Oct 30, 2015

7 Things Writers Should Do on Halloween



Hand out Books instead of Candy – There are a lot of allergies out there anymore so navigating the peanut infested candy bowls of Halloween can be downright scary for some kids and their parents. Make it easy for everyone, hand out books instead!

Dress up like your favorite character – Emphasis on YOUR character. Make sure it’s someone you’ve created, that way, when anyone asks who you are, you get to tell them about your book. Bonus points if you dress up as your book. Put your crafting skills to use with cardboard, duct tape and high resolution print outs from your local office supply store!

Eat so much candy you get a massive sugar high (not so much you go into a coma) and write your magnum opus in one night – I can’t guarantee that you won’t wake up to a notebook full of indecipherable scribbles in the morning, but it’s worth a try!

Bathe in the blood of your enemies – or just add food coloring to your bath… I mean, there’s nothing wrong with being pink for the next few days or a week. I mean, it’s right after Halloween. Everyone will understand.

Create a sound file of your spookiest story read with scary sounds in the background – Or buy a cd of Halloween sounds, pop it in a boom box and read from your book on the street corner as candy seeking kids and their parents trundle past.

Binge on scary movies and take notes – create the next Saw on Haunted Bayou seventeen! It’ll sell to SyFy for millions… probably with fewer zeroes, actually.

Lock yourself inside, turn off all the lights and let the brightness of your computer monitor sear your retinas while you make screeching noises anytime someone dares to knock on your door – oh wait? That’s a normal Tuesday night?

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Oct 23, 2015

7 Ways You'll Exercise As A Writer


Typing marathons. Prep for these with word sprints and a healthy diet. You don’t want to get to mile 15 and be ready to fall out of your chair to writhe on the ground with finger cramps!

Coffee refill relay. Or tea, or whatever beverage keeps your creative juices flowing. That constant jog/shuffle back and forth from desk to kitchen is going to tick up the numbers on  your pedometer a lot more than that chase scene you just wrote!

Exploring other perspectives. Much like a butterfly press, this one requires some upper body strength. Mostly because the lazy alternative is going to seem like a good plan. DON’T GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAMS, GYMRAT!

With Run-on Sentences. You don’t even need a good pair of running shoes! Slippers or bare feet work just fine. And, since you don’t have to leave your house, you don’t even have to put on pants! And let’s face it, this is less annoying than the rhythmic jush of a treadmill.

Dodging the comments section. Like those red rubber balls in middleschool gym class, comments can sting when they connect. Dodge them like a pro. It’ll help with cardio and agility!

Office Chair Shuffle. Tone your leg muscles by pushing yourself around on the wheels of your chair, reach and stretch for that one reference material you need from the top shelf. Push yourself back to your desk. Three sets of five reps.

Hefting books. Because let’s face it, half the fun of being a writer is reading the things other people have created. When you come home with your latest haul from the local bookstore, you can do arm curls. Seriously, that bag has to weigh twenty pounds!



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Oct 12, 2015

Feminism Is Important To Me

A while back another female author chose to use “Oh right, you’re one of those feminist types” as an insult/reasoning behind my opinion that a certain work had shallow exploration of a main character and that the story fell into the all too familiar habit of portraying women as cold, bitchy and means-to-an-end.

That and a few other things got me thinking:

Why do so many women seem to think feminism is a bad word?
Why do so many people think feminism is a grab bag of castration (metaphorical or not) and a refusal to shave your legs?
How does equality for women equate to oppression for men?
 
Feminism is: The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

When did things get twisted to the point that some women would rather pretend to be “one of the guys” and accept that the patriarchy does not see them as equals as long as they can be “one of the good women”?

I am a feminist because I believe that my gender does not determine whether or not I’m somehow better or worse than someone else. Generic physiological differences don’t determine whether a person is going to be stronger or a better parent. It doesn't determine if you’ll be a better worker or a more creative artist. If I wanted to dedicate my life to body building, I could. If I wanted to build a business from the ground up, I could. The only thing that stands in my way is outdated prejudices that keep the world from advancing.

I am a feminist because I don’t think a man should make more money than I do simply because he is a man. When determining a person's ability to do a thing, actual skill should not come second to gender. We don’t live in a world where men are the main provider of a household anymore. We don’t live in a world where women work until they have kids and then are relegated to the home. We don’t do these things because they are wrong and thinking of them as normative is wrong. If I want to have a child and I want to stay at home and can figure that out, I will do that. If my husband wants to do that, we’d figure it out. Sexist thoughts on lifestyle only hold our society back.

