29 February 2012

Appropriate Compliments

Happy Birthday, Fredrick. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about I recommend you watch THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE by Gilbert and Sullivan. It was really difficult to come up with something to talk about today. I mean I keep thinking that since I've been doing this for two and a half years it would get easier. Not true. I still feel like my life is boring.

I play the piano and there have been several times when I've played for my church. While I have plenty of time to practice when it comes to the piano solos, there were times that the songs were sprung on me when I sat down to play prelude. I always did the best I could but when needed I only played the melody. Though I don't like struggling through the pieces I came to accept the fact that I was not a master at sight reading. What bothered me is after I screwed up the song people would approach me and say "You did a wonderful job." I often laughed and replied "Not really, but thank you."

Is is so wrong to ask people not to praise a job poorly done but rather the effort. I wouldn't mind it if they came up and said, "Thank you for playing." That is a true statement I can agree with but when people tell me that I play amazingly I get irked. I am not offended if they don't say I did a great job. I understand. I am an adult. I can handle a compliment that is just thanking me for putting forth the effort, especially since I am not disillusion in my ability. This last Sunday I made the comment that I am not a great piano player like someone else. But, I know she puts forth more time practicing. After the meeting she came up and showered me with compliments. Why couldn't she just accept my compliment? I know she is trying to be nice but it gets a little tiresome.

27 February 2012

Economic Structures

It doesn't matter whether you are writing a fantasy, science fiction, or contemporary fiction novel, you need to make sure your social economic structure is believable. One of the biggest problems that you see is a self contained society where there is no way for them to produce food. There are three things to keep in mind when creating a civilization or government:

Who is in charge?
How does the government get their money?
What do the people get in return?

A lot of stories are about the evils of the ruler overtaxing their people but there is a purpose to taxes. Taxes are how the rulers pay for things such as an army, roads, or other government services. The denser the society the more control the government needs to have. Governments exist on the tolerance of the people.

When you have a more advanced society you have to remember to cover the basics. You can't develop trade until one person can produce enough food for multiple people. This is the difference between hunters/gatherers and agricultural surplus. The downside of the agriculture is that it has lower nutrition than the hunters/gatherers.

You always get a black market if the government restricts a commodity. The cut also has to be high. This is also how piracy develops. It isn't always the physical worth of the materials but the emotional worth. Consider eBooks. People are willing to pay several dollars for something that is actually cheap. There are always frills that people are willing to pay for. For historical examples think of pearls, tulip bulbs, and even diamonds.

When trying to determine what kind of society you have there are a few questions to put to your characters:
How does my character make a living?
Where does food come from?
What is daily life like?
Where does my character fit economically?

26 February 2012


Intro: This is like my story last week. I know it ends fairly quickly. I was feeling rushed for time. Sorry.

Those who said robots were only metal buckets had never lived with one. For Sarabell the robots she lived with were more human than the majority of those she associated with. No one knew she lived with the robots and it was best to stay that way. She'd lived with them for almost five years and had no intention of ever living anywhere else again.

Sarabell adjusted the scarf around her head and went back to work, doing the laundry. The coal town brought in a lot of money. With all of the steam engines needing fuel miners were in high demand. She worked for one of the companies as a laundress for the uniforms. That was were she'd first met the helper bots. They were strong but didn't have fine motor skills so while the humans did all of the intricate tasks the bots did the heavy lifting and drilling in tight places. She was taken on at the town but didn't have any money to rent so slept in the shadows outside of town. One of the bots must have seen her sneaking off one night. When she woke up the next morning she was in a bed. The bots didn't talk but they made sure she was fed and found ways to entertain her.

"Sarabell, are you done with that load?"

"Yes," she replied.

She used a long wooden stick to fish the clothes out and drop them into a colander. The water drained into a hole in the floor and then the next person in line whisked it away to go through the rinsing cycle. Except for the washing, doing the laundry was machine work. Large tube heated and powered by steam. Most people hated dealing with the dirty water and rough soap but Sarabell didn't mind wearing the long rubber gloves. She found she'd become stronger doing the labor and didn't like the noise of the grinding gears.

