Welcome

Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Zippy (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter Z, I received 36 suggestions. Random.org selected number 18: zippy.


Zippy

It's been a long month. We've zipped through several different topics together, some of which related to writing more than others. And now we've come to the last one.

Zippy.

I used to be a pantser. I wrote three novels as a pantser. I know it works for some people, but it didn't work for me. I didn't pay any regard to the tempo of the scenes, and make sure they continued with a decent pace while raising the tension each time.

Now I plot everything, each scene throughout the story. I focus on the tempo of every one. I want them all to be zippy, high paced (as much as possible, anyway). I want the reader to be unable to put the story down. I can't say I've succeeded, but I'm still trying.

How do you keep your stories feeling zippy? Are you a pantser or a plotter?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Yorkie (#atozchellenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter Y, I received 30 suggestions. Random.org selected number 16: yorkie.


Yorkie

Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Dogs are man's best friend. Cute little creatures that love and cuddle us when we're down. And not just dogs. We could say the same about cats, iguanas, hamsters, Coi, ferrets, what have you. They're frequently in our lives wherever we turn.

So, my friends, I ask you: why don't we see more animals in fiction?

Really, I'm not just talking about the MC who has a Yorkie that cuddles with him/her while s/he watches television at night. I more mean, as the main characters themselves? What precludes animals from taking a major role beyond, say, MG fiction?

I don't have any answers, and, honestly, I'd like to know your thoughts. I have a weird idea for something with ants based on a recent ant invasion in my house (I can't blame them for trying to escape the rain!). But is something like that marketable?

So, what do you think? Why don't animals make more of a prominent appearance in YA and adult literature?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Xbox (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter X, I received 19 suggestions. Random.org selected number 10: Xbox.


Xbox

Pong (courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Video games have come a long way since the days of Atari. Pong and Space Invaders are so basic for today's kids that they won't even play them.

Sure, maybe it's the graphics, or the fact that it's boring to move the joystick left and right and left and right trying to bounce a tiny ball. But to me, the real reason kids today like the more modern video games is because of the stories.

Super Mario Bros (from Wiki Commons)
Yup, I said it. Video games have stories, too. Sometimes they're no more complicated than Super Mario Bro's—save the princess!—and sometimes, they are. There are side missions to find the key you need to open the door to the next submission, all so you can save the overly busty girl from being killed by zombies before the zombie master blows up the island. There are the main villains, their lackies (sub-villains?), and all the minions your little heart desires to stomp or shoot or whatever method you choose to get them out of your way.

Admittedly, we don't have an Xbox. We have a Wii. But as I asked for suggestions from the population at large—and today is X, not W :) —I gotta use what I can, right?

Resident Evil 4 (from Wiki Commons)
Granted, the stories in today's video games aren't exactly complex. Little character development goes on. The stories don't vary much, in that they're usually a journey story with a goal of treasure or redemption or saving humanity at the end. But as video game technology advances, so do the stories. And while I love playing Super Mario Galaxy, the "story" is more a throwback tribute to the original Mario games while raising the skill level—jump on some mushrooms, save the princess from crazy Bowser. I much prefer watching my husband play (because it's too scary for me) Resident Evil. Yeah, there's a lot of zombie destruction, but the story's kind of interesting.

Mario Kart (from Wiki Commons)
Of course, my favorite video game is Mario Kart. No story there. Just win the race. But I've always been more a puzzle game person myself. It helps that I can play online against my friends and cousins all over the world. (If you ever want to play, just let me know :)

Have you ever considered the stories in video games? Do you play video games?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wine (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter W, I received 51 suggestions. Random.org selected number 4: wine.


Wine

So, let me be honest. This challenge has me WIPED OUT. Given the way I designed the challenge for myself, too, it's bee rough.

So, forgive me when I say, I've got NO inspiration as to what to write about in relation to wine.