How do we fix a world as broken as ours? We start by understanding what feminism is. We start by holding people accountable when they fall back into the lazy sexist ideas of our past. If we decide to get married, we marry men and women who are also feminist. If we decide to have children/adopt, we raise them in a way that creates a world of people who are aware of what feminism actually is. We challenge stereotypes every day and we don’t allow people to get away with callng us “one of the guys” or “one of the good women”.

If you think calling me a feminist is an insult, I’ve got some bad news for you: I’m a feminist and proud of it.

I am a feminist for the same reason I support gay marriage; for the same reason I support the Black Lives Matter movement; for the same reason I support the trans community. No human is inherently better than another simply because of the condition in which they were born.

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Oct 9, 2015

7 Things You'll Eat As A Writer


 
Your weight in comfort food. Seriously, pass me the doughnuts. Pick your poison and expect to pop open that box/bucket/wrapper/whatever because there will be days you hit an awful spot in a draft, a revision, or a review, and you’ll want to have your stash handy (or your delivery boy’s number on speed dial). Other days, you’ll crack open your go-to snack because you’re burning through a ms and you CANNOT STOP FOR ANYTHING! SOMEONE BRING THIS MAN A STADIUM PAL!

The ends of Pens. I don’t make the rules.

Tear soaked… anything. Don't worry if you're mid-draft brain has you sucking the moisture out of a tear stained sock to rehydrate yourself (unless it's a dirty sock, then be afraid; if it's not your sock at all… well, I guess it's good there's no one around to judge you.)

Your words. They won’t sustain you, but you can bet you’ll eat those black lines and curves you plop down on the page from time to time. You’re going to make commitments that are just out of your ability (1million words in a year? Heck yeah! 1million words next week? Laughs uncontrollably and dies of frantic attempts to breathe)  


Your pride. You're going to make mistakes (raises hand) and you're going to kick yourself about them afterward (raises hand higher). Sometimes, you're going to dwell on them so long it's unhealthy (punches ceiling with fist, fan blade cuts wrist, dies in agony).

Preconceived notions of the world – Let’s face it: we’re all raised to believe certain things are true and some of them will be. But we don’t know everything. Our parent’s don’t know everything and they certainly didn’t know it all while they were raising us. We’re raised with prejudices (I hate tomatoes) and as a writer you have to work around those things in order to expand your view of the world. (Most of my characters like tomatoes). QUESTION EVERYTHING.

SPIDERS!!! Okay, let's face it, there's some ridiculous statistic that I can't be bothered to look up right now, but it says you're going to be eating spiders in your sleep. Who knows, maybe spiders are the key ingredient that makes chocolate taste good? One way or another, you're eating those eight legged creepy crawlies, so get over it now. In fact, if you can take those arachnid aperitifs and turn them into a book, more power to you (unless you plan to regurgitate their corpses and sew them together in some sort of arachna-necronomicon. Don’t do that.)

 

Also, remember hydrate.

 

 
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Oct 7, 2015

IWSG: Support

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the brainchild of Alex J Cavanaugh. Posts go out the first Wednesday of every month. Join up to post with almost 300 other blogs.



Writing can feel like a very solitary activity.

You sit at your computer/notebook and you create worlds. You tap out 100,000 words…. And no one’s there to help you or give you encouragement beyond the general “way to go.”

One thing that is important about writing is support. This isn’t a completion, it’s a community. I want you to succeed. Your success is not something that will hinder mine. I’m not sure if everyone realizes that.

I love other authors. And I love giving them help in any way I can. To me, support is a thousand different things.


Support is retweeting about a book release or a Kickstarter.
Support is reviewing a book good or bad (I still believe that bad reviews can be helpful for readers to find your book.)
Support is offering to be the one who reads three pages and tells them what’s wrong.
Support is buying a book.
Support is showing up at a signing or a reading.
Support is simply letting another writer know their work has been seen, that it matters.
Support is offering up guest blogging space.


Supporting other authors is one of the many ways we can build up our writing community when so many other things threaten to tear it down.

So if I can support you, please, just let me know. Start up a dialog and help me find ways to help you.


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Oct 2, 2015

Flash Fiction: First/Last Date


Wandering the Phoenix Art Museum one evening, I saw a couple seated in front of an art installation. I didn’t know their names, I didn’t know what had brought them to the museum that night. But together with the fixture in front of them, an idea came to life.

It was a Schrodinger’s cat situation, the people in my head (who clearly don’t exist in real life) could have been on their first date, they could have been on their last. I didn’t know, and while they sat – completely oblivious to me – a story began to form in my mind.

