Short Story in Progress

Project: The Witch of the Little Wood
New Words: 2,079
Current Total Word Count: 7, 606
Goal: Complete the story (this short story is turning into a novlette, I think).

Random Rough Sentence(s): Everyone knew that the witch lived in the little wood, that she lives in the hollow of a tree. There she keeps old bottles, the labels torn off, which she refills with potions of her own making. The slithering slickly brown one turns a child into a toad. The angery black oilly one keeps you from ever having a happy thought again. The clear liquid one, evervescent and glowing will cause you to fall asleep forever and dream of things you want but can never have. And everyone knows that she eats children, roasting them, crisping them black over a tiny fire in the middle of the little wood. She saves the bones for her potions, pops the eyes like jellied grapes into her mouth. Everyone knows that she is the witch of the little wood. That wood belongs to her and always has. If you follow her too close, she will stop and stare at you with her sharp, dark eyes, and you won’t be able to sleep for a week. And if you stare back and look to long, you’ll end up crazy like John Peterson over on Elm, who tried to drink drano and now is living in a shelter, because he can’t be happy ever again.

Notes: This story has been tumbling around my head for a while. I started it a while back and intended to write it for Scheherazade’s Facade (an anthology market), but never finished it. I’ve started rewriting it from scratch and am rather pleased with the results. It’s the first time I have a longer story that I know I can finish and that I know I’ll be happy with by the end. Amazing feeling to have.

I’ve been getting good feedback on it from my writing group, too, which is always nice. (^_^)

An assortment of bookish things. . .

Newly Released
Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente () is now available. The cover is gorgeous, very reminiscent of woodcut drawings, and the story — a modern retelling of the Slavic folktale, “Koschei the Deathless” — looks rather kick ass, too, as you can in this exceptionally done book trailer.

Valente also has a list of ways that people can help her promote her book on her blog, all of which is great advice for helping out any of your favorite authors when they release a new book.

Coming Soon
Naomi Clark () is currently finishing up edits and formatting for her book Wild, which will be released on the kindle. This book has been in the making for five years, and she’s venturing back through her blog as a restrospective look at some of her challenges and thought processes along the way. (Now that she’s releasing books on kindle, I’m considering finally getting one. E-readers never held an appeal before, but now I must partake in the awesome that is Naomie’s writing.)

Also, the official flap copy and cover of Ganymede by Cherie Priest () has been released. Eeee! It looks great. I do love this steampunk series and I can’t wait for the next book to come out.

Speaking of Steampunk… a quick review:
Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded is a rather good collection of steampunk tales. It has it’s ups and downs, but overall the stories are enjoyable. Along with the stories, there are a couple of interesting non-fiction pieces and a round-table interview about the future of steampunk.

Here are a few of the stories that I especially enjoyed:

  • In “The Unblinking Eye” by Stephen Baxter, Europe has advanced steam technology, but has never ventured toward the new world. Rather it is the Incas, who have developed their own advanced technology, and have ventured into lands unknown, colonizing each new territory they come across. come to pay Europe a visit.
  • Caitlin R. Kiernan tells the story of a maimed young woman, who has been outfitted with steam-powered limbs in “The Steam Dancer.”
  • “The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar” by Shweta Narayan, presents a new take on a traditional folktale, involving the beautiful clockwork birds of the Emperor’s aviary.
  • “Wild Copper” by Samantha Henderson can barely be labeled steampunk genre. It’s more of a fairy story, in which a girl offers to serve Oberon to save her brother. Steampunk or not, this is still a great tale.
  • An lonely orphan builds himself a mechanical friend in “Tanglefoot (A Clockwork Century Story)” by Cherie Priest. But his souless begins to take on a life of its own.
  • “The Anachronist’s Cookbook” by Cherie Priest Catherynne M. Valente (listing the wrong author goes down as the worst typo ever; so, so sorry) rails against the accepted politics of a steampowered era as it presents the exploits of an angry and vicious young woman.

While there were a couple of stories that I was not a fan of (i.e., “A Secret History of Steampunk” by The Mecha-Ostrich and “Flying Fish Prometheus” by Vilhelm Bergsøe), overall I enjoyed this collection of steampunk fiction and art. In fact, I would say it’s better than the first installment of this anthology series.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda

Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon: Selected Poems of Pablo Neruda, Translated by Stephen MitchellI bought this collection of Pablo Neruda’s poetry (translated by Stephen Mitchell) in 2001 and its taken me until now, ten years later, to finish it. This extremely slow pace should not be mistaken for dislike of the book, however. I had not read Neruda’s work before I boughtFull Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon. Traveling Mexico, I was looking for a book in Spanish and English that I could read, enjoy, and practice my Spanish with and I remembered that my Spanish teacher had mentioned this poet’s name in class at one point.

I began reading the book by first reading the poem in Spanish, then in English, then in Spanish again, to begin to get a sense of the poetic phrasing and how the language was translated.

As I began reading, however, I fell in love with each new ode and the way Neruda was clearly in love with life, the universe, and everything. He wrote odes to socks, to birds, to onions, to anything and everything this world has to offer. All of these ordinary things, which he layered with sensual and resonant language, suddenly had new mystical properties. I could not look at the armored artichoke the same way again as I dropped it into a pot to boil.

One would think I would have powered through the book to read every single poem, but the truth was I could not leave my favorite poems behind. This was a book I always had at hand, on a night stand or in my stack of TBR books. No matter what other books I was reading, I always eventually came back to these poems, returning to them like old lovers. I reread my favorites again and again, while every once in a while progressing forward to the another poem, a new favorite to be added to the list.

Now that I’ve finally finished the book, beginning to end, I will still be keeping it close. There is so much beautiful language to revisit and rediscover. This is a book that will probably always be by my side. I love it so.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Machine of Death

Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die, edited by Ryan North, Matthew Bennardo, and David Malki

The concept (or gimmick, if you prefer) for this anthology of stories came from an episode of Ryan North’s Dinosaur Comics. In a nutshell, each of these stories is set in a world in which a machine has been invented that tells you how you will die. To quote from the back cover: “The machine had been invented a few years ago: a machine that could tell, from just a sample of your blood, how you were going to die. It didn’t give you the date and it didn’t give you specifics. It just spat out a sliver of paper upon which were printed, in careful block letters, the words DROWNED or CANCER or OLD AGE or CHOKED ON A HANDFUL OF POPCORN. It let people know how they were going to die.

The problem with the machine is that nobody really knew how it worked, which wouldn’t actually have been that much of a problem if the machine worked as well as we wished it would. But the machine was frustratingly vague in its predictions: dark, and seemingly delighting in the ambiguities of language. OLD AGE, it had already turned out, could mean either dying of natural causes, or shot by a bedridden man in a botched home invasion. The machine captured that old-world sense of irony in death — you can know how it’s going to happen, but you’ll still be surprised when it does.”

Reading the premise, I would be easy to suspect redundancy in the stories, as with any gimmick. However, each of these authors pushes the boundaries of storytelling, using the concept of the machine to present a variety of possibilities and some very human reactions. The morbid is a natural part of each tale, but it stands as a back drop for exploration of human spirit and potential. These tales are touching, sad, experimental, thrilling, exciting. They are full of love, hope, loss, despair, joy, and humor.

It’s hard to pick out a favorite, because there are so many great stories to read, but here are a few, I especially enjoyed (the titles are all death predictions the machine might put out):

  • “Suicide” presents the story of a man bent on proving the death machine wrong, no matter what it takes.In “Aneurysm,” the machine is used as a rather unusual party game, with unusual and comical results.
  • “Loss of Blood” presents a frightening dystopian future, in which the world is divided along new class lines — the “good” deaths and the “bad” deaths.
  • Following several years of loss and sorrow, a couple seeks out the death machine’s prediction as a beacon of hope in “Miscarriage.”
  • In “Cassandra,” a young woman uses her knowledge of quantum mechanics to try to find a way out of the death machine’s prediction of a terrible disaster.

Many, many more could be mentioned, of course, the entire book in fact. There was not one story that I disliked outright, making this the one of the best anthologies that I’ve ever read. Not only was each story great in it’s own way, but many were also carried with powerful, poetic writing, not to mention the bonus of having each story include an illustration, provided by some great artists. (I’m even more jealous and regretful that I did not write and send in a story when submissions for this market was open.) Definitely worth having on your bookshelf.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

At Work

I just spent two and a half hours at the office after work rewriting a flash fiction piece to submit. It’s off and away.

It’s a good thing. But my now back hurts, I’m tired (I’ve still got an hour commute ahead of me) and I don’t want to go running.

I’m feeling like working on my writing means sacrificing my marathon training. And vice versa. I need to figure out the balance between the two.

But first, I just need to get in the car and go home.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Creating Poetry, by John Drury

I picked up this book because someone in an Amazon review called Creating Poetry a “muse disguised as paper”. It may not go that far, but it’s close. This book is full of writing prompts, each focused on the chapter’s subject, from Beginnings to Tone, Form, Research, Sound, Inspiration and more. There is plenty here for a poet to use and learn from, especially if they flip around from section to section, picking out prompts on an area of their writing they want to focus on. (I don’t think the best use is to read it from cover to cover as I did).

Occasionally, I thought the prompts for a particular subject were to specific, however, Drury encourages you to use this book as a jumping off point. It’s not necessary to follow the prompts to the letter, if the poem goes off in another direction.

Also, here is on of my responses to one of the prompts in the book. I followed a prompt focused on ghazal’s a form of poetry traditionally from the Middle East, which arranges the poem in a series of 5-10 couplets, rhymed on the same sound throughout and using the subject of love or wine to represent mystical experience. The prompt I used asked that the reader write a ghazal of my own. You’ll note that I dropped the rhyme, like many American poets do.

An Untitled Ghazal

The water in the vase is stagnant; the stems slimy.
A halo of petals on the table are emptied of fragrance.

We are always new, he says, always in the state of becoming new,
each dead cell replaced with its replicated offspring.

The leaves are dancing like translucent tissue paper.
The mottled light is bounding along the grass.

The days are an amalgamation of eyes blinking, hair growing,
lips parting, fingers thrumming over the flesh of the world.

He says, its not that time moves too quickly.
It’s that it moves too quickly.

The stars glimmer like fireflies trapped in tar.
The stars are a map of the freckles on your skin.

He says, silly rabbit, you have to have lived
what you lived in order to know what you know.

The Gerber Daisy leans against the glass.
A sun resides at the heart of its petals.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

“Beginning is easy — continuing hard” ~ Japanese Proverb

Technically this project began with the entries I wrote for January’s [info]brigits_flame contest (Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, if you’re inclined to read them). As soon as I started writing these passages, along with about 712 words of back ground, I knew there was a much larger story that needed writing.

I’ve never thought about writing a werewolf novel. I definitely read werewolf stories and enjoyed them (Silver Kiss, by Naomie Clark is an excellent example), especially if they went beyond the wolf, but had never put much thought into writing them. The idea just hasn’t appealed to me much. Not only because the market is flooded with werewolf stories, but also because I haven’t particularly been drawn to the werewolf as a character. It hasn’t held the same fascination for me as witches have or even vampires did when I was younger. However, this story has got itself into my skull and presents what I hope is a new angle on the genre.

I’ve been letting the story slosh around in my brain for several weeks before coming back to it, and have since very roughly laid down what I know about the story, about my main character, some of the side characters, and of course, the villain. That’s the biggest one for me — the villain. I normally have a really hard time putting together a villain, one that’s not only dark or dangerous, but also has a purpose. This one just sort of jumped onto the page, full of mange and violence and rage, and I can’t wait to see what mischief I can get him up to.

I already know that this will be a young adult/teen book, and that I don’t want this to be a romance, but more of a bildungsroman.

And I know that Claire, my main character, only has enough wolf in her to be very strong, has a strong sense of smell, and is red-green colorblind, but doesn’t have enough wolf in her to shift into an actual wolf. I know she is extremely attached to her father and that she likes tragic stories from history, especially the life of Marie Antoinette.

I don’t have a title for it yet, which is typical, but not a big deal. I’ve started in on what might be Chapter 1. We’ll see where it goes.


Project:
Untitled Werewolf Novel
New Words: 952
Current Total Word Count: 6,310
Goal: ~80,000 (or until completed)

Random Sentence(s): Claire made an oompf sound as the box full of heavy books dropped into her arms. She awkwardly turned around and made her way down the ramp and into the house, depositing the box with the stacks of many others in what would soon be their living room once it was all put together.

Notes: Seems to be a good start. I already know this scene needs more to it. I don’t necessarily want to tell everything up front, but I want enough intrigue to the characters and the setting to hopefully keep a reader reading.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Review – A Book of Tongues, by Gemma Files

I’m not quite sure how to summarize A Book of Tongues, so I’m going to take the lazy route and quote from the back cover:

“Two years after the Civil War, Pinkerton agent Ed Morrow has gone undercover with one of the weird West’s most dangerous outlaw gangs-the troop led by Reverend Asher Rook, ex-Confederate chaplain turned hexslinger and his notorious lieutenant (and lover) Chess Pargeter. Morrow’s task: get close enough to map the extent of Rook’s power, then bring that knowledge back to help Professor Joachim Asbury unlock the secrets of magic itself.

Because magicians, despite their awesome powers, have never been more than a footnote in history: cursed by their own gift to flower in pain and misery, then feed vampirically on each other-never able to join forces, feared and hated by all. But Rook, driven by desperation, has a mind to shatter the natural law that prevents hexes from cooperation, and change the face of the world-a plan sealed by unholy marriage-oath with the Mayan-Aztec goddess Ixchel, mother of all hanged men, who has chosen Rook to raise her bloodthirsty pantheon from its collective grave through sacrifice, destruction, and apotheosis.