The pile of clothes was gone and she trained the tank, letting the gray-black water tumble towards the drain. Once the copper basin was empty she spent the rest of the shift cleaning it out. The night shift would be around in a few hours. The washer started before the rest but that also meant they finished early. She waved goodbye to the others as she headed out of the laundry shed.

The mine always bustled and she walked towards town. She ate at a little cafe every day. The room didn't have a kitchen because the robots didn't need to eat. What she saved on rent was spent on buying pre-made meals. She took her usual table and they brought her usual dinner, complete with a sheet of paper, inkwell, and pen. Every Thursday she wrote a letter. Never mailed it, but wrote it.

"Miss Sarabell, and how are you this evening?"

She finished signing her name and looked up from the paper. The man in front of her wore clean miner's clothes. As clean as they came with only stains. Pierre worked the night shift . He greeted her every evening and was one of the ones who brought in the clothes to her in the morning for washing. He had a dimple. She couldn't meet his gaze when he smiled.

"I'm good." That was her typical response. She always stuttered when she said it.

"Another letter to your family?"

She touched the paper and a feeling of sadness welled in her.

"I can always post it for you if you want."

"No. I'll take care of it."

"Would you take a walk with me?"

She nodded. She looked forward to their nightly walks. She felt almost comfortable around him. When she turned down his proposal three months earlier she thought would be the end of their friendship. He respected her decision but remained her friend. A siren split the air. Pierre bolted from the door and Sarabell was on her heels. The mine had collapsed. She stood on the edge as Pierre pushed through the crowd.

"What's happened?"

She knew he was important, but she hadn't realized who he was. As he stood next to his father, the owner of the mine, she let out a sigh. It seemed impossible and though she'd talked to him every day for the past year she still thought he wouldn't want anything to do with her really. No one would want her.

She backed away and stumbled on a vent into one of the abandoned tunnels. The metal grating shifted and gave way. The sunlight vanished and the fell into darkness.

"Sarabell! Can you hear me?"

She rubbed her eyes and looked up at the small shaft of light above her head. She shifted and a pain shot through her leg. The beams crossed above her head and there wasn't enough space for her to climb through, even if her leg wasn't broken.

Around her was walls of darkness. She listened to the sound of Pierre's voice but couldn't tell where it was coming from. She tried to call out but the dust choked her. The daylight above her head faded and returned. She counted but couldn't remember from day to day. Her mind fuzzed. She drifted off.

A metal hand brushed her skin and pulled her up. More voices. More metal hands. Water trickled down her throat and she pried her eyes open. Five green eyes and a pair of brown eyes.

"Welcome back, Sarabell. Why don't we get you to a real bed. No more sleeping with the help. Though I think we'll keep them around. We wouldn't have found you without them. And, I'm not letting you out of my sight."

"Is this another proposal?" She managed.


She smiled and nodded. "I like the sound of that."

24 February 2012

Something Wicked This Way Comes

by Ray Bradbury

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES is another classic that I think people have heard about but haven't actually read. Ray Bradbury wrote it in 1962 takes place in the same town that his novel DANDELION WINE. Some consider it a sequel of sorts though they are different from one another. It is a story that I have read a couple of times now and I still find new insights about the characters and depth to the plot.

The story follows two 13-year-old boys, Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade. They hear of a carnival coming to town and decide to go see it. Two carnival workers in particular, Mr. Cooger and Mr. Dark, take an interest in the boys. Other members of the carnival spread throughout the town and the two boys see a change in the town's people. Not only is this a story about the two boys growing into adulthood, but also about Will's father. There are a lot of characters who have a lot of depth to show other human emotions and responses to life. The older I get the more I find myself thinking like the father.