Wine and I have a tortured relationship. My favorite wine of all is nice, dry red, like a Rioja or sharp Cabernet. But then I discovered that I got migraines from red wine. So I switched to white wine. Come to find out, sweet white also gives me migraines. Then I tried to drink only dry white wine.

Well, guess what happened.

Now, Rosie gets no more wine. Surprised?

When Random.org selected "wine" for this post, I thought I'd be inspired. But then again, if my inspiration previously came from wine, and now I can't drink it anymore, it's not surprising that I can't think of a single way to connect wine to writing with some clever twist.

Where does your inspiration come from? Has there been a source of inspiration that you've lost? What do you do to find the inspiration again?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Visionary (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter V, I received 54 suggestions. Random.org selected number 9: visionary.


Visionary

When I first started writing again, I had a vision. No, literally, a vision. Well, okay, it wasn't one of those show-my-destiny-through-mental-images vision, but it was a message my brain wanted to tell me. A repeated scene in my head over and over. My psyche whispering to me in my dreams. Too bad my psyche really wanted to scare the pants off of me... and succeeded, to be sure.

But this vision turned into something. It's the climax in my first (hefty) manuscript, something that no one will ever see but me, one supportive friend, and my super-supportive sister-in-law. But that's not the point.

The point is that we're all visionaries in our own worlds. We create from nothing but the synapses in that gray matter under our skull and some personal experiences. We have visions.

Yeah, yeah, are you bored with my "we're the awesomest" speech yet?

I bring this up because sometimes the original vision isn't the best. My writing instructor once told us that revision and re-vision aren't the same thing, and I believe her. I've seen it in action. Sometimes moving scenes around and editing the syntax aren't enough to provide the best story within us. Sometimes you have to delete a third of a novel and rewrite it, re-visioning how it should play out. Sometimes you have to rethink a character's actions. If, upon further inspection, that character wouldn't do that huge action that creates the tension for the rest of the novel, then something needs to be re-visioned.

I'm currently rewriting the first, oh, third (the number above was either arbitrary or subconsciously apt) of my novel Fighting Fate. The original was poor. The tension lagged. People did some stuff, but, eh, people do stuff all the time. This time around, though, I'm rethinking everything, including the backstory, to get them where they need to go. And, if I do say so myself (*dusting off shoulders*), it's not too bad.

Ever had to re-vision your work? How far are you willing to go to rewrite your fiction/poetry? Are you willing to scrap everything but your basic characters and start over? How much re-visioning is too much?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Usual Suspects (#atozchallenge)

PS (in this case, pre-script)--My Mondays and Wednesdays have me running around without good internet access all day until 9pm EST (US). I'll get back to you, but it might be late tonight. 

Today's post is a little different from my other 25 for the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge, because I'm trying to do double duty. I know, I know. Shame on me. Maybe I'm cheating a little, but I don't think so. Maybe it's more like positive time management :)

Anyway, today is U for the A-to-Z Challenge.

It's also the Now Starring... Blogfest.


So, today, I give you my Usual Suspects.

Courtesy of Wiki Commons
Here's my ideal cast of Fighting Fate, my work in progress. These are only the major players for Book 1. Anyone else I'll have to save for another time.

Anabelle Lindsky, played by Emma Roberts
Anabelle, 19, is a lively girl, impulsive and playful. Emma Roberts physically looks the most like how I picture Anabelle in my mind. I'm not positive I've ever seen Roberts on screen, so I can't say much about her acting. She just needs a pair of blue contacts.

Prince Marcus, played by Chace Crawford.
Marcus, 21, has little interest in what the royal family wants from him. He's rebellious, but in his own subtle way. Not only does Crawford look like my ideal Marcus, but his attitude and his acting making me think he'd do well.

Admittedly, it was a toss up between Crawford and Zac Efron, but Crawford won out.

Lily Yasukawa, played by Aya Ueto.
Lily is spunky and nuts, and drives Anabelle to do things she wouldn't do of her own accord. She puts up with not nonsense, and it's in your best interest not to lie to her. She has her ways of making you regret it.

