Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Moonrat over at Editorial Ass is celebrating the fact that her blog has been read 500,000 times by her adoring stalkers, I mean fans. :) Soo... she's hosting a little contest in honor of this momentous achievement. Go over there to read all about it! Do it. Do it now! :)
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Seriously. Just think about it for a moment. The Easter Bunny is a giant, mutant rabbit that lays eggs, and breaks into your house to hide its mutant spawn for your children to find and consume. Clearly, this tale belongs in a horror flick, not in the imaginative speculations of our dear little ones. And yet, children all over this country look forward to this coming Sunday as nothing more than the day this creepy monster will leave them something good to eat. *shudder*
Monday, March 29, 2010
For some reason, my Mondays tend to be slightly more hectic than the rest of my days. So, sadly, I've gotten behind on my Wolf Moon postings. But I will get back into it! :) Today, I'm reposting the beginning of chapter 2 so that you aren't left behind. Feel free to check out chapter 1 here (start at the bottom).
Eight days passed by before Chuck saw anything but that big bright moon rising up above the trees of his family property. Eight days before he saw anything but the black nothingness of a coma. When he did finally open his eyes, screaming and thrashing away the flimsy blankets of his hospital bed, he fully expected to be staring down the snarling mouth of his worst nightmares. But he didn't. Instead, tender arms reached out for him and shoved him against the mattress. A voice called out to him, soothing him.
He laid back and took in deep, slow breaths. Something was wrong. He wasn't where he was supposed to be. It was too bright, and warm. Someone walked into the room and pulled away the tender arms that had remained firm across his chest. One of his eyelids was pulled back and a light was shined at it. Chuck pulled away and blinked his eyes.
"Where am I?" he said.
"You're at St. Juliana's, honey," the woman examining him replied. "Don't you worry about a thing. You're wife here brought you in just in time. You'll be okay."
Chuck turned his head. His wife stared back at him, smiling and clutching his shoulder. "Oh, Jeanie," he said.
Her sweet, sparkling eyes did all the talking; she didn't need to say a thing. Red rimmed and swollen, they showed the many hours of worry, but the lines that creased around their edges also showed how happy she was to see him awake. He reached his hand out to caress her cheek. She met it halfway and melted into his arms.
"Jeanie." He sobbed.
She brought her head up and wiped her eyes. "Don't you ever scare me like that again, you bastard."
Chuck laughed. His muscles screamed against the sharp movement, but he was so glad to be alive. No pain in the world was enough to take away how happy he was to be with his wife at that moment.
She leaned toward him and brushed her lips against his. "I love you," she said. Wrapping her arms around his neck, Jeanine pressed her soft cheeks against his scruff.
"No!" Chuck pushed her away hard and sat up on the bed. He couldn't let her get close. He needed to see the doctor. He needed to know the truth. "Get the doctor," he said to the nurse.
She didn't budge. "Now come on, just lay down."
"I said get the doctor."
The woman looked from Chuck to his wife then rolled her eyes and walked out of the room. Minutes later she returned with an older man with short, white hair. He walked up to Chuck's bed while the nurse stayed by the door.
"You wanted to see me?"
Chuck sat up straighter and narrowed his eyes. "Did I come in here with any scratches or bites?"
The doctor smiled his patronizing little smile and said, "Don't worry, Mr. Bardine, we treated all your wounds."
"That's not what I asked."
He sighed. "Yes, you had a few deep scratches from where the wolf attacked you, but nothing debilitating. You'll be up and out of here in no time."
Chuck closed his eyes and laid his head back against his pillow. "You have to kill me."
Check in next Monday for the next installment!
Thursday, March 25, 2010
I'll admit it--I'm easily distracted. When I sit down to work on my novel, I usually convince myself to check my email first, followed by a couple YouTube videos, maybe a nice three-hour CIV game. By the time I actually get around to writing, most of the day has been wasted away and dinner needs to be put on the table. Granted, this doesn't happen all the time--thankfully--but it happens enough. To be perfectly blunt, if I don't give myself deadlines, nothing will ever get done.
But sometimes, just sometimes, those distractions are a good thing. Not the games or the videos, but the time I choose to go outside and enjoy the scenery or spend time with my family. Sometimes life needs to be lived. How can we portray real characters any other way? We can't.
So don't feel guilty on those days when you've done nothing about your WIP. Your time hasn't been wasted, it's just been spent in a different way--research. Sure, you probably didn't analyze the social dynamic between a mother and her child while you were out shopping, but chances are you noticed it anyway.
Go ahead, get distracted, just make sure that you do get that writing in there somewhere. Night time is for more than just sleep. ;)
So, you tell me...
What distracts you?
