Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z is for zzzz

Almost forgot about the last day post. Actually, I thought I'd done it last night and turned out I only did 1 and I've been posting on both blogs all month. Oops.  Z is a hard topic to find words to use for and relating them to specific topics. There are a number of words that start with Z but need to be able to something about them. So, I'm going with ZZZZ this time, which translates to I'm going to talk about sleep.

Sleep is important to us, or well me. I like me some sleep. I enjoy sleep and get many of my ideas from dreams. However, when I first started writing novels, I had a little problem. My character in the romance novel from 2008 NaNoWriMo went to bed often. Sure sometimes it was for fun play but sometimes it was just for sleep. And it's not just the romance. I used to end chapters with the character going to bed because I thought that was good to show and marked a good end of chapter as it was end of the character's day.

Glad I have learned otherwise before submitting those novels anywhere. I still am working on that factor in edit though I got a portion of them out in the first rewrite.

Because the thing is, while sometimes we wonder if during an adventure the characters ever do things like sleep, go to the bathroom, shower and such, for the most part we don't need to see them actually do it.

The thing we don't want to do is make the reader fall asleep. And if the character is going to sleep too often the book may end up getting put down because or not read in its entirety because they got bored and skipped to the better parts.

Sleep is good but there are times and places for it.

Do you like sleep?
Ever have a problem with characters sleeping in stories?

       Z Z Z Z Z Z Z

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y is for Years

By years I mean, measuring progress in years. It's easy to get lost in the now at times, to think we're making no progress at all. This is especially true when I'm not as far along in a goal as I thought I'd be by that time. I didn't think it'd take the number of years it has to get me to this point but at the same time it's amazing to see what I have accomplished when I look back over the years later.

For some it won't take long, not everyone goes on the same path in this crazy writing journey. It can take years, and not just 2 I mean it can take 10, 15 or 20 years for some to get to certain stages in the journey. 

I'm editing now. But the novel I'm editing I started writing back in 2007. Back then I didn't know how long it would take because I'd never finished a novel, I'd never written past 10,000 words back then, and I'd certainly never rewritten or edited a novel. It has been a long journey so far but I've learned so much over the years.

Every time I feel like I'm taking too long to get anything accomplished, I step back and look over the things I have done over the years. It helps me see that I have done lots of writing and I can't wait to do even more.

Do you focus on the years or worry about taking too long?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for X Rated

X rated as in those naughty stories, that is right. But more in the difference in writing erotica versus other genres when people ask about your writing. Because that is one awkward conversation in many work settings.

I write a lot of different stories. I range from young adult and middle grade, to fantasy, science fiction, mystery, horror attempts and yes, romance erotica. I started writing erotica flash fiction and short stories back in 2008 just to see if I could and my first finished novel draft was a 50,000 word NaNoWriMo romance erotica. Two of the 4 finished first drafts are romance erotica and one novel that has a very dedicated fan I haven't finished yet is also of that genre. But it does lead to some uncomfortable moments when admitting to writing an X rated story.

One example: my dad. *waves hi if he reads the blogs*
Yeah, so I finished my NaNoWriMo first draft and who wanted to read it? My dad. I am lucky to have very encouraging parents when it comes to my novel writing but when family wants to read the erotica, that is when it gets a little weird. I guess I should also clarify that I don't just write erotica, I write gay male erotica. He never read the novel and I'm okay with that fact. Though I never hide what kinds of stories I write.

At work now, I have some coworkers who are curious about my writing. Some have even mentioned how I could bring some of it in to work to share. I don't own a printer so that won't happen. However, it did get a little awkward when in public (I'm a cashier and work in a few different departments) I had to explain to coworkers what I write. And next thing I get is "so like Shades of Grey?"... Umm no. Not like it at all.

Though it's a minor nuisance how that is the standard for that genre. I mean, if I say I write magic stories for teens then I would get a Harry Potter question. Or just saying young adult may get a Twilight comment (which I'd be quick to say no to that one cause I don't write any vampire stuff sparkly or not). Fantasy has many authors to be compared to like Jordan, Salvatore, Martin, Weiss, Tolkien, etc. In fact many genres have some really great authors to compare to, even young adult has amazing authors like Tamora Pierce and such. I wouldn't mind comparisons to some of them, but I need to get those novels finished and edited for that. But say I write erotica and it's Shades of Grey. But I digress.

Do you ever write anything X rated?
How do you handle telling others about it and the comparisons?

Friday, April 26, 2013

W is for Write

I need to write.
What about you?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V is for Villain

The villain can be an important character in a story, at leas when there is an actual character. This can also be called the antagonist but we aren't on day A so today I'm just going to use the term villain.

Antagonist is basically a character whose goals goes against that of the protagonist. They may have a direct link to the main character in some ways, but they may not. Villains are similar. They go against the protagonist and are often considered wicked because of what they want and their reasoning for it. However, sometimes what makes the main character a protagonist is that they make the decision to go up against the villain despite the odds that are against them. While we love a good protagonist, there are times when the villain makes the story.

Where would the little mermaid be without Ursula to give her that wish to walk on land?

Would the Emperor ever change in the Emperor's New Groove if he hadn't been made a llama? Probably not, he'd be a villain if the story was written with only a few changes.

Snow White wouldn't have to fear apples or never would know about dwarves without the stepmother to push things along.