Roger McKilthy, played by Jake Gyllenhaal.
Roger is Marcus's bodyguard. Serious and stoic, and, well, hot. Yup. Roger's muscle and hotness, and I can't think of anyone better than Gyllenhaal to do that. Oh, yeah, he's a good actor, too :)

Betsy Lindsky, played by Charisma Carpenter.
Anabelle's mother is beautiful and spunky. Who better than Carpenter to play that role?

Then again, it's hard for me to think of Carpenter as her own age after habitually watching Buffy. To me, even at 41, she's a HS student! But in my WIP, she'd be playing her actual age.

Queen Renee, played by Helena Bonham Carter.
I think Helena Bonham Carter is so incredibly beautiful, even when she's playing an evil Death Eater. The woman has so much poise and charisma, she would be a perfect Queen. 

Eric and Camilla, Archduke and Archduchess, played by Alan Tudyk and Gina Torres.
They have such great chemistry in Firefly and Serenity, and they both fit the bill physically for my mental image, so I'd love it if they could play my Duke and Duchess, too (just in less cowboy-meets-outer-space-type clothing).

Princess Natalie, played by Summer Glau.
Okay, I never watched the Terminator series. My devotion to Glau comes from all things Joss Whedon. Natalie's character is a little crazy, a lot blunt, and just enough off the mainstream that Glau seemed the perfect fit. Plus, Glau's dance experience could come in handy in Book 2. *wink* 

Lady Zoe, played by Amanda Bynes.
Zoe is blonde, beautiful, and voluptuous. Of all the characters I've listed here, she's about the only one who hasn't changed.












Who would you cast for your novel?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tune (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter T, I received 58 suggestions. Random.org selected number 30: tune.


Tune

Music helps me write. I have an ever-evolving playlist that I consider the soundtrack to my novel(s). Here are a couple of the highlights, in no particular order (links go to YouTube):

Muse
Muse, "Starlight"

The Spice Girls, "Wannabe" (don't ask how that happened)

Paramore, "Conspiracy"

Heartless Bastards
Heartless Bastards, "Had to Go"

Brazilian Girls, "Jique"

Juanes, "A Dios le Pido"


Do you have a soundtrack for your fiction? What songs/artists are on your lists?


I'm taking suggestions today for the letter Z. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Send (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter S, I received 58 suggestions. Random.org selected number 46: send.


Send

For me, the "Send" button on my email can be intimidating. Does anyone else feel this way? I'm not talking about just to send an email to my friend, or respond to a blog comment, but when I have added that oh so gentle Word or PDF attachment to that email and am sending it to someone for critique or just general comments. Honestly, I can feel the tip of my finger sweating as I reach for the mouse button.

Click.

And let the nail-biting begin.

Really, this is just the beginning, because I haven't started querying yet. How am I going to feel once I start sending the blurb for my baby out into the wilderness, waiting for some helpful woodland critter (agent?) to help it on its way to maturity and its reemergence into the world? I'm worried it will feel akin to an outright fever, with the shakes and sweat and nausea.

So, folks, I ask you: What's your way of handling the anticipation and waiting during the query process?


Also, today I'm taking suggestions for the letter Y. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rutilated (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter L, I received 39 suggestions. Random.org selected number 35: rutilated.


Rutilated

Okay, I'll admit it. I had to look this up. My friends have taken it upon themselves (I think) to stump me with some of their words. (I really should have done this before taking the GRE several years ago.)

What got me was when this word wasn't in my dictionary.

So, despite my complaining about it a couple of weeks ago, I went to (*gasp*) Wikipedia.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons.
"Rutile is a mineral composed primarily of titanium dioxide, TiO2... Rutile derives its name from the Latin rutilus, red, in reference to the deep red color observed in some specimens when viewed by transmitted light."

In the spirit of crystals, and red ones at that, I've decided today to tell you a little bit more about the magic in my novel Fighting Fate. If you read my entry for the Nature of Magic blogfest, or my entry for the Query Letter blogfest, you might have noticed that I need to spell out some details. So, here goes.