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sometimes I'm lucky. Sometimes I get to ride a high for just a few minutes or hours, thinking I might have a glimmer of talent. But most of the time I just plain suck. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I absolutely love writing and would never pick any other career for myself. I've even developed a certain knack of working through the crippling feelings of failure.
I'm writing this post not because I want to rant or vent, but because I've noticed that people in general tend to fluctuate in their opinions of their talents. And it tends to change day by day. So you tell me, do you suck today? How do you get through it? Do you write anyway, only to be surprised later during a read-through that it really didn't suck as bad as you thought?
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Two weeks. Wow. It felt like it was both a lot longer and shorter than that. I really missed blogging, but I desperately needed to take advantage of my husband's presence.
So, here's the good news and an explanation of what I was up to! Last August, my husband had started school at NTTS (trucking school) while working a full-time job. With work and classes every Tuesday and Thursday night and all day Saturday and Sunday, I was lucky on the days I got to see him for three hours. On February 13th, he graduated and two weeks ago, he quit his job to have some time off before he started his new career. Though we are extremely blessed that he got a local job (in NY, the vast majority of companies don't hire anyone with under two years experience because of insurance costs), he's still going to be gone a lot. We don't even know yet when his days off are going to be, and apparently it changes from week to week. So, I decided to sacrifice my writing and blogging time in order to spend some time with him--a bit of a vacation.
It was nice, and now he's back to work at his new job. And I am back to blogging! Yay! I know you missed me. I definitely missed all of you. I am so behind on all the blogs I follow! I'm going to feel like a stranger again. A creepy, stalker stranger.
Tell me what all of you have been up to lately! Any new writing news? WIPs that you completed? Share! :)
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I swear. Really. I'm just acting like a phantom lately.
My husband quit his previous job a week ago to have some time off before he starts his new job, so I'm spending as much time with him as possible. I assure you that, next Tuesday, I will be resuming my daily blogging activities.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
It's been a while since we've seen a heroine like Elizabeth Bennet--strong-willed but gentle, respectful but with a mind of her own. Instead, quite a few fantasy and science fiction novels today portray their heroines as Xena--an in-your-face woman who don't take no crap from nobody. Though Xena may have been strong physically, she lacked the one thing that gives every woman her true strength--femininity. Instead, Xena was just a man with boobs.
And that's the trend I've noticed with a lot of books in general, but with speculative fiction especially. Instead of portraying real women and highlighting their real strengths, writers tend to describe these badass girls in tight war gear, kicking the toosh out of every man that challenges them. And that get's boring. And quite frankly, it's not realistic.
I've mentioned a few times on this blog that I served in the military. Well, I learned a few things during my service. One of them may or may not seem pretty obvious: the average man is physically superior to the average woman. It's true. The U.S. military accepts this fact and has taken it into consideration when designing the PT tests. The female's test requires less push-ups and a slower run time than the male's. However, women are better sharpshooters and are better able to handle the mental strain of war.
Face it ladies, if you were to go up against a man of equal or greater body size and expertise in fighting, you would probably lose. A man's body is designed for physical combat; a woman's is not.
But don't get me wrong. I am by no means saying that a woman, and your heroine, is or should be weak. Quite the contrary. There's nothing unrealistic about a woman being trained for combat and excelling at it, but author intrusion rears its ugly little head when the heroine is up against a group of baddies that she has to battle all by herself, all of them just as well-trained as she is and she beats them without breaking a nail. This isn't real and you've run the risk of losing the reader.
Enter Ultraviolet. This movie was about one thing and one thing only: a gorgeous unstoppable woman, the picture of perfection. And it was stupid. I mean, come on. If you clicked the link, you would have seen this woman just dodge the unceasing rounds of about 6 gunmen who are three feet from her. And yet for all this physical beauty and superpowers, she lacked femininity. If you replaced her with a gorgeous man, the character would have been exactly the same.
You want a real heroine that real women can connect with and wish to be like? Give her real strengths and weaknesses. Make her a superhero, but don't make her unstoppable. One thing that women all over the world have in common is that probably more than anything else, we want to make an emotional connection with someone else (it doesn't have to be a romantic one, either). It is our greatest strength and weakness. A real woman isn't like Xena--a cold, unfeeling person who thinks nothing of killing dozens of men at a time. We feel, we form attachments, and we make stupid decisions because of them.
Terry Goodkind is probably my favorite modern author because of this. All of his female characters are amazingly strong, but they all are the picture of femininity. The Mother Confessor, the most powerful woman in the Midlands, able to subdue even the most powerful wizard with a touch, is described as graceful and regal. She wears a flowing white dress and keeps her hair long. The Mord Sith, women trained from childhood to torture prisoners and able to withstand pain that could kill any other person, are motherly towards Richard, the MC.