There is a movie version, which I saw (I think I was in elementary) before I read the book (in Jr. High). There are some significant differences between the two, but as my mother pointed out the main difference is the emphasis put on the characters. One focuses more on the boys, the other one focuses more on the father. Both are a little freaky and may not be suitable for all ages though it isn't gory. If you read the book you'll realize how many other stories make reference to it.

22 February 2012

Feeling Shy

On one of my friend's blogs he linked to a personality test. I don't like taking personality tests because I feel like I'm not honest with them. I know what I don't want to be so I answer the questions to suit what I think I should be. When I was in school and they made us take the color one (white, yellow, red, and blue) I purposefully made sure I turned out white and blue. This was because I didn't want to be red or yellow. Reds tended towards leadership (which I read as bossy) and yellow was easy-going (which I read as immature). Part of the problem is I could have sworn that as soon as we did this everyone started acting their color. I hated how one stupid test could change someone's personality. I know this probably wasn't as bad as I thought it, but I always hated it, because I did the same thing.

On this latest personality test I came out as an introvert (the slider was all the way over), which may be a surprise to my family. I can argue and discuss with the best of them and I am not quiet, around my family. A couple of weeks ago Moose and I had dinner with my parents. I was laughing and talking and my mother made a comment about how she thought it was funny that when I was a child I often described myself as shy. I kind of laughed at that but in some ways it is true. My father and my brothers have always been more outgoing, or at least appeared outgoing. Even my little sister seems to be involved with more people and more activities than I can keep track of. I had my activities which included school, band, and soccer some years. I made friends and I had a good time. I doubt most people would call me shy.

At the same time, those who wouldn't call me shy change the way I feel. When I am around someone I know I don't feel quite so out of place. There have been a couple of conferences where I felt so out of place I just wanted to sink into the floor. When I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Ohio I don't know how I managed it but I invited myself to a lunch where an author from my home state was going. He had no idea who I was but he didn't care if I was there or not. When he and his friends tried to include me in the conversation I was so nervous I couldn't eat until they all looked away. The dinner I went to at LTUE I felt so awkward, as if I didn't belong with all of the successful people at the table.

I am sure I am not the only one that feels this way. I have learned that people don't bite if I ask to sit next to them, or join in the conversations going on around me. I mean I can't always be around people I feel comfortable with. (Psst. Babe, when you are a famous author maybe you'll let me tag along on your tour so I can feel more at ease while I meet all of my favorite authors. Then when I become famous years later I won't feel quite so out of place.)

20 February 2012

7 Part Story Structure

I have heard about the 7 part story structure on a number of occasions most recently at LTUE 2012 with Dan and Rob Wells. If you are one who struggles with trying to get all of the pieces of your novel together (beginning, middle, end) this may be the springboard you need to finish your story. The structure is as follows:

1. Hook
2. Plot Turn 1
3. Pinch 1
4. Midpoint
5. Pinch 2
6. Plot Turn 2
7. Resolution

The hook is where the story draws the reader in. This is also normally involves the protagonist but doesn't have to directly. The plot turn one is where something happens that pushes the plot forward. The pinch is where something bad happens that forces the protagonist to act. The midpoint is where the protagonist changes between reaction and action. The second pinch is another bad thing that happens that is much worse. The second plot turn is another twist in the story. The resolution . . . all I can say is that it better have an ending that will satisfy your audience. You don't have to have an equal number of words for each section. The hook can be a 4 pages and the plot turns can be 50, it doesn't matter.

I am going to use The Hobbit as an example: (This is toned down because like most stories there are multiple pinches and plot turns.)

1. The dwarves show up at Bilbo's house.
2. Bilbo heads off with the dwarves.
3. The dwarves are captured by the elves.
4. Bilbo rescues the dwarves.
5. The men trap the dwarves on the mountain.
6. The battle of 5 Armies.
7. Bilbo helps restore peace and goes home.

There can be more pinches and more plot turns than just two. This is just an easy way to get an outline of your story. Don't spend too much time outlining. The point is to write the story.