So, what about your story? Does your villain play a key role to pushing the protagonist? Is your villain/antagonist empathetic to a degree or just because someone needs to be the bad guy?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U is for Underdog

We like the underdog, not just the old cartoon though I do remember watching that one. People like to root for the one who looks like they might not make it, takes a lot of heart and struggle, but then is able to pull it through in the end. The one that in a bet doesn't have the greatest odds but through some reason wins.

1. a loser or predicted loser in a struggle or contest
2. a victim of injustice or persecution
3. someone who is not expected to win (1 reworded)

Writing related:

Do you like to read/root for the underdog?
Is your main character an underdog?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T is for Travel

Yesterday was about science fiction, so today I'm going to focus on fantasy. More specific, this is about travel in traditional fantasy and some of the struggles of having characters that need to travel and not sure how to do it.

Fantasy, the traditional, not modern type, has a reputation for inaccuracies when it comes to characters traveling. There are the stories where the characters ride horses for hours on end, racing them as they are being chased and go on longer than has been shown to be possible. Then there are others where characters walk everywhere, long long distances and it doesn't take a very long time considering the travel method and the character's physique, to get to places.

I will admit I have this problem in a couple of my novels, in particular the novel I started writing in November. The characters in that novel are on the run, trying to find safety and are walking. Yeah, I went with the walking. Though I did make the pain from doing it, foot problems, needing to rest and such an issue, but I don't know what else to do based on the world.

I also have travel issues with my epic fantasy that I started writing in 2010. I don't know how to have them travel to get from places. I am guessing this is something where it would help to worldbuild before writing.

I don't have a lot of tips for this topic. Instead, I'm curious if anyone else does.

Any suggestions for travel in fantasy worlds?
Do you have this problem too?

Monday, April 22, 2013

S is for Science Fiction

Genre post time.

I like Sci-Fi to a degree, though I will also admit that I don't quite understand the genre. I even took a Sci-Fi Lit class in college. Some of the stories I could not figure out at all, but the others students had no problem, but other stories I thought made perfect sense and it confused everyone else. Like some of the alien stories I struggled to read, but the story about Schrodinger's Cat, that one I got at once. It was pretty cool.  So, some of my stories fall under the genre science fiction and I figured it would make a good S post.

What is Science Fiction?
Dictionary: a form of fiction that draws imaginatively on scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc.

Based off the definition it makes for one broad genre (though many "genres" are broad thus why we have so many subgenres). Many stories fall under that and there is enough detail that it gives some direction but it's rather open in general as far as what it could accept under the umbrella of the dictionary explanation.

There are other sources that try to define Science Fiction as a genre and they vary to a degree. Some include technology to the definition, for example. Here is one link but there are many other sites out there. http://scifi.about.com/od/scififantasy101/a/SCIFI_defs.htm

Sci-Fi subgenres (a few at least on wikipedia):
Hard - A strict adherence to science with attention to details. Accuracy is considered important and the readers pay attention to those factors too. Examples: Gregory Benford, Isaac Asimov, Kim Stanley Robinson
Soft/Social - Used to describe writing based off social sciences such as sociology, anthropology and such. Can also be used on character driven stories that are less detail attentive to the science side but still falls within the science fiction realm. Examples: Ursula K. Le Guin, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood
Military - Stories set in conflict that use national, international, interstellar army forces with a primary military personel viewpoint. Stories involve details of the technology, procedures expected and sometimes the use of history. Examples: David Weber, John Ringo, S.M. Stirling
Apocolyptic - Fiction focused on end of the world times that come through various means such as wars, ecological disaster, and many others. In general can focus on the actual disaster and or the aftermath. Examples: George R. Stewart, Russel Hoban, Pat Frank
Space Opera - Adventure science fiction that is set in outer space or distant planets. The conflict is often large scale and heroic. Examples: Edward E. Smith, L. Ron Hubbard, Vernor Vinge

I haven't read much science fiction at this point, but I'm a little distracted with young adult and middle grade novels that range in genre. I need to read more because some of my novels fall under this genre in varying subgenres.

Do you read science fiction? Any books you'd recommend?
Do you write science fiction?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R is for Read

Reading is an important part of writing. This is true to the point where some famous writers are even quoted with saying that reading is essential to becoming a good writer, that and of course writing.

I've been trying to read more. I have a little blog that I admit has stalled a little. But I'm making progress and it's getting going again. I will be adding more readers to the blog in the near future soon. My goal for next year is to participate in A to Z with the book review blog. Here is the link for now if anyone is interested: http://readingatdawn.blogspot.com.

What books have you read recently?

I have read Number the Starts by Lois Lowry and Tree Girl by Ben Mikaelsen.

What are you reading now?

I am reading Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q is for Quiet

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P is for Professional

Professional behavior is important even online and it's something we shouldn't forget. While it's easy to get carried away online, to think that what we write won't matter in the future, that is not the case.

Professional behavior has many facets. It's more than just posting personal attacks on Internet forums or lewd pictures on facebook. And it affects every social media site. Any page that can be found through a search could potentially be used against a person if they let too much get out of control online. Yet in the moment people seem to forget this fact.

Now, this doesn't mean you can't be yourself. You don't have to be rigid and bland in order to avoid an "unprofessional" presence online. It's more of a matter of being conscience of what you post will say about you to others and whether you want that image attached to you in the future.

