Saturday, July 09, 2005

Post a Link, Help a Good Cause

M.J. Rose will donate $5 to Reading is Fundamental for every link to the VidLit for her new book The Halo Effect posted before July 19. A good cause and an innovative marketing technique. She wants 500 links ($2500 donation). Please help her out.

Link first spotted on Death By Absurdity. Another one on tamboblog.

Oops!

Forgot to give credit for the "What book are you?" link to Joshilyn Jackson. I'm stiull working on a review of gods in Alabama. I will say that if you like Southern Gothic, this is a "Must Read".

Friday, July 08, 2005

Will They Never Learn?

Got this link from Holly. Definitely worth a read.

The Blitz, Pearl Harbor, Buzz-bombs and V-2's, 9/11, now London. What do these event have in common? The use of violence to try to convince either the US or Great Britain to surrender. How'd that work out, guys? Not too good, I'd say.

Here's a little common sense for terrorists: Brits and Americans don't give in to bullies. Take a look at the history of terrorism since it went big-time in the 1970's. How many terrorist groups have ever accomplished their political goals? How many terrorists are in prison? How many are dead? When Osama bin Laden was planning the 9/11 attacks, did he really anticipate living the rest of his life huddled miserably in a cave in the mountains? Do you think he worries about which of his trusted lieutenants will be the one to sell him out for the cash? You do the math for yourselves, it's obvious as Hell to me.

Red, white and blue are colors that don't run. Make it easy on yourselves. Hold still where we can see you. We'll make it quick. Or, you can run. You can hide. Go ahead. We'll find you.

Have a nice day.

Duck and Cover

The Florida Panhandle is in the crosshairs again. Hurricane Dennis (currently Category 4) will be there Saturday. Strongest hurricane this early in the season since 18fiftysomething. Gonna be a long season.

Ya'll be careful down there. And please, please, don't try to be heroes. Get of his way. You can't fight something that big and that strong.

What Book Are You?




You're The Mists of Avalon!

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend
to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in
the Stone". But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on
women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet
Jackie Kennedy.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Damn, they're good!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Best Teacher

Finished the first draft of "Best Teacher". 4994 words. That's really good, because I have it tentatively aimed at the Bitten Vampire Short Fiction Contest, which has a 5000 word limit. I'll probably cut 100-200 words on edit, so it will work out just right.

The ending was a little unexpected. I did not see the violence coming until it happened. The flow and logic of the story pretty much demanded that it end that way, though, so I'm happy with it. This is a story that started out kind of light, a little dark humor, but then turned dark and deadly on me. That happens a lot. Oh well, better to kill fictional characters than the alternative, huh?

A spooky thing about this story. I compose with the line spacing set on 1 so I can see more of the words on the screen at one time. Saves scrolling and double-spacing before submitting is only a couple of mouse clicks. Single-spaced, "Best Teacher" was exactly 13 pages. Heh heh heh.

Now to delve into the archives and see what else is in there that's crying out for attention.

Cowardice of the Most Extreme Kind

Terrorists are the most cowardly, shameful kind of people. They like to kill innocent people by remote control rather than confronting their perceived enemies face-to-face. They resort to knee-jerk violence instead of ever even trying resolve their problems by any other means.

Publicity bought at the cost of human lives is going to turn into a heavy burden for these people. They really need to grow up and at least attempt to act like adults. You got a problem with me? Give me a call. I'm in the book. E-mail me. Whatever. Just let's reason together and solve your problem instead of just throwing shit all over the place and peeing on ourselves. OK? Be a real man. Talk to me.

Don't try to bully me, though. Don't try to intimidate me. You'll quickly find out that my roots sink deep into the bedrock. Push me, and I'll push back. You want to fight, bring it. You want somebody to cower and give you everything you want, go someplace else. Seems like you would have gotten that clue by now.

I am not normally an advocate of violence, but there are people in this world who are incapable of reason, animals who growl and snap and strut around thinking they're better than everybody else because they can hide in the shadows and kill people randomly for no reason. If violence is the only language they're capable of speaking, let's "negotiate" with them in their native tongue.

There is no excuse for terrorism. Ever.

Answers for PiroEyes

Great questions! Had to look into some dusty corners for answers. Thanks!

1. How easy or difficult is it to submit your work, and what gives you the courage to do it?

Submitting is hard, but it gets easier with practice. Sending my babies out into the world to fend for themselves makes me nervous. What if someone doesn't like them? What if they laugh at them and me?

As I improve my craft, and my confidence along with it, the submission process is slowly becoming a natural part of my writing life. I read what's being published, and I see that my stories are better than a lot of it. That knowledge conquers a lot of fears.

2. Is there are a book you've read that you wish you had written & why?

Just one? Oh, God!

