorite:

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