Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Gearing Up For Battle

I’ve taken a couple of weeks off from my WIP to critique a few novels for some writer friends. It was a great experience, but now it’s back into the fray with my own, and yes, it is the fray. This is war. Me against the wrong words. My wrong words. It may get bloody.

I find myself gearing up to face this rewrite. I’ve had too long of a break, and my muse is silent, hibernating somewhere in the back of my mind. What tools will I need to wake her? What tools will I need to win this battle?

I need to be armed, and like a true word warrior it will be with things like creativity, passion, conflict, plot arcs, and guts. If you don’t think writing takes guts, you try opening the door into you innermost thoughts and smearing the contents onto a clean white page for all the world to see. It’s freaking scary.

I’ll also need patience and food. Yes, food. I eat when I write, which might explain that pesky ten pounds that glued itself to portions of my anatomy over the summer. Sigh.

So, bring on the words! Let the typing begin! I will not go down without a fight, or without an increased word count. What weapons are in your writing arsenal? What snacks wake up your muse? Spill, cause I need her awake and kicking.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Just A Quick Note

I've been invited to blog with a group of fab writers. Here is the link to my introductory blog at the Scribbler's Cove. Run over and check it out.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Silence Falls

The time has come! School is back in session. The house echoed for three months, and now it sits and listens--waiting for sound to burst through the doors on the heels of grinning children. You can almost feel the wood and carpet and paint settle into the silence.

And me? I'm settling, too. Sinking into the peace and absense of TV, and video games, and obnoxious, beeping toys. My brain thrills with the silence, as if it found the perfect sound and is applauding.

Yet, at the same time the quiet strikes another chord in my soul. One of sadness.One of fear. My childen are gone and took with them the smiles and hugs and laughter. And for the first time, I see the future stalking me with mute promise. One day the laughter and noise might go for good and leave me listening to wood and carpet and paint.

And, I will miss it all. All the shouts, and blaring electronics, and yes, even the quarreling and noise, noise, noise. Because their sound fills me. Rattles around my being, seeps into my heart, which translates it into love.

For now, the silence is temporary, and I can embrace it with a sigh. But, I know now that it hunts me, and we stare at each other with knowing eyes. One day it will come to stay, but for now, my front door is open--waiting for the echoes of my children.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mockingjay and Promises

Sorry this post is so late, but I had to go into town. Why? Because Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins came out today.

I had to get it. It wasn't a question of want. It was more like breathing. You must, or you will die. If anyone out there is shaking their head and saying, you won't die, you obviously don't know how serious this is.

I rushed into Costco and headed straight to the books. There it was, a large stack of beautiful blue, calling to me like a siren. Well, it started out as a large stack, but each new shopper gnawed at it, chewing away at the pile. I grabbed my two copies and then stood back to watch. Every person who passed the dwindling pallet stopped and added a blue-bound promise to their cart. And everyone of them sported a wistful smile. Why? Because that's what a good book is. It's a promise.

Of What? Of oh so many things. Adventure, romance, danger, anger, sorrow, death, blood, heroes, heroins, struggle, lessons learned, triumph, and above all emotions galore. Because that's what reading is. It's emotion packed between page one and the end. Gobs of it. Good and bad, sweet and harsh. It's life, sped up and consumed, in 400 pages. And the author promises the reader that life, that emotional experience--all the rush of first love, the terror of death, the soft, silent moments, and the triumph of surviving it all and maybe even winning--all from the safety of our easy chairs.

I can't wait to sink into the softness of my couch and disappear into Katniss's world. Because as I said, it's like breathing. I must.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Racquetball or Racket ball

My family has been on a short vacation. We've lazed around, indulged in the water, and turned a bright shade of red--even after repeated applications of 50 block sunscreen. Seriously, shouldn't that be like wearing a lead shirt? How can you burn through that? But anyway, we also played racket ball. I know some of you out there are shaking your heads and tisking away at my spelling. It might sound something like this:

"Racket ball? Doesn't she know how to spell? I thought she wanted to be a writer. Good Grief!" Accompanied by much head shaking and eye rolling.

But, I've officially re-named racquetball racket ball. Webster be darned. Why? Because it's loud. And because I think there was a bit of cheating involved in our game. And because I can. Here is a play-by-play of my very first ever game of racket ball.

Hubby: Do you want to play racquetball? (He spells it the old way because he is unenlightened.)