Caught between a passle of dead gods and monsters, hexes galore, Rook’s witchery, and the ruthless calculations of his own masters, Morrow’s only real hope of survival lies with the man without whom Rook cannot succeed: Chess Pargeter himself. But Morrow and Chess will have to literally ride through Hell before the truth of Chess’s fate comes clear-the doom written for him, and the entire world,”

A Book of Tongues is a wonderfully brutal read, all the more so, because Gemma Files manages to finagle sympathy for what could otherwise be a rather unsympathetic group of characters. Many of these characters are not what you would call nice. Chess is an unapologetic murderer; Rook is desperate and ruthless; and even Morrow is a liar.

Files’ merciless prose reaches out and reveals what they’re made of as each of these rough-shod gentlemen is trapped, bound like a fly into the webbing of the story. They’re lives quickly become interwoven, and eventually they learn that they’ll need each other to find their way out.

At first Chess’ character is the hardest to sympathize with, as he is the most openly violent and cruel. And because you see him through the lens of first Morrow and then Rook, it’s hard to get a read on him other than his love of absinthe and bloodshed and his desire for Rook. But by the end of the book, as more and more of Chess and how he’s put together is slowly revealed, it was Chess that I came to love the most. I feel deep rooted sympathy for him and what has befallen him in his life. He has had the hardest road, and in the face of it has stood up and laughed in its face. More than any other of the characters I want him to succeed; I want him to win.

A Book of Tongues is very graphic, not only in blood and gore (of which there is plenty), but also in sexual situations. Sometimes the events were so vivid in my mind that I didn’t quite know what to do with them, and I had to lower the book for a moment and take a breath before continuing.

This is the kind of horror that leaves you shaken (in more ways than one), with your head spinning, and not quite sure where you stand. While actually reading the book, I don’t know I could actually say that I liked it — the experience was a little to visceral for that — but that now I’m done reading I desperately want to read more. Thankfully, A Book of Tongues is book one of a trilogy, and the sequel, A Rope of Thorns comes out this June.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Midnight Writer

2011Last night I started read Machine of Death (MoD), an anthology of stories centered around the premise of a machine that lets people know how they are going to die, but is annoyingly vague about it. So far, so good. The first couple of stories have been fantastic, but that’s not the point of this story.

The point of the story is: I’ve known about this book for quite a long time. When the editors first started asking for submissions, I became thrilled at the idea of this book and knew I wanted to submit something to it. So, I came up with a couple of story ideas, started writing, got bogged down and lost in the writing, and never submitted anything.

While I started reading the stories in the finished book (while feeling a little jealous about it’s shiny and clever cover, as well as the awesome illustrations at the front of each one), I kept thinking about the stories I didn’t finish. Once upon a time, in one of MoD’s emails or blogs, I remember reading that if this book sells well, then they will consider making a second book on the same premise.

Suddenly, a story that I’ve had in the back of my mind jumped up and kicked me in the frontal lobe, announcing that it would work just wonderfully as a MoD story.

But that’s silly, I told the story, why would I work on writing a story for a market that’s not even open. Instead I should be working on things that I can actually submit and share when I’m done with them.

My protests did not, however, stop the story from jabbering in my ear and making a general nuisance of itself, insisting at grabbing my attention at every turn to the point that I finally had to give up on reading for the night and go to bed. At which point the story continued to lay itself out in a provocative display before me, dazzling me and enticing me with plot, dialog, and clever descriptions.

There is no winning against such an onslaught. So I dragged myself out of bed, scrambled around for the nearest legal pad and pen, and began my bleary eyed scribbling — bleary eyed not only due to exhaustion, but also because I’m half blind without my contacts in.

In the end, I had several pages filled with practically illegible writing, consisting of a nearly finished scene and some outline notes for the rest of it. I’m sure I’ll have a fun time deciphering the mess later.

But all I cared about was that the beast was appeased, and I was allowed to sleep.

ETA: I think I may know a way to make this story work without the MoD element to it, which would make it viable for other markets. Hrmm….

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Opening Lines: The start of something wonderful

I always loved Stephen King’s opening line for The Gunslinger, book one of the Dark Tower series:

The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.

This is an excellent example of a great opening line. It’s not as poetic or witty as some famous opening lines, but it serves its purpose well, by immediately hooking readers (well, this reader at least) into the story. It gives and immediate (albeit brief) introduction to the setting and two main characters of this storyline, while setting up questions that make you want to know more, which also letting you know what the main tension of the story will be — the act of pursuit. Immediately you want to know: Who is the man in black? Who is the gunslinger? And why is he following the man in black?

This initial hook and interest was followed by a storyline that absorbed me completely. I loved The Gunslinger when I read it (even though my interest in the series dwindled as the wait from book to book accrued and the ongoing storyline became more convoluted), and that opening line was the first time I thought to myself, damn, that’s a great opening line.

Perhaps, this book was where my interest in opening lines first began, or perhaps it was always there, and this was what made me aware of it. Either way, I know that every time I read the back of a book, I flip open to the first page to see if the opening line catches at me. Opening lines appeal to me for many reasons, for example:

  1. Introduce characters in an interesting way, like The Gunslinger line. Another example — “I am an invisible man.” – Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man
  2. Present an important or central conflict of the story, again like The Gunslinger. Another example — “Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested.” – Franz Kafka, The Trial
  3. Set the tone or mood of the book, especially if the narrator has a sense of humor — “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Opening lines can also feature the setting or introduce the theme, among other things. However, I find that the most memorable opening lines, the ones that catch my attention and draw me into the story, tend to include one or more of the three things I listed above — characters, central tension, or a feel for the mood.

Planning my opening line of a story or book is not the first thing I think of when I start writing. I begin with the overall arc of the plot, the character’s wants and challenges, and how to get it all across at the right pace, because while opening lines are important, they don’t mean much if they’re not followed up by a great story.

But once I’m in the rewriting stage, I do try to think about what I want to get across in that first line and how I might try to hook the the reader and draw them in with a (hopefully) great opening line.

What are some of your favorite opening lines, and what do you love about them?

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Books Read in January

1. Happy All the Time, by Laurie Colwin
2. Dreadnought, by Cherie Priest
3. Tithe, by Holly Black
4. Plato and a Platypus Walk into a Bar . . .: Understanding Philosophy Through Jokes, by Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein
5. As I Lay Dying (audio book), by William Faulkner
6. Don’t Hex with Texas (Katie Chandler, Book 4), by Shanna Swendson
7. Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis Christos H. Papadimitriou; illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna

Click to read my reviews on livejournal (also has a list of movies watched).

Book Review – Logicomix: An Epic Search for the Truth


Written by Apostolos Doxiadis and Christos H. Papadimitriou
Illustrated by Alecos Papadatos and Annie Di Donna

Bertrand Russell, British logician and philosopher spent his life in pursuit for truth and for a clear, logical system for understanding that truth. He began with the study of mathematics (until one of his own discoveries undermined the foundations of truth upon with math stood) and later integrating philosophical logic.

The graphic novel is interesting in the ways that it is layered — a story within a story within a story. It opens with the author of the graphic novel talking directly to the reader and explaining that this is a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell and going into the process of making the book. Then it shifts into the story itself with Russell meeting up with a group of antiwar protesters while on his way to giving a lecture on logic. The protesters call for him to join them, because he once protested against WWI when he was younger. Instead, he invites them to listen to his lecture, wherein he begins to tell his life story and how he began his life-long pursuit of truth. The graphic novel shifts back and forth through these layers of storytelling (and even eventually uncovers a fourth and arguably a fifth layer).

At first I was put off by the self-referential aspect of Logicomix. I didn’t like that the author and the artists interacted with the reader. However, I soon came to realize that including this multi-layer aspect to the graphic novel, not only allowed the authors to creatively explain certain aspects of logical theory that get lost in the storyline, but the layering actually begins to embody some of the logical theories being discussed.

The graphic novel in a sense contains itself, or at least the discussion of itself, which seems to touch upon “Russell’s Paradox”, a theory discussed in the book, and which I’m sure that I can’t rightly explain on my own. Honestly, thinking about it makes my head hurt, but it goes something like, if it contains itself, then it doesn’t; if it doesn’t, it does. If that doesn’t make sense, don’t ask me, because I can’t wrap my mind around it either.

Fortunately, Logicomix doesn’t dwell too much on the complexities of logic theory, but rather focuses on the people who developed them, what motivated them, and the conflict between thinking theory and trying to live it.

At the end of the graphic novel, the authors admit to bending some of the factual history to make for better storytelling and follow that up with a glossary of sorts that presented a slightly more in depth and factual look at the various logic theories and logicians that the readers encounter in the book.

Logicomix turned out to be a supremely fascinating book with gorgeous art and a passion for intellectual discovery. Definitely worth a read.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Book Review: Don't Hex With Texas, by Shanna Swendson

Katie Chandler has left New York and returned to her family in Texas, said to be devoid of all things magical. However, when strange things start happening in her home town, Katie starts to suspect the forces of evil are up to something. This is the fourth book in the Enchanted Inc. series, and I hope it won’t be the last.

One of the great things about this series is the relationship between Katie and Owen. There’s a continued tension of will it/won’t it that stems directly from the characters themselves, rather than some artificial outside influence or being dependent on any overly orchestrated love triangle. There’s a sweetness to their friendship and a genuine affection that is built on more than lust or sex appeal.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this fun chick-lit series, unfortunately, sales on the third and fourth book were not high enough for the publishers to pursue publishing the next books in the series. Very disappointing, because I would love to see more of this storyline and see what happens as Katie and Owen’s relationship begins to grow, not to mention all the rest of the assortment of lovable and bizarre characters throughout this world.

Here’s my plea, if you like fantasy and/or chick lit, please check out Enchanted, Inc. the first book in this series, in which Katie first stumbles upon the magical world. If you enjoy it, then buy more books in the series, especially the third and fourth books and spread the word to others. Hopefully if the sales improve, the fifth and sixth books will be able to be released. This would thoroughly please me. (^_^)

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Not Enough Pain?

“When I look at the lives of the poets, I understand what’s wrong with me. They were willing to make the sacrifices that I’m not willing to make. They were so tortured, so messed up. I’m only a little messed up.”
—  Nicholson Baker, The Anthologist

I understand this sentiment, the idea that my problem is that I don’t have problems, or rather I have problems, but there’s not big enough, not deep enough, not whatever enough. Sometimes I go to women’s circles or spiritual meetings, and I start to feel left out because I have no deep scaring, no great emotional revelation to present about my life.

I’ve come to believe that it’s a completely ridiculous sentiment — the idea that one has to experience a fucked up life to achieve any kind of artistic or spiritual greatness. Yes, there are authors, poets, artists out there, who their suffering is an integral part of their art, but there are also other authors, poets, and artists, who create fabulous art while living a mostly harmonious life.

One can connect to world deeply and profoundly without diving through shards of glass or wandering the dark monster filled tunnels of depression. Sometimes, it’s enough to just sit completely still and be quiet for a while, to listen, to be aware of what goes on around you.

You don’t have to be at war with the world and yourself to create. You just have to have the passion and drive, the deep rooted desire to create something that someone somewhere will find of value. Maybe it will be one of the great works of history. Maybe it won’t. But it will be yours, your creation, and that’s enough.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

A Writer's Dream Life

I enjoy playing with what I suppose should be considered my own internal fan fiction. Typically this involves taking a character of my own invention and trying to fit them into the world of Buffy or Stargate SG-1 or Fringe, or whatever I’m currently obsessed with at the time. I never write any of these inventions down. Rather it’s a sort of mental puzzle that I enjoy trying to work through, because I often can’t incorporate the my character into the world without corrupting the structure of the world building or messing with the chronology of events. It think it’s a typical writer thing, and can be a good way to toy and practice with plot structures.

Last night, I finished reading Tithe*, by Holly Black, and then tuned into the premeire episode of Being Human** (because I happened to be actually at home when it came on) — both of which I enjoyed.

I noted this to myself before, and it became clear once again last night, that I have to careful what fantasy story lines I read and/or watch before going to bed because it will often invade my dreams. Last night, my brain decided to play my fan-fic puzzle game with me while I was trying to sleep. It kept trying to incorporate the faery realms into the world of Being Human and kept trying to see what the characters, especially the werewolf would do in the face of this faery threat. (A short version is that the faery queen wanted to make the werewolf her pet, so that she could use him as a guard and a weapon against anyone who would threaten her. Yeah.)

My brain kept wanting to puzzle this story line out through some very odd dreams, which meant that my sleep was restless. I kept tossing and turning and wanting to fall into a deep sleep, but also a part of me didn’t want to loose the thread of this storyline that my mind was inventing, because I kind of liked where it was going, too.

I woke up very tired this morning.

*sigh* Sometimes, I wish I could turn my writing brain off.


*Tithe: A Modern Faerie Tale follows the story of Kaye, a girl who follows her nomadic mother quest for fame through dive bars in Philadelphia. Kaye is grateful when their nomadic lifestyle comes to an end, however, and they are forced to return to her grandmother’s house, offering her the opportunity to reconnect with fairy friends both human and faery. It isn’t before long, however, before she finds herself entangled in a political and dangerous intrigue between the faery courts. The faeries in this book are tricksy and deadly throughout, just as they ought to be. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read with enough adventure and well-wrought surprises to keep me excited. I’m definitely looking forward to the next two books in the trilogy.

**Being Human, apparently based off of a British version, is about a vampire and a werewolf, who are tried of feeling and behaving like monsters. So they decide to become roommates in order to look out for one another and keep each other out of trouble. It’s not the most original story around, but it has enough story and character going for it that I’ll stick around watching it for at least a few more episodes. Besides I love Sam Huntington (from Detroit Rock City), who plays the werewolf. He’s that geeky, awkward cute that I just love.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Thoughts on Book Pirating

Sandra Mitchell has a blog up about how illegal downloading affects authors*. She presents some specific numbers that she’s seen from her first book, Shadowed Summer, revealing the clear and discernible effect pirating had on authors. The comments reveal that other authors have had similar experiences in regards to pirating.