The source of magic in the story comes from two stones—one red, one blue—each given to one of the sons of the first king to find the true nature of personal magic. Each ancestor of the two brothers, Elmore and Aldred, was ensured some piece of that magic as long as the stones exist. This is "myth" to some, and the stones are kept hidden, under the protection of the ultimate head of each branch of the family, usually the king or queen. The stone chooses (sort of) the head of the family because it will increase that person's magic if it is touch his or her skin.

However, since it's a myth, many people in the story either don't know about it or don't believe it. They take their magic for granted. Because of the stones, only descendants of the two brothers have access to this magic. There's another kind of magic, when magicless people try to control the magic within the earth for their own purposes, but it's as violent as an unbroken horse, and leads to mystical, incurable injury in almost all cases.

So, when Prince Marcus discovers a commoner who has magic, he becomes suspicious. He feels compelled to discover her secret, be it either her tricks for taming the magic of the earth, or which branch of the family she comes from. When she insists it's neither, he only decides to pursue the issue harder.

Thanks for reading, folks.

What issues have you needed to sort out recently? How do you outline your thoughts? Do you freewrite on the computer or a journal? Do you talk out the issues with a friend or family member?

Today I'm taking suggestions for the letter X. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Plume (#atozchallenge)

No, I'm not confused. Well, not about my post, anyway.  Yesterday I participated in the Query Letter Blogfest, hosted by Alicia, Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita. So today I'm posting my letter P. I figured it would be okay to switch the days, since they were so close together. Moderators? Am I out of line? :)

And, by the way, I want to thank EVERYONE for their fantastic, supportive, and constructive comments yesterday. If I haven't been to visit you yet, I am coming. I promise.

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter P, I received ?? suggestions (my spreadsheet crashed, so I don't have the total number anymore). Random.org selected number 24: plume.


Plume

We are components of the digital age, cogs in the interweb wheel. We hop, we surf, we comment, we read, and mostly we type. I know, for me personally, I spend more time typing than I do writing by hand these days.

But who's to say that typing is better? No, I don't hear you telling me that necessarily. Sure, it's faster. It only takes a millisecond to hit a key instead of making your hand move a pen, involving all kinds of friction, to create, say, the letter S. Or even worse, to write a letter like T, when you have to pick up your pen or pencil and make TWO marks.

Oh, the horror!

It's slower. There's no question about it. But in this digital age, don't we need to take some time to slow ourselves down? Take the time to think through the plot and characterization surrounding the latest scene?

Maybe a piece of paper and a writing utensil aren't such bad ideas. Maybe I'll even follow in the ways of the Watery Tart and fill my bathtub and write.

In this crazy world, how do you slow yourself down? Do you ever write by hand? Or you a typing-only writer?


Today I'm taking suggestions for the letter W. Have any? Leave them in a comment. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

P is for Query (#atozchallenge)

No, I'm not confused. Well, not about my post, anyway.  Today I'm participating in the Query Letter Blogfest, hosted by Alicia, Erinn, Holly, Pam, Quita. Tomorrow I will post my letter P. I figured it would be okay to switch the days, since they were so close together. Moderators? Am I out of line? :)

So, today I'm posting my query blurb for Fighting Fate. I'm currently in the midst of substantial (painful) edits, which is why I've left the word count blank. It's wrought with problems, so hack away. PLEASE!



Dear ________,

When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to say she’d met Prince Marcus. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. The odd magnetism between them makes it impossible for either to resist the other.

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of a prophecy about the two young adults forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

Fighting Fate, a New Adult Romance/Urban Fantasy novel of about XX,000 words, is the first of a three-part series, though it can stand alone.

(Personalization goes here)

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Rosie Connolly


UPDATE

Here's a second draft. Hopefully I've addressed some of the issues. I'm not afraid of comments and know this is really rough, so don't hold back, folks. I can take it.

And thank you!