It's okay to talk about your personal life to a degree. Talk about the pets. Because guess what: agents and editors often have pets too. When I was at my first conference, one of the main things a lot of the writers there (including the big name fantasy ones) talked about their cats.

So go ahead. Talk about little miss kitty. But maybe lay off on the bowel movements unless you're bringing up jokes about Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

What I see the most and why I'm doing this post is the complaining. I've seen people complain in forums or blogs or on twitter about the industry. These vary from "oh the publisher/agent takes too long to respond" all the way to "these word count limits suck, why can't I write whatever length I want" types. Which we all understand, however, when you then go and submit, that message might pop up and it doesn't look good.

It also goes hand in hand with building your band. So every fight over a book review, every post about how bad others in the community are and every questionable picture may have an impact on the brand you are creating for yourself. But how professional you look is up to you.

What is professional behavior to you?
Do you watch the impression you leave online?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O is for Obscenity

I had another O topic figured out but in writing my other blog post I completely forgot the one I'd figured out for this blog. So, instead I'm going to do a slightly obscure (ooo another O word) one. The first time I'd faced a class about law was back when I was 16, so I have a specific view when it comes to obscenity based on taking a Constitutional Law class at Stanford as part of a program called Junior Statesmen of America. This is also all based on US law and the opinion by the US Supreme Court that created the Miller Test.

This is a famous quote because it was used at one point. Yep, at one point how one defined obscenity was based off a similar opinion that they knew it when they saw it. Which meant to determine whether something was obscene or not meant they had to view the item. Sounds strange now, but is no longer the real standard due to the case of Miller v California. I won't ramble on about the case because I don't want to bore anyone. If you want to see more about the court case, check here: Miller Case Brief.

The reason I bring it up as also being a writer of romance/erotica, running an erotic contest and working for a newsletter on writing.com, I have come upon the topic a number of times. Usually it's an issue of erotic versus pornography. That conversation makes me want to go into a big rant about law. Feel bad for those that have had to listen to me, lol. Because to me really it's not an issue of erotica versus pornography because I don't even use the p word in the discussion. Because it's not whether a story is one or the other, the issue in the legal sense is whether the item is erotic or obscene. Why is that the issue?

Because, according to the Court and my years of classes studying the court case, it's a matter of whether the item in question is obscene or erotic because the first amendment protects erotic works but obscenity is not protected. They never ask if it's pornography or not. The question will be is it obscene or not.

It's pretty easy to make it through the Miller test. The one that all fall under is the 1st part where it has to involve the prurient interest. Basically that asks if it is sexual or not though the patently offensive part isn't as easy to figure out. However, what helps us writers is the list of acceptable reasons. This is where it says that if the work in question is artistic, scientific, political or literary, then it's erotic. If it's not one of those then it that is another mark towards obscene. The final feature has to do with community standards. Well, maybe not in that order exactly but you get the idea. But besides that point, if it fails the test then it's obscene and not protected speech. But erotic is protected under the First Amendment.

The interesting part I think, is the original content in question trying to defend itself as to whether it was acceptable or not, Miller, lost. The situation was considered obscene because what they did wrong was something simple. They were sending adult material to anybody, a mass mailing attempt of advertisement, which meant people who didn't want the material received it. Yeah, minor mistake on that part. Yet, the case helped work to define the legal standards for obscenity. Though I wonder how those email spams work. Hmm...

Bored yet?
Ever worry about writing and obscenity?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N is for NaNoWriMo

I have spoken about this even before but not during April, so figured this year I'd do that for N. It's a big deal and counts as two N's since it's during November. For those that don't know what I mean: November is National Novel Writing Month, where people spend the whole month trying to write 50,000 words of a novel in that month.

Some people don't like the event, which is fine. It's not for everyone. And it's not for perfect drafts. It's a rough rough first draft that gets written in 30 days or less. The goal of the month isn't to publish a book any time soon really. The entire purpose, if you read the web site (http://www.nanowrimo.org/), is to get people to write. So many say they would like to write a novel some day, and NaNoWriMo gives the time to get that novel out. Sure, it's a very rough draft but accomplishing that finished first draft is a great first step in this process.

I have quite the history when it comes to NaNoWriMo.

1st attempt = 2006
Wrote only a couple thousand words and gave up part way through the month. I'd never written anything more than short stories at this point.

2007 = YA novel attempt
Made it to a grand ol' 14,000 words during November. Then again when I got around to finishing the first draft it was only 23,000 words long so it wouldn't have made the 50,000 words for the challenge.

1st success = 2008
 Made it to 50,000 words of a novel on a romance/erotica. Never expected to write anything that was either romance or erotic and yet it worked out. I haven't rewritten that one at this point, it may say a trunk novel as it was a good experience but not something I see workable for now.

2010 = after year break, attempting again.
50,000 words in 15 days on an epic fantasy novel. Quit after making it to the goal of the challenge. The first draft still isn't finished. I want to finish it some day though.

2011 = attempted 2 novels
Wrote a total of 125,000 words between the two novels. One was a bit over 99,000 (a romance erotica) and the other was a bit under 25,000 words (young adult). And it felt so crazy and yet was fun. The romance novel was longer than planned and the first draft is done but needs rewritten. The young adult one isn't even half way done yet and I hope to finish the first draft some day.