Here’s a quote from her blog that paints a vivid picture of just how much pirating has affected her earnings and her career:
“If even HALF of those people who downloaded my book that week had bought it, I would have hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

If the 800+ downloads a week of my book were only HALF converted into sales, I would earn out in one more month. But I’m never going to earn out. And my book is never going to be available in your $region, not for lack of trying.”

This kind of thing breaks my heart when I hear it for a couple reasons. One, because I love book and I love authors, and I want authors to write books that I love and be able to make a living doing it. It would never occur to me to pirate an author’s book. I have too much respect for the work that goes in to it. I firmly believe authors have a right to earn money for the work they produce (in fact, sometimes I even feel a wee guilty about using the library, instead of buying my own copy of a book, but that’s me). If they don’t earn that money, if they don’t get a certain level of numbers, then there is a very good chance they will not be able to publish their next book — what a depressing thought.

Another reason is I am hoping to someday soon complete a book that I will want to publish. When I do so I am hoping to earn money from publishing said book, and I am hoping to be able to publish many, many books thereafter. It’s very disheartening to think that some of the joy of that experience could one day be robbed from me because of illegal downloading. (I know, I know, I’m not there yet to be worrying about this kind of thing, but I can’t help it.)

So, I know I’m probably preaching to the choir, but seriously, don’t illegally download copies of books, people. If you really can’t afford it, Sandra Mitchell presents some alternatives to pirating, such as going to the library or requesting a review copy from the publisher.

*which I found the link for through [info]mizkit‘s rather awesome blog.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Hello, Monday!

I received an email this morning stating that one of my poems has been accepted for publication. SWEET!

I’ll let you know when it’s posted. (^_^)

(Guess this means I should get send some more submissions out.)

Books Read in December

1. The Red Fairy Book, by Andrew Lang
2. The Pleasure Seekers, by Tishani Doshi
3. Morning in the Burned House (poetry), by Margaret Atwood
4. Talking Back to Poems: A Working Guide for the Aspiring Poet, by Daniel Alderson
5. Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing, by Barbara Guest
6. Behind the Mountains, by Edwidge Danticat
7. Island Beneath the Sea (audio book), by Isabel Allende
8. The Good Neighbors: Kind, by Holly Black
9. Post Meridian (poetry), by Mary Rueffle
10. Flight of Shadows, by Sigmund Brouwer
11. Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, edited by Jennifer Crusie
12. Damsel Under Stress, by Shanna Swendson
13. Yarrow, by Charles De Lint
14. The Penelopeia, by Jane Rawlings
15. Taste of Salt: A Story of Modern Haiti, by Frances Temple
16. Breath, Eyes, Memory (audio book), by Edwidge Danticat

Click here to read reviews.

The Penelopeia, by Jane Rawlings

When Odyseus returns home from his long journeys, he finds that his wife Penelope has not only been steadfast in her defense of her home, but that she has managed to keep secret the birth of Odyseus’ twin daughters — a secret kept to spare them from the suitors ravaging their home.

But the gods are not done with this noble family yet, as it has been decried that Penelope and her two lovely daughters must travel to Pythia to visit the oracle and on from there to visit Helen so that her daughters may learn her secrets of healing.

Rawlings writes this continuation of The Odessy in the epic poetic style of Homer, mimicking the tone and voice of her favorite translation of the work. She accomplishes this quite well, for except for the fact that her poem is in first person, it sounds almost exactly like the Odessy as I remember reading it years ago.

I was slightly bored by it at time, though, because much of the epic poem is spent in convincing Odyseus to allow them to leave and in the sharing of only mildly interesting tales. It takes quite a while for Penelope to even get on the ship, let alone begin her adventures. Further, her adventures, being those of a woman are much tamer than her husbands. There is very little reason for her to use her cunning, which she clearly has as seen in the Odessy. The most exciting moments are those that came more than half way through the book, when she is taken up by the great Amazon warrior women who wish her to join their ranks. My interest was only roused then, and was diminished when she left their ranks.

In some ways Rawlings had to cheat to make this story happen, had to invent and secret in aspects of the story that were not in the Odessy in order to make it work. And even, the restrictions of women according to the time and culture in her characters lived meant that she could have gone further with this story, to delve deeply into strength and potential of women as I had hoped. Any attempt to have women go off on adventures on their own in ancient Greece, unless their were Amazons or in some other way free from men and the burdens of reputation, ultimately results in a story that sounds forced. Or perhaps it can be done, but it came out sounding forced here, despite Rawlings best efforts. In the end I was a bit disappointed with this tale.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

This is the season…

Christmas is past (I got a TOASTER!) and New Year’s has not yet come. This is when it’s natural to assess the previous year and plan goals, hope, dreams for the upcoming year.

Apart of me is like booyah, goals are awesomesauce! And an entirely different part of me is repelled by the whole process, keeps hanging its head like Eeyore and letting loose a moping, why bother? (My mood is very transitory at the moment and will probably be completely different in an hour.)

I don’t really want to present a statistical list of 2010. It was what it was with really low lows and really high ups. Assessing the year would be a very messy process and I don’t want to get my shoes dirty, thank you very much.

I’m all for goal setting — with the stipulation that goals actually get completed. Looking back at the goals I set for 2010, I see that I didn’t complete even one of my goals. How sigh inducing.

It would be easy though to take that little fact and use it as an excuse to get all depressed and not bother setting goals for 2011. However, that would negate the other fact, which is that I’ve actually been working my ass off this year — it’s just that at some point in the year my goals shifted and new priorities came up and things looked different than they did in January. My desire to finish my novel switched to a desire to complete enough poetry for a chapbook (still working on this one). My desire to run a half marathon was replaced by a desire to work my way through the 28 day yoga book (which I did accomplish). It would be ridiculous to judge myself based on a list that doesn’t meet my needs now.

So, here I go. Here are my goals for 2011, stated here in the full knowledge that things will change, priorities may shift, and this list of hoped-fors may completely different a few months down the line.

1. I will finish the 30 Day Letter Challenge that I started, so that when I get to the end, I will have a rather nice stack of poems to edit and choose from for submission to chapbook competitions.

2. I will aim to have at least two submission of either poetry or fiction out in the field while working on a third. The idea is to keep pressing the market, thus bringing me closer to my long term hope of actually making some money at this writing gig.

3. I will take my laptop in and get it fixed and/or buy a new one. This not being able to write on my own time and terms is unacceptable.

4. I will assign a day of the week to go to a coffee shop or the library to write. Preferably this will be on some short story or on whatever novel idea I’m inclined to work on.

5. I will get together with my friend Juliette and work together with her on this musical idea that we’ve been talking about doing for a year now.

6. On January 3rd when registration opens up, I will sign  up for the Disneyland Half Marathon. Thus having already having paid my money, I will have no choice but to train for the event I know I’m going to.

7. Keep sketching, writing, collaging, dancing, in otherwords, keep creating in some way or another everyday.

8. Be joyful. (This is the easy one.)

Poetry Review — Post Meridian, by Mary Ruefle

I picked up this book of poetry, because I read and loved A Little White Shadow, in which she took an old Victorian manuscript and whited out text to create what she calls erasure (or whiteout) poetry. It was a fascinating way to approach found poetry, which has inspired me to play with the form in my own writing.

Post Meridian is a collection of her original poetry. It is sometimes heavy as tree branches bowed under the weight of snow, though it is also often playful. Mocking in a kindly way. Poking fun at the ghosts and shadows and day to day terrors that we often take far too seriously.

I enjoyed this book of poetry, though at times there was a disjointed quality, one line encapsulating a thought process that collapses upon another. Sometimes this made it difficult to take the whole poem in as a whole. Though each line in and of itself would be captivating, the entirety of the work assembled could occasionally be somewhat baffling.

Not that poetry has to have clear meaning — being multilayered as a puzzle box is part of the enjoyment of reading poetry, though I admit that my own enjoyment comes from discovering how each piece fits into the next. The resulting imagery and meaning as perceived by me allows me to (perhaps delusionally) believe that I have tapped into the secret key of the poem and discovered a truth denied to others. Egotistical? Maybe. But I doubt I’m alone in this experience.

The poetry in Post Meridian, however, often denied me this. The pieces did not always neatly fit, and I sometimes felt as though I were standing on the edge of the poem rather than being let in to its secret chambers — a confounding experience, but not necessarily negative. Perhaps these poems open more wholly to others; perhaps I need merely return to them at another time when I can look at them from an altered perspective. Either way, this is an enjoyable collection of poems that I would definitely recommend.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Book Review – Talking Back to Poems: A Working Guide for the Aspiring Poet, by Daniel Alderson

Reading poetry is a vital part of writing poetry. Alderson takes it a step further, however, by suggesting that poets not only read poetry, but respond to it, to talk back to poetry with poems of their own. Part I presents four short sections that briefly introduce the aspects of Sound, Image, Form, and Meaning in poetry, while Part II follows with a collection of poems, each followed with instructions to copy the poem by hand, note down what you notice about the poem, and then a prompt for writing your own poem in response to it.

There is a long history of poets writing in response to poets, and I’ve even written a few poetic responses myself. However I was not very impressed with the prompts in this book as Alderson presents them. His idea of talking back to poems is far too much like mimicry to me. In the examples of his students’ writing that he includes in the book, the students (using their own themes and ideas) echo almost exactly the form and flow of the poem being responded to. This is far too restrictive for me, especially when it comes to mimicking strict forms, such as sonnets that have tight rhyme schemes. This restriction of form often has the tendency of causing me to freeze up when I’m writing rather than opening up and becoming loose as one would hope.

My experience with writing in response to poetry involves not mimicry, but a playful dialogue. The few poetic responses I’ve written have little relation to the original poem (one example is here), but is rather reacts to the subject matter of the poem in kind of debate. Of course, this is not the only way to go about this, and Alderman’s way of talking back to poetry is equally valid. Just as there are many poets who comfortably play in rhyme and strict forms, which I do not.

The practice of handwriting out a poets previous work also did not appeal to me. Though I understand his reasoning for having a writer first copy the poem by hand (in order to get a feel for the rhythms and voice of the poem), I did not feel that it helped me gain any greater sense of the poem. Rather, I found that reading the poem out loud was a much better way to get a feel for the rhythm and sound, as well as a sense of the residual meaning.

I’m sure that there are many poets out there who would find this book very valuable and inspiring, however I am not one of them. Of the 20 or 30 poetry prompts in the book, I found myself interested in responding to only a handful of them. And when I did respond, I often found myself jumping outside of the prompts and guidelines, coloring outside the lines as it were, and responding to the poems as I damn well felt like it — which is really how it should be anyway.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Day by Day

I haven’t posted any weekly goals for a while, and for the time being I’m taking a break from it. The practice of posting my goals for the week and reporting on them doesn’t seem to be serving my any more, as I tend to post the goals and still not complete them, which is not very beneficial.

Instead, I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m working my way through this 30 day letter writing (and for me poetry) challenge and right now that’s my main goal — to get that done, so I can seriously look at it as a potential collection. It’s an enjoyable process of coming up with these (even though it’s taking me far longer than 30 days), and I’m enjoying what I’m learning about myself and my writing as I continue it.

In other areas, I still have quite a few things that I want to accomplish, but for them I’m going to day-by-day it. If I make progress, great, if I don’t, it’s probably because I’ve been doing something else enjoyable, so that’s great, too.

I’m sure at some point I’ll want to lasso myself back into seriously attacking all these personal projects with more concrete goals (probably in the new year), and at that point I may go back to weekly updates or maybe some other form of goal creation that suites me.

But for now, I’m going to allow myself the mental break of saying, “It is what it is,” and just enjoy what each day gives me.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here of there.]

One Word…

I saw this on [info]ying_ko_4‘s blog, and thought I’d do it, too.

One Word for 2010? I’m going to go with growth, or perhaps development.

I suppose I say this mostly in relation to the second half of the year. My memory seems to be confined to shorter terms (i.e. within the past few months) or to specific events which are vivid, but loose all but a vague sense of when it actually happened. I’m really having a hard time remembering at the moment what “important events” happened from January to June.

However, I do feel that I’ve grown this year. I’ve made several leaps and bounds in my personal life that I’m rather proud of — paid off my car loan, earned enough money to start lowering my debt, moved into my first apartment. I also traveled to Germany on my own and enjoyed being lonely in a foreign country. And (shhhh) the big shocker, I’ve met a guy that I would actually consider dating (don’t know yet what’s going to happen with this one, maybe nothing, but it’s fun to imagine).

In my creative life, my progress has been a little slower. Novel and fiction writing has not gone so well, but I’ve kind of decided that that’s okay. There’s been a lot of other things going on. I’ve been a busy, busy girl, so I’m going to let it go. I could have also submitted more work this year, and that one, too, I’m going easy on myself with.

Jumping back into art, sketching and drawing, has been fun and beneficial for me. I don’t do it daily like I should (but then, I don’t do anything except getting dress and brushing my teeth daily like I should), but I can already feel how it’s slightly easier than before to create pictures that please me. I have tons more learning to do in order to get where I want to get with this, but for the moment it’s a fun pastime.

Where I’m really pleased creatively is in my poetry, however, and I really feel like it’s going well. I’ve written a lot of poetry this year — some of it’s bad, some of its okay, and some of it I’m proud to have written. Discovering blackout poetry was a great boon for me. It combined art with words into a meditative process that helped focus me into a writerly frame of mine and helped to inspire me with my original poetry.