When a dare causes Anabelle Lindsky to use her magic and sneak into the restricted area of the royal Mansion, she only wants to meet Prince Marcus. For reasons he can’t explain, he saves her from being discovered by security. After she gains his attention, however, Marcus decides to pursue this daredevil commoner with her sky blue eyes and unexplained magic abilities. What neither of them could have anticipated was that their meeting and future relationship had been foretold as the first in a series of events leading to civil war and the destruction of the nation.

Anabelle didn’t realize that her stunt would also attract the attention of the violent, impulsive Queen. The Queen’s knowledge of the prophecy forces her to keep Anabelle and Marcus apart in order to maintain her control, no matter how drastic the measures. After the Queen suggests a threat to Anabelle’s life, the couple run without any knowledge of the prophecy. Anabelle and Marcus must decide if their attraction is worth the risk of avoiding the Queen’s wrath, unaware that the stability of their lives and the nation depends on their decision.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ordinary (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter O, I received 32 suggestions. Random.org selected number 4: ordinary.


Ordinary

As writers, we want—no, we NEED—our work to be extraordinary. We need to avoid the slush pile and make some agent take notice. We need to catch the eye of a publisher. We need to make the public notice us and buy our book. It calls for lots of footwork, both physical and virtual, to accomplish these tasks.

So, how do we do that? Can we just write about the most extraordinary characters we can think of, put them in the craziest situations that come to mind, make the writing as flamboyant as possible, and hope that we get someone's attention?

Am I alone here in thinking "no"?

Sometimes the best writing is the simplest.

Sometimes the most compelling characters are the ones who seem the most ordinary.

Why is that? Why is it easier for me to relate to some lazy high school girl who makes the teachers think she's smart when all she does is watch TV and read for fun when she goes home, or hangs out with her friends? *cough* Because I've been (something) like that. This doesn't mean that I can't relate to a forty-something man, or a five-year old who's never left a room (who's read that?), or an eighty-year-old dementia patient. It's more like I can't relate as easily to the five-legged superhero who always wins and gets the girl/guy and has super flame-throwing vision and...

You get the idea.

The best hero is the anti-hero. Jane Doe, with all her faults and quirks and the little things that make her human.

What kinds of faults do you give your characters? If you write genre fiction and your characters aren't 100% ordinary, how do you make them feel ordinary to the reader?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nectarine (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter N, I received 23 suggestions. Random.org selected number 7: nectarine.


Nectarine

How would you feel reading the following scene in a novel? (Please remember, this is off-the-cuff.)

Joan sat down with her friend Michelle on the bench and pulled a nectarine from her bag. She dug her nail deep into the fruit skin and tore a line halfway around it.

"I think we should go to Darin's party," Michelle said.

Joan bit into the nectarine. A little drop of juice slid onto her chip, and she wiped it off with the back of her sleeve "But his parents won't be home." More juice dripped onto the ground.

"All the better." Michelle rolled her eyes.

Joan thought about the party as she bit into the ripe fruit again. She chewed it, feeling the fiber crunching between her teeth while the sweet juice swept over her tongue. After swallowing, she said, "I don't know." 

You see where this is going... or where it's not, for that matter. The question is: what's the most important part of this scene? Is it the food? Or is it the discussion of the part?

In real life, lots of things happen at one time. Right now I'm sitting in an empty room at school trying to write this, but I'm still distracted noticing the people walking outside, the noise from the fan, the large, loud meeting across the hallway, the car that just pulled into the parking lot. But if I were to fictionalize this time, I would need to focus the reader's attention on what's important, which is (possibly) none of those things.

Details are good, folks. Dot get me wrong. They just need to be the right details.

What do you do to focus the writing? Have you ever written a scene and wondered why you'd added certain details?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mambo by Moonlight (#atozchallenge)

Today I'm doing something a little different for the A-to-Z Challenge. In addition to this being my M post, I've also joined up for Wendy Tyler Ryan's Blogiversary Blogfest, arranged around the letter M.