2012 = crazy
Yeah, I didn't expect this time to go as well. I figured my one novel (it was one novel at the start) was going to be maybe 90,000 words long. And I didn't have the greatest history with young adult stories, though I did well with the epic fantasy. However, I ended up writing 165,000 words in November last year. I couldn't believe it either, while starting a new job. It was insane. And crazy part, novel isn't done yet. I just have the ending to write though. When I rewrite this one, I'm separating it into 2 books, and need to worldbuild first.

So, if you can't tell. I love NaNoWriMo because it helps me get that pesky first draft written. And I don't ever just throw them out right after that draft is done. It takes me years to get a novel ready. In fact, I'm currently editing the book from 2007. The second draft was 50k and with this edit, it will be over 60k and that makes me happy.

Will I take part in NaNoWriMo in November? Yeah. It would take a lot for me to not take part. As for what I will write, that I don't know yet. I will try to decide in September or October.

Ever take part in NaNoWriMo?
Will you this year?

Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Monster Question

Monster or Love Interest?

I have noticed over the years some different uses of what once was considered "monster" characters. Vampires is an easy example. There are a number of them now that used creatures that have been in horror, sci-fi and fantasy stories, often as the villains, but they do something different. They give them a love story and make them the good guys that people root for them to get their happy ending. So, for today's post lets do a little thing I am calling: Monster or Love Interest?

Twilight is one of a few examples for this first one, and the most obvious. Sure in some of the older ones there was an association with the vampire character (like Dracula) with women, but it wasn't "Oh I hope they get together and can be happy forever" when reading the past approaches to the vampire. But now, the brooding, trying not to eat people, possible main character types are used with the hope of love as part of the plot (though no sparkles, yeah I still don't think that makes sense, lol). So, what do you think? Should vampires be monsters or do they make good love interest characters?

Another Twilight reference here. Well, he was more the love triangle issue, but from what others I have (I haven't read or watched the movies) he didn't stand much of a chance. But there are others too. I actually liked Shiver, which has a different concept of werewolves and in that case I think it worked. Though I haven't read the rest of the series. It's not always Full Moon, howl and attack. Yet they work as pretty good monsters, as do their similar types "windigos" as one of the few horror movies I've liked, had those in it. Is the werewolf a better love character or monster?

Yep, zombies. Now these I have mostly seen just as monsters. There are many different kinds and stories that involve them. The more familiar ones are movies like Dawn of the Dead and such.  But it turns out there are also stories about zombies in love. Really. Brain eating and romantic walks on the beach. I haven't read any books or seen any movies with these as love interest characters or at least not ones that survive with a happy ending. So, I am not sure how I feel on this one. Are they monsters or good love story characters?

Any other monsters/lovers you have seen?
What do you think?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L is for Library

I love libraries. I hadn't gone to one in a few years because I had this tendency to return books late (bad me) and so just fell out of the habit of checking out books in college. Well, I have rekindled my connection with the library. The last 2 books I've read were ones from the library and I even love the place despite the fact I go to is small and has a limited selection. It's just great to go and see all the books.

One of my goals for owning a home includes a personal library room. A room with shelves packed full of books has always been my dream. I have a decent amount of books now, I just need the house.

Today I found a book on managing money and a book by Neil Gaiman. Can't wait to read both of them and I have a deadline that I have to get them read by which helps get me moving on that reading thing (even though I love reading I also have to write and work). The library is a great place.

Do you go to your local library?
What are your favorite library moments/finds?

Friday, April 12, 2013

K is for Keep

Keep Up and Keep Writing

I have to admit that I've had a hard time this year keeping up with the blog challenge. I have done a couple posts mid day because I just needed to go to bed as I do my posts the night before after work (as I work till 10:30 pm most days that I work). And I'm even more behind on my commenting, though I promise to get caught up.

This week was a busy week. I ended up working 40 hours, only 1 day off, and a total of 8 days in a row. That and for some reason I've both been very sleepy and had a hard time falling asleep at night. Makes me less productive as I have a lot to do online along with  the normal day to day stuff. Makes it hard to keep up, but then that means I can play catch up on my days off. Luckily I have 3 days off next week and should be able to get to commenting on the ones below mine on the list, friends, and the ones who have comment on my posts so far.

So yeah, today is a Keep Up kind of day.  But another good Keep topic is Keep Writing. I haven't followed that mentality lately, editing cut down my writing after NaNoWriMo. Back in November I had a writing friend create an image for me with a character  from Finding Nemo that I used all month long to encourage others when I was posting in forums. It's fun image and one I need to consider again as I have a novella to write soon. Aside from catching up, doing a chapter edit, and working, I am going to get and keep writing.

Are you keeping up with the A to Z challenge?
Will you keep writing?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J is for Joust

I will admit that I had a hard time coming up with today's topic. I even looked back at the other J posts I have done over the years and discovered that only 1 of them did not start with the word "just" and I wanted to avoid that word for this post because of it. So, here it is at last: Joust.

In March I went to Vegas with family and for my sister's birthday dinner (birthday in February but we were all in Vegas together in March so celebrated then) we went to the Tournament of Kings. There they joust and have this dramatic fight against a bad guy. Fun times. I don't remember which country we were placed in exactly but it was one who instead of a King, we had an Emperor. While I will say he was one of the more attractive jousters (and I usually don't care for men with long hair) but he was also proof why you should never send an emperor to do a knight's job. During joust he didn't fall off his horse, he just rode away out of the arena. During the big fight with the bad guy, he didn't get slain or really do much damage to the minions cause he left the arena. tsk tsk. At least the Russian one stayed and fought, plus his always cheating comes in handy when it's against the villain.