The 30 Day Letter challenge, even though I’m not nearly done with it after several months, has also been a great thing. For a while I’ve thought my poetry too disjointed in subject matter and style to be able to pool it together into a collection. Silly writer, indeed. But this challenge has helped me through that by not only keeping me writing, but also with the knowledge that when I finish all 30 prompts I’ll have enough poems to attempt to publish as a chapbook. How awesome in that.

I hope my one word for 2011 will be thrive. Like a vine that’s continually growing and climbing up the wall, I want to thrive in heath and joy — to live each day fully. I want to continue to be abundant in money and love, and heck yeah, abundant in sex, too. Why not.

I want my words to flow like Niagara falls. I want the patience to sit and plan a novel and work through a draft from beginning to end. I want the courage to submit my work for publishing. I want to be paid for my words.

So many wants, and all within the realm of possibility.

Thriving doesn’t mean that the days will be without challenges, of course. There will always be challenges and long days in which I wish I had just stayed in bed. It just means that I take it all in and live it. That I weather the storms and if all goes well come out a little beat up, but also a little stronger after wards. Oh, yes, I want to thrive.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Books Read in November

Books Read:
1. The Walking Dead: The Heart’s Desire, by Robert Kirkman
2. The Walking Dead: The Best Defense, by Robert Kirkman
3. The Walking Dead: This Sorrowful Life, by Robert Kirkman
4. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
5. Fables: War and Pieces, by Bill Willingham
6. Fables: The Dark Ages, by Bill Willingham
7. Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, by Brian Lee O’Malley
8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, by Brian Lee O’Malley
9. Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness, by Brian Lee O’Malley
10. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, by Margarita Engle
11. Girl, Interrupted, by Susanna Kaysen
12. The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende
13. Under the Volcano (audio book), by Malcolm Lowry

Click here to read reviews.

Book Review: The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende

The Neverending Story by Michael EndeBastian is a fat, ordinary boy, who is always picked on by his fellow students and ignored by his father. Escaping a band of bullies, Bastian slams into a books store. Inside is a grumpy old man is reading a strange book with two snakes curling around each other eating each other’s tails — The Neverending Story. Drawn to the book, Bastian steals it when the man’s back is turned. He runs to the attic of his school and begins reading. As he follows a young hunter’s journey to save the Childlike Empress, Bastian is surprised to discover that he is drawn more and more into book itself, into a world that is very much real.

I always loved the movie as a kid and I still love it now. I wanted to hang out with Atreyu, the hunter, and ride Falcor, the Luck Dragon. I wanted to visit this dangerous beautiful world in which a childlike empress was in charge of everything. I even liked the subpar sequel with the super cute Jonathan Brandis as lead.

As is to be expected the book has far more subtlety and depth than the movie. Though I was surprised to find that both movies were adapted from the book with the end of the first movie being the midpoint of the book.

The childlike empress is much so much more in the book, closer to the spiritual soul of Fantastica. She loves everyone and everything equally, including those considered evil by other, because all has a purpose and a place to her. Atreyu is even more steadfast and brave, and Falcor is beautiful and far less creepy.

Bastian’s journey throughout The Neverending Story becomes more of a spiritual quest in the book than the simplified adventure that the movies (especially the sequel) present. He does have many grand adventures, but as he looses his memory, he loses a part of himself. He rises and falls, does grand deeds and fails, and in the end he must find his way back home.

This is really a brilliant story, and I wish I had had the chance to read it before seeing the movies that affected me so much and left such an imprint on my mind. I still the love the movies for what they are and as a part of my childhood nostalgia, but the book is amazing. I almost wish it really was never ending.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

The Path

You may or may not have noticed that I’ve posted no updates about my novel progress since the beginning of November. That is easily explained, because there has been no novel progress at all. In fact, there has been more a novel pit of despair, especially in the last few days.I started thinking about how I was going to approach my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy (UAWF) novel for November, and I realized quite clearly that I have no real idea where I’m going with it. I kept running through different approaches, ways to start the book again from a different angle, a point of view that might make everything come together and function. But then I came up against the fact that I don’t have even the foggiest idea how large the whole thing is supposed to be. Part of the problem is that I’m afraid the vague notion I have for an ending would not give the proper sense of resolution. It might not be enough — well, it would be enough for the character perhaps, but not enough for the reader. So my UAWF might constitute two books, or even a trilogy. And how the hell am I going to figure out how a second and third book works, if I can’t even figure out how the first one works.

It was all to big to think about, and I could picture myself writing and rewriting those first few chapters that I’ve already written in an attempt to find pathway through the plot, but never finding it. This endless loop of chapters that never amounted to anything.

So, okay, fine. What other novels can I work on? There are plenty of ideas vying for interest in my head, surely I could work on one of those. But there again, I ran up against the same problem. I didn’t know where I was going with them, and if I couldn’t find my way into a real plot with my UAWF, then what made me think that I could possibly get a different result simply by jumping to another storyline.

It began to feel utterly pointless to even try. I will never be a published novelist, I began to think. Why, oh, why do I bother? It’s all just such a waste of my time. I should just give up completely. This fatalistic feeling began to infect even my poetry and my poetry journal, which is normally a safe haven for me.

But of course I won’t give up. All these feelings come and they will go. I know this feeling is only temporary, and even now it is already beginning to dissapate.

There is no such thing as a waste of time in writing. All writing is good writing, if you believe that even the crap is a necessary part of the process and practice of writing. I know this. Unfortunately, I just can’t feel this right now.

I’m still not sure if I want to continue to focus on my UAWF or if I want to try out a different novel idea. If I stick with the UAWF novel, then I definitely need to sit down with a stack of notecards and map out the plot, so that I don’t feel so stuck in this loop. I don’t know if the novel works. I don’t know if it will be any good. But I know I need to keep writing. I need to keep going whether I finally finish this novel or another. There is nothing else to do.

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

In the Woods

Last night, after doing some sketching, I tried to put some words down on the page. Normally, I write something down and, whether its good or not, I just keep going. but last night, I just couldn’t stand what I was writing, so I started scribbling violently all over the page.

10-2

It doesn’t happen very often that I react so strongly to my own writing. Not that everything I write is good — far from it — but that I understand that crappy drafts are a natural part of the writing process. Last night, I just couldn’t take my own words. As soon as I put them down on the page, I had to get rid of them. If I hadn’t scratched them out, I would have torn out the page.

I tried to write something down this morning and got the same result. It was NOT coming together, and I couldn’t force myself to keep going through the crappy draft to get to the good. It was just bad and so again, I crossed it out.

11

This kind of thing happens sometimes. (This is probably tied to my frustrations around the novel I’m supposed to be working on this month.) I will keep writing of course, even though I may end up with more pages like these, because I know this feeling of frustration is temporary. I’ll pull out of it. I always do.

So I’ll keep writing and keep writing, and eventually I get to open fields of words again, but right now, stuck in the muck of the forest is where I am.

[Cross-posted to my art blog. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Books Read in October

1. Pride and Predjudice, by Jane Austin
2. The Boy with the Cuckoo Clock Heart (audio book), by Mathias Malzieu
3. The Sun Also Rises (audio book), by Ernest Hemingway
4. The Witch of Portobello, by Paulo Coelho
5. After the Dance: A Walk Through Carnival in Jacmel, Haiti, by Edwidge Danticat
7. Chasing the Dragon, by Nicholas Kaufmann
8. Brideshead Revisited (audio book), by Evelyn Waugh
9. Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
10. Fables: The Good Prince, by Bill Willingham

You can my reviews of these here.

Is it really November already?

I’m a little stumped as to how the year warped by. Christmas decorations are already out (granted they’ve been out for a considerable while now, but still). And Nanowrimo has begun. I can hear the clacking of keyboards as frenzied writers get to work.

Unfortunately I’m not one of them. Nano is too much for me this year. I’m traveling to Alaska to visit my grandmother and moving into a new apartment. But the bigger issue is that I do not have my laptop working, and without regular and easy access to a computer, it’s very difficult for me to work at that kind of a pace.

I am, however, participating in anti-nano (set up by[info]naomi_jay), in which we set our own smaller goals for whatever project we want to work on. My goal is to write 10,000 words on the Untitled Alternate World Fantasy Novel that I started last November. (Hopefully, I can finally figure out where the plot, if there is such a thing, wants to go.) My plan is to head to the library every Tuesday and Thursday and use their computers to get writing done. I may also borrow a family member’s computer and head to some write ins because I enjoy the collective writing experience.

To do in the coming week:
— write/edit 2-3 poems
— submit something for publication
— post a youtube video
— draw anything
— write 2,500 words for anti-nano

[Cross-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Book Review – Breathers: A Zombie's Lament, by S.G. Browne

Browne, S. G. - Breathers (2009 TPB)In this darkly comic take on the zombie story, Browne presents a world in which the dead arise, but instead of being brainless shuffling corpses, they are actually intelligent and only occasionally shuffling corpses. After a car crash in which both he and his wife die, Andy finds himself embalmed and shuffling away from the mortuary on a distortedly broken ankle. His afterlife is immediately beset with problems, as he is now considered a worthless subhuman with out any of the basic rights that the living enjoy.

Andy spends his time watching reruns in his parent’s basement (with the door locked, because they are embarrassed of him), being shouted at and pelted with food when he walks down the street, trying to keep from falling apart by getting his fix of formaldehyde, and once a week going to Undead Anonymous meetings with others who are in his same situation. His daily depression is compounded by the fact that he cannot even speak of his problems to his therapist. Things begin to turn around for him, however, when he falls for another zombie who sucks on lipstick and makeup to get her fix of formaldehyde.

I love the dark humor and the clever writing style. You are made to wholly sympathize with the zombies and their plight to the point that humans, also known as breathers, seem to be one dimensional. Every breather is so disgusted with zombies that they are cruel and vicious to them (even the mother who tries to be nice still falls short). The reaction of just about every Breather when they see a zombie is either to scream or to quiver in fear. In a way this was necessary to your sympathy for the zombies, but it also made the world seem somewhat flat. For it seems to me, if zombies were a regular occurrence in the world, they would be treated just as often as a mundane annoyance rather then always objects of terror. Furthermore, we are really attached to our loved ones, and I have to imagine that a percentage of humans would look on their undead family members as slightly smelly loved ones, and that they would insist that their loved ones be treated by respect at large. But then I may be over analyzing, and the hateful and oppressive treatment of the zombies in this book — who often seem more human in comparison — is what allows the reader to maintain sympathize with them.

But all that aside, Breathers is a great zombie love story, or zombie revolution story (depending on your point of view).

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

In the previous week I wrote some poems and sketched some…, well, one thing. I didn’t do much beyond that, but then I didn’t really expect to. This week I expect to be fairly productive along the same lines.

I really need to get back to doing some exercise. It’s been a while, and I can feel the tightness in my back from not doing yoga. It’s been really hard to motivate myself in that direction, though. Anywho…

To do in the coming week:

— write/edit 2-3 poems
— submit something for publication
— post a youtube video
— draw anything
— get some words down on that blasted short story

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Monday Update: I'm a busy, busy girl

I’ve been extremely overwhelmed at work. We are extremely behind due to the multiple trips to conferences (including Germany) and time off this month. Several days last week, I worked late, and it’s highly likely that I will be spending several days working late this week as well. Doesn’t bode well for creative progress, since all I want to do when I get home is to watch TV or read a book.

That being said, I did get a few poems written last week. I seem to be doing really lately with that. The more I do it, the easier it comes, which is a nice feeling.

This week on top of writing some new poetry, I would like to get back to writing/sketching in my daily journal as I was doing before I left for Germany. If I could get the youtube video I promised to do last week done, that would be great, too.

I’m not really going to set my goals above that, because there is just too much going on.

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

How to Handle Critiques

A friend on another blog is in the process of writing a novel (I believe it’s her first) and was feeling rather nervous about having to present the opening chapters to her critique group. I know how rough that can be (I’m sure all writers do), especially if someone starts tearing apart some of your favorite bits that you’ve written. Even knowing that the feedback can be a great help, it doesn’t keep it from being rather hard to hear sometimes.

So I sent her a list the things I do to help me get handle a writing critique, and thought I would share it here, too.

1. Take deep breaths and just listen. I try not to argue of explain. I just listen until they are finished and it’s my turn to talk.

2. I say, thank you. If someone didn’t understand something, I may explain what I was trying to get at in the hopes that talking it out with someone will help me figure out why the writing wasn’t clear and how I might improve it.

3. If someone really lays into my writing hard, I allow myself to feel hurt and raw about it for a little while — but there’s a time limit. I’m only allowed to mope and obsess for about an hour or two, and then I very firmly tell myself to let it go.

4. I remind myself that the critique is of my words and not of me as a person, that personal taste and opinions vary vastly, and that all writing is a progressive learning process and every piece of writing can be improved.

5. Once over any hurt feelings, I sit back and seriously think about what was said in comparison with my writing. Either (a) there is some truth in what was said and an opportunity to change and improve my writing, or (b) I disagree with what was said and will decide to leave the story/poem/chapter as is.

6. Get back to writing, because that’s what really matters.

Do you have any techniques you use to help you handle a critique session, especially one that’s particularly rough?

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either her or there.]

Whoops. I'm a day late. Just pretend it's Monday (or don't, I want the weekend to come too much).

I felt fairly productive last week, not as much as I could have, but still fairly productive. I wrote several poems, including some blackout poetry and one in particular was written for a specific market, but needs some more polishing first. I also posted a quick youtube video, after I found out that I now have over 100 subscribers. I got some more of my Germany stuff posted, too, but should really wrap it up soon.