Today, I’ve decided to share that story with you:

 


First/Last Date
 
 
They were such good friends, she’d balked at the idea of change.
Dinner had been fine. It had been normal -- like two old friends sharing a meal. But she’d seen that spark in his eye, the one that told her he felt something more. He wanted something more. As his friend, she wanted to give him that, even if she didn’t know what it was.
He’d led her through the art museum, a place she thought of as his domain. He spoke of the artists as though they, too, were his friends. Voice full of hope and the excitement of sharing, he sounded more like a history major than a graphic designer.
When they stepped into the Katz Wing, the contemporary pieces stole her attention. He trailed patiently behind and she momentarily forgot he was there.
Through her wanderings, she found an alcove tucked into the furthest room. An untitled acrylic circle hung on the wall. Carefully arranged lamps cast shadows of abstract brilliance. She sank to the bench in front of it in silent awe.
He sat beside her as she was immersed in a private bubble of quiet. He placed his hand on hers and for a few minutes they were completely alone.
“What do you see?” he asked, leaning toward her.
His voice was so low, she barely heard him. “I’m not really sure.”
Her answer elicited a familiar response. His casual, low laughter sent an oddly comforting shiver through her.
She sat up straighter to avoid being pulled in by the gravity of his normalcy. “It makes me think of sound, and of electronic snow and of the depressed robot from Hitchiker’s.” Pausing, she looked at the opaque acrylic. “And it makes me wonder how much they’re paying their janitorial staff. I can’t even imagine how dusty this gets.”
This time, his laugher echoed off the white walls surrounding them. They shared a knowing glance as a stern-faced guard walked past.
 
They’d been such good friends. He couldn’t explain why it hadn’t worked.
They walked through the halls of the art museum together in silence, pausing at whatever painting caught her eye, until they found the piece again.
He wished he could suggest they start over. But he knew they couldn’t.
They’d taken a meandering path to reach this spot. With each painting his hopes had sunk lower. With each sculpture he’d known there was no stopping the inevitable. When they reached this installation -- their reason for coming -- he clung to the hope there was some small part of their relationship they could salvage.
He sat on the bench and waited for her to join him. It took longer than he’d expected.
When she did, he took her hand out of habit and felt her tense at his touch. They sat in silence; the installation in front of them was still. The same as the night of their first date.
It was a stability he envied and wished he could compare to their relationship -- instead of the slow degradation of what it had become.
She pulled her hand from his and placed it in her lap, her face turned away as she silently observed the piece.
“I thought coming back would help,” he said.
She glanced at him before turning away again. “If nothing else, it provides a nice sort of symmetry.”
He still needed to know if she wanted to try… still wanted to hear the last two years hadn’t been in vain. It was a selfish need and he should have let it go.
“It’s not working is it?” he asked.
“Why would it?”
Pursing her lips, she stared at the acrylic circle in front of them and said, “It’s just a lampshade the wrong way round.”

 
 
“What do you see?” She asked.  A prickle of warmth coursed up her arm as he squeezed her fingers.
He studied it a moment. “I see a lampshade installed the wrong way around.”
“Stop it.” She swatted his arm and glanced quickly behind them.
When she turned back, he shrugged and squared himself to the sculptural element. He glared at it, as though waiting for it to spill some long lost secret.
“Okay…” he said, taking a deep breath and pointing at it. “I see mankind…. No, that’s not right. I see the individual person.”
She rolled her eyes at him. “If you’re going to make this into a joke, we can just leave.”
“I’m being serious,” he said. “Look, the actual circle is man – or woman – or what have you. It’s the individual self, and surrounding that one person is multiple shadows of that self. ” He pointed to the four shadows behind the disc. “They’re not whole truths; they’re missing that integral part, there, in the center.”
“And what’s in the center?” she asked, staring at it and forcing a smile she no longer felt.
“That little pocket of ourselves we share with as few people as possible. The dark part we keep hidden away and hope only those we can trust will ever see.” His voice trailed off with the last word, and she shivered.
Frowning, she looked from the piece to him, “Is this your way of telling me you’re a serial killer?”
He cracked a smile and cast her a sideways glance. “No. I also see a malt ball. But I could just be hungry, it has been an hour since we last ate.”
The laugh bubbled up before she could stop it. “Insightful to sugar-fiend in two-point-five seconds. Be careful, I might get whiplash.”
He joined her laughter. “Does that mean you’re not up for a slice of pie after this?”
A group of noisy teenagers walked past, and she glanced down to her hand now clasped in his. “We’ll see.”
She could understand why he’d waxed poetic about the shades of an individual – the quartet of shadows bleeding away her own self were unknown, even to her. She paused to wonder how the piece would shift in a less controlled light, how those shadows would move through the day and with the changing seasons. Glancing at him out of the corner of her eye, she wondered the same about him.
 