Which brings me to the real topic of the blog because to be honest, I don't have much to say about jousting. I do have stuff to say about when it's okay for a character to run away and when they needed to stand up and fight. And yes, on occasion the hero may need to cut back, leave with tail tucked away and try to fight another day.

Place not to run away:
First chapter in the novel. While this can work at times (I'm not saying this is a rule, but something to consider as it's difficult to pull off), it's harder for a main character to run away at the very beginning of a novel because the reader doesn't know the character yet. They will have a harder time feeling empathy and wanting to continue to read abut the character if they perceive them as someone who runs away and leaves others to die. I had a critique group once where a writer had their character jump away from a ship under attack, leaving those behind and he made it to some island. That did not work for the readers because already they didn't have interest in him as the main character because he was so willing to jump ship without showing him at least trying to do battle first. Not a good first impression. It's a different story if the reader already knows enough about the MC, cares about them and can see why they have to run away this time, why they aren't prepared for the battle.

When is a great time:
After the character and conflicts are established, midway in the novel. This is more of a second act tactic because during the second act, middle, of the story it's okay for the character to fail. In fact, the setbacks and the chance to fail adds to the tension, heightens the situation to make things seem harder, which will then make the triumph at the end even better. Hero movies are a good example of this type. There are often fights where things go wrong, they don't win and they struggle just to survive but from it the pull the courage to move forward to the big battle, the one that matters the most. That is a good time to have a possible run away instead of continue to fight and lose.

What do you think about characters running away?
Do you like jousting?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I is for Idea

(Image Link)

I have an idea!

I say this a lot though. I have lots of ideas for stories.I get them on a regular basis from dreams, inspired by others writing/art/etc, thoughts to get rid of the boredom at work, music and just at random while driving. I have enough ideas that I may never have enough time to get to them all and yet more keep coming.

The idea is a great thing to find. However, it's not the end all be all. It's a starting point but without any form of execution then it's nothing more than an idea that gets left behind. (Read the post on the image link cause it has some interesting points about ideas and the abandonment of ideas.)

Sure, having an idea is great. It's exciting, the nice little shiny thing that appeared. But you can only do so much with one little shiny speck as it won't go anywhere without development and effort. An idea is just an idea. Which is why an idea can't be copyrighted or anything like that. It's also possible for more than one person to have a similar or even same thought or idea. It's going to happen and we have to accept that fact.

So get that fun shiny idea, then take it somewhere.

Do you have an idea?
What will you do with it?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H is for Horror

This is one genre that I don't quite understand. I've attempted to write a few horror short stories over the years in part just to see if I could and I struggle each time I try. And each time I struggle to figure out what would qualify as a horror story. I just don't know how to write in a scary way, same as I don't know how to write funny on purpose.


The Horror Writers Association had a great explanation of horror on the site: http://www.horror.org/horror-is.htm. The part that really caught my attention was this:
Webster's Collegiate Dictionary gives the primary definition of horror as "a painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay." It stands to reason then that "horror fiction" is fiction that elicits those emotions in the reader. If we accept this definition, then horror can deal with the mundane or the supernatural, with the fantastic or the normal. It doesn't have to be full of ghosts, ghouls, and things to go bump in the night. Its only true requirement is that it elicit an emotional reaction that includes some aspect of fear or dread.

I even once had a long conversation with a friend on writing.com where she tried to get me to figure out what scared me. She asked all kinds of questions with the sole purpose of finding out if I "found that scary." And after over 30 minutes we basically found out not much scares me when I'm just reading the suggestion. I think my fears are starting to change because I know death is starting to appear in my mind more often than before, but for now, I struggle to think and then use that information to write something scary.

I think another issue I have is more when they think about horror it is those horror movies, such as slashers or maybe psychological thrillers. And all those movies do is remind me of my grandmother. Not cause she was scary but she loves horror movies (all kinds). Grandma is only about 66 years old now. Growing up I remember her house having so many scary movies and watching one called Slumber Party Massacres (spoiler: it's a slasher movie where the guy killed people using a guitar with a drill on the end  of it). So, when I think about horror movies in general, Grandma comes to mind.

And I also am one who umm fell asleep while watching the Exorcist. I wasn't exhausted or anything, just fell asleep when I tried to watch that movie. I get bored easily with horror movies when I try to watch them and I'm not sure why. I did like Rose Red, but not many other horror movies. I have only seen Thinner of the Stephen King based ones, and that brings me to the books.

I haven't read any of King's books either, not the horror ones. I read a fantasy one of his though. In fact I've read very few horror books. Though I used to love reading them. Some of my favorite books as a young teen were the R.L. Stine Fear Street Cheerleaders books. But now, I am not sure how I feel about horror reading and haven't read many at all.

And I will never be a horror writer, but  I still try sometimes.

Do you like horror?
What is horror to you?

Monday, April 8, 2013

G is for Goodreads

Yep, I am going with an easy pick, Goodreads. Or more specific... Goodreads and Amazon.