Me: Um. Is that the thing like tennis but in a small, stuffy room?

Hubby: Yes. It's fun.

Me: Define fun.

Hubby: I--

Me cutting him off: Never mind. My dad used to play that. He came home with fist-sized bruises. That doesn't sound fun to me.

Hubby: You won't get bruises.

Me: This involves a ball, right?

Hubby nodding.

Me nodding, too: Right. Bruises. Cramps. Ice packs. Crutches. Need I go on? (Can you guess my past brilliance at sports? Yup. I'm that good.)

Hubby handing me a racquet: It will be fun.

Me staring at racket: What do I do with this?

Hubby: Hit the ball.

Me ducking for cover as blue ball pings and boings around the room: You do realize you married a girl? A non sporty kind of girl?

Hubby smiling: Well, I do hope so. The girl part I mean.

Here's the crazy thing. It was fun. I don't think I even got bruised. Sore, yes, but it was so worth it. Now, this might seem like a small thing--me playing racket ball--but it's not. You see, I stink at sports. All of them. That whole hand-eye coordination thing never happened to me. Ever. But last night, I hit the ball.

More than once. And now I want my own racket ball court. Too bad that won't be happening. Sigh. But a girl can dream can't she?

What new things have you tried lately?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My First Award and Sprinkling Systems

I got an award. Hard to believe, I know, but here it is. Grin for me.

Karen from Typing With My Toes presented it to me last week. A great big thanks to her for the award. Check out her blog. It's a fun read.

Anywho, I believe I am supposed to pass on this award to five other fabulous bloggers so, drum roll please, ta da! Here they are:

Nikki at All About Words
Terresa at The Chocolate Chip Waffle
Brodi Ashton
Mary at Writers But Does Not Apply To Me
and my newest blogging friend, but long time real life friend Jonene at The Wonderful Obsessions

On to the rest of my post. Sprinkling Systems. I love them. They come on in the middle of the night and water your lawn and garden. Do you know what this means? It means they do work for you. Lots of work.

Until they stop.

Then everything green around you withers and dies. At least here in Utah. Here is a list of things I have learned about sprinkling systems:

I miss them when they go on strike.
Hitting the pipes in the little green box with a wrench doesn't make them work.
The neighbor's sprinklers love them.
Mine hates me.
Tomatoes miss water.
The grass turns brown fast if it doesn't get watered in ninety-seven degree weather.
The inner workings of the little green box are more mysterious than wizards and even less cooperative.
Trees miss water, too.
I was not meant to be a sprinkler whisperer--more of a yeller. Sigh.

There is something cruel about watching your lawn and garden crisp. Especially when you've waited all year for ripe tomatoes and squash. Sigh. Any ideas on how to make it work? Hitting it and mumbling threats doesn't do a thing.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

People Watching and Great Characters

I like to people watch. It's almost better than a movie. I say almost, because you never get the full plot with people watching. You just get snatches, glimpses into lives, and a few minutes of drama. I like to know the whole story, but people watching does stir the imagingation.

For example, I spent several hours sitting in the waiting room at the Social Security office this week. It leeched the life from me. Most people stuffed into a government facility tend to be on their best behavior, and that cuts down on the people watching fun, but I did overhear some interesting things. Some of them made me very grateful for the metal detectors and the security guard peeering at us. I mean, anytime you're sitting next to a guy who informs the room that he's been incarcerated thirty-seven times in the last ten years, you kind of inch your chair back a few spaces and flash him an unconvincing smile. Especially if he goes on to say, "I'm sick. I've been sick all my life, and I need help."

I don't think he was asking for a tissue.

I don't think the guard thought so either. Or anyone in the room. We all kind of nodded and looked away. Well, at least for a second. Then I watched him. He would be a great character in a book. I realize that may make me sound a little sick, too, but there you have it. You can't make up suff like Mr. Crazy. Let me give you a mental picture. He sported one purple heart sock and one pink star sock, a plaid head band, linen shorts, a button up shirt with the sleeves rolled, and his hair was reminisant of the original Willy Wonka, but in a pony tail. A funky pony tail.

I can picture that incarcerated thirty-seven times, can't you? (Not Willy Wonka, but Mr. Crazy.)

I could see a universal question hovering behind the eyes of all the forty waiting peeps. "What did he do to end up in the slammer thirty-seven times?" The room practically reverberated with it.

But my main question wasn't what he'd been locked up for, strange I know, especially considering I was within touching distance, but why he'd blurt that out to the whole room. What was his motivation?