19 February 2012

*Man of Steel

Intro: At LTUE last week I attended a class on rewriting the classics. I have always loved fairy tales so I decided to rewrite some of them. I did this a couple of years ago with the idea of having male protagonists in a modern setting. This time I am playing more with a steampunk setting. I hope you enjoy it.

The master in the mansion. A man of flesh and steel. He avoided looking at any reflective surfaces. The jagged line that split his face, covering one eye and down the side of his neck. His entire left arm was made of metal. The steel always cold. Every movement ached, the bolts secured to his bones shifting and tugging.

His breakfast waited for him in his study and as he sipped his juice he gazed out at the garden below. Catherine walked through the hedges the two hounds at her heels. He provided her with the most exquisite gowns complete with gems but she always wore the plain brown dresses. It fascinated him that no matter what he provided her with, she always stayed the same Catherine. That was what he loved about her, but he couldn't tell her that. He turned away from the window and hoped that she hadn't seen him.

"Master, do you need anything else?" The man servant stood at the door. His metal frame dented and tarnished but otherwise in excellent condition. That was one thing he did well. Building robots powered by steam. He hadn't developed a talent for it until his own body had been rebuilt with steel. The two dogs with Catherine were two hounds he'd taken from the town that had been injured in an accident. One was 50% percent metal the other 15% and Catherine didn't care. She took to them immediately. If gave him hope that one day, she would feel the same for him. He was only 12% steel. He pushed the thought away and went back to work. Though the people in the town feared him, he was the top robotics engineer. One day they would probably try to oust him, but for now he was safe.

The second man servant came to dress him for dinner. It was the same process as it had been for the past year. Tonight was her one year anniversary as his housekeeper. The table was set with all the best foods. Only a small portion of the food would be eaten, whatever wasn't he had delivered to Catherine's family. He also provided them with a stipend for her service.

"How was your day, Catherine?"

"Nice. I spent the morning walking through the gardens. The hounds were playful today."

He didn't dare approach the hounds. Though he saved their lives they only knew him for someone who caused pain. They would die protecting her. Just what he planned. None of the animals he worked on could stand to be around him.

"Did you have a nice day, Sir?"

"I did."

"Master, run." The man servant stumbled into the room, his head sparking from a gash.

The master lunged to his feet, grabbing Catherine and pushing her towards the kitchen door. "Cook, get her out of here. Send someone to get the hounds. They will protect her."


Her words catch him off guard but the cook robot swept into the room and escorted Catherine away. The master stands behind the table, playing with one of the knives on the table. Tonight was the night. Not surprising since this was the year anniversary of the airship crash. They didn't remember him for saving lives. They remembered him as a butcher who cut off limbs and left others to die. They saw him hoarding his steelworks technology. He refused to be the cause of constant pain, especially since only seven percent of the people who undergo the operation to attach the steel plates to bone survive. He'd already known who Catherine was before that evening but when she showed up covered in blood, none of which was her own, he realized he wanted her close to him. He had needed someone to oversee his accounts and order the parts, she accepted his proposition.

"It is time for you to leave. We don't want you here anymore."

Several of the men in the crowd were using prosthetic limbs he'd created for them. All they saw was his fully function arm and optic eye while they hobbled around on peg legs and used hooked hands. Some had his newer steam powered design. It didn't matter though.

"Let's just kill him."

The master raised his hands and closed his eyes. He was a monster. If fate had decreed that he died tonight, than he would.

"Kill him."

"Touch one hair of his head and I will make you pay." Catherine's threat was punctuated by growls. The two mechanical dogs chased the men all the way from mansion.

The master looked at Catherine, not meeting her gaze. His blue optic light reflected in her eyes.

"You were suppose to lead," he said.

"I'm not leaving you. I want to stay with you." She stepped forward and her hand brushed the left side of his face. Half flesh half metal. The pain from the pressure made him wince and she pulled away.

"Sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."

"I'm fine." He smiled pushing past the pain.