I have to cheat on this one and consider The Lord of the Rings as a single book. LOTR gathers a lot of my themes in one place: love, honor, men and women rising above their faults and petty human concerns to make legends in the service of a cause much greater than themselves. This whole story is encompassed in a rich history and mythology that illuminates the characters and their actions and gives them more meaning. LOTR is one of those works that always makes me say "Damn! I wish I could write that story."

3. Are all the stories you write in the same genre, or mood, that you prefer reading? If not, how do they differ?

Although not everything I write is horror, there is always a very dark feel to my stories. I write about the dark side of life and people. I guess that's because I am trying so hard to understand that side of myself.

My reading is very eclectic. I'll read damn near anyting. While I do love a good horror story, I also read mainstream fiction, classic literature, poetry, a little romantic suspense, mysteries, courtroom dramas, medical dramas, non-fiction on any subject, personal essays, philosophy. Just whatever I can find, basically. When I was a kid, I read cereal boxes. I don't focus my reading solely on dark things. That would be just too depressing.

4. What's the biggest 'cost' that writing has had on your life so far?

Paradoxically, the biggest cost is also the biggest benefit. Writing has forced me to confront some very intense emotions and some very painful issues inside myself. I have written scenes so intense that I had to go lie in the bed and cry when I got through. Putting myself through that kind of emotional wringer hurts, but I come out the other side with a little better understanding of myself, and I am sometimes able to shine a little light into my closet and see that that particular monster is maybe not as fearsome as I had imagined.

5. If the person you are today could send a message to the kid you once were, what advice would you give him?

Hey, kid! Quit hiding in your room reading and get out into the world! Take some chances! See and feel and smell and hear all the wonderful, terrible things in the world. Make a fool of yourself, laugh, run, cry, live! Breathe sunshine! Drink rain! There's plenty of time to grow up later. You're a kid! Act like one!

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

5 Answers

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Stationery Queen asks, and I answer to the best of my knowledge and belief at this point in time.

1) What did you think you'd be when you grew up?

I'm still wondering about that. I have been through: preacher, archeologist (I still come back to that sometimes. I think it would be a blast.), musician (much desire, no talent at all), librarian (which I currently am), nuclear engineer, independently wealthy (hah! Don't we all!), but always, always, always, a writer of some sort.

That's what I wanted. What did I think I would be? Mature, intelligent, reasonable, empathetic, compassionate, and much wiser than I was a youth. Since I haven't grown up yet, I still have time to work on these.

2) Would you still write if you never got published EVER?

Heh. I have so far. Publication is a goal and a dream, but not strictly a necessity of life. Yes, I would still write, even if I never got published. The fun and satisfaction and fulfillment lies in using words to create new worlds and draw beauty into my life. I would like to share those words with the world, if possible, but I will always build my castles in the air for my own pleasure and education.

3) Who are your favorite female writers?

A real time bomb, huh? Stationery Queen obviously tops the list. ;-)

Seriously, though, Flannery O'Connor is a goddess without peer, and I worship the very air she breathed. Residing in the Choir of Seraphim are (in no particular order): All 3 Bronte sisters, Dorothy Parker, and Kate Chopin. Among living writers: Holly Lisle (a past and continuing inspiration and a damn good novelist), Tamara Siler Jones, Lynn Viehl, Joshilyn Jackson (a review of gods in Alabama is forthcoming), and Anne Rice (her early works, not the formula crap she writes now).

4) If you could re-write your personality traits, what would you change, if anything?

I'm in the process of changing some of them as a life project. I think fear is the controlling factor in most of what I do, and I hate that. I am mostly controlled by a 4-year-old boy who was traumatized and has been afraid of everything since then. One day, I hope to be able to comfort and soothe that little boy, and help him understand that the vast majority of his fears are groundless.

5) Are we having fun yet? :-)

Absolutely, positively, no doubt about it. The alternative is unspeakable. If you don't enjoy life, then it's hard to find a point to it. We have to find our enjoyment in the things we do: loving our families and friends, caring about those hungry or in pain, creating beauty, and working to make the world a little better in whatever way we can. That's fun.

Another bit from "Best Teacher"

PG-13 - graphic violence. Hey, vampires aren't always neat and civilized, you know?

First draft. I know it's rough, but some of it is pretty good, I think.

Setup:

Yes, Jen did get out of the coffin. If she hadn't it would have been a REAL short story. :-)

Richard is her boyfriend/lover who is also a vampire and who made her one. Jen took shelter in the crawl space of a nearly-finished house in a new subdivision near the graveyard. She is waking up after a good day's sleep.

-----

[snip]

Jen didn't want to wake up. She felt his warmth and weight, his comfort and strength. "Richard," she whispered and reached to embrace him. Cool, dusty air filled her arms, and she jerked awake. "Richard."