That sent my head spinning. Because it made him such a great character. Did he want respect? Fear? To jump ahead in the line? A Tissue? Or, was he late for an appointment with a bunch of jail-bird oompa loopmas?

One thing I do know for sure is, he didn't like kids. One strayed too close, and he flayed the skin off the poor boy with some blistering explatives. Everyone inched their chairs back a bit further. Come to think of it, the security guard got up and stood by the door. Hmmm. Not comforting.

I think Mr. Crazy will have to make an appearance in one of my books. But, I'll keep the small children and helpless animals away from him just to be on the safe side.

What interesting characters have you run into lately? Drop a line and share the people watching fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Herald of Doom

I found a white hair. Just one. Nestled in amongst the brown ones. At first I thought, No, it can't be. It's a trick of the light. I'm still young. I'm vibrant. I'm only th--

Well,*clears throat* never mind how old I am, just know it's not ancient. (At least I didn't feel ancient until I found the impostor hair.)

I yanked it out.

It deserved to die for bringing me the silvery message of approaching age. I stared at it as the whole world paused. Really it did--for about seven-point-three seconds. Then it screeched back into motion, faster than ever. If you've been feeling dizzy, that's why. The world sped up. All because of one white hair heralding the coming end. My end. I'm going to age like a time lapse photo. Wrinkles will flow down my face like melting wax, age spots will bloom on my skin like mutant tattoos, and a walker will materialize next to my bed some morning. And, I'll develop a sudden inexplicable liking for polka music.

Yup that's my future. Wrinkles, spots, assisted walking devices, and polka. Shudder.

I showed my hubby the monster hair. He said I was a bit wacked and obsessed. I mean, all I did was stare at it for extended periods of time and bewail my lost youth. At least I did, until he threw it away and told me to get over it. Can you imagine? Seriously. He's the one who threw away my hair. I mean, who throws away good hair? I'm aging. I might need that back for a wig.

All right, hubby didn't tell me to get over it. He said his own gray hairs didn't bother him because he knew I loved him anyway. So why should mine bug me? He loved me no matter what color my hair turned.

Sheesh. Sniffle. What a way to ruin a girl's old age rant. Yup, he's a keeper. The white hair wasn't. But, I'm going to call my sister and schedule a coloring just to be on the safe side.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Making The Perfect Man

What makes the perfect man? We start out as little girls swooning over Prince Charming, then we grow up a bit and want someone who isn't a cartoon and has a little more personality. We even want him to have a name. We want him to be more than an idea. We want depth. We even makes lists. Yes men out there, we make lists of what we want in a guy. But how often in life do we really get the chance to create the perfect man? Never. Unless you're a writer.

So as a writer, how do you know when you strike upon that elusive mix of characteristics that make the perfect man? I don't know. I'm working on a re-write and my leading man just won't cooperate. He doesn't know he's the leading man and keeps slipping into the background. It makes me want to reach into the pages and smack him.

This got me thinking about some of my favorite characters. What makes them memorable, and why do I fall for them when all I have are words to connect me to their world? I even asked my hubby who his favorite male love interest in a book was. I got this kind of the panicked blank stare and a, "Um ... do I have one of those?"

It was a priceless moment, and of course I laughed. A lot. But then my question led to a discussion on several books we've read. What makes the characters in these books so yummy? Why do we go back to read about them again and again?

Here is an excerpt (Spoiler Alert)from Catching Fire by the amazing Suzanne Collins. If you haven't read it yet, it's beyond delicious.

Peeta pulls the chain with the gold disk from around his neck. He holds it in the moonlight so I can clearly see the mockinjay. Then his thumb slides along a catch I didn't notice before and the disk pops open. It's not solid, as I had thought, but a locket. And within the locket are photos. On the right side, my mother and Prim, laughing. And on the left, Gale. Actually smiling.

There is nothing in the world that could break me faster at this moment than these three faces. After what I heard this afternoon . . . it is the perfect weapon.

"Your family needs you, Katniss," Peeta says.

My family. My mother. My sister. And my pretend cousin Gale. But Peeta's intention is clear. That Gale really is my family, or will be one day, if I live. That I'll marry him. So Peeta's giving me his life and Gale at the same time. To let me know I shouldn't ever have doubts about it. Everything. That's what Peeta wants me to take from him.