"Can I stay with you, at least a little while longer? Don't make me leave yet."

"You can stay as long as you want."

"Good," Catherine picked up her napkin and sat back down on the table. "Then I chose to stay, forever."

The master spent the rest of the evening trying to figure out why someone like her would want to stay with a monster. When Catherine kissed his cheek goodnight he wondered if she even saw his metal side anymore. For one person in the world, he was a man who happened to have steel skin.

17 February 2012

The Screwtape Letters

by C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis is probably best known for his series NARNIA and a lot of people have come to recognize the religious aspect to this series. In his book THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS the religious aspect is a lot more prevalent. The story is in fact a series of letters written by the devil Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood. I knew about this book for some time but it wasn't until a book group assignment that I actually sat down and read through it to prepare for the monthly discussion. I really enjoyed it because it presents religious topics in a new way that really made me think. I have a feeling that not everyone would enjoy reading this book but I recommend it for those who want another view on Christian beliefs.

The story is written in epistolary format. Through the course of the 31 letters, Screwtape advises his nephew, Wormwood, on how best to tempt a man. Since this is written from the point of view of the devil the enemy discussed is in fact God and their great Lord is Satan. These letters cover everything from small temptations to large ones. It talks about getting men to form habits and leading them down gentle paths so they don't realize where they are headed. It is not a quick read and covers some deep themes.

THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS is not for everyone, but I recommend it. There is a story that goes along with it but it isn't read for the plot but the message. It is written around Christianity but covers some basic truths such as several of the seven deadly sins. I thought I would get through it fairly quickly and even though it is short I found myself reading passages and then going back to make sure I had them right. In some ways the book is dark and I was kind of relieved when I learned that C. S. Lewis did not enjoy writing it.

15 February 2012

Life Changes

When there is a major change in you life, how do you tell your family and friends? Do you call them each individually and explain it? Do you send an email to all of them? I decided that I am going to do it in a more public manner. Blogging about it.

A couple of years ago I think I mentioned that I am never going to go on vacation again. It happened again. I got back from LTUE and learned that my company laid off 15% percent of their employees. I happened to be one of them. The HR rep and my manager I think were more stressed about it than I was. I am sure I am still in shock about the whole thing. They actually had freelance forms for me all ready to fill out. I am once again unemployed. I am glad that I no longer have an hour commute, but that means I won't get to listen to as many audio books.

One of the reasons that I am coping with this so well is because of the keynote address at LTUE. Either that or this being the third time this has happened since I've been married makes me a an old hat at this. I am actually going to use this time to submit to more places. This may be the kick in the pants that I was needing. We shall see.

13 February 2012

Was and Said (Revisited)

This weekend I was at LTUE and I attended a panel on self-editing. I thought the presenter did a fantastic job with explaining some of the more difficult editing. I will cover more of these tips later but the two that I found really interesting was when she talked about was and said. I am pleased to say that for the most part I was correct in my earlier posts. But there is more to it than what I originally said.

I said to get rid of was as much as possible, but there are times when was is important. When there are two actions happening simultaneously you need to have was.

Jordan walked into the room and Lesli was standing at the window.

If we said Lesli stood at the window it means that when Jordan walked in Lesli then moved to the window, not that she was already there.

I wrote that said is invisible. The presenter mentioned this belief and explained that if you always use said it is no longer invisible. The trick is to intermix said with beats. A beat is when instead of having a dialog tag, you use an action to let the reader know who was speaking. Don't always use said, don't always use beats, don't always leave the tags off. The trick is to mix them throughout the story.

12 February 2012

LTUE 2012

Sorry, I don't have a story today. I spent the weekend at Utah Valley University listening to some of my favorite authors at LTUE.(LTUE is a symposium for fantasy and science fiction authors and illustrators.) I was a little hesitant about going. This was my fourth time and while I enjoy it there have been things in pasts years that make it a little trying. I figured I would go and just be glad I wasn't at work and if anything else happened that would be just extra icing on the cake. By the end of the symposium I had more icing then cake.