Where was he? Where in the name of Hell was he? Shouldn't he be here helping her? Damnit all, she needed him now more than ever. Damn him! "Richard, where are you?" Her whisper was lost in dust and darkness.

Dusk was deepening toward darkness. Her night vision was beginning to take effect, and the world was fast turning to gray. She felt a chunk of magma in her stomach and liquid fire ran in her blood. Weakness trembled in her knees and hands. She had to eat. Soon.

She scanned the crawl space, but saw no movement, no signs of life. Apparently, it was too soon even for the rats to move in. Expanding her awareness, she scanned her surroundings. Small warm things roamed in the woods, but they were too small to satisfy her needs. She sought further afield.

There! Movement! Headlights slowly approaching. She focused on them and saw an old pickup truck moving up the street toward her shelter. Blood flowed in the truck's cab, a powerful presence. Richard? Why would he be driving a truck? She focused closer, and the presence separated into halves, a girl and a boy. She was straddling the gear shift, snuggling tight against his side as he steered.

The truck slowed even more, turned into the driveway, parked in the newly-finished garage. Jen heard murmurs and giggles as the engine noise stopped, but did not even try to make out what they were saying.

Blood filled her eyes with hazy red, her mind with fever. Blood! With an effort, she stopped herself from charging out of the crawl space in full attack. Patience. She needed to know what they were up to. She listened in.

The truck's door closed with a slam, and the couple's footsteps crunched around the side of the house. "How are we going to get in?" The girl spoke softly. Her voice trembled ever so slightly. "Mark said he left the window unlocked back here." The boy was confident and reassuring.

The footsteps stopped near where Jen crouched under the house. A window slid open. "See? Put you foot up here, and I'll give you a boost." After some grunting and slithering, their bodies thumped onto the floor above Jen's head. More giggling and slithering followed. The giggles soon turned into slurps and soft groans, followed by gasps and the sound of skin slapping and rubbing against skin.

Jen was wild with red need. Without even thinking, she let her consciousness rise through the floor and reincorporated her body next to the couple writhing together on the plywood floor. They were shocked into stillness by the sudden apparition of a naked woman crouching next to them.

Jen reacted with supernatural speed, growling deep in her throat with wild animal bloodlust. She grabbed the boy by the back of his neck. As she stood, she snapped his neck with a quick snap and flung the body across the room. Before the corpse even hit the wall, she dropped onto the naked girl, sinking her fangs into her throat even as the girl drew in her breath to scream.

Jen sucked at the soft throat under her mouth, but got nothing. The girl's scream split the night, her fear and pain twisting into a cloth made of sound, filling the empty house and echoing into the silent world outside. Jen rose up and struck again, searching for the blood that felt like a rope under the girl's skin. She missed again.

Reason fled Jen's mind as want and need overwhelmed her. Her lust for blood was an inferno consuming her. She roared her frustration and roughly restrained the shrieking, wriggling thing under her. She tore and the thing's throat ferociously, slashing and biting again and again. At last, a geyser of blood erupted from the skin, splashing warm and rich across Jen's face and soaking the wall and floor around them. She clamped her mouth over the fountain and drank greedily, gulping and slurping, grunting like a pig at the trough as the blood slid down her throat and cooled her thirst.

After only a few moments, the flow stopped, and the body underneath her went flaccid. Jen grunted and slurped and sucked at the wound, wanting more, weeping with her hunger and need, but her prey was dead, her heart stopped. No more blood would flow through this girl's body ever again. Jen collapsed across the cooling flesh and sobbed with frustration and relief. Her hunger was not completely satisfied, but it was no longer controlling her.

She pushed herself up and looked around, actually seeing the scene for the first time. A boy lay proper against the far wall, his eyes open, his mouth hanging slack-jawed. His head lay so far over that his ear rested on his shoulder. He looked surprised. He looked about sixteen.

Jen forced herself to look down. A young girl lay before her with a face out of the depths of Hell. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open and twisted into a rictus of agony and horror. Her arms and legs splayed limply on the floor. Her skin was so white it glowed in the darkness. Her long, light-colored hair was twisted and tangled on the floor and across her face. To Jen, she appeared about fifteen, still developing.

Dark smears and large spatter patterns stained the floor and wall. Some of the blood had shot several feet across the room. On the other side of the girl's body, clothes were scattered across the floor, a random roadmap of youthful lust.

Jen squatted next to the girl's body. She wrapped her arms around her knees and rocked back and forth. Dark, sticky tears trickled down her face. A tear trickled into her mouth. It tasted sweet and coppery. Her stomach churned. She allowed herself only a minute to grieve--not just for them, but for herself, too--then wiped her eyes and started thinking about immediate necessities.

[snip]

Questions for Stationery Queen and PiroEyes

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.
You asked for it! Ask me 5 questions in return.

Stationery Queen:

1.) Do you do your best work under deadline pressure or just winging it?