I wait for him to mention the baby, to play to the cameras, but he doesn't. And that's how I know that none of this is part of the Games. That he is telling me the truth about what he feels.

"No one really needs me," he says, and there's no self pity in his voice. It's true his family doesn't need him. They will mourn him, as will a handful of friends. But they will get on. Even Haymitch, with the help of a lot of white liquor, will get on. I realize only one person will be damaged beyond repair if Peeta dies. Me.

"I do," I say. "I need you." He looks upset, takes a deep breath as if to begin a long argument, and that's no good, no good at all, because he'll start going on about Prim and my mother and everything and I'll just get confused. So before he can talk, I stop his lips with a kiss.

Doesn't this just make you love Peeta? What are your requirements for the perfect guy? Or the perfect girl if you happen to be a guy, like my hubby, and are a little uncomfortable with that question? If you could design anyone, what would they be like? Would they have Jacob's abs and Peeta's dedication? Would they be the strong, silent type, or would they whine and complain their way into your hearts like one of my own personal favorites, Eugenides in the King of Attolia by Megan Whallen Turner? (If you haven't read this series, you should close your computer, after you finish my blog, and run to the nearest bookstore. It's that good.)

Here's a short expert.

Once again, spoiler alert.


"Because the king will not quit, Teleus," said Ornon as he joined them. "You must have noticed," he said. "He whines, he complains, he ducks out of the most obvious responsibility. He is vain, petty, and maddening, but he doesn't ever quit." Ornon shrugged. "Ever."

"He may not quit, but he will lose."

"Oh, I wouldn't place my money on it. I've seen him suffer setbacks." Ornon looked at the queen and away. "I have never seen him, in the end, lose. He just persists until he comes out ahead. No match is finished for him until he has won." Ornon shrugged expressively. "He won't quit, and he won't thank you for interfering."


Eugenides didn't respond. He limped slowly over to the his own wooden sword and stooped awkwardly to pick it up. Trailing it on the ground behind him, he limped toward the queen, and the courtyard quieted as he approached and was silent again as he dropped to his knees before her and laid the sword across her lap.

"My Queen," he said.

"My King," she said back.

Only those closet saw him nod his rueful acceptance.

He lifted his hand to brush her cheek softly. As the entire court listened breathlessly, he said, "I want my breakfast."

The queen's lips thinned, and she shook her head as she said, "You are incorrigible."

"Yes," the king agreed, "and I have a headache and I want a bath."

Isn't he loveable? And he is, flaws and all. Now, I just have to go on and create my own perfect man.

Drop a comment on what makes for the perfect man, for you, in a book or movie.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Another First Page--Again

Hey, today I decided to post another first page from one of my WIPs. This is book two in a three book series. And no, it's not a Vampire book. I don't to the blood sucker thing. :)

Vic crouched in the semi-darkness between the towering stacks tensing and un-tensing his muscles. How long is she going to sit there? He peered through the rows of books to where Trin hunched over a thick tome. She hasn’t moved in hours.

A low animal growl bubbled up from his chest before he clamped his lips shut and clenched his jaw, forcing the low bass rumble into silence. Patience! he chided himself. It used to come so easily. Before. A lot of things were easy before. Patience, laughter . . . sleep. He closed his eyes and sighed. Who needs sleep anyway?

Vic and Trin had been trapped in Taazair’s realm, for thirteen days, seven hours, and thirty-six minutes, and in all that time, Vic had barely slept. Not because exhaustion didn't stalk him, but because of the noise. Even now in the calm, private library, the sounds of the city overwhelmed him.

It wasn’t just the sounds, though they left his head ringing, it was the smells. They drove him to distraction, because everything reeked! And along with the smell came the relentless taste. At least if he didn’t breath, he couldn’t smell, but he couldn’t get away from the taste. It coated his mouth, clung to his lips, and wormed its way into his middle.

He wrinkled his nose in response to a stray odor and bit back another snarl. Sinking back on his haunches, he forced another calming breath. He raked his fingers through his disheveled hair and then ran them down his face, scrapping against two days of stubble.

Silently he cursed Brascarn, Taazair, and every other mage in this stinking land, including Trin. What is wrong with me? Vic wondered, shocked by his volatile thoughts. This isn’t Trin or Taazair’s fault.

Across the room, Trin’s head fell forward onto the pages of her current book. The movement, small as it was, snagged Vic’s attention. In an instant, he sprang to his feet and drifted from the shadows.


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