I left bright and early to get there in time to register. I had a few classes I really wanted to attend and I figured I would be home fairly early, eight or nine. I met up with my parents and we had a great time going around to the different classes. I attended a class on "The History of Chocolate" as well as "Rewriting the Classics" and "Map Making." These three classes in particular stuck out to me because of how well the presenters did. I went to them because they sounded and I learned more than I expected. I got story ideas from all of them. I enjoyed the other classes I attended.

The best part was meeting with my editor for the Crimson Pact anthology, Paul Genesse. He made a comment earlier in the day about going somewhere for dinner. When I finished the last class for the day I wondered how I could approach him and see if he was serious about getting a group together to go to dinner. When I was in Ohio at the World Fantasy Con I learned that tagging along with groups is a lot of fun, so long as they don't ask me to speak. Then I just feel out of place. I looked around for Paul for a few minutes and then decided that maybe I would just head home and see Moose. I wandered into one more place and Paul came up. He was still planning on getting a group together and he said I should come. It took about an hour to get the group together but we ended up with 10. One of those ten included the guest of honor James A. Owen. It was one of the best evenings I had. I got home at 10:30 just bubbling with stories that James had told us and feeling really good about life.

I was on a high from Thursday night and it just got better. The keynote address was by James A. Owen and though I had heard some of his stories before it was just as amazing the second time. I highly recommend everyone reading his book DRAWING OUT THE DRAGONS. I have heard quite a few motivational speeches due to my religion as well as all of the conferences I attend. This far outshone anything I had heard. What really stuck with me was his saying "Never, ever, sacrifice what you want most for what you want most now."

The rest of the day I was still on a high from his speech but I had a lot of fun. There was a mass book signing scheduled for that evening and I was worried because I had a book for James Dashner as well as Brandon Sanderson. I knew both of their lines would be long and didn't want to spend all night standing in line. I happened to see Brandon in the hall and inched my way up. I asked if it would be alright if he signed my book now, if he wasn't busy. He was so nice about it and signed my book.

That evening I got into James Dashner's line early with my dad. As we were waiting Brandon walked in. My dad, being my dad, called out that Sanderson should sign for Dashner. Brandon walked over, I held out my copy of THE DEATH CURE and he signed it. James was a little startled when he opened to the title page. I now have a one of a kind copy. I met with several other authors to get books signed.

This day wasn't nearly as exciting but I still had a great time. I went to several readings and got my books signed by Brandon Mull. My dad had watched Brandon Mull register that morning. LTUE is free for students, any students. There was a line of students waiting to pick up name tags when Mull walked up. The people at the desk waved him forward but he politely declined and waited until his turn. My dad made the comment that a lot of the authors at the conference are the superstars in the writing world and yet they don't act entitled. They are some of the nicest people you would ever meet. I think people have probably heard me call these authors my heroes and they laugh, but I am serious. It is men and women like these authors that make me want to be a better person, not just in my writing but in my actions.

10 February 2012

Rapunzel's Revenge and Calamity Jack

Rapunzel's Revenge
Written by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

The first year I went to LTUE (Life The Universe and Everything, a Fantasy/Science Fiction symposium in Provo Utah) I heard Nathan Hale give a presentation during which he talked about a graphic novel he illustrated. I am a sucker for fairy tales and when I heard about RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE I was intrigued. If you have ever watch the Disney movie TANGLED you'll have an idea of what this book is about. As a side note Shannon and Dean have no relation to Nathan, don't let the last names fool you.

RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE is a western. She uses her hair as lassos to rope, wrangle, and tie up anyone who gets in her way. On her journeys she runs into a man by the name of Jack. With Jack's help she travels across the country while getting in and out of all sorts of trouble. The dialog is witty, the characters loveable, and the pictures bright and attractive.