On Saturday I went to the open studios art tour in Santa Cruz with my mom (after a giant greasy breakfast, of course). I was hungover, so I felt like I was floating the entire time I was there, but I really enjoyed seeing all the art work on display. Some of my favorites were:

  • Robert Larson, who takes discarded cigarette and matchstick packages and turns them into art work.
  • Nick Anderson, who does amazing fantasy and surreal paintings that just drip with eerie beauty
  • Susan Vaghan, who creates elaborate, sculptural assemblage pieces out of a variety found objects
  • Jennifer Pond, who’s paintings are playful and funny

There were many other amazing arists, of course, but these were the ones whose cards I managed to grab.

* * * *

To do in the coming week:
— finish posting photos and any write ups for Germany (some were done last week)
— write/edit 2-3 poems (already on my way, as I wrote one poem this morning and began another)
— submit something for publication
— post a youtube video
— draw anything
— get some words down on that blasted short story

Books Read in September

A little late, but here it is….

Books Read:
1. Ash, by Malinda Lo
2. The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives, by Lola Shoneyin
3. Essential Do’s and Taboos: The Complete Guide to International Business and Leisure Travel, by Roger E. Axtell
4. A Concise History of Germany, by Mary Fulbrook
5. Top Ten Berlin, by Juergen Scheunemann and Dorling Kindersley
6. The Children of Men, by P.D. James
7. A Local Habitation, by Seanan McGuire
8. Johnny Cash: I See a Darkness, by Reinhard Kleist

You can read the reviews on my livejournal.

I suppose I should post some goal orientated sort of thing, as it is Monday afterall.

Currently I am faced with a spiraling siege of procrastination, though this revolves mostly around my day job, it has leaked in to other aspects of my life as well. Thus, I give you my weekly goals list with a slight sense of trepidation.

To do in the coming week:
— finish posting photos and any write ups for Germany (which turned out to be a bigger task than I thought)
— write/edit 2-3 poems (already on my way, as I wrote one poem this morning and began another)
— submit something for publication
— post a youtube video
— draw anything
— get some words down on that blasted short story

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

I'm getting settled back in …

… or at least as much as I can as I’m still sick, am not sleeping in my own bed because I’m house sitting, and will be this very week looking for an apartment to move into with my friend. Needless to say I’m going easy on the goals this week and they almost all revolve around finalizing my trip to Germany.

This week I need to
— get my photos together, posted to flickr, and labeled
— post some of my experiences from germany
— scan some pages from my travel journal for posting
— more of the same, I’m sure, as I get to thinking about it

* * *

The one report that I have for this week is that I came back to a rejection from Zyzzvya for a set of my poems in my mail box. Ah, well, on to the next market.

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you are inclined, you can comment here or there.]

Wait. What? Where am I?

On twitter today, I described my state of mind to a friend thus: “I’ve been like a chicken w/its head cut off & replaced w/a tornado. Funny, but not functional.”

I didn’t bother making a goal list this week. My one goal: get all the little do-dads done so that I can make it to Germany with my sanity in tact. If I can manage to accidentally slip something creative in there, then sweet. But I’m not exactly aiming for it, ya know?

Books Read in August

Books read:
1. The Dead-Tossed Waves, by Carrie Ryan
2. Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan, by Richard Hittleman
3. New Direction in Altered Books, by Gabe Cyr
4. To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf

Boy, it’s been a really slow reading month for me. Hmm. Anywho, if you want to read my reviews for these, click here.

I love it when things get done, even if it's only a few of them

Things Accomplished
In writing... one new poem written and a rough draft of another. Morning poetry continues, off and on. No progress on the short story.

I also submitted four poems to ZYZZYVA, which would be awesome to get in to. 🙂

In art… I got a few drawings done. I’m finding that it’s getting easier to get things to look the way I want them to on the page — which shouldn’t be a surprise. Practice is good. I really want to improve to the point where the more elaborate ideas and painting that I have in my head and translate them to canvas. One in particular would be a large portrait of my grandmother, but I don’t feel skilled enough yet with painting to be able to pull it off right, especially since it’s sucha personal subject.

In body... again, only the yoga class. I get like this sometimes, where I’m just not in the damn mood. I really need to get over this, since my body just feels so much better when I keep up a regular exercise routine.

In miscellany... I also managed to sneak a youtube video in there, which I just now realized that I forgot to post here. *sigh* At any rate, you can click the link to view it.

* * *

In other news, I’m only two weeks away from Germany. Which means I should probably ease up on my to-do lists, so that I can get all my pre-travel stuff done. But I’ll leave it be for this week and see what happens.

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue editing/rewriting the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— draw two pages for the 30 Day Challenge
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you are inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

not so much

Not so much was accomplished last week. I give no excuses.

I did do my morning journal pages and even put together a blackout poem, but not much creatively otherwise. And thank goodness for the yoga class I’m signed up for with my mom and sister otherwise I wouldn’t have done any exercising last week.

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue editing/rewriting the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— draw two pages for the 30 Day Challenge
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

Thoughts on Interpretation

As you probably know, I’ve been posting various art-related entries to my tumblr. I recently received an interesting comment there to one of my posts with my morning journal pages (this partucular one incorporating my drawing of a tree), and I thought it was interesting enough to share here.

searchingforsuperpowers wrote: 

your tree is bent to the “mother side” which would lead me to ask questions about your relationship with your mother. You added bark, which signals the need for protection… i could go on… my own quote.. (the tree is the wondow to the soul) 

My response: 
Wow. Hah. I can’t say that I put that much thought into it. I just sort of needed something to draw, saw a tree on the cover of a book similar to this, and so I drew it. But perhaps your suggesting there are some subconscious tendencies to this, which is to be expected, I suppose. It’s common that unexpected meaning comes out when you create something.

Or to think about it another way, once any art or writing is made, it owns itself and is free to be many things to many people. Anyone can take any piece of art and interpret it as they will. At that point, the art begins to say less about the artist than it does about the person interpreting it. 

Your response tells me a bit about you, that which fascinates you, and the way in which you view the world. You seem to show your spiritual side here, and certainly your passion for trees. (I would be interesting to learn how you developed your theories on trees.)

As to my relationship with my mother… we are very close, always have been. I must admit to some recent tension due to a series of recent challenges, which have affected the entire family. The result of this was that I have been the stable rod supporting my mother’s emotional rollercoaster. A role I’ve been honored to play, able thus to clearly see my mother grow and become a stronger person. But I’ve also recently reached a place in which I have had to seek my own sanctuary, my own space for personal emotional growth. A goal I’m still in the progress of working toward.

Maybe all that is in that little sketch that I threw together yesterday morning. I’m not inclined to think so (it was such a quick little drawing based on an existing tree), but who knows. Many, many things are possible. (^_^)

Book Meme (1/30)

I need some inspiration to post more often, so here goes, another meme. This book meme was created by alg.

(I’m not even going to pretend that I’m going to finish this in 30 days. Pfft, I say, pfft to you [that], sir.)

Day 01 – A book series you wish had gone on longer OR a book series you wish would just freaking end already (or both!)

Some series certainly go on for-ev-er, don’t they. I can’t really name any that should have ended, though, because I tend not to read series past the fifth book or so, especially if they rehash the same storyline over and over and over and over and over again. I got bored with Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events for precisely that reason and quite reading after the fourth book (however, I later learned from a friend that things in the series got more interesting after that point, so I ended up going back to finish the series).

In general, I don’t think there’s such a thing as too long or too short. If the author enjoys writing a series and readers enjoy reading, then there’s no reason why it might not go on indefinitely. Those who do get bored are free to quit reading, as I’m apt to do.

Vice-versa, if an author feels she’s done with a story, then, hey, she’s done. The story ends there. So be it. I can reread if I love it that much, or I can sit and imagine how the world might unfold in my own head (I do that a lot anyway). Besides there are plenty of other books out there that I would love to discover.

Although, if Cornelia Funke wanted to revisit the the characters and world of Inkheart, I certainly wouldn’t mind it. (^_^)

The Rest of the Days:
Day 02 – A book or series you wish more people were reading and talking about
Day 03 – The best book you’ve read in the last 12 months
Day 04 – Your favorite book or series ever
Day 05 – A book or series you hate
Day 06 – Favorite book of your favorite series OR your favorite book of all time
Day 07 – Least favorite plot device employed by way too many books you actually enjoyed otherwise
Day 08 – A book everyone should read at least once
Day 09 – Best scene ever
Day 10 – A book you thought you wouldn’t like but ended up loving
Day 11 – A book that disappointed you
Day 12 – A book or series of books you’ve read more than five times
Day 13 – Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)
Day 14 – Favorite character in a book (of any sex or gender)
Day 15 – Your “comfort” book
Day 16 – Favorite poem or collection of poetry
Day 17 – Favorite story or collection of stories (short stories, novellas, novelettes, etc.)
Day 18 – Favorite beginning scene in a book
Day 19 – Favorite book cover (bonus points for posting an image!)
Day 20 – Favorite kiss
Day 21 – Favorite romantic/sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 22 – Favorite non-sexual relationship (including asexual romantic relationships)
Day 23 – Most annoying character ever
Day 24 – Best quote from a novel
Day 25 – Any five books from your “to be read” stack
Day 26 – OMG WTF? OR most irritating/awful/annoying book ending
Day 27 – If a book contains ______, you will always read it (and a book or books that contain it)!
Day 28 – First favorite book or series obsession
Day 29 – Saddest character death OR best/most satisfying character death (or both!)
Day 30 – What book are you reading right now?

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

back in the groove, discovering black out poetry, and getting some art done

Things Accomplished in the Past Week
In writing… I’ve finally pulled out my short story and started editing it. I’ve worked through two scenes, which is a good (re)start. These were the most polished scenes in the story, though, and I have a feeling that I will have to do drastic rewrites to make them work. *sigh*

On top of putting down the rough draft of a new poem, I’ve also discovered a kind of found poetry called blackout or erasure poetry, which is fabulous fun. There have been several books, published using the style, include Mary Rueffle’s A Little White Shadow, which I reviewed here, and I’ve learned about a book called Newspaper Blackout, which I’m itching to buy.  I’m obsessed with this form, and can’t seem to look at Newspapers the same way again. Every time I pick up the paper, I start scanning it to see what words might come together to form a poem. I love the visual element that is inherent, and as a lover of collage, I try to incorporate that into it.

Not only am I having fun creating blackout poetry, but It’s a relaxing way of getting into the poetic mind. I’m finding that working in this way is helping me to feel more inspired when I face the blank page, too. You can see a few of my blackout poems here.

In art… Several sketches and a new drawing were completed, all in good fun. You can see them here.

In body… I have not done much yoga or running this week. I blame the stress of going to press, and the fact that I’ve had to work overtime several days this week. Which is all well and good, but means that all I want to do when I get home is rest.

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

I'm all arty inside – Monday Update

Things Accomplished Last Week
In art, I’ve been doing fairly well. I’ve done some fun sketches in my morning journal, one of them in color, and I had a good time making a collage inspired by India. It’s not really surprising that I’m keeping up with my art, my tumblr is like a shiny new toy and I want to keep playing with it (sometimes to the neglect of my other toys, like writing or livejournal or even twitter).

In writing… well, thank god for my morning poetry journal, because if not for that I would have no new words to report. I’m trying to get back into the habit of things, but trying is not the same as doing. I also received a rejection this week for one poem. Well, on to the next!

In body, I did excellent. I finished Richard Hittleman’s Yoga: 28 Day Exercise Plan, which is an amazing feeling. I now need to keep up with my morning routines as suggested at the back of the book.

I also did week one of the Couch to 5k running plan. I’m feeling pretty good about it. Saturday was a real push for me, though. I think this was because I ran midday when it was rather warmer out than I’m used to. I tend to get lethargic in the heat, so it felt like a much harder run. This is good to know about myself, because I’m going to need to keep that in mind whenever I get around to actually participating in an

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment here or there.]

NPR's Top 100 "Killer Thrillers"

Since I cannot resist a list, I feel I should mention that NPR has up their audience picked list of the best 100 thriller books. They range from horror novels to spy games to mysteries. There are some I have read, some I really should read (I’m looking at you Children of Men), and some I probably won’t ever read (The Da Vinci Code, for example).

So, I’ve only read ten out of the 100 books (I”m not a big thriller reader, though I love horror), and of the ten, six are by Stephen King (due to my fixation with his books in high school).

7. The Shining, by Stephen King< (Loved this one when I read it. In fact, maybe I should read it again. Hmmm.)
12. The Stand, by Stephen King (Another King fav.)
14. Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton (I actually read this for my freshman English class, and it was good fun.)
17. The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton (Good, but not super memorable to me though.)
22. It, by Stephen King (Ooooh. Yes. This one gave me some joyful chills.)
37. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King (Mmm. Battling vampires…)
44. Pet Sematary, by Stephen King (Yeah… This one was fab, too.)
45. Dead Zone, by Stephen King (As I was saying…)
74. Feed, by Mira Grant (This was a great read. I <3 zombie politics.)

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you can comment either here or there.]

the lists monsters (a monday update)

I love lists. I love making them, lining up my to-dos or to-be-reads or hope-to-bes all in a row of possibilities. I love their logical assertions, or their assumptions of logic regardless of whether any single item has anything to do with any other single item. I love the feeling you get when you get to cross one off and feel as though a job’s been well done.

But I have a habit of making and then poking them idly from a distance with sticks. Or of simply abandoning them entirely as soon as they are composed.

This is a dangerous thing, this making and then abandoning. Because lists have a tendency to grow of their own accord, to become feral and monstrous and hungry. They will attack you in your dreams if you do not attend to them. They will scratch and paw and bite at your inner calm and security.

It’s best to tend them, to bring out the shears and prune them by striking out your accomplishments. Or better yet, by making your lists no greater than you can manage.

Which is to say that other than a few minor sketches in my morning poetry journal, I mostly ignored my list this past week (and many more lists in the weeks before), and I am beginning to grow concerned. So, I post this week with tentative fear and the hope that I can accomplish what I set forth in order to keep myself from being eaten alive.