The rules are simple:  50-500 word scene or flash fiction with a dark feel (whatever dark means to you - your interpretation - get creative or literal, it doesn't matter).  But, - isn't there always a but?  You must use all of the following 'M' words in your piece, but don't just pack 'em in there, it should make sense.  You should treat it like any other piece of writing you do because there will be so many new friends reading.  Thrill us with your skill and adept flair:

mist(y)
mambo
moon
musk(y)
mongrel
myth

And so, without further ado, I give you my short contribution.


Mambo by Moonlight

Dance, you mongrel! Dance beneath the stars. Dance like you need to, as if lust drives your arms, your feet, your hips.

I don’t care if you’re tired. Want to test me? I’ll show you how well I wield my whip.

Your mambo this evening is our hope made reality. You were handpicked from many for curve of your flank, the smooth character of your flesh. Our myths and legends tell us you will save our world, our lifestyle, if only this one night you would dance for us beneath the moon.

So would you just shut up and dance already! Look like you care. Pretend you want to use your musky body to lure us to you, bring us closer in lustful mambo seduction. Ignore any knowledge you have of what happens once the mambo ends.

Oh, the mist is clearing. The moon shines bright. Watch as the heavens open and our Redeemer comes forth. Oh, accept our sacrifice, great Redeemer! For we love and cherish your protection.

And don’t worry, mongrel. Our Redeemer’s teeth are sharp. It’ll only hurt for a moment.


Any comments are welcome. Thanks for reading!


I'm taking suggestions today for the letter T. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lymph (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter L, I received 42 suggestions. Random.org selected number 20: Lymph.


Lymph

Can you imagine how I felt when this word was selected by Random.org? When I think of the word "lymph" I think "node". I'm not a sciency gal, so what was I going to do with that?

Just to be on the safe side, I went to Dictionary.com. And this is what I found (direct link to page):

lymph

[limf] Show IPA
–noun
  1. Anatomy, Physiology: a clear yellowish, slightly alkaline, coagulable fluid, containing white blood cells in a liquid resembling blood plasma, that is derived from the tissues of the body and conveyed to the bloodstream by the lymphatic vessels.
  2. Archaic: the sap of a plant.
  3. Archaic: a stream or spring of clear, pure water.
Origin:
1620–30;  < Latin lympha  water (earlier *limpa; see limpid); pseudo-Greek  form, by association with nympha  < Greek nýmphē nymph


Interesting, huh?

Words are constantly changing their meanings. Well, words aren't in charge of that—people are. A case in point: COOL. During WWI, cool meant a low temperature, but not quite cold. Now? Or how about SQUARE? The antithesis of COOL, or just a parallelogram?

What I'm about to say doesn't so much apply to literary fiction as it does to genre fiction. Consider yourself warned :)

Writers need to be careful about their word choices in works which are intended to be "timeless". I'm thinking about science fiction and fantasy, mainly. Characters shouldn't be speaking jive, wondering about that square cat who stole his bread/dough/moola. Their words need to withstand the test of time.

Okay, maybe not the test of "pure water" becomes "nasty puss", but keep the slang OUT. Make the words as timeless as possible. Your readers in three generations will thank you, too.

Do you use slang in your writing? How do you make your work timeless?




I'm taking suggestions today for the letter S. Have any? Leave them below. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Kind (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter K, I received 39 suggestions. Random.org selected number 7: kind.

PS--My Mondays and Wednesdays have me running around without good internet access all day until 9pm EST (US). I'll get back to you, but it might be late tonight.


Kind

What kind of kind shall I kind of discuss? The kind in which we discuss a sort of thing, or the kind in which I discuss the value quality of someone's personality?

GAH! I'm such a geek :)
Image courtesy of Wiki Commons
Is your head spinning? Mine is.

English is full of homonyms (e.g., kind the noun and kind the adjective), homographs (lead the ore and lead the verb), and homophones (two, too, and to; your and you're).

What's a writer to do with all this nonsense?

When it comes to homonyms like kind and kind, usually the context will make it clear to our readers what we're talking about. Not so bad.