I love this book. I think it is a perfect retelling of Rapunzel that is fairly unique. You may find some similarities between the Disney version, completely coincidental I mean they are both based on the same fairy tale so of course there are going to be similarities. But it adds a flair to the characters and story that you really won't find anywhere else.

Calamity Jack
Written by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

The sequel to RAPUNZEL'S REVENGE is CALAMITY JACK. This story has your two favorite characters but in a new adventure. As you may have guess, Jack is often found around bean stalks and this is his story. Part of the story is a flashback before Jack met Rapunzel and you learn that he has always been someone who gets himself into trouble without always thinking of the consequences.

Jack is a loveable rouge who left his hometown we he attracted too much attention from the giants. When he heads back home with enough money to rebuild his mother's bakery he sees that things are a lot worse then they use to be. With Rapunzel's help they try and help anyway they can, only things don't go as smoothly as they plan, which is normal for them.

In some ways I like CALAMITY JACK better and that is because Jack and Punzie have a good relationship, a little strained at times due to miscommunication, but overall they are a great team. Kids will like it and I think adult will be surprised at how much they enjoy it. Just remember that this is a graphic novel.

08 February 2012

An Editor

So last week I wrote about how I write for myself. Because of Moose I submit my stories to various locations. While I haven't had anyone accept one of my novels, I have had some luck with my short stories. I enjoy writing short stories because they don't take as long. At this point four of my short stories have been published in anthologies. This week I heard back from an editor about another story. It was accepted but in the email, he politely explained that while he thought the story was interesting it was rough. I have worked with this editor twice before. At first I was shocked when he told me that this story was a draft. Of the three stories this was the one I spent the most time on. I had people give me all kinds of feedback. I was sure that this story would make me shine. As I go through the edits I have two trains of thought, "Thank goodness for a nice editor" and "Why did I ever think I could write. I am screwing up all the details." It makes me wonder if there are other authors out there who ever felt like they were out of their depth. All I can say at this point is that I could never self-publish. I need an editor.

06 February 2012

Time Management

I am swamped so the writing tip of the day is time management. First thing, it is okay to say no to people. Something I am terrible at. And keeping an organizer with all of the deadlines is a good way to make sure you don't miss anything important. Hopefully it will help reduce stress but that isn't always the case.

05 February 2012

*A Change of Seasons

Intro: Once again this idea stemmed from an idea Moose had. We saw a cat and he wondered if that was the shrinking one. He them made the comment that maybe while some animals shrunk in the winter others might grow, therefore changing who was hunter and who was the prey. I pay my husband in cookies if anyone was wondering.

Seth gripped the bone spear in his hand. Sweat dripped from his forehead to the leaves and he let out a breath. He felt torn between wiping off his face and risk them hearing, or leaving more of a scent trail for them to follow. Instead he stared up at the trees letting the moisture run down his neck and soak into his shirt. Not perfect.

The bushes to his left rustled and his heart stopped. A fox stopped in front of him. He prayed for the mammal to move on. A gunshot echoed behind him and the fox tore through the underbrush. Seth felt like running after it. Instead he counted his breaths. When he reached five thousand he took a step forward and paused again. Another shot rent the air, this time further away and towards the waterfall. That was how he had planned on escaping but instead he would have to head towards the cliff. Not what he planned and he would be a flare at midnight. The hunters' dark earth tones were perfect for this time of year. His white and gray skin just didn't cut it in the forest or against the red rock of the canyon. A third gunshot split the air, even fainter.

The rabbit pelt wrapped around his feet muffled his steps as he tore through the forest. Branches whipped his arms and face but he focused on the animal paths. The forest ended with twenty feet until the edge of the cliff. The river wound around the area giving it a labyrinth feel. He took a moment to peer over the edge and breathed a sigh of relief. He was downriver from the waterfall. He calculated the drop already knowing it was too far of a fall.

"He's there. Across the chasm."