If you hadn't heard, yep Amazon and Goodreads are combining forces. So, now you've heard. The end. I kid of course, here is a link with more information, the announcement on goodreads. Make sure to read the comments to the announcement because it is interesting to see the reactions of people to the news. http://www.goodreads.com/blog/show/413-exciting-news-about-goodreads-we-re-joining-the-amazon-family

A Google search for "Goodreads Amazon" will produce a number of links that include opinions on why Goodreads was valuable to Amazon, what the purchase means for the book industry, some unhappy opinions about the transaction, and a few old news sites about when Goodreads got rid of Amazon for their database. Yeah, that is mentioned in the comments of the announcement too.

Now, I don't often buy books from Amazon, I must admit. I've bought a few other things on there cause it's easy to say send coffee to my stepsister for Christmas from the site than to deal with the buy, pack and send. I get most of my books from bookstores and the e-reader I have is a Nook. So, I'm not sure how I feel about the situation. I use Goodreads to keep track of where I am in books, what I have read and to find books to read. When I review, it's on my blog.

But I'm curious as to what others think about the situation.

What do you think about the Goodreads and Amazon combination?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

F is for Fanfiction

I will admit that I am fairly new to fanfiction. Not that I had never heard the term before, but it wasn't something I ever delved into myself. I heard about it in passing and thought that could be interesting for some but never had the desire to try and write fanfiction. I had enough ideas and characters of my own and that was where I started with my writing. Not that I had anything against those who wrote fanficiton, it just wasn't for me. But I have now tried a tiny bit of fanfiction and while I still prefer my own stories, I did have fun.

Fanfiction can have helpful writing qualities too. Not every story written needs to be done in the name of publication. Since writing is a craft and requires sets of skills that can be developed forever and writing different stories can help with just. I know if I plan to continue writing this one fanfiction story based off Monochrome Factor, it will help me work on writing fight scenes because let's face it, that story requires lots of fighting. And fights are something I am not good at because I rarely write them.

Some stories garner more fanfiction than others. I know Harry Potter fanfiction was rather popular, along with Twilight, Hunger Games, Dr Who, Star Trek and many others. And some even use the opportunity of opening their story world to the readers by going with a creative commons license and straight out inviting others to write stories in the world they created. There are also web sites dedicated entirely to fanfiction.

However, I don't read much fanfiction. The few that I've read have often been for tv shows or books that I know nothing about, which helps in that I can accept whatever the writer has done with the story but on the other hand I don't have the basic knowledge of the world or the characters they didn't create. The ones I have read and did know suffered in quality, especially compared to the book it had gotten the story idea from, which ended up making things worse. And that's a hard part about putting out fanfiction for others to see, having it compared to the original source.

Then there is the whole should fanfiction be published (as in sold for profit type of published), especially after the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey but I won't go into that much. Do a google search on the book title and fanfiction and you'll see a number of people's opinions on that topic.

It's an interesting topic and one I may research more about in the future.

What do you think of Fanfiction?
Do you write Fanfiction or read it?

Friday, April 5, 2013

E is for Ezine

Today I am happy to showcase a special Ezine that started not that long ago. It is one that started from a special project and has just exploded from potential into this amazing free work for people to send writing to in hopes of publication.

Shadows Express

About the site from the home page: a magazine presenting new voices to discerning readers. In a demanding, fast-paced world, we need time to relax and feed our minds. Finding quality short stories, poetry, and articles that can be read in one sitting and shared with family members is becoming increasingly difficult.

At Shadows Express, we strive to bring that quality to the reader: fiction both engaging and entertaining; poetry that speaks to the heart; and helpful, inspiring non-fiction. This is writing you will be eager to share with your spouse, parents, children, and friends. All of these are designed to be read at your leisure, without tying up too much of your time.

Main Page: http://www.shadowexpress.com/

What does Shadows Express publish?

Fiction (up to 2500 words)
Non-fiction (up to 2500 words)
Poetry (up to 40 lines)

However, they will also consider other works that are 2500 to 5000 words. Longer works, novel excerpts, graphics and columns require queries first.

Reading Periods (when they are open for submission)
December 22nd - February 15th
March 22nd - May 15th

June 22nd - August 15th
September 22nd - November 15th

What do they look for?

"Our mission is to bring emerging writers into the light. In order to do that, we look for quality fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. We hope this publication will be a springboard for the authors into the published world.

We aim for family-friendly content. These are stories and poems you will want to share and discuss. For this reason, we do not accept items with gratuitous sex, violence, or gore. We understand that within the scope of a story, it may be necessary to use some swearing to indicate character or the situation. This, however, must be kept to a minimum. The acceptability of this usage will be determined on a case-by-case basis."
- Shadow Express Guidelines Page

For more detail check out this page: http://www.shadowexpress.com/for-writers/guidelines/

They have also added a new weekly section this month called Contemplations. Make sure to check that page out too. http://www.shadowexpress.com/contemplations/

I hope to submit to this Ezine some day too, once I can find something that is family friendly, but I recommend it to anyone who has short work they want to submit. While it is currently a free zine, and unable to pay for submissions, it is a great stepping stone for many.

Do you submit to Ezines?
Do you read Ezines?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

D is for Dystopia

 Yep, I am going with Dystopia for the D. May not be the most original but it wasn't one of the three I'd done in past years of taking part in A to Z, and it happens to be something I like to read. So, here it is, my post for D.