To Do in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

How to Be Alone

This was so moving and beautiful! I really, truely, deeply appreciated this reminder of what alone can mean and be, and felt the need to share it. It makes me want to go take a walk, wander the city streets, or just be still for a little while.

Books Read in July

1. The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
2. Inkdeath, by Cornelia Funke
3. FEED, by Mira Grant
4. Feed, by M.T. Anderson
5. The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. Le Guin
6. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, by Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell
7. Gothic and Lolita Bible (v. 3)

If you want to read my reviews of each of these books, then click here to see my longer post over on livejournal.

Andrea's Art Box

While art — from sketching to painting to collage — is not my primary focus, it is something I rather enjoy. For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating an art blog, in which I would post artwork as I create it, good, bad or in between, as well as pages from my morning poetry journal, in which I have started to sketch as well as write poetry. I’ve also been thinking about the idea of creating art pieces that would incorporate both my poetry and some mixed media art.

To that end I have created a blog over on tumblr that will feature the art and poetry ideas that I’ve noted above. The goal is to post (ideally) everyday, but since I can’t seem to even post here everyday, we’ll go with as often as I can — preferably once a week at a minimum.I’ve already posted some older pieces up there, so if you feel to, then take a moment to check them out.

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you wish to comment, you may do so either here or there.]

Wish I were, wish I might?

From livejournal’s writer’s block forum: Do you wish you had grown up in another time and/or place? If so, when, where, and why?

No. If I grew up in another time, another place, then I would be another person. For all intents and purposes, I like the person I am. I enjoy my life. I don’t really see the point in wishing for something that can’t be changed. That’s a form of arguing with reality, which seems rather silly to me. Right now, my life is imperfect, but then every life is. Exchanging my current reality for another would mean exchanging my current joys, sorrows, and challenges for a new set of joys, sorrows, and challenges. My life would not be better or worse having grown up elsewhere — just different.

I do enjoy imagining what it might be like to have grown up elsewhere and elsewhen. That’s is what writing and reading are for.

In books, I can follow a character into a different life. Watch them live and make choices, having grown up in places and worlds and times that are often very, very different from my own. I get to see them make choices that I might not choose to make.

In writing, I get to not just follow, but create. I get to imagine and invent a world and characters to fill it. I get to try on their skin and walk around in it for a while. In that way, I get to superficially experience lives that are quite different from my own, and for me, that’s enough.

What about you? Do you wish for a life that is different from your own?

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Monday Update

What’s been Accomplished

I have written, edited, and submitted a poem to the Bang Out Reading Series, which means I may or may not be participating in the even in August. Will let you know if I do.

I also managed to get some more work done on a couple of other poems, and have made tiny, itty-bitty baby steps toward continuing the short story that seems like it will never be done. I’ve also been periodically been adding some sketches alongside the words in my morning poetry journal.

My ass is sore. Seriously. Though I suppose that’s a sign that I’ve done something right, because it means that my workout went exceptionally well (or was perhaps slightly overdone) this weekend. On Saturday, I did lunges, squats, sit-ups, and push-ups, which was immediately followed by my 45 minute yoga routine, which was immediately followed by a 2 mile walk/run at the track. While I admit that I most probably over did it (I had a major headache Saturday night), I also know that my currently sore muscles are a contributing to my good mood this morning.

Relatedly, I’ve learned about a training program, called Couch to 5k, which is a plan for a beginner like me to get up to running 3 miles in two months. The plan will be slightly interrupted by my trip to Germany, which is now less than two months away (o_O). But I’m hoping I can pick up from there afterward, as I really, really would like to meet my long time goal of comfortably running a mile (let a lone three) and eventually running in some sort of marathon or race.


To Do in the Coming Week

– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3 walking/running routines for Couch to 5k
— do 5-7 days of morning yoga
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment either here or there.]

Yeah, I'm a reader

Since I’m not keeping up too steadily with my writing posts, I’m going to start posting some book related posts here, too. Maybe some reviews, maybe some things like this book meme, which a couple of people are doing over at the LibraryThing forums, and I thought I would post it here, too. Just for the hell of it.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack?
What ever is available really. Something salty usually, and easy to grab while keeping my eyes on the page, like pretzel sticks. If I were to go for something sweet, it would probably be peanut M&Ms.

What is your favorite drink while reading?
Water, since that’s my default drink. Though if I’m in the mood I’ll brew myself a cup of black tea with milk and sugar as a close second.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
While it doesn’t horrify me, I don’t mark my books for a couple of reasons. First, because I’m often reading a library book, and I would never mark something up that doesn’t belong to me. Second, because I usually don’t think about it. I’ve always liked the idea of marking up books while you read though. It helps you to think critically about what your reading, and would be very helpful in writing book reviews later. I would have to learn to develop the habit though, and I just don’t think it’s going to happen (unless I started to get paid for writing book reviews).

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ear? Laying the book flat open?
I strive to use a book mark each time, but the real answer is all of the above. I like using real books marks, ones that look cool or were constructed by me, but I’ll use whatever’s lying around, from envelopes to payment slips. I only lay it flat open when I’m reading at lunch and want to just pause for a moment in reading to either grab my food or some other necessity. And I dog-ear only as a last resort when there are no other means of keeping my place in the book.

Fiction, Non-Fiction, or Both?
Both! More Fiction than Non-Fiction, but I always enjoy learning about something new or seeing something discussed from a new perspective, which is a really great thing about non-fiction.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
My slightly OCD self definitely prefers to read to the end of a chapter, or at least a denoted section. If that’s not possible due to time (or that there are no chapters or sections), then I can stop in the middle, providing I at least get to the end of the paragraph, preferably the end of the last paragraph or the first paragraph on the page.

Are you a person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
Only on really rare circumstances. I have to hate, and I mean hate, the book, which doesn’t happen often. Crime and Punishment got close to being thrown, but is too much of a classic to disrespect. The novelization of the Stargate movie did get thrown (I still don’t know why I even bothered with it).

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?
Rarely. I just assume I’ll figure it out from the context of the rest of the sentence.

What are you currently reading?

  • The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti by Mariléne Phipps-Kettlewell – Good, so far, though I’m not eagerly reading them. They seem more like portraits than stories.
  • The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan – Sequel to the zombie novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which I loved for a variety of reasons, not the least of which being that the word “zombie” was never actually used.
  • To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf – Just started to read the introduction, so not much to say yet.
  • The Gothic & Lolita Bible, Vol. 3 (U.S. version) – Japanese fashion and pop culture fun

What is the last book you bought?
I bought a stack of books when I last bought a book.

Are you a person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
As you can see from above, I have a habit of reading lots of books at a time. At least two, usually. Though if I’m feeling overwhelmed by life, the universe, and everything, I might revert to reading only one book.

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

My favorite is reading late at night, laying down on the couch or in my new recliner. It feels like I’m skipping out of school or cheating or something if I read during the day – so I like to do that too! EDITED: Whoops! I copied this over from the other page, and so accidentally left one of the old answers in. My real answer: I read anywhere and everywhere. I always have a book with me. (My family mocks me for it.) I love finding a quiet nook to read in, though, especially if there’s a comfy chair that I can curl into.

Do you prefer series books or stand-alones?
I mostly reach for stand alones, as I’m not always willing to commit to a series. But from time to time, I’ll go for a series if it captures my fancy enough. I usually don’t read past five books or so, with the exception of Harry Potter and the Series of Unfortunate events, both of which had clear endings in sight.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
Neil Gaiman, being one of my favorite authors gets recommended the most. Lately I’ve recommended Eat, Pray, Love several times. It all depends what kind of book a person is looking for, really.

How do you organize your books? By genre, title, author’s last name, etc?
At home, it’s by genre (poetry, speculative fiction, nonfiction, etc) and then it’s by the size of the book and how it can best fit on the shelf so that all my books fit and the room doesn’t look cluttered. Really. My organizational skills pretty much break down at the book shelf level. I always have a vague idea of where a particular book might be, but it’s always did through the whole stack for it.

How about you guys? What are your answers?

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you feel inclined, you may comment here or there.]

Monday Update

I am not even going to bother with a round up since my productivity (or lack thereof), was pretty much pathetic. I am, however, going to set some Work Week Rules for myself. Numero Uno being Fallout 3 can only be played once one of the day’s tasks has been done, and then only for an hour. In fact any form of television-related entertainment can only occur after completing a task.

I have to comply by this because my semi-conscious decisions to simply veg instead of getting things done is kind of becoming a problem at this point.

I’m starting a free yoga class this week, so at least I’m guaranteed that amount of exercise, and I’ll still be keeping up with my morning yoga routines, as well.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 1-2 of my current poems
— write a 500 word article to submit to Matador
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 2-3 walking/running routines
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. If you wish to comment you may do so here or there.]

Monday Update

The big announcement for this week is that Bear Creek Haiku has selected three of my short-short poems for publication. I don’t have the dates, but at sometime in the next several to six months “Dear Tree”, “Shrodinger Haiku”, and “white cat in a windowsill”. Bear Creek is a great little publication with some rather nice short form work in it.

I meant to get my entire list done over the two week period since I last posted. Didn’t quite happen. I finished a new poem, kept up with my daily yoga and some of my morning poems, and got a few sketches completed in the notebook, too.

I really need to get more submissions out this week. I think that’s my main priority.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 walking and/or running days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. you can comment here or there.]

there's no sting…. okay, maybe a little.

I have received a rejection on the four poems that I sent to The New Yorker. This was not a surprise really.

My immediate thought was, “Ah, well. C’est la vie.” I’m rather proud of the poems I sent in. I like them quite a lot, but that doesn’t mean their suited for that market. Besides, if nothing else, I’ve learned in the process of writing them, and maybe in a while I’ll have a new set of poems that will be even better. That’s what that writing process is all about.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a wee bit disappointed. But honestly, it was fun just sending something out to such a prestigious market, knowing that while it floated on the slush pile, I could hold on to that small spark of hope. 🙂

ETA: I forgot to mention that I already have another market lined up for these poems. So certainly, hope is alive an well.

[x-posted to my livejournal. you can comment here or there.]

Monday Update

Feeling good about this last week. I’m slowly building up my level of “getting shit done” again.

A set of four (short, short) poems were submitted to Bear Creek Haiku. I’ve been published in that journal before. Some really nice short poetry and haiku in that one.

In terms of actual writing, I’ve finally managed to turn back to the short story that I’ve been avoiding for a while. Up until this point, it’s been in a jumble of different pieces, which I have now assembled into one document. Now I just need to work my way through a rewrite so that I have a draft that I would actually allow someone to read.

I also edited and polished three more poems, which are now not quite complete, but at the point where they are starting to resemble completion. The morning poetry journal progress was only sporadic this week, mainly due to my keeping up with yoga in the mornings, which sometimes conflicts.

Also got two really good walking days in. In fact, my Saturday walk was more intense than intended. My sister walked the loop we always walk, taking us up a rather long hill, and then down a short steep one, before looping around to our car. Except, there was no looping around, because the trail was closed off. Our only choice was to return up the really steep hill in order to get back — which kind of sucked, but also turned out to be less difficult than I though. I guess I am improving, after all.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 walking and/or running days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. you may comment here or there.]

Monday Update

I’m slowly starting to crawl back on to the getting-things-done wagon, rather than following along behind it.

Last week I sent out four poems for submission to Apex Magazine. This is a recently discovered magazine for me, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with my submission, because I’ve been enjoying the issues I’ve read so far.

Not much progress made writing, though I did some work on a draft of a new poem. I’m also keeping up pretty steadily with writing in my Morning Poem Journal every morning.

I’ve been doing yoga just about ever morning, and getting some sqats, sit ups, and push ups in about every other morning. One day of walking done, and I took a nice long hike with my family at Castle Rock up Highway 9 on Sunday. The hike was really great, because the location was so fun. The large rocks from which the site gets its name has these amazing outcroppings/cave-ish things that you can climb up into. It reminded me being a kid and how easy it was to get that feeling of adventure. I’m a little sore this morning, but I’m looking forward to taking more hikes in the near future.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 marathon training days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. You can comment here or there.]

Monday Update

I have been productive in terms of preparing a for my brothers graduation and helping my mom haul some valuable items (i.e. a stove, an extra fridge, some old filing cabinets) out of our old house for sale. I also got one walk day in last week in between all the goings on (this one has been hard to focus on, since my family has decided not to do the Disney marathon in September, which was a huge motivator).

However, I have still not been on top of things in terms of creative progress. This is partially due to the fact that my laptop is still not working, and so computer access at my sister’s apartment is limited. Though it’s mostly due to the purchase of an X-box and the subsequent time suck that is Fallout 3. It would eat every waking moment of my life if I let it. (And it’s so easy to let it.) Therefore an immediate priority readjustment is required.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 marathon training days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[X-posted my livejournal. You can comment here or there.]

Monday Update

I am more or less moved into my room in my sister’s apartment. I’m still not dragging all my stuff out of storage yet (which is leaving me to buy new summer clothes rather than dealing with that whole storage shed mess). A part of my moving in involve buying an X-Box, in part so that I could have DVD set up in my room. I bought Fallout 3 along with it, however, which doesn’t bode well in terms of distractions.

Creatively speaking, I finished off another poem and spent some time getting a submission packet together. I intended to have it done and sent off last week, but realized that I was confused about some of the submission guidelines. So I sent my question in and haven’t received a response yet.

To Do in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 marathon training days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my blog. you can comment here or there.]

Oh, hello. Here's a weekly update thingy.

Between my trip to Vegas the previous weekend, and my relax-time at Clear Lake this weekend, as well as all the ins and outs and recoveries in between my to-do lists have been left mostly unchecked.