“Do you remember our old pie schedule?” he asked when the silence between them was unbearable.
She smiled and closed her eyes, laughing in a low tone. “Let’s see, it’s an odd date… and a Wednesday. Was it banana cream pie and chocolate chip cookies?”
“That’s evens,” he said.
“Peach pie and pixie sticks?” She snickered as she asked the question. “I don’t know how we managed to stay out of the hospital. I should have OD’d on sugar two years ago.”
“We built up your tolerance. Once you were used to it, you weren’t in any danger. I, on the other hand, have always had a natural immunity.”
They lapsed back into their silence too quickly.
With a wistful sigh, he said, “We lost this. If we just found this again, I think we could push through this rough patch.”
She shifted away from him. “We had this because we’re good as friends. We never should have tried for anything else.”
He couldn’t agree. “How do you know something won’t work until you try?”
She rolled her eyes, a gesture he should have been used to.
“I know I can’t fly,” she said. “I didn’t have to jump off a bridge to find that out.”
They’d had this argument before. He didn’t remind her that she could fly, if only she had a little help from machinery. See, he thought, I can learn.
“Is that what you think our relationship equates to, then?” He wanted her to deny it, but she didn’t.
Letting out a frustrated sigh, he asked, “If we’ve jumped off that bridge, are we about to hit water? Or will we splatter against the dry bottom of a canyon?”  Then, “Would anyone paint our tragedy?”
She deflated, slouching as she stared ahead. “If they did, it would never make it on to these walls.”  
 

At a quarter to nine, he led her back through the museum.
The warm spring air whipped around her as they walked past the others who’d ventured to the museum that night.
He looked back at the glass walls. “Sometimes I wish they had apartments inside the museum, you know? So I could live in there and be surrounded by all that art.”
“The renter’s insurance policy would make it impossible to afford.” She smiled at his fanciful idea.
He was a dreamer if she’d ever met one, and he made her think about things she’d never expected.
Her shadow split in two, then three and back to one as she passed beneath the exterior lights.
He came alongside her, and soon the sliver of light separating them was gone – swallowed by their merging shadows.
She was happy she’d insisted they drive separate cars. Space and time were needed to sort through the jumble of thoughts and emotions the evening had dredged up.
She stopped beside her car, thankful the circle of light surrounding them was from directly above. One shallow shadow each wouldn’t set her mind wandering.
He’d parked halfway down the line of cars. She turned, but he still stood between her and the museum.
“I had a really good time tonight. It was fun.” He stuffed his hands in his pockets and looked down at her with that expectant wariness in his eyes.
Pursing her lips, she glanced behind him, to the glittering lights in front of the museum. She’d never know if they didn’t try.
When the pause had lasted a moment too long, she pressed up onto her toes and kissed him. It was a quick peck on the lips, nothing lasting -- nothing so transparent.
He looked down at her with a smile quirking one side of his mouth, and rolled back on his heels like a little boy. “Does that mean I get a second date?”
Pressing the button on her key fob, she said, “We’ll see how it goes.” She got in her car and left him standing in the pool of light.
She couldn’t go back now. Only press forward.
 
 
He stared straight ahead, eyes locked on the shadows cast over the wall. There was no point in trying to go backward.
Relationships had no reverse gear.
Hushed tones of the other visitors milling around the room beyond them washed over him. She shifted beside him in uncomfortable silence. That he’d grown so accustomed to it made him sick to his stomach.
He took a deep breath and faced her, but before he could argue, she spoke first, “I don’t want to fight about it. I just want to go.”
Biting back his words, he turned to the acrylic piece in front of him. “I think that’s worse than if you wanted to scream at me until they kicked us out.”
“I’ve told you before. The thing that got in the cracks… that took hold of us and drove us apart wasn’t something you could see or change… it was just my apathy.”
They’d had this discussion before and she always claimed the fault. She never made him feel guilty. He hadn’t been strong enough to tell her she wasn’t in this alone. Maybe if she’d realized that two years ago, they wouldn’t be hanging together by a thread.
As he watched her study the piece, her mouth firmed and she stood. Her back to him, she clenched her fists and said, “I’ll have my things out of the house by the end of the week.”
Alone, surrounded by a hundred murmuring strangers, he stared too long at the lit acrylic circle.

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