Seth's head snapped up and he stared across the gap. Three hunters stood but as a few more moved he realized there were closer to ten if not more hiding among the rocks. He scrambled over the edge as a cloud of dust signified they were shooting at him. The sound of the shot came a second later. Rocks cut through his moccasins and dug into his palms as he slid down the almost sheer cliff. A bullet cut into his shoulder and he lost his grasp. When he hit the water a boulder pierced his side and he gasped. Water filled his lungs and the current dragged him down. He fought for air every time his head broke the surface of the water.

The river washed him up on a sand bank and for a moment he stared at the gray sky. Fear told him to get moving. They would have lost sight of him in the rapids but they knew to check down the river. His spear was gone and it could take months to form a spear, even if he could kill a large enough animal. Within a month he would die. Simple fact. Prey died.

He pushed himself up. But the pain from the bullet and boulder pitched him forward and he lay gasping. It would take a miracle. A breeze pulled at him and he shivered. With his cheek pressed against the sand and rocks he felt hope as a snowflake fell to the ground. Winter was coming He would no longer be the prey. If he could live that long.

03 February 2012

The Blue Castle

by L. M. Montgomery

I enjoyed ANNE OF GREEN GABLES but it is THE BLUE CASTLE by L. M. Montgomery I find myself thinking about. I never realized I was a sucker for romances but THE BLUE CASTLE is one of my all-time favorite feel good books. It was written back in 1926, which I didn't realize because it is a timeless story. A woman is diagnosed with a terminal illness and decides to take charge of her life. She meets a man and convinces said man to marry her because hey, she has never been married and doesn't want to go back to her controlling family. Only things aren't exactly as they seem to be.

The main character, Valancy, is an old maid and her family lets her know exactly what they think of her being twenty-nine and unmarried. When she learned that she isn't expected to live out the year she decides to take back her life. She lets her family know exactly what she thinks of them. There are some really funny instances and her family starts to think that she has gone crazy. She moves out of her family home to take a job as a housekeeper for one of her childhood friends. This friend was pregnant out of wedlock and her father is the town drunk. At this point Valancy is introduced to the town ruffian, Barney. You can probably guess who Valancy falls for and because I say that this is one of my feel good books you can probably guess how it turns out in the end.

It isn't just the happy ending that makes me all gooey inside but the characters. L. M. Montgomery has fleshed out characters that are individual. I grew attached to a lot of the characters in such a short period of time and I could picture them in my minds eyes. I am so glad I read THE BLUE CASTLE and it is one that I reread over the years. (As a side note it reminds me a lot of MOONRAKER'S BRIDE.)

01 February 2012

Why Do I Write?

I was trying to come up with something interesting to write this week. There are times I actually find it more difficult to write my Wednesday life posts than my flash fiction story. I follow (stalk) a lot of my favorite authors on Twitter and read their blogs and I am always amazed at the insightful and/or entertaining posts they have. I started this blog back in 2009 and I remember telling my family that I had it. Then they started telling me that they read it. I was a little nervous about it but since they are my family they should already know most of this (although my mother was surprised to learn I cheated on my personality test). After close to two and a half years I still avoid telling people I have a blog. I haven't decided if it is because I am worried that people will hate it, or if I just don't think I will compare to what else is out there. I write a blog because it is a good exercise for me. It makes me think about my life.

I want to be an author. I have wanted to be an author for years. I have been writing stories for quite a long time yet I have learned I am afraid. I have completed over 7 novels (4 of which have been revised at least once) and have 3 partially done. I have over one hundred short stories. Yet it takes my husband giving me deadlines to actually submit anything. I am not afraid of rejection. I actually have kept all of my rejection letters from publishers and agents alike. I have learned that I write for myself. I spent quite a bit of time alone when I was in elementary and to entertain myself I would make up stories to enact. Most of the time they were based on a book or movie. Even when I got older I kept these stories going. I write because I enjoy it. I have a blog because I actually enjoy forcing myself to think about my life and what has been going on. Why do I write? Because I am a writer at heart with a story to tell, even if the only audience is myself.