I have reinstated my morning poetry and journaling practice, and I have been studiously keeping at it for the last few weeks (even though Vegas). The result of this is that I managed to finish and polish one shiny new poem. Still thinking about which market it will fit best.

I’m currently in the process of moving out of my mother’s apartment and moving in to my sister and her husband’s apartment. I pay rent at both, so it’s virtually the same, except that at my sister’s apartment I will have my own private space, which is MUCH needed.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– write, edit and/or polish 2-3 of my current poems
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication (which will be some poetry to Apex Magazine, because I have some stuff that will fit rather nicely)
– do 3-4 marathon training days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal. You may commenter here or there.]

Monday Update

The “getting things done” thing did not go over too well last week. I did do some writing each morning, just letting brief poetic phrases flow out onto the page as part of a morning ritual. It’s a good warm up for the day, and sometimes a real poem actually comes of it.

The coming week is going to be interesting, because I’m 6 days away from arriving in Vegas. Much of this week will be spent in finalizing all travel plans and making any last final purchases for the trip.

My list of Creative To-Dos that get done will be like a bonus round above and beyond all the Travel To-Dos. They’ll have to all get done by Friday, as well, because once I’m actually in Vegas, I’ll be in pure pleasure seeking mode. 🙂

Travel Things That Need Accomplishing in the Coming Week
– get primped: hair cut and colored and eyebrows shaped
– buy bra clip thing-y for use with my fancy schmancy new tops
– get a chiropractic adjustment or two so I’m not totally whacked while I’m there
– figure out where the hell my luggage has vanished
– more will come up, I’m sure, as the week goes on

Creative Things That Need Accomplishing in the Coming Week (bonus round)
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– edit and polish 2-3 of my current poem drafts
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 2 marathon training days (all I’ll have room for)
– post a youtube video *fingers crossed*
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

Monday Update

I was significantly less productive this week. I have no legitimate excuses for this — not even mother’s day counts. It was all a general lack of focus more than anything else.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished in the Past Week
1. One more poem has reached a “finished” draft. A few more took long strides toward completion, and a couple drafts of entirely new poems have come into being.

An Aside: I find that the more I write, the more I stay inspired to keep writing. One of those “an object in motion tends to stay in motion” kind of things. Does anyone else find that writing ideas and writing in general tends to flow more easily if you keep up the habit of writing?

2. Youtube video completed. A round up of my challenges for National Poetry Month, as well as a reading of one poem that I wrote.

3. I completed my walking/running days — barely. It’s starting to look like we’re not going to make it to the half marathon in Disneyland in September. To make it, we should be really focused on training, and we’re not. Not to mention the financial aspect of the trip.

There is a local run (6 miles-ish) coming up here in June. I’m going to aim for that one.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
– continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
– edit and polish 2-3 of my current poem drafts
– submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
– do 3-4 marathon training days
– post a youtube video
– art, doesn’t matter what, but something

Monday Update

All in all, despite being sick, last week was a fairly productive. The only thing that was really harmed was the whole walking/running/marathon training thing. I didn’t feel it would be a good idea to overwork my lungs when I had a racking chest cough.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished in the Past Week
1. The April Poetry Challenge in officially over. I began several new poems this week. None were actually reached a finished (i.e. publishable) stage. So my final count is 9 completed poems, 11 poems in draft form, for a total of 20 poems. This does not include the various haiku I wrote, or that which was recording in my morning poem journal. If I include those I’m closer to the required 30.

Any way you slice it, however, this was an incredibly productive poetry month for me. I probably got more work done in April than I had in previous six. So I’m probably going to challenge myself again in June. In the meantime, I will be spending this month trying to get those drafts polished to completion.

2. I submitted four poems to The New Yorker. I don’t really have any expectations of getting accepted (though it could happen), but I figure what the hell, anything could happen. I’m not terribly afraid of rejection anyway. I just figure it’s par for the course.

3. I killed two birds with one stone by creating A Zombie Limerick, in which I created a youtube video by reading a poem I wrote and making some collaged and painted artwork. I think it turned out rather well.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— edit and polish 2-3 of my current poem drafts
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[x-posted to my livejournal.]

Monday Update

I woke up Friday with a serious head cold, which consisted of much mucus and misery. It extended through the weekend, eventually moving down into a chest cough, which put a damper on some of me efforts.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished in the Past Week
1. Two more poems finished, for a total of 9 complete poems. Another 8 poems in the Idea/Draft stage. I am way, way behind on this 30 day challenge, so I’m going to need to hustle this week if I hope to complete it. (Even if I don’t this is more poetry progress than I’ve made in a while, so I’m happy.)

2. Marathon training was something of a bust. I only walked one day last week (so, okay, not a total bust), but being sick kept me from Saturday’s four-mile hike through the hills.

3. No progress made on the short story. I’m feeling somewhat lost again. I need to figure out what the hell these final scenes are supposed to look like.

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— finish the drafts of 15-18 new poems
— submit a set of poems or a short story for publication (I do have some ideas on this)
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

In which I read two poems.

One poem is “Nothing in That Drawer” by Ron Padgett. The second poem, called “All She Wants is a Pair of Scissors” (which was published a while back in Perigee), was written in direct response to “Nothing in That Drawer” and to Padgett’s writing in general.

That Which Hath Been Accomplished
1. Over 2200 words have been written on the short story that seems to have no end. Many of these words were of an outlining sort as I tried to figure out just how I was going to wrap things up. The good news is that I may actually know how I’m going to wrap things up. I don’t know whether the jumping back and forth between the past and present is going to work or fail, but I suppose we’ll find out once I edit it all together and actually let others read it.

2. I have successfully finished (ish, because poems can always be further edited) four poems for April’s 30 poems in 30 days challenge. (Some of which have been posted to my blog.) I also have seven poems in the ideas/draft stage of writing. It’s not a bad start, but I should really “finish” ten to twelve more by the end of this week.

3. I have completed all of my marathon training days (along with some supplementary exercises on other days), which means I ran/walked a total of 9+ miles last week. Whoo!

4. A new youtube video was completed for both my personal and the collaborative channels.

All of this means that I more or less completed three of my four to-dos from last week. *does a little dance*

That Which Need-ith Accomplishing in the Coming Week
— continue to make progress on the story (actually finishing = triple bonus points)
— finish the drafts of 10-12 new poems
— do 3-4 marathon training days
— post a youtube video
— art, doesn’t matter what, but something

[This post has been x-posted to my livejournal.]

4 Poetry Things

1. My poem “Gretel” has been published at ChiZine. I’m really honored to be included, since I’ve been reading this zine for a long time and have always loved the work that has appeared in there.

2. I’m heading up to San Francisco tonight to attend a book release party and poetry reading. My friend Marisa Crawford has published her first book of poetry, called The Haunted House. I’m so happy for her, and it looks like it’s going to be a fabulous collection, if the sample poems (which I can’t seem to find again) are any indication. There’s a great review from the San Francisco Examiner.

3. I just learned that in honor of National Poetry Month there’s a 30 poems in 30 days challenge being mentioned here and there around the net. I’m planning on participating and posting the poems here. I’m a day late, well, two, if I don’t get to it tonight, so I’ve already got some catching up to do.

4.

Buh?

According to this, my poem “India” published in Bear Creek Haiku, has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

I’m … stunned.

I can’t really verify whether or not it’s true. And it’s just a nomination. Still …

It’s coming at a time when I’m feeling down and out about my writing, especially as I’m distracted by the frustrations in my everyday, nonwriting life (in fact I’m so ambivalent about everything right now that I don’t even know how to feel about this news).

I’m going to try and take it as the good sign that it is and use it as inspiration to keep writing through it all. Just keep putting one word after another, as they say.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Ten Years to the Day

The question of the day over at livejournal was: What do you expect to be doing ten years from today, and where do you hope to be living?

I always find these kinds of questions somewhat odd, especially in terms of expecting specific things. The future is such a wide open field of possibilities that I don’t want to tie it down to one in my mind. To quote Shel Silverstein: “Anything can happen. Anything can be.”

In my mind, expectations are an attempt to define the way you think reality should be. When you expect a specific thing, you place a “should” on reality. “Should”s, in my opinion are rather stupid. Reality is what it is. If it was meant to be anything other than what it is, then it would be. If you don’t like a situation or your current reality, instead of wasting time lamenting the way it should be, you have the right to change your reality. (I know I’m oversimplifying here.)

The point I’m going for here, is that arguing with reality is a waste of time. It’s much more productive to do something about reality as it’s presented to you.

I try not to “expect” anything.

However, I am a firm believer in hope. I think hoping for things is good. I think having goals is good. (It’s even better if you combine hoping and goal making with action.)

Therefore, here are some places that I may be in ten years (possible hopes, as it were):

  • I will be living my cottage-style home that I purchase five years before. The laser printer in my office will be pumping out page after page of my latest writing endeavor to be published later that year. Meanwhile, I’m on the phone with my sister and we’re jointly planning a surprise trip for the whole family to head off to Costa Rica for the week.
  • Year five of my plan to live in a different country every year (having already lived in Dublin, Mumbai, Tokyo, New York, and Paris) finds me in Rome, sitting in a small cafe, drinking wine and taking notes on my impressions of the people passing by.
  • I am pleasantly lost in the side streets of a South American town on my long term trip, whose goal is simply to find my way back to the U.S. via car, rail, bike, of feet after landing in Buenos Aires.
  • The snow is slowly drifting out the window, as I try to decide to drive into Anchorage that day, or just stay home and enjoy the fire.

There are, oh, so many more possibilities that I would find wonderful. All of them involve me making a living of some sort in the writing world.

Above anything else, though, I hope for happiness in whatever shape or form that is to look like. And I expect that I will find and have happiness in my life, because happiness is something you shape from what’s present and available in the world currently around you.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

New Online Zine

The premier issue of Cats with Thumbs is now available online as a downloadable pdf (there are a bunch of blank pages at the beginning, just scroll past them to get to the writing). It includes two of my poems, “Nature’s Mandala” and “All That is Left Behind.” This is really a great first issue, and I’ve been enjoying reading the work of the other writers within.

Under Poetry, I particularly enjoyed “Planet Pomegranate” by Angie Werren, “The Best Have No Time for It” by Therese L. Broderick, and “Selection” by Timothy Edge. (I haven’t had a chance to read through the Fiction yet, so can’t comment.)

* * * *

In terms of weekly writing progress, I’m still a bit behind. It doesn’t help that my computer has crapped out on my, trapping some of my writing within the confines of its plastic body, and relegating my to the traditional pen and pencil route.

Though if I’m going to be perfectly honest with myself, I cannot blame the computer but my own lack of motivation. I’m desperately trying not to fall back into an old pattern here. By which I mean, I find an anthology market that I would love to submit to, come up with a story that would work for that market, and then allow myself to work at such a slow pace that I miss the deadline.

I think this tendency comes from some sort of fear of failure, such as “if I don’t finish the story, then I don’t have to deal with the disappointment of its inevitable rejection,” which I know is completely ridiculous. One, because nothing is inevitable, and two, because I really do think the story could work and could have potential, if I just force myself to write the damned thing. It’s that whole failing before I even begin bull shit, which I’m tired of repeating.

So, that said, since the deadline is looming (only 13 days away), my main goal this week is to get the damn thing written and edited (computer or no computer), so that I can submit it next week.

[X-posted in part to my daily blog.]

I just finished writing 719 words, another small portion of a short story, which is at a current total of 2122 words. It always feels good to be writing, especially if I’m making progress, which I am. Currently I have a vague inclination of where the story is going and I think I can work it all out. I’ve got my fingers crossed that this story will work, because I’m hoping to submit it to Sherherazade’s Facade, a rather cool anthology market. But whatever happens, it will feel good to just have a finished story in my hands, complete with a beginning, middle, and end.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Unexpected Boon

Last night I randomly checked the email address that I haven’t checked in a couple of months. I haven’t been using it very much, because I use it as my professional email and I haven’t been submitting anything for publication in a while.

There, sitting in my inbox was a response to a submission I made well over a year ago. In fact, it was so long ago that I had long since assumed that I had been rejected and forgotten about it. But the editor wrote to let me know that she had finally caught up on her slush pile and that she would love to publish my poem in an upcoming issue! Yay! She also said that she hoped that I would submit more poetry in the future (she has a staff now to help her read the entries more quickly). So, double Yay!

I’m so happy and excited, because this is an online journal that I love and respect, so it is such an honor. I want to get confirmation as to which issue it will appear in before I say what the name of the publication is just yet, but I’m thrilled and joyous today. Furthermore, I’m feeling inspired to keep writing and submitting my work.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

The New Year – A Grand Symbolic Gesture

Even though I know that the possibility to change, grown, and improve one’s situation exists every day, there’s something about the symbolism of a new year starting that helps to inspire me to help me refocus and to get my rear in gear and jump start my goals again. So here I am publicly setting my goals for the new year.

Last year, I didn’t set any year long goals, and instead tried to stick to weekly goals (which are posted on my livejournal). I only sort of succeeded. I still intend to set weekly goals this year as a way to keep me constantly aware of what I’m up to, but I also have some BIG things that I want to get accomplished in the course of this year, so I’ll go ahead and post those, too.