Homographs get a little trickier. In the above examples, I mention lead (as in "Alchemists claim turning lead into gold") and lead (as in "The duck leads her babies to the pond"). This is usually okay, too, until we throw past tense in the mix. Have you ever written something like "The duck lead her babies to the pond" when you MEANT "The duck LED her babies to the pond"?

You don't have to admit it. We all know we do this, at least in that first draft when we're too excited to self-edit.

But Homophones are the worst. They're sneakier than those gnomes that hide in your drier waiting to steal your socks and use them for their little gnomy purposes. Your writing along, and their you have this horrible mistake where you meant to write "you're", but "your" just jumped in they're.

Yes, I know what I did in that paragraph.
If you send a manuscript to an editor with those mistakes rampant across the page, s/he's not going to read it. Talk about fodder for the slush pile!

So what to do? Fret away? Lose sleep wondering over what words are wrong? Chew your nails down to tiny stubs? (Wait, with all the typing we do, does anybody have long nails to begin with?)

No, my friends. There is a solution. Learn to self-edit.

Now, if you're reading this, I've probably read your blog, too, and, frankly, I haven't read many blogs out there where I would consider the author in dire need of a self-editing intervention. BUT, if you are in need of some suggestions, here's a place to start:

Revision and Self-Editing by James Scott Bell.

Want more suggestions? Check out this resource.

Still think there might be a problem? Save your nails, folks. You can always hire an editor. Some are cheaper than others, but if you can't edit your own work, make sure SOMEONE does before you send it in.

Or else the slush pile is waiting.


Do you self-edit? How did you learn your grammar tricks? Or are you just a grammar genius? (if you are, don't rub it in much :)


Today I'm taking suggestions for the letter R. Have any? Leave them below! Thanks :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Juniper (#atozchallenge)

Welcome to today's post on the A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. My challenge, as I have chosen to accept it, is thus: I have asked on my Facebook and Twitter accounts for people to contribute random words beginning with today's letter. From Random.org, I have selected one of these words, and will below challenge myself to connect said word to writing.

For the letter J, I received 50 suggestions. Random.org selected number 10: juniper.


Juniper

Close your eyes for a moment.

Wait, never mind. If you close your eyes, you can't read this. Eyes open. Read on.

Okay, so imagine (with your eyes open), that I've said "juniper" to you, and I show you this picture.

Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

And I ask you to describe juniper to me. Where do you start?

"Well, it's a tree, on which grow small, dark juniper berries..."

If you're anything like me, you start with the visual. As writers, we paint pictures in the mind. But sometimes, we forget that the mind's eye can do more than see.

How do juniper trees sound in the wind?

What do juniper trees smell like after an autumn rain? How do the berries smell  just after being picked?

How does the bark of the tree feel under your hand? The needles? What feeling do you get when you squish a berry between your fingers?

What do juniper berries taste like? (I won't ask about the bark.)

The picture we're painting for our readers is not static, and it's not only visual. There's so much more to a setting and a character than just how it/he/she looks. Does your sixteen-year-old male MC have BO? Does that twenty-something secretary (that your MC is screwing behind his wife's back) wear strawberry LipSmackers? Does your MC's sixty-two year old boss wear so much perfume that your MC prefers to walk the eight flights of stairs to the ground floor than take the elevator with her? (I bring this up only because I know this woman.)

Not yet convinced? Well, I'd like to leave you with this small scene from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, season 1, episode 8: I Robot, You Jane (not my favorite episode title). Unfortunately—and unsurprisingly—I couldn't find this clip on YouTube, but if you start at about minute 42:00 and let it play for about 1 minute, you'll get what I'm saying.



Don't have time to watch? The bottom line: things are better when they're smelly :)

Want more ideas on how to work smells into your writing? Check out this great post by Charity.

How do you describe your settings? Your characters? Do you try to add more than the usual visual content?


Today I'm taking suggestions for the letter P? Have any? Leave them below! Thanks :)
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