This is what we writers must do when forming our characters. We can make them strong, the strongest person to ever live, but we must make them real.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I was going to post something else about heroines and how they've changed, but that is going to be saved for tomorrow because 44 is my favorite number and I just got my 44th follower! I must celebrate.
I tried to get the actual video to come up onto the screen, but it won't give me the option to embed. Sigh. Go to it anyway. I'm trying to put you in the celebrating mood. Do as I say! :)
Now, in honor of my celebratory mood, let's go through a list of favorites.
Favorite book: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, by Mark Twain
Favorite food: Cheese. Anything with cheese.
Favorite hero of all time: Spiderman!!! Yeah, baby.
Favorite color: Pink. That's right, I'm a girly-girl.
Favorite movie: Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Which makes me think of another favorite song! I choreographed a ballet dance to that one.
Now it's your turn! You don't have to list the same categories I did, but it's just something to get you thinking.
Now I must go off to do my little white girl dance. Elbows galore!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
That book I mentioned last week that I just couldn't put down? Yup, it was Twilight. Now granted, I can rarely put down any book even if I hate it, but this one really held my interest.
Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer has caused a lot of controversy within the writer's circle. The intense amount of adverbs alongside robust descriptions bordering on purple prose have led many a new writer to wonder how Ms. Meyer could achieve such success when they receive rejection after rejection for "vastly superior work." I'm going to try to make sense of this reality here.
First, let's address the arguments from the poo poo corner. Adverbs. And lots of 'em. I'll admit that there were a significant number of dialogue tags with adverbs in practically every one of them. But let's think about this. First, Twilight is not a self-published book. Meyer had an editor comb through every bit of that book probably dozens of times before it went to publication and graced the bookstores with its pretty little cover. You can not argue about her supposed inferior writing skills unless you also want to poo poo said editor. Second, it's not a book for adults. We as writers may forget (but honestly never should and have no excuse for doing it) that there are different reading levels in books. We may spout off about Middle Grade and Young Adult with some authority, but to be honest, I've read many examples from new writers that are similar in style to an adult reading level. I have always been told (and forgive me if you know this to be incorrect) that the lower you go in the reading level, the more adverbs you include. Just because I, as a writer of adult fiction, would prefer to replace one of her adverbs with something that I feel would be better doesn't mean I would be right in so doing.
Another argument: Edward was just too darn perfect. I'll admit that Edward could have been dangerously close to being a Mary Sue, except for one reason--Twilight was written in First Person. The first person account of any narrator has to be suspect and Bella was in love with him! Of course he was perfect! He was her knight in shining armor; there was nothing that could ever be wrong with him.
Poo Poo corner round three: Bella was too whiny. Come on now. This, I think, requires no explanation. She was a teenage girl. Enough said. In fact, I think it's to Meyer's credit that she was able to depict human nature so well.
And finally, vampires shouldn't sparkle. Eh, I am probably more on the side of the poo poos here. From what I've read, this particular description is in keeping with Ms. Meyer's dream, so I can see why she may not have been willing to part with it. And to be honest, she worked it into the story well enough by creating problems for the vampire family. They couldn't just be out in the daytime with absolutely nothing to stop them. It was a (much needed) limit to their power and influence. Also, I always saw the sparkly nature of the vampires' as Edward tried to explain it: another weapon in their arsenal. Nature itself has shown its uses in the beautiful but deadly nature of predators. Just look at the angler fish that woos its victims with a pretty little sparkly bulb that dangles from its head over razor sharp teeth.
Now let's step back from defending Ms. Meyer and actually see what absolutely worked about the book and should invoke no argument to the contrary.
Millions of teenage girls (and women who remember their teenage years) refer to themselves as Twihards for only two reasons. One: they're in love with Edward. Two: they see themselves as Bella. Because of the latter, you can see why they would fall for former. With such a deep connection to Bella, they can't help but remember and see their own high school crush in that sparkly, tall, and handsome vampire.
And why shouldn't she love him? Should she be repulsed by his attentiveness and absolute obsession over her? Absolutely not. Despite what society may try to drill in us from very early ages, girls like the idea of a gorgeous hero, superior to them in might, swooping in out of the shadows to save them from some very dastardly men. And not to just stop there, but to have eyes for no other woman and to have a burning need to protect her at all costs.
And that's why teenage boys like the book. Because, again, despite what society tells us, men and women are different. Where women ultimately like the idea of finding security in a man they can count on, men like to be needed. And those traits of Edward's, not having been rejected by Bella as chauvinistic, but instead praised as something altogether desirable is something that boys need and desire to see.
Stephanie Meyer, despite anyone's arguments towards her writing abilities, captured human nature so perfectly so as to make each one of her characters real and someone we are sure we know personally. I say good job to her. And I'm very much looking forward to reading the next book in the series.