2010 Goals:

  • Finish draft 0 of my Untitled Alternate World Fantasy Novel (currently at 51,189 words). In order to accomplish this, I plan to set aside time to write. There’s a local coffee shop, where I know there’s no wifi, so I can go there and get some focused writing done one to two days a week. Otherwise there are just too many distractions at home. It’s the same way I was able to complete Nano.
  • Actively write poetry and short stories for submission to anthologies (which will give me focus and a deadline), preferably a minimum of one submission a month. This is rather scary for me, because completing that many stories and poems on top of completing a novel feels like a lot, not to mention the possibility of facing rejection. However, I’m trying to look at it this way: if I complete a story that’s rejected by an anthology, then I will still have a story that can be reworked for submission elsewhere.
  • Train for and participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon in September. I’m not putting “lose weight” as a goal, because I don’t think that’s a good thing to focus on for me. But running in a marathon with my mother and sisters will be a lot of fun, will challenge me physically, and will probably achieve the “lose weight” thing in the process.
  • Attend a convention of some sort. This is just something that I’ve been wanting to do and talking about doing for quite some time. I think it’s about time I actually did it.
[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 30 & Win!

Last night, as the minutes ticked closer to midnight, I began to get a twitch in my eyelid — a sure sign that something in my brain was going to over heat and explode. It wasn’t so much any lack of words that was causing the problem, I had a clear sense of what I would write once I got to a computer. And that was the problem getting to a computer.

Every Monday night my mother, my sisters, and I take a 3-mile walk around the local track. Due a completely failed sense of time that night, I figured I could take the walk, head on home, and get to writing with plenty of time. I was clearly delusional.

By the time I got back to my sister’s house, it was drawing near 10 p.m. and I had 4,000 more words to write. Worse was that it would take me half an hour to get home where my lap top was sitting idly by waiting for my command. There was no way I could head home first and still have time to finish.

Fortunately I was able to use my sister’s laptop to finish off the novel. While my family watched Intervention and Hoarders, I typed away frantically, caring less than usual about the bad, bad sentences and the repetitive phrases. I eeked through the finish gate with 50,189 words and 5 minutes to spare.

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 30,184 (Over the course of 5 days with 4,000 written between 10 p.m. and midnight on November 30th.)
Current Total Word Count: 50,189
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Mitra tumbled off the boulder. Her shoulder stuck the stones as she fell, and her arms and hands were cut up by the rocks beneath her. She realized with perfect clarity what the vision had been telling her. Sonia had been sent to her for help and Mitra had failed her. She lay on the ground and wept.

Notes: So, here’s the score. While I have completed Nano, there are many upon many more words to write before this story will be complete. In fact, I think I’m not even a quarter finished, in part because of the natural fluff that goes into first drafts. Therefore, I will be continuing with this story. For the time being the goal will be extended to 100,000 words, but I think its going to take more than that.

[X-posted from my livejournal.]

Nano -day 24

I would like to say that the reason that I have no posted over the past several days was a sign that I’ve been writing wildly away at my Nano novel. I would like to say that, but it would be a lie. I have written nothing, well, next to nothing, in the past few days.

There are several reasons for this. One, I am currently car-less due to a blown head gasket. I’m also currently in an internal debate of whether or not its worth it to get it fixed or find a way to get a new used car for myself that might run better over the long haul.

Two, I started reading Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest (a.k.a. ), which not only has an awesome cover, but is a fantastic read. Furthermore, while it combines two of my favorite things (steampunk and zombies), the storyline is totally addictive and the characters totally believable. The result was that I was totally absorbed in the book and could not think of doing anything else until I finished it, at which point I was promptly upset that it was over.

Three, as happens occasionally, when I overwhelm myself with creative projects and life, I get to the point where I burn out and can’t do much usefull until I’ve unwound enough to return to making progress. Hopefully, during said unwinding (involving much TV and movie watching), I don’t lose any come back just as inspired as I was previously.

All that being said, I’ve managed to come back to the computer and make some progress today. So, here are the stats.

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 3,303
Current Total Word Count: 28,434
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Sonia watched him, slightly disturbed by the flash of his yellow teeth and the way his skin shook when he talked. had an instant distrust of really old people. Her mother would have smacked her upside the head if she could have read her thoughts. Sonia clicked her tongue, imitating the sound of her mother’s hand connecting with her skull.

Notes: I found that I have written entire scenes that I already know will be thrown out at a later date. I’m jumped back one scene, simply restarting it so that I can be on steadier ground as I continue. I expect that changes like this will continue to happen throughout, but I suppose it matters little as long as progress continues to be made.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 17

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 5,126 (Two days worth of writing.)
Current Total Word Count: 25,131
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): The children ran up the rows collecting the stones, laughing and shoving and pushing. It was a race and the children threw the stones into separate piles, which their father would count at the end of the day. To the child who had carried the most stones, the father would award a prize. Sometimes the prize was to be carried into the house on his shoulders for dinner. Sometimes the prize was an extra story when they went to sleep. Sometimes the prize was simply a kiss on the cheek, a pat on the head, and a well done. These were the only gifts he had to give them.

Notes: Passed the halfway mark! *joy*
Of course, that’s halfway for Nano, not halfway for the novel itself. In fact, up until the 20,000 word point, I’ve only been dealing with the first three chapters, which I know will be much shorter in the final version. I’ve kind of been feeling stuck in those chapters. Part of it has been because the chapters have been especially long due to all the back story that’s been slipping in as I figure out who exactly these people are and what exactly are the rules of the world in which they live.

But I’m past them now. There are still one or two more introductory kind of chapters to do. Writing from multiple points of view means getting to know each character and what they mean in this world. But these chapters should hopefully goes smoother. And beyond that I’m into other chapters that deal more with the progression of the plot, which is far more interesting than figuring out the whole back story thing. So, now I’m starting to get excited again.

I’m figuring this excitement will continue until I begin to reach those points where I’m not sure what’s going to happen next. Hopefully, those answers will fill in as I work my way up to them.

The one worry that these long opening chapters give me is that this will probably mean that my draft zero will require a monsterous amount of writing before I call it done. I imagine it to be well over 100,000 words. But that’s just my inital impression and who knows what will actually come about.

Oh, and I’ve discovered one major inconsistency in the “rules” of my world, but I’ve also fixed it as soon as I discovered it. So huge sigh of relief there.

[x-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 14

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 7,633 (This is over the course of several days since I last posted. About 3600 was written today.)
Current Total Word Count: 20,005
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): She looked out across the valleys and the other seven peaks. The sky was bright blue and clear and the sun had not yet dipped down behind the mountains. She could feel its warmth on her back.

Notes: Hey! I passed the 20,000 mark. Sweet!
I’m still far behind, and I’ll have to write 5,000 or more words tomorrow to be totally caught up, but I’m feeling good about this whole thing. Using Write or Die today really helped me put out some words despite all the distractions that there are in my house.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Distractions

I’ve fallen rather behind on Nano. And what’s more, instead of writing or even going on one of my walk/runs for marathon training, I spent last night in a frenzy of watching TV episodes on hulu.com. I watched the latest Heroes and Dollhouse episodes, and then discovered that hulu also has some old Buffy episodes, so I went and watched three of those. I have no proper excuse, but I choose to fogive myself for the indiscretion on the premise that I needed a mental break.

Going home to work on Nano doesn’t seem to be effective for me. So I will be going to a coffee shop with no internet access tonight, which will force me to either write or stare at the blank screen for long periods of time. (I have no games on my computer.)

However, there is another distraction that I have to be concerned about. As usual, I’m getting all kinds of ideas for other stories and novels while I’m in the middle of a current creation. Most of these I can just take down a few notes on and set aside. But this idea has sort of hit me upside the head and I really, really want to write even though I know that I really, really have to wait until I finish draft zero of my current Nano novel. (And that’s finish all of draft zero, by the way, not just the 50,000 words for Nano.)

So I will take down the beginnings of notes and ideas, forcibly put them away in a file, and try really, really hard not to think about it too much. Oh, but it’s going to be hard.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

Nano – day 8

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 5,577 (This is over the course of several days since I last posted.)
Current Total Word Count: 12,372
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Mitra found the girl was nestled in outcropping further down the mountainside. The snow had melted around her in a circular ring. There were not footsteps in the snow leading into the circle and Mitra could not figure how she had got there. It was a most curious thing.

Notes: I fell behind on Friday and Saturday. The staying up to one a.m. several nights in a row had taken a toll and I was exausted both nights to the point that I didn’t bother writing. This gave me 4400 words for catch up today. I drove down the hill to a local coffee shop to get some work done, because it was far too distracting to try and write at home. I am now only 1,000 words behind, a more reasonable number, which I should be able to catch up in the next day or two.

[X-posted to my livejournal]

Nano – day 3

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 2,659  (Sweet tasty words.)
Current Total Word Count: 6,795
Goal: 50,000+ words

Random Sentence(s): Once someone somewhere had told her that there was more space between the particles in an individual atom than there was space between galaxies in the universe, that the world we perceived as solid was actually more empty than full. Sonia knew this intimately.

Notes: I basically wrote to the end of what I’m calling Chapter 3. (i have not written Chapter 2, by the way.) My chapters at this point are determined by the switch from one character’s point of view to another. The “keep writing until the end of the chapter” concept is working well for me. It gives me a defined stopping place, when I can then decide if I want to keep writing. It also keeps my writing longer than I might otherwise, because I cannot stop until that point.

Nano – day 1

Project: Untitled Alternate World Novel
New Words: 4,136 (Yay! A damn fine start, if I say so myself.)
Current Total Word Count: 4,136
Goal: 50,000 words

Random Sentence: As the sky began to lighten, Jahine felt a sense of purpose grow within him and the doubt that had cajoled him the dark early hours fled.

Notes: A lot of this came out in backstory. This is just fine, because while I know that much of this will be cut in edits, it is helping me get a better sense of this world and how it all works. Though I do keep trying to bring what I’m writing back to the immediate action of the story, since that makes it all feel more alive to me.

I’m feeling rather good about this start to the novel, since it feels to be the most coherent of all the Nano novels that I worked on over the years. Of course, this could just be the excitement of starting out a new story, but I have a feeling deep in my gut that this one, for once, just might work. Here’s hoping.

[X-posted to my livejournal]

the muse mosquito is tickling my ear

Well, I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month once again this year. For those who may be staring at me funny, Nanowrimo is that wonderful time of year when novelists  come together to each write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. It’s a great challenge that shoves away the inner critic for a while. I’ve participated for many years, completing the challenge sometimes and failing others. Always it’s a good experience, though this is a challenging year for me to be attempting such a thing. Ah, well.

In the mean time, I am itching to start Nano. Right now my novel idea is almost constantly in my mind, and it’s driving me a little nuts that I have to wait until tomorrow midnight to begin. I have most of the opening scenes mapped out. Some of the middle scenes are there, too, and I have some general ideas of where I want it all to end up, which is nice. And although I don’t really have names yet, my characters are starting to blossom with wants and desires and motivations, which will help keep the main force of the story going.

All of which is very exciting. I would love to have a novel readable enough that I would feel comfortable sending out to family and friends for critique. I would then dance and sing and be merry.

[X-posted to my livejournal.]

The Writing Life: Long Term Goals

Today I thought it would be good to follow the writing prompt set by young adult author Laurie Halse Anderson .

The prompt? “Write down where you want your writing life to be in 2010, in 2024, and in 2026.”

Goals are excellent things to have. They help keep a clear purpose in mind. I know I’ve been writing small weekly goals (some I meet, some I don’t), but I have a feeling that now is a good time to get some of my larger goals anchored down. It’s also fun to look back at goals you set years in the past and compare them to where your currently at.

2010: One of my main goals for next year is to have a chapbook or full collection of poetry published. I’m getting to where I have enough poetry that’s completed, that I like, and that has the same sort of tone that such a thing is possible. I’m going to be submitting to a couple of poetry chapbook contests in the next couple of months and we’ll see what happens with that.

I would also like to have several completed and published short stories, more single poems published in journals, and my really big goal: to have a novel completed that is manuscript ready. By which I mean that the novel is edited to point that I could consider sending it out and shopping for agents (slightly scary).

2014: Five years from now? My goal is to have several book-length collections of poetry published. By then, I would love to have many novels written, two to three of which would be published with another on its way. (Idealism and high hope are good. Really.)

Somewhere in there, I would like to have had at least one feature film script written and hopeful produced into a film. I really enjoy the filmmaking process, how so many ideas from so many people can come together into something that (hopefully) works.

On a personal note, I would like to have done some more extensive traveling. I especially would like to spend some serious time in South America as well as hit various points in India and Europe.

2026: I’m not really one to reach that far into the future, and while I do think setting goals is important, I also think it’s important to live in the moment. Besides a lot can happen in seventeen years. I would hope that my career would continue exponentially, with all the good spiraling into more and more good. More books and poetry and scripts written and ultimately published. And if there’s award or two in there, all the better (Though just getting published is joy enough for me, hell, just completing something to where I’m happy with it is joy enough, or better yet, just writing is in many ways joy enough.)

I think these goals are entirely realistic and possible. Accomplishing all of this, however, means that I will need to have a higher productivity rate than my current level. Again, do-able. It is a simple requirement of making choices. Watch TV or write 500 more words? Hmm, let me think about that.

[x-posted to my blog]

Train Tracks

Signora, between Austria and Italy, there is a section of the Alps called the Semmering. It is an impossibly steep, very high part of the mountains. They built a train track over these Alps to connect Vienna and Venice. They built these tracks even before there was a train in existence that could make the trip. They built it because they knew some day, the train would come.

~From the movie  Under The Tuscan Sun ( book by Frances Mayes)

I’m rather fond of that story, and in my own way, I am presenting this site as a similar foundation for myself. I have not yet published a novel (have not even finished writing one), however, as I build my career as a writer, this site will serve as a portal, for not just my noveling adventures, but all my creative endeavors.

I will use this homepage to point out projects I’m working on, when my work gets published, events or readings I will be attending or participating in, and any other such announcements. Please also visit my blog for posts about my daily writing progress and challenges, book and movie reviews, and other meanderings.

If you are an aspirant (“a hoper, a dreamer, a magic bean buyer”), please leave me a comment or write me an email about your own tracks. Pursuing our passions doesn’t have to be a lonely affair after all.