What is Dystopia?
Definition says, a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease and overcrowding.
Or from Wikipedia - "A dystopia is a community or society, usually fictional, that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is the opposite of a utopia. Such societies appear in many works of fiction, particularly in stories set in a speculative future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Elements of dystopias may vary from environmental to political and social issues. Dystopian societies have culminated in a broad series of sub-genres of fiction and are often used to raise real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, religion, psychology, spirituality, or technology that may become present in the future. For this reason, dystopias have taken the form of a multitude of speculations, such as pollution, poverty, societal collapse, political repression, or totalitarianism."

I have always been drawn to dystopian stories, ever since reading one of the more notorious books of the genre: The Giver.  They may not have had environmental disasters but there was definitely some total control by upper management in that story, alone with delusional realities provided to he people, so I'm fairly certain it's dystopian. Aside from it, however, I've also been fans of books like Wither and The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I even liked Hunger Games, though I haven't read the other books in the series yet.

Why does dystopia work well in fiction?
Well compared to Utopia, there is a key factor that makes it work for fiction writing... Conflict. It's easy to increase the troubles in an already troubled world, much more so than in a perfect ideal one. Sure, one can be delusioned to think they are in a utopian type world only to have someone, the main character usually, discover that it's a lie. However, what draws people in part to the dystopian set story is the depth of conflict it creates. Just look over the explanation from wikipedia. Societal collapse, poverty, political repression, technology struggles, spiritual loss, many factors can be woven in creating a dystopian world. Then throw in a character and watch them struggle to survive and grow despite the chains bearing down on their world.

I am working on a few somewhat dystopian stories now. I have a world with cities struggling to survive and fight off monsters. Another involves environment decaying and struggling to survive along with cloud walking. Then there is the science based society with the musician main character. And there are probably more, if I go through my list of 70+ ideas. Not every story needs to be dystopian by any means and some are far more dystopian than others, but it can make for an interesting story.

Do you like dystopian stories?
What makes a good dystopian tale?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

C is for Conflict of Interest Cover

I have the honor of posting a cover reveal for a friend. While I used to talk with this author about other books, every now and then she'd bring up this one story, the software company in a romance book. I'm happy to be able to share the cover of her soon to be released book. Here is the cover and information on Allyson Lindt's book: Conflict of Interest.

Kenzie propositions a sexy stranger in a coffee shop to prove to herself she’s capable of taking a risk. She doesn’t expect him to be sitting across from her the following Monday as her newest client. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about what might have happened between them on a personal level if it weren’t for their professional relationship. He knows how to push her buttons, and she doesn’t want him to stop.

Scott has built his software company from the ground up to escape things like stuffy old men telling him how to behave, so he loathes his board of directors ordering him to make the public forget he doesn’t have a verbal filter. When his new publicity manager is the almost-fling he never expected to see again, he seizes the opportunity to have fun and still pretend he’s complying with the board’s edict.

Giving in to desire could mean both their jobs, but each “one last time” always leads to another. Now they have to decide what they’re willing to sacrifice to indulge this conflict of interest.

Author Bio:
Allyson Lindt has been telling stories since before she could put the words on paper. She was lucky enough to marry her muse and soul mate. Their cats are their children, and when they’re not spending way too much time gaming, they’re building new worlds together. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies, and she made her authorial debut with a racy, erotic short story on a popular porn site for women. She loves a sexy happily-ever-after and helping deserving couples find their futures together.

For more information, check out her site: http://blog.apathyshero.com/

“Why are you always so direct?” She had asked him the question once before, but she wanted more of an answer.

His gaze raked over her face as if he was trying to peer into her thoughts. “Chicks dig honesty, right?”

“No,” she corrected him. “Chicks only think they dig honesty until it includes something they don’t want to hear.”

“It worked on you.”

Arrogant ass. The thought didn’t have any malice in it. “You got lucky.”

He snorted. “Damn straight. And I wouldn’t mind getting lucky again.”

She rolled her eyes and shook her head, but couldn’t lose her smile. “Seriously, it has to be counterproductive most the time.”

“I’ll answer your question if you tell me something. Where do you usually meet guys?”

She stared back, confused about the gentle curve in the conversation. “Why?”

He pushed his barely touched plate aside. “Let’s see … probably not business meetings, that would be inappropriate. And I can’t see you spending much time in bars. We can add coffee shops to the list.”

“You were the only one.”

His grin spread. “I knew it.”

She slapped his hand playfully. “Yes, fine. You were a first. Happy?”

“Immensely.” He meant it. “Where did you meet your last boyfriend? The bookstore or something?”

Heat flooded her cheeks, and she ducked her head. It had been a lucky guess, that was all.

He laughed. “I was kidding. I’m right, seriously?”

“Yes, I met my last boyfriend at the bookstore.”

“The relationship section?”

She twisted her mouth in irritation and just glared at him. “Fiction and literature.”

“Bronte?” he asked.


He raised an eyebrow. “So what was the first thing he said to you?”

Why were they having this conversation? Not that she minded, but she was still trying to figure out his random tangents. “I don’t remember.”

“You’re lying.” There was no accusation in the words, it was a simple statement.

She looked at him, eyes wide. How had he known that? “It was something about how Vonnegut had nothing on William Gibson when it came to the cynical but not completely fatalistic future of the planet. And I told him that wasn’t a fair comparison because Kurt Vonnegut was absolutely a fatalistic literary genius and William Gibson was some sciency guy.”

His jaw dropped. “You called the father of cyber punk a sciency guy? I mean, I guess technically you’re right, but you said that?”