2.) Do you ever use written outlines? Why or why not?


3.) What is your preferred reading material for pure, mindless pleasure?


4.) Did you choose to write in your current genre (or whatever), or did it force itself on you?


5.) If you should have to work for someone else, what would your dream job be like?




PiroEyes:

1.) Why do you write in your chosen genre? Why that particular one and not another?


2.) What kind of support do you get for your writing from family and friends?


3.) Do you prefer writing about characters or about situations?


4.) Which is most important to you: art or craft?


5.) What benefit(s) do you get from blogging?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

A Few Good Days

Good days are sometimes scarce. I'll take all I can get.

Finished editing "Worse Than Death" and submitted it to the Aim for the Head anthology. 2800 words. The ending surprised me.

Made major progress on "Best Teacher", too. It's really rocking along now. I think I know where it's going, but I can never be sure until we get there. Jen sometimes has her own ideas about this story. It's great to be back in the flow.

The latest issue of Vision is up, including an article by Yours Truly. Kudos and adulation are not only accepted but expected. Hrumph. Looks like another great issue. Be sure to drop by and pat Zette on the back. She does a tremendous job putting this thing together on her own time and on her own dime. Margaret and Ellen do a bang-up job, too.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Questions for Demented Michelle

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Here you go:

1.) What does "write what you know" mean to you?


2.) How do your past and present life experiences affect your themes?


3.) How do you feel about anonymous, form rejection letters?


4.) What one book or article has been most useful in improving your writing?


5.) An editor accepts your story contingent on you cutting a scene that you consider essential to the story. It would be your first sale to a major national publication. A lot of money is at stake. How do you react?

5 Questions

Here are the rules: If you feel like playing, leave me a comment asking to be interviewed!

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”

2. I will respond by asking you five questions. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


I realized it was not fair to ask questions of others that I am not willing to answer myself.


1.) What is your motivation as a writer? What drives you forward and carries you over the rough spots?

I have things I want to say. I have things I need to say. There are territories I want to explore and wonders I want to see. Is anybody listening? Does anybody care? In the end, that does not matter so much. I write for me, and I hope somebody out there gets some benefit from what I have to say. Fame and fortune would be nice adjuncts, but I must satisfy myself, or all else is "sound and fury, signifying nothing". What drives me forward and keeps me going? Knowing myself. Figuring out what is right and standing up for it. Shining my tiny spark of light into the vast darkness of the Universe to illuminate what I can see for others to see also.

2.) What other arts besides writing (music, paintings, sculptures, etc.) do you draw inspiration from in your writing?

Music and painting draw me into other worlds and show me things that I must convey to the rest of the world. The interplay of sounds in music and the interplay of light in paintings correspond in my mind to the interplay of words on the page. I often hear the music in words, see the light and shadow and color in a story of novel. I believe all these arts spring from a common source and are just different ways of telling our dreams.

3.) What would you like your epitaph to say?

Hoist by my own petard, as it were. Hmm.

"His quest for truth brought a little beauty to the world.
His quest for beauty brought a little truth to the world."

4.) What one genre would you like to write in that you haven't tried yet?

Just one? LOL! Pure science fiction is a genre I have always read and always been too intimidated to write. The giants in that genre are giants, indeed. I hope to make the attempt one day.

5.) What scares you most about writing?

Success. Failure I can handle. I am familiar with failure; there is a certain comfort level in knowing the territory. Success, though...

I guess my biggest fear is one that most, if not all, writers share. What if my novel is a huge success? What if I get that 3 book deal with huge advances? What if I sit at the computer and have no ideas, no words, nothing? Not being able to fulfill my perceived potential is a nightmare.

I dare you to let me ask you 5 questions. You can interview me in return. Any takers?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

If you haven't read the Declaration of Independence lately, today would be a good day. Thanks to Paperback Writer for the link.

229 years ago, a group of men had had enough. They could no longer tolerate the intrusion of a despotic government into their lives, their liberties, and their pursuit of happiness. These men straightened their spines and signed their names to a declaration of their beliefs. They pledge that, in support of these principles, they would stake "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred honor".

That is a truly remarkable statement of resolve. To put everything on the line for your beliefs, not just your life, but your honor, the way you will be remembered for all of recorded history. That is astounding. That is true commitment to your principles. Would that we saw more of that in today's world.

On this day, the anniversary of the day that these statements of principle were published for the entire world to read, I encourage you to reflect seriously on what these men said and did. I encourage you to write out your own Declaration. I encourage you to commit your life, your fortune, and your sacred honor to supporting these ideals without compromise and in the face of public disapproval. Declare your own independence from blind conformity and unreasoning obedience. Declare your intentions to think for yourself, to speak your mind, and to take whatever actions may be required to preserve your freedom to do so.

Happy Independence Day.