Finally she had caught him off-guard. “And his reaction was a lot like yours. Don’t get me wrong, William Gibson is fantastic, but it’s still like comparing Apples and Windows.”

She wasn’t sure why she’d tossed the reference in to mangle the cliché. It wasn’t like she cared if he knew she had any sort of geek cred.

“Nice.” His shock faded back into amusement. “And you went out with him after that.”

“For a while.” She didn’t want to get into the details. She was over the guy, but there was no reason to divulge she’d dumped him because he was boring in bed.

“So, last guy you didn’t go out with—the most recent one you’ve turned down. What was the first thing he said to you?”

“Like I remember. Maybe, do those legs go all the way up?” The background noise had faded as the lunchtime crowd thinned, and she was grateful she didn’t have anywhere else to be.

“But you let the guy who asked you about your honeyed walls give you a lift home.”

And she realized what he was doing—trying to point out to her why it was wrong to try and change him for the sake of appearance. He seemed fond of the object lesson rather than the direct answer. “Yes. Because you were sincere, and the guy in the bookstore was sincere—both of you inflammatory—but still sincere, and those assholes with the lines were just saying what they thought I wanted to hear.”

“I’ve made my point?” He didn’t look smug.

“Yes.” She took another drink. “But I’m still going to teach you to behave in public. You’re not learning to pick up women. You’re learning to keep your investors happy.”

He leaned in, voice low. “I already know the legs go all the way because how awkward would that be if they didn’t?” An underlying current ran through his words. “But if I told you that you had a beautiful body, would you forget this mission of yours?”

“You mean my job?” The way he’d twisted the otherwise horrid line added to her enjoyment, and the underlying compliment warmed her more than the wine had. “No. But don’t let that stop you from trying.”

“You’ve really read William Gibson.” He switched gears without pause.

“I prefer Philip K. Dick, but Neuromancer has a special place on my bookshelf. I was in a really weird frame of mind the first time I read it, it kind of screwed with my head, and I haven’t been able to forget it since.”
The rough canvas of a High Top traced up the back of her calf, sending a pleasant chill through her. His expression softened, eyes pulling up at the corners. “I know the feeling.”

Thank you Allyson for sharing. I look forward to your book release.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

B is for Begin

Begin... Yep, when it comes to writing a good way to get going is just to start. There are so many beginnings in writing that it's something we have to face on a constant basis. Here are some of them.

Begin a Novel

Yeah, an obvious one. Every novel, novella, novelette, short story and such has to begin somewhere. It has to start in order to get to do anything else. And a start of a novel is a challenge at times. Trying to get the best sentence that sounds awesome and grabs the readers attention. Yeah, I know first drafts are allowed to suck and not to focus on finding the perfect line. That doesn't stop me from wanting to find the best first sentence that I can at the time. Creating the sentence is a challenge.

Begin a Chapter

Yep, every single chapter of a novelette or anything longer has to begin in order to exist. When sitting down to get writing, if I hadn't stopped random in the middle of a chapter, which I do at times, then I have to begin at the start of a chapter. Another challenge at times. Chapters also need to draw the reader in at once with the first paragraph, to continue from the chapter before and then move things along further in the plot. Not quite the pressure of the novel beginning but still the chapter beginning is important.

Begin a Sentence

That's right. Even the sentence has to begin. In order to write things have to start with well something. Wow that is rather generic isn't it. But the good part is not every sentence has to be the intense pressure of the novel start or even quite as much as the chapter start. Sure, it needs to keep things going and have a reason for its existence in the story.

And after the beginning there is the rest. But I can get to that some other time.

Do you struggle with beginnings?
Anyone delete first paragraphs or chapters in edits?

Monday, April 1, 2013

A is for Abjection

Welcome to my blog. We are now in the A to Z blog challenge. I figured why not start the month off with something a little different. Abjection is a concept that can be useful in a story, however, I know it more from the years I competed in college policy debate. I wrote an entire negative strategy based off abjection. So thought I'd put the info to use here too. Enjoy. ;-)

If you don't know about the challenge, and if you're here I'm surprised if you don't know, but here is the link: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/p/2012-to-z-challenge-sign-up-list.html.

What is Abjection?
Definition: Abject - 1. brought low in condition or status, 2. being of the most contemptible kind, 3. being of the most miserable kind; wretched. (Free Dictionary Dot Com)

The author who is known for writing books on the topic: Julia Kristeva

Her definition: "Our reaction (horror, vomit) to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other."

Want to read some interesting concepts about the dichotomy of self versus other. Read books and articles by Kristeva or about what Kristeva wrote about somewhere online. I recommend Power of Horror. 

I like to consider the struggle of the self versus the other when I'm plotting. In one of my novels that I considered writing for NaNoWriMo 2012 involves the concept, though the main character is an "other" in the story in a literal sense. Might write that novel some day.

Another way to look at the concept of abjection is by looking at the tarot card, The Tower.

One of the worst cards to get in general (yep worse than the death card most of the times and yeah I sometimes do tarot readings). Most of the time, the image on this card in the deck is a tower struck by lighting and or on fire, top part blown off, bits of the walls crumbling down and someone falling. Usually it's two but I thought the image above looked kinda cool. The lightning, breaking down of the barriers (walls/tower) and the fall all tie into both the abject horror and the time when there is a loss of the distinction between subject and object, or between self and other.

What do you think?
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